All We Need Is Love …


“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius.   Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

Nikolaus von Jacquin in Mozart: A Life (1966) pg. 312

Well, now we know where the song came from:)

This quote has nice timing, since today is when we all pay homage to our mothers, those still with us and those long gone.

Something about mothers … I’ve stared at this screen for a long time.  Today’s post is going to be a little different.

My mother was loving, but closed off.   I guess losing two of four children in birth or soon after will do that to a person.  She always seemed fearful of the world and I endured countless lectures about “what could happen“.  Of course I ignored them, repeatedly put myself in truly dangerous situations, and probably drove my mother crazy with worry.

Then I had children and learned a little about the complexities of being a parent.  My mother became more of a real person to me.  I watched my wife mother our children, not perfectly but with pure love motivating her.  When my daughters grew up and became mothers themselves, I started to really see the eternal cycle of motherhood and how it changes everyone.

So my mother wasn’t perfect  … and neither was/am I.   We both did the best we could with what we had.   I was with my mother constantly at the end of her life, up to the moment she took her last breath.   Small payback compared to what she did for me and what she gave up for me.

This is not the traditional Mother’s Day ode, but it’s what I have to offer.  I appreciate what my mother meant to me and how she shaped my life.  I don’t approach everything the way she did, but I can only hope that my life honors her.

So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom … oh, and thanks for all the love:)

Feeling just a tad like a little boy who misses his mother in the Heartland ….

John
NOTE:  This is a repost from several years ago.  My thoughts around mothers have not changed.

Character Counts For Something, Right?


“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

John Wooden   as quoted in How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader (2006) pg. 5

I hate getting wisdom from athletic coaches.

As  a boy, I was rather non-athletic and I lived in a rural area where most boys were “real” boys who enjoyed hunting and fishing, were rugged and strong, and enjoyed the heck out of team sports.

Since I was “none of the above”, I felt a little out of place.   A little time in the Army cured me of the delusion that I could not become stronger and more rugged and a long period of running 5Ks, 10Ks, and longer races did help me see myself as somewhat athletic.   

But that’s not the point of this post.

Wooden points out a great reality:   You control your character, but you do not control your reputation.

Reputation is in the mind, but not yours

Your reputation is in the minds of other people.  You can influence, you can manipulate, you can campaign, you can try to trick, but ultimately those other brains still function independently of you.

Good thing to keep in mind about a great many life issues.

Character is all in your head

Character is built on what you think, what you say, and what you do … all of which are in your span of control.

Character is visible to other people, at least in part, so your overt behaviors may influence how someone else regards you.  Just remember you cannot control that regard, only influence it.

Character ultimately has more to do with how you view yourself and your world.

   Character really is all in your head.

Trying hard to remember this one because it’s important in the Heartland ….

John

I Worry About You …


“You’ll worry a lot less about what people think of you when you realize how little time anyone spends thinking of you.  They’re too busy with their own stuff.”

This was today’s Great Work Provocation.   These little gems appear regularly in my inbox and are never deleted without reading.  I will always make time to open any message from Box of Crayons,  because I can trust that value resides within.

I have never been disappointed or proven wrong in this belief.   Great Work Provocations are keepers.

The source of this ongoing stream of wisdom is  Michael Bungay Stanier, whose latest book is Do More Great Work.   When you visit his site, and you will want to do so, you’ll see much, much more good stuff being done with Michael providing the primary drive.

I have followed Michael’s work for years and can safely say that he is one of the most clear-headed, energetic, and thoughtful change agents and leadership guys out there.

… but don’t take my word for it.  I have obviously drank the Koolaid, as one unfortunate cliché goes.    

Spend a few minutes on Box of Crayons – I can promise that the time will be well spent, especially if you like creative, positive, and useful workplace learning and behavior advice, offered with just a dash of humor and whimsy:)

Loving this trusted source in the Heartland ….

John

“Unlimited … My Future is Unlimited” …. Sort Of


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world”

Albert Einstein    Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) pg. 97    The quote continues, “…stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

Imagine, one of the world’s best known scientists, a person whose analytical skills are beyond compare, giving a “shout out” to creativity:)

Knowledge tells us what has been and what is.

Imagination tells us what might be … and that is a powerful thing.

We need both and either without the other provides only partial fodder for our deliberations and decisions.

The trick may be to tell the difference …

Sometimes we talk about a creative possibility as thought it were a discrete fact.  

Because we can imagine something, we might assume it is a done deal or merely something to be tangibly accomplished.  

Sometimes we confuse a promise about something or a desire for something with an accomplished deed or situation.  Politicians use this to win elections and to govern.

Real creativity has to allow for those thing which will never be.  Even if something cannot be, that image or concept can still fuel ample speculation and discovery of things that we might otherwise have never considered.

Sometimes we talk about a fact as though it were just someone’s opinion.

We are sometimes quick to dismiss ideas which come from people who we see as intellectually inferior.   This includes those who do not have the right education or degree, those who do not have appropriate titles or credentials, and those we just disagree with or flat-out do not like.

Much in our world is relatively new thinking, as the pace of scientific and technological growth seems to increase.  Things we always thought were true have been proven false.  This makes  a fellow a little gun-shy about taking a stand.

However,  we can always rely on the current level of knowledge.  After all, moving from what we know to what we learn is how progress occurs.  Nothing new or startling about that:)

BOTTOM LINE:  Don’t ignore either knowledge or imagination.  One makes you smart and the other makes you creative. 

Trying hard to be realistically creative in the Heartland ….

John

Enough of This Positive Thinking Already!


“I am so sick of all the positive thinking messages that are infesting Facebook!”

Not quite an exact quote, but close enough for accuracy and my purposes.

This comment was recently made in an online post, along with a request for those who are tired of the constant stream of “think good thoughts” and positive quotes that seem to be flooding many online networking sites these days to add their voices.   The underlying message seemed to be:

1)  Life is hard and those who post positive messages are ignoring that fact.

2)  Positive thinking is shallow and not reality-based.

3)  We are seeing an epidemic of people sharing sappy feel-good messages on social networking sites.

4)  Without context, all this is just annoying.

Ahem … let me respond, since I am one who posts, reposts, and shares positive thinking from a wide variety of sources on a daily basis.

First, you are right, to some extent.  I am seeing much more posting and sharing of all types of positive thoughts, from religious to whimsical to thought-provoking.  We just disagree about the value of what we both see.

Second, this is a response to the times in which we live.   Life is not easy for many these days, with little relief in sight.   Hard times tend to affect people in one of two distinct ways:  We either get more focused on thinking positively or we fall into thinking negatively.

Third, while posting a positive thought does not change the physical or economic reality of the world, benefits do accrue.  When I post a happy thought:

1)  I am reminded that not all is doom and gloom and politics.   Life does contain little treasures, if we just pay attention.   I am not denying the negative when I focus on the positive – just making a decision, the same one we all can make.

2)  I firmly believe that sharing positive thoughts helps others.  Maybe to ninety-nine folks, what I share is just trivial, simplistic, or trite.   To that one other, it may be just what they need at the time to make it through another day.  I know other’s sharing has helped me.

3)  I feel better because I am sharing positively, rather than negatively.  Sort of like engaging in empathy rather than sympathy – both are focused on the challenges faced by others, but empathy is infinitely more helpful than sympathy.  I can feel sorry for someone, but when I take the time to understand their emotions, I am in a better position to help them.

4)  I do not believe that positive thinking denies reality.   The very need to engage in positive thinking reinforces the realities which which we all deal every single day.

Life can be challenging.  Better to face it with a smile than a frown.

I should share that thought … 🙂

I honestly enjoy thinking , creating, and sharing positive thoughts with others.  I plan to keep right on and I hope you will too

Thinking in terms of abundance rather than scarcity in the Heartland ….

John