Show up whenever possible. (Part 1)
Ask to speak with senior leaders; chances are they will see you. (Part 2)
Advocate for yourself and others. (Part 3)
Speak to the heart and mind. (Part 4 You are here)
Have faith and courage.
Living a Life of Legacy
We are living on a spinning rock full of magma destined to be consumed by a ball of fire in the form of an extinguished star. It is pretty easy to question the purpose of our existence. Some look to religion, others to philosophy. Either way, there is some form of rationalization on why we are here. When I turn on the news I mostly find a cold world full of consistent tragedy. It is 2015, and as a child I dreamed of a world with flying cars, robots, and peace.
I thought my generation was so intermixed and informed that we would simply starve out racism, sexism, and challenge all that was wrong with the world. I was looking for something big but I have come to believe that I should be looking for something small. This post is about speaking to the heart and mind because you can speak to one or the other; however, we can communicate our message best if we seek to address both with purpose and passion.
A lot of people believe that they have to wait to be great. They spend years building wealth and working hard to achieve this ultimate dream of having success and security. Born from this sense of security and wealth, they can now live a “life of legacy” where they can go and do good things and be charitable. They can find the kindness in their hearts that they had to set aside to be good at being tough. Being tough and strong is a characteristic associated with good leadership. Rarely do you hear of leaders being weak and wimpy. It is always said that the “strong survive” and that is how our world works. In business or war ironically, we see and hear similar practices around strength. I believe there are forces that are underestimated in our world. There are both strong and weak forces and to focus on strength and toughness holistically would be missing the benefits of these other factors. People can be made to do something by force and people can be led to do something by inspiration. It is part of our nature, but either way the same rules don’t always apply.
With this in mind, these new philanthropists believe they can be what they want with no person to control them as they did their time and generated the income needed to find security and success. As I am speaking generally, I recognize that a lot of people “do good things” but more often than not in my experience it doesn’t seem to be enough for them to recognize how good their daily acts really are. The point is that if you want to live a life of legacy, there is no reason to wait to do something that your heart is calling for. Right now is a good time and it starts with behavior over events.
Speaking to the Heart
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. (Nelson Mandela)
The intent of this quote was to address people in their mother tongue as a sign of respect and understanding. This quote can go much further than intended in that language is complicated. Even when I speak or write in English, it is when I find common connections and words that that seem to touch something inside that goes beyond logic is when I am most compelling.
Watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeWks6cgJ-k it is only two minutes. The first time I saw this it came from Dr. Madelyn Blair on storytelling.
It is the experience or feeling of something great and compelling that inspires thought or action. It touches on a memory or something inside of us that helps us “get it.” We don’t need to stand on a pulpit or talk from a mountain to find this voice. More often it comes from something simple like a Post It note, a whisper, a kind word or simply diverting attention from a computer screen or phone to look up at someone and listen.
In order to live a life of legacy everyday, it seems that we should practice working out loud. As life inspires us, we have an opportunity to take our thoughts and snippets of wisdom and do something with it to help others. One personal example comes from my very good friend and mentor, Mr. Ron Batdorf. Ron exemplifies working out loud and speaking to the heart and mind. He works hard and faces adversity and he never quits. He is soft spoken and thoughtful, and he shows up when called and he practices leading through small kind acts. I have seen the impact of his good work in many forms, but I also benefit from his friendship and wisdom almost every day. I hope he doesn’t mind that I share a note here from him.
“Howie, I have found that Rabbi Heschel has the same understanding of dialectic patterns as St. Paul (Sal) had. See below a excerpt from the website: https://theshalomcenter.org/node/88 Interesting that this is foundational to both the Christian and Jewish Faiths. Just wondered if you know of Rabbi Heschel’s Theology? Hope all is well and that the new owners understand your value to them. It seems that unless we are directly into the processes of an organization our purpose is diminished. I guess it gets back to concepts that if not effecting processes are not part of the value to an organization. Integration of knowledge can be seen this way. I have started looking at Multi-agent systems and the processes of developing a “Learning agent”. I think there is insight in that design that can be developed into a KM format for any organization. Just a thought.
Shalom to you and your family Howie.
PARADOX AND POLARITY
A necessary condition affecting human beliefs in philosophy and religion is the paradox. The source of their paradoxical character has its origin in the essential polarity of human being.
To ignore the paradox is to miss the truth.
Jewish thinking and living can only be adequately understood in terms of a dialectic pattern, containing opposite or contrasted properties. As in a magnet, the ends of which have opposite magnetic qualities, these terms are opposite to one another and exemplify a polarity which lies at the very heart of Judaism, the polarity of ideas and events, of mitzvah and sin, of kavvanah and deed, of regularity and spontaneity, of uniformity and individuality, of halakhah and agadah, of law and inwardness, of love and fear, of understanding and obedience, of joy and discipline, of the good and the evil drive, of time and eternity, of this world and the world to come, of revelation and response, of insight and information, of empathy and self-expression, of creed and faith, of the word and that which is beyond words, of man’s quest for God and God in search of man. Even God’s relation to the world is characterized by the polarity of justice and mercy, providence and concealment, the promise of reward and the demand to serve Him for His sake. Taken abstractedly, all these terms seem to be mutually exclusive, yet in actual rising they involve each other; the separation of the two is fatal to both.
Since each of the two principles moves in the opposite direction, equilibrium can only be maintained if both are of equal force. But such a condition is rarely attained. Polarity is an essential trait of all things. Tension, contrast, and contradiction characterize all of reality.
However, there is a polarity in everything, except God. For all tension ends in God. He is beyond all dichotomies.”
Failure comes easy
It is easy to fail. It is easy to quit and say that you can’t do something. It is easy to allow someone else to impact your thinking. Everyone has a boss and everyone is influenced by someone. Very few people in the world are an island to themselves. I would be willing to bet that even those who live alone are troubled by their own duality.
People will tell you that you can’t do something and if you let them, they will hold you back. Dreams could be shattered easily. Again, this is a tough world and we all face adversity. There isn’t a person on this planet that isn’t faced with challenges. The question is when given the choice, what will you choose to do? We are all destined for an ending and that is part of life, we are born and we live and we die. Sometimes, I think we forget about the dying part or on the other end of the spectrum we focus too much on dying. Regardless, we still have choices and opportunities. We can choose to get up when we fail and we can choose to share our failures along with our success. In fact, if we shared more of our failures we might give others an opportunity to learn from these and they could achieve their dreams or desired outcome that much faster. (See blog on learning from failures)
Speaking to the Mind
Our humanity often gets in the way of logic. There are multiple types of intelligence, speaking to the mind or logical aspect of ourselves limits our ability. That being said, logic is important and needed as if we were running around simply making emotional decisions all the time, what would the world look like? War, famine, divorce, disease, power hungry people, I apologize as I digress. We need to use math, analytics, and science to address universal truth. Things make sense often because there is logic behind them not because they “feel good” and this is the part of the story of working out loud.
As I have written, I like to consider if I were reading these words, how would I use them? How could I find benefit in my daily life? How could I find benefit at work? We spend a lot of our time at work or working, or so it seems, at least in the US. I would hope that it is for something beyond simply punching a card and getting a paycheck to be a cog in the great corporate machine. Here are a few things I do to work out loud while speaking to the heart and mind:
- Write a narrative: For everything I do, there is a story, I spend some time with my team writing a short narrative of what we are doing and why. I also look to identify the outcome of the work and measure it. It is normally no more than 2 pages and it is accessible to everyone in the organization.
- Meetup: I meet with people often and I listen to their stories. I look to find common bonds and/or opportunities to share something I know or learn from them.
- Advocate: As I have written in past blogs, I advocate for others and myself, but this comes in the form of both written and oral history.
- I write: I try to write at least once a week for myself and I look at this as an opportunity to learn and share.
- Consider my purpose: I don’t know why people get to stay or go. I don’t know why we wind up where we are and why fate has us here. I believe that I have purpose and when I don’t know what it is in the big design, I consider the small things. When I was a baby I came down with the flu. We were scheduled to fly to Miami to see our family in Florida. My parents chose to cancel our flight and I can tell you that my father is a person who would take high consideration to make this choice. The plane crashed and everyone on board died. Maybe in another universe I was on that plane but in this one, I am here and I have things to do. I consider my purpose often and work hard to remind myself that today is a gift and not a promise.
In practice, it is the small acts that matter. Consider that working out loud is part of this practice and it is just like exercise. We know that it is healthy to do all the time, and we have no need to wait until the day that we have more time to do it.