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.

Questions – Mostly Why!

QuestionFrom their Dark Horse Album, Nickelback sings, “If Today Was Your Last Day.”  The central theme discusses a principle I am struggling with, centered around a question, “Why do we wait?”  The song’s lyrics include the following:

“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said, “Each day’s a gift and not a given right.
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by.
That first step you take is the longest stride.”

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say “goodbye” to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you had?
If today was your last day.”

From the Live Like You Were Dying album, Tim McGraw, sings a similarly themed song of the same name, with the following lyrics:Rescued Butterfly 2

Said I was in my early 40’s
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came, that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days lookin’ at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time
Asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news
Man what ya do
And he says

I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

The follow-up question continues, when will you finally start living big?

Why do we wait?

LaughterWhy do humans wait to begin living until they get a death sentence?  Look, I have lived my life as hard and as full as possible, not because I am dying, but to eventually be an interesting old person.  I remember sentiments from reading books as a kid, things like, “it’s not how wide or how deep you live that matters; it’s proving you lived at all.”  Or, “if you go through life without collecting scars and enemies, you’re a coward or worse.”  I do not understand about waiting for some earth-shaking revelation before you take time to laugh, be adventurous, explore, or forgive.

I talked to a person back in Ohio; his Father-In-Law dropped dead suddenly.  There were no health indications, no warning, no previous symptoms, just got up one morning, took a step, and fell down dead!  The man I was speaking to claimed this shook his wife, marriage, and family, but it would not change him.  He was rushing to a meeting for a job he hated, to go home to a family in turmoil, and he had no clue what to do.  Just a casual conversation, the man was not looking for answers; I would not offer advice.  I wished him well!Paradox

He had a long list of things to do in his “Some-Day” Bucket List.  When is someday?  I cannot find this as a day of the week on a single calendar.  Yet, how many times a day is a person dreaming of “someday” when they plan to start living?  Please do not get me wrong; I am not claiming we all need to be “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow we die” people.  I am arguing we might want to stop waiting for the bus to someday, to take us to a place called somewhere, so we can become people we refused to be all our lives.

Why finally start living big?

Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote a poem I favored as a child called “Casey at the Bat.”  Not to ruin the poem, but the last stanza is essential.

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land, the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out” [emphasis mine].

The land of somewhere, where people live like they never lived in real life, is that mythical place of rainbows, lollipops, roses, and summer bands. Casey at the Bat | Tolley's Topics

James Wilson wrote a sequel to “Casey at the Bat” titled “Casey’s Revenge.”  Again the final stanza holds a clear message for us.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land, dark clouds may hide the sun.
And somewhere bands no longer play, children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now — for Casey hit the ball!”

The final Casey poem is called “Casey 20-Years Later,” authored by Clarence P. McDonald.  The Mudville Nine were hurt; they needed a player to finish the game.  The coach appealed to the crowd for a player to come and play.  An older man from the crowd, unknown and unnamed, claims he knows baseball and can help finish the game.  The game continues, and the stranger comes to bat; he hits the game-winning hit and stands there and cried.  For the stranger was Mighty Casey, the man chided and derided by the crowd so many years before.

Mighty Casey at Bat - Welcome to Wayne Hunt Huebner 4 ArtI have always wondered what happened between the first, the second, and the third poems about Mighty Casey.  The humility it took to play again.  The kindness he showed to the audience and other players, the respect he showed to the umpire.  So many lessons, but the number one among them all, why are we not living larger, deeper, fuller?  Why do we worship sports heroes instead of being sports heroes?  Why do we settle for the daily grind when even in the daily tasks, there are things to discover, new things to learn, new experiences, and new methods of doing things that will surprise us if we but take a risk.

Growing up in Maine, I learned something the day I had 20 loads of laundry to complete, no dryer, and the temperature was dropping like a rocket sled on rails.  Did you know you can hang clothes on a line outside, in the freezing cold, and they will dry?  My fingers just about froze stiff, the laundry was freezing faster than I could hang it, and I had to iron a bunch of wrinkles out.  But, what a cool (pun intended) lesson.  The clothes came in dry, smelled of the Maine woods, wood smoke, and had a crisp smell that I cannot forget.Lemmings 1

On my 30th birthday, I was in Maine again; my wife bought a birthday dinner at Red Robin.  I had some great food that day, but the memory that stays in my head, clear as a new spring morning, was the table cube.  On this cube was a picture of a man, standing outside a plane hangar, looking for all the world as confident as he can.  The heading, “All I want to be when I grow up is an interesting old person.”  At this moment, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew old, an interesting old person.

Plant JokePeople had been asking me what I wanted to do or be when I grew up for years and years.  I never had a clue.  I had already been a fireman, a diesel mechanic, a truck driver, a shepherd, a dairy farmhand, a blueberry harvester, a paper delivery boy, been through the US Army and US Navy, as well as a trip through the US Army National Guard.  I had worked in call centers, been a general contractor, a business consultant, worked in multiple warehouses in different roles, and so much more.  When I turned 30, my wife and I had already racked up 20+ moves, traveled uncountable miles across the lower-48 states, and had some crazy life experiences.  The US Military had already sent me ¾’s of the way around the world.

But, I finally found what I wanted to be, an interesting older person.  Thus, when I hear these songs by Nickelback and Tim McGraw, I cannot understand why wait?  Why live large and adventurous only after getting a life sentence?  Why withhold forgiveness and forget the past only after it becomes apparent you are going to die?  Did you forget that everyone has a death certificate waiting?  Did you get stuck in a rut, put on blinders, and forget that life is more than just breathing in and out and turning food into mulch?Mediocre Joke

A Final Thought

Would you volunteer?  The poem “Casey 20-years later” is a perfect ending for this topic.  Especially with the question, would you volunteer?  Would you volunteer to pull some weeds for a neighbor?  Would you volunteer to shovel a little more snow for another person?  Would you cross a lawn and pick up a trashcan the wind had knocked around?  Would you volunteer to buy some groceries when the teller asks for more money, and it is clear that the person does not have enough?  Would you buy gas for a stranger?

Knowledge Check!The poems of Casey relate a tale of humanity and the songs of Nickelback and Tim McGraw relate that it is never too late to help someone unless you’re dead!  Why wait?  Why hold off on living larger, deeper, fuller lives?  Why not volunteer?  Why do we wait to act like we care until a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas but spend the rest of the year not living at all?  These are just some random questions, two really good songs, three incredible poems, and my brain trying to make sense.

© 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.

Why it matters – The Answer

Andragogy - LEARNTelomeres are strings on the end of a DNA chain.  The longer the telomere string, the healthier and longer the cell lives.  The reverse is also true, shorten the telomere string, and death and sickness occur.  There are a ton of peer-reviewed resources that can explain, detail, and expound about telomeres; feel free to look them up; please accept for the moment the statement is true.  While I am not going much further into telomeres and DNA science, the fact that long telomere strings and living healthier and happier are important correlational pieces of data essential to the rest of this article.

Learning and having a purpose are two separate but conjoined variables essential to keep the telomere string long and the DNA healthy.  However, both purpose and learning are individual choices with physical health consequences.  Please note, these two choices are not a magic bullet to the fountain of youth, nor are they going to change a person’s health overnight.  Both take long hours of investment and require a lifestyle change.

Non Sequitur - Carpe DiemWe begin with some important history.  John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. He was one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century.  In the 1900s, Dewey established how free people and free societies are built; they are built upon education and literacy.  Dewey then changed education to halt literacy and started a ball of ignorance and government theft of freedoms to begin.  Your reading habits were carefully taught to you during your trip through K-12 government schools.  Unless you purposefully chose to read, you will generally possess a dislike for reading that was taught to you to keep you functionally illiterate, thus programmable to government propaganda.  Dewey’s plan succeeded far and above his wildest dreams.

With this understanding, when the topic of lifelong learning is discussed, the central point becomes formal education failed purposefully to teach; thus, one’s desire for learning must be an internal commitment — a personal appetite for books, knowledge, and a thirst for learning.  When discussing the life and health-changing aspects of learning, this is the point, what are you doing to learn something new every day?  What was the last book you read?  Did you enjoy it?  Would you recommend it?Calvin & Hobbes - Irony Hurts

K-12 education taught you that learning something new was somebody else’s responsibility; whereas, the truth is precisely the opposite.  What you choose to learn will have direct consequences upon your health, mental and physical.  Hence the need for purpose.  Many people can study aimlessly and never fully obtain the full mental and physical health promises because they lack a purpose, a reason, and a motivating reason to direct efforts.  For example, I met a retired Major of the US Air Force; he pursued his MBA because he needed it for promotion.  No other purpose, no reason other than his career, and no genuine interest.  That he topped out at Major and Retired less than his desired rank goal ruined him from learning anything else.  He sits at home, lacking a purpose and reason, miserable.  He has not touched a book to read in years, his TV is his link to the world, and he feels like a failure.  In remembering my friend, I often think to weep at what could have been.

Jack Sparrow's compass - Pirates of the Caribbean Wiki - The Unofficial Pirates of the Caribbean ...A purpose is all about intention, a goal for which one intends, cognitively, to achieve.  A burning passion, a deep hunger, a longing, purpose, as a word, has many synonyms, but the end goal is the same, “What is it you want most?”  One of the reasons I am such a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean is the compass held by Captain Jack Sparrow.  The compass works when the captain knows what he wants, sailing is easier, and progress is made.  Failure to understand what he wants, to know absolutely his purpose, and the journey fails, chaos abounds, and trouble ensues.

Because purpose inspires learning, and both purpose and learning are fundamental to your good mental and physical health, the following suggestions are here for your consideration.  However, they also come with a warning, genuine interest.  I have an interest in a lot of different topics.  Sometimes, I have so many books I am in the middle of my desk looks like a public library threw up!  However, I also have topics that I have less than zero interest in ever pursuing.  I have had to learn where my genuine interests lie, primarily through exploring.  No one can give you wisdom or tell you what your interests are.Bait & Switch 2

Funny story, I discovered I had no interest in art.  None!  Paintings, sculpture, drawing, nothing.  No comprehension, no interest, no desire, nothing!  I discovered this during my associate’s degree, where I was forced to take an art class.  Now, I come from a long line of painters, sculptors, artists in different mediums.  My wife draws, paints, and makes music as an outlet for her artistic abilities.  I can barely doodle and generally do not care to try.  I know what I like but cannot describe the why when it comes to art because I have no interest in the how.  Hence the warning, discover where your genuine interests lay and pursue them relentlessly!

      1. Explore to discover your interests. Public libraries are my best friend!  I have been in some public libraries to borrow baking pans and molds to create different stuff for cooking.  Get to know your public library as the launch point for discovering interests.
      2. Ever think you might like to pursue a degree in something. Why not contact your local community colleges and universities.  Auditing a class is a great way to check your interest levels without investing money.
      3. How do you know when you have found a hidden interest; the secret is in your enthusiasm! Do you cheer to be able to study that topic?  Guess what, you found an interest!  Explore that interest to the Nth degree.  I discovered an interest in anthropology, economics, sociology, and psychology through studying history.  I have always been enthused to learn history.  However, the extra information gleaned from economics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology has made my enthusiasm for history deeper, more enjoyable, and more meaningful.  Measure your enthusiasm, you can become enthused easily and quickly, or slowly and with difficulty, but your enthusiasm is the compass for your interest and purpose.
      4. Volunteer to work with kids! I do not care about the age of the children.  It doesn’t matter if that volunteering occurs through a religious or non-profit organization, kids ask questions, and in asking questions, you learn.  Create time to volunteer.
      5. On the topic of volunteering, spend time in a long-term care facility as a professional listener. I have spent some great days listening to people, I have learned a lot, and let me tell you, I always leave the experience grateful and enthused.  Memorize a joke as a conversation starter, and listen.
      6. Don’t stop! I cannot emphasize this principle enough.  Failure is part of discovery; not stopping is part of discovery.  Hence, do not stop trying, and in not stopping, you will discover… you!

Knowledge Check!My wife is a journal writer.  I blog — others in my family webcast.  The final suggestion in discovering purpose and learning, write down the experiences.  The good, the bad, the failures, the successes, and in writing or recording your thoughts, you will discover new talents and inspire someone else when you share your thoughts.  I learned this lesson from Robert Fulghum, the author, artist, preacher, and storyteller, who happened to write the book “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten.”  Want a guide on this voyage of discovery; pick up some of his books, “Uh-Oh,” “It was on fire when I laid down on it,” “Maybe, Maybe Not,” and so many others to choose from.  Mr. Fulghum makes an excellent guide on a voyage of discovery; take along an expert!

© 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.

 

NO MORE BS: Enthusiasm and Confidence – The Power Tools to Conquer

Laughing OwlIn a job interview, the interviewer asked me for my two greatest strengths and why.  The following article represents both my answer and my desire to see others understand.  The interviewer thought I was insane by the look of disgust on their face; needless to say I was not hired.  When I asked why; the answer amazed me.  My strengths were too strong for their culture.  Let that sink in for a moment; a confident and enthusiastic person was not a good fit for their organization.  Maybe, just maybe, free societies should be taking a new look at these age-old tools for changing the world.

What is Enthusiasm?

Henry Chester is quoted as saying, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money and power and influence. It is no more or less than faith in action.”  As a point of fact, this is the first quote I took time and a ton of energy to memorize.  Enthusiasm represents intense interest, eagerness, enjoyment, and a desire for approval beyond the simple desire of peer acceptance.  Enthusiasm also arouses feelings and originates via Latin from enthusiasmus, meaning inspiration and frenzy.  From the Greek, we learn the etiology of Enthusiasm stems from “enthousiazein ‘be inspired or possessed by a god’ (based on theos ‘god’)”  The etiology of Enthusiasm makes Henry Chester’s point more perfectly when a person considers the power and origination of faith and placing faith upon a power greater than oneself.

Literary FiendConsider those people you have found possessing large amounts of Enthusiasm; can you feel their intensity, frenzy, and eager interest?  I have had this pleasure multiple times, in various locations across the world.  My first experience was with a S. Korean business person riding the subway who was so excited to help and interested that I parted company with a feeling of desiring to be better as a person.  From that day in 1995 to today, I have strived to capture the same level of Enthusiasm as this business person in gratitude for his kindness and example of Enthusiasm.

What are you enthusiastic about?

Recently I was hired to be a data analyst for warehouses, and I sit as an advisor to the warehouse operations team to use data analysis to improve decision-making.  I cannot describe in words how enthusiastic I am every day to wake up and learn something new about data analysis, the tools of database data mining, and keeping my boots dirty and hands greasy in operations.  Ever since I got injured in the US Navy, I have tried to be what I knew, and the journey to this position has been great and dreadful, but each experience has improved how I think, and teach, to improve business operations.  I finally feel I can positively contribute as a handicapped person to the world with this position, and this feeling is incredible!Leadership Cartoon

What is Confidence?

In an effort to not confuse this topic, I have copied the definition of confidence from an earlier writing.  Confidence is a unique term, and Webster spends an inordinate amount of time trying to capture the power of, and reality is confidence.  Confidence is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities; firm trust, a specific feeling  regarding the truth of something, a feeling or belief upon the reliance of someone or something.”  The key to confidence is your own self-assurance.  For example, you are assured through past transactions that your employer is not kiting paychecks.  Your confidence in receiving a salary drives you to be motivated and return to work each day.  When that trust is broken, you will leave and find new employment.  Hence, people do not work for companies, but for managers and leaders, they like.

ToolsConfidence is a reality when many people all trust the same thing, which creates societies, social standards, and governments.  Confidence in the government is expressed using the government’s monetary system to trade for products and services you would not have if you had less confidence in the government system.  Firm trust in the “value of the US Dollar (insert your own currency here)” leads to gains and losses in economic values.  Consider the events of the Christmas Holiday, which is fast approaching.  The individual expresses confidence, faith, and hope in holiday shopping.  The government uses the data of the volume of trades of confidence as a measuring stick in how well they are doing in government to improve a person’s return on investment.  Shopkeepers, stores, and others selling products and services represent a two-way street of faith, hope, and confidence as they trade with customers and with other suppliers, government, and stakeholders in conducting business.

Confidence is never an unconscious decision!  One cannot have firm trust, faith, or hope, in something without being consciously aware and possessing experience and knowledge in that someone or something.  Hence, confidence is the conscious use of trust as a destination in the journey of hope, launched by faith.Grit is a Marathon

What are you confident about?

In the movie “Sound of Music,” Maria sings one of my all-time favorite songs as she leaves the nunnery and takes a bus to her new  role as a nanny, “I Have Confidence.”  I can honestly say, as she does, “I have confidence in me.”  I have talents, skills, knowledge, and experience worth value to me, and that is all I need!  It did not matter to me that my Enthusiasm and confidence were too great for the interviewer’s culture and business; I interviewed my best and allowed the chips to fall where they may.  What are you confident about?  Who are you confident in?  Why do you invest your confidence in those answers?  When do you feel the most confident, and would you like to feel more confident?

Of all the questions asked, the “Why” and the When” questions are some I would love to discuss individually as you make your improvement plans.  Since this is not entirely possible, I offer the following advice from LaRae Quy, an FBI Agent.  The points are hers; the comments are mine.Non Sequitur - Decisions

  1. Take Risks!
    1. In my youth, I climbed trees, lots and lots of trees. In Maine, we had a patch of pine trees growing so close together, the trees had woven a mat out of their uppermost branches, and you could walk on this mat of branches.  Huge risk, great fun!
    2. As a soldier, I was freaked out by how close the Warthog could provide fire support. When the ‘Hog came through, being on the ground was the most intense feeling I have ever experienced.  Huge risk, lots of fun.
    3. As an operations manager, I took an ill-considered risk. I fired the floor supervisor as they refused to train anyone else in doing the jobs they were hired for as a means of job security.  The risk paid off; the remaining team members stepped up to the plate and learned.
    4. Risk requires action; act swiftly, even if it means minor course corrections along the way.
    5. Action includes failure; stop fearing failure! When we understand failure, we know ourselves just a little better and act more smartly!
    6. When in doubt, activate step 5!Bound & Gagged - Near Death
  2. Ask for feedback!
    1. Do you prefer to receive feedback from friends, family, or foes? Some of all, all or none, or something or someone else?
    2. Do you trust those providing feedback sufficiently to act?
    3. Can you tell the difference between feedback and criticism? They are not the same, and in accepting feedback, you need to be able to give feedback.  Hence ask, but never forget to provide feedback.
    4. Never give criticism, even if you think the criticism is “constructive.” There is never, ever, anything “constructive” about criticism!Frank & Ernest - Life Lesson
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice
    1. Missoula Montana, I presume he is retired now, Veteran Employment Specialist, Charlie Brown, genuine person, real name, had a favorite axiom for helping veterans search for work and hang in their job search, “Keep throwing spaghetti at the wall until something sticks!”  Which is all well and good, but to get spaghetti to stick to a wall, you must first cook and drain the spaghetti.  Thus, practice requires preparation.  In case anyone is interested, yes; I have thrown spaghetti against a wall.
    2. Rule of 6-P’s, “Proper Prior Planning, Promotes, Promising, Practice,” is my saying, and I know it works. Practice is a prerequisite to promising performances, but you must prepare properly.  Yes, as a dual-service veteran, I know the other axioms for the Rule of 6-P’s.
    3. See Suggestion 5! Wash, rinse, and repeat!Garfield - Good Explanation Needed
  4. Link up!
    1. Network.
    2. Make acquaintances.
    3. Get to know people!Non Sequitur - This explains so much
  5. Grit Up!
    1. I cannot stress this enough; confidence and Enthusiasm require grit! Lots and lots of grit!
    2. Believe this statement: “Merentur Melius Quam Tu tibi semper sit.” From Latin, meaning, “You will always be better than you deserve.”Grit - Defined
    3. What is “Grit,” you might ask? Grit is a positive, cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a specific long-term goal or end state.  At least, that is what the academics call grit.  Of all the people America remembers who have had a positive and long-lasting influence upon American culture, John Wayne is near the top.  If anyone embodies grit, John Wayne is quoted thusly, “True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be doneNo moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows they should have done.”  In understanding grit, I have oft called upon T. S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

© 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.

NO MORE BS: Wanted A Leader – The Leader’s Job Description

cropped-snow-leopard.jpgThe best job descriptions address the common questions of Who, What, When, Where, and How.  The common question ‘Why’ is excluded because it remains self-evident, there is a “something” desired from the job, or the job would not be considered worthwhile.  Since value and rewards are the beholder’s sole facets, ‘Why’ has been excluded as superfluous.  The sum of these points and positions is derived, deduced, and selected from the following resources, and this list is not all-inclusive, Avolio (2008), Boylan (2005), Brady (2005), Carpenter (1868), Chaleff (2003), Lundin (2000), Costa (2008), Hamlin (2008), Hinckley (2000), Oyinlade (2006), Morrow (1935), Sandburg (1926), Wren (1995), and Yukl (2006).

Wanted: a Leader

Literary FiendThe successful leader is morally obligated to embrace loyal opposition.  Loyal opposition is found in those following, taking and giving counsel and guidance to improve plans, implement ideas, and garner the individual buy-in from free agents.  Loyal opposition ensures that integrity, responsibility, and accountability are not lost or forgotten.  The leader is a teacher, and a teacher is a leader.  The cycle for learning and teaching does not become lost or less significant as rank is increased.  The inverse occurs. The greater the position, the higher the responsibility to remain engaged in the learning/teaching cycle.  All Applicants must have the following characteristics:

      • Drive and Determination – This is required as the task is difficult, the work often arduous, and the pay is never sufficient.
      • Education and Experience – Knowledge is good, but a continued thirst for learning must supersede past educational experiences. Experience in applying education is critical.  Without experience in application, academic success is not enough to obtain this position.
      • Willingness to sacrifice – As a leader, the followers need to be trained and supported; this requires a considerable measure of sacrifice in time, resource allocation and demands innovation in thinking and flexibility in approach.
      • The power to delegate – A leader does not have enough time to meet all their responsibilities; if a leader cannot delegate, oversee, and inspire others to action, that leader cannot achieve success and is not a leader but a manager.
      • Willing to follow without sacrificing the need to lead – Leaders can never sever the ties to being a follower, but the leader must act to lead. Above all else, leadership requires balancing between being a follower and leading well.
      • The ability to exude a ‘Quiet Confidence’ – Knowing you know what to do, have the ability to find the answers, and still meet achievement goals is required to inspire confidence and determination in others.

Charismatic people need not apply.  Those possessing ‘Chutzpah’ are always welcome.  Charisma is a potent drug and, when combined with the power of leadership, tends to lend itself to abusing followers.  People possessing ‘Chutzpah,’ e.g., having the backbone to make a stand and remaining standing long after others consider quitting, are always in demand.  Determined ‘Chutzpah’ will be the order of the day to make a change, lead in flux, and drive the change in others while putting followers at ease, delivering praise, and inspiring others to achieve.

quote-mans-inhumanityThe ideal candidate possesses a working and living knowledge of history, politics, sales, marketing, customer service, and a devotion to seeing others succeed.  The ideal candidate must be willing to be an example and remain engaged mentally to the tasks of leadership.  Other qualities an ideal candidate would possess include:

      • Appetite
      • Passion
      • Honesty
      • Forthrightness
      • Morals
      • Ethics
      • Motivation
      • Imagination
      • Understanding of the difference between monitoring and overbearing
      • Emotionally stable
      • Enthusiasm for learning and living

To apply, follow current leaders well, be engaged, be positive, and ask questions.  Shortly leadership positions will develop to begin the leadership training process.  Never forget, being a good follower remains key to being a good leader!  While awaiting your opportunity to become a leader, increase your literacy in general, including fiscal literacy.  Be the best follower possible, even if being a good follower requires you to stand apart from your peers.  Be willing to stand for principles, morals, and ethics without budging or giving way in the face of adversity or temptation.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2Learn that a good leader is a teacher, and a good teacher is a leader, even if all they do is follow well.  Delegation requires teaching; teaching requires knowing and using knowledge to gain experience; hence, volunteer, ask for additional jobs, take on assignments, and open your mouth to offer advice and suggestions.  A good follower and the best leaders speak up, speak out, and reflectively listen to gain mutual understanding in all they do.  Never allow peer pressure to silence you!

References

Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2008). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Vol 2. Bingley, United Kingdom: JAI Press – Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Boylan, Bob (1995). Get Everyone in Your Boat Rowing in the Same Direction. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble.

Brady, C., & Woodward, O. (2005). Launching a leadership revolution: Mastering the five levels of influence. New York, NY: Business Plus – Hachette Book Group.

Carpenter, F. B. (1868). The inner life of abraham lincoln: Six months at the white house. New York, NY: Hurd and Houghton.

Chaleff, I. (2003). Leader follower dynamics. Innovative leader, 12(8), Retrieved from http://www.winstonbrill.com/bril001/html/article_index/articles/551-600/article582_body.html

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108008/chapters/describing-the-habits-of-mind.aspx

Hamlin, R. G., & Sawyer, J. (2007). Developing effective leadership behaviors: The value of evidence-based management. Business Leadership Review, IV(IV), 1-16. Retrieved from www.mbaworld.com/blr-archive/scholarly/5/index.pdf

Hinckley, G. B. (2000). Standing for something: 10 neglected virtues that will heal our hearts and homes. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Lundin, S. C., H. Paul, and J. Christensen. Fish!, a remarkable way to boost morale and improve results. Hyperion Books, 2000. Print.

Morrow, H. (1935). Great captain: The lincoln trilogy. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company.

Oyinlade, A. (2006). A method of assessing leadership effectiveness: Introducing the essential behavioral leadership qualities approach. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 19(1), 25.

Sandburg, C. (1926). Abraham lincoln: The prairie years. New York, NY: Blue Ribbon Books.

Wren, J. T. (1995). The leader’s companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in Organizations. 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

© 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.
All rights reserved.