Month: February 2014

Presence

Why is it important to “show up”? I’ll be developing this question, and its answer, over time but for now, let’s think about it.

What does a child want more than anything from a parent? Not stuff, but presence. The parent can promise, explain, and do all the talking they want while not being present, and it’s not enough for the child. He or she wants YOU.

The most valuable thing you have is not your expertise, your technology, your money, or your property, but your physical presence. That’s what anyone who cares about you wants more than anything. The knowledge that you care will get your friend or spouse through a relatively brief period of time, but in the long run, they must see and talk to you.

I welcome you to poke holes in my theory as I develop it even more. I’ll wake up at 3 am and think of my next post.

The Problem is the Problem

When you feel you need to confront another person about something that needs changing, how do you go about it?

Often, we tend to identify the person as the problem and approach in an adversarial way, which usually forces the issue. Even if the problem seems to be their behavior or attitude, is there another way to deal with it that may turn out better?

Both physically and psychologically we can approach the person by “coming along side” them and talking about the problem as if it were in front of us both as we stand side by side. This can avoid the automatic barriers that rise when a person feels on the defensive right away. Then, we can address the behavior by using “I” statements, such as, “when you said/did ________, I felt ____________.” It is hard for them to argue with how we feel, and we have avoided attributing motives to their actions.

This approach keeps the problem as the focus, and both of you can devote energy to solving it than battling each other. Plus, they will gain more trust in your ability to handle yourself and any challenges you both face.

What experiences have you had with either being confronted, or trying a different way in problem-solving?

Trustworthy Adults in Life

I had a coach, who knew me from the time I was in about the 5th grade on through high school. Along the way, I had another coach or two, but he knew me longer and better than the others.

After our small school consolidated, he became the coach at the larger high school. Competition for places on the sports teams became keener, he said he wanted to talk with me after basketball practice one day. I was a sophomore, and rather short. He said if I wanted to continue playing football and basketball, that was fine. But, with my size, it might be to my advantage to focus on one or the other, and I would have a better chance of playing more. He didn’t suggest one or the other, but left that to me. (Baseball in the summer didn’t take away from either of the other two, so was not discussed.) It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but the way he talked made me give it serious thought. I finished that basketball season, and wound up focusing on football after that.

I respected him for the conversation, the straight-forward way he showed me reality, and how he did not direct, but gave me something to think about. This left me with my own decision to make (which I did) and with a deeper respect for him who simply wanted what was best for me.

Do you have a similar person earned your trust?

Local Trust

I’m a firm believer in local control and response to any need. That’s the quickest, most direct, and often the most efficient way for things to get done or people to get help. That’s also how trust is built on a local level.

Unfortunately, with immediate national news (especially on an otherwise slow news day), there are many knee-jerk reactions to nearly anything that happens. There is a question of “who is at fault?” and then “who is responsible to fix this?” If we simply allow local people to respond to a local issue, things could be done without laws being passed and unnecessary money being spent or wasted.

When an incident happens needing a response, we should ask first what the neighborhood will do, then what the city will do, then the county, then the state. The federal government is the last entity we should involve, and only when asked. Many people are responsible first.

How about you? Who would you like to see respond to something in your town or city?

Common Sense

I just finished reading Dr. Ben Carson’s America the Beautiful this weekend. What a refreshing read!

We badly need this logical, common sense approach to nearly everything that challenges us, and not clouded with party loyalty nor partisanship. This is worth reading, and he is worth listening to. There is a reason he is in demand these days. He speaks what we instinctively need to hear.

What’s more, his goal in life is not to rise to power in some influential position. That’s the kind of people we need: those who will serve, but do not need to serve in the top positions.

If you’ve read the book, I would love to get your take on it.

The Visible Leader

If you are an introvert like me, it may be hard for you to make yourself visible to those you lead. Yet, it is one of the most important things you can do.

Why? What is so valuable about those you lead actually seeing your face and hearing your voice? Is it the natural charisma you obviously possess? Possibly, but not likely. Is it that they don’t believe you exist unless they see you? That may sound far-fetched, but it could be closer to the truth than you think. Unless they see you, you won’t seem real after awhile. You will seem like a distant decision-maker who doesn’t really identify or understand them.

So, I strongly recommend you regularly get away from your desk, your office, and get out among those whom you lead and see them, hear them, and let them see and hear you. The best leaders have always done that, and you can be one of them.

Ah, change!

How do you handle change? I must admit, I usually don’t like change, unless it’s my idea!

Why don’t I enjoy change brought on by someone else? I suspect it’s because I don’t always see the wisdom or advantage in it. Plus, I tend to be routine- oriented, and change upsets my routine.

So, if change is needed, how does one go about it? For me, it needs to be explained, and laid out logically. Next, it should be implemented in stages, if possible. Last, it must be carried out consistently. I will catch on if done this way.

How do you handle change, and what is your way of initiating it?

What Battle?

While reading part of a speech recently I picked up on a pattern of behavior that seems shallow, but it’s probably effective in some circles.

The speaker referred to a group of organizations and said their costs had steadily increased over the years (true, no doubt), and the result is that what they offer is out of reach for many who deserve those services. Every description was carefully used to convey these organizations as “bad guys” or the enemy with an unfair agenda.

Naturally, the speaker had the solution for this “problem”, and if one followed the emotion of the moment, then it seemed only right that the remedy be carried out immediately.

Notice I said the “emotion” of the moment, not the logic. If one reasoned through the issue, then there were likely several reasons for the increase in costs, and not all were on the part of the organizations. Yet, the design of the speech was to stir emotional angst against the greedy organizations who stand in the way of those in need, and the speaker made himself the one to provide the solution.

This is politics at it’s most common, both in fact and in style. For a battle to be won, there must first be a battle, even if it has to be invented. Where have you heard such tactics used?

Accurate descriptions

Are you disappointed, like I am, with the headlines I read in many places?

By that I mean a story may make a certain point designed to grab attention, and even incite anger, but the story does not bear out that point. Or, the issue in the headline is a very minor point in the overall story line. Suddenly, credibility leaks away and I’m a little more on guard for truth and honesty.

This is sometimes done by a news source I generally regard as reliable, and it only reminds me that I need to read and think for myself, no matter the source. This is good advice anyway, but simply reminds us not to be dependent on any one source, because that source is subject to the same human foibles as we all. If you have an absolutely solid source which has never steered you wrong, I’d be interested to know about it. 

Thinking Critically

There are some really good resources regarding critical thinking. What is critical thinking, anyway?

Without delving too much into the list of elements of critical thinking, we can at least begin with the respect for and seeking out of the truth about whatever subject we are thinking about. One term I ran across in an article found at http://www.criticalthinking.org is the term “intellectual humility”.

This is difficult if our egos get in the way of our ability to admit our own biases and clear the way for the inquiry necessary to find the truth. If finding truth is more important than our appearance or self-image, then we will delight in the truth we find. The effort expended will be worth it, and help us build trust with those around us.

In addition, we will be more likely to come to agreements and influence others with our sound reasoning than if we abandon the process for a moment’s recognition.

Have you developed your own intellectual humility?