Posted in Uncategorized

A Nebraska Hike~Pondering Life

I promised myself I wouldn’t use this platform to only preach about soap box issues.  There are so many aspects to our humanity, but we tend to live in just a few.  So here I’ll branch out and drop a few thoughts that have passed through my head over the last week.

A week ago yesterday I was working late (6:30) assuming like other days that I would just finish up and run home.  I tripped coming up out of my chair to write a note to myself on the whiteboard.  After sitting back down to see if my shoes were untied, I realized I couldn’t feel the knee that my arm was resting on as I peered over to look at my shoe.  I put it off as something  like any other limb that would eventually wake up.  I drove home and spent the night on the couch since Robyn was down taking care of her parents.  I hate sleeping in bed alone.

Robyn returned the next day and we prepared for our taxi date shuttling the kids around.  The girls had a Phantom costume party and Josh had a costume party at the gym he goes to for tumbling.  In between we stopped off at a sports bar and watched the 2nd half of the Nebraska game before dropping off Josh.  Robyn and I spent our time getting a Starbucks and walking around Walnut Creek and watched the moon.  It was a perfectly glorious fall evening.

Sunday we went for a hike in Schramm State Park.  I’ve attached several pictures I took with my Droid:

These are thumbnails so you can take a closer look by clicking the pictures.

Anyway, that hike would begin the loss of feeling in my left leg.  The hike was difficult for me but I didn’t say much until after we parted company with our friends we had asked to join us.

Monday my right foot kicked the steps a couple of times as I was climbing the stairs, so that was enough to convince me to call the doc.  He did a quick exam and made a referral to a neurologist for Friday.  Wednesday when I got dressed for work I couldn’t even feel my right leg at all.  There have been periods of weird sensation, prickly, numb, vibrating, and excruciating muscle fatigue (kinda like having your muscles put through a meat grinder.)  The doctor said it’s a post-viral autoimmune response.  My whole family was sick a couple of weeks ago.  Both of my daughters had fevers with 103 degree temps.  I never got sick–thought I escaped…apparently not.  The diagnosis yesterday was Guillain Barre Syndrome, otherwise known as French Polio.   Luckily I have a mild case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillain%E2%80%93Barr%C3%A9_syndrome)  I was thankful for my diagnosis because I had fears of MS or some other debilitating disease.

This condition and the forced healing time for me is a wake-up call.  I take too much for granted and live too much in the future.  Life and getting the most out of living is in the here and now.  Mentally we get caught up in planning and preparing for how life is going to be.  We obligate ourselves to responsibilities that require any available time remaining be committed to upkeep of these inanimate, impersonal, non-nurturing possessions.  We men are especially gifted at dreaming and scheming–impelled by the fantasy of an ideal but unprepared and uninterested in the grueling reality.

Well, I’m going to take a moment to live in the moment.  Cheers everyone!  Enjoy this weekend…

Posted in Uncategorized

Herding (guiding) Sheep–How to get the most out of your meetings!

When you are on a two-lane road that slows to a crawl due to some inspection or check-point, and there’s a road that merges into your lane, do you notice how instinctively everyone will begin taking turns allowing cars into the flow of traffic? Admit it, you yield to the courtesy yourself and allow your fellow commuter to merge! Did anyone ever ASK you if you thought was a good idea to do such a thing? Did you participate in a survey where it was decided this is how you should behave? No, people just naturally fall into orderly processes if one naturally presents itself or others create one to facilitate orderly behavior.

The same concept applies to meetings. Left without a defined, repeatable, orderly process, at best nothing is accomplished, at worst, you’ve allowed chaos into your meeting, and an attitude of irritation to creep into your attendees minds. There are simple ways to create a natural process to help you herd the sheep. Before I list these tips, let me describe what I observe as the different types of meeting attendees:

  • Wall flowers:  Always sit in chairs flanking the walls of the conference room…and nearest the door if possible
  • Mixologists:  They see the world from different perspectives, don’t always provide answers–but ask good questions
  • Historians:  Interrupt to tell you “how it was done” 20 years ago, and why its important to keep doing the same
  • Radio Broadcasters:  Always in transmit mode and just like to hear themselves talk
  • Stealth Bombers:  Hoard info and wait until after the meeting’s over to release their wealth of knowledge in the hallway
  • Note takers and Doodlers:  Always have pen to paper but you’re not quite sure “where” the notes end up

You can ensure that all of your meetings achieve desired outcomes by doing the following:

  • Be deliberate with your invitations and invite only those who will contribute to your objective
  • Create an agenda to achieve specific objectives
  • Create name tents or place cards to seat attendees exactly where you want them based upon how you plan to steer the conversation
  • Make sure all participants ideas/questions/comments are shared – NO wallflowers or stealth bombers allowed
  • Make sure you have someone there to take notes (typist or shortand) who can post minutes on a shared content portal and distribute links to all attendees
  • Ensure that open action items are followed up and details communicated to all attendees

Your reputation is at stake and it doesn’t take long before others recognize if they are successfully merging into a lane of productivity (contributing and being kept informed), or if there’s no point in participating week after week!

This post was made after reflecting upon personal experience of what does/doesn’t work.  Leadership is an art, the herd will follow—they are just looking for a good sheppard.

Posted in Uncategorized

Presidential Candidates – Winners are Doomed to NOT Meet Expectations

Obama didn’t have a chance…neither did Bush, or Clinton. My wife and I have had a few political discussions recently about who would possibly make a great combination for a winning ticket. We feel that Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice would be an incredible one-two punch. They both have experience in domestic and foreign relations, tremendous political clout, and gravitas enough to make it through the scrutiny of even the most sage pundits.

However, one problem that plagues our political system is the stuck situation we are currently in with a two party system. The Republicans and Democrats are the never ending feuding siblings. All debates are designed to prove for one candidate, an “I’m better than you” result. Just look at the voting coverage on the major news networks who replay the comments and show us metrics of the audience reaction. This agonizing period of the election process only poises both party’s members and constituents for a combative and quarreling, tit-for-tat volley until the eventual “winner” is determined. By the time of the inauguration, the losing party is already planning how they can delay, constipate or otherwise subvert the opposing party’s agenda. How can we ever logically conclude that the House or the Senate will ever put the American people as their first priority? I don’t want my elected officials planning how they are going to undo what the current or previous leader changed. I want them all putting their heads together and figuring out how to do it right the first time! This House and Senate are no exception to the “doesn’t play well with others” description. Public education, health care, energy, the deficit, social security, unemployment, housing…these are issues that need a planned road to health and resolution sooner than later. Every delay costs us more, and further complicates the resolution.

When I hear of how much the party’s are spending on their November election campaigns, the first question through my head is “How in good conscience can any politician justify the expense when their own state budgets are in deficit situations and are forced to cut education programs and public servant salaries?” I do not understand this logic. I’m tired of the fraternity mentality associated with politics–its not a game people, we’re talking about the future generations. What kind of legacy are we passing onto our children? Can we honestly look them in the face and say we have done our utmost to be the best stewards of all resources in our trust? Two generations from now when some bored mathematician in a statistics class crunches the numbers, he or she will give us an “F” on the work effort applied to the legacy they’ve inherited if something doesn’t change.

My vote is to either require there be more than two parties or eliminate the party system altogether. My hope and desire is that Americans are doing candidate research on their own, and limiting their exposure to network news and paid political advertisements. There’s an agenda behind every talking head with our current system. How about voting for a person because of their leadership, visionary, logic, and facilitator skills. Our country is in desperate need of restoration to a state of responsibly, compassionately, and judiciously protecting and defending our Nation’s priorities–the people first!!! We have plenty of tools/technology/vision/enthusiasm/spirit and pride in our culture…we just lack a government body, due to our bureaucracies, whose energies are focused on the correct enemy–bureaucracy.

When I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic 25 years ago….I paid attention to those last three words. We really are our own worst enemy when we allow such petty bickering and stubbornness to get in the way of carrying the torch for the next generation. We lack discipline, leadership, and embarrassingly, its all by choice! Vote by fact, not feeling or infomercial people.

Peace out!

Posted in SocialMedia

Social Media, Wisdom of Crowds or Rewarding Mediocrity?

Some thoughts that rumbled through my head after watching the movie “Social Network.”  The premise of the movie is an incredibly “viral” phenomenon (Facebook), created out of boredom, jealousy, and a juvenile prank by an incredibly talented individual.  His creation has turned even the most invisible church mouse into an unabashed performer…take Shane for example:  Singing in 5 Octaves.  Now the cacophony ringing throughout the globe is so loud…how do you hear the REALLY IMPORTANT ideas?  Syndicated television news has their “breaking news!” alerts, YouTube turns EVERYBODY into an affiliate “Eye Witness Reporter.”  Just because a video or blog entry goes viral doesn’t necessarily mean that the information you’re consuming has substantial value in the grand scheme of the major topics desperately needing serious thought and action towards them:  health care, the deficit, Social Security, an aging population, the public education system, identity theft, welfare, unemployment…shall I go on?

What has happened to the pedigree of “significant voices/ideas/original thought” with the onset of social media?  If you reflect back even 20 years ago, good ideas and the great thinkers easily rose to notoriety and the value of their contributions were obvious.  Their stories were told in newspapers, published in journals, reported on television and the talk around the water cooler.  The myriad of opinions on every topic is dizzying.  Are social media tools “REALLY” helping people make better informed choices, or is it a megaphone attached to the herd mentality?  Does social media truly churn the wisdom of crowds or reward mediocrity?

Just like guns, and cars, social media is just another “tool” that meets a need.  In the hands of the sincere and purposed, it can bring critical help to those who need assistance, companionship to the loners, and ideas to the mentally blocked.  Left to the devices of the bored, the angry, the bent who choose not to take responsibility, it can bring embarrassment, shame, loss, and isolation.

With all tools, understanding how, when, and where best to employ them in our society, and for what purposes is key.  I’m very interested in hearing from anyone who sees both sides of the social media debate and can provide food for thought.

Can I get a Retweet?  🙂 Cheers everyone!  Good night!

Ed