Wednesday, June 29, 2016

3 easy steps to becoming a hater.

What has happened to the world around us where instead of assuming the best of a person we automatically believe that they are the incarnation of evil? Racism, nationalism, sexism, fear of someone different seems to be what controls our thinking and ultimate life choices. So here are three easy steps to continue down the path of becoming a hater and make the false assumption that only you get it right about life. You should be running for president instead because only you know how to put the pieces of the world puzzle back together.

Step 1 - Assume that you are the only person that is capable of critical thinking. So you automatically doubt everything you hear and instead of analyzing, weighing and careful consideration you put someone down because what they have said or acted out is different from your personal preference in life. You truly believe that anyone that has a different personal preference from you must be brain dead or crazy.

Step 2 - What ever happened to WYSIWYG? Remember how one of the biggest challenges in the beginning phase of software development was making sure that what you saw on the screen was what actually printed out? Is it possible to see something and not really see what is there? I was taught as a kid growing up to always give someone a second or third opportunity to show me their true colors. Yet, too often today when I see something that seems to be different from my personal paradigm means it must equate to that person being evil, a nonperson or someone that I automatically discredit. 

Step 3 - I don’t know about you but I find myself too often sensing that most people assume what they hear spoken out on the Internet whether that is on YouTube, a TED lecture or the latest podcast must be true. I’m the one that truly believes that I could have said it better. Why wasn’t I asked to give the TED talk or why hasn’t my YouTube posts gone viral? I’m too quick to judge someone because of their success or more honest admission to my being jealous of that person. How is it possible for the voice of one to push a crowd into becoming a mob that overturns a police car and intentionally injures a stranger?

It’s tragic that the media and our culture is so quick to fixate on the bad ‘stuff’ that is happening around us to such an extent that we are drawn into being haters with little thought of the consequence and reasoning behind our actions. Riots seem to be commonplace regardless of the country or governmental rule. It scares me to think that people are so quick to hurt someone over a political candidate or make the assumption that different religious, racial or cultural backgrounds automatically equates to not being able to trust that person or their family.

The challenge today is that the topic of human dignity and human rights falls on deaf ears because the mega corporations or nations don’t show any practical value of the individual because what matters most is sadly the bottom line. So how does a hater transition themselves into becoming someone that sees value in all people even with those that they adamantly disagree with their values? I know that it’s so easy to be a racist and assume that my skin color is what defines the value of a person! Educations also can makes the ultimate dividing line between people with degrees being of higher quality and value than High School dropouts. All faith groups or anti-faith groups have some heretics or extremists that do things that shame the rest of us. So do we automatically ban all religious groups from entering into our communities or countries?

I tire of being drawn into the hater community! The news and media make it so easy to want to pick sides and be on the attack regardless of what the truth happens to be. Our city suffered with an ongoing presence of a freeway shooter. It was the governor of our state that tweeted out ‘We got him!’ that now sees an individual being released after 7 months of imprisonment and the State in the process of being sued for millions. 

Time to open our eyes, ears and mouth to praise the good that you see happening daily around you and also being quick to be an advocate for someone who is being hurt by another! I want the hating to stop! Join me in making a positive difference in the world around you!

What's most important in life? Your GPA or having GRIT?

Success, perseverance, persistence and passion look different for everyone. Yet, why is it the case that everyone believes that there is a short cut to finding your ‘sweet spot’ or zone in life? Is it really possible to figure life out when you are 15, 25 or 55? Isn’t it more likely that this is an ongoing adventure that redefines itself multiple times over the journey of what we call life?

I will always remember my dad’s adage that the difficult we can do in a few days but the impossible might take a little longer. Little did I realize as I watched my dad go from being an Air Force Aviator that flew all over the world to a caring husband who watched his lady slowly die a thousand times over 5 years to someone that literally lost his mind that he was the embodiment of grit, tenacity, perseverance and hope!
I was recently reading an article by David Brooks published in the New York Times about understanding grit and success in life. It was almost as if he was speaking totally against our present day system of assessing what makes a person more likely to make it in life. Does it really matter that I had a 2.5 or 4.5 GPA in High School or College? Brooks was quick to show that it’s really not possible to be great at everything so someone who gets the perfect score on standardized testing isn’t necessarily the real genius!

It was through reading Brook’s article that I was introduced to Angela Lee-Duckworth and her recent book on Grit. She shared her life story of being raised in a rather typical Asian Family setting where success and perfection were the standard raised before her. Her dad was rather slow to give her accolades or a word of praise. So this pushed her to pursue initially what she thought was the definition of success, working as a consultant in New York making way too much money. Yet, for whatever reasons this definition of success wasn’t for her and pushed her to teach in low-income neighborhood schools.
Her journey took her from New York to Chicago and back to graduate school to pursue understanding what really matters in life. What’s the key determinate factor that makes one person, regardless of IQ, pursue their dreams and make them happen versus another person who would appear to be a genius type that ultimately drops out of life? Or more importantly what has to happen for what appears to be the average type of person to see them keep pursuing their passions in life until they make it happen?

Duckworth studied students that entered into West Point Academy to see what was it that made some drop out before the end of their basic training and why others seemed to thrive off of the insane pressure and testing. Clearly these students all had to have high intelligence scores and be very involved in their community and are capable of getting the attention of their State Senator. Yet, the obvious results were that there was a significant amount of students who dropped out and didn’t ‘cut the mustard’!

What I find as fascinating is that Duckworth ending up receiving a special award and grant designed only for the genius types yet her passion was for those that don’t fit this typical grid in life. My dad was the one who grew up in a tough neighborhood, had his parent’s marriage end in divorce only to be raised around the stereotypical step-dad whose only goal in life was to demean my dad and make sure he failed.

My dad became a person that never complained or made excuses about his past! It wasn’t until my dad’s dementia had literally taken his ability to think and reason from him that a close friend from his Air Force days came for a special visit. It was over breakfast that I listened to Bill Dettmer sharing his story of how my dad’s leadership grit influenced him. I listened to a story I had never heard about how my dad’s tenacity for life had influenced this friend to not drop out of the Air Force because he didn’t make it as a pilot. I was in tears as I realized the type of person my dad was in relationship to his peers who usually were more interested in their own success then the success of others.

The good news through Brooks or Duckworth is that you don’t have to be a genius in life to make your dreams become a daily reality. Yet, the real news is that life isn’t going to ever be easy and dealing with failure becomes more important than your GPA or what letters you have next to your name. The real message is that perseverance, passion, having firmness of character and an indomitable spirit is the essence of what will make your life the best!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hater or Helper?

I don’t know about you but I tire of the ‘hater’ rhetoric I hear in the media and through our candidates for the highest office in the world.  What has happened to our nation that we are no longer viewed as a county of immigrants that learned to speak English and worked multiple jobs to make life happen? I think most of us can remember as a teen either making fun of someone who was different or watching someone else be a bully or a hater. How is it possible that now adults are the ones that push hater rhetoric and bullying? What happened to the golden rule, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you? Maybe it’s a different golden rule now, those with the gold rule?

The picture above this blog is of an elderly Chinese lady who is homeless. She clearly has some challenges in her life and usually receives criticism or hate instead of a helping hand. A few weeks ago a friend and I approached her with a helping hand.
I can’t fathom what it would be like to be a 70 something that has health issues to be on the street. What if you woke up one morning only to discover that your family or support had literally disappeared? 

My friend Wu falls into this category. She’s literally on her own without any help. What’s amazing is that she has figured a way to live on the street where most women would become a statistic. The sad reality today is that the media and our political machine are so quick to blame circumstances on everything but what really is the cause. I agree that there isn’t any quick fix or explanation totally on the reasoning behind why some people are haters or racists.

I was so fortunate to be raised by parents who taught me the importance of being a helper first before judging someone. I’ve discovered over the years that it’s so easy to let the culture around you influence you that it clouds your judgment and you end up speaking poorly about someone without any reason.  Usually it is because of someone else’s influence in my life that I gain a different perspective on culture and people groups.

I believe that prejudice, racism and hatred is something that is taught by example. Clearly little kids don’t understand racism or classism unless someone ‘enlightens’ them. It’s too easy to always blame someone else for the ills in the world and not see your part in making the world around you a better place! Recently I received a prank call where the individual forgot to block their number. Clearly someone else told this young person to do this ‘prank’ that was older and was being fueled by prejudice or hate. Imagine what would happen if the prank caller comes to their senses, calls me back, apologizes and responds to my request to meet and talk?

Clearly character, integrity and being a helper has nothing to do with your skin color, educational background or socio-economic setting! Why respond with being a hater when ultimately the language everyone understands is that of being a helper!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Instant gratification is like instant coffee?

I will be the first to admit that I was born truly believing that if I had to wait to get what my heart desired that my life would come to a certain end! As I have grown up in the instant credit age where reality has set in for some that maybe I can wait until tomorrow or even longer for that the next high tech toy, new car or play toy.  I can remember Starbucks promoting a certain type of instant coffee with most likely high expectations it would take off and increase its’ brand power.  Yet clearly you can’t rush something good like a fresh pour over or that latte!

I’m presently re-reading a book written over 35 years ago. What’s fascinating is how relevant the book is for today’s culture when it comes to understanding our bent to seek short cuts, have a tourist mindset and only want the highlights in life. We become bored with anything that requires effort! Eugene Peterson is your pastor’s pastor type that speaks volumes into today’s world that is seeking something but unfortunately comes up way too short in its’ pursuits that require real effort and would rather settle for instant gratification.

What’s fascinating is Peterson’s interest in Nietzsche who was far from his personal faith journey but shared similar passion about the benefit of personal drive and determination. The title of Peterson’s book, ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’, is a quote from one of Nietzsche’s famous works, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’. What’s amazing is that this cultural impatience is seen from all sides and that Nietzsche made the observation that this long obedience in the same direction results with a life that is worth living.  

Is there a benefit to hard work, experiencing hardship and seeing the end result that determination and perseverance might pay off in life? As I’m finishing a book on Grit that helps reveal that it takes more than a high IQ to rock the world but as Einstein would say it’s 99% perspiration and just 1% inspiration. So why do so many accept the lie that hard work, struggling and even failure are fatal in life?

I remarked to a good friend that Peterson wrote his book pre-social media, Internet and even computers.  So clearly our drive for instant everything has heightened with our high tech world. I instantly downloaded a couple of books for my Ipad. So the real question each of us must face is whether rushing anything in life is worth it in the long run?  

Yes, instant coffee is HORRIBLE!