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29 June 2008

Problems are Absurd


"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."
- Theodore Rubin



Know the type?



Reminds my of another parable that I share with my kids: "The same hammer that shatters the glass forges the steel."



Some people are naturally hard and steely in nature and some people are naturally soft and malleable. And different people approach problem solving differently.



An old chum and mentor of mine, Tom (of Spider Man fame) called me into his office one day when I was just starting out. He had drawn on the board a picture of a evil looking troll standing the width of a deep valley. My objective he said, was to draw my solution to get to the other side of the troll. The lesson as you can guess is that the troll was our problem(s) and those that chose to do battle with the troll also dealt with our problems head on. Similarly, those that chose to try and scale the valley wall in the middle of the night and slip past the troll whilst he slept revealed a similar problem solving strategy.



In business, it could be said that how we solve problems - starting with recognizing their existence in the first place! - is linked to our efficacy as a manager and as an employee.



Is that true? Or can we succeed in work, in life and in the valley of trolls without having a conquistador's approach to problem solving?

12 June 2008

Per Sempre Amore Tonya!

The world was given a huge gift,
The day you came to be born;
Back on June 12, you know, back then,
When the stork first learned how to soar.


There's been babies born before,
And we know a few notables that have been born since;
That rival the goodness you bring to the masses,
But none that are so heaven sent.


There is more I plan to say,
But over the web is sure not the place;
It is supposed to stay PG around here,
Plus I don't want to give you a blushing face!


So let's leave it at that for now,
And publicly wish you a Happy Birthday;
Later we'll celebrate privately in style,
With a party, a cake and perhaps a roll in the ....
Happy Birthday Tonya!

11 June 2008

6/12: The Day the World ...

... became a more beautiful place.

Was it because the baseball was invented on this day in 1839, enabling generations to enjoy sitting in the bleachers on summer nights, noshing on peanuts and watching steroid induced slackers professional athletes play America's past-time? Nope.

Was it because Anne Frank - of Diary fame - was born on this day in 1929 in Germany, who brought us the gripping account of a young girl's torment during World War II in Europe? Nope. By the way, did you know that the famous diary was actually a birthday gift for her 13th birthday?

Will it be because nuclear war will commence today, according to famed nut case and self-proclaimed prophet Yisrayl "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins?

The last time he predicted a worldwide calamity like this was 2006 and surprisingly, nothing happened. Oh, except he convinced all of his brainwashed loyal followers to purchase "doomsday food and supplies" from Life Nutrition Products, which Buffalo Bill himself owned. Surprised? Don't be. Charlatans like this have been using churches to, uh, buffalo people out of faith, money and common sense for years. Make sure to check out the five part series "Save Thee or Sell Thee" before you get too far down the road. And oh yeah....nope, that is not why June 12th is such a beautiful day either.

Was it because Michael Jordan, 14 time All-Star and arguably one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game and his team the Chicago Bulls won their first NBA Championship together in 1991? Nope.


"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why... I succeed."

- Michael Jordan


Was it because Ii Naomori , the famous samurai was killed in battle in 1560? Uh, no.

Tired of guessing? Well, tune in tomorrow sports fans and see why I think June 12th is such a beautiful day in history!

10 June 2008

Bye Bye Bear

In 2004 the University of Texas Longhorns finished in the top 5 of all college football teams in part behind the strong play of a hot rod running back named Cedric Benson. After that stellar season, Benson was the 4th player drafted into the NFL and signed to play for the Chicago Bears, who were contenders for an NFL title themselves. On the field, the guy is was a stud.

In Chi-town however, the dude named Benson now wearing #32 was largely considered a bust. Aptly described because part of the reason for his dismal performance may have been his repeated run-ins with the law and his related his poor judgment. The most recent of which got him kicked him off the team this week. His team said:

"Cedric displayed a pattern of behavior we will not tolerate," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said in a June 9th statement. "As I said this past weekend, you have to protect your job. Everyone in this organization is held accountable for their actions. When individual priorities overshadow team goals, we suffer the consequences as a team. Those who fail to understand the importance of 'team' will not play for the Chicago Bears."


Oh yeah. I was not a Bears fan before, but I am now. Let's hear it again shall we?: "When individual priorities overshadow team goals, we suffer the consequences as a team." Amen.

For his part, Benson has pleaded Not Guilty (of course) and took to the airwaves:

"I apologize for making the poor decision to drink and drive ... given the incident last month, it was a particularly bad decision. I have no excuse for this lack of judgment."


But then, predictably he negates the above statement and then offers an excuse after all:

"Though I strongly believe that I am not guilty of any crime, I realize that the public and the Bears organization hold me to higher standard. Though my local attorneys will continue to work hard to prove my innocence, I confess to using poor judgment."


They're gonna have to work awfully hard to prove his innocence since he already admitted drinking and driving. Duh.

"In a sense, every day is judgment day, and we, through our deeds and words, our silence and speech, are constantly writing in the Book of Life."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaking of MLK, a fair amount of marriages break up due to infidelity. And I suspect that the infidelity does not start with a romp in the sack, but rather as an innocent glance that slowly and at some point perhaps predictably develops into deal breaking behavior. The boundary line that exists between what the marital partners find acceptable and what they don't gets crossed in these instances.

One guide that makes sense is to not behave with another person in a way that you wouldn't also behave if your spouse were also present. Yet as simple as that sounds, men and women still exhaust their good judgment every day and wreck their family and other families around them.

My expanded soliloquy on the male-female construct can be found here under the series Mating Growl.

"Experience teaches that a strong memory is generally joined to a weak judgment."
- Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

When we burn our hands on a stove as a child, we are likely to develop a healthy respect for the pain, heat and searing skin caused by a stove as a learned adult. After all, kids are curious right? But more importantly, kids are not as knowledgeable or respectful about boundaries or the exercising of good judgment as those supposedly more experienced.

Yet as adults, we see other adults in virtually every walk of life knowingly obliterate their boundaries in pursuit of some forbidden fruit. Personally, I see a connection between some one's level of arrogance and their willingness to exceed agreed to boundaries. How about you?

Nobody made Mr. Benson drink beer and then start driving around at 2 in the morning - he made that choice himself. Nobody made that wandering spouse end up in the no-tell, motel alone with their goumada - he or she made that choice themselves.

So it is their judgment rightfully on trial. And with some positions in life, the expectations are higher than in other positions.

"If a leader repeatedly shows poor judgment, even in little things, people start to think that having him as the leader is the real mistake."
- John C. Maxwell

Political figures, religious figures and sports figures....because of their increased visibility, they all seem to have a plethora of ass baring episodes brought on by, among other things, poor judgement.

What can we learn from these specimens?

What do you tell your children about these public figures? Does one instance of public ass-baring negate the other positive things they do?

If you owned an NFL team, would you hire Cedric Benson to play for you next season?

05 June 2008

Deal's Third Counsel

Deal's Third Counsel -- The only problem in life is in the living.

Yessireebob.

I have always found the 1995 movie "The American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening endearing. Not sure why really, I just dig it. I've probably seen it at least 1/2 a dozen times. One of the epic scenes is a speech the president gives where he pontificates about the role of Americans. "America isn't easy," he offers, "America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight."

And in real life, not everybody does want it, badly or otherwise.

I've also discovered a unique - and critical - symbiosis between doers and talkers. I have taught nearly 4000 law enforcement agents in my career so far and I end all of my classes the same way, referring the the bad guys that gave us all jobs: "If there wasn't people like them, there wouldn't be people like us". In other words, for there to be good, there must also be evil, otherwise we wouldn't know how to recognize goodness.

So perhaps we should recognize and in a warped way, even appreciate at times, the role of those that don't embrace the life they are given. They endanger our children, they suck the civility - and social services - out of our community and they monopolize the goodness of strangers and offer no reciprocity. With perspective, however, we can acknowledge their role in reminding us how important it is to embrace the life we have. We only have one life after all and seeing people squander theirs is a terrific motivator to take advantage of ours isn't it?

Yes, life is easy, it is living that poses the challenge.

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do we do a good job of celebrating those that are knowledgeable and that apply themselves? Or do we offer quick rewards for mere knowledge?

Do we reserve distinction for those that exhibit a willingness and that actually execute, actually finish, actually "do"? Or do we reinforce people for stepping to the starting line with the same vigor as those that actually run the race?

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