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

Thursday, June 29, 2017


The word "privilege" implies specialness, a worthiness of deferential treatment.

Lots of folks are privileged.  Some due to circumstances of their birth, some due to the title they hold, and some as result of extraordinary accomplishment.

Many of the privileged class soak it for all its benefits - access, largess, fame, immunity from the rule of law.  Yet, privileged status is a tenuous and thinly veiled facade, conferring absolutely no eternal significance.

The folks I admire most have a clear grasp of this truth.  Thus, they strive for equity in the present, knowing full well its certain eventuality.  

They not only speak the Golden Rule, they live it.

Monday, June 26, 2017


We all want to be more effective, in whatever endeavor(s) we pursue.

What keeps us from achieving optimal effectiveness (either as individuals or organizations)?  Distractions.

Here are some things that cause us to take our eye off the ball:
  • Fatigue - when we've worked ourselves beyond the point of concentration.
  • Envy - when we develop a yearning for someone else's version of success.
  • Self-pity - when we start feeling sorry for ourselves.
  • Wrong focus - when we start measuring our effectiveness by inconsequential and/or erroneous metrics.
  • Imbalance - when we forget we are WHOLE beings and try to live/work in a fractured state.
  • Success - when we get a bit too full of ourselves.

There are LOTS of distractions.  Always will be.  

Disciplined minds prevail.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I recently read Bright Side by Kim Holden (2014).

This novel chronicles the short life of Kate Sedgwick (aka, Bright Side).  KH does a very nice job of developing the character of Kate, causing us to fall in love with this college student who has a heart as big as the moon and a brain to match.  She is the epitome of smart, independent, funny, and resilience.  We get to know deeply this amazing young lady, through the monumental challenges she faces, through her friends, and through the love of her life.

Not a book I would be typically drawn to.  I cried like a baby at the end.  

Thanks for the recommendation, Mom.  (Guns, explosions, and intrigue in the next rec please.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Most of us are accustomed to going through a careful deconstructive examination when we experience failure.  

What went wrong?  What did we not do?  What should we have done differently?  Who should we have had (or not had) on the team?  Would a greater investment of resources made a difference?  Lots of soul searching and assessment, often accompanied with a fair amount of lamenting and commiseration.

We normally don't go through the same level of deciphering and reflection when we score a win.  Typically, a perfunctory review, then PARTY!  We won!  Success!

Perhaps we should rethink.  The After Action Report (AAR) is just as important after a success as it is after a fail.  Much to be learned (and improved upon) either way.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017


We all have hopes and dreams, aspirations for a better, brighter future.

Some folks seem content to sit around waiting for their dreams to become a reality, waiting for the planets to align, waiting for someone to make their dreams come true.  

Others (now channel the likes of Thomas Edison, The Beatles, Martin Luther King, Jr.) focus relentlessly on their dreams, roll up their sleeves, and proceed with the slow, steady slog toward their goals.

What do dream chasers have in common?

  • Curious minds - a disciplined pursuit of learning more, learning faster, learning deeply (which means purposefully NOT spending time on non-dream stuff).
  • Focus - a relentless focus on getting it right, connecting the dots, tinkering, making it better.
  • Resilience - an understanding that today's failure is not fatal, but rather, just another step in the journey toward achieving the goal. 
  • WORK! - knowing that dream realization is directly proportional to one's personal commitment of effort, thinking, time, and resources toward achieving said dreams (dream chasing is not a 9-5 job).
When you look at that list, it's not surprising that so few folks actually realize their dreams.  

Ah, but for the committed dream chasers, the recipe works...

Friday, June 16, 2017


I've been greatly blessed to have worked with several superb leaders.  (I've also worked for some good ones, some mediocre ones, and some dastardly ones - but this post is about the exemplars.)

What made those leaders exemplars of the art of moving others?  Here are some of the commonalities:

  • They chose to have real, meaningful, caring relationships with me.  They knew me, were willing to spend time with me, and invested themselves in my growth.
  • They asked a lot of good questions (and VERY rarely played the directive trump card).
  • They envisioned a big, better, bountiful future, and gave me lots of autonomy in the dispatch of my duties in moving us toward that future.
  • They noticed EVERYTHING and relentlessly took opportunity to recognize and express appreciation for things done well and right.
  • They were deferential to a fault, consistently directing praise toward others (and absorbing more than their own share of the blame when things went awry).
  • They exuded positivity, even on the darkest of days.
  • They seemed always to be looking for ways to serve others.
What a blessing to have worked for, labored with, learned from, and grown with those powerful exemplars of leadership.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


We often refer to them as Monday morning quarterbacks.  It's that slice of society that sits back, watches you try, and pounces when you fail.  They offer their critique - about what you shoulda done, what you coulda done, how you woulda been better off if you'd...

Sometimes this Shoulda Crowd actually has some experience or expertise or credentials that qualify them to be your uninvited critics, but far too often they don't.  They simply watch others try, struggle, build, work, strive, aspire, then chime in with their unwelcome offerings after the work is done.

Worse still is when the Shoulda Crowd happens to be those in positions of leadership.  

The wisest leaders I know resist mightily the temptation to engage in Monday morning quarterbacking.  Instead, they cheer you on as you try, they ask you good and guiding questions along the way, they provide solid support (both tangible and intangible) as you take risks and push boundaries, and they thoughtfully engage with you in reflective inquiry once the project/effort is completed (whether success OR failure) to see if you both can figure out what went right/wrong along the way.

Almost always I find myself thinking that the Shoulda Crowd shoulda kept their mouths shut.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


I recently read the novel Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (1991).  

This novel by DG is a classic tale of unintentional time travel.  British Army nurse Claire Randall steps through a time-warp door at a stone henge in 1946 and suddenly finds herself in the Scottish highlands of the mid-1700s.  

The story details Claire's encounters (one of which is with a dastardly ancestor of her 20th century husband), challenges, relationships. and ethical dilemmas as she grapples with navigating life 200 years previous to her "real" life.

A great story, with lots of the typical novel faire - intrigue, politics, murder, love, life-struggles.  A little more sexual content than suits my taste, but a cool story nonetheless. 

Monday, June 5, 2017


I recently read The Art of Learning:  An Inner Journey of Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin (2008).  

I picked this book up expecting a discussion of learning from an epistemological and/or ontological perspective.  Rather, it was mostly an autobiographical account by JW of his experiences as a world champion chess master, and, later, as a world champion martial artist.  In the process of sharing his story, JW shares what he has learned about learning and how he has applied that to his own development.

My biggest takeaways:

  • Praise and reinforcement of EFFORT, more than for achievement, is critical in the development of resilience, stick-to-it-ness, and grit in children/students.
  • Truly world class performers (in any field) have learned to master the psychological component of competition, particularly the ability to self-regulate under stress or duress.
  • Overcoming/Managing setbacks and mistakes is a hallmark of world class performers.
  • Masters/Experts in any field can at once see the macro and the micro.
  • Being curious about simplicity and the banal often generates innovation and creativity.

My favorite quote:
“When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged, searching mind.  You have to make obstacles spur you to creative new angles in the learning process.  Let setbacks deepen your resolve.”  (p. 131)

Though not what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed this work.