Month: June 2015

Blowing in the Wind

Trends come and trends go. That’s why they are called trends. Even on internet sites, the “trending now” section shows who or what the most people are viewing at a given time. The latest trends may last a day, a week, or a month. It depends on what seems exciting at the moment. There will always be bandwagon chasers. I noticed a new color scheme on the page I use for writing these posts, rainbow colors. Whether it will appear on the public version remains to be seen. It appeared since last Friday. Someone wants to tell me something. Yet, the color scheme is not new; it’s been co-opted from its Creator.

How do we determine if something is lasting? Time will tell. There is no way to predict how long a thing will last, or how long anyone will even remember it. We will just have to wait and see. We can look back at those things that have lasted. Those things that are right have always been present, as well as those things that are wrong. No matter what the latest trend is, the definitions of those have not changed, because they did not originate with us. Many of us want to change the world. Yet, many are changed by the world. That too is not new. So far, every victory has come before and after a defeat.

We have to keep our anchors firmly planted in the solid ground of trusted things. Otherwise, the wind will blow and those loose things will be scattered. We need to provide the place to land for those who grow tired of blowing in the wind.

Still Here

No matter what happens around us, it is still true that the best examples we have are those that provide a solid foundation of what is good. No one can change that, though many have tried for centuries.

History is a good teacher, proven by things we read from hundreds (even thousands) of years ago that seem to describe what we see today. There truly is “nothing new under the sun.”

We are tempted to believe that changes in society will change us. That is impossible, unless we make a decision to allow it. Those who hold onto the permanent things are still here, and will be here from now on. No one has the power to change that.

Chronic Excitability

It seems so many around us (maybe it’s just the press) go off in all directions within five minutes of anything that resembles news. It could be that the definition of “news” is very different in different circles, which is understandable.

Yet, the pressure of being the first to break a story, and comment on it, and come to conclusions on it are no doubt great. But that does not apply to those who do not make their living reporting the news. Those of us who are not requred to say something, perhaps should wait until we have something to say, at least publicly.

Credibility seems to have taken a back seat, or even been secured in the trunk, in favor of speed. In their marketing words, one network says, “You want the news; you want if NOW!” Well, not me. I would rather get it acccurately, because to be honest, it won’t likely affect anything I do in the meantime.

Time Out

An almost universal sign for a pause is the “T” shape formed by the hands. We call it “time out”, meaning all activity should be stopped. Either something is wrong, or my team needs a break for discussion and planning. In sports, each team is allotted a certain number of time-outs in a game.

Without belaboring the point too much, we need a break from “time”, or a break from the “game” of life and work. In this context, I’m not referring to rest we also need. I’m referring to the time needed to plan, reflect, correct and re-tool. When I worked in contract security, responsible for about 100 or so security officers on about 15 work sites, I thought I had stepped into a tornado. The phones in our small office rang constantly. One of my fellow supervisors, looking quite shocked in our first days at this job, said, “This is crazy!” Looking back now, it’s almost comical to visualize us as we tried to keep up with the demands of security officers (many low-paid), client needs, and keeping track of who needed what. My favorite description of the chaos was, “Like trying to change a tire on a moving vehicle.” It seemed impossible.

Gradually we began to get a handle on the job and even to anticipate the needs before they occurred. In those early weeks, we desperately needed a time-out. A person in our lives who is to be trusted will recognize those hectic times and will either be there to walk us through it, or get us out of the “game” for awhile to allow time to breath, remember what day it is, and think about what we should do differently. If we don’t have someone to do that for us, we could do it for others.

Speed of Progress

It seems every time I turn on one of my electronic devices, something somewhere tells me it needs to be upgraded, updated, or just thrown away. (“We no longer support this browser.”) While I want to please the device and its controllers, there is also something in me that is defiant. I do want to be updated and upgraded, but is this how I do it?

What if we decided that technology is not the way to upgrade? What if we looked back at what built the character of the generations before us? What if we actually talked with someone. As a joke, I did “face time” with my wife across the living room the other night. She has also texted me upstairs before. I suppose it couldn’t wait until I came back downstairs. Actually she was trying to save me a trip back upstairs to get hangers for my shirts. We are getting on in years, you know.

We do not need to update our values at the speed of email. We can rely on the “permanent things” which are unchanging and inaffected by the latest thing the market has to offer. Let us keep our new stuff in perspective.

Just Talk

I realize there are times that I like the idea of something, but don’t necessarily like doing it. I heard a college professor answer the statement, “I heard you enjoy jogging,” with the reply, “I really don’t enjoy jogging; I enjoy HAVING jogged.” Being able to say you did is more enjoyable than doing it.

What about promises of the future? People who are trustworthy will follow through with what they promise, or they will not promise it. We have all likely been frustrated with steady talk of plans and actions that never come to fruition. In an organization, this affects morale, when it becomes, “There’s just another unkept promise, or another idea that sounds good but will never happen.”

I am reminded of this as I am currently waiting for a great plan to become reality. As we continue to observe such empty promises, let’s make sure we learn from it, and not promise things we can’t provide.

Instant Results

Years ago I watched (mostly) a garage built across the street from where we lived. The materials were delivered the day prior, and the crew arrived early in the morning. They worked very methodically, and each knew his job. By the end of the day, they were putting on the roof, and that only took about an hour. It was impressive.

A one-day garage is efficient, practical, and immediately useful. It is the evidence of advanced abilities to build and make use of human ingenuity. Probably a certain amount of trust is built for the those who do such work. Yet, this does not necessarily extend to the trust between people. One good day’s work does not build long-term trust. It is a good start, but is only just that.

Trust is not an instant thing. It is a patient, steady, intentional process. One day after another. Not perfection, but the mark of looking for the best atmosphere for confidence between people. It is more natural for some than others. It can be developed, but there has to be the desire and willingness to be in it for the long-haul. Just do it one day at a time.

Trust People to be People

While it may not be the usual angle by which to view the topic of trust, it does involve something that is predictable. We may not be able to predict specifically how people will act, but we know they will still be people.

Humans are not perfect. While we know that intectually, we still seem for some reason to hope that somehow (preferably while we are still alive) we will develop at least one person to be flawless. Once we do, we will work to repeat it. Whether we accomplish it by a new way of educating, a new drug or weight loss method, a new business plan or exercise program, we strive to create perfection.

It won’t work. True, we can always improve, and we should where we can, but human behavior is flawed. We can read history as far back as we want, and we still read the same activity and trends we see now. What has changed is the technology, and this has accelerated the rate at which we mess up. With communication and transportation as it is, we have the opportunity to create havoc in more places and with more awareness than ever before.

What is the advantage in this concept? It is not to dwell on the negative, but to avoid shock and surprise when it happens. The best instructions and policies are only as good as those who read and put them into practice. Perfection will come, but not in our current state, and not by us.

An Incredible Thing

Trust is an incredible thing. We often overlook its value. With it, we can go forward without looking over our shoulder, behind the scenes, or around the corner. While we cannot control the future, we are not afraid of it, because of trust. We have people around us who are with us, not just face to face, but when we are on our face. They will be there to help.

Without trust, we are all alone, and on our own. Perhaps someone has our back, but we don’t know. Maybe we will get the benefit of the doubt, or maybe not. Others could be part of our team, or they could be our enemy. Can we sleep soundly, knowing our business is safe, or must we be on-site constantly to “guard” our interests? Is the advice we receive for the good of all, or just of one person? Such uncertainty is not good in any context.

Be assuring with your circle of influence. Do your part to convey your character and substance. Give others every opportunity to be credible, until they prove otherwise. As much as is in your power, help to create the atmosphere of teamwork and trust. As someone else put it: “Be a fountain, not a drain.” In the long run, this will serve you and others well.

News Should be Local

Quite a few years ago former House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal said, “All politics is local.” No doubt that was and is true. Especially for the candidate who seeks votes within a specific district within a state. Ultimately his/her election depends on people within a few localities, instead of a national basis.

I wish it would be same with news. While I keep up with news as much as anyone, I often wish we could backtrack to a time when news came in print form, and we had to wait some time before receiving it. Technology has benefited us in many ways, but in some ways it doesn’t serve us well. The fact is, the first reports on anything that happens are often wrong. Once the wrong information is out, it’s hard to go back and disseminate the accurate information, even if those who report desire to. So, I tend to largely ignore anything but the first reports, and the outcome, perhaps a year later. The daily updates don’t really interest me.

I believe a person of trust does not make decisions on todays first report, but on long-term historical trends and a long-term vision. This rules out emotional decision-making in favor of a deliberate, thoughtful approach to life, business, and personal relationships. In addition, we can do little about national news, but we can have an effect locally.