Month: September 2015

Transparency

I read an interview with a journalist who has spent many years interviewing well-known people. It was an interesting conversation to read, but one thing he said stuck with me. When asked how he would like to be remembered, after saying he isn’t much of a legacy person, he then said, “I want people to say I did what I said I would do.”

With all the promises being made by many people, this statement was refreshing to me. Not only is it morally real, and admirable, but it also likely caused him to think about what he said he would do. This is the part I like most. What if we determined we will do what we say we will do? If we made a special effort to do just that, I believe we would say less, think more and get things done with the help of others. Even if we say we will do nothing, and follow through, we will be regarded as trustworthy. It’s not about how many promises we make, but being realistic about what we can actually do. It’s even good to say, “I will make every effort to ____________ .” This is honest, and doable, and will not come back to bite us later. The last thing we need is to be categorized along with those who make empty promises.

We should have plans and dreams. We should not make guarantees out of thin air that sound good at the moment, but that we cannot possibly accomplish. This is immoral and dishonest. We have enough of both, and let’s hope we don’t contribute to it.

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Enough Flaws for All

We tend to get very nervous when we believe a group of people are uniting to do us harm of some sort. On the other hand, we also feel when we unite behind a cause nothing can stop us from achieving it. The truth is, much of the time neither happens as we think it will.

Why is that? It’s because a group of people greater than two (or even two) can hardly hang together long enough to accomplish much after about a week or so. Once everyone has been heard, it becomes clear not all are saying the same thing. Our agendas depart from the original goal and/or depart from each other. It takes exceptional leadership to keep everyone’s focus in the same direction. Such leadership is rare.

So, don’t be arrogant, we are flawed. Also, don’t be afraid, our adversaries are flawed as well.

Security of Continuity

Some people have “evolved” in the their thinking about certain issues that face our society. I agree that it is admirable to change one’s mind with additional information. Yet, it is not admirable to be pressured into changing one’s mind by others who want you believe (or at least support) their idea of what should be. Such change shows weakness, not conviction.

As always, we need to see consistency of basic principles and the only way to see those is to ask them or they tell us. An adult has had time to think about those principles and very little should change as one gets older. This does  refer to being “set in your ways” in a negative way, but to a well-thought-out conclusion, consistent with firm beliefs.

We get too little of that. We get more of the blowing winds of adjustment that change with the current trends, almost daily in some cases. I like predictability and the security that comes with being able to know with some certainty what a person will say and do. Look for that in a person, unless you like guessing.

Emotions and Reason

The popular means for change in our society, fed by many in government and those who would be government, is in most cases emotional in nature. This is not limited to political party or type or organization. Even corporate entities, fearful of the buying habits of the emotional consumers, remove or rename products, do away with others and generally react. This trend is prevalent and ignores traditional ways.

Change is inevitable, but overnight change is seldom good or beneficial. In fact more harm than good can be done by the knee-jerk reactions of those who demand something different immediately. Trust is gained slowly, but the unforgiving emotions don’t care about trust; they simply want what they want now.

This is not the way to earn trust, or keep it. Fighting the immediacy of change with little thought will usually end in disaster or something no one wants. Yet, many don’t realize it for a while. Then they demand another change. Let us use reason and not emotion to make changes that will affect many people.

Starting and Finishing

We’re all building something. In fact, we’re building several things. We’re building families, communities, organizations and various other entities. Most of us are pretty good at beginnings. We start on a lot things in our lives. We start to school; we start to college; we start a job; we start a project. When I was in Germany, I frequently passed by a monument to starting but not finishing. A concrete shell about five stories tall stood by the autobahn (interstate). It looked like it was meant to be an office building or a hotel, but all that stood was the concrete with the spaces where rooms would be. I was told the contractor ran out of money and could go no further. It was sad, but there for all to see.

How good are you at finishing things? That is the real proof of persistence, consistency and character. We have all known those who are wonderful at starting, but somewhere along the line get distracted by the next “beginning”, or just enjoy the excitement of starting. If there is a conclusion, others have to do it.

We at least need to be in the process of finishing what we start. It may take longer than we anticipated, but to keep moving in the direction of completion is what is needed. That is doable, if we decide that is who and what we are: people who finish.

Building Trust

Regardless of what we may think or want to believe, we did not invent the idea of trust. Trust was established long ago by an entity much greater than we will ever be. It is, however, something we can build on and expand in our time.

Trust cannot be demanded, commanded or ordered. It can be established, gained and nurtured. It is lost in a moment, but takes much longer to rebuild. In every area of life, trust is lost, thrown away or ignored to the peril of those who do so. If we wish to influence any other person, we must first gain their trust, or at least not lose it.

Trust prevents worry, second guessing and time spent to verify everything. Trust is a living, breathing thing that motivates us and gives us peace of mind in any type of storm or challenge. Some organizations foster trust, such the military. This is because lives depend on it. Productivity is greater where there is trust. If we want to have a positive effect on those we contact, then building trust goes a long way to doing that.

Work

This day honors the working part of our lives, and allows most of us a day off! Such is the logic of our society. Work is the means to earn a living, but also gives us a sense of contributing to a larger whole. We have co-workers who keep us accountable, inspire us, and share in the challenges and accomplishments we face and overcome every day. If we work alone, we provide a good or service other want or need, and there is accomplishment in that. If we work someplace other than the work force, we provide things that enable others to work or simply grow up.

Honorable work does not lie, cheat or steal. It is straight up, and transparent. It reflects our own integrity, whether our standards are high, mediocre or low. It determines whether we have repeat customers or one-time buyers. It give us motivation to be better tomorrow than today. Without work there is no rest. Those who are able but choose not to work lose something intangible and lose the respect and admiration of those who do work. In tangible terms, they also require others to support them with the basics of life. In time that will mean something.

Work can be social, and often is. Yet at the bottom line, work is work! It is not pretending to work. It is not spending work time trying to get promoted (one of my pet peeves). It is not waiting for the next break from work. It is actually getting something done. It is being a part of a group of people that give our world its forward motion. It is both maintaining and creating. It is one of the best things we can do, except for today.

Good People All Over

In my work I meet some of the nicest people, when they are sick. I don’t like the context, but still am grateful for the visit and conversation. Maybe it takes their mind off their illness. If so, it was a success. At the same time, I’m also uplifted by their genuine good nature and appreciation for conversation. We jokingly say we would rather meet at Walmart next time instead of the hospital.

Any time we can lose track of time while talking, it’s a good thing. It slows down the world (at least our part of it) and brings back a sense of order and neighborliness. When they hold out a hand with an IV stuck in the top to greet or say goodbye, I know a connection has been made. It is they who make this happen. I simply introduce myself, and they respond as they wish.

If we treat others with respect, most people will return the sentiment. If not, we let them be. No harm done, and no reason to be offended. No one is required to like us or talk to us. If we learn not to take ourselves too seriously, we can move through the day more productively and more at peace. There really are nice people everywhere. Don’t let the news tell you otherwise.

Help Along the Right Track

We like to think we are not influenced by the negative things around us. It is a human problem to think we are in control, and by our own will power and faith, we can avoid doing wrong. Any experience at all tells us this is hogwash! If we could do it alone, we would, and we would not fail. Yet, we do fail, whether publicly or privately.

A person of trust does not try to be virtuous by his own will, but will have nearby and accessible others who will be truthful and keep him on track. Far from weakness, this is simply wisdom and a realistic view of how we have weak points and certain temptations that need to be reigned in. Those close people should have strict instructions to be honest and brutal if necessary to help us avoid the temptations to be dishonest, untrustworthy, or too arrogant to listen.

We all want to be in control; we are all not in control. We only think we have the ability to stay on track in our circle of influence without being influenced wrongly. It may be painful to our egos, but helpful for our lives. Feel free to accept help from the right people.