Archive for November, 2009

Three Laws of Performance

November 30, 2009

I haven’t read this book but I am going to. I have read a bunch of articles on it at the book’s website:

I often go to the business section for ideas about how to help people with change, rather than self-help or psychology. I have summarized some of the points that stood out for me below.

1)  What’s the truth about where we are going? This is our default future, and as the Chinese proverb says, “if we don’t change the direction we are headed, we’re likely to end up where we’re headed.” Answering this question  requires a lot of listening and inviting people to talk about things they generally don’t talk about much. It is something people experience at a gut level and it really drives their behavior though. It includes assumptions, expectations, resignations, cynicism. It is different for everyone so everyone needs to be heard.

2) Do you want to go there?   “there” being your default future

3)  What kind of future would you be willing to commit to?

What do we need to deal with within ourselves or ‘get out of the way’ so we can start to see the situation in a new way?

This generally involves separating the facts of a situation from our interpretations of those facts. Those facts, cleared of interpretations, will reveal an always present ‘field of possibility’ with facts acting ‘dots’.  We may be able to see them without all the clutter, and we may be able to make some new connections. We may discover what we really want to do.

It starts with really listening to folks, how they see things occuring, how they talk about those occurences, and how the use of future- oriented language can transform those situations to people.

Rather than describing the past or present – future-oriented language makes :

1) declarations

2) commitments

3) promises

4) requests.  (I would add that this can only be done effectively if people really know they can say no to requests. This opens up more conversation about assumptions, beliefs, etc. that to that point has been unsaid.)

The key is to start the conversations about what is often unsaid but permeates everything we do and heads us to our default future. Lay it all out there and get to work on clearing out the field, unless the default future looks good enough to you. Be careful not to assume you see your default future without this very honest self-examination. People usually gloss it over with hopes and expectations and deny they are even headed toward it.

This work is not easy. Not a quick fix – actually  quite outside the realm of ‘fixing’ things.


Weekend happenings

November 21, 2009

We went to Providence Place Mall to get a leg up on some Christmas shopping – me , Reena, and Josie. We focused almost exclusively on Gabrielle’ s list. We went to Hollister, where we were greeted by all staff with , ” what’s up”. At Abercrombie’s, they say, “What’s going on?”. And at Delia’s, they say, “Hi, How are you?”.  We also went to Journey’s – a hip tween/teen shoe store.  Josie didn’t like the first two places.  Everywhere you turned there are headless maniqans, and they were scary. She was offered stickers at the shoe place but refused – too pissed off by then. She was a big ‘ole  fussbucket most of the time, as was Reena who has a very bad cold. But Reena did inspire this trip. I have to give her credit. Hollister tried to sell me some cologne. I didn’t want to be a dick and tell them the last thing I want is to smell like their store, so I said nothing. We got home  and everybody crashed and we ended up missing baby Grace’s birthday party.  Crap. Sorry Michelle.

But we are feeling a bit of a pinch these holidays since we don’t know when we are going to be traveling in December to get Clara Rose in China. We’ll bring Grace a friend just about exactly her age – 2 years old, and of course, a little sister for Josie. Josie sees the trip to China to get Rose as an escape from reality whenever things aren’t quite going her way. She’ll whine to us, “I wanna get Rose…..”

I don’t have the G and X this weekend. G was at a birthday slumber party that she said was fun. They went to the library with their Mom today.

I have a basketball game tomorrow at 1 pm. Our team is 5-1. We are a ‘old team’ in this league, but all our guys know how to play and we can all put it in the basket. Most of the other teams have a guy or two that may be a good athlete but really can’t make shots. i think it makes the difference. Tomorrow we are playing another 5-1 team, so we will have a battle.

A beautiful but maybe too heroic prayer

November 18, 2009

I found this post in a post here –

It is the prayer of an Roman Catholic priest during his ordination. It definitely is recognizably RC with its emphasis on suffering as the path to grace.  It is touching and challenging.

I had no doubt about what to ask. I was sick, and it was killing me, but I specifically didn’t ask to get better. I said, “Lord you know that I will forget to follow you and depend on you . You know that I will not turn to you anymore as your child if I feel I can make it on my own. So you have to break my heart always, you have to keep me poor and humble, you have to keep me incapable of anything without you. You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well. You have to break my heart.”

I gave this response in the comment section:


I read this line, and I thought something was missing:

     “You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well.”

I would add – “or not” – to the end. If you want to become more aware of how you depend utterly on God, you can’t decide how he is going to help you with that. You can ask for a sign you can recognize, and this priest certainly expresses his preference based on what he knows about himself – so far.
But maybe that is the real heartbreak, you are going to have depend on God without easily recognizable and convincing prompts, as opposed to heartbreak by “things not going well”.

But I could be wrong – or not.

The Anchoress heads her blog with this quote:

“Ideas create idols, only wonder leads to knowing. ”

St. Gregory of Nyssa

….ideas about suffering (or not)  included.

The story of Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac, then not…comes to mind.  God seems to promise to just confound us if we become to certain(or not)  and  lose our capacity to wonder.

More on patience and kids

November 18, 2009

I have had a few quotes on patience recently, and my last post about my kids and chores speaks to that issue also.  I think that I have assumed that patience means you stay calm while you wait for something to work out. But how do you really do that? I think you have to be decisive in order to stay calm. Decisiveness is a sign of confidence, not that things will work out, but that you are making the best and safest decision you can in the moment. If you have to make 20 decisions in a minute to really respond to something adequately, than you better do so. The feeling of impatience may be a sign that you have to make another decision, or it may be a sign that you are not following through on the decision you already made. Somewhere in this mix you have to have a mission and purpose for what you are doing. You have to decide on that and stick with it.

I tried to do that in my last post about the kids’ chores – articulate a purpose.  When I was having to hound them, I clearly was not fulfilling that mission and purpose. As a result, I became impatient. But then again, I hadn’t yet clarified my mission and purpose.


You must strive to be patient both with what you want and what what you do not want: for each of them will try you. Exercise both kinds of patience and deserve the human name.


Chores not getting done, Dad getting pissed

November 16, 2009

I am having a lot of trouble dealing with my older kids with respect to doing chores.  It is a familiar story to many I am sure. I have to lean on them to do them, and they give me so much attitude that I just want to do it myself. I also pay them $20/month which adds insult to injury. I get angry after awhile and then I have the bad attitude. 

I am thinking of renegotiating the whole thing from the ground up. Start with a clean slate.

Not sure how to do it but I am going to start slowly – very small and easily enforceable agreements.

What’s the big deal here?

 I am going insane.

I want them to see the relationship between work and hunger and food and room to move around and clothes and a house that doesn’t stink and time and money to relax and play. I want them to experience how all of it is interrelated and without one component you don’t have the other.  More of one component, as long as it doesn’t exclude the others, leads to more of the other.

The depth of patience

November 14, 2009

Patience is being patient with your patience.

– Idries Shah

Patience is the opposite of aggression. I think you have to work at it though, talk yourself into patience and as well as through it and expect it to be like a squirmy toddler that needs lots of repetition and kindness .

Stayin’ Alive

November 12, 2009

Words have to die if humans are to live.

 ….always seek balance between rejection and faith.

 There may be many layers of meaning to this quote, which I picked up from Idries Shah, but I think it has application to the dangers of being too literal, on the left – with political correctness, and on the right, with religious fundamentalism. And if you think about how these two extremes interacted at Fort Hood last week, maybe it doesn’t seem like just a bunch of philosophical mumbo jumbo.

See enemy, blink, die

November 12, 2009

 Why did  we fail to catch onto the threat of Hasan?  Sen. Lieberman will convene the Homeland Security Committee and try to answer that question. There has been a lot of debate since 911 over how much effort ought to put into preventing this sort of thing. That’s fine, but at the end of the day, our leaders cannot seem ambivalent to their soldiers and federal agents about the need to always err on the side of caution and apologize for the inconvenience later.  From the WSJ:

The most-heard reason for the possible failure is political correctness. No doubt. But Sen. Lieberman’s committee should avoid making this its main line of inquiry, because that is a problem without a policy fix. It minimizes the real problem.

The problem is confusion. The combatants at each end of the spectrum in the war over the war on terror know exactly what they think about surveilling suspected terrorists. But if you are an intel officer or FBI agent tasked with providing the protection, what are you supposed to make of all this bitter public argument? What you make of it is that when you get a judgment call, like Maj. Hasan, you hesitate. You blink.

Now everyone thinks the call was obvious.

Associated Press




In war, uncertainy gets you killed.

Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2009

People died so we can be safe and free. Just sit for a minute and contemplate that…..starting now………. Don’t put it off. You have a minute – 60 seconds.

Did you do it? I did. It helped me to focus by thinking about how much it hurt to have people i have loved die, never mind killed. It also helped me to be concrete about what it means to be safe and free. I have these people to thank for the comfortable life I live. It also helped me to focus by holding my breath for 60 seconds. It starts to hurt and in spite of myself I get panicy once I start going past 60 seconds.

Call me crazy …but I just don’t want the meaning of Veteran’s Day to be a fucking abstraction.


November 11, 2009

This is a prayer written by the Persian Sufi – Saadi.

Do to me what is worthy of Thee.

Not that which is worthy of me.



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