Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 296 - Timing is Everything

My kids used to come and talk to me about something they wanted or wanted to do.  I would understand their logic and then answer with, "I think this is doable but we need to get the consent of your father also."  After all we were raising them together and it is definitely the right thing to do.  Some parents who understand this respect for consent from both governing authorities are stronger in unison as a front than divided.  This is why kids ask only the parent that they think will say yes first.  So as soon as his father got up and it was obvious by the yelling he had begun that he had awoke and arisen from the wrong side of the bed, my son asked his father for consent.   The answer was an abrupt, "No, Hell No."  I felt bad for my son.  So asked if he wanted to come to the store with me.  He said yes and off we went to buy a few groceries.

While in the car, I told him that timing is everything.  For permission from his father, it was best to catch him in a good mood.  Perhaps when he was finished eating or later in the day.  So I convinced him to ask again.  He agreed and came home and volunteered to mow the yard.  Later in the day he asked again and he was granted permission.  So that story came back to me this week when one of my new intern Mentors cited the mantra, "It is not just doing the right thing, it is doing the right thing at the right time."  This is something I can learn from and will try to do a better job of.  Of course as you know I've got the right thing down pat, but the right thing AT PRECISELY the RIGHT time is something I will seek guidance from.  I am in the mindset that if you always do the right thing, it IS always the right time but maybe that is not true.  He likened it to being on a baseball team and playing the catcher position.  And then volunteering to pitch, AND infield as shortstop, AND outfield...all at the same time.  It appeared to others as chaos.

But then I read my Newsweek with the article interviewing Colin Powell.  There is a section about unreliable sources.  He says, "You can't make good decisions unless you have good information and can separate facts from opinion and speculation.  Facts are verified information, which is then presented as objective reality.  The rub here is the verified.  How do you verify verified?  Facts are slippery, and so is verification.  Today's verification may not be tomorrow's.  It turns out that facts may not really be facts; they can change as the verification changes; they may only tell part of the story, now the whole story; or they may be so qualified by verifiers that they're empty of information.  

My warning radar always goes on alert when qualifiers are attached to facts.  Qualifiers like:  My best judgement...I think...As best I can tell...Usually reliable sources say...For the most part...We've been told....and the like. I don't dismiss facts so qualified, but can I'm cautious about taking them to the bank. "

He went on to say that he has four rules to ensure that the process is seen from the same perspective and to take off the burden of accountability from their shoulders for his intelligence staff:

Tell me what you know.
Tell me what you don't know.
Tell me what you think.
Always distinguish which is which.

Colin Powell goes on to explain what he means by these four things and the part about "Tell me what you think" really stands out for me as it is the question that always comes to mind when we think of his testimony to the UN and how ultimately as representative of the USA, he was wrong.  He explains the process of drafting the speech with his intelligence..."They had big don't knows that they never passed on.  Some of these analysts later wrote books claiming they were shocked that I had relied on such deeply flawed evidence.  

Yes the evidence was deeply flawed. So why did no one stand up and speak out during the intense hours we worked on the speech?  We really don't know what?  We can't trust that!  You can't say that!...It takes courage to do that, especially  if you are standing up to a view strongly held by a superior or to the generally prevailing view, or if you really don't want to acknowledge ignorance when your boss is demanding answers.  

The leader can't be let off without blame in these situations.  He too bears a burden.  He has to relentlessly cross examine the analysts until he is satisfied he's got what they know and has sanded them down until they've told him what they don't know.  At the same time, the leader must realize that it takes courage for someone to stand up and say to him, "That's wrong,' 'You're wrong.' Or: 'We really don't know that." The leader should ever shoot the messenger.  Everybody is working together to find the right answer.  If they're not, then you've got even more serious problems."

When you start a new position, it is important to seek out these sources that do these four things well.  It is a process which I have a love hate relationship with.  I want to trust everyone and that everyone will know the importance of these four rules.  I always told my sons, if you tell me the truth, the ENTIRE truth, then I can help you but without knowing the details of everything, I can't help you.  So we had the same view...the same perspective.  Which leads me back to where we started...the question is, is doing the right thing always  at the right time?  or is there a "certain time" to do the right thing?  I still have to go with my gut on this and say it is ALWAYS the right time...I think the perspective from my mentor is not doing the right thing but "being right" at the right time.  Colin Powell would know this perspective well, based on the lack of information about what his sources "thought" vs what they "knew", he was wrong at the wrong time.  The beauty of this was that he became a better leader as a result...

He ends the article with.."Leaders should train their staffs that whenever the question reaches the surface of their mind -"Umm, you think we should call someone?" - the answers is almost always, "Yes, and five minutes ago."  And that's a pretty good rule for life, if you haven't yet set your woods on fire.
With early notification, we can all gang up on the problem from our different perspectives and not lose time.  As I have told my staff many times over the years, if you want to work for me, don't surprise me.  And when you tell me, tell me everything.  

From his book It worked for me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 295 - Tiara

Its Mother's Day in the USA and this is the second day of the year out of two that I wear my tiara, the other being my birthday.  There is just something about this day that I shouldn't have to worry about the needs of others and the others should do the right thing and worry about the needs of their (children are you listening?)  So far I've had a tremendously special day and paradoxically is because of two other mothers.  My new friends from across the globe in Italy.  My host son's birth mother Wanda and her friend (also a mother of a host son in Arizona) Roselba.  Roselba and Wanda made me feel like a queen today by sending to me items to add to my now over 300 collection of grape items.  I realize that this collection now borders on the ridiculous to the really really stellar collection.  So from one mother to another, THANK YOU.  I'm wearing my tiara and there is only one way to capture how this moment feels.  Amy showed it on Big Bang Theory in this youtube clip:

Tiara is the same word in Italian  but coroncina is also used and princess is principessa.  So watch this clip and you'll know how I feel today.  Thank you!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 294 - SFC, Sequence Failed Continuity

“Sequence Failed Continuity” is airline code for a flight that does not reach its destination. In the film In My Seat, Steve Scheibner, talks about Tom McGuiness taking his spot as a stand-by pilot for Flight 11.  The flight from Boston to Los Angeles that the 9/11 highjackers ultimately flew into the Pennsylvania Ground. I've never heard this term before.  What it means to me is ultimately a sequence of events failed to continue to its original destination.  How often does that happen with our dreams?

We make plans, set goals and continue on a path of our choosing.  Then for some unknown reason the SFC.  Why?  I think this is the ultimate question of life.  On a lighter contemplation, we make a list, run errands only to return to the house to have the sudden realization we have forgotten to do or pick up one of the items that was on the list.  On a more serious note, have we ever been planning to just continue working and then a health or medical problem happens in the family that side tracks our job and ultimately our benefits?  Sick children, mental illness in the family, sudden deaths of spouses, accidents, health issues, family needs? etc.

I'm still thinking about this one so there's not much to blog about yet. Steve had written his life mission shortly before 9/11.  Maybe the right thing to do would be to write our own mission statement, our own life goal. Steve's was:

To seek, trust and glorify God through humble service and continual prayer. To raise up qualified disciples as quickly as possible so that one day I might hear God say, Well-done my Good and faithful Servant

In the mean time I set out to make tissue flowers to put on a dead branch, an idea seen from Martha Stewart's magazine.  I couldn't find the pink tissue paper and only had green so ended up making green tissue flowers that moved like leaves on the tree with a little wind from our mouth.  I needed a break from studying and felt like being creative.  Here's a cheap creative idea to do with everyone in the family. Everyone can add to the tree, just like the tree of life.  The only Sequence that failed in continuity today was studying for my last exam.  My SFC for tomorrow is however to start my internship for school.  I look forward to the experience and the opportunity that God has given to me and will be wide eyed for any more he shows me during the next month. 

Gabriele helped!