Grace

The last few weeks have been some of the most intensive thinking weeks I’ve had in a long time. I’m working trying to understand some problems and challenges and then trying to figure out the best path forward given those challenges. During these times, I’ve had many important and deep conversations with some colleagues as we’ve talked through these challenges and how to best move forward.

During these discussions, and some side discussions, I’ve been repeatedly reminded about how so many of us tend to think we are right in our viewpoints, directions, and opinions and anyone thinking differently is wrong. Of course we are right, we’ve considered all the facts and made a decision and it fits our worldview perfectly. Plus we are invested in that viewpoint and the idea of us being wrong is nearly inconceivable. Furthermore, the other person and viewpoint are evil.

There is a passage in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament that I’m mindful of these days where in Micah 6:8 where it says:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly

This simple passage in Micah says so much to me.

I’m so tired of people who do not extend the “benefit of doubt” towards others on matters where they have no real understanding. People are critical of things via sms or email across hundreds of miles when they weren’t there to see what they are complaining about. Where is walking humbly? Where is loving mercy? Where is trusting the people you know there at the scene?

I’m tired of people who can not extend grace to others.

Everything in Washington (and on Twitter/Facebook) is black and white and the other person is evil and wrong and should be smashed and obliterated. Where is listening and trying to understand? Where is walking humbly in your thinking?

I’m tired of people who are not invested in a solution, being critical of those who are trying to do the right thing. If you are not willing to be in the arena, then you don’t get a vote.

On April 23, 1910 Theodore Roosevelt said the following famous lines:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Life is hard people. Be kind, for you do not know what battles others are fighting. Let’s learn to listen and try to understand first, second and third.

One day you might need grace from someone. One day you might need someone to listen to you.

Three Interesting Reads

Relax, Ladies. Don’t Be So Uptight. You Know You Want It is story on Medium with lots of things to consider. The article is about so many cultural norms of the past that now seem so out of date about women and men and their relationship in society and work and home.

Here’s a fun game. Ask yourself: What strongly held opinion of mine will my grandchildren one day struggle to understand?

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No one thinks of themselves as a byproduct of a generation. Your parents and grandparents, sure, they’re byproducts. (Exhibit A, your grandmother’s helmet-shaped perm.) But not you. You’re aware of the trends and social attitudes of your generation, but your thoughts, proclivities, and the votes you cast are entirely your own. Or are they?

Every generation is a slop-sink of prejudices, norms, and ideologies, and since we humans are more sponge-like than rock-like, we naturally absorb our share of generational sludge. Tobacco-smoke enemas were all the rage in the 18th century. Stomach ache? Heart stalled? Typhoid? Doctors blew smoke up your ass. The United States performed over 40,000 lobotomies between the 1940s and ’50s, more than any other nation.

I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless, and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life is the second read to consider. A person who feels they’ve wasted their life so far and have no hope writes a letter which is then responded to by Heather Havrilesky.

The letter written is about shame and loss of hope and second guessing life decisions and the response by Havrilesky is thought provoking. I’ve decided to listen to one of Havrilesky’s book right now on Audible.

As I opened the front door, I turned around and told her how nice it was, talking to her. She smiled. “You’re a human being,” she said. “A real human being.”


“I am,” I said. “I wasn’t a few years ago. But I am now.”


All you have to be is a human being, … That’s success. When you’re a human being, life feels satisfying. Everything adds up. Every little thing matters. Look at what you have. This is where it all begins. All you have to do is open your eyes.


Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost is a tragic and obvious followup to the #MeToo era.

Some problems are very hard to solve. We need good people of character and integrity. Related, we need to be elected people of character and integrity to government offices. Duh.

Three Great Reads

I’m considering doing a once per week post on three great things I’ve read during the week. Just considering it. Here are three for this week.

Why You Should Trust People First is a terrific post on why you should take that risk and speak up, ask, be vulnerable, greet, welcome, help that other person. In general, it is so worth it. Highly recommended.

Add Value To One Person’s Life Per Day is another great post suggesting that every single day, we need to find someone to help. Your help of that person will further help and compound as they likely then go on and do something good for someone else. Just get into the habit. Every single day.

You might be thinking that adding value to one person’s life is not enough of an impact. I once thought that too.

Until I realized that adding value is contagious.

When you do it once, the person you help passes it on. The second part happens in secret, though.

“You don’t see the significance of the value you’ve given to someone because the person you helped does it without thinking”

It’s natural that when we’ve seen the power of adding value to one person’s life, we want to pass it on. We collectively end up mimicking the behavior and just forget to label it as “I helped add value to one person today.”

Adding value to a persons life is contagious. Helping people is contagious too.

Tim Denning

The Simple Power of Showing Up is a great reminder that just showing up and just being consistent makes all the difference in achieving one’s goals.

It’s time that people start realizing you can’t be the noun without doing the verb.
You can’t be a writer, if you don’t write.
You can’t be a cook, if you never cook.
You can’t be an athlete, if you never train.
In what areas of your life do you call yourself the noun without doing the verb? It’s time to get consistent.

The Simple Power of Showing Up

Reading Recommendations

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I’m currently flying through The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact on Audible by Heath and Heath. It is perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking book I’ve read in quite a while on business or organizational (or personal) excellence. It is full of examples and ideas that could be applied in all kinds of situations: schools, churches, organizations and even in your personal life as you interact with others. Highly recommended. Likely to go through it again.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Hansen is a Christian view on not taking offense, forgiving and just being humble.

We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices… And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone—say, anyone who threatens us—into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’ teaching, there is no allowance for “Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah—you need to be offended.” We’re flat-out told to forgive, even—especially!—the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive.

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Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.

In this age of everyone taking offense at everyone else and as the author says, “Everybody’s an idiot but me. I’m awesome” we need to be more patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving. Much to process in this book and I will likely go through it a 2nd time shortly. Thanks SL for the recommendation.

And I listened to the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis again. Amazing.

Currently working through The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World by David Deutsch but at 20 hours on Audible, it will take a while…

Also appreciate recommendations from any of you. Best wishes.

 

Excellence

It is easy to watch the news and think that everything is broken. Sometimes, most times, it seems we should just not watch the news.

I’ve had three encounters with excellence in the last few days where an organization, an industry and a group are really seeming to drive towards excellence with enthusiasm and energy and passion.

Endeavor

The College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) at Oklahoma State University just opened a new undergraduate laboratory building that has been written up here and here.

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The difference with this lab is their intense focus on cross-functional collaborations with different engineering disciplines working together to solve problems and do research at the undergraduate level. It is not just the EEs or the MEs doing their thing by themselves, but it is pulling them together as undergraduates to work together; which is just like the real world. The articles spell it out more, but here is one more at campustechnology.com. I’m anxious to see what OSU CEAT does with this new facility. Very exciting.

Relentless focus on getting better at educating engineers.

Winemaking

I passed through Napa Valley last week and had the opportunity to tour a couple of vineyards. I was simply stunned at the lever of precision and passion wine makers ( the head wine experts) and their wineries have towards their craft. I had no idea. Focus on sun, rain, temperatures, soil conditions, this hill vs. that hill, this side vs that side, this grape vs. that grape, etc. The vineyards are immaculate and well maintained.

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Didn’t meet any of the winemakers, but heard about passion and focus. Many of them walk through the vineyards daily. Amazing. Is this the highest form of Agricultural Engineering?

Fleetwood Mac

I get it. You are wondering how these all fit together. My wife and I had the chance to see Fleetwood Mac at the start of their tour at the BOK Center in TulsaIMG_4111

Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and several new players. While the group was older, they still played with passion and energy.

They did a cover of Free Falling to honor Tom Petty and it was amazing. Neil Finn is a great addition and a great compliment to the group.

They were still great. It was a wonderful evening with lots of memories.

Passion. Focus.

Excellence.

All of three are fun to see and experience. Other places like Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma led by Katie Fitzgerald and by many programs at Oklahoma Christian University led by John deSteiguer all point to people and groups trying to do the right things with excellence and passion.

There is hope.

Several Updates, Books, Audible, Blogs and Sci-Fi

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I’ve read two interesting books lately which I wanted to highlight here.

First, The Power by Alderman which is an amazing fictional story about a shift happening in girls and spreading to adult women where they have a power or capability to physically overpower boys and men. Without going into the detail or revealing more, it is about what happens in society when ‘power’ shifts from men to women. It is a very thought-provoking story as it touches on many different ideas and thoughts.

The second is Death with Interruptions by Saramago which is a tale about ‘death’ deciding to stop at the beginning of the year and those who should die, don’t. Day after day, in this one country the dying do not die. It is a story about what happens in society when those who really should reach the end, no longer die. The aged and hurt simply don’t die and the hospitals and homes fill up with people who are still alive.  Aging still happens. There is much social upheaval and implications as a result and it is a fascinating story. Eventually, the person ‘death’ is introduced in the story and we start hearing ‘her’ story as she interacts with people in this country. Fascinating.

I listened to both on Audible. Recommended.

And here are some interesting things I’ve read in the past few weeks. These 1st two have really caused me to pause and think.

Why Everyone Should Lift Weights is the most thought-provoking post I’ve read in a while. Don’t let the weightlifting put you off, the post is about being stronger and revealing yourself to yourself and gaining self-confidence. The following gets to the heart of it:

Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. Nowhere is this more true than with strength training. There will be days when you don’t feel like coming into the gym. There will be sets that you don’t feel like finishing. There will be times when everyone else in the gym will see you fail.

And if you keep showing up anyway, then you’ll develop the mental fortitude to get past failure, work when you don’t feel like it, and discover what you’re really made of mentally and physically

Related, the article called The Equation That Will Make You Better At Everything I posted on Twitter a while back and it has been getting reposted afterward as people read it.

Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

And let me throw in one more bonus article on relationships that struck me. In The Subtle Art of Connecting with Anyone we find the following:

If you dig deep enough into questions about what it means to live a good life and how to create happiness and fulfillment, you’ll likely find yourself between a few different schools of thought, each with their own approach.

That said, in pretty much all schools, the idea that a complete life tends to be one filled with a number of high-quality relationships is pretty consistent.

In a way, happiness is other people. It’s the connections we build and the relationships we foster. They create us, and they continue to shape us.

If you are into Science Fiction, then I highly recommend the Audible series The Expeditionary Force by Craig Alderson. You need to listen on Audible. Trust me. Hilarious and fantastic. Did I say ‘trust me’ on this?

Factfulness

Recently worked through the book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think which was co-written by Hans Rosling. He is famous for several TED talks where he talks about many of the ideas in this book.

The book does a great job at making the very point of the title. Things are better than we think. In most metrics about health, poverty, violence, etc. the world is getting better. Yes, there are places and events and people that are worse off, but on the whole, the world is getting better.

The book further points out that media points out the negative, but says nothing about the positive, which we all know but don’t really think about very much. He does argue that this is our fault because we choose to focus on the negative and thus the media follows that direction.

I do recommend this book. I’ve thought about it a lot since reading it.

Here is a similar article that I came across today which prompted me to post this recommendation and here is a site with some interesting related ideas.