Tips for Self-Refection

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1One of the most helpful tips provided to me in improving my mental health has been to engage in self-reflection.  However, the tip did not come with any other instruction than to engage in self-reflection.  Thus, I provide the following for those who are like me who need a little more than simply being told to “self-reflect more.”  Please note, self-reflection is not complicated, does not require any special tools, and is only contingent upon starting.  The following is a practical guide to helping to spur starting!  It’s that Missouri mindset, I just cannot get away from it!

Self-reflection can be guided and unguided.  For the novice, guided self-reflection is a good place to begin to learn to self-reflect and grow into unguided self-reflection.  Some people will consider self-reflection meditation, and while I fully admit meditation and self-reflection have many similarities, they are different.  Others try to inject religious overtones into self-reflection, and I fully admit self-reflection is used in many religions across the globe to improve worship services; I am not venturing into the religious aspects of religious self-reflection.

If you would like to explore the topics of meditation and religious self-reflection, I know several good resources; don’t hesitate to get in touch with me outside this forum for those resources.

Guided Self-Reflection

Deep PoetryGuided self-reflection is as simple as journaling your thoughts on a specific topic.  Yes, it is that simple.  There is nothing complicated or crazy, no gurus, no chanting (unless you want to), simply writing down your thoughts on a single topic.  The idea is to focus your mind on sticking to a single topic and write.  I find pen and paper the most challenging medium and one that I cannot reliably, methodically, and consistently adhere to, so I use a keyboard and keep a journal in MS Word.

At the beginning of guided self-reflection, C. S. Lewis 365-Journal Topics was a book I picked up, and it helped inspire journal topics to consider.  Thus, the guided aspect of journaling, using the thoughts of others to marshal your thoughts and write them down.  Making your thoughts known is vital to better understanding you.  Please note, the blank page is intimidating; thus, novice self-reflection is enhanced with motivating forces of religious texts, quotes, jokes, memes, political feelings, news stories, etc.  All of which is fodder for getting the thoughts in your head onto paper for later review.

Unguided Self-Reflection

Free-flow writing, I unguided self-reflection and is where no longer is the blank page intimidating.  More to the point, unguided self-reflection occurs where the mind enters a period of peace or tranquility, recognized from journaling and reflects upon recent events surrounding you throughout the day, cataloging these events for later dissemination and discussion in your journal.  The advanced stage of unguided self-reflection occurs at different times and seasons for different people.  Some people go in cycles between guided and unguided self-reflection due to the chaos in their lives.  Other people move rapidly into unguided self-reflection and never return to guided self-reflection.  Some people stay in guided self-reflection; there is no right or wrong to self-reflection!

Tips to Self-Reflection

        1. Start!
        2. Find what works, and stick to it!
        3. Pick a time that works.
        4. Use what you have.
        5. Be you! – A friend keeps buying new technology, new note pads, new books, new etc., and never uses them. New isn’t them.

Be you!  Be real!  If you find yourself journaling on a paper bag with lots of doodles, keep the paper bag, and get more of them.  That is real self-reflection to you!

Some random thoughts on self-reflection.

In defense of writing with pen and paper - The WriterA friend from high school journaled (self-reflected) through their art.  Words could never come, but doodles and pictures were easy.  Each day their art was either beautiful or terrible, but always dramatic and eye-catching.  Most people learned to look at the book for the art before engaging in speech.  At the end of the assignment, the teacher freaked out trying to score the assignments for my friend; the art was expressive to the point that you could relate and feel what was felt that day.  I have never forgotten that art or its impact.

Simon Sinek wrote the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” self-reflection helps you to know your “why” to attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and so much more.  While I am not here to help Mr. Sinek sell more books, if you want a great resource to begin guided self-reflection, I do recommend this book.  You need to know your why.  Not knowing your why makes life more challenging, and your mind is easier to be manipulated by every wind of modern influence.  Knowing your why doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but it makes life easier to understand.  Understanding breeds compassion, empathy and allows you the freedom to make better choices.

10+ Best Sketch Drawing Ideas | Free & Premium TemplatesGeil Browning, Ph.D., in discussing reflective learning, talks about self-reflection and learning, providing counsel and essential guidance.  “Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what matters to us.”  Practicing self-reflection takes discipline and intentionality. It requires pressing pause on the chaos of life and simply taking the time to think and ponder about life and the events of daily living, which is not easy for many people to do. But it’s a precious practice.

        1. “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
        2. “What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.” – Stephen Richards
        3. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung25 Beautiful Rose Drawings and Paintings for your inspiration
        4. “It is always our self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better.” – Ella Maillart
        5. “I visualize where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” – Michael Jordan
        6. “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” – William Makepeace Thackeray
        7. “Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.” —Maxwell Maltz
        8. “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K.L. Toth
        9. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” —Marcus GarveyBeauty will save, Viola, Beauty in everything
        10. “Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes.” —Lawrence Bossidy
        11. ”The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” —Michel Angelo
        12. “You cannot have a meaningful life without having self-reflection.” —Oprah Winfrey
        13. “Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success, and freedom.” —Unknown
        14. ”Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” – Baltasar Gracian
        15. “Doubt, not self-reflection, comes from a destructive energy, and when it rears its head, I talk to it like a lunatic.” —Gwyneth Paltrow
        16. “There is one art of which people should be masters – the art of reflection.” – Samuel Taylor ColeridgeArt journal spread "Who She Had Always Been"
        17. “Friendship with one’s self is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
        18. “Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.” – Robert L. Rosen
        19. “Emotions are there to enjoy life, but they are not used in self-reflection because they inhibit a proper reflection. They gunk us up.” – Frederick Lenz
        20. “Difficulty creates the opportunity for self-reflection and compassion.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
        21. “Self-reflection is the gateway to freedom. It also brings greater appreciation and enjoyment. We begin to enjoy spending time with our own minds, and we enjoy reflecting on our experience of the teachings. Like the sun emerging from behind the clouds.” – Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheDecoArt - Mixed Media Blog - Project - Art Journaling the ...
        22. “It is great to be introspective; self-analysis can be useful, but only if it results in action.” —Joe Sacco (emphasis mine)
        23. “Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.” – Stacy London
        24. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius
        25. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
        26. “Self-reflection is an important stage to diagnose, develop and strengthen your creativity.” —Pearl Zhu
        27. “The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.” —Sammy Davis
        28. “To realize the Self is to be still.” —Ramana Maharshi
        29. “The self is only that which it is in the process of becoming.” —Kirkegaard
        30. “Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed; the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.” —Indra Devi
        31. “Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.” – Richard Carlson
        32. “Reflection can transform something familiar.” – Diane L. DuntonReflections
        33. “We have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti
        34. “Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.” —Dr. Steve Maraboli
        35. “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

© 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.

Do We Understand – Important Truths From President James Madison

Exclamation MarkSometimes revisiting a topic is required to help promote urgency in learning.  Other times revisiting a subject helps to broaden the mind to more of the problem.  My intent in reviewing the topic of understanding is for both of these reasons.  President Madison provides counsel that every American should be adhering to, regardless of political flavor, as the first policy in being a responsible citizen.

We begin with an absolute from President Madison, stated two different ways, with the same meaning:

      • The trust is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”
      • All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”

To those who would like to be female apologists and excuse women just because President Madison used the term “men” here, the President spoke of “men” as in all humankind.  As in, when power is invested in any person, they should be mistrusted.  They should be carefully watched, monitored, and scrutinized.  Not blindly trusted to act and never called out for their actions.  Hence the role of the media, the role of laws, the role of three co-equal branches of government.  Yet, what do we find today?

Honestly, take a look around, and take off the political glasses of partisan politics for a moment.  Can you honestly claim that the media is representing fairly both sides of the partisan political spectrum?  Can you honestly trust the co-equal branches of government not to be intimidated, cajoled, browbeaten, or unduly influenced by another branch?  Is the military following their civilian leaders without political influence and acting in the best interest of all Americans?  Is each of the co-equal branches of the government pulling their weight and acting in accordance with the law?

Now, look closer to home.  How about the school board, the mayor, the governor, the state legislature, the county board, the city council, the town council, and every other bureaucrat vested with public trust.  Are they obeying the duties and honoring the roles of their office and deserving of the public trust?  What about the teachers in classrooms who the school board officials directly supervise? Are your children taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, or are they being taught wokeism, sexism, and being groomed for sexual perverts?

“Public office is a public trust, the authority and opportunities of which must be used as absolutely as the public moneys for the public benefit, and not for the purposes of any individual or party.” ~ Dorman Bridgeman Eaton

Public trust remains the single most important and least discussed aspect of American culture and American politics, mainly because public trust is the most misunderstood concept.  Public trust has been intentionally misunderstood (plasticized), so it can be perverted and challenging to understand.  Yet, public trust comes down to one thing and is revealed through an easy test in its most simple form.  Would you leave your home and children alone, under the supervision of any person holding public office?  If the answer is yes, they hold your public trust.  If the answer is no, why are they in office?

Using President Madison’s quotes above, no one in a position of public trust should be “trusted” without verification, scrutinization, and they should be held accountable for their decisions made while in office.  Missouri is the “Show-Me State!”  I possess a “Missouri Mindset,” show me you have done the job correctly.  Show me; you are transparent in doing the job you were elected to perform.  Show me you can be trusted.  I am willing to give anyone a chance at leadership, but they had better show me they can do the job!Daniel S. Lamont Quote: "Public office is a public trust." (9 wallpapers) - Quotefancy

Under the heading of trust and show me comes an important principle, and President Madison elaborates this principle simply, eloquently, and precisely.

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

Find me that article of the US Constitution.  If you cannot find that, then the Federal, State, and City governments need to get out of taking money through taxes and giving money to people who have not earned it.  Welfare belongs to charity groups and religions, not governments!  Pork barrel spending is anathema to good order and discipline and should be shunned and shamed.  Consider with me the plethora of laws that have been invented to control society just because of the government welfare programs.Soulful Musings: Don't Tell Me, "Show Me"

Food controls, including price controls, control what, when, and how much a farmer can grow, how a farmer can grow, and much more.  These controls include legalized theft of a farmer’s goods which the supreme court has upheld.

Dairy, farm, and rancher controls for grain, meat, and milk.  Then when the government has too much in store, they force price-controls, forcing dairy and ranchers out of business in support of large commercial production facilities at the expense of smaller and medium-sized operations.  Labeling laws that unfairly punish smaller and medium-sized establishments.

Larger governments manage programs through bureaucrats and bureaucratic inertia that are abused at every potential opportunity and are not scrutinized adequately for waste, fraud, and abuse.  Where systems and operations are regularly gamed to keep the benefits rolling in at the expense of society, taxpayers, and those needing assistance cannot receive assistance due to the gamesmanship and fraud of others.Show Don't Tell - Working Writers

I am all for helping people learn how to help themselves, using charity programs and religious outreach.  But, taxpayer dollars should NEVER be spent in helping one person at the cost of another person!

The following has caused many a discussion in my home.  I hope it will cause many a conversation in your homes.  May those discussions be heated, be full of lovely disagreement, and be full of fiery opinions.  For in the spirited debates come ideas and solutions that work.  Invite people who disagree with you to dinner, and may the food and conversation be a delightful experience and a gustatory wonder!

In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty is this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

What is the discussion in my home centered upon, “How does a citizen ‘oblige a government to control itself?’”  I will offer a couple of suggestions here.  Feel free to refute my recommendations with your own in the comments below.  Better still, suggest more ideas for topics of discussion.  I am not the only person with ideas, and we need every person to help “oblige” the government to control itself!

      1. Be an informed electorate! – The one thing a politician fears or should fear more than a ballot box is an informed electorate. Do you know why the politicians preferred Dewey’s system of functionally illiterate stooges to the informed electorate of the early 1900s?  They could get away with robbing the citizens blind!  When the citizenry is not informed, they become property, bought and sold as chattel (cows, goats, sheep).  Doesn’t this make you angry that your elected leaders and the unelected Hollywood elite think of you this way?Andragogy - LEARN
      2. Scrutinize government and demand transparency! – It is your government. Tell me something, if your neighbor went across town and graffitied buildings, broke windows, burned property, and defecated on private property, then told the authorities that you had paid him to do these acts, would you be a little concerned?  If your neighbor did these things and used your hard-earned money to pay for these crimes, would you want revenge and a criminal charge levied against your neighbor?  These are the actions of your government; why does the government get a pass?  Your name is on the check, right beside mine, claiming full financial responsibility for the actions of our intermediaries, the government.Quotes On Government Control. QuotesGram
      3. Gather with like-minded people, teach each other, learn from each other, and teach your children WHY! – Every tin-pot dictator in history has captured children, taken them from hearth and home, and “educated” them away from parents to influence the next generation. Today, we call this “education,” “state-run schools,” using “laws,” and obligations as “good parents” to shame and force parents to send their children into re-education camps.  Want to freak out the government; change the next generation!Patriotism

Finally, President Madison provides two pieces of advice for living in the American Society worthy of knowing and on-boarding.

      • Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.”
      • The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.”

Consider a parable.  Give a person a fish, and he eats for a day.  Teach a person to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.  Teach a person to fish and sell his wares, and his children build a prosperous society.  Knowledge will always govern ignorance, but knowledge and confidence build nations!  I do not want to build small communities; I want to rebuild the American Nation, a free nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.  I cannot do this alone; our forefathers did not undertake this task alone.  It took every member of the 13-original colonies to shake off tyranny and oppression and then build America.

Knowledge Check!It will take every single American citizen, and every single person desiring to be an American citizen to rebuild America, after all the damage intentionally done to her by the political leaders, secret societies, and bitter haters who have abused American generosity and then wanted to protect their pile by destroying America.  America has been abused by countries foreign, and enemies domestic, corporations foreign and domestic, and individuals who have paid large sums to watch America burn.  Do you understand better now?  Is the mission clearer in your mind?  Is the task ahead more urgent and more desirable?  What are your next steps?

© 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.

That Little Dash There In-Between

Bobblehead DollGarth Brooks sings a song called “Pushing up Daisies,” and a lyric is the title of today’s article.  On a headstone, there are two dates; we all know what those dates mean, but it is the dash I am focused upon today, and it is the dash that always captures my attention when I visit a cemetery.  Sure, knowing the birth and death dates are interesting, but I always want to talk to the headstone owner about the dash!

One of my biggest regrets is not knowing my grandparents as an adult.  My maternal grandfather fought in WWII, serving on a battlewagon in the Pacific Fleet.  He was a journal writer and chronicled his journeys.  I do not have access to his writings, and this hurts!  My maternal grandfather was hard-working; he left a legacy of small business ownership, franchise development, and self-sufficiency.  He could polish any metal until it was baby smooth and brilliant!

My maternal grandmother is why I respect strong women in story and encourage women to be the main characters in their lives.  A fighter with a Victorian heart of gold, my maternal grandmother was priceless and is well missed!  Plus, she had the best recipes for bread and cookies, pies, and cakes.  Of all the things I wish I had been able to copy and glean, her recipes for oatmeal butterscotch cookies and spiced canned pears top the list!Individual Headstone Designs | Pacific Coast Memorials

My paternal grandfather was a journeyman electrician; he was a wizard with tools and his hands.  He collected rocks, built a home for his wife and family that still stands and holds family.  He had a forge, a woodworking shop, and a couple of guns passed down to my father that won’t pass down any further.  Beyond a suspicion that he served in WWI, not much is known about my paternal grandfather beyond these few scraps.

Memorial Day WallpapersMy paternal grandmother raised two kids after her husband suffered a stroke; she was a nurse and served in this capacity long after she should have retired because she loved her patients and her family.  She had strength and a down-home kindness that I will never forget.  My paternal grandmother is the only reason I walked at High School graduation; I wanted her to enjoy seeing the graduation of one of the grand-kids.

I have uncles and aunts I respect and admire.  I have a couple of uncles I wish I could wallop with a stick and provide some corrective behavior to as well.  I have family scattered across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the US Military as far as they can spread.  But I know as little about them as they know about me, and that dash in-between is essentially a mystery.  Oh, how cool it would be to sit down and tell our “dash” stories.Tombstone, Arizona

My mother-in-law was an incredible fighter!  A bare-knuckle, two-fisted, swinging for the moon kind of gal from the day she was born to the day she died.  I felt privileged to get to know her and some of her story, and let me tell you; her “little dash” was full of living, adventure, danger, intrigue, and daring!  That woman had steel in her spine, brass in her veins, and took no bull from anyone.  What a lady!

My wife’s uncle fought in every battle across the Pacific as a Navy Seabee.  He arrived at Pearl Harbor on 08 December 1941 and walked across every island battle to the last bombs dropping on Japan.  He built runways, roads, houses, harbor facilities and faced every single engagement.  I know practically nothing about the “little dash there in-between” for him.  I know his wife was a sweetheart, but I know even less about her story and their collective story.  Sad days when they departed this mortal coil, for I wished like mad, I could have learned more about their dash!

Yet, for all I know about these people, I know very little about that dash.  I know more about President Abraham Lincoln and his dash in-between than I do about my grandparents, and this is frustrating.  Worse, I know more about Garth Brooks, a stranger, than I do about my own parent’s dash in-between, and this is not frustrating, given the makeup of my family.  Consider with me people you respect; what do you know of their “little dash there in-between.”Photos of the Korean War Veterans Memorial

My wife is a Victorian lady of the highest caliber.  Today is her birthday.  She has an incredible dash in-between, and I have had the privilege of walking beside her for the better part of 30+ years.  Yet, I would be a fool to claim I know her entire “dash in-between.”  I could not even claim to know a tenth of the 30+ years we have been together.  Do you know what is maddening?  She thinks her writing, journals, and so forth are not very interesting, and nobody will want to read them.  This observation has led me to learn a couple of pieces of wisdom that I pass along for your consideration.

      1. Always be willing to learn – Whether it is learning more about people, places, things, countries, topics, languages, etc., does not matter—the journey of learning matters. Engage and travel!
      2. When you want to really get to know a person, go to work on a task with them – I sweated alongside some Amish in Ohio on a roofing project at the State Fair Grounds. First, I froze alongside them through January and February, and then we sweat through March, April, May, and June.  It never ceases to amaze me what I could learn while we worked.
      3. Know your own dash in-between – Journal, blog, do something to record your dash in-between. Review your own story often.  You might surprise yourself at what you have accomplished.
      4. Be the influence that is felt – There is a line in Garth Brooks’ song, “My mother died, but somehow she keeps living, she’ll never cease to amaze me.” I have met people who are still influencing me long after we have lost touch.  Be that person, be the influence felt across miles, years, and choose to be the positive force for good.  However, that means to you!
      5. Leave a heritage in that dash in-between – Not just papers, bills, a will, a journal or two, but a heritage. What are you known for?  What characteristic will someone say you embody and live to the absolute fullest?  What single attribute will you pass on to your progeny, friends, and colleagues when the dates are carved in your stone?

Exclamation MarkBefore your stone is carved, your remains are laid to rest, and your final resting place is occupied; make sure to fill that little dash in-between to the brim and to overflow.  Make sure you record your dash.  Pass along your dash; your future will appreciate your efforts!

© 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.

Leadership: Finding Diamonds in the Pig Slop!

Knowledge Check!Have you ever noticed the many writers pouring billions of gallons of ink into leadership guides, books, articles, and so forth, and leadership is still a problem?  As a kid, we kept pigs.  Not many, just seven or eight, had a couple of batches of piglets, and the pig slop grew the best tomatoes ever.  One day, someone visited and saw the pigs when they dropped something flashy in the pig slop.  I forget what was dropped, but we kids were told to find this item for this visitor — launching a marathon of several days crawling through pig slop all to no avail.

I saw those pigs eat snakes, squirrels, and they even ate a wild dog who got injured inside their pen.  These eating machines never ceased to amaze me, and the slop was the best place to “lose” anything.  Bringing us back to leadership and the search for diamonds in pig slop.  I am not castigating the authors of leadership books, tools, guides, etc., as creating pig slop.  I am claiming that leadership is learned, and in learning, there will be failures and success.  The books on leadership do represent a clamoring quagmire for attention, where finding that one diamond to help your particular situation is going to be difficult, if not impossible.wild pigs in pen - YouTube

What is a Leader to do?

I am a practical-minded person.  Give me information, and let me chew on that information until solutions can begin to appear.  As a leader, I have found some basic principles helpful in producing an atmosphere and culture worthy of passing along.  Use; do not use, doesn’t matter to me.  I offer some suggestions and leave the rest to you.

    1. Create a learning culture. I do not care how many degrees plaster your wall; I do not care how high your GPA is or was in academia.  If you are not a committed lifelong learner, you will not retain the data you learned and treat yourself or others properly.  Read a book!  Investigate topics of interest to you!  Read out loud to children!  Reading has a power over the mind that no other force can match.  Pick up a book!
    2. Never forget, “a leader is a teacher, and a teacher is a leader.” If you are not teaching, you are not leading!  Yes, it truly is that simple to identify a leader from a manager.  Teaching comes in many forms; use them all.  As you get to know your people, you will discover the need to use different teaching styles; don’t be scared not to know something, suggest learning it together.
    3. Delegate, delegate, delegate, and then wash, rinse, and repeat. A leader will not keep everything on their plate.  Recognize the talents around you, take those talents and grow more, using the first two principles and the power of delegation.  The best leader I ever knew never seemed busy.  He delegated as much as possible and spent his days going around to those he delegated to for updates.
    4. Know the value of emotions and use them sparingly! A military commander I served with understood this principle well.  When he got upset, change happened.  But he did not get upset often and was very selective when he showed any emotion, except humor.  When this commander showed he was upset, people respected his emotional displays and worked twice as hard to right the wrong.
    5. Humor! Know some jokes, use them often!  I was working in a call center, the VP of customer relations saw I was logging off for a break; he comes hurrying over to me, acting all important and officious; he says, “Do you know what I just heard?”  “Not a clue.”  “Elvis, he was singing a melody of songs to fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”  Not a good joke, but I remember it.  Knowledge of humor and application of that knowledge is preeminent to leadership.

Why the discussion on leadership?

Andragogy - The PuzzleLet’s face the 800# gorilla in the room; America, and the world, are in desperate need of leaders.  We have too many managers and people who claim to desire leadership but want nothing more than a manager.  We have people all around us who have become content with management and cannot tell you the difference between a manager and a leader; worse, these same people will try and claim leaders are born, not made.  Plus, a thousand and one other excuses, diatribes, vent spleens, egoistic manifestations, and straight lies.  Worse, politics gets involved, from the government to business; the politics of wagging tongues reminds me of geese in a pen.  Hissing, biting, honking, making tons of noise, and not making a lick of sense.  Chickens cackling in a yard is almost musical compared to geese in a pen, and I think the chickens might be smarter, even without brains, than geese!

One of those authors who write about leadership but could not lead a platoon of sailors into a bar after a long deployment was recently quoted as having said something others claim is essential to leadership.  Leaders need to embrace the C’s of leadership.  The C’s of leadership include:

    • Calm. Employees and customers look to Leaders to project a sense of calm through an uncertain situation.
        • This is a true statement, but if the employees have been appropriately trained, uncertain situations are diminished proportionally to quality, value-added training as part of being lifelong learners.
    • Confidence. Being calm, but not still-water calm. Employees and customers rely on the confidence a Leader brings.
        • Calmness is a projection of inner thoughts onto situational awareness.
        • Confidence is the sum of training, plus experience and the desire to excel — all of which the leader does not control and can only influence. Thus, we have a confusion of terms and ideas that do damage when confused.
    • Communication. Relentlessly communicate and communicate more clearly. This is to avoid rumors developing the muddy waters.
        • Muddy waters will always exist; people gossip like mad. But leadership communication can only go so far when people choose to ignore communication.  Hence, again, we confuse roles and responsibilities being passed off as a leadership principle.
        • Communication is a two-directional street and requires both parties to be listeners and speakers in their due order.
    • Collaboration. Call on the resources and capabilities of ALL your team and bring them together. Have a role for everyone in which they can contribute.
        • NO! Contribution is nothing without training, training requires delegation, and delegation is only useful if you include a return and report requirement.  Collaboration has a role, but not in leadership as described.
    • Community. All of us live in communities.  It’s important we set an example, and model behaviors that are supportive.
        • Would someone please tell me how modeling behaviors is part of living in communities?
        • Modeling behaviors is essential in the leadership toolbox, and I would never implicate otherwise. However, the community is left with a choice to exemplify the modeled behaviors or not.  Worse, those outside the company cannot be controlled except through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned — all tools a leader needs to be promoting in followers.
    • Compassion and empathy, during and post a crisis are critical in leadership.
        • Every time you see the word empathy, remember it is an emotional road to ruin. Worse, add sympathy to the mix, and the speed to ruin increases dangerously.
        • Compassion is not empathy; compassion is not sympathy; it is simply recognizing pain in another person and rendering support without participating in that emotional crisis.

FAIR AND BIASED: STAY OUT OF THE HOG PEN!Thus, we have the pig slop and the diamond hunt.  Unless an author provides principles, many leadership books, guides, and articles are just noise, pig slop, where the person desiring to improve individual leadership skills is hunting for diamonds. At the same time, fighting through a gaggle of geese that are hissing, honking, and clamoring for attention.

How does a person avoid the diamond hunt in pig slop?

Gaggle of geeseThe following is not an all-inclusive list.  However, it is the beginning of a list of tools helpful to leaders in all situations:

    1. Start being a leader by being a good follower. Even if being a good follower requires you to be the loyal opposition.  “Yes,” people are managers looking for a leader to pin their star to and never understand the power of being the loyal opposition.  I have never met a leader who was not first a good follower, even if they had to be the loyal opposition.
    2. Not just books on leadership, as this is only going on a diamond hunt in pig slop.  Read books on every topic you can think of, for when you read; you discover principles for future application.  I found how to understand complex theories in biology and how to use these complex organizational systems in how the human body interacts with its disparate parts and systems.
    3. Never stop learning! Going hand-in-hand with reading, never stop learning is a principle and motto for life.  If you need or want information, go to a subject matter expert and beg lessons.  I had a boss who did not know the industry, did not know the company and had no clue how to build the team.  He was hired for a specific set of skills and discovered his collateral duties one assignment at a time.  He went around to every long-term employee and asked them to teach him their jobs.  Six months into his tenure as leader, he was the best leader many had ever experienced.  Never stopping learning means being willing to learn from anyone.
    4. Leaders are trained, not born. Leaders do not magically appear.  Leaders are carefully taught, built, and never stop!  Are you carefully building yourself mentally and physically?  In the US Army, I was taught physical fitness, and with the number of mistakes I was constantly making, I learned a lot about physical fitness.  But, until I was injured, I had not taught my brain to meet my body’s strength and made more mistakes because the strength of my body excelled the strength of my mind.  In carefully building your leadership skills, abilities, and talents, do not forget to keep the body and mind equal in strength.

Andragogy - LEARNNo single person has all the answers on how to be a good leader.  I know I am still learning, and the more I learn, the less I know, and I have been studying leadership, becoming a leader, and working as a leader for the majority of my adult life.  I have led teams in dangerous work, I have developed people in all sorts of industries, and I still fall back on these time-honored principles because they work.  Thus, I ask you to put down the diamond hunt, get out of the goose pen, and simplify your life so you can learn easier and practice better the principles of delegation, learning, reading, and using humor.

© 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: Know the Why – NO Fear!

NO FearAs I was coming into manhood, a clothing brand began and was almost instantly popular; the brand is easily recognizable and states two words, “No Fear!”  Launched in 1989 by twin brothers Mark and Brian Simo, No Fear quickly became one of the most popular sportswear companies globally—and the most popular sportswear company staunchly against being scared.  I will not claim I have “No Fear,” but I choose to live without fear.  When fears arise, my answer is to learn all I can, mentally prepare for times when those fears will rise again, and then move forward living like those fears will not repeat, for I am mentally prepared.

USS Barry (DDG-52) - WikipediaCase in point, I was on a destroyer in the US Navy.  I had been on the ship for more than two years; I was in charge of Repair 5, the Engine Room damage control locker, and in the middle of the 0000–0400-watch, the bells and alarms go off, “Major Fuel Oil Spill in Main 1.”  Because I had practiced, I had personally trained my fire team.  I was exceedingly knowledgeable about the space, the equipment, and the watchstanders; I proceeded into an actual casualty with confidence, not fear.  More, my team could trust the training I had given them, and they moved from sleep to firefighting with confidence.  While no fire erupted that night, the casualty was quickly contained by the watchstanders.  My fire team was prepared to assist; the experience looked upon is not one of embarrassment from fear but confidence and appreciation for preparation, drills, and knowledge.

Gas Chamber 4My first time going through the CS Gas Chamber happened with my National Guard unit.  I was scared, not fearful, just frightened.  I had no confidence in the equipment, I had not been to basic training yet, and here I was going into a gas chamber.  This experience provided me with confidence that my fellow soldiers in basic training did not have as we went into the gas chamber in basic training when I experienced the gas chamber in the US Army Basic Training, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  I had no fear, no trepidation, and no reason to doubt.

During Basic Training, I remember only one time being truly scared, not fearful, just scared!  I had failed to pass on the shooting ranges and was facing being kicked out of the US Army because I could not shoot what I was aiming at.  I had been shooting since I was 14, I knew how to handle rifles, but still, I could not qualify with the M-16.  The problem, I could not relax, and this inability to relax was jerking the trigger and making my rounds go astray.  Worse, I did not know why I could not relax.  Thus, arrives the point of this article, do you know the why in your emotions, decisions, and desires?

Bait & Switch 2You possess beliefs, and some might even be firmly held beliefs; this is great.  I am not writing to dissuade you from your beliefs, to decide differently, or even to emote in a manner foreign to you.  My intent is to aid you in introspection, a path of self-knowledge where you know why you know, why you believe, and why you act as you do.  Do you know why; in knowing why you begin to understand, and understanding brings knowledge and acceptance.

I have a friend who had an abusive childhood.  Her childhood was fraught with danger, all types of abuse, and this childhood prepared her to be in two abusive marriages and consider those abusive marriages as normal.  She is now remarried to a good guy, not abusive at all.  Except she has a lot of health problems, and she seeks out medical opinions for everything, seeking to find domineering in a relationship as a by-product of her childhood.  She refuses to believe that childhood events drive her doctor fixation and not health problems.  I will not attempt to dissuade her of this opinion.  I support the good she does, the good she and her husband do, and I will continue to choose to be her friend.  But fear and refusing to know why has all but crippled my friend, and this is painful to see!

Question 3Do you know why?  Are you willing to investigate to know why?  What will you choose to do when the why is revealed?  Knowing why requires mental preparation, mental preparation requires mental strength, agility, and flexibility, all skills that require practice, time, and development through experiences willingly sought.  Therein lay the most challenging part of building mental skills, being willing to seek out these opportunities, and remaining fixed upon learning, no matter the cost.

I have met some amazing people who refused to accept what the truth was going to cost them.  Learning comes with a price; that price is in the choice to apply or deny what has been taught.  The price is the consequence that follows the decision to accept or reject that which was learned.  My brother’s wife discovered he was cheating on her and had been cheating on her almost from the moment they married.  She stayed in the marriage for seven kids and nearly 20-years.  Hoping he would change.  I honor her willingness and sacrifice; I respect her devotion to my brother, I understand her position and her reasoning.  Still, I wonder, should she have left him immediately upon learning of his infidelity?  She knows the why now, but she refused to accept the why, and the consequences were painful in the extreme for many years.  She is better now, remarried, and the kids are recovering, but did they have to suffer?  Did she have to suffer?  Choice and consequence after learning is mentally difficult.

GearsAs stated and repeated only for emphasis, you may choose how you will, believe, feel, and act the way you think is best for you and yours.  My aim and intent are not to dissuade but to help you more fully appreciate the why and lose the fear.   As a teenager, a friend of mine, a shepherd, asked me to help him on the ranch.  My first day coincided with shearing day, and with 400-head of sheep to shear, this was not going to be an easy day.  Herding the sheep into the corral was not difficult and was accomplished without incident.  Getting the sheep into the run and into the trailer to be sheared was incredibly difficult, but getting the sheep out of the shearing van was easier than falling off the porch.  Why; because of fear.  The sheep wanted to be sheared, but the confinement of the run and the noise the shears produced increased fear so much that the animals could hardly think straight, and they became more fearful the closer they got to the van where the shearing stations were.  Animals confined in tight quarters in the run turned themselves about and tried to flee backward in the run.  Fear made them do incredible things I had never imagined an animal could do.

WhyAs I experienced life, surviving the US Army and the US Navy, I learned what fear does to humans; worse, the consequences of fear leave an indelible impression upon the minds of those who chose to succumb to fear.  The movies never show this side of fear; books and magazines never discuss the aspects of what fear does to harm the mind and body of the person involved.  Worse, society has come up with terms and names to soften the repercussions of a moment’s fear.  As a kid, I watched a lot of M*A*S*H 4077; in one of those shows, Sigmund, the psychiatrist, talks about how a moment’s fear on the battlefield becomes a lifetime of regret, shame, and the potential of an eternal soul is lost.  All because, for one moment, fear overcame, and the body responded, while the mind lost control.

QuestionDo you know why?  Are you willing to discover the why and teach others what you have learned?  The final step in introspection is not acceptance but being willing to teach.  Through teaching, you learn more perfectly; this is a pattern that I have seen replicated in too many classrooms to ignore.  I met an amazing woman in a long-term care facility in Geneva, Ohio.  She was my mothers-in-law’s roommate.  She was a teacher and began her career in a one-room schoolhouse at sixteen.  She retired just after the school’s consolidated.  She had been blind for a long time.  I never met a more grateful person, and I have not met a more learned person!  She said every day she taught, she learned something new, which taught her to be grateful, and in gratitude, she taught and learned for her entire career and every day thereafter.

Thus, I ask again, do you know the why?  Are you willing to learn the why?  How you choose does determine your destiny.  I close with a final thought, are you willing to ever choose the harder right instead of, the easier wrong?  I am not perfect, I struggle to choose the harder right, but I also know the invaluable worth of being prepared mentally and not fearing.  I know the power that comes with choosing to know the why and allowing that choice, with its inherent and natural consequences, to lead towards making better decisions and learning.  There is power in knowing why there is power in failure, there is hope in failure, and great peace in knowing the why.How to Make Any Question Essential with Three Easy Steps – Wabisabi Learning

Search out the why.  Choose to learn.  After learning, accept the price of consequences and see how those consequences can change you!

© 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.

 

Employee Engagement

Knowledge Check!Recently this topic was raised in a town hall style meeting, and the comments from the leadership raised several concerns.  It appears that employee engagement is attempting to become a “buzzword” instead of an action item, and this bothers me greatly.  Worse, many people lead teams with vague ideas about what employee engagement means and then shape their own biases into the employee engagement program, making a pogrom of inanity and suffering out of a tool for benefiting and improving employee relations.

When discussing employee engagement, we must first begin with a fundamental truth; employees do not work for a company, do not work for a brand; they work for a manager.  An employee might like a company; they might enjoy having their professional brand aligned with a known branded organization. The employee might feel pride in associating with other employees under that brand.  When the road gets difficult at the end of the day, an employee works for a manager.  The relationship between a manager and an employee is one of trust operationalized and honed through shared experiences.

Employee Engagement – Defined

ProblemsAccording to several online sources, the definition of employee engagement is, “Employee engagement is a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.”  If you believe this definition, you will miss the forest for the bark you are fixated upon!  Employee engagement is fundamental; it is not a concept, a theory, or a buzzword.  Employee engagement is a relationship between organizational leaders and the employees, but employee engagement is not about collecting qualitative or quantitative data for decision-making policy-based relationship guidance.  At the most basic level, employee engagement is the impetus an employee chooses to onboard because of the motivational actions of the manager they report to.

Employees must choose to engage; when they choose not to engage, there is no enthusiasm in the employee, and this can be heard in every action taken by the employees on the company’s behalf.  Is this clear; employee engagement is an individual action, where impetus leads to motivated and enthused action.  While organizational leaders can and do influence motivation, they cannot force the employee to engage!  Thus, revealing another aspect of why the definition found online is NOT acceptable for use in any employee engagement effort!Leadership Cartoon

Employee engagement is the actions an employee is willing to take, indicating their motivation to perform their duties and extra-duties for a manager they like.  Employee engagement is the epitome of operational trust realized in daily attitudes, behaviors, and mannerisms of employees who choose to be engaged in solving problems for their employer.  While incentive programs can improve employee engagement, if the employee does not first choose to enjoy the incentive, the incentive program is wasted leadership efforts.  The same can be said for every single “employee benefit.”  If an employee cannot afford the employer’s benefits, those benefits are wasted money the employer needs elsewhere.  Hence, the final point in defining employee engagement is the individualization of incentives and the individual relationship between managers and employees.  Stop the one-size-fits-most offerings, and let’s get back to talking to people.Anton Ego 4

Reflective Listening

Listening has four distinct levels; currently, these are:

      • Inactive listening – Hearing words, seeing written communication, zero impact mentally. Mainly because your internal voices drown out the possibility of communication.
      • Selective listening – Hearing only that which confirms your own voices, opinions, and biases. While others are speaking, you are already forming your response.
      • Active listening – Show the other person you are paying attention to, engage with meaning in a reply. You are focused on removing barriers to get your point across.
      • Reflective listening – Paying attention to intent and content, reducing emotion, two-directional as both parties are engaged in achieving mutual understanding.

Chinese CrisisInactive and selective listening can be heard through phone lines, instant messaging, text messaging, and easily observed during face-to-face communication.  Worse, active listening launches trust, and when faked, destroys credibility, ruining relationships.  Reflective listening can only achieve mutual understanding when both parties are choosing to listen intently and with the purpose of reaching mutual understanding.  The most powerful tool in an organizational leader’s toolbox for quickly rectifying employee engagement is reflectively listening.

Communication occurs in two different modalities, verbal and non-verbal.  Good communicators adapt their message to the audience using reflective listening and careful observation.  Adapting the message requires first choosing, determining who the primary and secondary audience is, and then focusing the message on the primary audience.  Next, adaptation requires prior planning, which includes mental preparation, practice, and channels for feedback.  Finally, adaptation requires listening to achieve mutual understanding, careful observation, asking questions designed to lead to mutual understanding, and clarifying what is being said to achieve mutual understanding.  The pattern described can be the tool that begins employee engagement but is not an end-all solution all by itself.Anton Ego

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a growth mechanism that states that what a business organization needs, they already have enough of, provided they listen to their employees.  Appreciative inquiry and common sense tell leaders who want to know and change their organization and how and where to begin.  Appreciative inquiry-based leadership is 6-continuous steps that start small and cycle to more significant problems as momentum for excellence permeates through an organization.  But the first step, just like in defeating a disabling addiction, is admitting there is a problem.

Here are the six operational steps for appreciative inquiry:

      1. Admit there is a problem and commit to change.
      2. Define the problem.
      3. Discover the variables and stay focused on the positive.
      4. Dream BIG!
      5. Design the future and outline the steps to that future.
      6. Destiny, create the destination you desire.

Bait & SwitchFollow the instructions on a shampoo bottle, “Wash, Rinse, Repeat.”  The appreciative inquiry model can be scaled, repeated, implemented into small or large teams, and produce motivated members who become the force to create change.  Allow yourself and your team to learn, this takes time, but through building motivation for excellence, time can be captured to perform.

Of all the steps in appreciative inquiry, it must be stressed that focusing on the positive is the only way to improve people.  Even if you must make careful observations to catch people doing good, do it!  Focusing on the positive provides the proper culture for engaging as many people as possible.  Criticism, negativity, aspersions, and insults all feed a culture of “Not my problem,” and when the employee claims, “not my problem,” they will never engage until the culture changes.

Organization

Andragogy - LEARNEmployee engagement requires structural changes to the organizational design.  Employee engagement is going to bring immediate change to the organization.  If the leaders, directors, managers, supervisors, team leaders, etc., are not prepared for and willing to change, employee engagement will die as an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.  As a business consultant, I have witnessed the death of employee engagement, and the death is long, protracted, and disastrous to the entire business.  Worse, individuals refusing to change stand out like red dots on a white cloth as employee engagement dies.

Thus, the first step in employee engagement belongs not to the employee, but the employer, who must answer this question: “Are we a learning organization willing to change, or are we a knowing organization who does not need to change?”  How the leadership answers this question will speak volumes to the employees closely observing and making their decisions accordingly.  Depending upon how that question is answered will depend upon whether the business can move onto the second step or remain stuck on the first step.

Andragogy - The PuzzleThe second step in employee engagement is training the organization to accept change and failure as tools for learning, growing, and developing.  A toddler learning to walk will fall more than they stay up before they can run.  The same is true when initiating employee engagement.  Guess what; you are going to fail; can you as an organizational leader accept failing?  Are you willing to admit you failed, made a mistake, and publicly acknowledge the blame and consequences?  Are you willing to allow others to accept the praise for doing the right thing?  Will you as an organizational leader accept change?  How you answer these questions also speaks volumes to the employees you are trying to engage.  Depending upon how you individually and collectively as a team answer these leadership questions will decide if you fall back to step one or advance to step three.

The third step in organizing employee engagement is total commitment.  Are you onboard?  Are all the leaders onboard?  Being onboard means 100% commitment to the organization dreamed in the operational steps to appreciative inquiry.  If not, do not launch an employee engagement program, for it will fail spectacularly!  Never forget the cartoons where a character has one foot on a boat leaving the pier and one foot on the dock; they get wet and left behind!

Have FUN!

Semper GumbyEngaging with employees should be fun, it should be an enjoyable experience, and it should bring out the best in you!  All because you want to see others engage, grow professionally, learn, develop, and become.  Your efforts to teach engagement lead you to learn how to engage better.  Seize these learning opportunities, choose to grow, but never forget to have fun.  My best tool for engaging with employees, dad jokes!  Really, really, really, bad dad jokes!  For example, when Forrest Gump came to Amazon, what was his computer password?

1F@rr3st1

When you get that joke, laugh; but wait for others to get it as well!  Employee engagement is fun, exciting, and can be the best job you ever had as a professional.  Just believe in yourself, believe in and invest the time in appreciative inquiry, organize yourself and your business, and always reflectively listen.Never Give Up!

© 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: Intention and Discernment – Tools Worth Knowing

Foghorn Leghorn - MedicationParents, how many times have you witnessed a toddler going about their day, an idea crosses their face, and you can tell they are about to do something that gets that toddler in trouble?  I heard a comedian talk about witnessing this as the toddler saw the cat sleeping in the sun, the toddler crossed the room and kicked the cat.  When asked why the toddler claims “it was accident.”

What is intention?

Intention is all about deliberate action, using a plan, and involving ideas in action.  According to Webster, intention is also the healing process of a wound, but this definition is not part of our discussion.  From Latin, we find intentio as “stretching purpose” and originates with intendere meaning “towards, stretch, and tend.”

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsConsider these definitions for a moment and the story about the toddler kicking the cat.  We have a plan, a purpose, and a deliberate action.  How does the parent discern the act was deliberate; the use of observation as to what the toddler had done to the cat previously, what the toddler was doing immediately before they kicked the cat, and the attempt to use an excuse to get out of trouble.

Discerning Intention.

Never Give Up!When defining discernment, I am not entering holy waters to discuss the pieces of discernment that belong to discerning for religions.  Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions, observations that empower decision-making.  Discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic.  Discernment is also defined through the contexts; scientific, normative, and formal. The process of discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced understandings about its properties or qualities.

Note, there is also a legal definition, or standard, for discernment, “the cognitive condition of someone who understands; savvy, understanding, apprehension knowing about their actions before, after, and during the act;” which is where things get sticky when discernment and intention cross paths.  Hannity and Carlson disagree on the actions of the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.  Not being a lawyer and not knowing all the legal jargon, the best I can do is form an opinion.  I base my opinion on other high-profile cases where the media has condemned an individual as guilty before the judge and jury are formed.  Meaning, I feel the jury was intentionally and unfairly biased against Derek Chauvin due to the influence of the media and the mob outside the courtroom’s doors.Thin Blue Line

There was a shooting of a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.  The girl had a knife in hand, did not listen to the police officer responding, and lunged at another person before being shot.  Again, we come to discerning intention and split-second decision-making.  Only, in this instance, the officer has no history of the person holding a knife, only reports of a stabbing and an apparent altercation involving a knife when they arrive on the scene.  I offer no judgment in this case as this case continues to unfold, details are still being investigated, and family interviewed.  Yet, the media is already off and running their biased opinions, and mobs have formed for mobocratic justice, which is never just nor proper.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological QuandryUnfortunately, this pattern repeats too often, and thus the need to understand discernment and correctly discerning intention.  My intent is not to make you as adept at this practice as a police officer. In a Republic, and even in many democratic societies, the citizens need to discern and discern intention, two separate processes.  The media will sell a lurid and emotionally charged story with all the bias of a bull in a China Shop and never care about the consequences.  But, the citizen does not have the same luxury or legal protections as the media.  Hence, we must discern what the media relates and discern the media’s intention before we ever read or listen to their story/reporting of events.  Thus my intent in this article and bringing up this topic, we, the citizens, are held to a higher law than the media and cannot afford to form mobs, trust the media’s reporting, or even rely upon the press reported “facts” to discern and discern intent.

How do you make a decision requiring action?

GearsThe process for critical thinking, leading to intentional decision-making, with purposeful action, generally follows the following pattern:

      1. Gather data
        • Requires knowing the validity of the source data and trusting the sources.
      2. Organize the data
      3. Make preliminary decisions and determine an action to take.
      4. Beta test the decision through application to a minimal audience to refine the solution and ensure the integrity of the data.
      5. Roll out the entire decision, including the solution and the reasoning, take timely action.
      6. Monitor and make course corrections as needed.

Detective 4These steps are useless unless we understand our own intention before launching a decision-making process.  Consider, do you intentionally believe that others are doing their best or giving their best efforts?  Do you intentionally shut down your own opinion to consider the perceptions of others in making decisions?  Where in those steps do you stop and take a moment to ponder the short and long-term consequences of the solution devised?  When making decisions, do you ever consider the axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses?”  Do we fear failing to make a correct decision if the future teaches us something new about the data changing the pattern of decision-making?  How do you learn?

Let us briefly examine that axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses,” does not mean making everyone happy.  A good compromise leaves everyone upset and feeling cheated and settled on the issue under consideration.  Yet, the media and many politicians firmly believe that unless they win everything they desire in a solution, they have been robbed and feel justified in stirring up public angst and creating a worse problem.  The adults in society must understand both the good and the ill in creating Win/Win solutions, or all is lost, and the patients run the asylum.

Anton Ego 4In going back to the analogy of the toddler kicking the cat.  Does the solution in the short-term mean corrective behavior modification for a long-term lesson learned?  Does the better solution involve instruction as well as behavior modification?  Have we, the parents, discerned correctly the intention of the toddler sufficient to justify our decision?  Will the cat be safe around the toddler in the future because of the action we take at that moment?

How do you learn?

In answering this question, we must return to the topic of failure.  Do we consider failure a learning moment?   Do we appreciate the power of failing as integral to achieving success?  A close relative of mine in high school went out for the track team as a pole vaulter.  I looked into pole vaulting to learn more and was surprised at the ways, means, and multiple times the pole vaulter will fail.  The technical skills to pole vault are incredible, almost as unbelievable as being an operations manager in a manufacturing environment and being a parent.  Hence, the need for discernment and intention.

2012-08-13 07.37.28I close with a challenge, use discernment more intentionally in learning your way through failure to success.  Liberty and freedom allow us the power to fail our way to success, but only if we consciously choose to learn and discern better our steps in decision-making.  Know your intent, take a moment every day to consider your intent, and purposefully make decisions to live your intentions.  Trust yourself to discern.  Your confidence in discerning is key to understanding and using your intention to power decision-making as a process.  Please remember, what I am discussing requires time, you will fail, but you will also win and win BIG!  Enjoy the journey of discovery!

© 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: The Rule of Law – A Primer

ApathyAll advanced human actions, the weather, the natural world all operate on the law.  Understanding the rules of that law enables all the sciences, arts, music, and advanced human action the world has witnessed as humans have gained and lost civilization throughout history.  The following is a primer on the rule of law, a concept oft mentioned in these articles, to advance our collective understanding and provide impetus towards correcting the government.

Consider electricity; it exists in nature in uncontrolled ways and means.  Static electricity, lightning, other discharges exist when electrons get free and need to be grounded.  It took millennia for man to understand and harness electricity in the crudest of manners and methods.  It took another millennium for man to understand the laws of electricity, create, harness, and purposefully use electricity to improve the human condition.  Ancient examples of electricity exit in Egyptian tombs and other sites of antiquity that amaze and mystify us in the current history of man, for we do not understand the why behind the ancient uses and make guesses as to why electricity was used.

The critical part in our discussion of electricity is discovering and then living obediently to the rules and laws governing electricity.  Without exception, if you abuse the power of electricity, harm occurs, and death is ever-present.  I have witnessed surges of electricity start fires, throw people across rooms, and stop hearts as effortlessly as I type.  Speak with an electrician or engineer, and you will hear tales of inexperienced, uneducated, or fool-hardy people breaking the laws of electricity and the amazing results that transpired.  Speak to these same people, and you can see the advantages and blessings of obedience to the laws of electricity and the power of electricity to improve lives, heal the sick, and raise the dead; all, because the rule of law is adhered to by practitioners and electricity, is safely harnessed and used according to the understood laws.

Image - Quote Poltics is DirtyTesla understood electricity’s laws and rules better than any other person in history and died too soon for his knowledge of those rules to be both accepted and applied to the human condition.  Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla had a unique and troubled history and relationships.  Due to the desire to make money on delivering electricity, Tesla’s Tower for providing electricity through the air without a delivery network of wires, substations, and generators, was forced to be suspended, and Edison and Westinghouse beat Tesla into obscurity almost.  Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla’s relationship is not the topic; although highly interesting and an excellent example of capitalism working to destroy people, the rule of law and obedience to the understood rules and laws is the topic.

Consider the internal combustion engine.  I have heard it postulated on more than one occasion that after gravity, the internal combustion engine is continuously being researched and debated by engineers, physicists, and other scientific people in an attempt to improve human understanding.  Electricity remains on this list as we are learning more laws and rules that expand knowledge, which then develops human applications.  Hence, when we speak of the rule of law, we speak of current law, future discoveries, and historical application.  The historical applications of laws and rules often lead to insights into everyday situations and predict where the future may lie on a particular topic.

The Duty of AmericansSome may complain; I  am speaking only about natural laws, and man’s laws, as applied through government, are different from natural law.  To those who suggest this, I say, unequivocally, “Hogwash!”  How did man form the government; they watched the natural order and created a mimicry of the natural order into society, and then began working to improve that social order to achieve what nature, or the natural world, does automatically.

Consider the starlings, little birds, that fly in concert so intricately and beautifully, acting in a harmony of motion that appears to defy the social order and government of bird flight.  Yet, the starlings’ rules and laws allow for their society to fly and mystify humans.  Deer, Elk, Moose, Mice, and so many other animal societies have been mimicked by humans into a form of government and social order, bringing with it rules and laws that apply, strictly, to that society.

Editorial - Educational TruthAmerica has a lot of rules and laws.  In an attempt to capture the width and breadth of laws and rules in America, the following statement is made, “Congress has enacted approximately 200–600 statutes during each of its 115 biennial terms so that more than 30,000 statutes have been enacted since 1789.”  A more straightforward explanation is made on a different source, “Nobody Knows!”  The first and most fundamental law is the US Constitution and US Bill of Rights.  Under the rule of law, the judicial and legislative branches of government are expected to follow and closely adhere to these fundamental documents when creating laws and rules.  However, the legislative branch has abdicated its role to the judicial branch.  The judicial branch has become infested with activists and militant and mutton-headed pillocks from both current political parties’ extremes until the law has become defiled, and American Society suffers.

The same pattern has been observed in every democratic society across the globe, with the United Kingdom, France, Greece, and Germany, leading to diminution of the understanding and governance of law.  Hence, according to just laws and rules, the social orders that used to mimic natural orders have become lost in the morass of bias and opinions forming a legal quagmire where even obeying the law has become too difficult no one knows the laws sufficiently.  Even though the legal premise remains, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

PatriotismAmerica, consider the number of “Executive Orders” written by the current and fraudulent president?  The UK, consider how long it took to leave the EU and the bureaucrats who continue to thwart the people’s will?  Israel, how many elections will it take for you to have a stable government again?  German, you get the same question as Israel, and we all know how France and Greece could not form a cohesive government even though their lives depend upon a functioning government.

Citizens of Democratic governments, and America, a Republic, must understand the basic role and functioning of government to not cradle-to-grave care for a citizen, but to protect the national boarders and do as little harm as possible.  That is the government’s entire function; look at any social order in the animal kingdom, and this truth becomes evident very quickly.  Yet, humans continue to try and shape government into an instrument to beat and betray their fellow men in the name of plastic terms like “fair,” “equity,” and “New,” among many others.

Andragogy - LEARNWhat does a citizen of these governments do?

I have some suggestions, but the leading and most crucial request is to understand and then act.  We must fundamentally shift our understanding of, and then actions of, the governments that have grown beyond control.

      1. Observe natural order and consider your current government. If they do not match, you have a problem.  Acknowledge that problem exists!
      2. Understand the role of the “Rule of Law.” As the natural order goes, so should human government.
      3. Without a doubt, when natural laws are broken, death follows. Governments are dying because they have disregarded this simple principle.  Awake and arise before the globe enters another World War; because we all know how those turn out!
      4. Once you know, ACT! Vote!  Raise your voice!  Disclaim that in no uncertain terms, you are refusing and refuting the government’s power to rule you!
      5. As you learn, teach, so you may learn more succinctly, thus empowering your ability to train more powerfully. Your neighbors need this same information so you can act in concert.  Consider the starling; how fast will a starling die if they do not fly in formation properly; not bloody long.

Never Give Up!Remember, this is but a starting point in changing government, but we must start!  Embrace a “Liberty FIRST Culture,” and let us citizens act, for we own the government, not the other way round!  Never stop trying, learning, and reaching out.  When the government breaks the natural order, death becomes a real possibility, either through war, rebellion, or simply anarchy as government dies.

© 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: Assimilation: A Plea to All Immigrants and Americans!

American Flag Etiquette (Care and Display Guidelines)America continues to open its doors to a large group of new immigrants from countries worldwide, but especially from war-torn and ravaged lands.  Welcome; I am glad you are here!  A Mayor of London previously came to America and derided, denigrated, and demeaned America for asking immigrants to assimilate.  Yes, America will ask you to assimilate; yes, this request includes those legal and illegal immigrants; yes, assimilation is hard, but the effort is worth it.

What is Assimilation?

Assimilation is only taking the best of your old culture, ideals, values, and beliefs and adding them to the best America has to offer.  America is not a perfect country; we ask for your help to improve our country by adding the best of your experiences to our best experiences and building America into a greater nation.  Why does America ask you to assimilate, even though it is hard; the answer lies in the principles of unity, responsibility, and achieving the “American Dream.”

What is the “American Dream?”

A composite illustration with text and the headline “What Is the American Dream Today?” Including an illustration of the Statue of Liberty with buildings in her hand with the text: “Acceptance of government protection of free enterprise.” An illustration of two cities across an ocean with the text: “Belief that other nations should replicate America’s development.” An illustration of storefronts with the text “Faith in a free market economy.” An illustration of a cloud of information with the text: “Promotion of free flow of information and culture.” Illustration of money flowing between two sets of hands with the text: “Support for free trade agreements and foreign direct investment.”The “American Dream” is to realize freedom, all the benefits of liberty, shouldering all the responsibilities of freedom, and achieving these freedoms through work, education, and self-discovery.  Many Americans need to be reminded that the “American Dream” has nothing to do with acquiring stuff.  The “American Dream” has nothing to do with spending money, although great freedoms are found in earning money and spending that money according to your desires.  The “American Dream” has nothing to do with purchasing a home, even though owning property is a cherished freedom.  The “American Dream” is realizing freedom in all its glory and all of its reality.

The “American Dream” means failure, struggle, hard work, loss, gain, understanding value, and so much more.  The “American Dream” has tragedy and heartache, misery, and the ultimate joy of achievement.  Some of the hardest struggles in understanding the “American Dream” are found in sending loved ones marching to war and not seeing those same loved ones marching back home, and it is the “American Dream.”  Understanding and embracing freedom, to see the best and worst of humanity and realize that freedom through a constitutional republic is still the best form of government available, even through all the imperfections.  The “American Dream” means unifying around a single standard.

What is the single standard to rally around?

The US Constitution and the American Flag are the standards to rally around.  Does rallying around this standard mean suddenly easy street, riches, and smooth sailing; absolutely not!  Rallying around this standard means unifying, dropping the labels, the hyphenations, the separations, and realizing that we are better together than we are separate.  Again, the “American Dream” is all about understanding freedom in all its glory, majesty, and terribleness.

21 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Constitution | Mental FlossThe principles of unity are many, but also very few.  Unity is all about choice; having a choice is all about freedom.  Freedom is all about shouldering the consequences of making choices to become more unified or less unified; simple and complex, easy and difficult.  Unity is not a paradox; unity is a learned principle.  Consider the young child. Being a child is challenging, learning a language, culture, basic education standards, and growing.  The same is true for immigrants.  Many come here and are overwhelmed.  Like children, simply asking for help becomes a great challenge, and many times that challenge is because immigrants do not realize that support is available and merely requires asking for help.  Hence, the responsibility is all on you, not everyone else; this means the consequences for asking or not asking are also all on you; this is freedom.

The principles of unity are found in a common language and based upon the “Rule of Law.”  America is the only country on earth where you can keep your tongue, and the national language, American English, can be a second or non-primary language.  Yet, the choice to learn American English has consequences, and those consequences come with a cost.  Learning American English is hard, requires work, and will not make sense until time and experience are added to learning.  Not learning American English is harder and restricts freedoms:  the ability to enjoy all America has to offer and forces you to forever remain outside America’s embrace.

Like language, the “Rule of Law” has consequences that allow more freedom or constricts freedom, all based upon your individual choices and how you evaluate the consequences.  For example, break the law in coming to America, and you are not welcome even though many politicians will say differently to abuse and use you.  Come to America legally, and you are expected to assimilate to become a citizen.  Come here temporarily, as, on a visa, we will expect you to adhere to the “Rule of Law” and eventually return to your original country.  Fail to return to your original homeland, and you are here illegally, which has consequences.

Should English Be the Official Language of the U.S.?The principles of unity include understanding, learning, and choosing to plot your own path.  No one is going to run your life for you.  Choosing to run your own life requires learning, understanding value, and shouldering the consequences of good or ill choices.  In America, you can choose to be homeless, and this is perfectly acceptable.  You can choose to chase money; acquiring great riches is possible and completely acceptable in America.  Acquire those funds legally, and America rewards them greatly.  Acquire those funds illegally, and eventually, American Justice will prevail, and those funds will be lost in a very public trial.  Again, we see unity combined with choices, leading to coming together under the same standard and enjoying positive consequences or refusing to come together under the standard and enjoying negative consequences.

Andragogy - LEARNThe principles of responsibility go hand in hand with the principles of unity—many of the principles of unity overlap with responsibility principles.  For example, fail to rally under the US Constitution’s standard, break the law, and watch how quickly the consequence leads to being forced to shoulder the responsibility to yield to unify affects you personally with the full weight and scorn of the American people.  Do illegal actions, and you may sometimes not get caught and punished.  Eventually, all of society will know how deplorable you are, and justice gets served in myriad different ways.

Consider dishonest politicians.  Sometimes they do not get caught and exposed to the harsh reality of the American justice system.  Still, they lose all the respect of voters, lose their title, and remain outcasts and pariahs in American society through the media retelling their stories, through a loss of income, and American society continually chastising them for their misdeeds.  American culture can be very harsh for those choosing not to assimilate because the refusal to assimilate means a refusal to unify under a single standard, which requires everyone to do their part to make America better.

ToolsMaking America better is not a job that can be neglected, evaded, shirked, forgotten, ignored, or refused.  America is all about working together.  Work requires sacrifice, learning, and correctly using freedoms to achieve more freedoms.  Working together requires a common language; the common language signifies a common bond amongst those striving to achieve freedoms as a symbol of desiring more freedoms.  Please, take the best you have, add it to the best America offers, and assimilate into America.  Unify with us in a beautiful patchwork quilt of diversity and togetherness.

Diversity should never be sacrificed for unity, and unity must never be sacrificed for diversity and individuality.  It takes both diversity and unity to make America.  It requires sacrifice and responsibility to make America.  It requires a willing mind and open heart to achieve freedom and understand that more freedom is possible with assimilation than without assimilation.  The choice is yours, and the consequences are yours, choose carefully.

© 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.