Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

This too Shall Pass (Likely)

Why do things have a way of working themselves out? For most of us, most of the time, regardless of how much or how little planning things have a way of working themselves out. Even when a detour jumps out of the bushes or the sky seems to fall on our heads, we find our way to the end of the road. It might not be the destination we were seeking or via the route that we expected but somehow we make it out the other side. Tragedy can strike and we go on, a windfall can arrive or be lost and we continue, or boredom, stress, or health concerns weigh us down and we march on.

Most of us have had setbacks that knocked the wind out of us and left us reeling; an untimely death, an unexpected diagnosis, a broken relationship and yet we soldier on. We reflect, we ruminate, we readjust, and we remain. I don’t believe there is an exceptional characteristic that allows us to overcome. It seems to lie in the process.

There is a bit of ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”, a bit of ” don’t let the bastards beat you down” and a lot of living in the pain and through the pain to the other side. Sometimes the ache can be erased, sometimes it can be accepted easily, but mostly it needs to be acknowledged, accepted, and absorbed. The suffering and pain leads to somewhere, somewhere better or at least different from the current state. To clarify, I am not talking about individuals who suffer from debilitating and deteriorating illness. Their condition might leave little room for relief from long-term distress. But if someone is suffering from diabetes and their illness is managed by treatment, they go through an initial depression but generally adapt to the new normal of medication and/or injections and the regimen becomes part of their day-to-day.

Unfortunately, what seems like an organic process of reflection and recovery requires intention and commitment to staying the course when our instincts scream retreat. Living in the anguish without judgement, accepting that many/most things are beyond the span of our control, and resolving to allow for the time it takes and the energy it requires to feel the depths, hold in the deeps and rise up, in a controlled, steady ascent. This is not something to be taken lightly nor without support.

The world is a much better place when we live in interdependent relationships; giving and taking support, grace, and service to each other. It is difficult for many of us to seek and accept these gifts from others, even those closest to us. We find it much easier and more pleasant to give love, provide nurturing and solve problems for others. There is a happiness glow that occurs when we use our strengths to strengthen others because our brain chemistry is triggered to release chemicals that interact with neurons that signal pleasure in our brains. When we ignore or reject assistance from those around us or stoically deny we have any issues, we are robbing our friends and family of the same pleasure we seek.

My thesis is that we overcome circumstances and adapt with the help of those in our community (community being a group of people who know and depend on each other) while we recognize, acknowledge and live through the downs and ups in our lives.

Who depends on you? Who do you depend on? How are you ‘working through’ a detour or unexpected situation in your life?

B

fiction · Teamwork

Together

Once there was a land where the great rivers flowed from the mountains onto rolling hills and across fertile plains. Blue skies, red sunsets, amazing vistas and abundant wildlife abounded. Freedom loving, hardworking people came and for a hundred years and they worked together and built upon the land. The tilled and seeded, raised livestock and built cities and more freedom loving hardworking people came to join them. They mined, felled, drilled and dug the bountiful natural resources and built a strong caring community. A community where cowboys cared for children and city dwellers supported farmers. A community where each person accepted responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbours grew. If a barn was razed, it was rebuilt. If a road was impassable, it was cleared. If someone was troubled, they were lifted up. If a barrier was identified, it was overcome – together.

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There was a bounty shared by all who cared to join the inhabitants of the land. The blessings of opportunity, promise and hope teemed in a measure equal to the material blessings that were created. Hope was born out of industriousness and inclusion. As hope flourished, unimagined opportunities manifested themselves and unexpected forms of providence appeared.

Neighbours didn’t always agree but they lived together with honour and respect. They debated passionately but held space for the opinions of others.

A man came into the land and saw all that was good and he was jealous. Envy and despair grew in him and he set out to undermine and destroy what the people had built.

Saying to one here “you deserve more” another there “ why work so hard” and another “ that isn’t your job” At first his prodding was ignored and the people kept living together in community but the man’s voice was joined by many others with the power of print, radio, and TV. Their message began to take root. “Why worry about your neighbour. Was he there for you?” “Leave that for the next guy to do. You have done your share already”. “Let’s hire someone to do our work and we can relax in the sun”.

After a few dozen years or so, the passion and purpose that built the land was forgotten and the language of self-reliance and responsibility was erased and replaced by delegates and servants hired to look after every need. The sky darkened and neighbours built fences of fear. Trust evaporated and was replaced by rules of entitlement. People still came seeking liberty but they didn’t find freedom and opportunity and the sweat of their brow or the power of their skills wasn’t appreciated. A community turned into a group of individuals who happened to live in the same place. The man and his ilk said ” Our economy is strong”, ” we have too many freeloaders”, ” we need to protect ourselves”, ” we can’t let more people come here”.

Soon neighbour threatened neighbour. Disagreements were handled by the court. Prisons were built and filled and more prisons were needed. Debate became vitriolic rhetoric full of untruths and logical fallacies. Distrust turned to disgust and then to hatred. Hope evaporated and opportunities disappeared. People stopped coming and started to leave. The man and his bloc were satisfied that their jelousy had poisoned the community and they packed their carpetbags and moved on to infect another place with their economic arguments, their prejudice, and their fear.

This story is written by someone who observed the shift – a child born in the midst of abundance and caring who now nearly 30 years old, sees scarcity and greed. Her great wish is for a return to ‘the good-old-days’ but realizes that fear has its foothold and is gaining strength. It would take leadership, commitment and comp[assion to restart the journey towards hope. She can’t do it alone but she can do her part with a challenge; “I leave you this story, how it continues is up to you ..”

Original Thought · Self Improvement

Lean into Uncertainty

Certainty is one of the3 c’s along with comfort and convenience that are eroding creativity, courage, and curiousity and replacing it with the mire and muck of complacency . In my  opinion we need more uncertainty, inconvenience and discomfort. 

Certainty justifies and facilitates intimidation and bullying. When you or a ‘leader’ are so sure that you are right, you stop listening and asking questions. You stop widening your knowledge and begin digging a narrow trench. From the rut, outsiders begin to look dangerous so the ditch gets deeper in order to keep them at bay. Soon they are so far removed from the trench worldview that their unclean ideas feel like a threat so whenever you are able you put them down and diminish their worth. The self fulfilling prophecy of reciprocal resentment leads to ad hominem mud slinging. He said ” nasty stuff”, they said “nastier stuff” and the barrage escalates until someone is pushed too far.

Certainty means that I don’t need to be creative because “my way is the right way”. Comfortably entrenched, I punch the clock and trust the “tried and true”. If we weren’t so certain we could be open to the possibility of different ideas and positions. I could be curious about how, why, what you believe and you might be open to listening to my h,w,w.

I challenge all of you to be observant today and throughout the week for opportunities where you are certain of your position or conclusion and then lean into uncertainty and see how uncomfortable it makes you. – Stay curious.

Make Today Remarkable, by leaning into uncertainty,

 

B

Original Thought · Uncategorized

Choices

Can the world change at a global scale or is all meaningful and lasting innovation local? This week, I heard John McKnight say ” generousity is the lubricant that makes neighbourhood viable.”. I don’t believe we, as individual actors, have the capacity to create and deliver the level of generousity he envisions except at the most local and democratic level. In 1804 Thomas Jefferson was running to be PoTUS on a campaign that could be summed up as ” I believe every American, given the opportunity and circumstances, can and will take care of herself, her family and her community”.

I may be naive and too optimistic but I trust that the spirit of magnanimity and the commitment to our tribe is still alive, if not well, in North America. If we can awaken personal responsibility, involvement and awareness of consequences we can begin rebuilding our local communities on generousity, care and respect.

The breakdown of global systems, organizations and theories, while devastating, may be the critical impetus to allow mutual aid and unmeasured reciprocity to embed itself into our culture again. As we need each other, we can serve each other. Brexit, divisive European and American elections, financial and environmental crises, distrust and anger are matched by a rise of optimism, service, entrepreneurial spirit and loyalty. There will be clashes and ‘haters are gonna hate’ but past the vitriol there is a new way waiting for us to steel ourselves and demonstrate the seed of hope.
The news, as it is portrayed and the divisions it creates is one way to view the circumstances. But a change of perspective fosters a different response and results in a different future. We can, individually and in small tribes, change how we see the world, how we respond to challenges, a alter the future with relentless small scale incremental shifts in our decisions and actions.

We can choose not to participate in the fall and degradation. It is a matter of commitment to a different path. Make your choice and make your community.

B

Choices #celebrateblessings

Original Thought

What do I Need to Learn?

“Every day I am surprised by what I know, what I don’t know and what I don’t know that I don’t know.” ~ Bob McInnis

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I had two long conversations today about culture change processes, intentionality, stepping stones, and establishing social norms in an unfamiliar and fluid environment. I recognized that some of the work I have been doing ans most of the reading has equipped me with some language, some models, and definitely some opinions about how and why people with something in common engage in the creation of a common culture and readily accept social norms. I know enough to have a theory and enough to facilitate significant shifts and enough to be dangerous.

I don’t know how diversity plays into the formation of common culture. One suggestion today was that we need to take Diversity 101,201,301 specific to the group we are living with, working with and playing with. For most we need to get to know or be reminded of our dispositions and tendencies so we can share them with others who we are interacting with so that they know I am not being a jerk – I just see the world differently and have different needs and practices. We understand tribe members better and figure out how to utilize the diversity to create an as yet unimagined game plan or solution.That would be 101 and 201. 301 takes us to  a place where our egos are set aside and we demand diversity by reaching out to those who see the landscape differently and asking ” Can you take a look at this and help me understand where I am going wrong?” Then I need to listen to the other opinions without resentment or defensiveness and after the feedback is provided reply with ” Thank you, you have made my project better.”

I still don’t know what I don’t know but based on the conversations, learning and impact I am committed to being receptive to outlandish, incomprehensible, out of my frame of reference challenges and to widening my scope of mentors to include a couple of folks that I really don’t agree with.

Are any of you up to the challenge?

B

Uncategorized

What to Do in your 40’s

If I knew then what I know now (or think I know) I would have done some things differently (maybe). This isn’t regrets (I have a few, but then again too few to mention). This is about offering encouragement to readers in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s to take action to change your world earlier than I undertook. If you have personal goals for a distant future, don’t put off starting until a later date (usually when I have more time, have more money, have more energy, experience..) Excuses are poor reasons to not begin.

I am healthier today than 10 years ago, I am smarter today than 10 years ago and 10 minutes ago I have stronger relationships than yesterday and last century. I wasn’t intentional about these changes until the last 6 years. Every day my intentions rule my actions and inactions. Every day I have the choice to do things or not do things that make my life, my family, my world better. I am better intentionally recognizing the choices and imagining the impact.

If I knew then … I would have set significant long term goals and then putting in place 10 day landmarks, 100 day navigation points and 1000 day destinations for as many longer term aspirations as possible. The higher level discipline of intention and accountability towards something important (to you) will reap remarkable benefits when you are a decade older and another decade older …

Make Today Intentionally Remarkable,

B

Uncategorized

Big Ideas Require Community

Actually if  big ideas are going to remain just ideas, they only require one person. One person who holds onto the idea, tightly, refusing to share out of ego, fear, or the unknown.

Big ideas that get recognized, get acted on, get changed, change something are finessed, financed, finalized and fun when a group/tribe/community rallies around it. Big ideas need supporters to promote, pitch in, and praise. When friends, family and colleagues come alongside your idea it has the chance to become remarkable. Big ideas need detractors (just a couple) who challenge, change, and check (and then cheer). Improvement comes from different viewpoints. Big ideas need hands and feet to test, adapt,retest, and lift and tote and bleed and sweat, and do whatever is needed to make the big idea into a remarkable action.

“I can do this myself (and get all the credit).” ” They will think I am crazy.” ” ” I don’t know if this is any good.”  might be the resistance you run into. Resist the resistance and share.

Make Today Remarkable, for yourself,

B

Uncategorized

Each Community is Different

Traditionally government departments have worked independently in providing services to children and families. Too often services are fragmented and too narrow in their focus. To achieve a broader, better quality of service, government departments need to work together and with community organizations, agencies, families and individuals. Community involvement is essential in this process. By working in partnership, government and communities are better able to identify problem areas and gaps in services, identify solutions and plan prevention strategies.

Collaborative, community-based planning brings together all the people and organizations who have responsibility for children. The work of communities in responding to child hunger is a good example of how well this functions. With government support, organizations and individuals have come together within communities to target resources – including buildings, volunteer help, equipment donations and money – and develop community-based responses to child hunger. In each community the approach used is different and reflects community needs, resources and expertise.

Although poverty is the largest single risk factor for children and youth, there are other factors to be addressed including injuries and conditions leading to hospitalization and deaths. Poverty and social dependence are complex issues, and result from many factors within society and an individual’s life. Effectively addressing these issues requires the partnership of communities, agencies, governments and individuals. Each member of our society plays a role in that society. Our efforts are strongest when we work together to address the serious issues facing children.