The Meaning Of Pain

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Wow, I am so impressed with my daughter.


I spoke with her this evening and she has grown into such a smart, mature, and good person. 


We were talking about some hard times.


And she said to me so smartly (and I am so proud of her):

“The reason that we have pain is to avoid more pain.”


Wow…think about that for a moment. 


Everyone gets physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain in their lives. 


Even little things like stubbing your toe, getting a small burn, or a paper cut–these things give you a instant or more of pain…but it jolts you into attention of what to avoid and to action how to protect yourself to prevent further and worse pain down the road. 


A little pain now can fortunately save you a lot of pain later!


(Or in the gym they say, “No pain, no gain.”)


My father used to say about difficult life lessons:

“Better to cry now than to cry later!”


He was right–bad situations generally don’t get better with age. 


Continuing the discussion with my lovely daughter tonight, she said to me:

“A person becomes better when they struggle. I’ve become better by struggling.”


Again, like little pains, even larger struggles in life challenge us to learn, grow, and become better and stronger people. 


I remember as a kid–when we went through those growth spurts–it would actually hurt a little–some muscle aches here and some cramps there–whew, a few inches taller already. 


Growth hurts, but it’s kind of a good hurt that only someone with the emotional intelligence to understand maturity and betterment can really grasp. 


No, I’m not advocating for self-flagellation–just that we know when pain and struggle is a defining moment in life–like shaping and sharpening a great sword in fierce fire. 


It’s hot, but the heat is healing and necessary sometimes to grow as human and spiritual beings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Aging Is A Process

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This guy was a hoot on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 


His shirt says:


“With age comes oldness.”


Ah, yeah!


When he was sitting, he had his arms crossed over his chest, and I thought it said:

“With age, comes baldness.”


That too!


Getting old is not easy.


Being young is not easy either. 


But it’s really how you handle yourself during every stage and turn in life that defines who you are and what you become as an person and a creation of G-d. 


You’ve got to get up and walk the dance through thick and thin…life bring old age and oldness…what’s the alternative. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Feeling It All

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Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 


We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can’t hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what’s called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring–because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me–8 years–and I would listen to their “mature” girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, “You need to get a thicker skin!”


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others–but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception…sometimes you can see what others don’t, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings–sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Walking On Rocks

Walking On Rocks

The first few times when I started hiking, I had this paradigm that I had to walk between the rocks–sort of like hopscotch–then I realized that I could walk on them.

For a long time, I had heard about how thinking within the box constrains our thought processes and innovation.

It was interesting for me to see this in action just by the way I initially viewed a basic skill like hiking.

The paradigms we use to view the world alter what we think and do, and only when we break out of the proverbial box we are in, can we really see and be open to other ways of being and doing things.

You can walk between the rocks or you can climb over them–whatever works best for you–just be open to seeing things in many different ways.

No one way is necessarily better than another–they are just different and each useful in their own time and place. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Washington DC in 1892

Washington DC in 1892

This is a beautiful lithograph from Currier and Ives that I came across of Washington D.C.

It is called Chesapeake Bay Area – The City of Washington.

It’s amazing how much less developed things were just a little more than a century ago.

You can clearly see the major landmarks and institutions like The Capitol, the Washington Monument, and The White House, but not much else in terms of government.

Notice that even the Supreme Court building isn’t there–it wasn’t completed until 1935.

We are a fast-growing and advancing society with a maturing government and capital city that today makes this historical photo look almost as if it’s from fairy tale.

It’s nice to look back and see how far we’ve come and introspect on where we are going. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Being Yourself Is a Full-Time Job

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There is a saying that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

But over time and a level of professional maturity, I’ve learned that rather than act, there are times when the more prudent thing is too hold your tongue and your will to take immediate action.

In the Revolutionary War, they said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

Back then, the strategy was employed to conserve ammunition, and today, similarly, it is way to preserve relationships and manage conflicts.

Indeed, sometimes, it’s harder to do nothing than to do something–when we are charged up in the moment, it takes a strong leader to keep their head–and hold back the troops and the potential ensuing fire–and instead focus on keeping the peace and finding a genuine resolution to tough and perhaps persistent problems.

An important exception is when ethics and social justice is involved then everyone must find their inner voice and speak up for what is right–that is not the time for a wait and see approach.

The lesson for me is that while it can be challenging to at times hold your fire, and at other times to find your inner voice and speak out–this is where sound judgment and willpower come into play.

In this light, I said to my daughter that “It is sometimes hard just to be yourself.” To which she replied wisely, “yeah, and it’s a full-time job too.” 😉

She’s right–we have to be ourselves and follow our conscience all the time–whether it means taking the shot or holding our fire.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Oh Candy)

>Turning IT From Frenemy to Friend

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Fast Company (December 2008) describes Frenemies as a “thrilling intricate dance” of friend-enemy relationships.

Half a year later, CBS News (July 2009) reports that this words is added to the dictionary: “Frenemysomeone who pretends to be a friend, but is really an enemy.”

Recently, I’ve heard the term applied to Information Technology, as in they they here to help (i.e. friend-like), but boy are they often an obstacle as well (i.e. enemy-like).

Obviously not the message any IT executive wants to hear about their folk’s customer service and delivery!

Today, the Wall Street Journal (25 April 2011) writes about the “discontent with the [IT] status quo” and it calls somewhat drastically to “Get IT out of the IT department.

Why?

Based on responses from business and IT leaders, here are some of the key reasons:

– “IT is seen as overly bureaucratic and control-oriented” (51% business and 37% IT)
– “IT doesn’t deliver on time” (44% business and 49% IT)
– “IT products and services doesn’t meet the needs of the business” (39% business and 29% IT)
– “IT consists of technologists, not business leaders” (60% business and 46% IT)

Therefore, the WSJ states “both for competitive and technological reasons…business unit leaders need to start assuming more control over the IT assets that fuel their individual businesses.”

This is being called “Innovative IT”–where “IT shifts to more of a support role. IT empowers business unit self-sufficiency by providing education, coaching, tools, and rules, which allow for individuals to meet their needs in a way that protects the overall need of the enterprise.”

The result is rather than delivering IT to the business, we deliver IT “through the business.

In this model, there is an emphasis on partnership between the business and IT, where:

IT provides services to the business (i.e. through a service-oriented architecture of capabilities)–systems, applications, products, tools, infrastructure, planning, governance, security, and more.
– The business exploits these services as needed, and they innovate by “dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes, and piloting changes” that will most impact on-the-ground performance.

I believe this is consistent with stage 4 (the highest) of architecture maturity–called Business Modularity–as described by Ross, Weill and Robertson in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: In this stage, we “grant business unit managers greater discretion in the design of front-end processes, which they can individually build or buy as modules connected to core data and backend processes. In effect,managers get the freedom to bolt functionality onto the optimized core.” The result is a “platform of innovation…[that] enables local experiments, and the best ones spread throughout the company.”

Related to this are interviews in the WSJ today with 3 CIOs, that all bear out this IT leadership direction:

– Frank Wander (Guardian Life Insurance)–“We have IT embedded into each business and we have a seat at the table. We’re partners.”
– Norm Fjeldheim (Qualcomm)–“We’re structured exactly the same way Frank is. IT is embedded in the business. I’m only responsible for about half the IT budget.”
– Filippo Passrini (Proctor & Gamble)–“Our business partners are people outside IT….in the past we were always in ‘push’ mode…now…there is a lot of ‘pull’.”

So one of the goals of IT and business is to transform from a relationship of frenemies to friends and genuine partners; this will leverage the strengths of each–the expertise of our technology professionals and the customer insights and agility of our business people.