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

Thursday, December 27, 2018


The best leaders I know are bossy.  They do, however, manage to direct others toward action in ways that are usually not too offensive.

Here's a few of the ways those quality leaders boss us, without appearing to be too bossy in the process:

  • They communicate clearly the WHY behind what we're being asked (or told) to do.
  • They craft their messages predominantly in "pull" instead of "push" format.
  • They assign us to tasks for which we are well-suited.
  • They relentlessly express appreciation for work we've accomplished.
Doesn't seem that hard, does it?  

Thursday, December 20, 2018


I recently read Empire of Sin:  A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist (2015).

This was a work of non-fiction, but read like a historical novel.  GK wonderfully details the history of New Orleans, giving an intriguing view of the social, religious, political, racial, and criminal forces that have continually pressed, or bulldozed, their respective influences on the "life" of the Crescent City.  

GK's accounting focuses primarily on the time period of the 1890s to the early 2000s.  He skillfully describes the entanglements of the forces mentioned in the paragraph above and the characters personifying those forces, and how each have imposed their perspective and imprint on the city we know as New Orleans.

Loved it!  Beignets anyone?

Monday, December 17, 2018


I recently came into possession of a priceless tool.  

My Aunt Barbara brought a box of Granddad's old pocket knives to a holiday family gathering, to let us each find a keepsake.   I carefully scoured the contents, searching not for the biggest one, or the most expensive one, or the newest one, or even one I wanted to use.  I was specifically looking for one which I remembered seeing at work in his hands.  Found it!

I watched my Granddad use this knife for a wide array of purposes:
  • Cut an apple in two and share it with me.
  • Dig a splinter out of his finger, or mine.
  • Scrape crud off the piston ring of an engine we were trying to repair. 
  • Slice a piece of cheese for me to snack on while working together.
  • Pry the lid off a beer bottle (before twist tops existed).
  • Clean a mess of catfish we caught while trotlining.
  • Whittle a whistle for me from a piece of willow branch.
  • Dress a deer I killed early one morning.
  • Hack open the lid of a can of ranch style beans.
  • Cut the rattlers off a rattlesnake we "encountered" out in the pasture.
  • I could keep going...
As often as not, the "cleaning" of his knife amounted to wiping it on his pant leg before putting it back in his pocket.

I learned a lot of things from Turney Casey.  One of them is that the skill and intent of the tool handler greatly exceeds the monetary value of the tool.  

As with most of his lessons, he taught it without overt explanation, knowing that the understanding would come in its own time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Consider three kinds of bullhorns:  
1) the horns on actual bulls (bovine males), 
2) electrified voice amplification systems used by humans, and
3) figurative bullhorns used to impose beliefs/values/goals on others.

Actual bulls use their horns to impose their will on those around them.  The horns are, in effect, dangerous weapons/tools they aggressively use to push around or injure other animals (even humans) to gain advantage.  Yes, bulls have goals.  Trust me on this one.

Humans use electric bullhorns to impose their will on those around them.  The horns are, in effect, weapons/tools they aggressively use to gain attentive advantage over other humans.  Yes, humans have objectives, too.

Figurative bullhorns are a tool used most often by those who are unwilling to engage in civil and deliberative discourse around areas of legitimate disagreement.  The objective is to shout down the "other" or drown them out, to squelch their perspective or diminish their voice.

To be sure, bullhorns of all three kinds CAN be used for the greater good...........................but rarely are.  Almost always they are deployed with selfish outcomes in mind.

We are wise to steer clear of bullhorn wielders of all three stripes, as they are typically not at all interested in our perspective, our viewpoint, our needs, or our opinion.  

Beware the bullhorns!

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I recently read The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (2000).

In this work of fiction JLC weaves an interesting story of love, love lost, murder, mystery, intrigue, subversion, NGO fraud, humanitarian aid malfeasance, governmental corruption,....

It was my first reading of JLC.  While much of his cultural reference and British lexicon were lost on me, I thoroughly loved the story and his writing style. 

I'll be back...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Yoda wasn't born that way.  He (I think it was a he) was not birthed (or however those creatures arrive on the planet - er, the universe) with all that wisdom.  

The wisest leaders and advisors I know are:  

> Disciplined knowledge curators - they read, listen, watch, search, and dig for knowledge, non-stop.
> Survivalists - they have actually LIVED through challenging experiences themselves (not just sat through a seminar on it).
> Strategic skeptics - they critically dissect the information that comes their way (even from their own Yodas) to make sure it's valid, reliable, dependable, grounded in fact.
> Cross sectional miners - they purposely seek advice, counsel, and knowledge from Yodas across a wide range of interests and disciplines, understanding that the most substantive wisdom is not bound by a particular field of study, religion, political party, mindset.

We all need a few Yodas in our network (if we want in to grow stronger...smarter...wiser).

Sunday, December 2, 2018


Failure is an expected outcome for those who pursue betterness.  It doesn't matter if we're talking personal improvement or organizational improvement.  

If we don't push ourselves, we don't get better.  If we don't experience some failure, we haven't pushed ourselves.

How should we respond when the pattern seems to be persistent fails, with few or no wins?   
The folks who seem most accomplished at keeping the fail-succeed scoreboard moving in a positive direction use the following techniques to bend failure trends toward success:

  • They analyze personal/team performance continually, carefully, objectively, honestly.
  • They discuss that performance openly. 
  • They take corrective measures early and often.
  • They habitize the thinking/actions that foster wins, and de-habitize the thinking/actions that affect consistent fails.
  • They do not mistake isolated failure as trending failure.
  • They do not abide excuse-making (by themselves or others).
Betterness is a process, not an event.