Things Learned About Animals: Lesson 1

MumbleAs a teenager, I worked on a dairy farm in Morrill, Maine, and later as a hired hand on a sheep ranch in Bluebell, Utah.  Often growing up, my family had chickens, ducks, geese, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs.  There are several lessons I feel we could learn from the animals.  In discussing the animals, you are left to choose whether the lesson applies to you or not.  I am not here to convince anyone, I merely relate what I have observed and the lessons I learned.  If you can use the lesson to improve your life, I have achieved my goal.  If you choose not to like the lesson for any reason, happily know you are not the audience intended, and move on smartly.

Animal Gender

Let me be perfectly clear, gender is an eternal construct, is established in the first building blocks of a body, and cannot be changed.  Consider for a moment with me the steps in the gestation process of any animal.  The egg is fertilized, and the fertilization process is self-explanatory, needing no additional discussion from me.  After the egg is fertilized by sperm from a male, the egg from the female becomes a zygote.  This clump of cells shortly gender is known, and the biological differences between a male and a female begin.Egg fertilization and development | Download Scientific Diagram

Males develop larger lungs, denser bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  Females develop smaller lung capacity, less dense bones, and other chemical and biological differences.  We had a female goat who liked to mount other female goats.  While this was highly uncomfortable for the mounted female goat and generally produced fights between the females, we never worried about the goats becoming pregnant.  Interestingly, after this female goat had been impregnated, this female stopped mounting other female goats and was a great mother of kids.  Not speaking goat, I never understood why she mounted other females in what could have been considered her teenage years; one thing was sure, gender did not change because the goat was confused.

It never ceased to amaze me that one could reliably tell the males from the females almost immediately from birth.  Due to their birth size, their growth, and their respective attitudes.  In observing a group of kittens, the males would dominate the females for momma’s attention, the best places to nurse, and innately knew they were male.  The females were smaller, leaner, and sometimes just as feisty and stubborn as the males; they knew they were different from the males.

Baby Cows and CalvesLater while tending sheep, another interesting lesson was learned regarding gender.  Ewes, female sheep, who had lost their lambs, knew somehow if a misgendered animal was placed before them and drove that animal away.  That ewe knew she had birthed a male or female lamb, and any orphan trying to feed would not do; only orphans of the same gender, wearing the skins of their original lamb, were allowed to become a stepchild and be accepted if the ewe permitted them.

Another lesson learned watching a shepherd was the decisions of the ewes.  I saw ewes stand next to a stillborn lamb until the shepherd collected that lamb for disposal.  Crying, mourning, and sometimes choosing to end their life by not eating instead of adopting a motherless lamb.  I am not anthropomorphizing an animal here, that mother losing her lamb cried, mourned, and entered a depression where the ewe chose to join her lamb in death, and regrettably it did not happen only once or twice.  I do not know if the same happens for goats, cows, or other animals.  I know it happens for mother cats and sheep as I have observed these animals and witnessed this event for myself.Cotswold Sheep. Bottle feeding orphan lambs, by Tim Macmillan | Sheep, Animals, Lamb

On the topic of orphaned lambs, I noticed something important, lambs with mothers, even adopted mothers, were less daring, got into less hazardous situations, and generally were calmer socially.  Orphan lambs were wild, got into trouble, did not come to eat without insistence, and several times did not learn from past mistakes, injured, and sometimes died.  I do not know why orphaned lambs acted this way, and without anthropomorphizing, an animal cannot dictate well what I sense is the answer.  I know for certain that ewes impart information to lambs, which is an essential aspect of the health and safety of the herd.

A mother goat, sheep, horse, cat, etc., knows their children, numbers their children, and looks after them.  I witnessed a mother goat kicking the head of a kid who belonged to another goat but who was hungry and wanted food.  Driving that kid off to find their mother relentlessly, and learned something of note.  At first, I thought this was just an ornery goat thing, but then I saw a horse, a mother pig, a mother cat, and other animal mothers repeat the lesson learned about mothers knowing and numbering their children.  A rare mother indeed will accept an animal orphan, and there is order in the animal kingdom!

Order in the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species - Várias ClassesConsider with me a process all herd managers perform, the castration process.  A bull castrated does not grow the female reproductive organs and becomes a cow.  A castrated lamb does not change gender after castration; even if that lamb is provided hormones from female animals, that lamb is male.  A neutered cat does not regrow new reproductive organs or change genders; from birth to death, the gender of that animal is cast, they do not change, and their instincts remain embedded in that animal.

Order is created and not disordered merely due to the loss of a few reproductive organs.  Mothers choose to allow orphans to replace their children or become their children.  Some animal fathers are part of their children’s lives; others grow merely with the input of their mothers.  Regardless, great order is found and maintained in the animal kingdom over roles assigned by gender at birth.

Allow me to elaborate with some observations.  A ewe whom the shepherd relied upon to adopt lambs refused to adopt a lamb.  The shepherd tried everything, including rubbing the lamb in the still wet lamb’s skin, skinning the dead lamb and securing the dead lamb’s skin on the orphaned lamb, and even placing the mother into a pen with her head secured to give the lamb a chance to suckle.  Nothing worked, and all of the methods had worked previously.  Several days later, the ewe died unexpectedly, and the veterinarian determined that the mother ewe had had a disease and probably sensed this when refusing that orphan to suckle.  Order is maintained in the herd, and the condition this ewe had contracted was not passed along to a new lamb.Sheep herd is walking. Animals on grassland. Good conditions for breeding livestock. Pasture in ...

Our gander had taken a spouse, and when the goose died sitting on a nest, the gander was exceedingly heartbroken—calling day and night for his spouse, all to no avail.  After a time, the gander took to liking the ducks whose drake had flown the coop unexpectedly.  Seeing as there was no drake and no female goose, the gander took to mourning his spouse but sleeping with the female ducks.  But, the gander was violently opposed to any duck sitting on a nest, and my parents could not understand why.  My parents captured some eggs that had not been smashed to pieces and tried to incubate the eggs.  The animals born were not ducks or geese, and none survived long.  There is order maintained in the animal kingdom, and the animals themselves know how to keep that order.

It never ceases to amaze me the order and respect animals have for order in the animal kingdom.  In raising goats and cows, the information gained through smell was always interesting to me that allowed animals to act how and why they did.  I could not smell the difference between herds, but the animals knew, and when herds of the same animals mingled, the order was still maintained, and herd integrity was sustained.What to Consider When Raising Sheep and Goats Together

A goat and sheep hered we knew raised the sheep and the goats together; even though both species ate the grass differently and had to be moved more often, raising them together helped protect the herd.  One day another herd was being driven through the area, and a couple of animals got into the pens.  But, the goats and sheep raised together knew the outsider was not orderly and helped keep those animals away from their young and isolated from the whole herd.  The smell is the only answer I have as the foreign herd was smelled by our herd and shunned.  Even when new animals were introduced for the herd to grow, it took several days and several smelling sessions before those new animals were trusted by the rest of the herd.

In one Herculean effort, I heard a goat herder who tried to introduce a foreign billy into the goatherd due to the death of the former billy.  The nanny goats would have nothing to do with the new billy, even when draped in the skin of the old billy goat.  The goat herder tried everything, but until that billy had spent sufficient time with the nannies and smelled correctly, the billy was powerless to lead the herd and perform the duties he had been purchased to complete.  Interestingly, a similar problem occurred for a cattle farmer when introducing a foreign bull.  The cows refused his bull-like advances until the bull had spent time with the herd.  While I do not know if these are isolated incidents, I merely know that order is essential in the animal kingdom.

Lessons for Humans to Consider:Bobblehead Doll

    1. Gender does not change merely because a person wants it. The disorder caused by trying to be a different gender has repercussions and consequences beyond that individual’s choice.
    2. Humans and animals have will and agency, but order remains an essential characteristic of the world. I have heard that scientists have found great order when the observed chaos is understood.  Through magnification, scientists have moved closer to how things move, and I find it incredible the order found that once was described as chaos.
    3. Parents have a duty and role to play. However, their children also play a role, and the order found in families is a prerequisite to good societies.  An animal analogy, the herd of sheep I moved and cared for as a hired hand was a collective society.  They had rules, expectations, and those not choosing to follow the herd society regularly found themselves in danger when the weather changed, when a threat was near, and generally were the ones you could count on to be injured or die unexpectedly.
    4. Diary cows, after milking, will run to the farthest fence in a field; if they find the fence strong, the whole herd will congregate, graze, and chew their cud knowing strong fences protect them. In a storm, trusting the fences, the dairy cows will huddle together and move as a unit to protect younger cows and warm each other.  Dairy cows are not terribly different from humans, we push at barriers (laws), and if we find them sufficiently strong, we band together for protection into social circles and groups.  Failure of laws finds society broken and easily conquered by external and internal threats.
    5. Order in human societies remains an essential element in protecting, promoting, and providing social growth and development. Herds of animals, gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, murder of ravens, etc., all depend upon the order in their society, or that society falls apart and, like iron filings to a magnet, has to reform into new organizations.

Knowledge Check!Are humans really so different from animals?  Are human societies much different from the societies of animals?  I ponder these questions regularly and am not surprised when social problems in humans are resolved by watching animal herds.  Covering a bull in the skin of a horse does not make a bull into a horse.  Castrating a bull does not morph the bull into a cow.  We must understand better the order, the laws, and the social requirements for society.  Animals and humans choose which society (country, town, city, etc.) they prefer.  If they choose to belong to that society, they must obey or onboard that society’s rules and social expectations.Taking Advantage of the 80/20 Rule | People First

Rarely does the 80% of the herd get into trouble, but the 20% of the herd does not sway or influence into danger the other 80%.  Right now, in human societies, there is a vocal 20% who insist that their reality must become the reality of the entire community.  Do we sacrifice the safety and security of the 80% for the choices and lifestyles of the 20%?  This is the question before us, and animal societies have provided the answer if we are willing to act accordingly.

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

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 4

Last week, my primary care provider informed me that the VA is no longer responsible for providing my prescriptions as an outside provider that the VA Community Services team sent me to has increased my dosage.  My primary care provider pulled a Pontius Pilot and washed her hands, and I am swinging in the wind with more bureaucracy and less service.  The best part of the news delivered this last week, the fallacious, seditious, and felonious attack on my character, the behavior problem flag, is controlled by the primary care provider.  Boy, I am sick of the bureaucracy of the VA; if only this were the worst of the bureaucratic baloney, the VA is pushing out.

From many VA-OIG reports during COVID, the following, or something close, was a regular statement:

During COVID-19, VHA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) took steps to ensure veterans continued to have expanded access to health care in the community, as required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018.  OCC issued policies to VA facilities to postpone non-urgent appointments and offer alternatives to in-person care, such as telehealth.”

The VA-OIG inspected to see how closely this statement was adhered to during the height of the COVID pandemic.  What surprises no one is how badly the VA managed community care during the pandemic.

Findings:

    • The VA-OIG found that routine community care consults were unscheduled, averaging 42 days, not meeting VHA’s timeliness goal of 30 days.
    • Community care staff faced significant challenges beyond their control that contributed to the scheduling delays, such as the lack of availability of appointments in the community.
    • Some patients were hesitant to schedule appointments during the pandemic, failed to return phone calls, or declined care once it was offered. – While some of this is definitely patient-driven, what is not discussed is the abrupt shift, the lack of trust, and the confusion about the need to pay the community providers, among other things, faced by veterans forced into community care. As a reference point, it has been 24-months, and I am still facing requests to pay several community providers due to the VA not paying the bill due to a technicality.  The VA claims the provider has to “eat the costs,” but I keep getting statements and calls from collection agencies.  Guess the direction of my credit score, the direction of my insurance costs, and how happy I am with community care providers.
    • The VA-OIG found community care providers and staff did not consistently comply with requirements to manage routine consults, and leaders lacked tools to sufficiently monitor program operations that could have identified the problems.
    • Deficiencies emerged in documenting when patients were contacted about scheduling appointments, designating patients eligible for alternative care, and ensuring staff was trained in ways that would address those weaknesses. – Not to mention that pertinent medical records still haven’t been transmitted, received, and alerted the primary care provider. I had gallbladder removal surgery; no records ever made it to the VA.  I have MRIs, CT scans, and ER notes that, even after being hand-delivered, have not been added to my VA electronic health record and presented to the primary care provider to discuss, dating back to 2010.

How’s that community service program working for you?  In any other industry, this performance would represent an abysmal failure; but community care represents a healthy opportunity for improvement at the VA.  The findings listed are a mere drop in the conclusions discussed in the report.  I have a suggestion for the VA, stop overpromising and underdelivering.  How about you under-promise and then over-deliver?

The following VA-OIG inspection report focused on the Veteran Health Administration facility’s adherence to guidelines for medication management, and the following explanation is quoted from the report:

This report describes medication management findings from healthcare inspections initiated at 36 VHA medical facilities from November 4, 2019, through September 21, 2020.  Each inspection involved interviews with facility leaders and staff and clinical and administrative processes reviews.  The results in this report are a snapshot of VHA performance at the time of the fiscal year 2020 OIG reviews.”

Before we get into the findings, let me elaborate on that statement.  The VA-OIG cherry-picked/hand-selected call it what you will, the facilities to inspect.  No criteria discuss how these facilities were selected.  More, the processes chosen for review were also cherry-picked/hand-selected.  Appearing to represent that, the VA-OIG stacked the deck to obtain success, and the VHA still failed, or rather showed weaknesses.

Generally, the VA-OIG rated the VHA facilities as “compliant.”  But “weaknesses” were identified; read that as the VHA cannot follow established guidelines, protocols, and processes, even though they wrote and established these guidelines and medication protocols.  I call this designed incompetence of a criminal nature, but I am not half as lenient and politically astute as the VA-OIG!

Findings:

    • Aberrant behavior risk assessments
    • Concurrent benzodiazepine therapy
    • Urine drug testing
    • Informed consent
    • Patient follow-up
    • Quality measure oversight.

The following, also from the medication’s adherence inspection, remains significant:

“The OIG examined the following indicators of program
oversight and evaluation:

      • Performance of pain management committee activities
      • Monitoring of quality measures
      • Following the quality improvement process”

For the weaknesses represented in the findings to be prevalent, the “Pain Management Committee activities” represent a general failure of the committee to function!  For quality processes to be a finding, monitoring quality signifies that the bureaucrats are NOT doing the jobs they were hired to perform!  A quality process fails when the humans tasked with oversight refuse to engage, and the VA-OIG findings testify to the truth of humans actively refusing to do their jobs individually and collectively!

Having read and written about the VA-OIG reports for almost ten years, I swear sentences containing the following represent a majority stake in why the VA-OIG cannot be trusted.

VA-OIG inspections… underscored the value of independent oversight of care received in these settings to help VA make continuous improvements.”

Really?  Are you sure the VA-OIG inspections provide “independent oversight” and spur “continuous improvement” at the inspected VA facilities?  I have significant doubts the inspections do anything more than highlight the problems as the VA-OIG inspectors have no teeth, and lying has zero repercussions for the humans defrauding the taxpayer!  How do I know this; the VA-OIG reports generally go on to make a claim similar to the following:

The OIG’s findings show that immediate attention is needed in several critical areas….”

Do you, the dear reader, understand better the frustration of veterans and their families?  When the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covering the National Cemeteries, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and Veterans Health Administration (VHA), can be deluded, distracted, and duped by conniving and conspiring people, what else can the veterans and their families do BUT become frustrated?  This is behavior unacceptable in every industry.  In fact, legislation overseeing non-government healthcare is strict in outlawing the conduct observed in government-provided healthcare, but somehow the VA is exempt.  Yet, the VA continues to make claims such as the following:

This is how the VA is delivering on its promise to care for the veteran who has borne the battle, his widow, and his children.”

But don’t take my word for it; the VA-OIG conducted several more Comprehensive Healthcare Inspections (CHIPs), resembling cookie-cutter inspections.  Staff training continues to be a major delinquency labeled as “High-Risk.”  Behavior Committee continues to be a central sticking point and inspection problem.  Cleanliness, tagged under “Quality, Safety, and Value,” continues to represent an area for growth and development.  Nurse-to-Nurse communications remain constant as a problem, and electronic medical records are not helping to improve on this problem.  Inter-facility transferring of patients, policy, and documentation also resemble a constant issue.  I feel like I could summarize a CHIPs report with my eyes closed; tell me, when does the “independent oversight” spur “continuous improvement?”

On the topic of “independent oversight” spurring “continuous improvement,” the VA-OIG conducted a VHA inspection of mental health activities for FY 2020.  Declaring:

This report describes mental health-related findings from healthcare inspections initiated at 36 Veterans Health Administration medical facilities from November 4, 2019, through September 21, 2020, and electronic health record review at five additional facilities.  Each inspection involved interviews with facility leaders and staff and clinical and administrative processes.”

Again, how the facilities were selected and the items reviewed appears to have stacked the deck in the VHA’s favor.  The VHA is still failing, showing weakness while generally being compliant.

Findings:

    • Completion of four follow-up visits within the required time frame
    • Appropriate follow-up of veterans with high-risk patient record flags who do not attend mental health appointments
    • Suicide prevention training
    • Completion of five monthly outreach activities.

Under these four categories, recommendations for improvement included:

    • Registered Nurse Credentialling – Source verification of licenses.
    • Staff training on Suicide Prevention
    • Care Coordination – Especially in transferring the patient, form completion, and evaluating transferred patients
    • Medication list transmission during transfers
    • Staff Training
    • Patient notification
    • Attending the Disruptive Behavior Committee

For anyone else keeping record, most of the list above is a repeat from the last several years the mental health inspection has occurred.  Color me shocked that the VA would still have issues remaining year-over-year, and if you cannot hear the sarcasm in that statement, I have some suggestions for you!

I am thoroughly sick to death of the VA failing in its mission, then bragging they are providing “Excellence in Healthcare.”  If the staff is not trained, they cannot perform their jobs, representing a leadership failure.  This is a truth for all industries, occupations, businesses, organizations, etc.  Nobody is exempt from this statement of fact, yet the VA-OIG keeps on swallowing this excuse year-over-year, and NO PROGRESS is EVER made!

America, are you aware of what the various government agencies are doing with your money, on your time, and with your consent?  If your neighbor took your checkbook and wrote checks you are legally responsible for paying, would you want better services rendered?  Elected officials (yes, I am including those at the city, county, state levels of government), why are you NOT scrutinizing the government more effectively and rigorously?  You, the elected officials, are the neighbor writing checks; why are YOU NOT doing the job we hired you to perform?

Elected officials, did you know that VA is not required to maintain records of returned bills, as a matter of policy, but those returned bills mailed to veterans are causing hardship for veterans.  I cannot recount how many times I have changed my address and my spouse’s address with the VA, on the VA-approved websites, and in-person with VA representatives, and still have had mail not delivered for months due to a wrong address in a legacy system.  Yet, the VA is not policy mandated to check returned mail, track that mail to a veteran, and check the different legacy and non-legacy systems for address veracity.

Elected officials, do you read the VA-OIG reports?  Honest question, as the following is directly from a VA-OIG report.

“[VHA primary care] providers did not consistently

        • Identify a surrogate should the patient lose decision-making capacity
        • Address previous advance directives, state-authorized portable orders, and/or life-sustaining treatment plans
        • Address the patient or surrogate’s understanding of the patient’s condition.”

The VA designed the PACT Team to improve care and deliver on the VA’s mission, yet the primary care provider has the following failures weaknesses showing.  The VA-OIG can do nothing to improve this glaring oversight, but you were elected to force change and spur “continuous improvement” in the executive branch officers and employees.  Well, where are you?  The VA-OIG substantiated that a failure in the PACT team led to a delay in a cancer diagnosis, causing increased pain, problems, and resource loss for a veteran; where are the elected officials, and the media for that matter, in raising a holy rhubarb on the PACT Team failing this veteran?

Elected officials, did you catch that statement in the VA-OIG report on the cancer diagnosis?

Facility leaders have an unwritten expectation that primary care providers conduct a thorough historical review of the patient’s electronic health record starting with the most recent annual note; however, the OIG found that not all of the patient’s providers conducted historical reviews, but instead focused on current issues and problems identified by the patient.”

Having transferred between PACT teams inside the VHA and state-to-state, I can affirm this is exactly what is transpiring in the PACT team; the second most important player, behind the patient, is the primary care provider.  When the primary care doctor fails in their job, like dominoes falling, the care of the patients rapidly cascades into a dynamic failure of healthcare in a VHA facility.  What are YOU doing to stop this madness and demand accountability?

The electronic health record has a section near the top of the record for “Problem List.”  Guess what; when providers fail to keep this section updated, current, and accurate, the healthcare of the patient borders on malpractice requiring only a slight push to arrive with a dead veteran.  The VA-OIG found providers and nursing staff failures to update the problems list accurately, keep the problems list current, and regularly discuss the problems list with the most critical member of the PACT team, the patient!  Providers failed to comply with sound science, good business practices, and act appropriately for the patient’s health; do you think this might be a slight problem in the PACT team?

I have offered the VA several suggestions for plotting a path forward.  Yet, the VA cannot and will not take advice without stern and reproachful measures taken by Congress.  Elected officials, it is time for you to act and groundswell the changes needed in every government agency, even if it means reducing the size of government!

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

KPI’s and Goals – Let’s Open the Discussion

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Industry regardless, business leaders start looking for the silver bullet and changing matrixes for measuring performance every year.  Except, too often, the goals are not SMART, and the KPI’s are disconnected from the goals, making the goals nothing more than good suggestions.  Worse, too many business leaders forget to make goals SMART, and the goals fail faster than New Year’s Resolutions.  It cannot be understated; KPI’s need to be made SMART and go hand-in-hand with SMART goals to build performers.

KPI’s

Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are actions that build behaviors and are reflected in data collected.  SMART KPI’s are specific, measurable, applicable, relevant, and task-oriented.  For call centers, a SMART KPI is designed with a specific and singular action that can be reliably measured, appropriately articulated as achievable, is relevant to the agent and relevant to the call centers strategic goals, and is based upon a task.

A typical KPI in call centers is After-Call Handling (ACH); this is time measured between hanging up with one customer and beginning a new call.  The tasks completed might include leaving call notes, faxing/emailing documents, completing paperwork for the customer, etc.  How do we create ACH as a SMART KPI; we follow the pattern below:

      • Specific – ACH ranges between 0 and 120 seconds.
      • Measurable – ACH can be anywhere in the 0-120 second range, faster being better.
      • Achievable – Do your processes for servicing customer requests support front-line agents quickly completing tasks?
      • Relevant – Does measuring ACH make sense as an integral part of the call center’s operations?
      • Task-Oriented – Do agents know how to manage their after-call handling to meet the maximum ACH?

What do I see too often in call centers where KPIs are concerned; dumb KPIs masquerading as SMART KPIs and leaving destruction and chaos as a consequence.  Why?  Because the KPI might be based upon a task, but it has not been reviewed as achievable, actionable, and relevant to the organization in more than a decade.  In discussing KPIs with a call center leadership team, a leader stated, quite proudly, “Our KPIs don’t need to be revised; they have served us well since 2000 when the company launched.”  For the record, if any process, procedure, or business action is not written down, with a single person responsible and revised at a maximum of every 18-months, your processes and procedures ARE THE PROBLEMS in your business!What Are SMART Goals and Why Are They Important? - Business 2 Community

After evaluating processes at a local hospital recently, some of their processes, standard work that protects patients from getting sick while in hospital, weren’t written down, and those written down were drafted in the 1980s!  Nurses running around claiming they were doing their job according to hospital policy could not find written standards for work; genetic knowledge was passed along and changed by the current leader in charge.  When asked why the processes were not written down, lawyers and the risk of litigation were the excuses.

In a warehouse, desperately struggling with improving performance to protect bottom-line health, claimed any changes to their standards of work had to be approved by HR.  HR uses the 70% rule; if 70% of the workers cannot meet the standard, the standard does not move or reduces until 70% of the workforce meets the standard.  What has the 70% rule bred; standards so low the company is losing money, hemorrhaging good and talented people for the dregs of society who have zero incentive to improve how they perform their jobs.  Raising the following issue with KPI’s, they should be designed to stretch the employee.How to Make Sure Your Goals Are High Impact - Business With Impact - Medium

Relevant KPI’s protect against measuring behaviors and punishing production.  KPI’s must change actions, and actions are a direct result of attitudes and behaviors shifting.  Thus, a SMART KPI is a growing experience where meeting the KPIs inspires individual growth and development.  However, a KPI is NOT a stick to browbeat, cajole, or destroy workers.  KPI’s are always a training device.  The discussion of KPI-centered goals should be a two-directional conversation between a manager and an employee where the manager shows the employee how to change behavior to meet the KPI.

GOALS

In goal setting, SMART changes slightly; however, the changes do not hinder KPIs from being included but promote KPIs being integral to SMART goals.  A goal is a method of grabbing opportunities and learning.  How does one learn; they change their behaviors into changeable actions, and learning is inspired.  SMART KPIs help to direct those actions, and a SMART goal is a goal that is:

      • Specific – A single action, simply stated.
      • Measurable – An action broken down into rates, times, or repetitions, producing a number.
      • Achievable – Can the goal setter bring the action into reality?
      • Realistic – How many people can make reality from goals, EVERYONE, provided we plan properly to take a desire and build a plan to achieve it.
      • Timely – What is the deadline, and can it be achieved?

A friend of mine has struggled with quitting smoking and losing weight.  Every year, the same New Years’ resolution, same goals, same failure shortly after starting.  Why the goal is never SMART, the goal is always, “I’m going to lose weight and quit smoking.”  When asked, my friend claims this is a SMART goal.  Here is how I suggested my friend restate his goal to become SMART:

      • Specific – I am going to quit smoking.
      • Measurable – Right now, I smoke 40-cigarettes a day; I want to cut back to 35 cigarettes, then 30, and drop by five cigarettes a month.
      • Achievable – My friend has proven he cannot “Cold-Turkey” from cigarettes, but he has proven he can cut back.
      • Realistic – My friend knows he can quit smoking, but how he quits remains the difficulty.
      • Timely – How fast will he quit?

The final SMART goal in 2018 was, “By the end of 2020, I will have quit smoking, by reducing my monthly intake by five cigarettes month-over-month until I am no longer smoking.”  While my friend has not quit smoking yet, the SMART goals have helped him mark progress towards his goal, and making progress in his KPIs keeps him motivated to achieve his goals.  What was his KPI; dropping five cigarettes a month of consumption.  Learning how to quit has been my friend’s biggest challenge, not the reality that he can quit, but how to markedly meet progress towards quitting.

Knowledge Check!Is it a problem that my friend has missed his annual goal; no, as he has had to learn to make progress.  The KPI is a target and a task; the goal is learning through applying effort, and together with the SMART KPI and the SMART goal, help achieve a new reality.  The SMART goal without KPIs is a cool aspiration.  The KPI without an overarching goal is wasted efforts, akin to a dog chasing his tail.  What happens when the dog catches his tail and bites down; the dog gets a pain in his rear for all the effort of chasing his tail.

Some practical advice for leaders as they SMARTen their KPIs and goals:

      1. The process is iterative. You are learning; allow yourself time to learn, make mistakes, and keep moving forward.
      2. Failure does not mean scrapping everything and trying something new. Failure means either the KPI or the goal were not SMART enough.  Hold an “After-Action Review,” these meetings are critical to improving the process of SMARTening your KPIs and goals.
      3. Know the why, share the why, lead the why! The “Why” is the most critical aspect in the KPI and Goal setting process; if a person does not know the why, they will never care about the how!
      4. When in doubt, explore the why for answers.
      5. Goals are like water, constantly changing, and cannot be contained and pressurized. You can use the pressure to lift others, but without creating a mess, you cannot stop it.
      6. Phones are digital, and computers are digital; people are analog. Expect people to amaze you, mystify you, and create new opportunities to change your goals and KPIs.
      7. If you think you need help, ask!

Asking for help is a sign of strength, and plenty of people are willing to help you develop; please ask.  I worked for an officer in the US Navy who refused to ask for help; his performance was impeccable because he wrote his evaluation which was then rubber-stamped by the commander.  On the day the charade ended, the cataclysmic disaster was epic.  This officer caved in like an old ashtray—a sad event producing painful consequences for everyone in the command and his leadership chain.  Use the SMARTening process of KPIs and goals as an exercise in growth and development, and the results will surprise you.

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

Christmas and Other Holidays – A Frank and Open Discussion

I am unapologetically a Christian, I regularly attend church, and I exercise faith through daily scripture reading, prayer, and other works synonymous with being a Christian.  Being a Christian, I embrace freedom, especially freedom of religion; “Let [all people] worship how, where, or what they may.”  I am not smart enough to tell anyone, convince anyone, or try to force anyone to believe anything.  As a point of fact, my articles very specifically encourage you to find your answers, much as I have done, through study, learning, and faith.

Yes, this is a discussion!  I do not understand Christmas in any way, shape, or form; while this also applies to all accepted holidays, Christmas is my focus.  If you understand Christmas better or any holiday mentioned, feel free to teach me so that we both may learn more perfectly.  Christmas, as a child, was only once a time of wonder.  I remember that Christmas; I must have been 6 or 7 years.  I do not remember what I got for Christmas, but I remember how I felt.  I have not felt similarly since, and while I know why, I do not understand how to put the wonder back into Christmas.

Annually, Christmas, New Year, and the rest of the mid-winter holidays are a time for deep depression.  I struggle to feel anything from Halloween to mid-February; think London Fog as a mental condition, and your close to understanding what is happening between my ears annually.  As a child and teen, the holidays were always a time of stress, increased drama, and tons, and tons, of dishes.  The holiday season brought increased torment as parents’ stress (especially) resulted in increased violence (physical and mental).  Thus, I learned not to appreciate the holidays but loath the workload, violence, and abuse and view the holiday season as a time of greater pain and suffering.

Don’t even get me started on how to celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day.  There are holidays, and choosing to celebrate or not is just as important as how to celebrate and whom to celebrate.  The biggest mistake society makes is trying to force everyone to celebrate the same holiday!

As an adult, mainly due to the depression, I avoid stores between Halloween and mid-February, like the plague!  The music of “Christmas” does not lift, and I find it difficult to hear.  To me, the people during Christmas are more challenging to be around.  I do not understand their choices and changes in attitude, their happiness, nor share in their wonder and excitement.  The pagan beliefs Catholicized into Christmas traditions blow my ever-loving mind!  I do not see Christ in a decorated “Christmas” Tree or other Christmas pageantry.  Simply put, every Christmas Tradition, generally accepted by Christendom, is stolen from mid-winter pagan holidays.  As I have studied the origins and beliefs inherent in Christmas, Easter, Halloween, All Saints Day, etc., I see more and more of the historical imprint of early Catholic Church leaders, and I stand aghast that these beliefs have turned into traditions that bind and hold fast the human mind.

Yet, to not wish someone else, especially another Christian, “Merry Christmas” is to be judged less a Christian.  I do not understand!  I believe in Christ; I believe in and have a knowledge of his reality, birth, life, death, resurrection, and visitation to all the Twelve Tribes of Israel after his resurrection.  I accept Christ as my Savior and advocate before the Father.  But, I do not understand Christmas celebrations or why these celebrations “speak of Christ, rejoice in Christ,” or promote Christian beliefs!  I understand the underpinnings of, and like the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.  I see Christ in this celebration of lights and appreciate those who celebrate this simple holiday simply.  But Hanukkah is not a holiday I can fully enjoy either, not for the lack of trying.

I have the same problem with Passover, not for the lack of trying, but I cannot celebrate this holiday, for I feel something is missing.  Easter, will someone please explain to me the lines of logical congruence between a bunny rabbit laying eggs and the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  None of the “traditions” of Easter make a lick of sense to me.  While I feel different at Easter than I do with any other holiday, I do not celebrate this holiday either, even though I respect and honor, follow and try to emulate Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, advocate, and hopefully friend.  While we’re on the topic of incongruent traditions, Santa Claus creeps me out!  The fear of being judged without an advocate or appeals process is anti-Christian, but Santa Claus continues to play a fearful role in Christmas.  Worse, the mysticism prevalent in a belief in Santa Claus fills my mind, not with Christ’s giving of himself, but of Halloween!  Tim Burton’s movie, “Nightmare Before Christmas,” is closer to how I see Santa Claus, put him in Halloween, and leave him there!

Yet, here we are, another Christmas celebration is upon the world, and I do not understand!  I like the lights of Christmas and enjoy them year-round, but they are not symbols of Christ lighting the world; they are just lights to me, with no particular holiday attachment.  I am a foodie, but food is just that, food.  No special holiday attachment; worse, as a diabetic, I have to watch how, when, where, and what I eat.  There is no fun in that, no holiday significance, and frankly, no joy in Mudville.

A friend declared, Christmas is about love.  What is love?  I know from significant study what love is not.  Love is not sex!  Love is not punishment, abuse, torment, and throwing all the dishes out of the cupboard and forcing a young child to wash every dish in the house repeatedly until that dish somehow passes an arbitrary level of cleanliness, with frequent beatings for failure to meet that level of cleanliness!  Love is not inflicting pain, causing tears, and being violent.  It has been easy to identify what love is not.  But defining what love is, what it feels like, and how to share love, I have no clue!

Often, I am referred to as a “Cold-Hearted, mean, bastard,” many times, other adjectives are thrown in to describe me.  I wear a “bar-sinister” proudly; I am a bastard!  I fight this nature of myself every single day; sometimes I win, more often I lose.  Sometimes I have thought, maybe this aspect of my character is why I cannot fathom the meaning of holidays, find wonder, or experience joy as readily as others.  Sometimes I think the method of how I was raised is inherent in being that bastard I despise.  Yet, I am a survivor because of the ways and manners of my childhood upbringing, and I have gratitude for being a survivor.  Meaning somewhere in there is gratitude for how I was raised and being a bastard.  I fully appreciate how paradoxical that thinking is.  Remember, a paradox is where two points that appear contradictory at first glance but in deeper understanding are closer than they are apart.

What does being a bastard have to do with Christmas and celebrating the birth and life of Jesus Christ; thankfully, I can answer that question.  Only in and through Jesus Christ can my nature change.  That single hope is precious to me, remains an impetus in motivating me to change, and powers my striving.  Without the birth of Christ, there could not be a death and resurrection.  Without the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, man could not change his nature, understand and possess freedom, or comprehend the higher laws of giving of self, choosing a different method of living, and rising above the natural man and comprehending why man has to rise above his natural beliefs into a higher understanding.

Yes, I celebrate Jesus Christ!  Make no mistake; I am grateful for my Savior; but, I do not understand Christmas!  I cannot fathom a celebration of Easter as currently celebrated and understood in Christendom.  I long for further light and knowledge to more appropriately commemorate the birth, life, reality, resurrection, and example that is Jesus Christ!  I know that only through the merits, mercy, and justice of Christ can I eventually gain the further light and knowledge I seek.  Please don’t think I do not celebrate when I wish you the happiest of holidays; it is an honest expression of a heartfelt desire for you to celebrate and worship how, where, when, and what you may.  Please understand, though, I am not participating, not because I do not believe, but because I do not understand.

A well-intentioned person told me to “Fake it until you make it.”  I have tried following this advice, and while it worked in other aspects of life, I learned more, and faking it stopped working.  Where holidays are concerned, I cannot “Fake it, hoping to somehow, make it.”  Faking it requires a method of belief with a hope.  I have hope and knowledge; thus, I do not have a belief, or reason to believe.  In possessing knowledge, my belief can take wing with confidence, and in that understanding, I can no longer “fake it.”  As a respecter of religious belief, and as a seeker of light and knowledge, there have been times I have thought how easy it could be to be an atheist; but, in possessing knowledge, I understand I cannot live without the belief and knowledge of a Savior, a Heavenly Father who had the sense to hand man laws, cover his mind with a veil of his past life, and tell man to live by faith.  The atheist cannot understand the value in living by faith, for they choose not to believe, even when presented with evidence.

C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, speakers, and characters from history. He understood the chasm between choice and the consequences of choosing not to believe and live according to beliefs. Mark Twain is another character, author, and speaker who I deeply admire and appreciate, for many of the same qualities exhibited by C. S. Lewis, are found in Mark Twain.  Thus, we find both an exemplar of the principles discussed and another issue with the holidays.  Knowing what I know regarding the origins of the holidays, the traditions adopted and Christianized, and the chains which bind from traditions, I struggle with celebrating holidays.

As a child, I asked why do we decorate a Christmas Tree?  After removing all the religiosity, the answer was because their parents did it that way.  Why did we feast; remove the religiosity, and we find it’s because everyone else celebrates holidays (peer pressure and traditions) with feasting.  In the movie and play “Fiddler on the Roof,” the primary character sings, discusses, and lives under the iron fist of tyrannical tradition, and I am left with one question, “Why?”  Why do something just because it is tradition?  Jesus Christ brought freedom of conscience; believe how, when, where, and what you may, act and live according to your beliefs, and you are exercising freedom and liberty.  Where does tradition fit into belief and living according to choice, freedom, and agency?

Bringing the conversation back to principles of freedom, choice and showcasing how decisions determine destiny.  Again, I am not casting aspersions, nor trying to convince anyone to do something they are not comfortable with, nor am I denigrating or deriding anyone’s beliefs, traditions, or methods of worship or celebration.  My intent is not to cause a crisis of faith but to understand for myself.  Please, embrace your freedom to choose to worship, and celebrate, how, where, when, and what you may.  In possessing this freedom, allow others to worship and celebrate how, when, where, and what they may.  Enjoy your holiday traditions and celebrations.  But, please do not judge me as less because I do not understand, believe differently, and live according to my beliefs.

Santa Claus coming to town fills me with dread and despair, not hope, wonder, or joy.  A white Christmas is not a dream for me but a symbol of more snow to shovel, even though I LOVE watching the snow fall and playing in the snow.  Christmas trees do not thrill me but represent a ton of work to put up, more work to maintain, and more work to take down.  Food is not a celebration but represents more work, time, effort, and sacrifice, for momentary pleasure.  While I enjoy food, eat food, and talk about recipes to make food, I do not worship at the altar of food or see any connection between food and traditional celebrations.

I totally get it; the Children of Israel fled Egypt the Passover is a sacred remembrance and should be celebrated; but, Christ showed a better way, and through that better way, the bitterness of fleeing is swallowed up in joy.  Why eat bitter herbs and unleavened bread as part of the tradition and celebration?  Joy is knowledge with aspects of painful experience encapsulated in achievement.  Thus, to me, the flight of Israel shows how faith, painful experience, and achievement are possible, and I want to shout and sing for joy.  I have always thought of Passover as a time for glorious celebration.  Strike up a band, sing, shout, and make merry, for we survived the Passover, escaped Egyptian slavery and harsh bondage, and now are free!  The same goes for Hanukkah, the resurrection of Christ, the birth of Christ, and every other holiday.  The holiday, to my understanding, represents, or signifies, a reason to make merry because those who came before achieved something through enormous difficulty, suffered dreadful pains, and achieved a better place.  They have joy, and we share in that joy.

Bringing up the final aspect of the holidays, sharing joy.  How do we share in the joy those who suffered experienced?  This is the crux of holiday celebrations.  How we answer this question determines the traditions we embrace; the decisions and consequences produce a destiny.  Consequences are neither good nor bad, simply natural actions formed from a choice an agent made.  How we choose to place a value on those consequences immediately determines how often we will make the same choice again, leading to determined destiny over time and repetition.  Using this understanding of choices and consequences, we revisit the question, “How do we choose to share joy?”

I do not know how to answer this question!  Worse, I feel this single question forms the crux of all holiday celebrations, and I am flummoxed!  Some have suggested I perform more service to share joy.  Others suggest giving gifts.  Others have offered well-meaning opinions, ideas, and suggestions that I cannot fathom as connected to a holiday—leading to a need to understand why.  Why act differently leading up to a holiday when you act in an opposing manner the rest of the year?  Why not act the same year-round?

Again, there is no judging, no aspersions cast, no denigration of actions and choices here.  I am not your judge!  But, these questions are the questions I struggle with living, understanding, and connecting to holiday celebrations.  If you have answers, please share them with me, help me understand how you share joy, celebrate, and feel.

© 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.

Leading the Call Center – An Invitation

QuestionThere is a question in all corporate training, all industries, every professional position, “What is the value of training?”  Generally followed by “How do I know there is value in training? and the incredibly astute question, “Where is the value in training?”

Leadership is looking sideways and helping those who follow climb up, thus empowering the leader to climb to the next level.  Yet, the lingering doubt remains, “How do I measure success in training?”  Long have I advocated that the leader is a teacher and a learner, which are fundamental to success.  Whether that teaching comes from delegating authority, empowering people to act, or directly teaching someone struggling, the leader is always learning through teaching so they may learn more perfectly.

As part of my research into call center training, it has been discovered that those who receive official training, and those who learn their duties on the fly, have precisely the same chance of being successful; this is an indication of not the power of training, but the motivation of the learning adult.  There is a difference between adults, and the difference is the individual propensity to learn, discover, dig deeper, ask questions, and apply the results pursuing why.  Thus, one would naturally ask, “What is the difference between a learning adult and an adult who actively chooses not to learn?”  I think I know the answer, I have anecdotal evidence that supports my conclusions, but I would like to test these conclusions.

The Invitation

As part of my doctoral degree program, I must conduct research and report the findings.  I am inviting your American-based, English-speaking call center to help me test the assumptions and conclusions for my research.  The business will not be named, the individuals participating will not be named, and the study will occur online and outside regular business hours.  I want to interview 10-15 of your call-taking/front-line contact center employees using online interviewing software.  I want to interview 10-15 call center trainers, also employing online interviewing software.  Finally, I would like to take the information gleaned from the first two groups, sit down in a focus group, discuss what was found with 5-7 senior call center leaders, and glean their information, conclusions, and ideas.

I would ask that those participating in the research have a LinkedIn profile as a tool to verify years of experience.  No single participant would be featured in more than one of the participating groups.  All names of individuals will be hidden behind a participation code, and any identifiable business information will be deleted from the transcripts.  All findings will be reported in aggregate to avoid any identifiable information from potentially leaking into the published research.

Call CenterAs a bonus, those who help through participation, if they are interested, can receive a copy of the finished dissertation via email or physical copy, depending upon their preference.  My purpose in researching the call center is to dynamically review the adult learner in the pressure-cooking learning environment of call centers.  I have worked as an agent and a leader of agents spanning formal education.  The degree does not make the person, nor does a degree make a leader.  What makes the leader is their commitment to learning and teaching.

Please, join my research. Entering the study is possible through emailing msalisbury1@my.gcu.edu.  If you would like to verify my credentials, don’t hesitate to contact my chair Professor Dr. Susan Miedzianowski in the College of Doctoral Studies at Grand Canyon University, via email: Susan.Miedzianowski@my.gcu.edu.

© 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.

What Draws People Together? – A Discussion

Father MulcahyWith gratitude to C. S. Lewis, today’s article is not meant to be my pontificating on a particular topic, but a discussion where we work to find commonality and increase knowledge.  I cannot stress this enough; I am not the end-all resource on a topic, especially topics I remain utterly ignorant about.  Love, friendship, charity, and many more are topics I am learning about and if you are a subject matter expert, feel free to join the conversation, add comments below, and let’s learn together.

As we begin, I will stress one more point; it is a pattern I have learned well.  “We teach that we may learn more perfectly.”  Thus, while I remain thoroughly ignorant, I will teach what I know, what I have found, and what I suspect so that I may learn more perfectly what I desire.  Welcome!

Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ― C.S. Lewis

As a kid, love was getting beat, having chores heaped up, and being punished as my mother was God’s right-hand person.  Her favorite saying was, “That was God punishing you for what you did.”  I have had a complicated relationship with God ever since I could remember.  Worse, this relationship has been clouded with a misunderstanding about love, chastisement, and punishment.  The quote above from C. S. Lewis is one I have been thinking about and continue to try and understand its application.

What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.” ― C.S. Lewis

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” ― C.S. Lewis

These two messages on friendship are, to me, very important.  But, I have found that the importance varies based upon whether people form around a personality trait or a truth.  For example, I choose to be a bibliophile.  Books are fundamental to my personality, identity, and methods of looking at the world.  But not all books are worthy of being in my library or possessing the same value.  When I find people who have read the same book, found similar truths, these people become value-added relationships, and together we move forward.  As a foodie, as a baker, as a distinguished eater of good foods, I have met many people.  But very few of them joined my society for very long, as their association is built upon food, not truth.  Are the distinguishing characteristics understood?

You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” ― C.S. Lewis

Consider this unique perspective and inherent truth; we are immortal spirits having a mortal experience.  But, inherent in this truth from C. S. Lewis is the individual’s choice to be either an immortal horror or everlasting splendor.  To some people, I am an immortal horror because of my actions in their society, and to these people, I offer a sincere apology.  These people know who they are, know how they were hurt, and if I could, I wish, I could go back in time and change my actions.  I wish the opposite were true, that there were people who would consider me an eternal splendor, for that is what I have been working to achieve in human relations for a long time now.  Still, I remain an immortal personality, spirit, and individual.

Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” ― C.S. Lewis

Or something to be forgiven for… do you think C. S. Lewis intentionally left this part out in this statement?  What is more difficult, forgiving someone else, forgiving ourselves, or being forgiven?  I do not have this answer, but I find the question intriguing.  I am not venturing into religion, religiosity, or preaching religious dogma in asking this question.  I am merely asking for consideration of a tool.  Forgiveness is a useful tool, for, through forgiveness, we begin the process of forgetting, healing from physical, spiritual, and mental/emotional wounds.  Wounds that cannot find closure and healing any other way.  But one of the things I learned about injuries is focusing on them, poking them, ripping scabs off, all these things, and more are reopening those wounds, where forgiveness is like a really good bandage that holds both a pain reliever and a healing cream to speed healing.  Yet, how often do we refuse this tool, or worse, use this tool for a limited amount, not allowing the entire wound to heal?

“..Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I have met some ugly people whose physical features are terrible, but they are beautiful and lovely immortal beings.  On the opposite, I have unfortunately met some physically beautiful people who are ravening wolves and immortal horrors, where I curse the day we ever crossed paths.  What never ceases to amaze me is that physical beauty and internal splendor or horror are not mutually exclusive or inclusive.  The physical is generally the results of choices others have made and reflect the injuries overcome, whereas the internal is all individual choices, compounded over time, into horror or splendor.  One of the truths I have found is patience is generally the perfect revelator of another person’s horror or splendor, and rushing the judgment always leads to a need for forgiveness.

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Do we understand this pattern, as laid out by C. S. Lewis?  How often has a good friend promoted solitude, silence, and private thoughts and contemplations within ourselves that have led to meditation and deeper friendships?  I married my best friend.  Sometimes we fight like brothers, more often though her input has caused this pattern to be unfolded to me in new and interesting ways.  Sometimes we disagree on topics and get quite vocal in our discussions.  Sometimes we disagree quietly and wait for the other to come around when in reality, we are generally waiting for ourselves to realize and learn.  For the better part of almost three decades, we have lived after the manner of learners, and this friendship has only deepened.  Even though sometimes frustrations run high, the friendship has value for inspiring this pattern to be effective.

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis

Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” ― C.S. Lewis

Does hardship ever come without pain?  I remember my first week or so in US Army Basic Training; the pain in my muscles was incredible, and the torture of physical exercise I thought was going to kill me.  Yet, I put on weight (muscle) because of basic training, I learned endurance, and the results have been nothing but beneficial.  Thus, I could say, basic training was a megaphone of pain to rouse a deaf person to action, and the resulting life changes have been extraordinary.  Do we kick and curse the pain, or do we hold deep to the hope that the pain will lead to something extraordinary?  The choice is important, the pain is temporary (always), and the resulting consequences determine our destiny.

The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” ― C.S. Lewis

Never Give Up!We conclude with this thought and provide honor to those who are the homemakers!  One of the first things I learned as a military dependent is that the military spouses, the homemakers who watch hearth and tend the wounds, are incredible people.  As a military servicemember, I learned a new appreciation for my homemaker and the friends and family who supported her in the ultimate career.  As a veteran, my appreciation for the role of the ultimate career professional has only deepened and widened.  As we go into Thanksgiving celebrations, remember the homemakers, male and female, who, through tending hearth and home, make the job of supporting the homemaker easier and more bearable.

© 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.

83 Years – Have We Really Learned the Lessons?

Bait & SwitchMy uncle served in the US Air Force in Berlin while the Berlin wall was still standing.  My father learned German and then hosted Germans who wanted to experience America to come into our home to visit America multiple times.  Since I was a child, I remember hearing the personal stories of those who lived WWII.  As an armchair historian, WWII has captured my interests on multiple occasions due to the consequences it has had on society.  Unfortunately, no society across the globe seems to have sufficiently learned the lessons of WWII to avoid repeating history. Current events appear to be leading back to the same pressures and problems that sparked WWII.

But, you say, WWI is not breeding discontent in a manufacturing nation, who is retaliating through building militarily to conquer the world and avenge wrongs imposed by victors upon the loser.  Yet, I would point to Russia, China, and Iran and ask, are you sure?  Honestly, look at the rhetoric and the history, look at the desires of the government leaders, look to the insidious weaseling of those leaders into every facet of the world to control the leavers to make war; then ask, is a war being waged and nobody noticing?  Was not Nazi-Germany throwing a war by conquering her neighbors, and the “world powers” were busy denying what they saw with their eyes?

November marks 83 years since Kristallnacht “the night of broken glass” or “The November Pogrom,” while Nazi-Germany focused on rooting out the members of its society that were considered unworthy.  Yes, this included people of all populations found less desirable, not just the Jewish population.   Do we observe similar actions by nascent national actors today?  China has broken its word to Hong Kong and treats multiple internal populations worse than the Jews in Nazi-Germany. The world mostly remains silent and conforms to China’s pogrom.  Iran continues to practice religious discrimination against its people and act reminiscent of hellish and brutal thugs from Dante’s lowest rings.  Russia continues to treat its neighbors as pawns to be beaten and molested like an old lady with her social security check, and they are a local street gang on the streets of New York City.

Yes, I honestly wonder if the rest of the world is paying enough attention, has learned the lessons of WWII sufficiently to avoid reliving the past, and I keep rolling the dice and coming up with “snake-eyes.”  Only, WWII had several graces that modern warfare will not have.  WWII did not have missing nuclear weapons and a history of using LIC as a means of starting conflicts from safety.  WWII did not have economic and bio-war at the same levels and effectiveness we have currently.  More frightening of all, the minds of the students in school were significantly different.  More societies on the globe had strong foundations of nuclear families, which sent strong-minded people into harm’s way for their nation.

In the 83 years since Kristallnacht, the nuclear family has been eroded, corroded, and attacked mercilessly on every front by every enemy known to man.  I have relatives who talk of a matriarch or patriarch who held the family together was central to the strength of the family and led the family in gentleness and with religious faith.  All of which is almost anathema and criminal in our modern society.  A father was arrested for trying to get any acknowledgment that the school board knew his daughter was brutally raped in a school bathroom.  Mothers and fathers are labeled terrorists for asking simple questions and insisting that bureaucrats paid through forced taxation answer questions from the taxpayers footing the bills.  Unfortunately, this is but the tip of the iceberg in the fight against the nuclear family.

If asked, how many of you can name the allies from the Middle East of Nazi-Germany?  Off the top of your heads, can you recall who and why these nations aligned themselves with Hitler and Mussolini?  Since these nations were unindicted co-conspirators at the trials in Nuremberg, did the hate and reasons for joining Nazi-Germany die or thrive when Nazi-Germany fell?  If you do not know, I encourage you to do a little research.  Why, because it will make the actions of the current regimes in the Middle East make a lot more sense, more to the point, current events, allied relationships, and protagonist relationships are more easily explained and understood when you realize the perniciousness of Nazi-Germany rhetoric on the Middle Eastern nations involved.  I cannot give you what I know without unduly influencing you in a manner that I refuse; some lessons must be learned independently.

Speaking of Post-WWII nation-states, consequences of WWII, and unindicted co-conspirators, what Pacific-Asian nations signed onto the Nazi-German allied relationship that are now causing problems.  Do not say China!  At the time of WWII, China was under the iron-clad thumb of Japan, as was Korea, and the brutality is barely mentioned in history books in America.  Yet, knowing this information makes the vehemence and actions of other Asian nations make sense, even though most of these countries cleaned up their acts and denounced hatred.  More lessons not taught in American history which is truly a shame and a scandal.

Never forget, during Krystallnacht, the thugs and terrorists were neighbors, teenagers, people everyone knew and were well acquainted with, and the authorities looked upon the abuse of the innocent and did nothing!  China abuses its populations, and the United Nations heaps praise and commendations upon China.  Iran persecutes women and other people, invests heavily in terrorism across the globe, and is awarded and honored.  Russia openly invades NATO allies, and NATO decides it is not worth the “hassle” of defending a treaty.  Where are the “world leaders” in condemning this atrocious behavior and demanding these nations adhere to strict codes of behavior and right the wrongs they committed; standing by watching the world built post-WWII come apart brick by brick.

Please note, I am not war-mongering, rumor-mongering, or trying to scare anyone.  If you think I am wrong, gather your evidence, sift the data, and bring your conclusions.  I will be more than happy to discuss these issues with you.  It is not nationalistic to mention that China continues to suffer from, and likes suffering from, “Middle-Kingdom Syndrom.”  Many people smarter than I have made this connection and written eloquently upon this topic as the underpinning for the actions taken since Nixon and Clinton did what they did.  Look carefully at the events in Crimea and Ukraine, the downing of a passenger plane by a Russian surface-to-air missile, and Iran’s continued hostility.  If we do not reach the same conclusions, we will reach a lot of similarly worrisome conclusions.

QuestionHave we learned, remembered, and taught the lessons of Nazi-Germany to avoid having to repeat living those lessons?  You decide; when you decide, ask yourself why.  A friend introduced to me a lesson: I was proclaiming ignorance of a rule, for I wanted to avoid nasty consequences and thought I could escape the consequences if I could be ignorant.  My friend helped me understand, “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.”  The lesson was painful, the consequences were not enjoyable, and I felt used and abused by the system for a long time.  Then I got mad; why didn’t anyone ever teach me the law?  Slowly, events and teachers taught me that it is my role to be the learner to teach and help others avoid the mistakes I made.  Sometimes teaching is simply bringing someone to a knowledge chasm and helping them discover they need to immerse themselves in the knowledge to begin learning.  Where WWII and the post-WWII are concerned and the consequences and the current events spawned from WWII, all I can do is bring you to the chasm and point out the path you’re going to have to walk the path of discovering knowledge yourself.  At best, I can guide and ask the question to spur interest, but the best learning and discovering you will have to do yourself, for therein you will genuinely learn the personal lesson you need.

© 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.

Faith or Confidence, Faith and Confidence, Either or, Both – A Question

A recent question surfaced, “What does it mean to have faith but not confidence?”  Some atheist friends immediately will consider this a religious discussion is turn the entire question off.  Yet, faith and confidence are not solely the province of religion, and thus, fair game for a discussion, and America needs this discussion today!  For those well versed in the definitions and etymology of both words, feel free to skip ahead of the next couple of paragraphs, or stick around for the discussion and feel free to add to the discussion.  I welcome your thoughts!

Faith

A common definition for faith is “things hoped for, but not seen.”  For example, we hope that when we turn on a light switch, electricity, something we cannot see, will light a lightbulb.  Dictionaries hold an almost standard definition for faith as “derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, meaning confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept.”  Faith can also include a system of beliefs codified into a religion, strong feelings that become personal beliefs, or absolute trust.  For example, consider the trust placed upon the government to act in a specific manner, e.g., for the benefit of the majority of society and for personal interest or the select of society who pay the most in donations.

Interestingly, most people would guess these definitions of faith and stop there with their guessing.  However, in stopping, they miss crucial aspects to the etymology and missions of the term faith.  Consider that faith also denotes allegiance and loyalty, or individual duty one owes to another, as well as the sincerity of intentions.  Finally, we reach a pinnacle or the crux of faith without question; actions are undertaken without question.

Consider for a moment in school; we studied French history, specifically Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans.”  She is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a saint, but only after being burned at the stake for her faith.  At nineteen, Joan of Arc went to her death, an action taken without question, in complete confidence, knowing the outcome, on faith, or rather the power of her conviction she was right.  While highly simplified, we see the power of faith, backed by confidence.

Confidence

The feeling of confidence has led many a person to leap off a ledge into a river, from a cliff into a raging sea, or, as stated above, to go calmly to one’s demise in the face of tyranny and oppression.  Confidence is defined as a feeling or belief that something can be achieved, success can be obtained, that ability can overcome obstacles, and good will come after a struggle.  Confidence includes certitude, trust, intimacy, reliance upon others, support from others, the ability to keep secrets, but most of all, confidence is a firm belief, or faith, that someone will act in a right or proper manner.  Interestingly, confidence is a double-edged sword for those who swindle, lie and cheat, use confidence to beat their victims for their money and precious resources.

The etymology of confidence holds the key to why confidence is crucial to the discussion on faith.  Confidence derives from Middle English confydence, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French confidence, borrowed from Latin confīdentia, from confīdent-, confīdens “trusting in oneself.”  Consider this for a moment, when man needed to trust something, the first thing he trusted was himself, and communicating that trust to others was paramount to building a society, an economy, and a government.

America’s failure of confidence is traceable to the partisan issues in a dual-political party system where both parties have proven themselves useless in protecting the citizen from the other party and the extremes inside their own party.  When discussing confidence, it cannot be stressed enough; we must discuss money, for we do not spend money.  We traffic in confidence in the government issuing paper labeled as currency.  Money is the tangible goods valued in trade for a product or service.  How tangible is that credit card in your wallet, and how much value does it have if you wanted to trade the card itself for a tank of gas?

Discussion

What does it mean to have faith but not confidence?  The questioner doubts his confidence, places faith in hope and desires to know that they know their confidence and faith has been placed in a sound source.  Now, a religionist, at this point, would point to a supreme being, and the discussion would shift in that direction.  There is nothing wrong with placing faith and confidence in a supreme being.  I advocate finding hope, placing faith, and building trust with a community of believers.  I am not here to point a person to a community of believers; that is your journey to take, and if interested, I can recommend a few in your area if you are further interested offline.

The intent here is to reflect does faith and confidence work together, separately, independently, cojoined, or in a different relationship altogether?  I firmly believe that when we understand the intimacy of the relationship between faith and confidence, we possess the power to know why and what we are placing our faith and confidence upon.  As a child, it intrigued me that confidence listed faith as a synonym in the thesaurus, but faith does not list confidence as a synonym in the thesaurus.  Why?

The answer lies in the etymology of the words: confidence is all about trusting in oneself, whereas faith requires exercising confidence in someone or something other than oneself.  Thus the relationship of trust opens, and in the opening, we find the need for duality in communication, a duality in action, and duality in intentions.  For when we put our faith in another, we expect reciprocation.  Confidence in oneself has no duality; faith possesses a need for duality, a partnership, and, if you will, a return on your investment.

Why are Americans so angry right now?  Some may ask, how do you know Americans are angry?  I cannot see signs of anger in America.  To these people, I say, look closer, get outside the cities, read the signs, and pay more attention to your neighbors.  How do I know people are angry; well, the popularity of “Let’s Go Brandon” is a good indicator.  The screams and shouts, the capturing of media attention at every opportunity to harangue the president, the subtle backlash the president faces everywhere he goes in America; yeah, these all indicate America is not pleased and very angry!

Returning to why is America angry?  Confidence was invested, faith was placed, and the return on investment is not forthcoming.  A lesson often quoted in these articles is a powerful lesson learned from reading classical literature.  However, the source escapes me even now, “The most dangerous person is an honest man betrayed.”  Where was confidence invested; the voting booth.  Where was faith placed; when the oath of office was taken and sworn before God to be upheld.  What is the return on investment; it is not “free stuff” from the government,” it is the fair and equal treatment of all before the law.

Failing to see faith upheld means people fall back to questioning faith being invested in the core of society, that which makes us Americans.  When this faith is lost, we are left with confidence, but confidence is selfish; confidence only looks after personal interests; confidence is all about me, myself, and mine.  What is the danger in confidence; confidence is what the charlatans in government dragged America into in the first place to get us to this dangerous edge.  Who is Jill Biden looking out for; it certainly is NOT Joey, but only Jill!  Who is Joey looking out for; it certainly is NOT the common citizen or the US Constitution he swore to protect and serve.

Is it any wonder that people would ask questions about faith and confidence?  How do we know that we know our faith and confidence have been invested properly when the return on our investment is so bitter, so terrible, and so detrimental?  We have not been taught the relationship between faith and confidence, so trust, belief, caring, and compassion are the victims, and America as a society suffers, bleeds, and dies a little more every day.  We do not support each other as Americans because the media harps incessantly about every line that is supposed to separate us first.

The political leaders accepted the job, took the pay, swore the oath, and are responsible before God for their actions, and are accountable before us, the citizens, for how they act in our name.  That is faith and confidence in action.  The relationship becomes tangible when we take the time to understand the relationship and then enforce the relationship as a dual tool in building the core of America.

© 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.

Session Title:  Able, Not Disabled, Not Differently-Abled

Introduction:  The following are my notes delivered at a global conference for disability inclusion held 27 October 2021 regarding how to improve disability inclusion in the workplace.

Description:  Increasing abilities by removing boundaries, discussing paths forward in ability inclusion, and building upon the great work Amazon and several other companies have done in pioneering disability inclusion in the workplace.

Welcome to a discussion on abled, not disabled, not differently-abled!  I am glad you’re here!  I am Dr. Dave Salisbury; I look to complete my Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology by November 2022; if you would like to participate in my dissertation, don’t hesitate to contact me outside this forum for more information.  I possess an MBA in global management specializing in human resource management, a master’s in adult education design and training, and have been a business consultant since 2004.  I am a dual-service US Army/US Navy disabled veteran.

My intent today is to help break down barriers so we can be comfortable around each other.  So comfortable that we can share jokes about my disability, we can look past the twitches, the spasms, and the stutters and find common interests.  Disability inclusion is precisely this, the inclusion into a society of those with disabilities to the point that we do not see the disability, we do not recognize the handicaps, and we can then work in an atmosphere of ability.

I have several disabilities, most stemming from injuries sustained in military service; some include my voice, some include neurological issues, and others are physical and mental.  Regardless, as these injuries have increased in severity, my professional intent began to be recognized for my abilities, talents, skills, knowledge, and potential, not for my disabilities.  Yet, I am often seen only as a disabled person or worse, a “token” disabled person filling a slot that another person could be occupying.  I ran into this thinking in the Federal government, New Mexico State, Bernalillo County, and Albuquerque City government hiring practices as recently as 2019.

Earlier in my professional life as a disabled person, I was told not to be thinking of myself as disabled but as “differently-abled.”  I am not differently abled!  Differently abled draws lines and limitations; it separates people and places boxes on potential.  Worse, it allows for the continued breeding of an “us against them” mentality, which breeds hostility and counterproductive beliefs.  Thus, I refuse to be differently abled.  I do not particularly appreciate being classified as disabled either.

Please allow me to digress for a moment.  The transitive verb “dis” means to show disrespect, insult, or criticize.  As a prefix, “dis” is defined as the opposite of something, depriving someone of something, excluding someone, or expelling someone.  Thus, a disabled person is either being disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, expelled, or is the opposite of able.  Frankly, I believe that when we are made aware of the etymology of words, we are then more aware of why people choose to adopt or not adopt certain words and labels.  I repeat, only for emphasis, I do NOT particularly appreciate being classified as disabled, for I AM able!

Words and labels should not be the focus of our attention and efforts.  I prefer handicapped to disabled based on the etymology, even though I don’t particularly appreciate being considered handicapped.  A handicap can refer to a disadvantage in task completion, physical or mental disabilities, and can intentionally place a person at a disadvantage; there’s that “dis” again rearing it’s disrespect, insults, criticism, deprivation, exclusion, and expulsion.  Please, let’s stop focusing on word games and plastic phrases; instead, let’s invest efforts in finding solutions to existing problems.

How big is the problem of word focus; in the past few weeks, there have been several email chains based solely on a person’s word choice preferences.  I would venture to presume that not a single person intended to cause insult or denigrate a community member by using or not using a specific word, phrase, title, verb, adjective, etc. in describing a person or population in the community.  Yet, people chose to take offense, and others rushed in to ameliorate the feelings of the one choosing to be offended at a word.  Bringing up a fundamental aspect of disability inclusion, individual responsibility, accountability, or self-rule.

I am able!  I take a little more time, need a couple of extra breaks, and use additional technology and equipment to complete tasks.  I possess skills, talents, experiences, and knowledge valuable to situations, teams, and companies.  I bring to the table unique perceptions, insights, and benchmarkable skills worthy of consideration.  I bring formal and informal education and experience that is invaluable and immeasurably useful as an asset to the organization.  I am all this long before we ever discuss my physical and mental concerns or disabilities.

My first priority is my personal safety and security; my first job is to look out for myself.  Monitor what I am carrying, how far I must take it, doors, elevators, paths for egression in emergencies, methods for being warned, and what I can and cannot do.  For example, as COVID-19 began, I knew I could not wear a mask and asked about those of us who could not wear a mask.  I saw the confusion on faces. I witnessed the policy shifts, the harassment, the legal segregation, and suffered legal abuse and discrimination for not wearing a mask.  I realize that eventually, my injuries will require my independence to be curtailed, and I will become more dependent.  As such, I have to monitor what I can and cannot do constantly and clearly describe this to those I work with.  The same should be true and expected of all people regardless of handicap or level of ability.  Individual responsibility for safety, security, and health does not end just because they enter a building and should be stressed as a regular aspect of workplace safety.

Amazon has performed incredible work and is one of the few companies that has done pioneering work leading to real success in disability inclusion on a global scale.  The question before us is where and how we build upon this work to improve the culture and potential of all employees, regardless of ability, in all industries and businesses, based upon the pioneering work of Amazon.  I believe the following action items can be the building blocks to successfully enhance the inclusion of people of all abilities, talents, skills, and knowledge.  I will revisit these questions when we get to the discussion portion; please consider these points.

  1. Conflict is good, beneficial, and a tool that is useful for building people, teams, and businesses. Douglas Malloch wrote a timeless poem, “Good Timber,” which is the quintessential discussion on why and how conflict is good.  Let us embrace conflict as the tool it is for improving people.  A handout is available for further consideration on these topics, and all bullets discussed, with reference materials for additional research if you desire.  Please send me an email if you would like these materials.
  2. Leadership begins with followership; followership begins with being lifelong learners, learning requires opportunities to teach, teaching is a prerequisite to learning, and learning requires the ability to lead and apply. – These are merely starting points to understanding. They are facts.
        • Do we encourage delegation and learning through experience?
        • Do we embrace failure as a tool for lifelong learning?
        • Leadership is not a title; leadership is first an attitude, then an action, and finally a method of learning and teaching. How do we apply these truths in daily activities?
        • Leadership as an attitude is witnessed in good followership, even when our followers practice loyal opposition; are we embracing the loyal opposition? Do we know how to recognize the loyal opposition?
  3. Flexibility and agility require open minds. Open minds need varieties in opinions, politics, beliefs, religions, and so much more.  Open minds begin with lifelong learning!  Lifelong learning requires self-reflection. – Again, we find fundamental truths, simply explained and expounded.  How are we embracing these truths in daily practice?  What actions are we supporting in the workplace to showcase support to and openness to variety in thinking and commitment to lifelong learning?
        • What book did you just read?
        • Did you share that book, recommending it to whom?
        • Were you excited about the book?
        • When was the last time you self-reflected?
  4. Do you believe?
  5. How will you act tomorrow?

Are there activities I cannot engage in?  Yes.  To my disappointment and chagrin, there are many activities I can no longer engage in.  Stairs are a tremendous activity I have to avoid; yes, this includes sidewalk curbs.  Standing and sitting for long periods have to be monitored and curtailed.  Walking is another activity I have to be conscious of and monitor closely.  I regularly mistake how long I have sat or walked and wind up in trouble breathing, or my legs give out from exhaustion.  But, I should not have to get into some vast dramatic affair just because my abilities are curtailed physically or mentally.  COVID-19 hit, I cannot wear a mask due to breathing issues; the mask mandates have been so embarrassing and challenging while also being segregationist, separatist, and legally expensive.  Why are disabled people still challenged on their disabilities when we are already disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, and expelled for merely being less physically and mentally able?

Ask yourself this question, “When I see a maskless person, do I condemn them first or think maybe they have a reason?”  That single decision is the key to the choice between building people and building disability thinking!  I do not need your answer voiced; please consider your response now and think about when you will witness a maskless person the next time.

Has anyone taken a look at the processes for obtaining work accommodations?  A work adjustment for a disability?  A mask exemption?  With all the differences in abilities, one would think the process would be straightforward to understand.  Yet, the opposite is often the truth because we refuse to embrace that we are all able and are programmed to first separate into able and dis-(disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, expelled)- abled.

The last two questions are not included for any reason other than to spark a conversation inside you.  Do you believe in a difference existing between disabled people and non-disabled people?  What will you do differently today and tomorrow to reflect your belief structure?

I learned a long time ago everyone has a disability, a blind spot, or an issue they keep hidden from the world.  Sometimes it is a missing eye, an arm, a leg, an embarrassing laugh, depression, anxiety, trauma, childhood abuse, adult abuse, the list is endless.  Yet, some of those “blind spots” are more severe and become listed as “disabilities.”  The government stepped in to classify people, and draw lines of segregation and separation, which did a lot of harm to people of all abilities.  I met a man recently who lost several fingers and partially lost several other fingers.  His lost and partial fingers never came up in conversation.  His abilities as a typist were terrific, and his talents on several musical instruments were extraordinary, but his missing and partial fingers were non-topics!  As a point of fact, I did not notice the fingers until I shook his hand in congratulations for his accomplishments.

Drawing lines, classifications, separations, and segregation, it never works.  Until we can look past, work past, and choose to live past the disability, we will never be equally able, and everyone suffers.  What keeps disabled people from being able; our choices.  What keeps able people from working together; our choices.  See the connection; how we choose is the single greatest determining factor in moving forward as an individual, a team, a group, and a company.  We choose to either be abled or disabled.  We choose to allow our comfort zone to define us or not to define us.  We choose to work together first or separate each other first.

Often a person lacking an ability due to misfortune of some kind will develop and magnify other abilities, an often-overlooked advantage to their value because seeing past their loss has become a lost art of possibility and consideration.  In other words, our humanity needs restoration.  Those who do not have a fulness of ability know the realities of unreasonable and unfair judgment rather than the realities of potential and are thus prevented from entering the world of abilities and possibilities by the much too often impenetrable establishment of discrimination.  We can lift people from where we are and change the paradigm of ability and advancement to a higher level of accomplishment and respect.  We can do this!  Do you believe?

How will we act tomorrow?  A similar question was posed by Brian “The Brain” Johnson in the movie “The Breakfast Club,” and new attitudes, new thinking, and new potential were born.  Are we willing to see past the outside wrapping, shun society’s labels, and choose a different path forward through action, learning, leadership, and healthy conflict?

Let’s discuss!

    • Conflict is good, beneficial, and a tool that is useful for building people, teams, and businesses. Douglas Malloch wrote a timeless poem, “Good Timber,” which is the quintessential discussion on why and how conflict is good.  Let us embrace conflict as the tool it is for improving people.  A handout is available for further consideration on this topic and all bullets discussed, with reference materials for additional research on these topics if you desire.
    • Leadership begins with followership; followership begins with being lifelong learners, learning requires opportunities to teach, teaching is a prerequisite to learning, and learning requires the ability to lead and apply. – These are merely starting points to understanding. They are facts.
            1. Do we encourage delegation and learning through experience?
            2. Do we embrace failure as a tool for lifelong learning?
            3. Leadership is not a title; leadership is first an attitude, then an action, and finally a method of learning and teaching. How do we apply these truths in daily activities?
            4. Leadership as an attitude is witnessed in good followership, even when our followers practice loyal opposition; are we embracing the loyal opposition? Do we know how to recognize the loyal opposition?
      • Flexibility and agility require open minds. Open minds need varieties in opinions, politics, beliefs, religions, and so much more.  Open minds begin with lifelong learning!  Lifelong learning requires self-reflection. – Again, we find fundamental truths, simply explained and expounded.  How are we embracing these truths in daily practice?  What actions are we supporting in the workplace to showcase support to and openness to variety in thinking and commitment to lifelong learning?
            1. What book did you just read?
            2. Did you share that book, recommending it to whom?
            3. Were you excited about the book?
            4. When was the last time you self-reflected?
      • Do you believe?
      • How will you act tomorrow?

Additional Questions, Comments, or Concerns, feel free to reach out to me via email or IM through LinkedIn.  Thank you!

© 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.

Money, Wants and Needs, Goals – This One is Mental Therapy

Bobblehead DollDear reader, you might want to skip this article.  I write this mainly to organize some thoughts for myself.  I am not preaching; I am not trying to teach anyone but myself; if you find something that helps you, you are welcome to the words and lessons.  I have been struggling with learning a couple of things surrounding a couple of topics, and I want to take a minute and jot down some thoughts that have come to me.  I will return to weightier matters another day.  Please excuse me.

Money

My best friend, traveling companion, and spouse, once said something that stuck in my mental processes, “Money is sacred! [emphasis in original]”  She continued over time to add words to the effect that, since money requires effort and sweat to earn, money should be considered sacred and spent with purpose.  When spending money with a sacred purpose, we would necessarily change our spending habits to reflect the sacred nature of money, and in doing so, honor our sacrifice in earning money, respecting ourselves more.

Working DollarSince 2000 the software industry has undergone a very subtle shift; no longer do you purchase software, you rent it.  You make a monthly purchase for that software, which becomes more than the price you would ever have paid for the software previously.  Now, some argue this is due to the cost of upgrading software.  Some argue this is due to the price of intellectual property.  Some argue this is to reduce the cost of piracy of software.  Regardless, does this shift honor your sacrifice in earning money?

Games, especially phone games, are really expensive.  I have an addiction problem to phone games.  I quickly get hooked, then I justify making a dollar purchase here, a two-dollar purchase there, and then at the end of the month, look at the bill and see I spent $400 on a phone game.  True story.  I turn on the passwords; I turn on the purchase blockers, I try hard to avoid making purchases.  I can only succeed when I delete the games, put down my phone, and stop playing games.  I have tried playing games without making purchases and would argue that it is nearly impossible to play any game without making purchases. The games are not designed to be played; they are intended to be cash machines for the game manufacturers.  Maybe I am jaded, but I have yet to find any game that does not require regular cash infusions; believe me, I have tried to find a game that can be played without spending money, and I quit looking.

I am thoroughly embarrassed, shocked, dismayed, and disgusted by how much I have spent on games.  I lost my head some time ago, and it is past time I got myself back together again.  I turned off the last game this morning and will begin the slow addiction recovery process this morning; if I am grumpy, edgy, and bearish to be around, my apologies.  For the last couple of months, I have been overcoming sugar addictions that I think will kill me, gluten addictions that are harder than chocolate and tobacco combined, and I thought chocolate would kill me.  In the quest to lose weight and clean up my life to improve my diabetes, I am left with many questions about addictions and crutches.Question

I was speaking to a medical professional a month or two back and jokingly said:

Food for too long has been my comfort zone; I wonder what will take its place now that diabetes has ended food being the comfort blanket.”

Me and my big mouth!

For those going through addiction recovery for the more common drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc., know you are not alone.  I have been there for tobacco, now for sugar, chocolate, gluten, money, and food!  It never ceases to amaze me what humans will become addicted to, what we will use to find comfort in, what we wrap ourselves up in to find security and peace to silence the voices in our heads and a good night’s sleep.  I offer you the same hope I cling to, “We were born to succeed; we can do this!”

Wants and Needs

Robert Fulghum explained this one so well in one of his early books.  I will summarize his story but take the time to look up his story; you will laugh, HARD!  He is staffing a reception desk at a Dude Ranch Hotel on a night shift where he gets his meals included, but he has to pay for them from his salary.  The employee meals have been sauerkraut and sausages for a couple of weeks.  He is frustrated; he is mad; he wants to quit.  He reaches a boiling point.  He unloads one night on his relief an older gentleman, a WWII POW camp survivor (I think if I remember the story right).  Anyway, after listening to the rantings and ravings of a childish teenager, this older gentleman gives Mr. Fulghum a piece of advice, “you have to learn the difference between wants and needs.”

GearsI fully appreciate I struggle with this lesson.  I keep getting wants and needs confused.  Do I need a chocolate bar?  Do I want something to eat?  Do I want food?  Do I need food?  Much of my weight problem is trying to figure out wants versus needs.  Much of my mental state is wants versus needs and the confusion between what I want and what I need.  Going back to the games, do I really need a bucket of gems, or that shiny bottle of vitality?

While writing this section, the Grammarly word choices reminded me of another aspect of this conversation, words that confuse the wants versus needs selection cycle.  The English language continues to be a double-edged sword, sufficient to describe and to confuse in the same stroke.  Trying to figure out what I want and distinguishing between what I need has become clouded.  Why?  How?  I have learned that it does not matter when or where the clouding occurred, these happened, it is done; the job is to get them unclouded and get moving forward!

Goals

I do not know the original source.  I have heard several people make similar statements; I am not the initial source of the following thought.

If you have a dream, write it down.  Now you have an action item.  With that action item, give it a date you want to have it accomplished by.  Now you have a goal.  With that goal, set specific steps to achieve and milestones.  Now you have a plan.”

I would add a final thought.  Upon completion of each milestone and especially upon completion of the goal, CELEBRATE!  Celebrate failure, celebrate success.  Then the day after, hold an “After Action Review (AAR)” and review what was learned, pain points, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Start anew!  Too often, we miss the celebrations, and we forget to hold the self-reflections, and in doing so, we do not bring a goal to a close, and we do not write down lessons learned.  Failure to learn lessons means we relive those lessons.  How very tragic!Exclamation Mark

To answer the inevitable question, yes.  I have a list of goals for the coming year.  No, I will not be sharing this list publicly.  Yes, the goals are written down.  Yes, I have an end date.  Yes, I look to have the goals completed in 365-days.  Mental therapy is useless if I do not apply the lessons in my own life!

© 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.