Thursday, October 1, 2015

Strengths and Weaknesses

Some thoughts I jotted down:

Nature - what we are

Potential - what we can become

Strengths - key capabilities that can be enhanced

Weaknesses - what we must struggle with

Weaknesses can either be overcome or accepted.  We must understand and deal with what can and can’t be changed.  Example: a blind person shouldn’t keep trying to see.  What is necessary is to accept the blindness and adjust accordingly.  But a shy person can become more outgoing, i.e., can adapt.  Issue: When should we accept the way we are versus doing something about it?

How do we deal with our own strengths and weaknesses?  Before retiring into writing when I held a day job, I set quarterly objectives with my employees, and then at the end of the quarter they did a self-assessment, and then I evaluated their performance.  At the end of the fiscal year we conducted an annual performance review, and I determined merit increases based on results.  What I found interesting was that the forms used and the inherent process focused on improving weaknesses—what deficiencies  and flaws needed to be overcome.
This is important because we all can improve.  In writing critique groups most of the feedback relates to things that don’t make sense, consistency errors and poorly worded sections.  For a novel to be readable and marketable, these things need to be fixed.

If I’m going to be a better husband, father, grandfather, pickleball player, writer what do I need to improve?

There is another side.  Strengths.  What are the things we do well that we should keep emphasizing and do even better?

I think in terms of a football analogy.  If I’m a coach, I may have a quarterback who is a good passer but a poor blocker.  Rather than focusing on improving his blocking skills, it is more productive to emphasize enhancing his passing skills.  Other positions require good blocking, but the team will benefit if the quarterback develops from a good to an excellent passer.  Focus on strengths and improve them further.

So it gets down to what’s required.  To be a better writer, I need to focus on my weaknesses because I have a lot of development to do.  In pickleball my weakness is lack of mobility because of my arthritic joints.  It doesn't pay for me to work on mobility.  I just need to accept it.  What I can do is focus on my strengths:  fast hands and good shots and continue to improve these.

So I need to keep a balance.  Overcome the weaknesses that prevent me from realizing my goals and focus on the strengths that will allow me to achieve my goals.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Take responsibility for the actions you can control.  When I had a day job before I retired into writing, I sought responsible employees who would take charge of their area and make things happen.  When a problem occurs, valued people step in to find a solution.  This contrasts to the person who says, “This isn’t mine, it’s someone else’s.”  A responsible person will say, “This isn’t my area, but I’ll help you get to the right person.”

I believe we are all responsible for making the world a better place in our sphere of influence.  This contrasts with the view that when a problem occurs some people react by saying, “This is God’s will.”  If they don’t act, they are abdicating responsibility.  Sure bad things happen, but that isn’t a reason to throw up our hands and give up.

Take responsibility for what you can influence and change.  Then you can leave the rest to God’s will.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Respond Versus React

When faced with the need to take action we can deal with it one of two ways:  First, we can react.  This is the knee-jerk, after the fact, go fix it because we let it get broken.  When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, there were all kinds of reactions, but not a planned response.

Second, response is dealing with the situation in a planned, creative way.  People anticipate and are prepared so that when action is required, resources are mobilized and ready.  An emergency can then be treated as an expected event, not a surprise.  A trained medical response team, responds rather than reacts.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Consciousness and Awareness

We can choose a goal of consciousness--being aware of the present rather than losing ourselves in the past, future or worse, just being asleep.  This means waking up to what is going on around us and not sleeping on our feet.

How often do we really notice things around us?  I always find it interesting that when I buy a new car, I suddenly notice the same brand everywhere.  When my wife was pregnant, I was amazed at all the pregnant women I saw.  But other times I don’t make the connection.  It takes that extra, motivated awareness to recognize common occurrences around us.

After a hard day of writing, I feel the pull to plop down in front of the television set and veg out.  Drugs and alcohol provide an escape for some people.  But being aware and conscious of the present is the better path.  Taking a walk in a park or along the beach helps me focus on the present by being conscious of my surroundings and aware of all around me.

But being immersed in problems poses a more difficult situation.  Part of me wants to escape, get out of there, go take a walk again, when what is being asked of me is to be conscious and aware of the situation and deal with it.

I’ve learned over the years to hang in there to get things resolved as much as I can in my sphere of influence.  I try to act on things I have control over.  If I can’t impact the situation, then I need to detach from the outcome.  But this isn’t easy.  Mentally I know this may be the needed attitude, but still I get frustrated and want to force the results I want.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Conflicting Rights

Most disagreements center around conflicting rights.  My right to play the drums versus your right for peace and quiet.  The right to smoke versus the right for a smoke-free environment.  The right to view pornography versus the right to protect our children.  The right to take your dog for a walk versus the right to have a clean poop-free trail.  The right to have a freeway built versus the right to keep a house that is in the planned path.  The right of a woman to chose abortion versus the right to protect the fetus.  The right to protect a news source versus the right to track down a criminal. 

In Hawaii, beach areas are all public property and home owners’ property lines are delineated by where the vegetation grows.  Consequently, some home owners have been growing vegetation over the sand to expand their property line and keep the public away.  The home owners want their privacy, and the beach-goers want access.

These conflicts get down to my right versus your right or the right I believe I should have versus the right you believe you should have.

So much of tension in society is the result of conflicting rights.  The rights of the Israelis versus the rights of the Palestinians to occupy certain territory; the right to protect religious expression versus the right to enforce religious beliefs.

These are the problems that are difficult to settle.  Over years people become ensconced in their positions and beliefs.  Then it becomes a personal conflict, a vendetta, my way of life versus yours.

With no easy solution the conflict escalates.

Much centers around possessions.  People want to own land which leads to my property rights versus yours.  But ultimately we are custodians not owners of land.  It was already here.

It’s only if we can take a wider view that issues of conflicting rights can be solved.  Moving beyond my right versus your right to our rights, requires finding a solutions that embraces the broader interest of both parties.  It’s a shame that so often there has to be an external enemy to get people to come together.  Maybe some day we can learn that the real external enemy is our inability to see ourselves as one.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Using My Left Hand

Two months ago when we moved from Colorado to California, I suffered a hand infection (cellulitis) and for a week kept my right hand elevated while IV antibiotics were administrated. During this time I didn’t do any writing, but I checked email and sent messages. I suddenly learned to do things left handed. As an example I operated my computer mouse with my left hand. At first this felt unnatural, and I couldn’t keep the cursor in the correct spot, but with practice I became almost as proficient as with my right hand. Now that I’m fully recovered, I’ve continued to use the mouse left handed. Who says older people can’t change?


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Motivation and Procrastination

For me motivation is an inner engine that doesn’t let me procrastinate.  I have a strong work ethic and want to get things done before I play.  My mode of operation is to get job-related activities and chores done first and then reward myself with free time to relax and read.

This is good in that I get things done and have completed numerous manuscripts as a writer because of it.  The problem is that sometimes I don’t get to the relaxing part.  The other issue is that I get compulsive.  My project-orientation gets carried away and I find myself “doing” more than “being.”

But I do procrastinate about things that involve confrontation.  After awhile though, my inner engine keeps reminding me to resolve the outstanding issue, so reluctantly I get up the courage to take care of what I need to do.  I also procrastinate about things I don’t feel competent in doing, like fixing the sprinklers and other plumbing projects.

So what motivates me?  First, to take care of my responsibilities.  Once I accept a responsibility, I want to complete it and not leave it hanging.  Second, to do a good job.  I take pride in my accomplishments and want to make a positive contribution.  Third, getting pushed around by “shoulds.”  I should be a good writer, husband, father, grandfather.  Fourth, fear that I don’t want to look incompetent.  So a mix of positive and negative motivation.

I can be very disciplined in carrying out my responsibilities.  I regularly exercise, take care of my writing projects and follow though on my commitments.

For me the challenge is to draw the line between discipline and compulsiveness.  My discipline can get consumed in preparing for the future rather than living the moment.  I run the risk of losing sight of the people when focused on my projects.

In the busy-i-ness of daily activity, I need to learn to stop, take a deep breath and notice the beauty and life around me.

Learn from the past.

Plan for the future.

Live the present.