Marie Antoinette didn’t say “Let them eat cake.”
Marie Antoinette (1768-Wagenshon)
I know the quotation attributed to Marie Antoinette is in error and she almost certainly did not say it or anything like it. (Check out the many Internet references about the infamous non-quote.) However, it has taken its place in history as an example of supreme ignorance about the reality of a situation. It also is an example of thinking that one’s own reality is the only one there is. We can benefit from being careful about expressing opinions and judgments based on our own realities, when we are ignorant of the reality of others.
“Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?” I recall, with embarrassment, when I was a very young woman and heard a missionary speak about starving children in a war-torn African country. The slides were horrific and then–as now–it was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to see the despair in the eyes of mothers and children. Later I talked to the speaker and said, (I blush to admit it), “Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?” He looked at me with disgust and I hope some pity, and said, “Well, very young lady from Kansas, first, they have no way to prevent conception except abstinence and second, they have no choice about abstaining. They don’t ‘get pregnant’ they are impregnated. Your comment shows how far you are from understanding the problem.”
That ignorance on my part, as well as other personal examples, is one of the many reasons I truly work at trying to understand the big picture of almost everything. Often there is some aspect of a situation that I have failed to consider and once I consider it I have a different opinion. Often I can at least see there are multiple issues involved and there are no one-sided solutions. It’s one reason I don’t get involved in political discussions or arguments on topics about which I don’t have a lot of knowledge–that pretty much covers most things.
Closed Minds and Ignorant Remarks
“How dare the government interfere with good parenting? Recently I read an article by a writer who was outraged (a word that is certainly overused on the Internet) about an ad campaign in a major city, encouraging women to not have their babies sleeping with them. Commenters wrote of boycotting the city and writing letters to the mayor. One said she was sick and tired of the government interfering with good parenting and she equated it to government agents going door to door to take away our constitutional rights. One said it made her even more determined to co-sleep with her baby. (Good for her, that will teach the government a lesson they won’t soon forget.)
They are ignorant of the reality that not all mothers and fathers are educated about the dangers of suffocation, not all mothers or fathers are sleeping with a caring partner, and not all parents are capable of protecting an infant sleeping with them in a bed or on a sofa or on a mattress on the floor or in the backseat of a car. There had been several infant suffocation deaths in that city within the previous few months and the ads were an effort to protect babies. There was no law about it, merely an effort to educate. The outrage of the writer and commenters is based on their reality of a clean bed with only one or two sober or conscious people in it–and they think everyone lives like that. They need a bigger picture of reality before they boycott the city.
“Why doesn’t he leave us alone and let us do our jobs?” Recently an acquaintance was complaining about his new supervisor’s requirements for various tasks. The requirements sounded absurd to me so I figured there had to be other perspectives the employee wasn’t considering. Sure enough, there were. After he explained what had been going on before the new supervisor arrived, he said he could see why the new supervisor would need to make changes. He still didn’t like all of the changes but he could understand them and work within them. He also decided to communicate more positively with the supervisor so he could share his own views and opinions.
“How can they justify…..?” “Why don’t they…..? (Said about almost anything the angry or frustrated person doesn’t do, doesn’t agree with or doesn’t understand.) Every topic about which one view holds that other views are evil, crazy, stupid or in error, can often benefit from being examined to find other perspectives. There are a few things in this world that are definitely right and wrong but most are not so certain. Challenge yourself, every time you hear outrage, absolute judgments and angry statements that do not consider other views, to look for those other perspectives and at least consider them and the impact they have on the situation.
Then, challenge yourself to purposely avoid the equivalent of saying someone or some group should eat cake, unless you know for sure and with expertise what you’re talking about.
Can You Be Yourself In Your Assessment Center?
Someone who knows my thoughts about how to best prepare for an Assessment Center copied a review of my book from the Amazon site and sent it to me, indignant over how wrong he thought it was. The reviewer gave me five stars and essentially said my book proves his belief that you can’t do well in an Assessment Center promotional process if you say what you really think and use your real experiences.
I assume the person who wrote the review had participated in an Assessment Center and didn’t get promoted and saw someone he didn’t respect or like get promoted instead. Or perhaps he read my book and decided he didn’t even want to test because he thought he would have act phony to do well. I’m sorry about that and I know he would feel differently if he fully understood the process or had talked to experienced assessors.
Often a candidate will not rate as high as he expected and assume one thing he said in one exercise was the sole cause. Assessment Center results are based on more than one or two ratings. In a typical process a candidate may receive 45 ratings (3 exercises x 5 competency areas x 3 assessors). Unless a candidate says something that is outrageously wrong or offensive it will have very little effect on his or her overall results. Another thing to consider is that a candidate usually does not have access to the notes or discussions of assessors, so he would not know all of the issues upon which they based their ratings. Even if he received a feedback report, it only summarizes a few notes, not all.
I replied to the reviewer’s comments and asked him to contact me six to eight months before his next test, so I can send some additional material and maybe talk to him about it. I want to help him see that he can use his experiences and personal philosophies, if they reflect the best practices of the profession and are appropriate for the testing exercises in which he is participating.
How Effective Is The Real You?
Even if you are not in the law enforcement profession or are not participating in promotional testing, you may feel that you must submerge your real feelings, your fundamental beliefs and your real personality, to be successful or accepted. If it is true, you may be in the wrong work, school or personal setting or trying to get into the wrong setting. Find the place or situation where you can flourish. Or, you may find you can flourish where you are if you adjust or change some aspects of what you consider to be the real you.
It’s hard to accept, but often we have habits, peculiarities, traits, idiosyncrasies, opinions and foibles that cause others to reject us–and until we make some changes we will never be fully successful. Or, like some very successful people have found–they could save themselves a lot of trouble and stress if they weren’t the real them quite so often!
What is waiting for you?
July 14, 2015 will always be a date in the history of NASA and an important date for astronomers and all of us who are interested in the cosmos. New Horizons, the NASA space probe, planned since 1990 and launched in 2006, flew by Pluto, the small planet, one sixth the size of earth and smaller than our moon, and took a photo for us. As it turns out, Pluto has a heart-shape on the visible side (although some heartless people have said it looks like a cosmic giant sat down and left an imprint). I prefer the heart image, because it can seem that Pluto has been waiting four and half billion years to say, “Hi, Earth! I love you!” (Probably followed by a muttered, “Now, go away and don’t mess me up, too.”)
Here is what I like about all of it: We didn’t just now discover Pluto and it wasn’t recently formed, it has been there all this time. We didn’t expect to “get something” from it, we just wanted to say we have seen it and we know it better than before. The motivation to explore Pluto from above was primarily because most humans are gifted with a desire to keep searching for new horizons–in our solar system and in our lives and spirits.
What is waiting for you? The test of optimism and courage for many of us is to have faith that no matter what our age or our past experiences, something good is patiently waiting for us–and it may have been there all along. (However, you’ll notice that Pluto didn’t come to us, we went to Pluto. Life is like that.)
Hey, Pluto! I ♥ You Too!
Why Don’t They Manage and Supervise?
Bet you thought this was a lion, huh?
The quick answer to why managers and supervisors seem to not want to be involved in problems, fail to deal with issues, seem oblivious to concerns and neglect many tasks that need to be done, is that often when they attempt to fulfill the roles of a manager or supervisor they get such negative feedback and unpleasant results that it seems to not be worth the effort.
That is the quick answer. However, that can be an excuse for those who never really wanted to take on unpleasant tasks that require careful consideration. They want the position, the title and the salary, but not the hassle. Like Tipper, in the photo, they might wear the costume of a lion (or leader), but they aren’t really a lion (or a leader) at heart.
What about those who seem to have no trouble being bossy and unpleasant, even though they let everything go to heck around them? Well, it is easy to snap at everyone, storm around and be self-absorbed, but not so easy to analyze a specific problem or a problematic person and develop an effective plan of action. A manager or supervisor who is innately mean-spirited will nearly always fall back on being unpleasant when he or she runs out of knowledge and skills.
What about managers and supervisors who are nice people who seem to really want to do well, but things are going to heck around them, too? If a manager or supervisor only feels confident about jollying people out of their bad moods, sympathizing, mild counseling, or making excuses for problem behaviors and performance, that is what he or she will do.
If you are a manager or supervisor, consider how well-managed your team is right now:
*Adequate staff every day–or at least ensuring that all the staff are being used effectively.
*Administrative details handled on time.
*Resources being used correctly.
*The whole group and the work they do moving forward and improving all the time.
Supervision will be demonstrated by:
*Consistent and accurate on-site or at-desk observation of work and how it is being done.
*Immediate response to concerns or the first hint of problematic behavior or performance.
*Appreciating good work, even routine work.
*Looking out for everyone and how they are being treated within the group and by others.
*Keeping the work environment free of distractions and negative influences. If something distracts people from their focus on good work, it’s a negative influence.
*Motivating messages and encouragement.
*Getting the work done well and on time.
*Ensuring that policies and procedures are followed consistently.
*Building relationships with employees, customers and clients, other supervisors and a network of contacts.
*Providing service to customers and clients at a high level, without exception.
*Being an example of good work, all the time.
If you are an employee who is discouraged or irritated at your manager or supervisor, think about the times when their valid efforts have been met with resistance, even by you if the action wasn’t your preference. You might have some empathy for why they don’t make an effort anymore. That’s not a good excuse for them now, but may make a difference in your responses in the future.
The bottom line: Why don’t managers and supervisors manage and supervise? 1.) Their own managers and supervisors don’t make them do it. 2. Employees don’t like it most of the time. 3.) They never wanted to do it. 4.) It requires skill and knowledge they don’t possess. 5.) They think showing up and having the title is all that is required of them.
Don’t you be that kind of manager or supervisor. Self-evaluate often and ask others to evaluate you as well. Make it your goal to consistently and completely do the work you said you would do–for your sake and for the sake of those who rely upon you to do it.
I’ve been told often that if only someone would have known there was going to be a seminar, they would have attended. As a result I’m putting this where those seeking the material I distribute will see it if they visit here.
How to be a Safety and Security Resource for Places of Worship
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Southlake Police Department Training Center
100 East Dove Road
$65 per person–contact me about a discount for over three or more registrations
Open to police officers and non-sworn staff as well as church leaders, staff and volunteers.
This seminar provides immediately applicable material to help every participant be a reasonable and practical resource for whole-church safety and security.
*The five components of a comprehensive program of safety and security.
*How to conduct on-site assessments and train others for ongoing and consistent inspections.
*How to develop checklists, guidelines, plans and procedures.
*Gaining cooperation and support –and keeping it going.
*Developing effective materials and briefings.
Contact me by using the Contact tab, for registrations or to ask questions about the seminar. It will be an enjoyable day, filled with useful information and inspiration!
Hosanna! Church, in Lakeville, Minnesota, hosted a church safety and security seminar last week and it was a wonderful event! Jim Caauwe, a long-time law enforcement professional who is now in charge of the Crime Prevention program for the Savage PD, did a massive amount of work to make it happen and it really worked out well. There were over 200 attendees and an equal number of positive thoughts about the day.
I presented about the components of a complete program for the first half of the day and Jim talked about inspections and assessments in the afternoon. We had a sack lunch to help maximize the time, but many people said they would have stayed longer.
If your church or a group of churches or one or more police or sheriff’s departments want to get together to help make a seminar happen, let me know. It’s a two or three month process but is wonderful outreach for any group.
As always, the emphasis of the seminar was on whole-church safety and security–all of the People, Places, Property, Programs and Processes of a place of worship. It’s an upbeat and practical program. Consider it for the churches of your community!
In the book and the movie, The Shining, by Stephen King, author Jack Torrance types constantly on his novel and becomes more deranged as time passes. When his wife looks at his manuscript, she is horrified to see page after page after page filled with the same sentence: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
That is a sadly accurate metaphor for a lot of the wasted time, ineffective busy-work and wheel-spinning that keeps many people from moving forward, getting somewhere and achieving their dreams and goals.
Setting goals is no problem for most of us—we have set hundreds of them in our lifetime. Often we have set the same two or three goals hundreds of times. Here at the beginning of 2015 ask yourself some pertinent questions about your life, work, finances, health and fitness:
1.) If I could wave a magic wand and make one or more aspects of my life different, what would those things be?
2.) What are the things that I could achieve on my own, no magic needed and humanly possible, even though it might be difficult–perhaps very, very difficult?
3.) What do I need to do EVERY DAY, instead of, or in addition to, what I am now doing, if I want to accomplish each of those things?
4.) Based on my history, what is likely to keep me from sticking to it until my goals, hopes or wishes are accomplished? Is it humanly possible for me to overcome those obstacles?
5.) Considering each of my goals: If I do achieve them, is it probable that I’ll decide it wasn’t worth the effort of sticking to it? How will I feel?
6.) Do I have what it takes in courage, conviction and commitment to do what it takes, every day, to move forward and finally be able to move past this goal line?
You may have other ways of motivating yourself or keeping on track for achieving goals, but those six questions can add to your spirit of resolution for 2015. Stop typing the same old things and fill this year’s pages with your accomplishments!
Send me an email to let me know how you’re doing with your magical wishes AKA goals. Or, use the contact form. I don’t publish personal messages and will be happy to hear from you.
Dark waters and a winding trail. Photo by Casey McCorison
If you are suffering from anything–pain, health problems, emotional turmoil, addictions or disorders of any kind or personal or work problems that keep you awake and feeling out of control–you may have found that wishing for relief can become a constant background noise that is almost as distracting as the suffering. Today I read two brief articles written by the same person, Dr. Christine Lasich, which provided some new perspectives for me–and which I realized can be applied to other situations as well.
Dr. Lasich specializes in physical therapy and rehabilitation and has a spinal-pain practice in California. For the last couple of years I have read her Healing Journal (she posts infrequently, but I re-read the old posts). I believe she is sincerely committed to trying to help those who have painful conditions.
Today, I read an article she wrote for the Health Central Site, Five Principles for Treating Both Pain and Addiction. As I read it I was impressed with her concise, logical steps for dealing with a complex problem. They may be well-known from other literature on the topic, but I liked her way of expressing them.
What is the painful part of your life? As I read and thought about those five steps, I thought they could be applied to all of the things that can cause us pain, suffering, unhappiness and discomfort:
*Physical pain and health problems of any kind–both short term and those that are not ever going away.
*Food and drink addictions and disorders: sugar, diet and regular soda, caffeine, specific foods or just quantities of food in general, yo-yo dieting, food obsessions, etc.
*Dependencies and disorders: relationships, a “broken heart” and “heartache”, a specific person who is a negative element, family relationships, money and debt, excessive behaviors, destructive habits and chronic problems that you may have struggled with forever. All the things that you wish were better in your life.
The Five Principles For Treating Both Pain and Addiction are, in brief:
1. Provide Chemical Stability.
2. Motivate for Change.
3. Relieve Suffering
4. Infuse Resiliency
5. Improve Health
Read Dr. Lasich’s very short article to understand how those are applied. Then, do some sit-down thinking to adapt the Five Principles to your situation. I think you will find that the process of reading the article and adapting the principles can start to provide some relief from the pain–any kind of pain–you are feeling. (It’s part of infusing resiliency!) Contact me, if you wish, to let me know how you were able to apply the concepts. I don’t publish personal notes and am happy to hear from anyone who wants to share some thoughts.
Stand out from the herd. (Photo by Casey McCorison, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming,)
Preparing for a Promotional Interview: It’s Never Too Soon to Start
If you want to be promoted to a higher organizational level or move into a specific area of work, start preparing for it long before management announces an opening. Rather than preparing just for the interview, prepare for the position and the work, then let that preparation show in your interview or other testing.
It is true that some in-house interviews are not optimally objective and do not identify the person best suited for the role or task. However, often that accusation is a way to justify not getting the position. One thing is for sure; If being selected based on an interview is the only way to move ahead, you will simply have to hope that the interviewer (s) and interview questions, give you chances to show your best self—then, take advantage of the opportunities.
The first step is to review your career and what you have done in your current work assignment and see how you have demonstrated your readiness for the position you seek. That will help you prepare for two questions that probably will not be spoken, but if provided anyway, will help you stand out from the others:
1. “So what?” This is what interviewers are thinking when you give a list of your career accomplishments. You know you have worked hard and have done several significant things, but the interviewers may need to be told how those things link to the position you seek.
As you discuss the most significant things you have done, link it to the position you seek: “That project taught me a lot about scheduling and time management. I can apply it if I’m chosen for the Team Leader position, by helping team members develop their own skills in that area and by being more effective than I would have been without the project experiences.” One candidate was disarmingly honest and said, several times, “Here is how I’ll use that, if I’m promoted.” There was no question in the minds of the interviewers that he had given it some thought.
2. “Why should we believe you?” This is essentially, “Can you prove it?” It is what interviewers are thinking when you say you will be effective in the new work or that you are a great team player or will be committed to the goals of the manager, or whatever you say you will do and be. Can you prove it by what you have done in your current work? One anecdote to show how you work and what you can be depended upon to do, is worth a dozen unsubstantiated promises.
After the most significant things you promise or state, see if you can provide an example. “Yes, I’m very committed to our company’s values in that area. For example………….” Or, “I know I can adjust to the new software, because….”
Be preparing, all the time. The answers to both of those unspoken questions have to be in-progress all the time–almost from the day you are hired. You can cram facts and knowledge but you cannot cram experiences, accomplishments, reputation and proven skills–those are developed over time.
Not all promotional processes involve an interview, some involve a review of your work or a review of a package you prepare about your work. Many employees discover they do not have as much to offer as they thought they did. They waited until an opening was announced to start preparing to get promoted. If you genuinely have been interested in the job or promotion, you will have done something in your current work that shows it. Find that something, then look for opportunities to let the interviewers know about it. If they never give you the opportunity, be prepared with a closing statement that covers some of it. When they ask, “Do you have anything else you would like to add?,” be ready!
1964: Goldwater, Ann Margaret, The Beatles, Annette, Bill Holden and Jackie Kennedy
Just about fifty years ago, this was a version of People magazine.
*I wonder how far Annette thought she would go after she was engaged? And did she?
*Why was William Holden stalked by death? (He was a favorite actor of mine, who many nowadays don’t know about, unless they watch great old movies.)
*Would you vote for or against Goldwater? (I was a member of Youth for Goldwater.)
*What about the Beatles? In our high school talent show, some of the boys wore mops on their heads and sang, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.” Their hair doesn’t look all that long, does it?
*There is the obligatory sexy cover photo–tame by today’s standards. I can’t picture Ann Margaret twerking.
*And, of course, the reference at the top, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy leaving Jacqueline a widow with two children and an uncertain future. Jackie Kennedy had a lot to deal with in her life and I never fully understood that until I read more about her in later years.
That’s a week in 1964. Save a magazine or print out an Internet article this week and your children will enjoy it in 2064.