Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moving Forward From The 2016 Election...

Peggy Guggenheim collection, Venice, Italy
I continue to noodle and ponder the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election ...

I have been having some tough conversations with others who supported Trump as well as Clinton as I am sure many of you are. There are a lot of tension, wounds (some self-inflicted), uneasiness, resentment and anger. Distrust is rampant toward everything, including 140+ "fake" news sources, and everybody. We are creating an unhealthy, toxic environment for ourselves and for others.

It is up to each of us to stop it.

Consider the ageless wisdom of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:

    1. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Keep your promises. Be sincere. Be reliable. Make sure what is written on your resume is verifiable and truthful. Be compassionate in conversation with others.

   2. Don't take anything personally. What people say and do is a projection of their reality. Their perception may not be reality. What is their reality is not your reality. To embrace someone else's reality is to suffer.

   3. Don't make assumptions. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Seek to understand before being understood. This one practice can reduce conflict and suffering. Avoiding assumptions can be transformative. 

   4. Always do your best. Be your best. Give your best. By always doing, being and giving your best, you avoid self-deception and the unawareness of what's beyond ourselves.

Ruiz's writing is the second greatest commandment of the Christian faith in detail, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39, NIV). Don't take that concept neighbor lightly. Recognize your neighbor is the person who voted opposite of you. Recognize your neighbor is the person who didn't vote. Recognize your neighbor is the 'least of these.' Recognize your neighbor is the immigrant, the Muslim, the LGBTQ. Recognize your neighbor is marginally informed. Recognize your neighbor is the 'other.' That is a very tough challenge and yet it is what Christ did. He modeled the way and asked those who follow Him to do the same.  

I put faith before politics. I put my neighbor before my politics. I do not see Jesus Christ being a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist or a Communist. He didn't come to take sides, yet many will justify Christ supporting their political view. If you can justify Christ supporting your political view then you believe the Constitution holds more wisdom than the Gospel and when you die, you are going to Washington, DC.

Second, part of this commandment is even tougher for me - love myself first with all my scars, failures, brokenness, imperfections, and delusions ... so I can love my neighbor. As the late Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, 'A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.'" 

To love myself just as I am, is to be open and vulnerable. Openness and vulnerability means asking questions and listening rather than telling and ignoring. We all live in a state of being marginally informed. No one has a monopoly on knowledge, information, facts and truth, including the talking heads on radio, television and social media. We would all benefit from being a lot more curious and questioning than assuming and judging based upon our marginal knowledge. 

Another very tough scripture I'm trying to live into from this 2016 Presidential election is from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances." How do you give thanks for the fire that destroyed your home? How do you give thanks for being without a job? How do you give thanks for the candidate you did not vote for? How do you give thanks for depression?

Mitford series author, Jan Karon, In This Mountain, has her main character, Father Tim, deal with depression. It's from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that Father Tim finds solace and peace to deal with his depression. Father Tim experiences deeper gratitude for his life and what is in his life. Furthermore, he discovers more compassion for others. 

I submit to you, The Four Agreements, loving yourself just as you are so you can love others, and Thessalonians 5:18 may be the healing balm we need moving forward from this election. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Continued Processing of 2016 Presidential Election

I received a lot of feedback from my last blog post of 11/9/16, Fear Just Won the Election. Some of it positive and supportive. Some of it negative and hurtful. Some asked to be removed from my blog mail list. I am still processing the outcome of this election. Here are responses to some to comments I have received.

"How would you offer the phrases if the word Faith was in front?"

I have a very difficult time understanding how those of a strong Christian faith could justify and support Trump as their candidate. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ who support Trump strongly value a woman's sexuality as sacred. So how do they enthusiastically embrace a man who sexually assaults women, degrades women, and calls them obscenities? When I study Matthew 5, I see no following of Jesus' teaching in Trump's words or behavior. 

Political power trumped values, morals and Christian faith.

The brand of faith that got Trump elected was in secular political power and fear, not the faith of spiritual, sacred, the Holy and love.

A vote for Trump was a vote against ACA and the rising costs of health insurance.

A vote for Trump was a vote against the growth of the national debt.

A vote for Trump was a vote to get manufacturing jobs and coal mining back to pre-NAFTA.

A vote for Trump was a vote against the expansion of ISIS.

A vote for Trump was a vote against "the other" including Blacks, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ.

A vote for Trump was a vote against a liberal Supreme Court.

A vote for Trump was a vote for anti-establishment, against politicians who know no term limits, lobbyists and big money (things I do like!).

These voters had faith in a person who can make these changes. God and the belief of walking the path of Christ wasn't part of the consideration.

I get it. I don't like it. Personally, I had hoped at the beginning of this whole election cycle, there would be no Bush or Clinton. I was tired of their dynasties. I would have preferred Elizabeth Warren, Kathleen Sebelius, or Justice  Sonia Sotomayor as the first woman president.

Someone else wrote me, "I never in a million years imagined that when you joined the hard core left in this country that you would jump right in with total fear mongering.  That you would throw logic out the window.  

I hope you go back to your “I’d be afraid” note and go “oops”. If not I will know that logic has left you behind. If this happens, now I’m afraid."

First, as the father of a gay daughter, I am afraid for her. Vice-president elect Pence has already said he is seeking to roll back LGBTQ legislation. The second greatest commandment seems to have been forgotten.

Second, I saw fresh graffiti this morning, "WHITES RULE, blacks, immigrants, muslims, jews drool." Yep, I'm afraid we are losing compassion for our fellow human beings who look, act and believe differently than I do. Ignorance rules and fear is the motivation.

If the "hard core left" means being accountable to the values of Micah 6:8, then I am guilty as labeled. I'd like to think I'd be in the company of Jesus Christ.

Still someone else wrote me, "As a Christian and believer, I don’t fear or worry.  Matthew 5 – 7 gives me the power and strength every day – no matter what." I am pretty sure that was written on a full stomach, from a warm, comfortable home, with a good income and as a older white male. I would challenge him to go spend time with the disenfranchised, the broken, the homeless, the imprisoned. Go where Jesus went. Spend time with the "least of these." Check your judgment and bias at the door. Engage in conversation. Ask questions. Get to know them. Listen to their stories. Practice cognitive dissonance. Try to experience their fear.

It's interesting how there is a call to heal the great divide. There was a similar call after President Obama was elected. Senator McConnell made it his mandate to keep the divide seeking to have Obama serve one term and stonewall everything Obama was seeking. This includes nominating recently, a reasonable, non-liberal Supreme Court Justice, Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, will we get more ofthe same?

I don't like Trump as my President. His values and behavior don't sync with mine. I do respect our political system, and I do accept Trump as President. Hope is a call for action. I hope Trump's past performance and behavior is not an indication of future results. I hope Trump will surround himself with good advisors.  I hope he will challenge Congress to earn their salaries and get to work. I hope he can heal the divide. I will do my part to help. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fear Won the 2016 Presidential Election

As an older white male, I have little to fear after this Presidential election. In fact, things look pretty good for me.

On the other hand…

If I were a woman, I’d be afraid.

If I were a person of color, I’d be afraid.

If I were a Muslim, I’d be afraid.

If I were a part of the LGBT community, I'd be afraid.

If I were an immigrant, I’d be afraid.

If I were poor, I’d be afraid.

If you are a person who cherishes a green, healthy, nurturing environment, I’d be afraid.

If I were someone who finally got health care coverage through ACA especially with a pre-existing condition, I’d be afraid.

If you are a person of integrity, I’d be afraid.

If I were a foreign ally to the United States, I’d be afraid.

As person who lives by the Old Testament values of Micah 6:8, I’m going to be tested. I recognize I am going to have to live deeper into compassion and social justice. I recognize I’m going to have act with deeper humility. I realize my call is to stand with women, Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBT, the poor, the sick, the environmentalists, our Allies and share my white male privilege to help others.


Love has to win. Love has to trump fear. It’s my calling. What about you?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I Can’t/Won't Leave This Miserable Job!

“I’m too busy to look for a new position.”

“I can’t leave this miserable job. The pay and benefits are too good.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“No job is perfect.”

“I’ll just tough it out. Something has got to change!”

“I’m afraid there isn’t a new position out there for me. Nobody will want me. Besides, how do I explain leaving a job to a potential employer?”

What is your excuse du jour for not leaving a miserable work experience? What faulty rationale or logic is that little voice in your head saying to you? 

Let’s begin with some basic hard questions.

Is your work environment nurturing? How does your work environment impact your well-being and health? Is it positive or negative?

Does your work environment value its cast members and treat them with respect?

Are you being treated fairly and given a manageable workload for your competency? Is your competency being used to your highest and best potential?

Are your values being compromised? Does your organization act with integrity? Does the organization seek diversity and inclusion? Does male staff get treated differently than female staff?

Is the organization’s financial well-being more important than its cast members’ well being?

Does the organization have safe practices? Is conflict handled in a healthy way?

Does working in the organization require “playing games?” Are there extreme office politics? Is transparency a joke?

Does your boss or supervisor care about you as a person? Are they interested in helping you to grow? Do they coach you and help you be a better cast member? Is education a part of your annual performance review?

Do you have a mentor? Does your organization offer mentoring?

Is the organization underperforming to your expectations?

What are other cast members saying about the character and reputation of the organization of which you are a part?

What are external customers saying about the character and reputation of the organization of which you are a part?

Where are the red flags showing up in your answers?

Learn to fire yourself from a miserable job or a miserable boss. It is your duty to let go of an underperforming or unhealthy organization. It’s in the best interest of the organization, a manager and the other cast members for you to leave.

By the way, this challenge is doubly hard if you are a family member of a family-owned business!

No one want’s to hear Trump’s favorite line from The Apprentice, “You’re fired!” but if all the evidence is there, if your well-being has taken a hit, if your values are being compromised and if you’ve reached the end of your rope, then fire your employer!

At the root of continuing to remain in a lousy work environment is self-deception and denial. Self-deception is lying to yourself and not being honest with yourself. Self-deception is about turning away the awareness you need to live fully. Self-deception denies truth and reality. It blunts compassion for yourself and for others. Self-deception is living the lie.

Three final questions. 

Instead of not deciding this now, are you willing to spend time every day thinking and talking about how lousy your work-life is for the next several months? 

How will others outside of work-life experience you? Will you be a joy to be around?

Are you willing to live with the consequences, if you don’t make a change?

It is your duty, your calling to live a well-lived life!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Make America Great Again! Really?

As of this post, Trump's campaign has spent $89.5 million dollars since it began. The third biggest expense of his campaign has been for "Make America Great Again" hats.      - Washington Post.

81% of registered voters who support Republican nominee Donald Trump feel that America is worse now than it was 50 years ago for 'people like them.'
- Pew Research Center

I agree. I'd like to see politicians of 50 years ago who represented their constituents rather some PAC, lobby or special interest and weren't professional political "lifers." They knew their term limits.

I agree. I'd like to see politicians of 50 years ago who worked together, collaborated, cooperated, and compromised with one another rather drawing lines in the sand and demanding their way, all or nothing.

I agree. I'd like to see politicians of 50 years ago who worked on real issues that made this country a better place for tomorrow's child like ending unnecessary wars, civil rights, better use of energy and continued separation of church and state.

I agree. I'd like to see front porches on houses of 50 years ago where neighbors gathered to talk with one another and where there was no gate to enter their community.

I agree. I'd like to see children play without so much structure like 50 years ago. Where a 10 year-old could ride a city bus without their parent and no one thought anything of it.

On the other hand...

America is great, not perfect, still has work to do, but America is great.

Unlike 50 years ago, women can do more than stay at home or be teachers and nurses. Women can lead!

Unlike 50 years, a there was no way we would conceive of a Black President of the United States. 

Unlike 50 years ago, my gay child is not seen as having mental illness as listed by American Psychiatric Association.

50 years ago, there was: only black and white television; three sources for television entertainment and news; mixed race dating was taboo; smoking cigarettes was the norm; beer choices were limited to the 'king of beers,' ' the beer that made Milwaukee famous,' the Champagne of beers,' and a few others; phones were bulky, connected to wires and not smart.

Remember the nearly 50 year old story of the Starfish Thrower written by Loren Eiseley? An old man is walking along a beach littered with starfish and is throwing them back in the ocean. A young man comes upon the starfish thrower and asks why he is throwing the starfish back into the ocean. The old man tells the young questioner the tide is going out and the sun will dry up the starfish. The young man points out their are more starfish than old man can possible save.

Today's version of the starfish thrower is radically different. Today's starfish thrower is an activist. He is a young a man who sees the beach littered with starfish. He takes out his smart phone and snaps a picture. He sends the picture out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to ask for help to save the starfish. Soon there are multitude of people...male and female, white, black, Latino, Asian, young and old, able-bodied and disabled, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheists, LGBT... down at the beach picking up starfish and tossing them back into the ocean. 

That is why America is great and getting greater everyday. 

Where will you activate and connect to continue the progress forward?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Have You Felt Like An Imposter?

One of the top viewed TED Talks of all time is Amy Cuddy’s June 2012, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. Watch it and you will understand why it has had over 34 million views! Her message is about how body language is an important part of our communication. Negative body language (arms crossed, facial frown, etc) creates judgment, unnecessary phantom rules (assumptions) and ugly stories.

Cuddy makes the point in her talk that we are influenced by our own body language. When we feel powerful, we physically open up much like animals do
Open on the zip-line
when they display power. Think of a bear standing up on its hind legs, a cat arching it’s back or a partially coiled reared up snake, all are postures of power. On the other hand, when we feel powerless or lack confidence, we close up and make ourselves smaller.

If we tend toward a lack of confidence in our body language and are aware of this behavior, Cuddy suggests we learn to “fake-it-until-we-make-it” to help overcome how our non-verbal actions govern how we think and feel about ourselves. In other words, begin with positive body movements and let our minds and hearts catch-up! It's about focusing on our presence.

Presence is how you show up including being authentic, confident, enthusiastic and passionate. But if you “fake-it-until-you-make-it,” you may feel like a fraud or an imposter. Cuddy suggests you “Fake it until you become it!”

When Lee Reading, Director of Camp Joy, Clarksville, OH, was giving me a tour of Camp Joy for my job interview back in 2000, we came across a group doing the Pamper Pole, a high ropes element. I hate heights! I asked Lee if I’d be required to experience these elements. I believe he could sense my fear and assured me the staff would work with me. With help from the Camp Joy staff, especially Tim Eppstein, I did “fake-it-until-I-became-it!” This helped me appreciate the large number of adult participants who got into their panic zone when it came to high-rope elements.

SMILE! If you're smiling, you're breathing!
I experienced adult participants on high-rope elements who would freeze-up and felt like they could go no further. I discovered if I could get them to first create body posture that was more open, including letting go of their death grip on their sling-lines, and then answer two projection questions about the future based on possible outcomes to get in touch with their feelings, I could help them take another step forward. They could let go to zip-line or be belayed back to the ground. It was all about dialing down their self-induced stress and fear.

Cuddy’s TED Talk led to her writing Presence, a NY
Made it through faking it!
Times bestseller in December 2015. I read Cuddy’s book. When I got to the chapter, “I Don’t Deserve To Be Here,” where she thoroughly explains the imposter experience, I cried. I had been there and felt I was an imposter on several memorable occasions. According to Cuddy, “Imposterism steals our power and suffocates our presence.” page 89

The truth is, no one is immune to the imposter experience. The good news is we can overcome the imposter experience by developing our personal power … “the power to act with confidence based on one’s beliefs, attitudes and values and having a sense that one’s actions will be effective.” Page 115

Since reading Presence, I’ve been sharing my imposter experience with people I trust. They have revealed some of their imposter experiences to me. Powerful! What could this do for a group trying to become a well functioning team? I believe it could have a huge positive benefit!

I would encourage you to read Presence and explore the imposter experience. Have a conversation with people with whom you feel you can be vulnerable. Discover the imposter experience is not something to be ashamed of. As Cuddy writes, “… the more we are aware of our anxieties, the more we communicate about them, and the smarter we are about how they operate, the easier they’ll be to shrug off the next time they pop up. It’s a game of whack-a-mole we can win!” page 109