Sunday, August 31, 2008

Being Prosperous

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."

--3 John 2

May this week be prosperous for you in all things, personally and professionally. May your plans, ideas, health, family, and friends all prosper.

Being in Recession

In the midst of recession...

"Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit."

-- Jeremiah 29:5

Stay positive. Prepare for the inevitable future of prosperity.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Being Risky

The choice of Senator McCain's running mate may appear like a good political move in a vacuum or in the presumed arrogant askew unbalanced self-absorbed head of a last resort presidential candidate who can see nothing save his burning desire to win. Yes, the choice seems good in that she is young, a woman, and a soccer mom who can woo any disgruntle Hillary supporters. OK. We understand the choice from a merely political standpoint. But pleeeeeeease...give the American people some consideration, protection, and respect!

Beyond politics, there is a country to run where politics should take a back seat to sound judgement and thoughtfulness, not a quick decision based on a pitch perfect DNC Convention that leaves an arguably hot-head ill-tempered competitor can I top that? Surely McCain received opposition from the RNC. (Or, has the well structured RNC of the past lost control over their candidate? Yes, I know that this is suppose to be the decision of the presidential candidate alone, but we all know better.) Being a maverick in this case seems quite risky indeed. Sincerely, is McCain someone we want in the White House at such a time as this?

In thinking about McCain's choice I am very concerned about his lack of judgement and his pure unadulterated effort to win at any cost without considering the weight of his office or the intelligence of the American people to see his choice exactly for what it is -- a political maneuver to get in the heads of women without considering the all-important-point that women have brains. McCain seems to be banking on the misogynistic belief that women are mainly emotional and not analytical.

Yes, McCain's choice is risky, but it reeks of disrespect and outright recklessness. McCain's choice says more about him than his chosen running mate. Either McCain is not all there (some really believe this) or he will simply do anything to win, including putting the country at risk. The talking heads were spinning, but boy it looked as if their heads would literally spin right off. The running mate was a risky choice indeed. But more importantly McCain himself seems too risky a presidential candidate.

Being risky has benefits; it shows respect and good judgement.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Being Barack Obama III

May God continue to bless Barack Obama. May he be graced with wisdom in the days ahead.

Being Open

"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

--2 Corinthians 4:18

By definition what we know is seen (understood) and what we do not know is not seen (hidden). Since this is so, what we now see is provisional and what we do not yet see exists always.

With all of our knowledge, there is still so much more to know. Remain open...

Being in Love II

Love never fails.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Being Thankful

As I listened to Jennifer Hudson sing The National Anthem at the start of the last day of the Democratic National Convention, to my surprise tears began to flow like a steady stream. (The night hadn't even begun.) From my heart came the names and faces of those who have gone on before us whose love and determination have helped to bring us all to this historical moment:

Crispus Attucks
James Amistead
Frederick Douglas
Harriet Tubman
Sojourner Truth
George Washington Carver
Booker T. Washington
Phyllis Wheatley
Dr. Charles Drew
W.E.B. Du Bois
Matthew Henson
The Tuskegee Airmen
Dr. Martin Luther King
Rosa Parks
Fannie Lou Hammer
Langston Hughes
Zora Neale Hurston
James Baldwin
Gwendolyn Brooks

As these courageous people filled my heart, I was also reminded of the many others of all races and faiths who made it possible for America to arrive at this very moment, one that we have reached together.

It is my heartfelt desire to see Barack Obama become the next president of the United States. But even if this does not happen, we have already reached a milestone and we know that we can continue onward on any path of change...together.

May God bless the great people of the United States.

Being Determined

Being determined requires resolution and abiding love in spite of fear. Harriet Tubman had such resolution and love. Here are her words after returning to the South countless of times with the help of Abolitioninsts to lead others to freedom:

"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."

In Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night she spoke of the importance of keep going, using Harriet Tubman as an example:

"By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they're shouting after you, keep going.

Don't ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.

I’ve seen it in you. I’ve seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military – you always keep going.

We are Americans. We're not big on quitting."

Whatever the challenge, keep going!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Being an Expert

There is just something about proclaiming to be an expert that seems to immediately diminish your standing and shows your ignorance and lack of humility. Now there are things that I'm really good at, even perhaps better than many. But I am cognizance of my lack of knowledge.

We are not omniscient. So, why do we pretend to be? Personally, I accept the fact that I do not know all there is to know about anything. Period! This acceptance requires humility and a healthy ego. (I check myself daily.) In fact, the more I sincerely acknowledge what I do not know, the more I actually come to know. I find that this only works with a sincere and willing heart.

Consider these words from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

"You cannot ignore self-delusion. The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know. Lack of knowledge and delusion about the quality of your knowledge come together-the same process that makes you know less also makes you satisfied with your knowledge."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Being C-Span

Watching the Democratic Convention on C-Span, it's just so wonderful not to hear all the commentary. I clicked to other channels and just listening to the pundits pontificate about what they believe is just really off-putting. Do we really need these guys telling us which speaker did well and which bombed? Which speech had relevance and which didn't? We should all watch C-Span during both conventions, pundit-free, and come away with our own ideas and not those of others.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Being The Bravery-Believe

Believe! What are we waiting for?

What are we breathing for?

Being Brave

If we are not brave, we are not much. Life requires bravery. Be brave.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Being on the Move II

It is not only our past failures that can inhibit us from moving forward, but our past successes too. We can tend to rest on our laurels. Moving forward requires action, getting beyond past failures and successes. Move!

Being in Memoriam

History is made everyday; mercies are new every morning.

Being on the Move

Moving beyond our past failures is the only way to move ahead. What lies ahead for all of us depends on how we handle our past.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Being Strong

Strength isn't always brawn and grit.
It is often lean and unassuming,
yet powerful and stately.

This is how I see Barack Obama.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Being Vetted

While I think it is very important for us to walk honorably and justly, doing what is right in our personal and professional lives, sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we are not all that we should be.

It would be best if we judge ourselves so that others will not judge us. But often times we do not. It also seems best that we not stand as judges of others, vetting others when we too have fallen short.

Consider John 8:1-11.

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Forgiveness and redemption are essential, a part from the law. It is not that Jesus was advocating adultery, he even told this woman to "go and sin no more." He appears to have been mainly addressing the self-righteousness of men when looking upon the shortcomings of others, never considering their very own.

Vetting in many cases is necessary. (Choosing a president and vice-president would count as necessary.) But it is always important to consider ourselves in the process in non-critical personal issues, perhaps in political ones too. The picture will be fairer. It is always important to determine our motive for vetting and not to disgrace another. Motives are revealed in words and context.

When vetting others consider yourself and your loved ones. The context will undoubtedly change. Compassion will be your guide.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Being Mindful

Being mindful begins with me. Outliers spread variably. Be personally responsible. This is key. We affect each other more than minimally.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Being Swayed by Stories

All is art in business, medicine, education, sports, etc. But in The Black Swan Nassim Nicholas Taleb reminds us that aesthetics are not necessarily factual. History is not always so. Taleb speaks of being "swayed by stories," being mainly convinced by narratives and not facts.

All is art in that each profession has a story that draws. (Art draws.) Each profession has a history that is told and told again in laboratories, cubicles, classrooms, and on the baseball diamond. (Think Yogi Berra.) What matters most is not to be "swayed by stories" alone, but by fact.

Are we more "swayed by stories" or fact in the world of work?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Being Strangers

Perhaps knowing each other is overrated. Maybe acceptance, forever being strangers, is better.

Whereas knowledge goes through the prism of our own biases, acceptance is present, diverse, and whole...forever true.

Acceptance maybe far better than knowledge--darkness better than light.

Consider e e cummings' "if strangers meet."

if strangers meet
life begins-
not poor not rich
(only aware)
kind neither
nor cruel
(only complete)
i not not you
not possible;
only truthful
if strangers(who
deep our most are

(and so to dark)

Being Great Redux

Greatness has no genre; it has no particular style, nor is it wrapped up in neat packages.

Greatness is. We recognize it when we see it. More importantly...we feel it.

Pavarotti and James Brown are great. Their presence remain.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Being in Motion

We do not often know the path we should take when we step out. We do not often know which way when all roads seem infinitely long and winding. But without effort we would not move at all. There would not be a set determination or discovery. Set out always on the path to your dreams; you never know where the road might lead, whether you reach a particular destination or not. It's in the journey.

Being Beyond the Gates

Just flew into Dallas yesterday afternoon. Waiting for my ride, I sat at the airport watching people bustling about with luggage and children in tow, many seemingly coming back from vacation, men and women in suits toting laptops ear to Blackberry rushing to their meetings. Lots of hugs and men in blue hats and matching uniforms holding signs, "Smith." How many Smiths are out there?

I am grateful. While we have been inconvenienced with having to take our shoes off and discarding liquids and cremes over a certain ounce, life has not changed for us considerably. OK. My brand new tube of toothpaste and expensive body cream were confiscated. But, hey, what was I thinking? I knew the rules. I had no bags to check. (American Airlines charges $15 dollars to check a bag! I had the dough, but no thanks. The ticket agent said something about gas prices. Aren't they going down?)

In spite of these minor inconveniences life still moves at a pace comparable to who we are, even if we have to slow down momentarily at the airport. Beyond the gates, our pace is resumed; we remain free.

Life is good!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Being an Original

Daily in my inbox I receive quotes by Tom Peters, the kind that propels me to thought and action. Today's quote is particularly salient, as it is perhaps one of the main reasons for the lack of design and innovation.

"If we want original products," Peters writes, "they're likely to come from original people."

While it is All Too Human to complain about the lack of originality, it is also all too familiar to dismiss original people, those who do not think, look, or act like me.

Consider the words of Friedrich Nietzsche:

"One may conjecture that a spirit in whom the type 'free spirit' will one day become ripe and sweet to the point of perfection has had its decisive experience in a great liberation and that previously it was all the more a fettered spirit and seemed to be chained forever to its pillar and corner."

We do not find solutions to problems among like-minded people, yet we so often desire to be among them. When the "fettered spirit," those people who do not think, look, or act like me is "free," this is when design meets originality. It is the "ripe and sweet to the point of perfection" that can be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Being an Elitist

There is a very bright guy who goes by "X" that often comments brilliantly at (He identified himself in another discussion as a white American PhD male graduate student.) In a recent discussion "X" made the distinction between teh two presidential candiates, one being the true elitist and the other being simply intelligent, inspiring and likable. I have not heard a better distinction, turning spin itself topsy turvy indeed. "X" begins with the distinction between the average Republican and those powerful members of the Republican National Party.

"When I say The Republicans, I don't mean a friend or next door neighbor who is a Republican, I mean the guys in the white house and the national party - the people in power who pretend McCain is not a Celebrity but Obama is. Like all good non-celebrities McCain hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002.

Like all good non-elites, McCain has 9 houses and his wife has her own jet. The only thing that makes Obama elite is his wit and intelligence and charm and unique life experience (why the hell should a guy like that be president - presidents should be dolts like the rest of us.) The money Obama has he earned - the Money McCain has he married into - which of course makes McCain a regular non-elite type guy."

How's that for clarity? I'd also like to address another matter, veiled in the comment above. If Obama was not an African American, would such a distinction even be made? Obama is an elitist in comparison to whom--those other non-eloquent unintelligent thick tongued others of his race? (Ouch!) If not this, what? Do kindly.

Now, please do not peg me as an angry African American woman. I most certainly am not. But kindly consider this: If there was not the distinction in race, would we even be talking about Obama being an elitist considering his background? How dare he rise above that considered norm. But whose norm?

Yes, Obama does speak well and he did graduate from an Ivy League school. But this junior brilliant senator was raised by a single mother who was at one point on public assistance. This junior brilliant senator worked with union organizers to ensure proper pay for the less fortunate.

Is this elitism?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Being Entrepreneurial

A few weeks ago I had two very large dead ash trees removed from one of the properties. I love watching these guys fearlessly climb large trees with men controlling cables below. There were about ten men in all clad with shorts, jeans and baseball caps. They compled the job within five hours. Even though they looked like a rag tag team, they were, in fact, oh, so very efficient, pleasant, reasonable, licensed, and insured. I was very pleased with their work.

This morning at my house I could not get out of my driveway, as there were county workers removing a very large oak tree from the easement of my neighbor's home. There were about ten men on this job too clad with neat official county uniforms, on heavy duty machines and trucks with county logos on them. (There were no men controlling cables below.) Orange clones lined the street and red triangle danger signs were nearby. Everything looked so official.

I arrived home some eight hours later to find the men on my lawn drinking sodas with music playing and shooting the breeze. The limbs on the tree had not all been cut, and the trunk, of course, had not been touched. What had they been doing for these past eight hours? My rag tag looking team had two very large ash trees down within five hours--not one but two; at no time did I see a cooler or hear any music, save the sound of saw, shouts of heads up, and the movement and sounds of men hurrying about getting thing done. They were quite impressive.

What struck me immediately was that entrepreneurs are often so much more efficient than government workers. The buck stops with entrepreneurs. Without massive red tape and the safety of unions, this can lead to more effective execution. Some times there is an arrogance and sense of entitlement that go with government jobs. Let's see how long it will take these workers to get that oak tree down, allowing me to come and go from my house at will. Looking efficient is not equivalent to being effective. Entreprenuers are often more efficient and effective.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Being Prince

There is no original. I am pure variance.

Remember when he became this?

What kind of brand is that?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Being Good at Doing

Contrary to our spending countless hours thinking about a process or a way of doing a thing, Nassim Nicholas Taleb reminds us that we are "not good at knowing, planning, or forecasting. We are good at doing."

It is often that we spend many hours contemplating a process or next move to avoid actually doing it. Often times fear of failure inhibits us from action. But is it precisely action that we are best at.

You can do it! Just do it!

Being Dominated by the Predictable or Unpredictable

Which has greater consequences in our personal and professional lives?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Being Annoyed

What in the world is going on? (Obviously not the increasing escalating showdown between Russia and Georgia!) Why are we all so surprised by an affair? Now, I do not wish that any marriage would go through such heartbreak, but it happens. It is also highly unlikely that a public figure would admit to such a thing, especially if running for President of the United States.

What appears to be more ridiculous is all the folks who claim to be "heartbroken," "very disappointed," "devastated," and "deceived." Give me a break! Let public figures handle their personal matters privately. Why have we invested so much in the personal lives of public figures anyway? Get a life! Are there not more pressing issues to concern ourselves with? Yet, a salacious story between a married couple is breaking news. How ridiculous!

I'd like to ask all of these people (former aides, campaign organizers, senators, pundits etc.) who are so devastated at the extramarital affair of another to look at their own lives, perhaps the devastation will cease. What are your secret sins? Are you hateful? Are you vindictive? Do you cheat a little bit? Are you a glutton? How often do you tell those little white lies? How self-righteous are you? Perhaps these could have more consequences for the whole than an extramarital affair. But, in any event, please do not confuse policy decision with personal indiscretion. We are all not righteous in thought, word, or deed all the time. "Let he without sin cast the first stone."

I've heard a lot of people today talking about how their hearts are going out to the wife and children of a past presidential candidate whose name is now being splattered across the media. All of these "compassionate" hearts that are going out for the self-professed "sinner," who has spoken long before now of missing the mark daily, and his wife seem disingenuous, silly in fact, for there they stand on national TV talking about a private matter publicly. They should check their own heart instead of lending it out.

I'm annoyed!

Being Competitive

It is often believed that "only the strong survives" and that the remainder is better than the lost or lessened. It is also often believed that the one who wins is the greater and the one who has the lion's share is indeed the lion. But there is "silent evidence" to reflect on. Consider these words from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

"It is easy to avoid looking at the cemetery while concocting historical theories. But this is not just a problem with history, It is a problem with the way we construct samples and gather evidence is every domain. We shall call this distortion a bias, i.e., the difference between what you see and what is a scale that unfailingly shows you a few pounds heavier or lighter than your true weight or a video camera that adds a few sizes to your waistline...Silent evidence is what events use to conceal their own randomness, particularly the Black Swan type of randomness...The neglect of silent evidence is endemic to the way we study comparative talent, particularly in activities that are plagued with winner-take-all attributes. We may enjoy what we see, but there is no point reading too much into success stories because we do not see the full picture."

This excerpt fleshes out beautifully the necessity for competition, yet the seemingly futility or elusiveness of it all, being amidst the fray and seeking to rising above it. (But where is it? Where is the level or demarcation, considering the cemetery? This is an obvious humbling factor.) When randomness is spoken of here it has a quality of presence yet it remains without form; it appears nebulous, though it is evident. It is the search of that which is beyond my present ability (In Search of Excellence a la Tom Peters), having arrived through various difficulties and competititions, failures and successes, that I recognize me in what I see or the thought of the cemetery (the silent evidence) that evades me.

Do both existentially draw me?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Being Beyond "I"

In one of his most beautiful photos of two imposing skyscrapers appearing as mammoth scalable mountains, though perhaps not evolving naturally, Andrea Chincarini wrote these words:


shouts the ego


echoes the self.

Here is my response:

The ego seems necessary for existence. Without it how would we appear, be made known in the world? Our flesh and bone alone will not do. What seems vitally important is knowing that the ego, I, is not all there is, that others too exist.

From time to time, more often than not, deference to the other is necessary, for our growth and theirs. There is no building larger than self. Humility (which is not void of confidence or excellence) is a most beautiful trait to cultivate.

Being a Storyteller II

Every profession no matter how technical or scientific has a story out of which hypotheses are made and actualities formed.

Execution springs from stories.

Storytellers are creators.

Tell your story.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Being a Storyteller

Tell a story. The best stories, coming from me, appeal widely.

Stories personally unfold but are universally told.

Stories are kinetic and connective; they are distinictive and collective.

Tell your story.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Being a Mimick or Communicator

Mimicking is mirroring. Communicating is listening and responding.

Which do we do most often? Are both valid?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Being Concerned About You

In difficult times personally or professionally, know that someone is concerned about you and be encouraged!

This is a difficult season for many in business. It is also a difficult sseason for many with whom I come in contact that have lost their homes or in the process of being foreclosed upon.

Be encouraged. We are concerned about you. He is too.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Being Defined

In a court of law the defense attorney gives many possibile scenarios as to who might have committed the crime his client is being charged with and under what circumstances without ever pointing to any one scenario in particular. It could be this or that. The objective is to produce doubt, hoping that something will stick. This is the tacitic Senator McCain's campaign seems to be using in seeking to define Senator Obama as guilty as charged. But charged of what?

What must be done? Senator Obama needs to continue to define himself, but he must also continue to define Senator McCain's lock step policies with the current unpopular administration. The defining by Senator McCain seems to be a means of not defining himself. The best offense many believe is a great defense. If the focus remains on who Barack is with the continued barage of negative ads, McCain and his party will get a free ride.

It seems that if Senator Obama does not define himself, while playing a bit of hardball with Senator McCain (politics is a game), closely aliging him with the policies of the current president and administration, he is doomed to the fate of Dukakis and Kerry. Playing softball does not knock the ball out of the diamond. Does it? But is it possible for candidates to define themselves in the game of politics and hit their opponent hard without appearing negative? Politics seems to be all at times more about appearances rather than policy.

Defining oneself, not being defined by others, seems paramount to getting to policy in politics.

Being Honest II

It seems that in the world of politics it is OK to suggest, insinuate, or imply. But whatever you do, do NOT call a spade a spade. After a barage of negative ads approved by McCain and responded to by Obama, McCain, shakes his head in feigned disbelief saying, "It's just too bad that he brought up race." Was race not honestly addressed in that beautiful speech to America? Did McCain even respond to that speech? How gallant to respond to an ad now.

With the spin really taking off, and ads by the Karl Rove team suggesting all kinds of subliminal messages, including race and gender-with religion I'm sure on the way, it has become a cardinal blunder and fodder for pundits that Obama has mentioned his race in response to the spin and barrage of negative ads. Are we not already aware of the obvious? What we may not be aware of is the subliminal.

Politics is a game. It's just too bad that it's a serious game.