Responsibility for Others: Management 101

I was reading a murder mystery last night (what else is new?).  In closing, the Captain of the detectives was lamenting about how he would explain to his bosses about one of his subordinates.  The subordinate was guilty of helping the serial killer with a murder and with getting away with murder.  This Captain was concerned that he could not explain his subordinate’s activities and could not explain how he missed this monumental change in his subordinate.

In other words, this captain was being held accountable for his staff’s activities.  Not only was he being held responsible for those activities, but he was answerable to not being aware of staff changes in demeanor.  This murder mystery is set in England (of course!).  It could not have been set in America, and here is why…

I have sat in dozens of management meetings and listened to dozens of managers talk about their results.  What is consistent across all of those meetings and all of those managers is this idea that “I am not responsible for my staff’s activities.” Or another concept “I am not aware of what my staff did or is doing, look, they messed it up…”.

Upper management, in every single place that I have ever worked, is not at all aware of what their own managers do.  I’m not sure that I understand the philosophy that allows this kind of behavior.  They supervise people that they do not understand and know and can go for months and even years not knowing what kind of behavior is perpetrated onto the line staff.   Sometimes it is because of secrets, sometimes it is blatant,  transparency is not a concept that lives well in America.  Americans keep secrets, lots and lots of them.

As a manager, and a supervisor, it is your responsibility to KNOW what your staff is doing.  Are managers fooled, tricked and manipulated?  Yes, yes of course.  Yet, that is the job, to follow up, to find out, to make it work appropriately.  It is your job as a manager to dig out the secrets, to become aware of the secrets, to bring light to the secrets.

Honestly, that’s why when the pervert/perpetrator Olympics coach was being sued, the school and the organizations that he works for are sued also.  Whether Americans want to understand the concept or not, if you manage someone, you are responsible for that someone.  If you are in charge of an institution, that institution is your responsibility.

We have a culture of excuses and we work hard to make those excuses believable.  There are a few diamonds out there, who stand up and take responsibility, good, bad or indifferent, they will own the responsibility.  More often than not, excuses win the day.  Excuses become the work product, because the work product is difficult to accomplish or difficult to measure.  Either way, Americans have a preference for a story rather than the results, excepting, of course, for the Americans who are actually paying for the results.

Which one are you?  Are you responsible for your staff when the performance is fantastic, and not, when not?  Or, do you take responsibility for your staff, your institution, the things you get paid for, as they are?

The difference between mediocrity, which is common, and the uncommon, which is excellence, is this concept of responsibility for others.  By taking care of people, you unwittingly take care of yourself.



I’ve often denigrated avoidance as if it is a bad thing.  I thought that people who avoided truth, or reality were sissys or crybabies, who don’t deserve truth.

And now I want to avoid.  I don’t want to know if you have relapsed on cocaine.  I don’t want to know that you are back to shooting heroin.  I don’t want to know that you are “off the wagon” and “drinking like a fish”.

It hurts.

I am past the point of believing that I can make you change.  I am past the point of believing that “things” will be better.

“Don’t tell because it hurts”  No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, 1995

Does the sun come back?

Does the sun come back?


Making Things Work; Making Life Work

I know so many people and can think of so many incidents where people do whatever they can to STOP the process.  When I say process, I mean movement forward towards a good or towards a completion of a goal.

It doesn’t matter what the process is, it can be good, bad or indifferent, it just doesn’t matter.  These people are interested in just stopping the process.  They have a reason, an elaborate justification to keep you or your cause from moving forward.  Perhaps they do not want to see you succeed.  Perhaps their life has stopped and they do not know how to navigate a forward motion, be it their own or someone else’s.  They have lived in stagnation for so long they can not understand forward motion.

You will have met these individuals; they often work in government jobs as bureaucrats.  It is uncanny how they can smell your need and then trounce it into the ground, killing it for all time.

Unbeknownst to most people is an understanding of human behavior.  We are creatures of habit.  We rarely do anything today that we have not done yesterday.  This is important to note, because when we stop the workability of other’s lives, we also stop the workability of our own lives.  Destroying another person’s effort often comes with a price tag of destroying one’s own effort.  This is a factor not known to most.

Why do we stop forward motion?  Why do we question and halt the effort of others?  Why can we not facilitate the lives of others in the same way that we would wish others would facilitate our own?  Why do some people take pleasure in halting and crippling the efforts and success of others?  Further, who has the time to focus on another, in order to destroy their efforts?

More than likely, it a minor thing that piles up into a life.  It’s that nugget of resentment that you harbor for that person that makes you want to clog up the workability of the process.  It is a remembered upset or a frustrating exchange and now you want that person to suffer for your memory.  Or, perhaps, you are just jealous, you wish you were that successful and you cannot stand seeing someone else being successful.  Clogging the workability of the process stops all of us from being successful and it is very sad that everyone does not understand this fact.


Don’t Give In, Don’t Give Up

There is a substantial difference between the life you live when you give up and the life you live when you do not give up.  I’m not speaking here about stubbornness or a blinders-on determination to get your way.  No, I am speaking of this idea of continuing to work on your goal until it can be resolved.  Notice the use of the word ‘resolve’, sometimes, we make goals that simply don’t work for us and we will have to walk away from them.

Sometimes I will be trying hard to talk with a “customer service” representative to resolve an issue, request a credit or ask for a reduction in my bills.  Each and every time that I have this goal, I am put on hold for interminable amounts of time, the call gets accidentally disconnected and I have to start over, sometimes a half dozen times.  I am greatly tempted to just give up.  I am greatly tempted to get very angry and just live with the cost of the mistakes of others.  This is not a good life strategy.  

Several years ago, I lost a job and had to take work that was an hours drive away and paid substantially less.  I worked very hard at improving myself.  I dedicated myself to learning this job.  In the mean time, I worked very hard at finding a new job.  I was on Linked-In, I had a great resume’, I applied for jobs every week.  I went to several interviews and was turned down.  One morning in July, on my drive in to work, my resolve broke and I cried and cried.  I was endlessly tired from the long days.  I didn’t fit into my work world and I was deeply unhappy at work.  It didn’t help that every penny of what I made was just getting the bills paid.

Suddenly a song came on the radio: ‘Hold Onto Your Dreams’.  That song, at that moment, was all I needed.  I held on and soon I was transferred close to home with an incredible raise.  That struggle didn’t end there, it took me three more years to land where I needed to be, but every time I got discouraged I remembered that moment in the car and that song.

I think that my life would be incredibly different if I couldn’t hang on and keep trying even when things seem very bad.  That extra effort is what brings me to the win almost every time. 

The second benefit is that it really helps to keep me from faulty thinking.  Or, at least it helps to keep my faulty thinking from controlling my decisions.

I was single for a very long time.  There were times when I thought that I must be flawed and that’s why I could not find an enduring relationship.  In this area of my life I knew that I couldn’t give up.  I did everything that I could to understand myself so that I could be a good partner.  Eventually it worked.  Eventually I found my life partner and it only happened because I was willing to keep on taking chances and to keep on trying.

Imagine me getting discouraged and giving up, single, broke and downhearted.  It doesn’t seem possible now.

Mother's Day Johanna Sr & Jaxsun 2010

Mother’s Day Johanna Sr & Jaxsun 2010

Cadence Birthday - 2010

Cadence Birthday – 2010

Rhea & Jax June 28 2010

David & Jaxsun

David & Jaxsun

Amazing StuffOur First Kiss as Husband and WifeAs We Begin the Ceremony


He Doesn’t Like Her

He doesn’t like her.  He doesn’t want to make waves because she is a r.e.l.a.t.i.v.e.

Covertly, he makes sure that she knows that she is not valued by him.  He does not look at her.  When he speaks to her it is insincere, delivered in a monotone.  When she speaks, he speaks over her.  He loves to be part of the delivery of “no” to her.  He waits for the chance to pounce on it.  He waits for a chance to show the world how wrong she is.  He justifies himself in any way possible.

Secretly, everyone agrees.  The behavior stands.  The behavior continues. Even she allows the behavior.  After all, he is a r.e.l.a.t.i.v.e.  But oddly, when she walks away from him, she feels diminished.


Justice is a Human Construct

I was raised a Christian and taught to believe in the concept of justice.  I am the naive type anyway.  I actually always believed that humans’ default was a good one and only rare and awful circumstances created meanness and evil.

Not any of that is true.  First I don’t believe that justice exists in the universe without the intervention of humans.  Not even Karma is a reality.  In fact, it is all a sophisticated construct for revenge.  We want people and organizations who have harmed us to pay for that harm and often, we want that harm to either equal or exceed our own pain.  This is the way of humans.  Even our language supports the concept of revenge as justice: “he must burn in hell for what he has done to my family.”  This is language we recognize and condone.

As to the idea of human goodness as a default of thinking and behavior, nothing could be further from the truth.  Humans are not innately good as an overwhelming majority, indeed I think we would be lucky to claim that half of humans see good as a virtue.  The other half of humans are hard wired for selfishness, cruelty and trickery.  They have no interest in other human beings unless those humans can provide for them or profit them in some way.

At the moment that the crime is occurring, is the only time that we can attain justice, for all of the time after that, the only real thing available to us is restitution.  If we cannot stop the criminal at the point of robbery or stop the rapist from consummating the rape, then the damage is done and there will never be “justice.”  The best that we could ever hope for is to make the criminal give back restitution to the victim.  To hope that the perpetrator suffers to match your own suffering is fruitless, as all people suffer and mostly from their own awareness not from someone else’s awareness.

Justice is not something that exists out there in the universe.  Justice exists because humans make it so.


We Have to Decide: What is Truth?

The most pressing challenge for America is how we will determine truth.  Will we believe the computer screen in front of us?  Will we believe the advertisers on Madison Avenue?  Will we research and do the work of truth?  Will we settle with what is served to us as truth?

This is such an important question as it determines the future welfare of America.  If we believe that our leader is telling the truth, when in fact our leader tells no truth at all, we end up supporting someone who leads us to doom. 

We believe the press is a place for lively discussion as well as the ability to disagree, however, we will only watch news that we agree with and that we enjoy or like.  This means that we look only for what will make us happy and will agree with our own opinion.  We refuse to examine truth, or worse yet, get angry when someone gives us a truth that doesn’t agree with our own truth.  As we muck about trying to determine a future for us and our offspring, we can do great harm if we do not at least look at what could be lies, and what could be truth.

The thing is that it is an effort to see the truth.  Some truths are harder than others, as some truths can violate how we see ourselves.  If I see myself as a strong and hard working person, I may be resentful of those people who do not work.  The only belief that I will support is a belief that strong and hard working people are good and people who do not work are bad.  It doesn’t matter to me why people don’t work, I just believe they are bad.

It would be no surprise that I would ignore any news that gave people who don’t work *the face of humanity*.  If people who do not work, are okay, then I am just an ordinary working human, not better than anyone.  This may be an unwelcome thought for me.

Let’s go further and talk about advertising (Madison Avenue).  Somehow advertisers have been able to get men to believe that having a gun and being dominant in relationships, is the correct way to express masculinity.  Additionally, advertisers have convinced women that they need no less than 14 shades of eye shadow and uncountable shades of lipstick.  For anyone who watches TV (everyone) the “right car” is fully automatic and will start itself even if you are 25 feet away.

I know that we continue to follow what is popular, whenever I go out, I notice that everyone dresses the same (even myself).  Women wear leggings, men wear cargo pants, kids wear jeans with the phone stuffed into the right rear pocket.  It is no different no matter where I go.

Society has spoken and while we must be special, special means a very specific prescription: dress according to designers, drive according to Madison Avenue advertisers, live according to Facebook, Pinterest and every other advertising means that works in the media.

So how do we get at the truth?  We can’t seem to trust experts, they are for sale.  What used to be police officers protecting our welfare, now are robots who must collect a certain amount of traffic fines in order to gain raises for themselves.  Now we have a congress and a senate that has sold itself to large corporations and billionaires.  They have sold out Americans as well.  We have been sold to wealthy entities because of our inattention to what is true.  The price of our inattention to the truth is huge.  We make our once pristine world filthy and we continue to allow wars that kill and maim our young people.

What will it take for us to get to caring about the truth and making & defining our own truth instead of that which is sold to us?  What will it take for us to make our country great again?  How do we make a country built on equality for all humans?  How do we make a country that will be healthy today and tomorrow?

We must-must decide and define “the” truth and then we must stick to it.  Back to the simple: Thou shalt not lie…


Even Though I Expect It

And I know it will happen…

I am always disappointed when lies win the day.


Death unto Life

If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know what dying means.  We instinctually know that death is the end.  Nothing goes past death.  We can remember, we can believe in heaven and the afterlife.  However, for us, the living, death is the end, life is over.  You get no comfort from your loved one. ever. again.  Your loved one will never touch you, talk to you, smile at you or laugh with you.  It is a daunting reality.  No wonder that we indulge ourselves in denial.  No wonder that we walk around referring to our loved one as if the one is still here and alive.  We cannot, do not accept the absence of the one we love.

As the days and the years run forward, reality rolls on and you experience more and more the absence of your beloved.  You cannot deny the absence as years go by.  You cannot deny the ending of what was once a beloved life.  You must surrender to the ending.  You must surrender to the absence of your loved one.

So many try to pull the life forward, as if pretending the loved one still exists on earth will keep the loved one alive.  I don’t believe that sentimentality helps.  I saved many, many of my mother’s things after my mother died, only to relinquish bit by bit, painfully spreading out the separation.  My grief kept me from living in the present.  I lost myself in the grief.  I just did not want to let go of her.  I mistakenly believed that her things would transmit a piece of her heart to me.  It took a long time to separate her things from her.  It took a long time to know that she really was gone.

I do not wish to have done anything differently, the death of a loved one is ‘life interrupted’.  There is nothing you can do to change the reality of your grief.  

I just know today, that nothing could be different.  Not any amount of bargaining, denying or trying, could make my mother’s death different, nor could it have made my grief different.  My resistance did not change anything.  Hanging onto my mother’s things did not sooth my loss.  My loss was my loss.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of my children’s father dying suddenly of his one and only heart attack.  I hope that my children are not bargaining, denying and resisting the truth of today.  I hope that they can embrace the grief of the day and then walk away from the day.



Be Beautiful and Practical

Bruce read that leaving the curtains open increased electricity costs.  He wants the houseplants to survive, so he compromises.

Keeping the plants nourished

Keeping the plants nourished

Let the sunshine in

Let the sunshine in