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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Friday, November 25, 2016


"Unsettled" is a word most of us know.  It is used in numerous contexts, with nuanced meanings for each.

Sometimes debts go unsettled, creating dissonance between borrower and lender.  Sometimes social contracts get violated, leaving an unsettling dissonance between the parties.  Sometimes we get an unsettled feeling when expectations we have for others go unfulfilled, thus creating discontent and dissonance.  Sometimes the forces of Mother Nature create an unsettled environment, foretelling a storm or significant weather event, thus creating atmospheric dissonance.  

In virtually all circumstances of unsettledness, an imbalance exists.  Either the laws of nature or our intuition or our moral compass tells us that something is a bit out of whack and needs to be returned to some semblance of balance before the dissonance can be mitigated.  

When we fail to express love, affection, and appreciation to those who have positively impacted our lives we get that unsettled feeling deep down inside.  And should.

We can, at very little cost, correct that imbalance and the accompanying dissonance.  And should.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Commitment is a two-sided coin.  It often represents a covenant founded in emotion.  When viewed in this light, commitment embodies a deep level of faithfulness and devotion to a cause/person, a self-chosen allegiance or loyalty.  In this respect, commitment almost always includes a willingness to lovingly turn a blind eye to the faults or flaws in the other/cause.

The other side of the commitment coin is the legalistic component.  In this respect, it represents a sworn responsibility or obligation.  Commitment, from this viewpoint, suggests a decision to stick with someone/something, for better or worse.  It is viewed as a contract by which we are bound.  From this cognitive perspective, we understand that holding to the commitment is in our best interest, even when not comfortable or convenient.

Deep commitment encompasses both sides of the coin, the emotional and the cognitive.  It represents a powerful tie that binds.

My brothers and I and our spouses joined Grady and Dian Coulter (our parents) for a lovely dinner last night, celebrating their 60 years of commitment to each other.  Mom and Dad have beautifully, painfully, joyfully, doggedly, blessedly honored that commitment for six decades.  

We (us "boys" and our families) are the real beneficiaries.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I recently read W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton (2016).  

In this novel, private investigator Kinsey Millhone finds herself the executor and sole heir of the estate of a homeless man (a long-lost and unknown uncle).  Couple this strangeness with another murder, scientific malfeasance, and familial dysfunction.  

A very interesting story told by SG, as usual, in a very entertaining way.  A good read. 

Monday, November 14, 2016


Folks develop a perception of us.  That perception is almost always the result of...

  • What they see out of us.
  • What they hear from us.
  • The fidelity between what they see from us and hear from us.
If we don't like the way others perceive us, we have GREAT power (and opportunity) to alter that perception.  How?  By...

  • Making sure others see from us what we want them to see from us.
  • Making sure others hear from us what we want them to hear from us.
  • Making sure that what they see from us is HIGHLY aligned to what they hear from us.
Works for us as individuals.  Works also for organizations.

A prerequisite is that we actually know what we would like for others to perceive in us.

As with most meaningful pursuits, it's far easier said than done.  But, doable indeed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Erosion is the gradual destruction of something, via a natural agent like water or wind.  On our ranch, we see the effects of erosion every day.  When we get significant rain, water erodes portions of our land, cutting deep gullies, sometimes destroying fences, occasionally uprooting trees, and often altering the course of springs/creeks.

Bear in mind that water is a very good thing - necessary actually.  It is our very lifeblood on the ranch.  

The impact of erosion is driven by three factors:  speed, volume, and depth.  As any or all of these increase, the destructive effects increase dramatically.  Thus, a very good thing - water - can become menacingly destructive.  We understand that and take steps to mitigate that speed/volume/depth problem when and where we can.

Erosion also occurs in organizations.  When what we usually consider to be very good things, such as new initiatives, process improvements, or professional development, are deployed with intensified speed or volume or depth, the same thing can happen to the organization that happens on our ranch...Erosion.  In this case the damage is usually witnessed as frustration, overwhelmedness, lowered morale, decreased commitment, or impaired performance.  

Wise leaders understand and heed this natural law.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


We often get derailed by oxen-in-the-ditch events.  Happened to me yesterday, in the most literal fashion.

Yes, it was a pain in the patootie.  Always is.  I spent most of the day trying to get the "oxen" out of the ditch (and then, only with the help of my wonderful neighbor who has a MUCH bigger "ox").

But, the situation caused me some introspection.  Surprised?  These oxen-in-the-ditch events sometimes occur in our personal lives, sometimes in our professional lives, sometimes in our organizational lives.

They happen when the following conditions exist (independently or in combination):

  • When we quit paying attention.  Occasionally, we get distracted (for any number of reasons) and make decisions that put us in a jam.
  • When we make risky choices, gambling on the outcome.  Perhaps we try to force things a bit too quickly, or take chances that are dicey at best, or feel like the cost-benefit analysis is worth the risk, or insist on holding to old but untenable ways of doing things (think Polaroid and Blockbuster here).
  • When contexts change on us without our knowing it.  Sometimes conditions/circumstances shift outside our field of view.  We are simply minding our own business and the world changes on us unexpectedly.
We all are subject to these catastrophes.  Rarely is there loss of life or limb (thankfully).  Often the experiences cost us mightily in time, effort, and expense.  ALWAYS, how we react and adapt to the situation determines the ultimate outcome.

What is most important, however, is what we LEARN from the event.  That will most likely determine the frequency and severity of the next oxen-in-the-ditch events. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016


I recently read Good Faith:  Being a Christian When Society Thinks You're Irrelevant and Extreme by Kinnaman and Lyons (2016).  

In this work the authors examine the difficulties of living as Christians in a nation/world that has become increasingly secular and humanistic.  K&L also discuss some of the most challenging social issues of our time in relation to the Christian faith, such as dealing with racism and current views of sexuality.

My biggest takeaways:

  • The Christian faith, lived with fidelity, may be the best hope for a our families, our neighbors, and society, in general.
  • Modeling "good faith" means living by the "great commandment" - to love God completely and with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • How well we love + What we believe + How we live = Good Faith (p. 75)
  • Asking the right questions, then listening more than talking, is a great recipe for meaningful engagement.
  • We must allow "space" for disagreement.
  • Our faith is played out in five arenas:  Theology, Ministry, Relationships, Politics, and the Public Square.
My favorite quote:  “We aren’t responsible for the outcome, but we are responsible to be faithful.” (p. 260)

A good read, which challenged my thinking and practice on several fronts.  Thanks for the recommendation, JK