Month: March 2014

Trust and Influence

One of the most basic gauges of trust is how one handles having some influence over others. This is the true test.

How often have we seen a person rise to a level of influence, position, or power with what seemed to be an honest integrity? Then, once the position is achieved, it’s exercise seems to go off in another direction. That which instilled confidence of others is then abused and misused to further the individual benefit of the one who was promoted.

So, how to handle having influence? First, one must remember what motivated the influence in the first place. It was likely that others believed you to be looking out for their best interests, and that you and they agreed on what form that “best interest” took. Next, do not lose touch with those people, and how they live every day. They need to know you understand them enough to help, and are still willing to do so.

We will talk more about this type of trust in future posts. Meantime, let me know the good and bad of your experiences regarding trust and influence.

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The Harvest

One of the most basic principles we know about is that of planting and harvesting. I heard a simple, yet somewhat new approach to that idea recently.

The video was by Earl Nightingale, and made a comparison between the soil and the brain. As a farmer headed out to the field, he pointed out that the soil doesn’t care what is planted. It will grow the plant that should come from the seed. If the seed is that of a good plant (corn) then it will grow corn. If the seed is that of a bad plant (nightshade), it will also grow. The soil doesn’t care. If the two are planted side-by-side, then the plants will grow the same way.

The brain is similar in that way to the soil. The brain doesn’t care what you put into it. It will grow and reflect what it receives. The results will be lasting. If good or positive things are planted there, they will grow and show results. Also, if bad or negative things are planted there, they too will show results.
This seems too simple to have merit, but our experience has seen this born out many times in our lives and the lives of others. That leaves us with a choice. It’s up to us what we plant in our fertile, complex, highly-capable brains. It all depends on what we want to harvest later.

If you have done some intentional planting lately, and would care to share, I would love to hear about it.

Summer Days

There is no sound like the distant “putt, putt, putt,” of an “A” model John Deere tractor early on a summer morning.

That is what farm country brings: memories that will forever carry one back to days when the land was being worked, both in the field and in the garden. In addition, there were flowers in every yard.

It’s as if the land had to grow something, even weeds if nothing else. Farmers would include the ditches along the gravel roads, and even the shoulder if it could get an extra bale or bushel per acre.

Tractors have changed a lot, and will continue to change, but it’s still the land being plowed, watered, and harvested. This life requires people who will keep at through dry and wet seasons, high and low farm prices, and who will be there next week, month and year.

This is a life where trust is as needed as each sunrise and sunset. Have you been there, and seen it? I would like your best memories of the land.

Old Men and Dominoes

When I was young in a small farm town, old men would gather in the local service station and play dominoes. It was a fascinating thing to watch.

Although I learned some words there that nearly gave my mother a heart attack, for the most part these men didn’t talk much. They concentrated, rocking back and forth on chairs, stools, and sometimes on a wooden drink case stood on its end.

They strategized as they tapped the wooden tiles, grunting as they played. We tried to act as if we knew what they were doing, but we didn’t. We noticed the different styles of play, like poker or chess players, each had his looks and tried to keep his intentions secret until he played.

They seemed serious, but it was good-natured and passed the time in retirement or if it was not good fishing weather. Occasionally some younger farmers would be there if the fields were too wet to plow, but mostly it was old men and young boys and dominoes. I trusted these men because this was about as scary as it got with them.

Trust in a Conversation

First, we’ll take this from a basic approach. We can say easily that personal conversations are not as efficient and can’t reach as many people as social media or emails. That being said, I believe conversations are still much more effective than impersonal contact via electronics. Even if Amazon does know your buying habits, they still are not speaking to you.

How do I know a personal conversation is more effective? I know from personal experience. I rarely contribute to political campaigns or the like. That is not because I don’t have strong feelings about some candidates or issues; it’s rather because I don’t have the extra money to give. Yet, the last two contributions I have made have been because two people called me by phone, from a distance away, and talked with me. One I had not known long (but called me from overseas), and the other I have known for over 40 years. One has a political action committee that supports various candidates who I would like to see win elections. The other is actually running for office herself.

It occurred to me that fund-raising is difficult, but necessary, and it takes some forthright integrity to personally ask someone to help you in a campaign. It does help if I already know enough about the people to believe they are worthy of support, but there is something else there. They asked! They didn’t “spam” me without knowing who they were spamming. They talked with me, and asked for my support.

Even if I don’t agree politically, I have to appreciate what it takes to have that conversation, and how many of those calls they will have to initiate in order to make monetary headway in today’s political atmosphere. That’s what trust is all about. Keep in touch!

Local Trust

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill used to say, “All politics is local”. I believe he was correct, and as a veteran politician, he should know. This means no matter how influential one becomes on the national stage, there is still a neighborhood, township, city, county, district, and state that elected officials must maintain contact with if they would be truly representative.

It’s true, the focus does change as one moves to a larger representative area, but still those people and groups in those local areas must not be forgotten or overlooked. So, how does one keep that essential contact Intact? By going there! It’s not complicated, and it’s an absolute necessity no matter how mundane, boring, or backwoods those people may seem. When they next walk into a voting booth, they will either think of you, or of someone else. Or, they may just stay home that day and deprive you of their vote.

This is not new, and something politicians have known for centuries, yet too many times forgotten. The heady atmosphere near where legislation is passed tends to insulate those representatives from the daily plight of the voters.

How have you experienced trust, or the lack of it, in your representatives?

Innovation or Adjustment

There are some changes that are natural, whether to a human body or a government. These are necessary for the survival of the organism. These often come gradually, and with a certain amount of reluctance and trepidation. A series of checks and re-checks during the process gradually make it obvious the change is needed. This is as it should be.

Yet, that is different than the tendency to innovate on a wholesale basis, making drastic changes which are unproven and experimental. These can easily, and often do, result in great upheaval and harm to the organism. The changes tend to be knee-jerk in application, and cause a great deal of uncertainty and mistrust among the members of the society affected by it.

Such drastic changes can kill a living thing, and can bring a company or government to a halt. What multiplies the damage is that those who initiate this type of change often do not care what the outcome is, as long as the change takes place, and they can take credit for it. Never mind if the credit winds up being blame.

What’s your experience with sudden change?

What Have You Done Lately?

While there are certain feats that can be done once, and do not need to be repeated, most things we do well need to be repeated.

This is how we gauge consistency: whether a certain level of work or service is going to be there tomorrow, next week, and next month. There is a pattern of behavior that works to our advantage, and it’s that pattern that must be maintained. If not, it will work to our disadvantage. There’s little worse we could do than raise expectations, only to allow them to fall. It’s up to us to maintain that high level, if we expect to be recognized for that work.

Have you had experiences that have turned you on or off to a certain company or organization? Did you realize that they apparently were just a “flash in the pan” and not a legitimate force in the area? I would be interested in your experience.

Instant or Accurate?

It’s a difficult job, especially in this 24-hour news cycle world. When something may have happened, and we don’t know what, how do we fill in the gaps until we know?

All news organizations are faced with this, as are those whose face is on TV to report the event (whatever it is). How to keep the interest of their audience when we can only speculate about what happened? It is inevitable that the speculation will be inaccurate when the facts are known.

At the risk of not being first with the news, it would be more accurate to wait until at least enough facts are known to report accurately, then add the rest as they become known. It would take discipline to avoid adding to the story, and an audience willing to wait.

That’s why I believe there are definite disadvantages to the instant news, and pressure to get the word out, even if that word is speculation.

Your thoughts would add this.

Overalls

What do you think about people who wear overalls? Perhaps you grew up with parents or grandparents who wore overalls on a daily basis. Or, perhaps you have grown up wearing them yourself.

There is something about people who wear overalls, especially those who wear them on a daily basis. But, what is that something? Overalls do seem to last forever, so it could be a practicality that is behind their wear. They are comfortable, so that again could play a role in their wear.

Have you noticed any pattern of behavior or temperament about the people who regularly wear them? I have noticed a few: they either did or still do work hard, and usually labor with their hands; they are not so concerned with being stylish, but being practical; they seem to be honest, straightforward, and they’re not trying to impress anyone with their presence or ability. Some people I know who wore them while doing very hard work do not want to wear them again, because it represents a very difficult time in their lives.

I’m a late-comer to the world of overalls, but I do like wearing them on days off. They represent a part of our country that just seems trustworthy. That’s not scientific, but an observation.

Do you have an opinion about overalls? I’d love to hear it.