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

Sunday, October 31, 2021


Most of us who work in organizations have felt the futility of trying to (or being subject to) the dynamic of "pushing the rope." 

Rope pushing is the metaphorical representation for forcing that which passively resists the effort. 

Why does that resistance exist?

  • The effort/initiative/campaign requires uncomfortable CHANGE from the current norm.
  • Disparate voices do not feel included, heard, or valued.
  • The WHY has not been clearly articulated, the case not made.
Far better for those of us in leadership roles to PULL instead of PUSH the rope. That requires having the conversations, making a clear and compelling case, including and hearing all the voices that will be impacted, and garnering the necessary buy-in BEFORE we pick the rope up.

Thursday, October 28, 2021



I recently reach Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mindby David J. Linden (2015).

DJL is a physician, but interestingly,
 not one that specializes in skin. This book is his very thorough examination of how touch, the perception(s) we get through our skin, is received, processed, and integrated into how we respond and behave downstream of those “touches.” 

My biggest takeaways:

-There are multiple types of touch receptors embedded in the largest organ of our bodies, the skin.

-There are multiple neural “pathways” by which those touch receptors communicate with our brain, some very fast, some very slow, some extremely acute, some rather diffused.

-As the brain receives signals from our touch receptors, it aggregates and collates those varied signals, and it imposes its own biases into its interpretations of those signals.

-What we feel with our skin is inherently intertwined with what we feel emotionally and what we think intellectually.

-Rattlesnakes strike based on their thermal radars, not by sight, sound, or smell (and the range of that strike is up to three feet).


My favorite quotes:

“… the epidermis is completely renewed about every fifty days.” (p. 36)


“The truly amazing fact is that the brain is exerting control over the information that it receives. The brain actively and subconsciously suppresses or enhances pain information on a moment-to-moment basis. It spins the media, so to speak.” (p. 164)


“The similarity of emotional pain and physical pain is not merely a construction of evocative or poetic speech. The metaphor is real and it is encoded in the brain’s emotional pain circuitry. Social rejection hurts.” (p. 174)


Though pretty technical at times, this book really enlightened me with regard to the “interplay” between our skin and our brain. Intriguing stuff. Glad I read it. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021


Confrontation makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. In fact, many will engage in all sorts of contortions to avoid it.

Confrontation for the sake of confrontation is counterproductive. However, confronting that which needs confronting (e.g., ethical/legal duplicity, grossly unacceptable performance, irresponsible behavior, etc.) is a necessary role of effective leadership. 

The best leaders I know learn (and are learning) to navigate necessary confrontation in healthy and productive ways. 

Those wise leaders manage confrontation via the following strategies. They...

  • Confront the behavior, not the person(s) involved.
  • Are crystal clear about what needs to change.
  • Engage in diagnostic dialogue to explore options for corrective action.
  • Use inquiry as the springboard to improvement (constantly asking "What am I missing?).
  • Stay focused on the BIG PICTURE stuff, refusing drift toward the inconsequential.
  • Follow up by monitoring and providing subsequent feedback on progress.
  • Treat others respectfully, ALWAYS.

Healthy confrontation is as much art as it is science (which qualifies it as "craft"). Learning to be a healthy confronter is worth the time and effort needed to master that craft.

Leadership ain't for the wobbly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


Our learning (both as individuals and as a species) almost always happens out on the margins. Rarely is new learning the result of some sort of epiphany or remarkable contradiction to what we already know.

The human brain is constructed in such a way that makes it naturally curious. It constantly compares what we already know with novel experiences/knowledge and attempts to "square it" with our previous understandings.

A most fundamental form of learning is what we call "common sense." It's the intuitive understanding we glean from simply living the human experience. We all have a degree of common sense (though some seem to possess a deeper well of it than others). 

The most technical and disciplined version of learning is the scientific method -- identify a pesky problem, affix to it a testable question, design an experiment to test that question, scrupulously measure the results of that experiment, draw defensible conclusions from that data, and finally, put those results in front of many bright minds so they can either shoot holes in it or agree. 

In both common sense and scientific research, our learning persistently occurs out on the margins. We tinker on the edges, constantly pushing the knowledge boundaries outward, bit by bit. 

Problems arise when we cease the curious inquiries that afford us the incremental new knowledge that makes us smarter, healthier, more capable - in all our human dimensions. 

Anyone that tells us the learning is complete (in any domain) is either delusional or has nefarious intent.

Learning RULES!

Sunday, October 17, 2021


Multi-generational perspective is a force multiplier when it comes to leadership. 

Organizations (whether families or global corporations) benefit immensely when they have wise leaders who span the generations scattered throughout. 

The youngest ones bring energy and optimism to the table (sometimes with a dash of impulsiveness). The oldest ones bring historical perspective and the wisdom of lessons learned (often with a touch of complacency). Those in the middle bring the refined skills of prime-of-life practice and awareness of the shortness of time (frequently with an added touch of arrogance). 

As with the richest ecologies in any social or natural environment, diversity adds a healthy dynamic, as long as it is respectfully embraced.

When a business or a school or a church or a government or a family has multiple generations represented in their leadership line, the odds of a healthy, long, and prosperous existence go up exponentially. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


We all LEARN. Recent neuroscience research concludes that even old folks (like me) continue to LEARN. The scientists refer to it as neuroplasticity.

How much you and I differ in our learning revolves around two triggers: need and desire.

Some need-driven learning examples:

  • Figuring out how to comply with that new IRS tax reporting form
  • Acquiring the skill to navigate that new software application at work
  • Trying to operate the new juicer in our kitchen (engineering degree needed, evidently)
  • Interfacing more amicably with folks who don't share our worldview

Some desire-driven learning examples:

  • Improving our writing skills
  • Discerning the best nutritional choices for our long-term health
  • Operating the gadgets embedded in our newly purchased vehicle
  • Making sense of our purpose in life

Obviously, those are very abbreviated lists. And, what is on one of those lists for some of us might be on the other for someone else. 

The fundamental differentiator in the two is the level of engagement we bring to the learning endeavor. We each get to decide the level of engagement we bring to each of the learning opportunities that present themselves to us (or are foisted upon us). Think of engagement as the effort we voluntarily invest in the process.

The constant in this equation is that we continue to learn, every day, in a million ways. The variable is the degree of enthusiasm we bring to the process.

Happy learning!

Sunday, October 10, 2021


Those of us who live and work in social groups (whether personal or work) will deal with conflict and contention.

The more complex and high-stakes the issue, the higher the likelihood of contentiousness.

For your consideration, a few strategies that can help us move toward resolution of conflict and solutions that foster better futures:

- Define the issue -  seek to clearly articulate the problem at hand, out loud, without emotional language.

- Remove barriers - have the conversation/discussion in settings that do not have physical barriers (tables, desks, ...) or symbolic barriers (titles, seniority, ...) that separate the discussants. Level the playing field for the richest conversations.

- Stay outcomes oriented - keep the convo more about the outcomes and less about process and protocol.

- Inquire, hypothesize, forecast - ask good questions, repeatedly, that cause all minds present to think about possible outcomes from the different options available for moving forward. "What if we..." conversations are powerful for decision making.

- Restate, on repeat - constantly restate positions and proposals to make sure that all parties are thinking about the same solution/outcome.

- Confer respectfulness - even when emotional temperatures go up, respectfulness toward others stands the best chance of building bridges (and not walls).

If you never have to be involved in such discourse, thank your lucky stars. 

For the rest of us, navigating contention is tricky business..............but learnable.

Saturday, October 9, 2021


I recently read Metabolical: The Lure and Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine by Robert Lustig (2020). 

In this book RL relies on his 40+ years as a physician-researcher (many of which were dedicated purely to treating obese children) to indict the Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Medicine, Big Nutrition and Big Food for their complicity in fomenting a health crisis of monumental proportions in the United States. And of course, the scam of foodlike substances is supported, and often underwritten, by Big Guvmint. 

My top takeaways:

·       RL’s live well and long rule: “Protect the liver, feed the gut.”

·       Only by shifting to eating healthy food can we arrest chronic disease and early death.

·       It’s food quality, not quantity, that matters.

·       Not all calories are alike.

·       Modern medicine focuses on treating the symptoms, not on reversing the diseases.

·       At the current rate, computer modeling indicates that ½ of all Americans will be obese by 2030.

·       Prescription medications are the third most common cause of death today.

·       Medical schools teach treatment of disease, very little prevention, and virtually NO nutrition to physicians in training.

·       Shop the edges of the supermarket, not the aisles (where most of the processed food resides).


My favorite quotes:

“Physical activity is a useful adjunct, but you can’t outrun a bad diet.” (p. 8)   


“The good news is that for chronic disease, genetics only explains about 15 percent of the variance in risk. The other 85 percent is environmental, which means there’s plenty you can do to mitigate your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and virtually every other chronic disease.” (p. 139)


“People think supplements are the antidote for bad food. They’re not. Rather, Real Food is the treatment, while bad food is the poison.” (p. 151)


“Whether you like it or not, you’re eating for two—you’re in a symbiotic relationship with your gut, and if you hurt your gut, your gut will hurt you back.” (p. 170)


“This process of purification turns sugar from food into drug…The minute the dose exceeds the liver’s capacity to clear and metabolize it, it’s in the brain, driving reward in all people, and addiction in some. And it’s being added by Big Food to 74 percent of the food supply, because when they add it, we buy more.” (p. 285)


This book confirms much of what Moe and I have learned about nutrition (and our own health) over the last 10 years. RL has done a masterful job of pulling it all together and making it understandable those of us who are not physicians and/or researchers.


If you’re gonna read only one book this year related to your own health and wellbeing, read this one.

Sunday, October 3, 2021


Those of us in leadership roles are really in the business of influence - we try to influence outcomes by influencing others. 

Some methods for such influencing are outright dastardly (history is chock full of relevant examples).

However, there are some excellent applications for influencing others that are worth considering, acquiring, and refining, for those of us in pursuit of holistic betterness:

Caring -- for other humans and for the planet.

Service -- applying the gifts we possess to address identified need(s).

Honesty -- gently, persistently seeking and speaking the truth (zero lying).

Engagement -- being authentically "present" with those whose journey we share. 

The above list can be faked (often is). The good news is that humans, generally, are well-equipped to see through such fakeness. 

In a cacophonous world of wannabe influencers, authenticity is a world class differentiator.

Genuineness RULES!