Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Absolute proof that a man needs a woman in his life ... eventually.
UPDATE: To the women whom have written saying this is gross and disgusting: Please read what I wrote! Men need women ... or they turn out like this! I think it was Woody Allen who said that without women, men are pigs. Of course. he also said that women were insane without men!
Friday, December 10, 2010
While looking under my bed for a dropped pen, I discovered some CDs I had forgotten even existed. As I was about to run some errands, I grabbed one put it in my car’s CD player and took off.
Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller …
The Beatles and Abbey Road: Man, did that bring back memories.
Almost 30 years ago, I was in England taking exams to see if I could qualify to study for a degree from Cambridge. There was a break between written exams and I was sitting around with a few of the professors.
Prof: So, Monte, if you knew you were going to be stranded on an island for years and years what 2 albums would you like to have with you?
M3: Wow … that means there would be electricity! (No laughter.) Okay. Two albums ... hmmmmm … Beethoven’s 9th and Abbey Road.
Prof: (Gulping) Abbey Road?
M3: I love it. It brings back great memories.
Prof: (Raised eyebrows) I found some of the lyrics a bit cheeky.
Prof: Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm going to make her mine??????
M3: So you HAVE listened to it?!?!?
When we went back to exams, he told me that the conversation was also part of the interview.
Yes, I was accepted but never attended.
The next day, after walking around London for 10 hours, I went back to my hotel room and who was being interviewed on BBC TV? Paul McCartney! An obvious sign from heaven.
What two albums/CDs would you choose?
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
“A” is not “B”
Kindness is not weakness
Niceness is not kindness
Friendliness is not friendship
Facts are not the truth
Talking is not communicating
Potential (“having promise”) is not performance
Preferences are not convictions
Faith is not magic
Failure is not final
Impartiality is not indifference
Calm is not peace
Confidence is not competence
Procrastination is not patience
Charity is not compulsory
Ignoring the faults of others is not “believing the best”
Running from death is not seeking after life
"Christmas is not your birthday"
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am thankful to be above ground and healthy.
I am thankful for second chances.
I am thankful for each of my five children and six grandchildren.
I am thankful for my three—soon to be four—son-in-laws.
I am thankful for my brothers and sister.
I am thankful for the love and care of my friends, past and present.
I am thankful for the teachers and mentors who took the time to instruct and guide me.
I am thankful for all of the beauty God packed into creation.
I am thankful for the charities that I serve.
I am thankful to be living in the most generous and charitable nation in history.
I am thankful for a life that has allowed me to travel around the world.
I am thankful for air conditioning, computers, mobile phones, and airplanes.
I am thankful for stuffed-mushrooms, fine wines, Single-Malt Scotch and bodacious cigars.
I am thankful for libraries, bookstores, and art museums.
I am thankful for living in the US, for the wisdom and courage of our nation’s Forefathers, and for the men and women of our military who defend our freedoms.
I am thankful for the entrepreneurs who made and make the US the most prosperous nation in history.
I am thankful for the love, grace, and mercy of God. +
Giving thanks reminds me that all that I am and all that I have is because of others.
Giving thanks is giving honor to whom honor is due.
Giving thanks keeps self-pity, discouragement, and melancholy at bay.
Giving thanks (up-close and personal) encourages others. “You matter. Your contribution makes a difference. I see what you have done, who you are, and am grateful.”
Giving thanks reminds me to be a good steward of gifts received.
Giving thanks motivates me to be the kind of person for whom others can be grateful.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I wasn’t in any hurry, which, as it turns out, saved my life. When my Jeep began hydroplaning, I had actually just changed lanes, so as to allow the speeding cars behind me to pass in the outside lane.
“Slip sliddin' away …” (Paul Simon)
“This is not how I wanted to die.” I had no doubt I was going to flip over the concrete guardrail, falling out of the sky onto the hwy below. There wasn’t any sense of fear, only inevitability.
Slam, bam, “Thank you Lord!” I am bouncing back toward the other guardrail.
Seeing the pavement only 6 inches from my face, I think to myself, “This can’t be good.” I try to turn and see if there are any cars about to hit me but the pain in my back won’t let me move. Not sure what I thought I was going to do about it had there been any.
Slam! and my Jeep flips back, right side up, careening back into the center of the two lanes of the ramp headed onto 285 East.
“Let’s see. No blood. Back feels on fire but, hey, I AM ALIVE!” Upon seeing what I thought was a white t-shirt draped over the steering wheel. “O man, my clothes must have been thrown from the back of the Jeep.” I later realize that it was the deployed and deflated air bag. (Docs and EMT guys all were flabbergasted that I had no airbag wounds.)
“I’m a nurse. You are going into shock. Lie still.”
“Get me out of here!”
“You MUST remain still!”
(Sweat pouring into my eyes) “I am NOT going into shock. I need to get out of here, get back home, take a shower, and go to bed!” But I can’t move because the pain is so severe … and something was different from the pain I experienced 20 years ago when Colonel and I were walking up the broken escalator in St Petersburg, Russia, and I first discovered I had a degenerating disc.
Nurse places a blanket over me. “You need to stay warm.”
“Get this off of me. I am burning up!”
She replaces blanket, so I take it and throw it to the other side of the car where she can’t get to it. She then takes my hand and just stands there with me, telling me she isn’t going to leave until the ambulance arrives. I was later told that we waited almost 2 hours before help arrived. Thank you, ma’me.
A guy walks up: “Can I do anything?”
“Help me find my phone.” He does, and I call my son to tell him I am going to be late; my sister, who I ask to meet me at emergency room; and Cathie, because I don’t want her to worry about my tardiness with promised phone call.
Fireman with arms bigger than my legs: “I am going to get you out. Can you move?”
“Damn straight I can move. Just get me out of here and find me a ride back to my apartment. I need a shower.” But when I twist so he can maneuver me out of the door, the pain is so mind-numbing that I decide that, sure, they can take me to the hospital.
I see a small young lady dressed as a Fire … person? Girl? Woman? She sees that I am agitated and somehow knows that if she will run around to the other side of Jeep and open the door, the breeze will calm me down.
“Thank you!” And I do calm down.
Being tied down to a straight board increased the pain, so I began asking if I could raise one of my legs to relieve the pain. No one pays any attention to me.
Policeman: “Hi, I am so sorry about this but I have to cite you for driving too fast ‘under conditions.’”
“I wasn’t speeding!”
“That’s why it says ‘under circumstances.’”
“I am NOT getting into that ambulance without my backpack!” Firegirl comes running with backpack in hand, “I picked up everything I saw and stuffed it inside.”
Ambulance driver slides me in … he’s laughing at what the Policeman just told him. Evidently, I kept yelling apologies to every semi- and car that drove by. (Hey, this is Atlanta. I know what it's like to get stuck on 285 and miss your children's birthday party and your wedding anniversary while waiting for the wreck to be removed.)
“Where do you want to go? What hospital?”
“No. Where do you want to go?”
“St. Joseph’s. Now, untie one of my legs before I start ripping off all the restraints.”
He does. I then entertain him with witty quips which kept him doubled over with laughter. Wish I could remember what I said.
Not sure how long I was in emergency room before my sister Sandy showed up. Man was I grateful to see her. And then daughters Three and Four, Bethany and Rachel, arrived. Fantastic! I could feeeeel my muscles relaxing.
Woosh. Mr. Wonderful, Monte IV, comes barreling in.
Having family close caused my heart rate to slow down and my blood pressure to drop back to normal.
Reading over reports from EMT descriptions of wreck, the doctor was concerned that I probably had internal damage. After hours of x-rays and CAT scans, “all” he discovered is a compressed disc and broken back. Fractured vertebrae: L-3. Orthopedic doctor later told me that had the fracture moved only a half-inch farther I would have been crippled.
I don’t remember which of my many caretakers said it, but someone mentioned that I had to have had an angel protecting me because I should have been killed. I heard this again and again. Each time I could feel tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes. “Thank you, Lord.”
And thank you, Sis, Bethany, Rachel, Monte IV and Cathie for being there. (Daughters One and Two, Rebekah and Laura who live out of town, were texting me while I was waiting on Doctor.) Thank you for calling most every day afterward, checking up on me, taking care of Insurance (Rachel), taking me to follow up visits (Bethany) … helping me get dressed and bringing me some kickin’ wine to go with my meds (Monte IV)!
And to all of you who emailed over and over and over again, texted, and called telling me of your love and prayers, I am humbled by the caliber of my friends. Colonel, CJ, Joseph, Derek and my Brother Richard were texting me while I was in Emergency Room! (My brother Charles would have but he is fighting to hold on to a rebellious kidney after transplant surgery. Talk about helping me to keep my perspective …)
A huge shout out goes to all the staff at St Joseph’s, as well, especially to Katie Card (RN) who cared for me as if I were her father.
You who have had similar experiences, know how surreal it is … how we seem to be standing outside of our bodies watching it all take place in slow motion. I knew I was dead. After that, all the pain was durable because I knew I had been given a second chance, knew that God could have … but didn’t. Two weeks later, I am still overwhelmed with gratitude: not only to God, but for my family and friends, as well.
Thank you for Being There.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.
Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Unable to finish my thoughts on Living in Love, as I am presently Living in Pain. After hydroplaning my Jeep and bouncing around the I-75 S ramp onto I-285 E., I have a squashed disc, fractured vertebrae, and a hematoma the size of a baseball on my left knee. While the drugs I am taking help manage the pain, they also keep my brain in a fog. Hopefully I will be able to sit up and think in the near future.
Thank you so much for your prayers and kind notes.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Absolutely incredible. The boy's sense of rhythm and musicality is stunning.
Around 2 minutes in the Conductor has a problem with his nose, which is a crack up.
At the end, when he starts laughing and clapping and rolling on the ground, he has the same experience I had when I first heard Beethoven when I was around 9 years old: pure joy.
Monday, October 18, 2010
In my work as an executive coach and corporate trainer, one of the most frequent angst that I encounter in others has to do with “calling.”
“Am I doing what I am meant to be doing? It sure doesn’t feel like it.”
“I am good at this job, but it is not fulfilling. There is no sense of fulfilling my destiny.” (Note: I hear this from both spiritual and non-spiritual people.)
“I am a slave to my salary, benefits, and health insurance.”
“I am 50 years old and I still wonder what I am going to do when I grow up.”
The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vox”: Voice. This is where we derive the idea of a Calling.
Most of us want to be engaged in a Calling, not a job. We want meaningful labor, not drone-like activity. Gratefully, living in a relatively free country, we are at liberty to seek out such work.
For some reason, however, Callings are elusive. Part of the problem for some people is that they are waiting for a Clear Voice or Sign, such as St Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. However, this is NOT the norm. For most people such clarity comes gradually, over a long period of time.
Sometimes, you start out as a General Practitioner: you do this, that, and the other. You gradually discover that you are good at this, hate that, but only find meaningfulness in the other. A dawning then occurs. The whisper of a voice is heard … a voice that seems to be calling us in a certain direction.
At other times, we may wake up at 65 years old, look back at four different careers, and, Shazam, we hear it! What we experienced as four different paths is now seen as having had a single thread running through them all. “So THAT is my Calling!”
For some people, their job is what pays the bills, but their charity work or community service is their Calling. While some discover how to wed the two, others do not.
There is nothing essentially wrong with working at a job for money. St Paul did this when he became a tentmaker, didn’t he? The money he made from his business was used to support his Calling.
The challenge with a job is that they are rarely all that fulfilling. I understand that, given today’s economy, many people would be glad to have even a frustrating job! My point is that when comparing a job to a Calling there is a world of difference.
Of course, a career is better than a job: at least when it comes to a sense of satisfaction with your labor. With a career, there is a field you have chosen to specialize in and a path moving ever upward that you are following. However, if the path ceases moving upward with more and more challenges and rewards, it can become almost as unfulfilling as a job.
Answering the Question
As I see it, the concept of Calling, is an answer to the question, “Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence?” For the majority of us, I don’t think the answer to such a critical question can be answered a minute or two after asking it!
What are my highest and most sacred values?
What are my gifts and talents? (What has always come easy to me?)
Who are my heroes? What do most of them have in common?
What makes you angry: not ticks you off or aggravates you, but makes you angry? Poverty? Injustice? Ignorance? Self-destruction? People who are suffering from curable diseases?
This last question may be new and possibly even troubling for some of you. However, when you think about it, if, for example, one of your highest values is Justice, then injustice is going to make you angry, eh? Now, if many of your heroes are lawyers and judges and crusaders against injustice … hey, isn't this telling you something about yourself that may help you discover your Calling?
Consider this quote by Abraham Kuyper:
When principles that run against your deepest conviction begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become a sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your conviction bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.
Something is terribly wrong: you see it, you hear it, you sense it. When you begin answering the question, “What am I going to do about it?” you just may be hearing a Voice … or at least a whisper of a Voice.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3
This passage has haunted me, ever since High School.
“What if I miss the tide? What if my eyes are not sufficiently trained to see ebb and flow?”
Then, seeing that I had missed an outgoing tide, the debilitating self-doubts and condemnation.
“What would have happened had I taken the tide, rather than choosing to stay in the relative safety of the lagoon? IDIOT!”
“I thought—‘I must stay in the lagoon with him/her/them … I will hate myself if I go out with that tide, leaving them behind.’ Now I see the truth: I sold myself—and them—short.”
“I thought—‘I don’t feel peace about that tide … ‘ Now I realize that, as with all momentous decisions, there is some discomfort.”
“I wanted to take that tide but those I thought wiser than I told me it would lead to pain and suffering. Now? I see they had their own agendas and plans for my life: plans that made them happy, but left me longing for the tide I had missed.”
Plans, Agendas, and Expectations
It is wise to plan for the future: to craft your budget, create a map for your career path with timelines, etc. Creating strategies for getting to where you want to go is critical for success. HOWEVER –
Do you know anyone older than 40 who is exactly where he planned on being, doing what he planned on doing when he was 20? Go read books about the creation and growth of some large corporations. Note how not one of them ever created a long-term strategy that actually worked out as planned. A Tide unexpectedly arrived and … whoosh, off they went!
Markets change. Shift happens. Better ideas emerge. The Tide takes you in a direction you had not foreseen.
The challenge of plans, strategies and the agenda of others, is that they can easily place blinders on our eyes, blinders that keep us from seeing the Tide.
Of course, sometimes we see or sense the Tide we want to take, but the circumstances are such that this Tide must be taken with others—a new relationship, a different orientation for our team, an alternate route for the business. However much you are convinced that this is the right or wise course to take, if he/she/they do not agree, you can’t head out to sea. Painful? You bet. But my focus here is where the choices are yours to make.
Learning the Ways of the Tides
Discerning the Tides is an art, more than it is a science. Here we are moving in the realm of inspiration, serendipity (providence), and intuition.
Watching for the Tide of opportunity is not like following a map. There is no “Take this road for 2 miles, then turn right at that intersection …” In watching for Tides, we are looking out for signs, hints, and symbols.
The Lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither indicates clearly nor conceals but gives s sign. Heracleitus
What may a “sign” of a coming Tide look like … sound like … feel like?
Over the past year, you have felt a deep sense of frustration over your job. One day you are reading a biography and there is an incident that occurs in the story that rings a bell in you soul—there is something here for you: maybe wisdom, maybe inspiration … you aren’t sure exactly what it is, but it sticks with you.
A week later, you are having lunch with a friend who shares with you something about her life that, strangely enough, has the same ring to it as the one you heard while reading the biography. Only in this scenario, you sense that your journey is similar to hers in some way that is important, or should be anyway. She did something that was new and attractive to you … but you can't get your head around exactly what it is.
And then—a month later—you hear about a job opportunity that, up until today, you would never have considered. It isn’t on your map. Or is it? You can almost hear the crashing of the waves, smell the sea: it reminds you of the story you read, of the actions taken by your friend. And – whoosh! Off you go. Or not. It’s your choice.
No, it wasn’t on the map. No, it wasn’t part of your plans. It is the way of life, however-- the Way of the Tides.
Remember the words of St James: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.
Go ahead and make your plans. Keep in mind, however, that you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Stay open to the signs. Pay attention to your intuition. Follow the inspiration … all the way to the outgoing Tide and the open sea.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, in the movie, WALL STREET
Gotch’ya! Title is a tease. Most everyone reading this would disagree with Gordon. Why? Because we know by experience and history that greed ultimately bankrupts individuals, corporations and nations because it is blinded by the lure of immediate gain, at any and all costs.
Greed is stupid. It is so blinded by the prospect of immediate reward that it fails to take into account what will be lost. And, what, you ask, will be lost?
“Here it comes. This is where Monte is going to hold-forth on the priceless nature of virtue.”
Well … kind of … but probably not in the way you think.
Greed is stupid because it is not in your best self-interest. Not in the long run, anyway.
Think about it. When my greed drives me to cross over the ethical boundary of, say, Do Not Lie (con, commit fraud, inflate figures, etc.), I may experience immediate rewards, but at what cost to my reputation? Who is going to want to do business with me in the future? How much money am I going to lose in the future because of this? And what about my reputation with friends and family, people whose evaluations and opinions deeply matter? And what of my relationship to my self? What damage have I done to my soul?
When I lie about my co-workers so as to place myself higher up on the corporate food chain, I am setting myself up for a future fall. Sooner or later one of those “idiots I so easily climbed over” is going to see to it that I am exposed: probably by sawing off the rung upon which my feet are standing. Worse yet, can I honestly think the Powers That Be will not see me in a less-than favorable light?
All of us act according to our self-interest. Not all of us, however, think about our long-term self-interests. Yes, even those of you who are spiritual act in your self-interest. For example, you “deny self” because of the value you place on the reward (God’s pleasure, favor and blessings) for having done so. In other words, you believe it is in your long-term/eternal best interest to make certain sacrifices. You who place great value on devotion to the welfare of others do so because it makes you feel good about yourself—you are “happy” because it is of value to you to behave in such a manner.
I place “happy” in quotation marks because I am not referring to momentary chuckles.
Sometimes my long-term happiness requires that I endure the pain of sacrificing B, because it was best for me to attain A. You may want B, but you want A more.
B. Eat a healthy scrumptious meal
A. Fast for the sake of spiritual or mental clarity
B. Buy some needed clothes
A. Save money for children’s education
B. Get a good night’s sleep
A. Sit with a friend who is ill
B. Have time for recreation
A. Go to night school three nights a week and Saturdays so as to provide more opportunities for advancement in your career
Getting back to Gekko …
The reason I wrote that Gordon was “almost” right, was because, today, when people use the word “greed,” quite often they are actually referring to “self-interest.”
There is nothing wrong or immoral about wanting to prosper. Wealth is not a sign of or synonym for Greed. As John Wesley (the pious founder of Methodism) said about money, “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” You can neither save nor give money, however, until you have gained some of it!
There is nothing intrinsically immoral about seeking to take care of your self-interests. The question is, how do I go about fulfilling those interests so that I remain healthy (physically, psychologically and, if you are so inclined, spiritually), prosperous and happy over the course of my life … and, if you believe in God, throughout eternity,
Of course, today, when people seek to look out for their self-interests those who intend to make others sacrificial lambs call them Greedy. Remember: wherever there is a sacrifice there is someone collecting the benefit of that sacrifice. If you believe that it is in your long-term interest to choose to sacrifice time/energy/money for the sake of another, the sacrifice is a free-will offering. When someone demands the sacrifice, however, we are moving into the territory of slavery.
Consider the recent charges against The Wealthy by some politicians and ask yourself:
Why is it virtuous for Government officials to seek more and more power, but an act of greed when a corporation does the same thing?
Why is it that money found in Government coffers is Good, but in my hands it is a sign of Greed?
Why is it virtuous to demand that people sacrifice more and more of their money to the Government, but greedy for a businessman to make a profit for his labor and want to keep most of that profit? Frankly, I do not believe there is a single corporation in the US as greedy as our Government.
This nation was founded upon what our forefathers believed to be our inalienable rights … rights that come from God, not the Government. These rights include “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”: your life, your liberty, and your happiness.
Don’t accept the premise that guarding your inalienable rights is immoral. The fact is that it is the most moral thing you can do, as doing so is an act of stewarding the life and gifts God gave you. Or so I believe.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I believe that everyone is “interesting,” that no individual is without value or interest. Sadly, some of these people hide their colors, and others are simply sleepwalking through life. Call these sleepwalkers, Delta-Beings.
A fully functioning brain can generate as much as 10 watts of electrical power.
Beta: Strongly engaged brain. Brain waves of 15-40 cycles per second.
Alpha: Not all that engaged. Brain waves of 9-14 cycles per second.
Theta: Daydreaming. Brain waves of 5-8 cycles per second
Delta: Deep, dreamless sleep. 1.5 to 4 cycles per second.
Delta-Beings always play it safe.
Delta-Beings do not ruffle feathers, trouble the waters, or rock the boat.
Delta-Beings will do what they are told to do…immediately…without even thinking about it.
Delta-Beings think tradition is off limits and that the mantra “We have always done it this way,” is divine wisdom.
Delta-Beings always agree with everyone—even when they all are disagreeing with each other
Delta-Beings don’t stand out.
Delta-Beings don’t know that there is a box, much less that they might want to think-outside-of-it.
Delta-Beings are predictable.
Delta-Beings parrot the company line, even after it is proven that it is only a punch-line to a very old joke which no one finds funny.
Delta-Beings rarely do anything “wrong.”
Delta-Beings do not challenge.
Delta-Beings can only solve the problems of the past.
Delta-Beings do not create, they only maintain.
Delta-Beings resist visionaries because such people require that Mr or Ms Delta-Being wake-up!
What can you do, if you are a Delta-Being?
Go find weird people, eccentric players, and off-the-wall-thinkers that never encounter a rule they don’t question. Find people who are allergic to boxes. Get to know them. Be challenged by them. Allow them to take you on the magical mystery tour of their thought processes.
Look around you. Look at your office and your life. R-e-a-l-l-y look. How many people of color are there? How many people from different cultures and countries? How many of your friends think exactly the way you do about almost everything? SNOOOOORING!
Read books, magazines and periodicals outside of your industry. Read up on genomes. Read Tolkien. Read Bob Sutton’s, Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. Read books which challenge the way you have always done-it, believed, thought. Shake-up your brain.
Visit museums. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of creativity and self-expression. Consider the nuances, the juxtapositions, the shades, and the spaces. Go read up on the lives of the artists who move you. If they are still on this planet, contact them. Go meet them. Listen to them.
Visit a nearby graveyard. I am serious: dead serious. This is where you are headed. No matter how many years away it is, it is not all that far away. What will the epitaph read?
Wow! What a Ride
Monday, September 27, 2010
One of the questions that comes up when dealing with the topic of reinvention—at least as I am describing it—regards “manipulation.”
“When we create a role that takes up space in the minds of the Powers That Be, are we not seeking to manipulate people?”
Contrary to some people’s thinking, I see the word “manipulation” as value-neutral. The question for me is always Towards What End? I deeply appreciate the chiropractor manipulating my weary bones, for example.
The word “manipulation” is like the word “ambition.” There is rarely success or progress without ambition, yet for some reason it is usually spoken of pejoratively. The question for me, however, is, “Ambitious for … what?” Only then can I assign a positive or negative value.
When seeking to persuade someone to come to a decision or to take action, do you not speak in a certain tone, choose appropriate words, generate a certain degree of energy? Are you not thereby seeking to manipulate the person?
Most all of you reading this Dress For Success (to some degree, anyway) when you go to work, entertain potential clients, etc. Are you not seeking to “manipulate” people to see you in a particular light?
When you step into a room filled with the Powers That Be (PTB), do you not move Just So: making certain you speak to him, acknowledge her presence, make the rounds so as to be seen by them? Why? You do this because it creates the desired image (Power and Authority), which, in turn, will serve to add cache or value to your reputation. You are “manipulating” your image in the minds of others, are you not?
One of the comments previously posted was, “People see what they want to see.” I couldn’t agree more. People look at us through the prism of their beliefs, expectations, present psychological states, biases, etc. So, if you decide that keeping your job is important to you, that success is critical to your future well-being, I suggest that you ascertain the mindset of those you intend to influence and then craft the role you need to play, so as to be perceived in the manner you desire.
Example. If The PTB perceives your quiet demeanor as weak (due to their peculiar mindset), then you will want to “act” in ways that they will consider strong or assertive. Quiet is not a synonym for Weak, but some people think otherwise. If these people are the Gate Keepers, it doesn’t help for you to sit quietly, thinking quiet thoughts to yourself about their idiocy. You have to “act” in ways that demonstrate your strengths in their minds.
Example. The football stadium is filled with 60,000 citizen-voters. The choir is singing, America the Beautiful. Right when it gets to the phrase, “The laaaaAAND of the FREEEEEEE …” four fighter jets burst across the sky. And then, “Ladies and Gentlemen” (American Flags waving in the wind behind the individual): “The President of the United States!” Or, “The Future President of the United Sates.” Why this act? Because the symbols create the desired image … these are symbols that others perceive as “Presidential” and “Patriotic.” (I do think that, today, people are quite aware that such “acts” can be deceiving, but the point is still valid: “I need to act Just So, so as to create the desired image.”)
To all of this, some will still insist that, no, they are NOT seeking to manipulate, only to influence. Whatever.
Okay. If it helps, think in terms of “managing your image.”
What is the image you want to create in the minds of others? How are you going to accomplish this? How will you manage yourself—dress, talk, comportment, and expertise—so as to maintain this image?
If you don’t care how others perceive you, you are handing your image (and reputation) over to others to manage.
Maybe they will do a better job than you?
Maybe they care more about your success than you?
Maybe. I doubt it.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Show me a man who is a good loser and I will show you a man who is playing golf with his boss. Jim Murray, American sports writer and Pulitzer Prize winner
It seems self-evident, but all too often I have witnessed otherwise sane people making their bosses look bad. This is usually NOT a good idea. In fact the only time I can think it would be okay is if the boss was on his way out … but, even here, it can backfire on you, as it may cast you in a poor light in the mind of your future boss, not to mention your peers.
As you are reinventing yourself, creating a role that will take up space in the minds of the Powers That Be, you will want to be careful when both you AND your suoervisor are in the stage at the same time. In most cases, bosses prefer being center stage.
Give the boss credit for your ideas. Publicly. He knows who did what. If he wishes, he can deflect the praise and give you the Atta-boy. If he receives the praise for work he did not do ... well that is useful information, isn’t it?
If you run a successful project or campaign, make certain you say something to the effect that you couldn’t have accomplished x without his support. Yes, even if he did absolutely nothing to help you. You hold your job because he chooses to keep you employed, so it is not that much of a stretch to say, “He supported me,” is it?
Never argue with your boss in front of other people. If you have a serious problem with what he is saying or doing, go to him in private. However, even if no one else is around, maintain a respectful demeanor. Yes, even if he is unjustly chewing you out. Stand your ground, make your points, but do not hit back. Ever.
I am not talking about those conversations where there is a lot of give-and-take: where the supervisor is looking for different perspectives, approaches, ideas. Here you should share your mind. Respectfully.
I know. Some of you are great friends with your supervisors. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can take liberties with him. Michelle Obama might call the President “Obama” or “Dear,” but I guarantee that his closest friends call him Mr. President. The office is to be respected. Period. (Ok. Maybe this is just a hallucination of mine. Maybe they call him "Barry." You get the point.)
Even Saints have egos. If you wish to remain in the good graces of your supervisor, you will not want to threaten his ego.
And if YOU are a supervisor and are reading this?
You need the team’s input. Encourage healthy debate. Remember, “teamwork” is not where everyone is running around doing what you told him or her to do!
Cultivate an atmosphere of openness.
Don’t be thin-skinned. Realize that your employees are telling jokes about you around the cooler. If you overhear them, consider telling a joke about yourself that you thought particularly funny. While you can’t allow disrespect to develop in your team, you also do not want an image that creates fear of ever disagreeing with you. You might as well acknowledge your humanity. After all, everyone around you is already aware of it, eh?
When appropriate, share some of your past defeats and failures. This will encourage your team to be honest about the things that are not going well for them … while you can still do something about it!
Seek to win your team’s respect, on a daily basis. Give praise where it is due and help where it is needed. Put flesh and bones to the vision and values you espouse, through you words, behavior, and attitudes. Be the sort of person you want others to become.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Admiration and familiarity are strangers
There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt.
Charles De Gaulle
If am often seen at the theater, people will cease to notice me
It’s finally getting cooler here, in Atlanta. Needless to say, for a guy who hates the heat, this is a welcome change. Of course, many people here are thinking the same thing, except, for the most part, when the winter months do arrive they will soon be pining away for the sun and heat. Not me, mind you, but then I am not the average guy. Ruminating on this led me to thinking about the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Or is it “Absinthe”? Anyway …
There is something about absence that we need to remember in our quest for developing an image of authority and power.
The familiar becomes boring, or at least something we take for granted
The familiar becomes predictable, which, in turn, means you are no longer unique
Familiarity breeds contempt: not always, of course, but often enough to make it something about which we are cautious.
Once familiarity sets in, people begin defining you in terms of your weaknesses and faults. Or so I have seen. Remember what Ben Franklin said, “Fish and visitors stink in three days.” Time your “comings and goings,” so as to never stink!
Obviously, if you are in the early stages of creating a role that causes you to stand out from the herd, you will want to appear everywhere: helping complete this project, adding value to that team, serving those supervisors in their quest for success. However, after your image is seared into the minds of the Powers That Be, it is time for them to experience some tactful absence.
Where is she? We could really use her input on this project?
Has anyone seen him lately? We need his wisdom on this.
Someone go find her and tell her we need her. It feels like we are only operating on 4-cylinders.
Most people don’t get this treatment until their funerals. Don’t wait until you die for people to forget about the things that bored, aggravated, or upset them, only remembering the good things about you. Learn when to leave the stage for a while, creating desire and anticipation for your soon return.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The last few posts I have been commenting on reinvention and the task of adopting roles (particularly at work) that cause you to stand out from the herd, in the minds of the Powers That Be. I have been careful to emphasize that I am referring to APPROPRIATE ATTENTION, mind you, using the illustration of how Court Jesters can attract attention but never be taken seriously.
For some personality types, the temptation is to think that the role that attracts the most attention is the gadfly. First of all, most offices already have this actor. so you won’t be standing out all that much. Second, the incessant talker who insists on chiming in on every topic of conversation, no matter how inane, is, as everyone knows except the gadfly, annoying. Not exactly the image of authority, eh?
But what about the person who, eschewing the inane, feels that he must have something important to say, something “valuable” to add to the “important” conversations? While you certainly do not want an image of being the Fifth Wheel--an unnecessary appendage that can easily be removed without any measurable loss--adding your two-cents so as to always be seen as a contributor is worth … what? Two-cents?
Silence is Golden
In my last post, I suggested that extroverts may want to consider refraining from a constant need to be transparent, so as to create an air or aura of mystery. This is different from the silence that is due to fear or insecurity. “What if I say something wrong or stupid?” No, the role I am referring to is the one used by actors such as Mitchum or Burton, whose serene stillness attracted the most attention.
Think about it: In an age where everyone is preening, posturing and prattling on and on so as to grab his or her Fifteen Minutes of Fame, it seems to me that, today,
Less is More
Minimalism Trumps Maximalism
Or at least this is a possibility that you may want to consider when creating your role.
Saying less, remaining silent when everyone else around you is speaking, can be a challenge.
Have you ever noticed how many people expect you to share your every thought, to be “honest” about your feelings regarding everything being discussed, and then insist on interpreting every word you have spoken? Of course, his or her interpretation is The Truth, regardless of your protestations! Have you also noticed how many of these same people then use that information to control you? “This is who you are!” “That is what you said.” Thereby putting you into a box from which, in their minds, you will never escape.
If Information is Power, then information given at the most appropriate time and in the most succinct manner—well, that is nuclear power!
Guard your thoughts. Hold your cards to your chest. The more people press and cajole you to be “honest,” to make your “contribution,” the more they are simply playing into your hands. Wait … waaaaait … not yet … hold your tongue …
When you do speak, do so in short concise sentences, and do not say everything that is on your mind. He will go crazy over what was not said. She will seek to add to what you were intending to say (or so she thinks), had you kept speaking. When they do this, they will invariably let you know their thoughts, their motivations, and their agendas. Handy. Also, when the meeting or conversation is over, their every thought will be about you: what you possibly meant (or was it?), and what you left unsaid.Voila! An image of Mystery and Power, created.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
The responses to my last post keep rolling in: most all of them positive, all of them with questions regarding the correspondent’s particular situation. Of course, the majority of the emails I received were from introverts. Go figure. You would think I was asking people to show up to work in their underwear! But that is what it initially feels like, when an introvert acts “out-of-character.”
In considering playing other roles—roles that cause us to stand out, to take up space in the minds of the Powers That Be--I think the question that we must begin with is this: How important is your job and your desire to be successful?
The first time I attended an Improvisation workshop, I thought I was going to toss my breakfast. What held me there? I was anchored to my desire and intent to move audiences to take action in helping the destitute around the world, as well as becoming a more powerful corporate trainer and coach. I felt locked in to a single way of being and acting. I had one “role”: The Real Monte. The problem was that this “Monte” didn’t always move people toward my goals. My outcome was more important to me than my comfort-zone.
There are a zillion fundraisers in the US. Most of them are honest and sincere in their dedication to the organization’s mission. Same goes for trainers and coaches. However, when the stage is filled with so many other “actors,” you had better do something to compel attention, or you will recede into the background. You aren’t going to be noticed, if you are backstage.
Listen. I am not suggesting that you roll yourself up into a carpet so you can be unfurled before your audience. Although it worked wonders for Cleopatra when she first met Caesar! What I am suggesting is that you create a role that emanates power.
Taking on a role that causes you to stand out from the herd does not require that you play some over-the-top character. The movie actor Robert Mitchum learned that if he stood perfectly still while the movies’ marquee stars moved about before the camera, he could steal the scene, drawing the viewers’ attention to HIM. Richard Burton quite often did the same thing while acting on stage with the world’s greatest Shakespearean actors. Serene stillness is far more powerful than histrionics.
For my introverted readers: Take Baby-steps! Maybe all you need to do, so as to take up more space in the minds of your “audience” (supervisor, co-workers, etc.), is dress with a bit more flair. Subtle shifts can be powerful shifts.
For you extroverts: Maybe you will want to cease being so transparent about your life, so as to create an air of mystery?
Reinvention is not simply about taking on a role at work that fascinates and entertains. Court Jesters can do this but no one takes them seriously. The role should be inspired and informed by your goals. The purpose behind reinvention is (appropriate) attention, increased power, and success in your career. If the roles you choose do not achieve these outcomes, let ‘em go and create a new one.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Aurore Dupin Dudevant arrived in Paris in 1831. She left her husband because, she said, marriage was worse than prison. She was weary of other people dictating whom she should be and controlling how she should act. Her intention was to take her life into her own hands and become a successful writer.
Becoming a successful writer at this time was an impossible task for a woman. What female writers that were able to get their books published in those days did not earn a living by their royalties. She was reminded of this hurdle when she showed her writing to a publisher and was told that she should go make babies, not literature.
Undeterred, Dudevant devised a strategy for reinventing herself. She would not play society's games. She would not be restricted to the role “proper women” were to assume. She would not be held down by the old boy’s network. What did she do?
Having always preferred men’s riding breeches to that of a woman’s, she began dressing like a man. All out. Long men’s coats, cravats, the whole shebang. She also would smoke and drink just like the men of her day, and, quite often, curse with the best of them. She then published her first novel, Indiana, under the pseudonym, George Sand.
This female-behaving-as-a-male intrigued people … especially the male artists, who welcomed her into their clubs.
Okay. They were French … but that’s beside the point! The point is she refused to have others dictate her role in society. Had she not taken on a different role, she would have never experienced the success that came her way as a writer.
Choose Your Roles
Hugh Laurie only plays a doctor on House.
Mark Feuerstein only plays a concierge doctor on Royal Pains.
These are roles that each actor has chosen to play. Only close friends and family have a clue as to their real personalities. No one condemns them for this. No one cries out, “FRAUD!” Even their families and friends realize that the guy on the screen is not the guy at home in the living room. And this is cool by them.
At work, what role will be most useful, most conducive to continued effectiveness and success? What role do you need to play so as to realize your dreams? I am not suggesting that you change who you are at your core. (Although, the roles you play often rub-off on who you are as an individual.) I am suggesting that you may want to learn to take on various roles, so as to achieve your goals.
In 1970 when I began my studies at Samford University, I was a Music major. (Voice and piano.) I loved classical music and found that learning instruments was quite easy for me. However, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was going to be required to perform in front of people. My personality profile was spot on when it noted that Monte E Wilson, III was an extreme introvert--off the charts, in fact. My High School counselor told me to stay away from anything with moving parts … and people. I kid you not!
My first anxiety attack came the day that I was told it was time for juries. I was to sing before four professors whom would then grade my performance. Worse yet, my jury was going to include Dr. Claude Ray, the Dean of the Music school. I immediately began wondering about another choice of majors.
While standing outside the jury room, waiting for my turn to sing four songs--one which would be in English, the other three in different languages—a young lady ran out of the room crying. Anxiety turned to panic.
For some unknown reason I remembered the fact that many of my favorite movie actors were quite shy and introverted, but became someone else before the cameras. Could I pull this off? Could I pretend to be someone else, a character in a movie that was a great performer? You bet!
When it came my turn, I said to myself, "SHOW TIME!" I went in and nailed the performance. I had chosen to play Mr. Extrovert.
While I didn’t remain in music, my career path required that, most days, “Mr. Extrovert” took center stage. Leadership seminars, corporate trainings, and fundraising for charities required that I play a role: a role that was the opposite of my true personally and way of being. To this day, all but my family and closest friends think that this role is who I am, that I am jazzed by being with large groups of people and standing at center stage.
My passion is helping others to become successful in life, cross-contextually--by which I mean “successful” in every area of life. I saw that Monte the Introvert was going to be limited in his ability to achieve his outcomes, and, therefore, needed to take on different roles.
The people in your world quite often wish to be in charge of who plays what role. They have determined that your role is Ms Mouse or Mr Limpwrist. However, you know what you want out of life. You know better than anyone else what roles will get you to where you want. If you aren’t careful about not allowing others to play Casting Director in the production of your life’s work, you will end up only having a cameo appearance … in the production of their life’s work.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010