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Archive for January, 2008

No man thoroughly understands a truth
until he has contended against it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our experience is a great tool with which to teach others, but until they actually touch the ice, they cannot know what it feels like. No amount of persuasion, instruction or book learning can convey the reality of hard, cold, slippery water.

Our experience is merely a pencil sketch of knowledge remembered. The lines and shape are there, and if we teach well, some textures and emotion.

But to know the heart of fire, they must stand inside the flames. No well intentioned warning can convey the concept of heat as firmly as their hand upon the stove. The truth is in the touching. Gloves protect us from reality, but if always worn, conceal it.

To truly learn what cannot work, they must fail at the attempt to prove the world wrong. Having someone steer them away from stumbles, doesn’t teach them to watch their step.

Failure that they learn from, much more than their success, is the investment we allow, to ensure their future glory.

Whether we are managers or parents, the best among us demonstrate how to succeed, by allowing failure to exist.

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As I post this I’m preparing to heading off to Ireland for a few weeks. I don’t know how often I’ll get a chance to post something.

So… if you want to read some more of my material, you can a) browse past entries and/or b) visit the publications section of my Change Management HQ.

AND of course, you can take a fe minutes and leave me a note or two.

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The true opposite of Love
is not hate
but indifference.
Joseph Fletcher

Love in all its degrees and variations, is the glue holding us together. From the passion inciting two people to become one, to the caring that compels us to lay down our lives for others, Love is what binds both the world and us.

Hate is a twisted passion, and yet like Love brings us into contact with each other. To hate me, you are forced by your passion to recognize my existence. In that fierce acknowledgment sleeps the dim hope we might acquire mutual appreciation… if not respect… perhaps even understanding.

Indifference ignores all ties. Like the stark vacuum of space, it supports no warmth. It separates us permanently from others and permits no means of access. The targets of our indifference vanish from the world as surely as if they never were. Indifference is the ultimate destroyer.

The cure for indifference is forced contact, it leads us into recognition. Once recognition takes hold, it demands an act of self deception to regain the isolation of apathy.

To deny what is, is the same as destroying what could be.

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It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly
unless one has plenty of work to do.
Jerome K. Jerome

The simple act of setting down a burden is a joy by itself. Taking the afternoon off when the work is piled high, refreshes deeper than the same break taken when nothing needs doing.

It’s not just the relief of a temporary break from work. After a task is complete, rather than feeling a sense of accomplishment, there’s often a peculiar letdown. A sense of ‘Is that all there is?’ A period of relaxation after a task, is almost like being put out to pasture for a while. We’re no longer ‘necessary’ so we’re allowed to relax.

Allowance to relax in the middle of a task sends a different message. It communicates loud and clear our efforts are appreciated. Relax for a while, come back refreshed, for there’s more work to be done.

A break away from work is a form of celebration. At the very least, a break from work is an abnormally refreshing act in a world where every minute counts, regardless of their quality.

A minute stolen from a task, is leveraged by the work undone into a full hour.

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The things we see
are the mind’s best bet
as to what is out front.
Adelbert Ames

When all we expect are trees, we’ll never see the elephant until it moves. The gray lumbering movement breaks the pattern of stillness and invalidates the view of “there are just trees out there.” The world blurs and then precipitates a majestic elephant. For us, it wasn’t there before.

What we think we know to be true, colours everything we see. Nothing exists outside the context of familiarity. A vintage wine, to a first time drinker, is not the same wine to a connoisseur. Our enjoyment of the glass of wine in hand, is tempered by the one we held yesterday.

The world is a maze of chaos upon which the mind attempts to impose ordered patterns. We’ve all seen simple images where our minds shamelessly impose lines and structure where none exist.

The danger lies in the lines we’ve unknowlingly drawn and structures we’ve imposed on the chaos of the world in our attempt to force sense out of what confounds us.

Our perception of the world is one part what we know, one part what we hope, and one part what is.

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Windows of opportunity exist
for only a brief moment in time,
you have to have vision in order to spot them,
and take advantage of them.
John Sculley

The thought begins as follows… “What if they…” and before we know it… it escapes our grasp. The flaw is in the seduction of ease. Life is always easier if we imagine others taking action rather than ourselves.

“But it’s not our responsibility…” is an all too common response which discloses the hidden belief that only those who cause problems should solve them. When in reality, problems offer us the opportunity to be of service and make a difference.

Every whine and complaint, either overheard, or spoken by our own lips, points to opportunity in disguise.

There’s no motivational doublespeak here, no sight confounded by a rose coloured view. Problems are obstacles. It’s our ability to overcome them that raises us to new heights. It’s the solving that brings the glory, not the being halted.

To have a vision is to receive a gift of responsibility from ourselves. Whether we choose to ignore it, or embrace it, is a test of our courage and determination.

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There are two things to aim at in life:
first, to get what you want,
and after that to enjoy it.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Deadlines were never meant to be one-sided. Originally labeled as the line between certain captivity and potential freedom, they’ve become merely a mark in time separating the end of one project from the start of another with no pause to breathe between.

With long practice we’ve become wise in the ways of only half the metaphor. Hard work, dedication, stress, sweat and toil, will bring us safely to the end of any timed project. We excel under pressure. Then we hoist our bag of hammers, and start upon the next.

The willingness to concentrate our efforts to reach a difficult goal, wears thin with unceasing repetition. When we clamber to the top of a mountain, we forget we climbed there for the view, not just to target the next peak.

Celebration is a gift we owe ourselves. It is much more than merely winding down, more than just a break away from toil. It is the reward for toil.

Celebration is the act of lifting our voices and reveling in the glory of life together. If not now? When?

Let deadlines be when the work stops and the dance begins.

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I am I plus my surroundings
and if I do not preserve the latter,
I do not preserve myself.
Jose Ortega y Gasset

We are defined by family, tradition, the things we value and even those we take for granted. Remove our context and we remove the chains securing us to the pier.

Context is everything. Erase the white from the paper and we cause even wise words to vanish. Erase what connects us, we erase ourselves.

We look to the future and place great value on what is new, forgetting that what is old is not only what got us here, but what supports us in our daily progress. Cut too many ties to the past too fast and we drift forward without purpose.

When building a future we offer the promise to make things better, and have the obligation to reinforce what was already good.

A future focused only on the new, with no connection to what was good, falls to ruin as a kite with a broken string.

The notation “You are here!” lacks meaning unless it comes with the subtext, “and you came from there!”

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