Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do You Fear Ebola?

If you choose to listen to irrational, heartless, non-compassionate, non-expert pundits from politicians and talking heads, you might hear…

Christian radio broadcaster Rick Wiles, said, “Ebola may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming," according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“Ebola could solve America's problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion," Wiles said on his Trunews program, according to the Colorado Independent.

Radio talk show host Michael Savage said, President Barack Obama wants to infect America with Ebola. "There is not a sane reason to take three- or four-thousand troops and send them into a hot Ebola zone without expecting at least one of them to come back with Ebola, unless you want to infect the nation with Ebola.”

Obama sent U.S. troops to West African nations with Ebola as part of an international effort to help eradicate -- not spread -- the disease.

Check out the comments from Rep. Phil Gringrey, former Republican Senator Scott Brown and Senator Rand Paul. Donald Trump apparently sees himself as as an expert in human behavior and disease transmission.

As of October 15, 2014, 5 Americans have gotten Ebola. None of them have died from Ebola and continue to be treated.

Approximately 8,900 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola. 4,400 have died from Ebola.

Here is what we need to fear…

- Flu season is here. Did you get your flu shot? Flu is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Are you washing your hands after using the bathroom? I am appalled at the number of men I encounter in the men’s restroom who by-pass the sink after using toilets and urinals. 
- Nearly 80 million Americans are obese due to poor diets and lack of exercise leading to heart disease and diabetes. If you are overweight, you can choose to do something about this including cutting the burgers and fries and all the sugary “foods.” Check out this article in Salon on 5 Shocking Reasons Why Americans Are Getting Fatter.
- Wear your seat belt even if it is uncomfortable. Car accidents are the fifth leading cause of death.  
- Nearly 25% of our fellow Americans continue to smoke cigarettes, which is the leading cause of cancer and heart disease. If you smoke, you can choose to do something about this!
- 76,000 people will get the skin cancer, Melanoma, in 2014 due to a lack of using sunblock and using tanning beds. If you go outside, you can choose to use protection! 

- Nearly 90,000 deaths in the U.S. are alcohol related to binge drinking. And then there are deaths related to DUI! It’s a choice.
- We don’t currently have a U.S. Surgeon General because President Obama’s choice for U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is being thwarted by conservative politicians who are supported by the N.R.A. Over 11,000 Americans will die this year from firearms. Seems Dr. Murthy sees guns as a serious health care issue.

My suggestions…

- Choose to get information from credible sources who know what they are talking about and are experts in their field. Choose to trust them over people like Donald Trump.
- Choose to get your priorities straight, including what you are doing to prevent heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Wear sunblock and seat belts. Find another way to have fun or ease your pain than binge drinking. If you own a gun, be incredibly, over-the-top, responsible.
- If you are of the Christian faith, really ask, “What would Jesus do?” Would He talk and act like Rick Wiles and some of the other non-compassionate, unjust and heartless people whose voices have gotten our attention? 

NOTE: In my original post, I quoted Ann Coulter making disparaging remarks about Ebola and immigrant children to Sean Hannity on August 6th. It turns out those remarks were untrue and written as "satire." See Bad Satire Today.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How Are You?

As a leadership coach and as a coaching relationship develops, I become a confidant. Secrets get revealed. As a coach, it's my duty to keep
confidentiality. Many times I learn that the struggle or the skill the client needs to deal with or improve upon is rooted in the secret revealed. Sometimes I can no longer be a coach and become a resource to guide the client to counseling.
     'The only reason I am staying at this job and in this
     unhappiness is because I am scared and can't
     give up health insurance. I am trapped.' 

Are you familiar with It is one of the most visited blogs on the Internet. Every Sunday, PostSecret's Frank Warren, posts secrets people have sent him via postcards.
     'I give decaf to people who are rude to me.'
                                               (Starbucks barista)

Secrets range from sad, humorous, trivial, shocking to "me too!" I like to visit this blog because it reveals our humanness, vulnerability, and connectedness. Secrets may reveal frailty as well as courage. Reading PostSecrets also draws upon my compassion. It is a reminder to check my judgment and assume positive intent with all I meet.

     'I have cancer and no one knows.'

We all have secrets. Our secrets, like our pain, like our grief, are our commonality. Secrets may be part of the baggage we carry on the journey called life.

     'My daughter thinks my husband is her father.'

My secret is not your secret, but it may be similar.
     'I am afraid to die.'

Secrets don't make us less human, less worthy, but they do create barriers, and they do create unnecessary fear.  Secrets are fueled by fear. Just ask yourself, "Why am I keeping this a secret?"
     'I don't care about giving up my addiction.'

Lies are secrets. Secrets close doors and build walls. Secrets generate worry and hurt productivity. Secrets may block reality as well as become our reality, our truth.

     'My boss is an asshole. He and this company do
     not get my best work. Furthermore, if I screw up
     a customer's order, I don't care.'

Secrets can be dangerous. Secrets become stories ... first the stories we tell ourselves and believe and then the stories we tell others.

     'I am married to woman to show others I am not gay.'

Secrets can build bridges. If I reveal my secret, I share my vulnerability. I model the way for courage. If I share my vulnerability I build a bridge for community. Community is that sacred place we all long to be a part and need.
     'I am afraid to say "I love you." The last time I told
     someone that I loved them, he left me.'

Robin Williams had a secret. Perhaps the silver lining in William's death is the danger of keeping a secret and that we need to reveal our secret in order to save our lives. Perhaps by revealing our secret, we will reduce our stress, anxiety and live authentically. So ask yourself...

     Does my secret torment me? 
     Is my secret another channel for denial?
     If I continue to keep my secret, how will I feel? How will I
     If I reveal my secret, how will I feel? Could I be relieved?
     Could I be free of pain, guilt and suffering?
     Who do I trust to keep my secret confidential?
     What is keeping me from revealing my secret?

Want to get more insight on secrets and their danger?
Read Secrets and Lies: The Price We Pay When We Deceive The People We Love  © Jane Isay, Doubleday, The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Random House.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Captain, My Captain...

Robin Williams is dead. Please say it isn't so. There is already enough pain in the world, I don't want one of my "pain-relievers" to be gone. 

Robin William's character, John Keating, in Dead Poet's Society introduced me to carpe diem, "seize the day." I was like one of Keating's students, naive, ignorant, future focused, selfish. William's character made me face reality, all we are is dust in the wind. Life is short. Life is precious. Stop worrying about tomorrow and live today. Be mindful and be in the moment. Life is about connection. I embraced carpe diem. My wife, Terri, morphed it into Carrpe Diem and it became my mantra, my tagline, my daily purpose, my tattoo!

For some reason, Don Mclean's American Pie keeps rolling around in my head. It's not the day the music died, but the day the laughter died

Mclean's song is complicated. It was written in turbulent times, about turbulent times and yet times are turbulent today. For me, Robin William's death underscores the macro torture in the world narrowed down to the micro torture within. I have to admit, I've had fleeting thoughts of, "is life worth living?" but not to the point of wanting to end my life. 

Robin William's death brings back a vivid memory of a co-worker, a friend, thirteen years ago, who also took her life. I was the last person with whom she spoke. It's one of my micro tortures I've relived many times, trying to figure out what I missed, what clues were there.  I am sure people close to Williams are going through the same agony. To them and a reminder to myself...

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience-
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
                                                                    Robert Fulghum

I'm going to watch some of Robin William's funniest material and bring the laughter back to life. I need to seize the day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

To the Graduating Class of 2014: Bad News, Good News

Bad News. You are in debt. According to Pew Research, the average college grad is carrying $33,000 in student loans. Ouch!

Good News. During your work life, college graduates earn about 50% more than high school graduates.

Bad news. While technology keeps giving better value for the dollar, more bang for the buck, education seems to be going the opposite way. When I graduated from college, my degree probably carried me for 15 years. Today’s college grad will be lucky if their degree carries them for 2 years!

Good news. You’ve got the Internet.

Bad news. You are perceived as apathetic, disengaged, disinterested, bored, unmotivated and selfish.

Good news. Kindergartners are perceived as excited, energetic, curious, passionate, motivated and flexible. You can spend time with them and learn their secret!

Bad news. You’ve been taught to be professional, conforming and compliant. The world is rife with VUCAs (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity/Chaos, Ambiguity). How will professionalism, conformity and compliance help you deal with the VUCAs? How will professionalism, conformity and compliance help you deal with the zombies?

Good news. You don’t have believe everything you read or everything you think.

If it sounds like the world is against you, it is, especially if you are concerned about the food you eat, where it comes from, how it was produced and how it got to your table. The world maybe against you if are more concerned about fairness than greed. The world maybe against you don’t believe you are entitled. The world maybe against you if you are inclusive rather than exclusive. The world maybe against you if you believe women can lead as well, perhaps better than men. The world maybe against you if you believe women should be paid the same as men in a comparable job. The world maybe against you if you believe Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama and Pope Francis are not only worth listening to, but acting upon their wisdom. The world maybe against you if believe God has no favorites, desires goodness for all people. The world maybe against you if you believe love wins.

Here is my advice. Work to be more like kindergartners. Robert Fulghum was correct when he wrote, All I Really Needed To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Your attitude will impact your future. Get in the habit of practicing gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of your attitude. Be not only grateful for the education you have received at this point in your life, but be grateful for all the support you have gotten to get to this point. Be grateful for your failures and mistakes. Failures and mistakes have provided incredible lessons that will serve you well in the future. In this age of consumerism and living into Madison Avenue’s expectations, be grateful that you are one of kind and don’t need to be nor should you be like anyone else.

Here are a few things you need to know about the power of gratitude and how it may serve you going into your future.

Gratitude is rare virtue and discipline with many people. Gratitude is not popular because it requires self-discipline and practice. The practice of gratitude as lifestyle is much like eating correctly and getting regular exercise. Gratitude is about remembering. It is an affair with one’s heart and soul. Gratitude is a state of being and affirming the goodness in one’s life even when lying in bed with pain and illness. Gratitude connects us to reality and reminds us that there is more good in our lives than bad. Gratitude is the source of courage and critical thinking. To be truly grateful requires looking at one’s life fully and accurately. It is about being mindful.

We are wired to be negative. Our society is obsessed with what’s wrong and finding fault. A practice of gratitude invites a different obsession and frame of mind. Living into gratitude and practicing gratitude contributes to better mental health and satisfaction with life. Gratitude breeds empathy, forgiveness, and joy.

The bad news is there is plenty of bad news.

The good news, you can choose to seek good news and live into gratitude to impact your attitude to make a difference in a world that needs you!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Are You Morphing and Evolving?

Recently, I got an email from a friend sharing 10 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime including: 1.) the U.S. Postal Service, 2.) writing checks, 3.) newspapers, 4.) books, 5.) land line telephone, 6.) music, 7.) television, 8.) possession and ownership, 9.) "joined handwriting," 10.) privacy.

I choose to see many of these things as morphing and evolving.  

When the printing press was invented it changed the way we communicated. The horse and buggy morphed and evolved into the automobile. So many of these brick and mortar industries are disappearing due to the fact that many of these industries lost sight of what business they were in. I still remember Tom Swigart, Spartan Chemical Company, Toledo, Ohio, pointing out that the railroads saw themselves as being in the railroad business rather than the business of transportation and failed to embrace airplanes! Thus, there was no Penn Airline! Technology has challenged many businesses as to what business they are really in! 

1.) The Post Office lost sight that it was in the communication and delivery business. Communication and delivery has morphed into the Internet (email) and FEDEX and UPS.

2.) Check printers lost sight that they are or were in the business of money exchange. Checks have morphed into debit cards. 

3.) The newspapers lost sight that they were in the news gathering and reporting business on an ASAP basis. 

4.) Book publishers lost sight of being in the business of sharing and distributing fiction and non-fiction. The channels for this have exploded.

5.) Phone companies lost sight that they were in the business of electronic communications. 

6.) The music industry lost sight that they were the music channel business. There has always been music and there will always be music. Thomas Edison turned the music industry upside down! Before the phonograph, you heard music live. Then record companies came along and controlled music and the artists. Napster came along and busted the music industry wide open. While the music industry has tried to put the "Jeanie" back in the bottle, its too late!

7.) Television lost sight that they were part of the entertainment industry. They are being shoved to the sidelines!

8.) Possession and ownership are going away. There is a bumper sticker, Own less. Live More. WHOLE LOT OF TRUTH TO THAT! In the end, what can you take with you?

9.) "Joined handwriting" is dying. Agreed, but I choose not to go down this path. I still write about 4 handwritten snail mail notes a day. Anything scare is valuable... gold, diamonds, handwritten notes. 

10.) Privacy- yep. Gone. This blog will be forever  available!

The bigger question: Are you morphing and evolving? Will you be a faded memory due to a lack of vision and growth?