Magna Res Est Vocis Et Silentii Temperamentum – A Valuable Lesson Indeed!

Detective 4The proverbs of Seneca the younger provide the title and the lesson for consideration, “The great thing is to know when to speak and when to keep quiet.”  I make this statement and write on this lesson, not because I am good at knowing when to speak and when to stay silent, but in the hopes of learning more perfectly when to speak and when to talk.  In reviewing my K-12 report cards, the ones my parents had to sign, the most frequent comment is knowing when to shut up, closely followed by “Does not play well with others.”  The latter is a badge of honor; I have never played well with others!

But, knowing when to speak and when not to speak is a challenge, and in observing people, I find I might not be the only person afflicted with a lack of knowledge on this topic.  My wife is a perfect example of someone who knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  She has mastered the art of saying the exact word in season someone needs to hear and claims manners and discernment have honed her abilities.

Charles de Lint is quoted on educating children, saying in part, “Teach them to learn how to see and ask questions.”  The greatest teachers I can recall easily are those who taught me to either perceive differently or how to ask questions.  Long have I desired to return these lessons and remain enthusiastic about finding the opportunities to teach.  I often quote and consider the lessons taught by Henry Chester, who said, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world.  It beats money, power, and influence.  It is nothing more or less than faith in action.”  While appearing paradoxical, enthusiasm and learning when to speak and stay silent are anything but contradictory, and this is the point and the lesson for your consideration.Pin on Why Volkalize?

Why do we speak?

Of all the questions asked me in my K-12 journey, the number one question has to be an iteration of the following: “Why are you talking?”  I never could understand when to shut up.  Worse, there were plenty of times when my refusal to shut up would worsen the punishment, even though I considered the teacher’s actions immoral, unethical, or plain wrong.  For example, in 12th grade, Mr. Moro’s class, Camden-Rockport High School, Camden, Maine.  I had been a student of this school for a grand total of 1 day; this was the second class on my second day.  My first meeting with Mr. Moro, who, very clearly stated, “This is his classroom, his castle, and in his castle, he was king and demanded respect.  To which I firmly replied, NO!  He sent me to the principal’s office and said I would not return until he had a parent/teacher conference.  Being emancipated, I told him he would have to speak with me, and he could fax me!  I still have no idea what a senior class advisor is or what they do, but apparently, I had to appease Mr. Moro if I wanted to graduate.

Quotes About Listening And Speaking. QuotesGramWhy was I speaking in this incident; I was not going to be pushed or bullied by what I considered at the time a pompous moron.  I needed to change how I perceived Mr. Moro as a person.  I graduated high school, Mr. Moro never became a friend, but we did learn how to get along with each other.  Yes, I ate some crow and had to chip away at my ego.  After graduating and traveling to Advanced Individual Training for the US Army, I got a nice letter from Mr. Moro.  One of the reasons we speak is we feel put upon and do not know how to extricate ourselves, or in my case, extricate my foot from my mouth.Are you an active listener ….or do you just hear? | Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy ...

Another reason we speak is a desire to say something, but how often have we opened our mouths without forming the thought entirely, and our mouth is running way faster than our brains, common sense, and self-preservation?  In my case, way too often.  Several comedians call this an older person’s disease, not having the brain mouth filter, common sense, or good social skills to know when to say something and when to listen.  One of the reasons I love old people is explicitly derived from this truthfulness and lack of filter.

When my mother-in-law fell and had to be placed in a nursing home, long-term care facility, I made some great friends in her facility.  Not a single filter anywhere to be found.  One older lady, her name regrettably escapes me, had family who would come and tell her the filthiest jokes on the weekend.  During the week, I would visit my mother-in-law and slip her a couple of clean jokes, dad jokes, and just plain funny jokes.  One day I told her a joke about passing gas in church after a bean supper the night before.  She laughed so hard; I thought I had injured her.  I came back the next day and learned she had told the entire staff this joke, and she told me she had laughed so hard so peed herself.Raji Lukkoor Quote: "Respond; don't react. Listen; don't talk. Think; don't assume." (9 ...

I apologized to the nursing staff and armed them with a few choice dad jokes.  She did not want an apology, but she told me a story from her youth where the night before her church had hosted a community-wide bean supper, chili cookoff, raffle/silent auction, and how the next day’s sermon was cut short because the pastor could not stand the air in his church, which is when I began laughing hard enough to make me wonder if I was going to pee myself!  Worse, this was the day after serving baked beans for supper, and she and I listened to the chorus of frogs from the patients and kept falling out of our chairs laughing.Spalding, Laura - Kindergarten / Special Classes Schedule

Betty Eadie eloquently provides a caution for our words, “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.  If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.  In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.  Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.  We can always replace negative with positive.”  The next lesson on why we speak is that our brains are too full of words and need an outlet.  Yet, how much better would the world be if we filtered our thoughts, slowed our thinking, and kept our mouths shut?

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” – Buddha

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” – Peter McWilliams

Listening Quotes | Listening Sayings | Listening Picture QuotesThree people from different periods of human history, all messaging a truth, thoughts do become things, and often the things our thoughts become are not what we wanted or desired.  More specifically, the thoughts became things because we expressed the thoughts that should have stayed silent in words.  In learning to control the post-traumatic stress disorder I suffer, the words of Peter McWilliams became the answer I needed and the balm in Gilead I sought.  I had to stop fighting my thoughts to be able to control the pernicious and repeated images, feelings, and constant reminiscing over a terrible incident from my service in the US Navy.  Every day remains a challenge to acknowledge the thoughts and let them go.  Every day it becomes easier to achieve.  There is hope!

Why do we listen?

Of all the questions I have never been asked, I hope to learn the lesson of controlling my thoughts so I may hear better.  I suffer from tinnitus, many times though the ability to listen does not reside in my ear where the tinnitus rings, but in my brain that is a ravaged wasteland of competing ideas, factions, and imaginations.  When the voices in my head go silent, I hear the birds in the trees, I hear voices of people around me, and I experience hearing.  The moment I begin speaking, I lose the ability to hear.Hearing Vs Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Ken Kesey is quoted as saying, “See with your ears and hear with your eyes.”  What a remarkable idea.  One of the most momentous times I can ever recall occurred while onboard my ship, deep dark of night.  You know how dark night can get if you have ever been beyond the hundred-fathom curve.  I was an engineer on the mid-watch (0000-0400) and was roaming around topside between rounds, something I should not have been doing, but I needed fresh air and wanted to see if the stars really were more brilliant at sea.  On a night with no moon, deep dark, I saw the ship passing through the water with my ears.  I heard the waves; I heard the wind whistling through the ship’s rigging; I saw with my ears the stumbling of smokers going to and from the smoke deck—an experience like no other.  Why do we listen; to learn, to experience, and if we choose, to marvel!

In the 1990’s I had a screen saver called psychedelic.  When music was played, it changed colors according to the beat, and you had user interfaces where you could pick specific interpretations to display on the screen in colors, lines, and contrasts.  This was the first time I can remember visualizing sounds.  I had previously turned the stereo speakers to maximum and watched sound interface with the water in a fish tank, but this screen saver was the first time I can remember seeing sound displayed by a computer.  Since this screensaver, I have watched sound played in flames (SUPER COOL), watched water falling display shapes as heard through a computer, and synthesized (unique experience indeed).  I have used several computer programs that took that old screensaver’s concept and improved the display and synthesization.  Yet, I am still want to hear with my eyes and see if I can improve how I listen.Hearing And Listening Quotes & Sayings | Hearing And Listening Picture Quotes

Something was pointed out to me, the word silent has precisely the same letters as listen, but in the arrangement of those letters, the ability of one is lost or found.  I have learned that a silent mouth precedes a silent mind, and you need both to listen.  Yet, it is a rare moment indeed when my brain is silent.  My brain runs lyrics to songs, words I think I should have said, words I am preparing to speak, responses to questions, responses to other people’s opinions, facts, figures, fights, and the list goes on ad nauseum ad infinitum!  A book by Stephen Covey mentioned, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  Why do we listen; this is a valuable question to consider!

I have mentioned this previously and repeat myself only for emphasis; all the musical talent, knowledge, and skill I possess can be poured into a thimble and never moisten the bottom.  I mention this because Linda Ronstadt said, “Ninety-Nine present of singing is listening and hearing, and so then one percent of it is singing.”  A thought I had never previously considered.  I love music and have an eclectic taste in music, but I hear not listen to music.  Music has never been an escape from reality but has often been a balm to my world-weary soul.  Music has been a tool, a weapon, and a shield, in the battles for knowledge, learning, and protecting myself from the words of others.  In the US Army, Basic Training music was the key to getting me to relax and shoot the M-16A2 sufficiently to qualify and eventually graduate basic training.  But, only now, when considering Lind Ronstadt’s quote, I realized I hear music, not listen to music.Humorous Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Funny story, while my parents are hippies, my father is a professional musician but not a music teacher.  As a kid, music in our house was how food made it to the table, how my father retreated from the world’s cares, and often a weapon against my mother.  Yet, even coming from a home where music was a major part of daily life, I never learned to listen to music.  Have you ever heard reveille played on a tuba, French horn, clarinet, trombone, guitar, recorder, or flute?  If so, you know a little of what growing up in our house was like.  When 0400 came, whatever instrument my father was playing at the time became the instrument upon which reveille was played.

Knowledge Check!A song covered by a multitude of musicians originates with Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence.”  The second link is to Disturbed’s cover of the Paul Simon song; I think this is the best version.  What are the sounds of silence?  Are they different for each person?  Does the sound of silence change with the environment, the weather, or humanity’s influence?  I once read a research report regarding the negative impact of listening to the sounds of New York City and how the city’s sound shortened the lives of those who constantly heard the city.  As we consider the lesson on learning when to speak and to discern when to stay silent, may we consider how to improve listening, moving from hearing to listening, and find joy in seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Build People – Focus on Potential, a Leadership Task

ToolsWhile walking through Home Depot, my favorite aisles are those aisles with tools, power tools, hand tools, and so forth.  My mind always goes on imaginative wanderings, thinking about what those tools will go out into the world and do.  Will an inexperienced hand learn on those tools?  Will they build grand buildings?  Will they destroy?  What will those tools help accomplish?  The potential held in a tool is as much a mystery as looking at a babe in arms and thinking, what will that soul go forward and do?  I never become bored thinking about the potential held in a tool as part of the ongoing saga of humanity.

Without hands, a tool is useless; the tool cannot act independently.  Guns do not shoot themselves; hammers do not strike anything alone; thus, we can see that tools need someone to fulfill the measure of their creation.  For good or ill, the tool is only ever a force multiplier and requires intention through another party to act.  A critical point to understand is the person’s intention of holding the tool, who decides whether that tool will build or destroy, and the value to the owner.

Knowledge Check!But, this article is about people’s potential; why begin discussing tools?  To a leader, each person is a tool requiring training, delegation, trust, and motivation to achieve the measure of their creation.  Have you ever witnessed an unskilled manager use, or abuse, their people?  My first officer in the US Army National Guard was one of these unskilled managers.  The stories and experiences from this manager are legion, fraught with examples of what not to do and the hubris of a person placed into a position of power above their competence level.  I have long wondered, what did this officer’s boss think about this officer’s performance?

The first lesson in building people is this; everyone has someone they report to.  Do your people know who they report to, and are they comfortable talking to this person?  Consider the following:

Leadership is solving problems.  The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership.” – General Colin Powell

In more than nine years of Military Service, I can count on one hand the number of officers I trusted enough and were approachable sufficient to bring problems to, and I won’t even need the pinky and thumb.  In talking to friends and family about this issue, their experiences are similar.  Worse, the same problem exists with the non-commissioned officer corps.  In my professional pursuits outside military service, I have worked with precisely one boss to whom I felt comfortable bringing issues.

While I strive to be the leader I wish I could take problems to, there is a realization that to my teams, I am being measured, weighed, and if found wanting, will never know I failed to be the leader to whom I would bring problems.  Consider this for a moment.  A leader could be solving problems and thinking, “My people bring their problems to me QED: I am a good leader.”  While never realizing they are detestable and hated by their people.  All because their people only bring work-related problems, and then only rarely.  In the US Navy, I experienced this exact issue more than once, and the officers all thought they were “God’s gift to their people.” Massive egos, compensating for being vile and despicable.

Leaders, take note:

    1. What are the preferred names of the members of your teams?
    2. When was the last time you shared problems and asked for input from your followers?
    3. What are you learning daily, and who is teaching you?
    4. Do you know your followers sufficiently to advise?
    5. What quirks, talents, skills, or abilities do your people possess that you appreciate?

How you answer these questions determines more than your destiny as a leader and your team’s productivity in achieving business goals.  When I begin a new project and select tools, I review what I know about my tools.  My hammer has a loose head, but I will not change it out because it has the smoothness of age and is the best hammer for finishing work.  This wrench has scratches in the head and a chisel mark in the handle that is exactly 6” and is handy in a pinch.  Thus, when used on soft brass, the head will leave marks in the metal on which it is used.  All this and more is reviewed, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and peculiarities, all known before engaging in a new project.  When you know your tools, their potential is declared, and in communicating their potential, how and where they can be best used becomes common knowledge.

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.  But if you must be without one, be without strategy.” – General Schwarzkopf

Ninety-Nine present of leadership failures are failures of character.” – General Schwarzkopf

Several of the worst people I have ever worked for had the moral integrity of a used car salesperson.  They could not be trusted, except to be trusted to stab you in the back.  No honesty, never forthright, always acting for the downfall of anyone they deemed was competition, and constantly engaged in stealing glory while meting out the worst punishments.  While the experiences fulfilled another axiom from General Schwarzkopf, the education was brutal to suffer through.

You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership.  Because you learn how not to do it, and, therefore, you learn how to do it.” – General Schwarzkopf

These experiences alone would qualify me to write this article; however, through a multitude of academic classes and degrees, I have gained more fundamental qualifications to justify what I am about to declare.  If you think a title makes you a leader, you are the problem in your organization’s leadership!  In working with newly minted, freshly commissioned, officers in the US Army and the US Navy, I have learned through sad experience too many consider the rank and titles their “Golden Ticket” to being abusers of people through “leadership.”  One particular example stands out more clearly from the others.

While serving in the US Navy, my first Chief Engineer was book smart and common sense inept!  This man was more dangerous with tools in his hand, even though he could verbatim quote pages from maintenance manuals.  Shortly before I arrived on the ship, the Chief Engineer had started a fire on board the vessel in multiple engine and auxiliary rooms by applying shaft brakes to an operating shaft instead of to the shaft that had been locked out and tagged out.  The Chief Engineer then compounded his errors by blaming the engineers who had properly locked out/tagged out the shaft needing maintenance.  This was a major issue that proved cream rises and trash sinks, and this leader was absolute trash!

The bitter cherry on this crap sundae, the example of the Chief Engineer, was a symptom of a greater sickness and moral desert in the Engineering Department.  Chiefs were force-multiplying the Chief Engineers example, and the senior non-commissioned officers were force-multiplying the chiefs example.  Who suffered, the lowest enlisted, and the rest of the ship.  Maintenace was rarely done properly, watchstanding was hit or miss, and the example plagued the Engineering Department for years after the Chief Engineer was summarily dismissed.

The only redeeming factor from this experience, I learned the lessons of what negative leadership does well.  Leaders take note:

    1. If character problems lead to poor performance or behaviors detestable in your teams, look no further than the reflection in the mirror for both an answer and a root cause.
    2. Your followers will observe what you do more than what you say. How are you acting?
    3. Stop looking up, you are a leader, and your first vision should be to look sideways and make sure your people are on the same level before you look up.
    4. Before embracing new strategies, first review character!

The following is critical to building people and promoting potential:

To be an effective leader, you have to have a manipulative streak – you have to figure out the people working for you and give each tasks that will take advantage of their strengths.” – General Schwarzkopf

Leadership is a balancing act between helping people take advantage of their strengths and training them to overcome individual weaknesses.  Yet, leaders often act like managers, never training, and always micro-managing to shave strengths preventing competition with the leader.  Which are the actions of neither a leader nor a manager, but a tyrant!  Petty authoritarians acting the role of tyrants produce more harm than war, poverty, and disease combined.

What actions are needed?  We conclude with the following:

TRUE courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job.” – General Schwarzkopf

The job of a leader begins with being a good follower; even if to be a good follower, you must be the loyal opposition standing like a rock doing the right thing in the face of adversity.  Moral integrity is critical to being a good leader and is foundational to building people.  Leaders take special note and act accordingly:

    1. What is your moral code?
    2. Why do you embrace those morals?
    3. Do you understand integrity is doing what is right, especially when you think nobody is watching? Do you have moral integrity?
    4. Do you know your identity, and are you comfortable with your identity?
    5. What character do you possess, and is that character tied to your morality and integrity?Exclamation Mark

When you are placed to influence people, build potential by first knowing, and then doing that which is the harder right, than the easier wrong.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Killing the Status Quo – Revisiting That Powerful Tool – HUMOR!

Deep PoetryDale Dauten authored “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo,” who, alongside Robert Fulghum, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” have taught me much about the sword and shield of humor.  Humor is a tool; it is the best tool in a leader’s toolbox, and “Dad Jokes,” especially those that are “a parent,” work the best.  Interestingly, when killing the status quo, one must first become creatively useful.

Creative Usefulness

Creative usefulness is a term coined by Dale Dauten (2003), which reminds us of a quote by Conrad Schneiker, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get it to float on its back, you’ve got something.”  Humor creates creativity in other people, allowing that humor-inspired person to do a job. It makes them useful first to themselves and then to others. As a result, humor and usefulness break out like sunshine after a moonless night!

How does the man in the moon cut his hair?
Eclipse it!

Dale Dauten (2003) nailed creative usefulness by changing the language of success.

“The Old Language of Success:
Persistence, Goals, Numbers, Positive Attitude

Versus

The New Language of Success:
Smiling, Laughing, Feelings, Saving, Helping”

Mediocrity JokeDauten (2003, p. 10-11) went further and added that creative usefulness is also ambitious helpfulness; this motivates people.  When your employees creatively use their talents, skills, and abilities, they become helpful to the whole brand, the full organization, and guess what, you never have to talk about employee morale or engagement.  How many fewer meetings would executives have per day if they were not discussing just these two items; a lot.  Meaning they could be on the floor listening, helping, and enjoying what they created: ambitious helpfulness and people’s growth.  Just remember, mediocrity is okay!

What happens when you squeeze a smurf?
You Papa smurf!

Slaying Mediocrity

Plant JokeMediocrity is acting in a mediocre manner.  Mediocre is nothing special; in fact, mediocre happens.  Mediocre is indistinguishable, lacking quality, indifferent.  In being indifferent, mediocre becomes deadly.  Avoiding mediocre attitudes and mediocrity in actions is not a perplexing problem; embrace mediocrity.  Sounds absurd, doesn’t it.  The whole world wants us to chase quality, nag people into higher performance, and organize differently into success.  Guess what; none of those things will bring happiness to ourselves, success to our organizations, and fulfillment to the employees around us.  Our brains will go on full alert in embracing mediocrity because we have been taught that mediocrity is dangerous.  Guess what; mediocrity IS dangerous.  Why embrace mediocrity; because therein, we find the problem with hierarchies, organizational designs, and strategical goals; we forgot the people!  Psychologists and geneticists find that the best way to reach people and get the best out of them is to remind them of their weaknesses.

What do you call a belt entirely made out of watches?
A waist of time!

Mediocrity is the safe spot, and people and institutions will invariably fall back to this spot as a personal safety zone.  Thus, stop criticizing yourself and those around you for being mediocre.  It is okay to be shy and to tell the world about your problems with being shy.  Business organizations bring out the worst in people, be liberated by that knowledge, and you can then begin to understand how humor and a laughing warrior mindset can help.  Use eyes that encourage.

What happened when prison wardens allowed inmates to take pictures?
Cellfies!

Looking Through Eyes that Encourage

Pigeon RevengeDuring my MBA, the current buzzword for improving people was “Management by walk-around,” and this philosophy has been incredibly popular while also being fantastically useless!  Why; because getting out and taking a walk helps only the manager, not those managed!  Worse, management by walk-around brought out the worst egos from their offices, and employees tuned out, turned off, and fell into mediocrity as a shield of protection from “know-it-all” leaders.  Want to change that; embrace a “learn-it-all” mentality.  When you walk out your door, ask the first person you see to teach you something.  Repeat for as many people as you encounter.

There are three signs of senility.
Loss of memory is the first one.
… I forget the other two!

When asking for help, take notes.  The action of taking notes reflects the seriousness of your desire to learn.  Plus, with a notebook in hand, you can remember to tell that funny joke you just heard after training completes.  Never forget, in fact, teach this to your employees through example, “Empty hands; Closed Mind!”  Dauten (2003, p. 40-41) quotes Shashi Gupta:

If you want to implement an idea, you must be able to answer three questions.”
What are the three questions?”
“The answer: “NO ONE KNOWS!”  (By the way, this includes the boss!)

Moon Re-EntryWhich would be more preferable, employees who ask questions or know answers?  How you answer this determines a lot about you and speaks volumes about what a consultant will find in your operations, employees, and customers.  As a consultant (since 2004), the number one expression I have heard consistently across the lower 48-states has been “No Way!,” followed closely by “Impossible!,” and “You are out of your mind!”  Why; the first excuse, “That is the way we do things here.”  Announcing for the world that processes never change, procedures never flex, and customers never change, so why not just keep doing what we have always done, ad nauseam ad infinitum.  When reality bit, all of these organizations saw stars, all lost tremendous amounts of capital, shrank operations, and many went bankrupt!

Overheard in a bar.
Patron 1: What does “IDK” mean?
Patron 2: I don’t know.
Patron 1: I cannot believe this; no one knows!

Cow and Moon JokeLooking through encouraging eyes is refusing to do the same thing over and over, expecting no changes ever to result; not looking through encouraging eyes is a short bus to insanity!  Looking with encouraging eyes is all about asking, “Why Not?”  Repeatedly.  Consciously.  Then looking at the answers and still stepping into the unknown with confidence.  Why not; when faced with a problem, ask your employees for solutions, input, and ideas; this leadership style uses “Appreciative Inquiry” to the fullest extent possible.  Why not; shake off the status quo, laugh, and enjoy the human element as a tool for creating great people dedicated to your brand.  Why not; ask the impossible, explaining the why, and see how the results occur.

True Story:  Whenever I have a problem, I sing…
Then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problems!

Pin by Tara Bites on for school in 2020 | Clean jokes, Jokes, Clean humorI am asking you to choose to become a laughing warrior, slaying the dragons of status quo one idiosyncratic obstacle at a time.  Having fun, growing people, improving business, and being adventurous.  Never forget, dehydrated water, in a can and pet rocks, sold like wildfire!

What do you call Security guards at the Samsung Manufacturing plant?
Guardians of the Galaxy!

Dehydrated water | | thetandd.com© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Society Needs the Family – Knowing the Paradigms That Shape American Society

School of DarknessA colleague said I should read a book, “The School of Darkness,” by Bella V. Dodd.  As an immigrant in the early 1900s, the book is discussing coming to America, losing one’s belief structure with its tenets, traditions, and ties that bind, and discovering the emptiness of society, which tried desperately to replace the family and religion.  The author only discovers this emptiness and the need for family and religion after a lifetime of fighting against the influence.

The ideal family, found in many cultures, religions, and communities across the world is of one father, loving one mother, and raising children in what is called a nuclear family.  Early in the 1900s, the families with close ties as a family, who kept the traditions of religion, found in America plentiful opportunities and made strong the American Society.  Those nuclear families without strong ties to a belief structure weakened American Society, but not in ways or methods cognizant at the time, and only understood through historical observation and dissection.Nuclear Family

Consider, for a moment, James Hardy’s writings (2015) on divorce in America; in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, there was created a judicial tribunal that solely settled divorce matters in 1629. “This legislative body could grant divorces based on adultery, desertion, bigamy and in many cases impotence. In the North, the colonies adopted their own approaches that made divorce available, whereas the southern colonies did all they could to prevent the act even if they did have legislation in place.”  Notice the distinction between North and South that was apparent in pre-Revolutionary and Civil War society supporting both conclusions needed for a strong community, family, and a common religious belief structure.

Fast forward to 2020, and the current divorce rate is 2.9:1000 reporting from 45 states and the District of Columbia.  With the medium marriage lasting 11 years and falling, and around 30% of marriages suffering disruptions leading to divorce.  The future of the nuclear family in America remains grim, unless fundamental changes in, and desires of, people change; America is soon to disappear.  The American Civil War taught this lesson well, the need for strong families, based upon a core belief structure that lifts the human mind from pettiness, selfishness, and authoritarianism, remains the two keys an individual will control to keep the American Republic safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

Role of ReligionWhich religions lift the soul, I do not speculate; however, I can tell how you can tell.  The answer is the same from generation to generation, first know yourself.  Second, research the religion’s works.  Finally, seek religions that bring light to the world sickened mind.  I have known great and good people in all the different sects of religion in this world.  The key I have found comes in living the religion, not just professing that religion.  As one lives that religion the tenets of that religion will either inspire, uplift, edify, and grow the spirit and the soul, or it is time to find a new religious structure.  Regardless, before the traditions of religion, the traditions of the family must be understood and cemented together.

Religion QuoteThe Jewish religious tenets are deeply respected by this author for the blend of family and religion that is born from the belief structure.  Some Catholic tenets speak to the same family and religious mixture, several Christian religions also speak to this mixture of home-based family-centered religion.  The Muslim faith tends to support a community based around the mosque, and not as much on the individual family.  The religious foundations and actions of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints are very like the Jewish religious beliefs, the Amish, Quakers, Dutch Calvinists, and more who also carry a strong family first, religion second, approach to building strong communities through strong religious traditions, by first focusing upon the family and home-based religious practices, building into strong religious communities, and then to strong and morally upright citizens.  Yet, I have witnessed the same in Atheist communities, where the beliefs of non-belief led to strong families asking questions, seeking truth and developing the person through strong familial bonds.

Building a child, with strong familial bonds, which will then build a community, a state, and a country, is the work of two parents in a nuclear family.  But what supports the parents in the difficult job of rearing children, the local community and the extended family are helpful and needful, but most important traditions of belief.  Dodd in, her book, reflects this lesson as she taught freshmen in college, generally from tearing the student from improperly rooted belief structures and transplanting them into the heady and hedonistic thoughts of social families replacing nuclear families, shucking religious traditions in the process.

Religion Quote 2Why is Communism doomed; because it attempts to replace the family with the government.  Why is Socialism doomed; it expands the power of government until the government becomes Communist and tries to replace the family with the government.  Why has Capitalism been such a breath of fresh air to the world through the American Republic; because it leaves the family alone from the fingers of government intrusion.  Government intrusion, which chokes the agency of man for the mind control of the government.  Fascism was doomed to failure, for it worked hard to replace the family with social groups, social families, and corroded the human spirit until nothing but violence and rage remained.  Does this sound familiar; it should, for this is the same path being used in education in 2020, learned in the early 1900s, and dedicated to the eradication of America through slow corrosion.

Religious ThoughtAs an older child in a large family, with a large extended family, I once asked, “Why do we gather as an extended family with all the expense, the work, the travel, the hard feelings, etc.?”  The answer never made sense to me then, and makes less sense now; yet, there is a truth in the answer that is more felt than understood, “We do it for family.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye sings about “Tradition” and how familial and religious tradition extends into confidence and strength for the individual to understand who they are in society, and by extension in a country.

From the nuclear family comes confidence in knowing one’s self.  Does this mean that non-nuclear families are inferior; no!  It simply means there is a larger role for extended families and the community to render assistance.  Yet, the extended family and community cannot replace or render invalid the responsibilities of the parents.

Consider two families.  Family A loses their father as the oldest is just entering high school, the youngest daughter is just barely 18-months.  The mother is left to raise the family having married her high school sweetheart.  Family B is a product of divorce, the mother has custody of the children, and she and her new boyfriend work two jobs apiece, leaving the children to fend for themselves except when the grandparents can “take the kids.”  Family A the children continue to heal from their father’s abrupt passing and are strong in family and faith.  Family B the children have no roots, and they struggle with the religion of the parents and grandparents.  They struggle because their mother has no religious connections due to both employment and lifestyle choices.  The children are good kids, but they are confused, and the person who could settle their confusion, has abdicated the responsibility, and the grandparents can only do so much as partial parent replacements.  While the extended families and communities surrounding both families help and support as they can, the lack of parental responsibility and awareness of the mother in Family B, and the awareness and devotion in Family A, makes all the difference between these two families.

ReligionsHaving traveled across America for the last 25years, and ¾’s of the way around the world, I have a few observations that can strengthen the family.  I share the following as a warning, for if the family is not supported, the actions seen by the domestic terrorists in recent days, as evidenced by the riotings and lootings will only grow until America is lost forever.

  1. How much is enough? America is a capitalist and materialistic country; yet, for all that, there remains much good in America worth preserving.  Answering this simple question determines where standards, limits, and lines are drawn.  For example, how much sports watching is enough?  How much money is enough?
  2. We sacrifice for that which we love. It is a simple axiom, but the truth in a simple sentence.  Do we sacrifice that which is good for the better?  Do we sacrifice that which is better for the more desirable right now?  Do we sacrifice the best in us to fill an appetite?  Consider Family B, the mother chooses to never marry again and remains quite vocal about her decision; but, what is the cost for the sacrifice and the consequences of the decision?  Of her children, the first two are girls, who are confused.  Her young son struggles between the men of her mother’s life setting an example, and what he sees of his grandfather’s life and social circle.
  3. Social societies cannot replace the family. Social prominence cannot, and never will, fill the emptiness at the end of life.  My wife played for the funeral of a man who was politically well known, so much in fact, that the governor of AZ came to the man’s funeral, as well as many in the AZ State Legislature.  A couple of mayors of Phoenix were in attendance, some people with ambitions for federally elected posts were in attendance, and more.  Yet, I wonder today, 5years after his passing, if these same people remember the man.  My wife is still in touch with his wife, but I cannot help but wonder regarding this man’s children and grandchildren.
  4. Allow religious belief systems to change you personally, and your family collectively, through living a religious and moral centered life. President Adams, in discussing the US Constitution stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Look from the 1900s to 2020 and one inescapable fact emerges, the loss of the nuclear family has led to a degeneration of social values, morals, ethics, and people.  While the law has attempted to curb this dilemma, President Adams’ quote becomes ever more applicable.  America was founded upon a Judeo-Christian foundation of philosophies and the loss of religion is tearing America apart at its foundational core.

Martin Luther King in discussing individuals and society, morals, and religion, stated the following, “… you have got to change the heart and you cannot change the heart through legislation. You cannot legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion.”  While the rest of the quote goes onto try and validate the opposite, Rev. King has a point, the law can only go so far in dictating behavior, legislating morals, and decreeing standards.  Without a moral and religious society, America has nothing, is nothing, and falls a failed experiment in improving the human condition.

moral-valuesAmerica needs strong families, which possess a core of religious traditions, practiced in the home, and acted upon in society.  The days of allowing truancy due to race, the communist teachings in schools and the lies that society can replace the family must be fought and won by families informed.  America can survive the current attacks but needs every citizen fighting for the survival of this set of ideals embodied in the US Constitution.  We need morality and religion to return as the core that motivates people to action for America to survive.  It is possible to win against the forces arrayed against America domestically and foreign, but we need nuclear families, and those families need a religious core; there is no other way.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/