Posted on October 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Permalink
It's a beautiful Autumn day. I'm sitting in a nice spot at McDade park enjoying the sunlight as it reflects against the changing leaves. I can hear the crickets chirping in the wooded area next to me. I stop to reflect on my journey.
Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever. This is true for both good and bad in our lives.
What do I have now that I didn't have before? Three words come to mind. Present moment awareness. I'm no longer in a state of "what's next", waiting for the next big thing. Now I realize that everything is as it should be in this moment.
Being in this state of mind is intentional. It isn't a one time resolution, rather a result of the daily practice of getting quiet. It is the process of clearing the mental detritus in order to allow room for possibility. It is an awareness of things that reside in the unknown. As I practice, I'm becoming increasingly comfortable with the unknown.
Present moment awareness allows us to become better listeners, better friends, and better selves. It allows room for non-judgement, and it allows you to become a witness to your emotions.
I'm grateful for what I have in this moment. Most of the time, that's enough!
This summer was a magnificent time for me. The weather this year was great for the outside activities I love so much. Car shows, cookouts, fire pits, and even an impromptu block party made this summer memorable. However, the most significant thing about the summer wasn’t something I did, rather someone I became. Let me explain.
Back in April, I began the daily practice of getting quiet in meditation. Like many of us, my mind was full of activity; some call it “monkey mind”. I also had a constant underlying low-level anxiety. So getting quiet was at first difficult. But I remembered an interview I watched on Public Television with Peter Amato, CEO of Inner Harmony Wellness Center. I grew up with Peter, and he is an author of a book called “Soul Silence; A Unique Approach to Mastering the 11th Step”. I read and learned much from the book. It helped me slow down my brain and get quiet.
I’ve discovered in retrospect that things happen for a reason and good intentions usually produce favorable results. Not long after reading the book, I was informed of a Yoga-based meditation group being formed. The group under the name “Pathway to Peace” helps raise awareness about meditation in the classroom. This was perfect for me given my work in education. The facilitator of the effort? Peter Amato. I don’t think I could have scripted this better!
These events sparked my interest in quieting the mind, so I read several books by Deepak Chopra. I began using some of his guided meditations with great results. I also read 2 books by the late John O’Donahue.
So what have I learned? First of all, I’ve heard it said that most of us are in recovery for something, and it doesn’t have to be substance or alcohol abuse. I’ve learned patience, awareness of self, awareness of others, and awareness of my surroundings. I’ve found a quiet place inside of me where I feel centered and truly alive. I’ve learned the simple truth that you can’t live in the past or future; the present moment is all we have. Most of all, I’ve learned I have a purpose. People tell me that I’ve changed and that I seem more relaxed. I guess its noticeable!
My life to this point has been an enlightening study for me. I’ve uncovered deep-rooted regret in the way I handled my disability, in the way I’ve treated people, but mostly in the way I’ve treated myself. That low-level anxiety I once had now shows up less often. I pay more attention to people, situations, and surroundings. I’ve learned how to witness my emotions rather than engage them. I’ve learned of “second attention”, that is, awareness of the unseen spiritual side of life. I’ve learned that we are all human and that self-forgiveness, although difficult, is worth the effort. I’ve become more comfortable with the unknown. The journey continues…...
I’ll be writing more here in the blog as I feel the need to share my journey with others. I’m also working on a manuscript for a book. My intention is to help others avoid or at least be aware of the pitfalls I’ve experienced. So please enjoy our journey together!
Please feel free to comment here and on Facebook.
I remember reading the recovery plan back in 2002. It contained financial projections both with and without the enactment of the recovery plan. It was hard medicine. Some points of interest:
The bottom line was that very few leaders in this government had the wherewithal to make the hard decisions. When hard decisions were made, the state, who set up the recovery plan, allowed the system to gut the same plan they developed.
Blame? How about blaming a broken system that nobody wants to change?
About a year ago, I shut down my Education Perspectives blog. It certainly wasn't because I had lost my passion for education. But when I looked at my blog entries, I realized that although I said my motivation was to change the world, I was instead expressing my opinions. I wasn't really walking the talk. Over the past 5 or so months, I've been making some decidedly deep personal changes. You'll hear about that in future blog posts. I realize that what is interesting, engaging or deeply important to me may or may not be the same for you. If you like what you read, you can follow my posts through Facebook.
So, I was looking through posts in the Education Perspectives blog that represented what I am really about. Funny thing is that the first post will be a guest post from the past. Carol Rubel is a friend and fellow educator who I admire. Rather than a long introduction, please read the following to find out why she is worthy of this admiration.
Years of working with "at risk" students intensified my belief that the only valuable motivation is internal.
The most fragile kids in our current educational system are, simultaneously, among the most adept at sifting nonsense from truth; they are, in my view, the consummate "crap detectors"!
Coming from environments in which their essential needs were either not met or marginally met (with a few notable exceptions, of course), kids clearly recognize that the fastest way to purchase peace is with an offering of dubious worth. Whether their experiences included being bought off by parents with an ice cream cone or silenced by teachers with the promise of a "reward" at week's end -- my kids knew that there was a quid pro quo framing their chosen behavior and the desire of their adult caretaker/educator.
And that system worked well ... for the kids.
It worked because it gave them a false and shifting sense of control: they manipulated their immediate environment by acquiescing to or refusing the demands of the adults with whom their primary relationships existed. And that made them powerful. Until ... the real world intruded.
Sooner or later, those kids realized that a world different from the "buy off for behaving" one valued nothing except internal control. Motivating smart and street wise kids requires an approach that is brutally honest with them ... every second of every day. When people ask me how I was able to motivate those kids, my answer can be reduced to a few words: I told them the truth... about themselves and the world they live in. And, after learning to trust me, they believed that truth. No magic formula ... no secret machinations.
At risk kids tend to be "smarter than the average bear" (a nod to Boo Boo and Yogi Bear for that one!). After all, that special intelligence they have is what kept them on their feet in circumstances that would level most corporate types into quivering masses of self-pity. Getting them to understand that real respect (as compared with street-level respect) acknowledges the personal and wider truth necessary for success -- not mere subsistence -- seemed to work!
No external rewards existed in Yellowwood, the alternative school I ran. Instead, kids did what they had to do because they learned to see the value in choice. They learned to recognize that the "real world" aka "normal world" ran by a series of principles that would never change. There goes that "truth thing" again! Yellowwood students learned that they could choose to remain in a dysfunctional world or leave it -- more choice. And, more truth ... no one could pull them from the world of skipped classes, failed courses, brushes with the law, active addiction, etc. No parent, no friend, no teacher could accomplish the movement from current place to different place. Only they could ... truth. If they chose to ... choice.
Don't misunderstand me -- while the prescription is fairly easy, getting the patient to trust the physician is not. But that, gentle reader, is what separates the true teacher from the license-bearing individual in front of a class.
Like all monumental ideas (think about Einstein's formula, for example), the apparent simplicity belies the work underneath. Kids ... especially those deemed to be "at risk" resonate to truth and choice. Truth and choice require accountability. Accountability frames success.
There it is: internal motivation - and only internal motivation moves people from one place to another.
May you find a teacher who can unlock the internal choice for you! Better yet -- may you BE the teacher to unlock the choice for someone else!
In my former position, CFO at a public career technical facility, we developed a culture of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is the basis for “Lean” and is generally something seen in private industry. For many, the Toyota Production System, or TPS, best exemplifies continuous improvement in manufacturing. This culture and associated methodologies also apply to knowledge work.
In schools and other governments, process discipline and continuous improvement can be engrained into areas such as budgeting, reporting, year-end reporting, bidding, record keeping and record retention to name just a few. A few of the areas we addressed were:
Again, these are just a few of the areas where process discipline was applied.
Let me make something clear; process discipline is not some impersonal system where the process takes precedence over people. Process discipline can actually engage people in collaborative work. Engaged people are effective people. And at the end of the day, effective people are happier people.
As I’ve said before, continuous improvement isn’t a methodology, it is a culture. When continuous improvement becomes part of the work, effectiveness soars. Ideas become essential. Searching for the “better way” happens on a daily basis.
In the end, “close enough for government work” doesn’t cut it!
We Americans love our sports. We love home runs, touchdown passes, shots from the top of the key, and Dale Earnhardt style passes in the grass. It’s those big plays that get our attention. But as many coaches will tell you, it isn’t always the big plays that win the game. In any sport, winning requires factors like mastery of fundamentals, consistent execution of small plays and yes, patience. Most coaches will tell you that they would rather coach people with workable egos coupled with the ability and willingness to master fundamentals; to master execution consistently over time.
There are parallels from sports to operating organizations. While the media shines light on organizations that “took the big swing” and became successful, the majority of organizations become successful not because of the big swings, but because they pay attention to the increments. They know that having a shared passion for a mission isn’t enough. They know that daily, focused and consistent execution usually wins out. They know that when they strive for continuous improvement, sustainable success is more likely.
Toyota Motor Corporation is a great example. The Toyota Production System, or TPS, is grounded in innovation and mastery of process. TPS isn’t some methodology that can be copied in other organizations; rather, it is a culture….a culture of unlimited ideas and flow of information. It has carried Toyota through difficult times.
Matthew E. May, Author of “The Laws of Subtraction”, talks about this in his Elegant Solutions Manifesto. “Chasing perfection through relentless improvement builds the capability needed to achieve cross-company innovation. There’s no downside to growing a strong portfolio of small ideas. Dealing in smaller currency lets you experiment more, get results quicker, and learn faster.”
So if you want your organization to be successful over time, take Toyota’s lead. Get good at the small stuff!
Last week, I watched the movie/documentary Race to Nowhere, The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture. The piece takes an honest look at the American school system driven by grades, standardized tests, and the undaunting pressure we place on our kids to "make the grade". It talks about a culture where getting into a good college is the be-all end-all of achievment; anything less may be defined as failure.
One quote by a high school student said it all. "You try to stuff as much information into your brain as possible, then as soon as you are done with it, out it goes".
The messages in this documentary give me hope for change. Our assumptions are wrong, and a MAJOR change to the way we as a culture define American education is essential.
Success is not
about accumulation of money.
Success has nothing to do with the size of your house or other material things.
Good grades don't necessarily lead to a good life.
Trophies and ribbons are not the real definition of success.
Many people considered successful were "C" students.
Many of these false definitions of success are sensationalized in the media. One educator reflected that the American school system is a "mile wide and an inch deep". Yet, legislators and other non-educators keep pushing standardized testing as the means to positive change.
Maybe we should ask teachers?
1. Getting an “A” on a test isn’t an indicator of intelligence.
2. Mastery is more about motivation than it is a test answer.
3. Life presents a continuous opportunity to learn.
4. Your stuff won’t make you happy. Giving of yourself will.
5. Challenge what you know and embrace what you don’t know.
6. Ask yourself what matters. Do that!
7. If you find yourself asking if something is right, you already have the answer.
8. Even when you do your best, failure happens. Learn and move on.
9. Guilt about the past serves no purpose.
10. There is a genuine you in there. Find it, be it.
I started watching re-runs of "Undercover Boss". Two things stick in my head;
I enjoy the show......it uncovers the fact that too many CEO's are out of touch. That doesn't cut it in today's business climate!
I'm making some major changes to Fresh Perspectives blog. I'm taking my own advice and will stop doing several things:
I will be referencing these short blog entries on my business Facebook page. Feel free to comment there.
"It's not about doing things better, it's about doing what matters better".....to quote myself. I sincerely hope these changes matter to you.
Posted on November 10, 2012 at 09:27 AM | Permalink