Dreams Can All Be Good

DreamSo the Rabbi’s wife told us a neat idea about dreams (which was very poetic in Hebrew). 


Basically it goes like this:


“If you have a good dream then your day is good, because you remember that good dream 


And even if you have a bad dream then your day is still good, because you are no longer dreaming.” 


It’s nice when you can come out a winner and have a good day no matter what happens in your dreams at night. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Nesster)

Eye To Eye

Eye to Eye
I took this photo from a sticker plastered on the street corner in Washington, D.C. 



What I like about it, aside from it’s cute, is that I see a message here about good communications and conflict management skills. 



Notice the eyes are different (one is green/yellow and the other is orange/blue)…like it’s two people. 



But there is one mouth open, speaking between them.



This speaks to that while we may be talking to each other and even think we are saying the same thing (“violently in agreement”), we need to make sure that we are listening, understanding, and working through our differences–so at the end, we are both really “seeing eye to eye.” 



While each of us is different, and we may never fully agree (and cabn “agree to disagree”), we can also negotiate and come to terms on a win-win course of action. 



Talk it out, bridge the gaps, and get to a place where we not only are able to see eye to eye, but can then go forward together and make it truly work. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Government Shutdown – On The Street

Government Shutdown - On The Street

Day #3 of the Federal Government Shutdown.

I am reminded on the streets of D.C. that there are many others hurting and in need.

Pictured here are some hardworking folks striking against “unfair labor” practices.

They’re up early and are standing there ready, presumably willing, and able to work.

At the bottom it says, “Employer refuses to bargain in good faith.”

With news coming again this morning about continued failure in talks on the government budget (and debt ceiling not far behind), we are left wondering when good faith and compromise will bring 800,000 federal workers back to their jobs.

All these people have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and jobs to perform.

I read this morning how the Federal workers are feeling like “pawns” and “marginalized” like never before.

Perhaps, we can get more done by helping people feel a level of control, valued, and with purpose?

The world is still a big and scary place with lots of dangerous actors and challenging problems.

Rather then political polarlization and indecision, we need to stand firm by a definite set of sacred national values (while compromising on the implementation details), project the strength to defend them both domestically and abroad, and stay fair, faithful, and unwaveringly united to perform our vital role in this world.

To solve large global problems, we need to be able to show that we can manage our own house in order first. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Government Shutdown – Rush Hour

Government Shutdown - Rush Hour

Today was Day #1 of the Federal Government Shutdown.

Pictured here is rush hour in Washington, D.C.

In terms of raising revenue to pay down our national debt, solve challenging problems facing our nation, or increase our global competitiveness–I am not sure how this gets us there.

With around 800,000 people sitting at home or in Starbucks waiting to be recalled to work, about the only good thing you can say about the furlough is that it was easy to get a seat on the Metro.

Sad, but true. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pleasure At Pain

Pleasure At Pain

Why do people laugh and feel pleasure at other people’s pain and misfortune?

The Wall Street Journal (20 August 2013) reviews the book, The Joy of Pain, on this topic.

Schadenfreude is the German word for feeling pleasure at the calamity of others.

And we see people laugh, point, and otherwise gloat when others are hurting physically, emotionally, financially, and so on.

When they fail and you succeed, you feel strong, powerful, self-confidant, and that you were right–and they were wrong!

Feelings of pleasure at other people’s pain is partially evolutionary–survival of the fittest.

It is also a function of our personal greed and competitiveness–where we measure ourselves not by how well we are doing, but rather relative to how others around us are faring.

So for example, we may be rich and have everything we need, but if someone else has even a little more than us, we still are left feeling lacking inside.

Thus, we envy others’ good fortune and take pleasure in their misfortune.

In a sense, our success is only complete when we feel that we have surpassed everyone else, like in a sport competition–there is only one ultimate winner and world champion.

So when we see the competition stumble, falter, and go down, our hands go up with the stroke of the win!

Anyway, we deserve to win and they deserve to lose–so justice is served and that makes us feel just dandy.

How about a different way–we work together to expand the living standard for all, and we feel genuinely glad for others’ success and real empathy for their pain, and they too for us–and we go beyond our pure humanity to something more angelic. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution for Lukas Vermeer)

What’s Diplomacy Anyway?

What's Diplomacy Anyway?

This was a humorous engraved stone that I found in a gift shop today.

It is a Concord “Words From The Wise,” engraved paperweight, crafted in England.

Diplomacy is generally associated with negotiation, persuasion, consideration, tactfulness, etiquette, and respect. However, this engraved paperweight has a little bit of a different view of it–“The art of letting someone have it your way.”

Diplomacy has traditionally been differentiated from the use of military power in that diplomacy relies on “soft power” (co-opting or winning over cooperation), whereas the military employs “hard power” (coercion). Both are ways of handling relations and resolving conflict.

More recently, some foreign affairs experts have started to use “smart power,” which is situational-based–leveraging alliances and partnerships in some cases and a strong military in others.

In any case, it’s all about working together to bridge differences–and like the “Easy Button” the best way is to maintain a strong relationship, whether you get your way or not. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We Are Driven!

Riots

We are driven to do what?

Some of us to succeed and others, seemingly, to various destructive behaviors that thwart our success.

In the book, The Charge, by Brendon Burchard, he argues that we need to harness our drives to increase our success rate.

Burchard categorizes our drives into baseline and forward drives–and has 10 of them–almost like the Ten Commandments (Cs)–five in each area (or on each tablet).

Baseline drives are those which he says make us happy:
– Control
– Competence
– Congruence
– Caring
– Connection

Forward drives are those which help us evolve:
– Change
– Challenge
– Creative Expression
– Contribution
– Consciousness

Wonderful–10 C’s, all nicely packaged.

While I generally agree with these human drives, something is not satisfying about these–they seem academic, stale, and the fodder of a marketing brochure.

Where is the energy of humans to live, love, and laugh?

Where is the longing for spirituality, purpose, and meaning?

Where is the drive to do good and occasionally, to do what we know is wrong.

Where are the vices–the drives to conquer, to own and to hoard, to go crazy at times,?

Burchard has provided a very one-sided picture of human nature–maybe the side, we would rather acknowledge and focus on, but in ignoring human frailties and tendencies to veer off to the other extremes as well, he is missing an important point–and that is the human nature is a fundamental push and pull.

Yes, we are driven to happiness and evolution, and on one hand these drives manifest in the rosier side of human nature such as care and contribution, but on the other side, people drives to happiness and evolution may mean their taking what they want, when and how they want it, and to the exclusion of others who are competing with them in a world of limited resources.

It is nicer and easier to envision a world, like the Garden of Eden, where there is plenty for the few, and everything is provided and just a pull from the fruit tree away.

But in the real world, it is wiser to recognize that our happiness and evolution may mean someone else goes hungry tonight–sad, but true; and only when we are real, can we work to overcome this and to provide plenty for all–through safeguarding of basic freedoms and human rights for everyone.

Happiness and evolution can be different for the individual and society–for the individual, one’s gain may come at another loses (e.g. the stock market, competing for a spot in top-tier school, or beating out the competition for that plume Wall Street job), but for society, success means creating win-win situations where everyone can go to bed with a full stomach and knowing that they have a fair shot at opportunity tomorrow.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Beacon Radio)

Don’t Communicate Like A Dump Truckity

Do_not_push
I don’t know a lot about huge dump trucks.

But I wondered what this meant when it says on the back of this multi-ton vehicle–“Do Not Push”.

Don’t worry, I won’t! 🙂

In life, we often communicate things that either we aren’t really clear about, don’t mean, or end up being misunderstood for.

In fact, probably one of the toughest “soft skills” to learn is communication skills.

I don’t know why they call it soft, since when you communicate poorly, you can get hit over the head–quite hard.

One of the biggest issues is people who talk too much (i.e. they dump on others), but aren’t very good at listening. Hey, they may as well be talking to themselves then, because communication is a two-way street.

Good communications skills include the three C’s: clarity, conciseness, and consistency, and I would add–last but not at all least–a T for tact.

Communication skills also overlaps with the ability to effectively influence, negotiate, and create win-win solutions, so actually communication is at the very heart of what we need to do well.

When communicating, don’t be pushy and don’t be pushed around (i.e. get dumped on)–and don’t get hit by that over-sized dump truck–communicate early, often, honestly, and with passion.

(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s The Right Thing To Do

Berlin_wall

In election season, there is a lot of confusing messaging and as citizens, we are left trying to figure out where to go with our country’s leadership next.

 

The rhetoric is heating upas each side tries to outdo the other on why they are right and the other side is wrong on the issues and who will be better at leading us into the future.

 

– But where is the negotiation, balance, compromise, and win-win for all the people?

 

Then of course, there is the blame gamethat seems to go on too, with politicians saying things aren’t getting done because of partisanship or this administration or that’s mistakes–this is the finger-pointing.

 

– What ever happened to the buck stops here?

 

Related, we have others that won’t even admit what they’ve said or where they standon the issues–first, they may just try to deny it and say they never said it, and perhaps later, they admit they said it, but they didn’t mean it quite that way–like, it’s a sound bit taken out of context.

 

– Is this conviction or just playing to the audience?

 

Finally, what are candidates even trying to sell us when they are electioneering–slogans, potshots, sleight-of-hands, political publicists or genuine directionfor how to make this country great.

 

– Is it a person, a party, or a platform that we are even voting for and how does race, ethnicity, sex, religion and so forth factor in to the votes?

 

Some commentators, like Peggy Noonan, have rightfully said (Wall Street Journal, 18-19 June 2012) that candidates must find a theme that people can sensibly grasp unto–something that gives a “sense of meaning” for their run.

 

Ultimately, we need to know who the candidates are as human beings–what is in their soul–what do they really think–and most important, what will they actually do, if they have the power.

 

A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial called “Four Words that Moved The World: ‘Tear Down This Wall'”–those where the words uttered by then President Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 in a speech in front of the Berlin Wall.

 

Reagan told his deputy chief of staff that even though some would be mad at him for saying it, “it’s the right thing to do.”

 

Those six words are even more powerful than the four in his speech, because, especially as a leader, doing–not just saying–the right thing, is everything!

 

The hard part, as voters, is figuring out who will dowhat the right thing when they are called on.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Randy Robertson)

 

In Search of a True Patriot

Flag

This morning I saw Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and professional wrestler, on Piers Morgan (CNN).

He was promoting his new book Democrips and ReBloodicans.

He was comparing our two-party system to a bunch of L.A. street gangs!

On one hand, he sounded crazy—claiming our politicians were nothing but thugs –fighting each other to get and maintain street power, rather than doing the right thing for everyone in this country.

Yet, despite Ventura not being the most eloquent speaker, some of his craziness sounded spot on.

Politics has gotten way too political!

The politicians stick to their party lines—pointing fingers and denigrating the other side—for our country’s problems.  Each side claiming they can do better.

One side taxing and spending, the other side cutting both—both sides driving our countries finances over the financial cliff.

Dictators are driven by their desire to get and hold power as long as their military might and repression of the masses holds out.

But democracy is supposed to be different—we are a nation that takes pride in looking at both sides of the equation and coming to a middle ground that makes the best sense for everyone.

What happened?

Each side has pushed things just a little too far and then farther—getting power and then abusing power for their aims, forgetting about compromise, and leaving the other side lying in wait for when they can pounce on their opponents and re-assume power to undue what the other has done and push ahead their agenda.

This is a vicious game of ping-pong, where a volley is never achieved, but rather each side treats every shot as their last.

Civility and political correctness has left the palace.

In its place, a desire to win power and keep power at all costs.

An infatuation with doing for themselves at the expense of others—all the while telling themselves, this is truly for the good of the country.

Or like they used to say on the TV show Hill Street Blues—“let’s do it to them, before they do it to us!”

A country cannot successfully govern, by doing and undoing or by looking out for only 1/2 of the constituents.

Some way must be found to restore leadership—where government is again recognized as by the people and for the people, where integrity is valued more than power, and where our country’s future prosperity and survival trumps a parties’ survival in the next election and their partisanship agendas.

The examples are almost too numerous to mention with our political parties locking horns while budget and tax showdowns loom, deficits continue to boom, government shutdowns are being groomed, healthcare reform is up for grabs, employment continues to sag, and we wax and wane between war and peace—now cyber and kinetic—in hot spots around the globe.

Civil war is such a strong term—and in the Civil War, this country saw the loss of more people than all the other wars we have been in combined.

Again, we face a type of civil war, where one side is trying to beat the other rather than join forces in conquering our nation’s ills and building our capabilities.

The results can be a similar devastation where problems fester until they explode and lives are lost, not in one side picking up arms against the other, but because we self-destruct in our own greed and contempt.

Leadership bridges, not divides, from across the political spectrum and all our leaders are needed now more than ever.

Jesse you are a “crazy dog,” but you say some things that are undeniable truth.

We need to look beyond the surface of unconventional people and hear the message that running politics like street gangs is a losing battle—but we can change rivalry to partnership if we see past the different colors, and instead focus on the red, white, and blue.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)