Working Out Loud: Show Up (Part 1 of 5)

This is a five part series about working out loud and engaging people across multiple organizations in order to tackle tough problems in knowledge management.

Showing Up and Working Out Loud

  • Show up whenever possible. 
  • Ask to speak with senior leaders, chances are they will see you.
  • Advocate for yourself and others.
  • Speak to the heart and mind.
  • Have faith and courage.

Part 1 “Show Up” In you We Trust

If you are invisible, no one can see you.  If you are quiet, no one can hear you.  If you aren’t present, you can’t be felt.  

After 9/11 the Pentagon had a lot of work to be done beyond just rebuilding the walls.   The impact of the attack had disrupted what we held as fact and truth.   It took an emotional and psychological toll on many people and it reshaped the reality of war at home. Something interesting happened during and after this event that changed the way I understood leadership.   Some leaders that I expected strength from chose to step back and become quiet, while others gained clarity, focus and resolve and chose to step up.

Stepping up meant showing up, making yourself visible was risky and took courage.  The war on terrorism is still a hot button topic by 2005 we were still seemingly reacting and responding with a great deal of emotion.  People are very passionate around this subject and passion may not always convey to good decision making.   This being the case, any approach to help with this subject area had to be carefully examined and measured.    As my old friend Vince said “Cohen, attacking a nat with a baseball bat may not get you the desired result you seek.”

Trust is Tied to Knowledge   

When I first stepped inside the Pentagon, I could see the damage that was left over from the devastating attack on our country, our people.   I had this feeling that overwhelmed me and I was overcome by feelings that I didn’t understand or have words to describe.   As I tried to contain myself I was reminded verbally by my Chief Division Officer why I was there at the Pentagon in the first place.  He said “The men and women of this nation make critical decisions for the safety and well-being of our warfighters here in these walls; I understand how you feel and this is why I brought you.”  

Walking through the small passageways of the Pentagon, I thought about our long drive, sitting through traffic.   It could be 4 hours or more each way on a good day.   He did this drive at least a few times a week just to make sure he was physically present.

We walked into a room filled with defense leadership and supporting cast members end to end,  there was a large long rectangular wooden table with senior leaders sitting and most others standing up against the wall.    After general practice and introductions there was silence.  I was looking around at the fine grain wood, paintings and designations on the walls.   There is history in every nook and corner of this building.  It is almost like going through a museum and art gallery at the same time.  Being in the room itself makes you feel as if you are part of this history.

They introduced my senior leader to the group with natural formality and gave him the floor to speak.  I can share the spirit of what he said in that room on that day.

We understand that there are things that we don’t know and we don’t ask.  We make the same mistakes over and again with assured confidence and certainty.  We make the same mistakes over again because even when we have our lessons learned, we don’t use them to prevent us from making poor choices.    Our great service men and women deserve better. They deserve our willingness to say that we don’t know.   We have to make both informed and uninformed decisions but we have a responsibility to them, to ask the questions and gain as much knowledge as we can.   We have to work together and be a joint force to accomplish this and we have to build trust across the services.   We can do these things with enterprise architectures.  We can do these things with knowledge fed to us with and for purpose for reuse across all of the services.

In his presentation and discussion his only request was for people to use our architecture tools and approach to pull together and share content in context for operations, decision making and analysis.

We were there to build trust and build knowledge through these trusted relationships. The high level objective was to learn and share in order to raise awareness with partners. The knowledge would then be used and reused to help reduce risk, save money and increase opportunities for operational and mission success.  My Chief didn’t stop here, he traveled and spoke with hundreds of people.   His message was known by all of his team and we were all encouraged to share information and help build a coalition with partners from various domains.  

We seek to “Help those who eat the MRE’s.”   (MRE= Meals ready to eat)

Showing Up is 

Showing up is a critical first step in the knowledge management practice.   Most leaders don’t have time to read.  I know how that sounds but it is true.   Chances are they will make time to meet if they are given a good reason.  That meeting is critical to both you and leadership.  It could be an opportunity to move forward with your ideas or fail fast and move on.

Part 2..  

“Senior leadership isn’t interested in what I have to say.”

“They (leaders) don’t care what we think.”

“We are just the hired help here.”

“I don’t have time and I am not really motivated”

“I have tried before and it didn’t work.”

Sound familiar.. will talk more about this next week.

  

Lesson From the Pope

Today Pope Francis spoke about trust and our interconnectedness.  He essentially said that the more we focus on ourselves as individuals, the more we are lost and alone.   I believe that is true as well.   We have lost something of ourselves in our social media.   When I was a child,  I knew the names of the people who owned local stores and they knew me.    We don’t talk to each other, we broadcast and in that mode of communication, we are losing our humanity.    It is very difficult to build trust today.   It is difficult to read and listen to each other because we are overwhelmed with information.   It is difficult to know which information is true or false and we get so much information that it disables us.

We are so connected that we are disconnected.  It is that simple.   The lesson that I took from the Pope during this visit was to look up over the phone, the tablet, the laptop, the book, the newspaper or whatever it is that has us distracted and find ways to be a connector.

Just one day before, Pope Francis was late on his trip to Philadelphia, we had the news on in the background and I was pouring a cup of coffee.   The Pope was stepping off the airplane and into his car for his drive over to Philly.   I heard one of the commentators ask why the car was stopping.   I looked up and walked towards the television to see what was happening.  The Pope had stopped his car and gotten out, he walked over to a boy in a wheelchair, he leaned over and he kissed his head.  He looked up and held the hands of the boys mother; she was full of tears and saying, “Thank you, thank you.”  I immediately started to tear up in appreciation for the true kindness and totality of this act.   The world was literally waiting for him (Pope Francis) but no one at that moment was more important to him over this family.    For the boy, maybe nothing, for the parents it is hope.   It is this recognition that we must have hope and that we must build trust and relationships beyond some social network construct.   We must practice good listening and empathy over broadcasting.  We must become “connectors.”

I recently read, Synchronicity by Joseph Jaworski. This book is 20 years old, but speaks of both collective intelligence and our interconnectedness.  Awareness and belief that we are all connected is nothing new.  It is this knowledge that fundamentally drives us to a desired outcome of connectedness.  The challenge that we have is in our substitution of technologies as a replacement or placeholder for our actual human interaction.  The Pope demonstrated in his actions the other day his keen awareness of the spaces between.  It is no coincidence that change management starts with “awareness”

This brings me to the thinking about what I can actually do about this challenge.    I have to ask what being connected means?  I have to think about actions and activities that will help me be more connected but moreover, have better awareness.  I believe we must practice building trust by getting past the social network and building relationships with hand shakes and if you know me… hugs every so often.    To what end do we practice these behaviors and what do we aim to achieve? I think Joe Jaworski thought about this when he met with the physicist David Bohm.   They had a conversation around the connected universe, but Bohm boiled it down in some practical thinking as follows:

Dialogue: Collective Thinking and Listening

“From time to time, (the) tribe (gathered) in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader and everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more ­ the older ones ­ but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed. Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do because they understood each other so well. They could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.” -David Bohm, “On Dialogue”.

Finally Peter Marino corporate trainer wrote on active listening… from Madelyn Burley-Allen and Michael Nichols respectively.

  • Taking in information from speakers, other people, or ourselves, while remaining nonjudgmental and empathetic.
  • Acknowledging the talker in a way that invites the communication to continue.
  • Providing limited, but encouraging input to the talker’s response, carrying the person’s idea one step forward.
    Listening is the art by which we use empathy to reach across the space between us. Genuine listening means suspending memory, desire and judgment, and for a few moments, at least, existing for the other person.

Summary

Religious or not, we can learn something from the actions of Pope Francis and this is coming from a Jewish kid from Co-op City in the Bronx.   We can work on a daily basis to find the space between and make ourselves aware in order to connect with others on a deeper level.  These connections will lend themselves to a more collective intelligence,  if we focus on people through our humanity and not through the lens of our IOS devices.

Lesson Learned in Knowledge Management (EBOLA)

o-EBOLA-VIRUS-facebook

Ignorance = Death

Last year, I wrote about a lack of KM in the medical industry.https://cohenovate.com/2013/12/30/knowledge-management-and-healthcare/   It was a sad commentary then and it is even more frightening now.  Some of you may be aware that errors in healthcare account for a significant number of deaths in America.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.

Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.

That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second. (http://www.propublica.org/article/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-us-hospitals)

ebola-graphic

Lack of Awareness

Texas nurses said that there were no protocols. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/15/health/texas-ebola-nurses-union-claims/index.html?hpt=hp_t1)  Maybe they had the guidelines on their Sharepoint instance?  Maybe they had their process on Jive? Maybe they had their instructions on Yammer or Podio or…  

What they don’t have is effective Knowledge Management.  This is the truth.

Let me state this for the record, as I have mentioned this in past postings.  Knowledge Management is about getting, presenting, raising awareness, sharing, identifying, bringing to light.. the RIGHT INFORMATION AT THE RIGHT TIME.

If you think for a moment that I am using this tragic situation to get the message out on Knowledge Management, I will tell you in fact that I am.   We can go through the history of knowledge management failures and find the critical element that is missing and that is the human element.  These failures result in death.

Doctors and nurses need access to real time information that INFORMS them of what they need to do and what precautions they have to take.   In fact, think about this folks.. WE CARE MORE ABOUT CYBER SECURITY THAN PEOPLE.

Everything when it comes to medicine seems to be approached from an academic perspective.  If you look at the agencies that do care about healthcare they are not considered or looked at in the same way as cyber communities.   For example, are hospitals going to the WHO or USAID for daily updates and coordination?   I highly doubt it and I think the results of the situation from a global perspective is telling.  The CDC doesn’t want us to worry because they don’t want a panicdemic.  (yep, I made that up).  We are facing an enemy that doesn’t care about boundaries or what side you are on.  We are facing an enemy that doesn’t look at right or wrong.  It just has intent of killing the system.  That is it.  We can’t afford to be ignorant.  We can’t afford to make mistakes that are easily correctable.

What is needed?

  • A quick turn incidence response and disaster response operational check up for every medical organization in the US.
  • A safety and contagion knowledge plan that addresses known and new issues and concerns through every turnover, handoff, meeting or organization interaction.
  • A strategic outreach and communication plan for healthcare providers, practitioners and patients.
  • A KM plan that seeks to elevate and prioritize content for communication in the organization.
  • An “as you learn.. share” plan.  (If you know information that will save a life, share it)
  • Researchers that have worked on attacking ebola need to share their failures and their success.  (YES FAIL) We need to pick up where others left off and share information, not hold information so that we can be the trophy winner.
  • We need leaders in the KM space to step up and share best practices, lessons learned and how to’s for knowledge transfer and elicitation.

Ebola-Delhi_2048436f

Ebola virus can be used for terrorism.. Think about that for a moment. 

Links to Ebola sites

European Links

Links to Ebola sites

Commission

DG SANCO:    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ebola/index_en.htm

DG ECHO:       http://ec.europa.eu/echo/en/news/ebola-outbreak-west-africa-additional-funding-brings-eu-aid-%E2%82%AC39-million

European External Action Services (EEAS)

 http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/un_geneva/press_corner/all_news/news/2014/20140411_ebola_en.htm

WHO

HQ:                  https://extranet.who.int/ebola/

EURO:             http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/emergencies/pages/ebola-outbreak-in-west-africa

ECDC

 http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/ebola_marburg_fevers/pages/index.a http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/emergencies/pages/ebola-outbreak-in-west-africa

Member States

Austria

Ministry of Health

 http://www.bmg.gv.at/home/Startseite/aktuelle_Meldungen/Ebola_Informationen_zur_aktuellen_Lage

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 http://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/reiseinformation/land/liberia/

Czech Republic

Ministry of Health  http://www.mzcr.cz/dokumenty/upozorneni-pro-zahranicni-studenty-po-prijezdu-z-oblasti-vyskytu-horecky-zpusobe_9579_1.html  http://www.mzcr.cz/Verejne/dokumenty/ebola-v-africe-aktualizace-ministerstva-zdravotnictvi-ke-dni-19zari-2014_9602_5.html

Ministry of Industry and Trade  http://www.mpo.cz/dokument153462.html

Ministry of Foreign Affairs  http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/cestujeme/ebola/obecne_informace.html

 http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/udalosti_a_media/x2014_09_18_ceska_republika_pomaha_zemim.html

Finland

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

 http://www.stm.fi/en/ebola-virus

France

All information and guidance for health professionals  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html

National Surveillance Case Definitions for Ebola  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html

http://www.invs.sante.fr/Dossiers-thematiques/Maladies-infectieuses/Fievre-hemorragique-virale-FHV-a-virus-Ebola/Point-epidemiologique-Ebola-Afrique

Public Health Management of Cases and Contacts of Human Illness Associated with Ebola Virus Disease  http://www.hcsp.fr/explore.cgi/avisrapportsdomaine?clefr=414  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html

List of hospitals allowed to take care of Ebola patients  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/2014_08_25_ListingESR_MAJ_modifIDFertA_DEF.pdf

Guidance on transportation of Ebola patient from abroad to France  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/fichiers/bo/2012/12-06/ste_20120006_0100_0052.pdf

Greece

KEEL:               Webpage on Ebola outbreak

Bulletin for travelers

Posters:

 http://www.keelpno.gr/Portals/0/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%B1/Ebola/ebola_GR_poster.pdf

 http://www.keelpno.gr/Portals/0/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%B1/Ebola/ebola_EN_poster.pdf

Germany

Ministry of Health

 http://www.infektionsschutz.de/erregersteckbriefe/ebola-fieber

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Infoservice/Presse/Meldungen/2014/140918-BM_Ebola.html

Robert Koch Institute

 http://www.rki.de/EN/Home/homepage_node.html

 http://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/E/Ebola/Kurzinformation_Ebola_in_Westafrika.html

Bernhard-Nocht-Institute – Hamburg

 http://www.bnitm.de/

Hungary

Ministry of Human Capacities  http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-human-resources (English)

 http://www.kormany.hu/hu/emberi-eroforrasok-miniszteriuma/egeszsegugyert-felelos-allamtitkarsag (Hungarian)  National Public Health and Chief Medical Office

https://www.antsz.hu/  Guide for leadership of higher education

https://www.antsz.hu/portal/hir1/20140826-ebola-felsooktatasi-hallgatok.html?transactionid=-6254197871553193403  Guide for travellers

https://www.antsz.hu/hir1/20140819-ebola-tanacsok-utazoknak.html

Lithuania

Ministry of Health of Lithuania (web banner on the top of the page)  http://www.sam.lt

Centre of Communicable Disease and AIDS under the Ministry of Health  http://www.ulac.lt/lt/ebola-hemoragine-karstlige

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania  http://urm.lt/default/lt/naujienos/del-ebolos-viruso-protrukio-urm-grieztina-kelioniu-rekomendacijas-i-vakaru-afrikos-valstybes-1

Malta

Ministry of Health

 https://ehealth.gov.mt/healthportal/public_health/idcu/introduction.aspx

Netherlands

Dutch Government

 http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/ebola

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – in Dutch

 http://www.rivm.nl/Onderwerpen/E/Ebola

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – in English

 http://www.rivm.nl/en/Topics/E/Ebola

Norway

National Institute of Public Health

 http://www.fhi.no/eway/default.aspx?pid=240&trg=Content_6765&Main_6664=6894:0:25,7555:1:0:0:::0:0&MainContent_6894=6765:0:25,7572:1:0:0:::0:

Slovak Republic

Public Health Authority

Information about Ebola for travellers (translated ECDC leaflet) – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2378:virusove-ochorenie-ebola-informacie-pre-cestovateov&catid=68:epidemiolog

Information about the measurements taken by the Public Health Authority of SR – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2368:opatrenia-uradu-verejneho-zdravotnictva-sr-tykajuce-sa-virusoveho-ochoreni

Leaflet on Ebola for citizens – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2383:hemoragicka-horuka-ebola&catid=68:epidemiologia&Itemid=76

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Travel advice for Slovak citizens – in Slovak http://www.foreign.gov.sk/servlet/content?MT=/App/WCM/main.nsf/vw_ByID/ID_DD6F67735A1B6F80C12576350033486B_SK&OpenDocument=Y&LANG

Information on financial humanitarian aid of the Slovak Republic – in English http://www.foreign.gov.sk/servlet/content?MT=/App/WCM/main.nsf/vw_ByID/ministry&NCH=Y&OpenDocument=Y&LANG=EN&TG=BlankMaster&URL=/

Slovenia

National institute of public health

 http://www.nijz.si/Mp.aspx?ni=0&pi=19&_19_view=item&_19_newsid=2577&pl=0-19.0.

Ministry of Health

 http://www.mz.gov.si/nc/si/medijsko_sredisce/novica/article/670/6835/

Spain

Ministry of health  http://www.msssi.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/ebola/home.htm

Foreign Affairs

 http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/SiViajasalExtranjero/Paginas/RecomendacionesDeViaje.aspx

Sweden

Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (“Socialstyrelsen”):  http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/nyheter/2014september/ebolakraverokadvaksamhetivarden

Fact sheet/leaflet:  http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/SiteCollectionDocuments/infoblad-ebola-2014-08-28.pdf

Public Health Agency of Sweden (“Folkhälsomyndigheten”):  http://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/amnesomraden/beredskap/utbrott/ebola-vastafrika-2014/

Foreign Ministry of Sweden:  http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/18334/a/245352

Switzerland

Federal Office of Public Health

German

 http://www.bag.admin.ch/de/ebola

French

http://www.bag.admin.ch/fr/ebola

Italian

http://www.bag.admin.ch/it/ebola

United Kingdom

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/ebola-government-response

Articles in which International SOS has been quoted or referenced

  • “Ebola Sends Employers Wake-Up Call” – Human Resource Executive– 7 October
  • “These countries are tightening their borders over Ebola fears — against expert advice” – Washington Post– 2 October
  • “Companies Step Up Pressure on Ebola: We Need Action Now” – NBC News– 11 September
  • “Amid Ebola crisis, is something worse around corner?” – CNBC– 4 September
  • “First Briton With Ebola Virus Begins Treatment” – Sky News– 25 August
  • “WA miners in West Africa prepare workforce for escalation of Ebola virus” –  ABC News– 23 August
  • “Ebola, war or disaster: how and when global service groups decide to flee” – National Catholic Reporter– 21 August
  • “World confronting the largest Ebola outbreak since 1976” – China Daily– 18 August
  • “Multinationals in Africa keep a wary eye on Ebola” – Wall Street Journal, 6 August
  • “Ebola strains fragile W African economies” – Reuters, 6 August
  • “Ebola threatens West African economies” – Yahoo UK/AFP, 6 August
  • “Ebola virus: now the threat is real” – Punch Nigeria, 5 August
  • “International SOS has seen another rise in the number of requests for advice on Ebola in recent weeks” –Business Wire India, 4 August
  • “Evaluating risk: Do travellers need medical evacuation insurance” – NBC News, 2 August
  • “Ebola patient arrives in the US” – Today NBC, 2 August
  • “Americans mostly safe from Ebola, despite rapid spread” – Risk & Insurance, 1 August
  • “Employers should be prepared as Ebola outbreak grows” – Society for Human Resource Management, 1 August
  • “US$100m Ebola emergency response plan unveiled by WHO’s Margaret Chan” – South China Morning Post, 1 August
  • “WA miners issue ebola alerts” – The West Australian, 1 August
  • “Ebola: A Disease out of control?” – Al Jazeera, 31 July
  • “WHO, CDC see $100 million surge for Africa Ebola battle” – Bloomberg, 31 July
  • “Health experts say Ebola virus poses little risk to UAE” – The National UAE, 31 July
  • “Can West Africa’s deadliest Ebola outbreak be contained?” – Al Jazeera America, 29 July
  • “Ebola: Is the western world at risk?” – ReLocate Magazine, 28 July
  • “Ebola outbreak poses threat to African economies” – Financial Times, 25 July (subscription required)
  • International SOS’ Dr Robert Quigley discusses Ebola – Al Jazeera English TV channel, 23  July
  • “West Africa Ebola Outbreaks Spur Rising International SOS Inquiries” – Voice of America, 16 July
  • International SOS Medical Director Doug Quarry discusses Ebola in the Al Jazeera report, 28 March 2014
  • “Ebola Outbreak is West Africa” – Relocate Magazine, 26 March
  • “Guinea says has contained Ebola outbreak, death toll rises” – Reuters,  26 March

Howard’s Holocaust

The Most

I have been writing and posting now on this WordPress site for about three years.   Most of the things I write about are a little generic.   In a sense, I have sought out ways to help people by looking to subject areas of interest and providing some insight and maybe a little abstract thought.  Today I am doing something different.

I lost most of my explicit memories in a tragedy of significant  proportion.   On more than one occasion, pictures, videos, music and writing that I had saved was lost.   Most of this was out of my control but some of the loss I did to myself by not taking action.  This very weekend I was driven to clean out some of the things that I did save.   I have very little from my youth and when I find something, I normally examine for a hint of who I was.    As I have written many times in the past, I am a kid from The (DA) Bronx.

The Bronx offered an intercultural, wide variety of ethic diversity.   It was a place that represented the best and worst of blending communities.   In my youth, my ignorance was learning about what made people different as opposed to why we should focus on our commonality.   In high school, I was a white Jewish boy with mostly black and hispanic students (friends).   There was hate and there were trials but in person these challenges were overrun by teachers and other students that could see through the color of our skin and reach into our hearts.  In other words, we always focused on building a community of acceptance.   I am not the person I was then but the kid I was still lives in the background.   I don’t look at people as a kind or a race.  I look at people as individuals and judge them by their actions.

Transition:

Today we are facing the same issues that we did over the history of our country and human kind.   This weekend in particular I have seen a lot of people writing and speaking of the past 50 years of civil rights.  While reading this and watching the news I was sorting through old tapes that I managed to keep.  I found one labeled “Howard’s Holocaust.”   I had no memory of this tape.  Even when I found a tape player to put it in and heard the sounds of a younger me  I didn’t remember this conversation.

The recording was made sometime between 1987 and 1989, most likely my second year at University Heights High school located in the Bronx at 181st and University Ave.  As a Jewish kid, I understood the Holocaust from a culture of remembrance and an integration of pain and suffering into the daily vernacular of my people.   That being said, I was emotionally disconnected.   I had seen the branding serial numbers etched into the arms of my neighbors.  I had seen and heard the stories of people jumping from the trains.   I had lived with a man whom I love that was buried at night as a child to protect him from the Nazi’s.   All those things and I was still not connected or maybe partially connected.  Not in the way that it would rattle my soul today.  It was an immaturity that was innocent.   I was honestly incapable of connecting the dots in a way that deeply allowed me to better myself as a human.

I understood what things meant, I think that I just didn’t allow myself to live in my understanding of this history.  In fact, I didn’t know that I was myself living in history just by interacting with witnesses and victims of this great inhumane and painful series of events.  Someone tried to wipe an ethnic and cultural line of people from the planet.   This within itself doesn’t take anything away from any other tragedy or traumatic events of our time but it is a stain that can’t be washed away.   What pains me the most is that we still allow genocide and the young disconnected me knew that it would happen again.   I knew as a disconnected child that our world was not healing.

From what I can tell, I was asked to read a book by Elie Weisel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elie_Wiesel that had to do with the holocaust.   Since I don’t remember what I read or didn’t read, I can only guess that I did a half ass job of reading.  I didn’t have a keen interest in education as teen.  I became much more passionate later on.

There is an interesting ignorance as well that is wrapped into the conversation.    This is probably the most revealing post I have ever made.   It deals with the fact that as a youth I had values that were similar to my values today but I was lacking in information and ability to rationalize what I didn’t know.    I am sharing this today because I think generally the public is doing the same thing.

We make statements and assumptions on areas of complicated matters that we have trouble deeply understanding.  The facts alone are not enough information to provide good insight.   It also points to something else.   We need to take personal responsibility to help each other and learn about each other.  We can’t know each others pain but we can mirror and reflect our understanding to get close enough.

I am sharing three audio files, each are about 15 minutes long.  I tried to clean up the audio a little but I didn’t edit the content.  For me personally there was a story at the end that I didn’t truly understand then (age 15-16) that I deeply understand and associate with now.   Most of the audio is the teacher interviewing me on what I think about the holocaust with some role playing.

cropped-howard.jpg

Howard’s Holocaust Audio

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1d5aphuc4wxpvja/c429P7PUL4

To Compromise with The Sun

The Who of You

Sam sold fruit in Spanish Harlem, he would travel every day from his home in New York City to open his fruit cart and sell his fruit.  Sam could speak at least 3 languages including english and spanish.  What we know about our family is really very limited isn’t it?  Unless you are into genealogy or your family member was famous.  What we do know is that these people shared something with us that may go beyond a simple transfer of DNA.  It is our love and hate, our fears and hopes that are transferred in the hidden undertones of our upbringing.  It is more than white noise because it is thematic.  Even if you were raised by a family other than your own biological family, you will carry some familiar theme.  It is what it is.  As generations are born and raised maybe some of the themes are altered a bit and some things can change but there are still faint remains.   I expect that is what is meant when my grandmother would say to me that I remind her of my grandfather whom I never met.  I didn’t meet him physically but through my father I am given the good and maybe some of the bad as well.    We are who we are and there is no grand bargain that can change certain aspects or characteristics of our being.  If Stephen Hawking could change his condition wouldn’t he?  If he did would he be able to contribute to our world and to science as he has over and again?

To Compromise

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.”
― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

A compromise is a settlement.  You have to let go of something and make a concession to compromise.  Can you compromise with your being?  In other words, we still don’t have the technology today to compromise on all things.   As a matter of fact, there are many things that we can’t compromise on because we don’t have the power to do it.

Compromise is the issue of today.   It is THE issue because so many of us are unwilling to do it when we can and others demand it when it isn’t really warranted.  There doesn’t seem to be a good balance today when it comes to compromise.   It doesn’t even seem to me that we are looking at compromise from a reasonable and rational perspective.

We can put on some very basic hats and come up with fairly intractable conflict.  Just for quick reference (IC)

Intractable conflicts are clearly different from other conflicts. The major characteristics of intractable conflicts can be summarized as follows:

  1. In terms of actors, intractable conflicts involve states or other actors with a long sense of historical grievance, and a strong desire to redress or avenge these.
  2. In terms of duration, intractable conflicts take place over a long period of time.
  3. In terms of issues, intractable conflicts involve intangible issues such as identity, sovereignty, or values and beliefs.
  4. In terms of relationships intractable conflicts involve polarized perceptions of hostility and enmity, and behavior that is violent and destructive.
  5. In terms of geopolitics, intractable conflicts usually take place where buffer states exist between major power blocks or civilizations.
  6. In terms of management, intractable conflicts resist many conflict management efforts and have a history of failed peacemaking efforts.

Here we are in 2013.  Martin Luther King had a dream of people being simply being treated fairly as people.   It started with compromise, didn’t it?

Now we have what I would call a dysfunction compromise system.   This is a system where we recognize that we need to make concessions or that we have a desire for concessions but we act in ways that are counterintuitive and counter productive concerning concessions.

For example, we should respect all religions except that SOME religion directs us towards violence.   We must make every effort to compromise.  This also is interesting because religion (at least in the past 30-40 years) is changing.   Religion is being forced to compromise with desired outcomes.   I want to state for the record that I am simply talking about this by observation.  My issue and concern isn’t about any one particular thing, it is about our sociological disconnect from reality that is becoming the new normal.  Hot topics of the past 40 years are racial, religion, women’s rights, jobs, economic and political gridlock, global trends, global warming, freedom and democracy for people of the world.

What changed?  I can pull open a newspaper from the 1900’s or the 1800’s and see similar issues if not the same exact issues.   And, so.. I go back just a few short years ago, maybe 50 or 60 years ago.  A middle aged guy named Sam, he gets up every morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time.  He kisses his wife or just yells goodbye as he heads out to sell fruit to his customers.   To sell fruit to people in Spanish Harlem, he had to learn to speak spanish (that was something he had to do) they didn’t compromise with him.    Sam and other immigrants from
“the old world” or from Italy, Ireland, Spain and other places came to America in search of something new, something different.  They had to change their behavior to become American but the interesting part is that they were unwilling or unable to stay where they were .   No one really talks about that part too often.  Why couldn’t they just stay where they were and work things out?  Why couldn’t they compromise?   There is a delicate balance in life, it is give and take but there are also factors in which we have little or no control.  No matter how much we want men to bear the burden of carrying a child, science isn’t there yet.   Should it get there, I am sure some group somewhere will stand up and demand that women have been carrying children for their families for far too long and that men have an obligation to share this extremely difficult burden.   You may read this and think that I am being unreasonable or maybe just because I am saying this that I am being sexist.  Well, that is exactly why I am writing this today.  If I say something that is true even if I don’t believe one way or the other that it is right or wrong, it creates conflict.  We can’t even talk about it because it is offensive.  It is offensive because we have compromised ourselves into dysfunction.   If people wonder why we can’t anything done in Washington DC, this is the reason.

Summary

The next time you write something on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your blog, my blog, your website, company post, newspaper, chat and the list goes on and on, just consider for a moment that false compromise isn’t always the answer and further that if you have an honest belief stand up for it.  If you have room to truly compromise, consider that as well but be mindful of the truth and your intent, the world will be a better place for it.

“Quincy Magoo” You’ve Done It Again…

Do you remember Mr. Magoo?

Magoo says ” I should have known your type…” as he yells at himself in the mirror.  He is angry for all of the things that were done to him and he was the cause.

“Don’t waste your time and money..”

Magoo wanted to get dance lessons as he misread a letter in the mail.  He was thinking that he was invited to a dance when he read an advertisement  for something totally unrelated.  He was yelling about the mess he got himself into and was advising others that weren’t there not to waste their time or money on the dance lessons.  After all, the place he was in was run” like a gym.”  In other episodes, there were times that Magoo would run aimlessly into something that was not harmful.  Most of the time he would get himself into a situation where he affected others.  That is the point of the blog today.

Simply complex but simple.

I picked up a habit of carrying a whiteboard marker with me.  By chance you may have a whiteboard that I should write on and muddy.  The circles and lines that connect them are all simple thoughts.   I draw the line from here to there and tag it to show what the line means.   As the lines and circles start to grow and I am standing in front of the board, I am telling a story.    If you aren’t there from the beginning and you walk in towards the end, the board looks to be full of lines and circles and words written between.   It is impressive and complicated looking.   The truth is that it isn’t complicated.  It is just the whole story without all of the words all smashed together in a frame.   It is not meant to be understood without me.  Unless there was a video taken, you would be lost and you may wonder.

If you were to walk into the room and look at the writing on the wall, you would automatically take what I have written and frame it.  You would apply meaning in areas where there wasn’t any or you would rationalize the connections and relationships based on your perception.

In a sense, we all have some Magoo like tendencies.

The Magoo Problem

We frame the world actively at every moment and sew together a picture based on what we believe we see.  David Eagleman in his book “Incognito” pointed out that our brains are locked into a fully enclosed and dark space.   That is the physical case, but we see or perceive light.   It is manufactured by our input, our sensors.

That is our world.  We think that things are something when they may or may not be.    We have the unique understanding of the world from our perspective.  The problem is that our perspective if skewed too far can cross boundaries and have unintended consequences.   That is why it is important to understand “intent.”   Who could be mad at old Magoo?  He was just trying to learn how to dance?   In this story, he wound up destroying the gym.

The thinking person rationalizes everything to make sense of it.  We are forced to simplify the complex.   The complex as we see it, may become the world of Magoo.

Magoo Conflict

We are wired for the world.  We are wired to frame and create context and we are also wired to inter-relate to others.  Daniel Goleman writes about it in his Social Intelligence book and other places.

Excerpt  (http://www.discoveringtherealme.org/resources/book-review/130-social-intelligence-by-daniel-goleman.html)

The first example Goleman gives of social intelligence is that of a group of American soldiers in Iraq paying a visit to a cleric to enlist his aid in distributing relief supplies. The local populace feared the well-armed soldiers. They were afraid they were going to arrest their cleric or profane their mosque. A mob quickly surrounded the soldiers. One can imagine what would have happened should a soldier, threatened by a gesture, shot off a gun. 

No one got shot and no one got hurt. In fact, the mob encounter ended amicably due, Goleman says, to the social intelligence of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes, who gauged the myriad social factors involved in record time and implemented a series of steps designed to defuse the situation: he ordered his men to kneel on one knee, point their weapons at the ground, and—most importantly—smile. Since a smile is a universal expression of friendliness, the confused Iraqi people began to smile back. The reverential posture and the signal that the weapons were not to be used also reassured them. Some of the now peaceably departing Iraqis even dared to pat the soldiers on the back. What could have been an ugly incident of resounding personal and international repercussions turned into a positive one because of the leader’s instinctive social intelligence.

It is a confusing world we live in.   We seem to stumble like the baby in the construction lot.  Somehow we make our way from girder to girder or we don’t.   When we don’t make it or we are victims of some event we are conflicted.  It seems to be the cause of so many problems that we have.   We can’t smile our way out of some of these things but we are naturally inclined to be connected and that is a good thing.   Oh, where was I going?  

Magoo Advice

I just watched him again this morning.  I initially had plans on writing about something else.  Maybe I just stumbled into Magoo?   He first appears in Ragtime Bear 1949.  He couldn’t see a thing and was pretty angry.  His perception of the world was always very far from what we see around him.   He only wanted “Peace and quiet, a man needs his rest.”   In 1956  Puddle jumper he bought a full-out electric car.   It is funny how he believed that the electric car was the better machine to drive.   How easy it is to think that Magoo has it wrong.   Magoo isn’t just nearsighted, he is perceptually mis-aligned.   His view of the world creates confusion, anger, cross talk, lack of clarity, and seemingly made him a bit crazy to us.   Although that is what comes across,  Magoo is forward thinking and has some old wisdom, he believes that his perspective of the world is the world and that others around him see it as he does and if they don’t, he instructs them accordingly.

What he is missing is the alignment to others.

The short of it

How Magoo relates to you.   We all see the world through our own eyes and though it may be obvious to us, the things we see and believe may be wrong.  If we consider that we are in some ways like Magoo; blind to things that we believe we see.   This may be a step in opening ourselves to other possibilities.  If we can manage and have the patience, it is possible for us to learn and teach.  In other words, Magoo didn’t always have it wrong.  After all, he loved the electric car in 1956 and we are just a few short years behind him.   He didn’t always have it right either and his mis-perceptions of the world caused devastation in a lot of episodes.  It takes a balance of ideas, knowledge, and patience and the ability to recognize that we individually may be wrong and further that we can only learn that we are wrong though discussion , open dialog and empathy.  If we open ourselves to this, we may wind up being wrong together or right together, regardless maybe it would lead to more happiness.

These are some of my thoughts this Sunday morning.   Cheers