Archives for January 2016


What Matter, Kindness?

Kindness, Why is that a Difficult Concept?

Many years ago in my speaking days I gave an inservice to some convicted felons who were working towards recovery.  Anyone who has even been around a criminal knows that jail brings you intimately close to cruelty and violence.  The other hall mark of the convicted felons is their story.  The story is that it is not their own fault and that another has caused them to behave in a certain way.  This is probably part of the pattern of criminal behavior ~ a feeling that you are not in control of your self and that others can control your behavior.

In any case, we discussed the concepts surrounding domestic violence and one of the concepts is this idea that another person deserves bad treatment because you are upset.  Some people actually believe that their own anger or pain entitles them to hurt other people.  As you can imagine several people in the audience were very uncomfortable with the discussion of these concepts.  That was a long time ago, and indeed, feels far, far away.

Now it seems that society is much more in tune with the concept of owning their own feelings rather than believing that another person has caused them.  No one ever has the right to purge their anger on someone else, and yet over and over again, they do.

Whatever another person does, it is no more than your perception of their behavior.  You are incorrect if you believe that it is about you.  Your behavior is always about yourself, your feelings are always about yourself.

So what matter, but to be kind?  Why “purge” on another human being?  Why not step back, and breathe, even when you think you are being hurt by another, why not step back and breathe?  The truth of the matter, is the who you are is you.  It is always up to you to be kind or not, it is never up to another whether you are kind.  Take control of who you are, your behavior, and be a good person.

No matter what has happened to you, no matter what hurtful childhood you have had, you are a bad person if you treat others badly.  If others have brought you pain, it does not give you a free ticket for cruelty.  You are still a bad person, if you are mean and hurt others.


The Business Meeting and the Ego

My world and you need to change to fit it…

Why do some folks believe that the world should change to suit them?  They mire themselves in secret authority to try to convince the world that they alone know what is right and correct in all processes?

When confronted, you may ask them “you would like for ‘them’ to change the process so that your job is easier, but why should they?”  The culprit will flail around with righteousness, “doesn’t everyone see how correct I am?  Doesn’t everyone see that I should not need to work this hard?”

Conversations can be so difficult because of the conceptual depths of the conversation.  Sometimes there are so many sub-texts it makes my head spin.  Each person in the room seems desperate to hang onto their own identity and authority.  Each person wants to present themselves as powerful and all-knowing.  Very few in the room are content to listen and observe, those that are will often pose disdainfully, as if the meeting is a huge inconvenience to their own schedule.

Then there is the struggle: the sub-text of US vs. THEM!  Each and every meeting I have been in, over the entire span of my career had this sub-text woven into all of the conversations.  If it was a management meeting, the THEM = staff members and workers, if it was an administrative meeting, the THEM = the program staff.  You can always count on a THEM.

Often, the most pressing reason for this behavior (US vs. THEM) is to establish oneself as blameless; indeed a tremendous amount of energy is used to prove a victim status – if it is at all possible to do.  It’s appalling to see self-respecting managers work so hard to shift blame from themselves to others.  It is well deserved in the case of an authoritarian leader who enjoys blaming her managers.  If you work in such an environment, then pity is well deserved.  And in that case, blame shifting is a necessary means of survival.  However, for the most part, blame shifting is all about preserving my image of myself as an all-knowing and wise person who rarely makes a mistake.  This is the ego at work, and sometimes, I just want to say, “hey, can you bring your entire self to these meetings so that we don’t spend half of our time soothing your egos?”

The point is, how do we ever get down to the task at hand?  I learned a long time ago, to wrap up a meeting with a summary and a specific list of chores.  Sometimes, even this type of reiteration is not enough to jar people into focusing on the real issues rather than their own personal reality.  Therein lies the frustration, getting to the tasks at hand.  I would rather look to the chores that must be done than to have to attend to the myriad of sub-texts that are in the room, sometimes undetected, often unaddressed and always unproductive.


Knowing and Thinking isn’t Learning

It’s not about the thinking and the knowing, it’s about the behavior that follows the thinking and the knowing.

For many years I have thought that if I know something, it does me no good to redundantly read the same information over and over again.  For example, budgeting and saving money, they are both very simple concepts, with only a few constructs to them.  There is not a huge variation of ways and means to live by a budget and to save money.  I never saw any reason to keep learning the same thing over and over again.

It turns out that I was incorrect in my thinking.  In the sense that I am seeking the instruction about budgeting and saving so that I can change my behavior, learning and knowing is not enough to change my behavior.  I have to do more.

One of the ways that behavior change can be successful is if the desired behavior is reinforced over and over again.  This is where the redundant learning becomes desirable.  Yes I know HOW to save money and yet I do not, now I need to change my spending behavior and actually save the money.  To this end re-reading and re-learning will help me change my behavior.  It may be redundant, but this isn’t about what I know, or how smart I am.  This is about changing behavior and that takes commitment and redundant reminders.


Good-bye Kurt

Death to the Living: Who, but the living, ever die?

1/11/16 Kurt

How do we process the death of those that we care deeply for ~ that leave so suddenly we do not get our final conversation?

In retrospect, I will review our last conversation, my last feelings, my last mood with you.  My frustration with you seems so useless in the face of your death.

Why didn’t I phone, why didn’t I speak, write, or any of all of the things I could have done in order to have that conversation, you know, the final conversation?  How did I miss telling your lost soul that you had provided light and substance to all that you touched?  Your laugh was infectious and your sense of humor even more so.  You gave yourself and you gave the world: healing, dignity and fun.  We could not have asked for more.  The sudden exit from the living, well that, I would have asked to be different, but you could not have obliged me.

Your destiny is your deal with God, it is not for me to understand, judge, approve or, in any way, know.  I hope that wherever you are, you are laughing with the pleasure of a glass of wine and some very good company.  I hope that you are getting; so much of what you gave to us.

Alone to your destiny, as we all must go.

Alone to your destiny, as we all must go, alone…


Some Truth for the New Year

Accept yearning in your life, you do NOT have to fulfill every desire.

Everything WILL change, you can’t stop it.

Will this matter in two years?  Study it, look at it, decide it: if it will not matter in two years, save your energy.  Don’t give energy to the unnecessary.

Don’t imagine that anyone is better than you, they are not.  Much of life is luck, you nor they control circumstance.  Some people will have better circumstances, some people will have terrible circumstances.  This is true.

Memories are nice, but they are not now.

Remember that big companies have proven that they do not want to “save you money” and remember that advertising is highly successful because it “makes you think…”  Consequently, beware, if you “buy into” the concepts that Coca Cola is about love and McDonalds is about home and hearth, then you have been fooled and you will buy products that do harm to your body.  The same is true for the “new” big companies including the “Whole Foods Grocery” stores.  It is up to you to take responsibility for researching reality.

Other people’s thoughts and actions are not within your purview, you cannot control other people.  Accept this idea and make decisions from this knowledge.

Doing hurtful things to others is NEVER okay or correct.  Those who do harm must be restrained.


New Years Day

Yes, it’s here, another one.  We put this line in the sand to give ourselves a moment to pause.  Some will use this opportunity well, giving time and space to reflection.  Others will not consider it and others cannot consider the past year in any meaningful way.

I think it is a very good thing to consider where you are and where you want to be.  We cannot move In any direction purposefully, unless we know where we are going.  We can move, of course, we just do not go towards anything when we move without aim.

It is a good feeling to know that an effort given has produced a desired result and reflection given can embed the success into permanence.  It reminds me of an old saying “Reinvent your childhood at any time.”  Memories are powerful, use them.  Construct your life from the bottom up, why not?  It can give direction and purpose to your reflection.