Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Who will be next?

I am so proud of all the people who have been getting involved in politics for the first time over the last year and a half. It's so inspiring to me to see people all over the country stand up to be counted as something other than sheep.

So much bad has been delayed or avoided by making sure that our congress critters know that we completely disapprove of the things they want to force on us and the changes they've made over this last year. The Tea Party Protests and demonstrations, the Pink Slip campaign and all the of the countless phone calls, emails and letters have communicated that there's something here that they didn't count on. The sleeping giant called the American people is waking again, and there are few forces more powerful.

The challenge is what to do beyond voicing dissatisfaction. I'm pretty sure that the message is getting across. Ultimately, many, if not most of the people in congress and other legislatures can not ever be counted on to do the right thing. So it's time to think of replacements and get them into office. I'll ask the same questions of everyone who reads this post.

  • Do you know what the timeframe and process is to get a candidate on the ballot where you live?
  • And who do you know that can become the next Adams, Jefferson or Washington?

I crave people to support, and if you let me know who they are, I have a few things I can do to help them.

Keep being great, America!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Today is Flag Day!

Happy Flag Day!

 

One of the fun things about being a parent is making conscious choices about the traditions we focus on with our boy.  This year, I’m really feeling called to make Flag Day special.  My flag is going out in the morning light, and we’ll be talking about everything it represents.

 

Did you know that flag days goes back quite a way, commemorating the day in 1777 that the continental congress approved our flag?  There is a nice article on Wikipedia (Wikipedia,

the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.  Or as I call it – lots of information, occasionally researched, sometimes requiring a grain of salt, and good critical thinking skills.  Still and all, a fun site.)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_Day_in_the_United_States

 

I know that some of you receiving this have concerns about what our flag represents.  I’d encourage you to take this day to remember the best of what makes being American special, and bring to it your own hopes for what you’d like it to be.  Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on what you might do to make it more what you’d hope.  Would this be a good week to call or write your congress critters, volunteer for a city commission or otherwise take action?

 

This has been a really interesting year, which a lot more political engagement than I can remember for a long time.  I think that’s a good thing.  So I had another idea you might enjoy.  Since this isn’t the 4th of July, and it’s not a TEA party, why not make it a movie night.  Spend some time with friends and family and watch something patriotic.  A few of my personal favorites that I’d recommend include:

 

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

Meet John Doe (Aw Heck!  Anything by Frank Capra would do)

1776

Top Gun

The Right Stuff

 

I’m sure you get the  idea.  I’m a silly, romantic, populist at heart, and anything that shows regular folk taking on something bigger than themselves, growing in the process, and has the underdog winning in the end is just my cup of … oops, wrong beverage.  Just floats my boat! 

 

Have a happy Flag Day – long may it wave!

 

Nick

 

Star-Spangled Banner

 

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Public Service

My wife and I took our son with us to the polls yesterday. And this is from some correspondence with a friend that I thought might bear sharing.

I'm thinking a lot about the idea of public service lately. If not for the founding fathers, including one John Hart who sacrified much in the revolution, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hart) we wouldn't be free to have this dialogue. Then something happened to changed the concept of public service to being serviced by the public.

Perhaps the example of Cincinnatus is helpful. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Quinctius_Cincinnatus) Every public servant should return to the farm from time to time until called for. It's hard to quibble about the life-long service of a John Adams. But, he did carry his own bag before that. It's some of the more contemporary public servants, who have never earned a private sector paycheck, and who don't have to live in the environment that they affect, that concern me.

What ever one thinks of their specific policies, I admire Grover Cleveland's two non-consecutive terms far more than Franklin Roosevelt's generation in office, because the American people chose to return him to office after experiencing an alternative.

So perhaps the need is for an over-all balance - A call to serve, and a call back to the farm. Both are important to protect our freedoms from complacency, corruption, and arrogance.

I wonder where the Cincinnati are today?

Best to you, citizens!

Nick

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

90 seconds of complete attention

Hello again,

Here's a little update on that was very powerful last year. See http://honestdialogue.blogspot.com/2004/12/silly-new-holiday-tradition.html

Back a few years ago, I tried an experiment I called the new years genie. The idea was to ask my friends and colleagues what professional wishes this new mythical character called the New Years Genie might grant for them. For those that took it seriously enough to be the genie's master and command a wish, the experiment took off beautifully, unbelievably well.

More than 75% of the wishes were actually "granted". Employers and employees were matched up. Investors and investments came together. New ventures and partnerships started. Oh, and sales definitely happened. And all told, many millions of dollars of commerce happened, all because of a few moments of focus. And we all had some fun doing it.

90 seconds of complete attention - If you take 90 seconds to think seriously about what would be the absolute most valuable sort of contact or resource, right now, to help you accomplish your goals for the next quarter or year, I will spend at least 90 seconds seeing who and what I can steer your direction to help you accomplish them.

I know it's not even close to new years. But, I figure, what's the point of our being connected, if I can't do you some good. Still no guarantees, but the shipping is always free. Now we know you've got a 75% chance of it paying off in some way. A lot of people find that the simple exercise, of thinking through what the most useful thing would be, is helpful in itself.

So what will it be? What's your goal and what will help the most. If I can grant you one wish, would it be that special customer or client you've been trying to land, new investors, a board member or new talent for your team? What one thing would make the biggest difference for you and your business this year?

I look forward to hearing from you in 90 seconds!

Best wishes for an amazing Q3 and the rest of 2007.

Nick

Monday, July 09, 2007

About my father

The rest of the story, after we developed the talk, and all became masters of communication with the doctors, is that my father did not survive. Here are some thoughts that I shared at his memorial:

I had the opportunity to read some of the cards, letters, and e-mails that so many of you were kind enough to write about my father. There were a number of recurring themes: steady, reliable, dependable, patient, a gentlemen, kind, and always had a twinkle in his eye.

I often think about Dad and the times that he lived in. And as we were preparing for today, we've been looking through pictures of him and our family. Something extraordinary jumped out at us. As you look through the pictures of our family, there are a number of ways to tell about when it was taken: What my sisters and I look like, our hairstyles and height, sometimes cars and clothes. One way to try telling the period, that doesn't work, is looking at Dad. Dad looks, and basically was, the same from year to year.

It's been a bit of a family joke for years that, whenever someone spoke of a person's age, we might say, "All ladies are timeless." and manage to avoid a numerical answer. And Dad, being the gentleman that you all mentioned, certainly treated the ladies as such.

There's another thing about timeless-ness, though. In the Bible, especially in parts such as

1 Corinthians 15 it says (depending on the version):

53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So we have some confidence that someday we'll have bodies that won't age or wear out. It's a glimpse of what our heavenly nature may be. And Dad, being the gentleman who really didn't change much from year to year, who was always steady, reliable, dependable, patient, a gentlemen, kind, and always had a twinkle in his eye, had something genuinely heavenly about him.

While he may have been timeless, he lived in such wonderful times. Dad saw-in the advent of international air travel, jet planes with vectored thrust for high maneuverability, flying platforms, airplanes that swing their wings, and even the space shuttle. And he not only saw them, he participated in their development. Not that Dad was one to seek the limelight, but in his quiet way, he was, one of those people, who was comfortable in the background, working on some of the most exciting developments of the 20th century.

A few years ago, I attended one of the Hiller reunions of the employees and families who helped make the Hiller helicopters what they were. Stan Hiller remarked, as he looked over the group and the aircraft at the Hiller Museum, that "your fingerprints are all over this place." Meaning that all of those wonderful people, including Dad, had made a critical contribution to the amazingly creative aircraft that Hiller produced.

I loved visiting with Dad when he was working over at places like NASA Ames and seeing the latest programs and aircraft he worked on. But, for us, Dad was the guy that we turned to, and relied on, in other ways. One evening, not long after I turned 16 and got my driver's license, I managed to hit a deer with a car. For those of you instantly alarmed by that, I'll get right to the point of suspense and tell you that the deer got up and ran off into the woods. Getting to the point of the story, though, the car didn't, and Dad needed to come to the rescue. At some silly late hour, poor Dad came out to where the car was, and we worked out towing it home.

I'd like to tell you that that was an isolated incident, and Dad never needed to come help me out again with something stupid that I did with cars or anything else. But that wouldn't be a true statement. What would be a true statement is that, no matter the inconvenience, or difficulty Dad would come and do what it took when he was needed.

And when things were not in crisis, Dad was wonderful to simply be with. We could talk for hours about the things we enjoyed, usually things that moved, likes boats, cars, motorcycles, helicopters, airplanes, trains, and how they worked, how they were built, and what made them special. I certainly fell in love with all those things through Dad's passion for them, and my son Andrew loves them all too. I'd have to say that one of my own proudest moments was when I got my pilot's license, and Dad was my very first passenger. (And, no, he didn't need to rescue me or tow the airplane home.)

Of course, it wasn't all seriousness, technology, and important things. As kids, Dad taught us deep songs such as "Do your ears hang low?" "Shaving Cream" and something very lyrical about a bullfrog that fit perfectly into Dad's vocal range. That's what I meant by deep songs: Not important - just deep notes. He loved to laugh, and that twinkle in his eye was always close by.

Many things in life change. Not Dad, of course. But now we are learning a new way to experience his steadiness, reliability, patience, and the twinkle in his eye. I confess that I haven't quite got this new way figured out yet. But I'm thankful for all the time we've had.

I love you Dad.

The one thought that I have now, is that we shouldn't wait until it's too late to make sure that people know how much they matter to us. Go celebrate someone's life - right now - while they're here to enjoy it!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Giving Your Doctor "the Talk"

I've been a bit distracted lately by the fact that my father is in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. Before I get rolling into anything else, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has been sharing their prayers and good wishes.

This experience has been enormously eye-opening. I'm trying to maintain my faith in people and belief that there are no villians here. But, there are a lot of people with a wide variety of styles of care-giving in the hospital. And, frankly, not all of the styles really fit in with the basic theme of meeting Dad's needs and keeping him alive. At one particularly low point in our relationship with his doctors, I conferred by phone with a personal friend, who is also a doctor. And I was delighted when he endorsed the use of something called "the Talk" with any and all of Dad's care-givers.

Though I hope you never do, you may find something similar helpful some day. Here is a rough outline of "the Talk."

  • We know what the odds are and we are not deluding ourselves about Dad's chances.
  • We are, however, choosing to do everything we can to maximize his chances of sucessfully surviving his cancer. We are choosing life.
  • As you probably know, a very critical aspect of his recovery is his own attitude. If you think you can, you will. If you think you can't, you won't. We can and we will.
  • We need you to be on the same page with us about this. We need you to take every opportunity to build Dad's spirits and support his hopes for surviving to return home to his new normal life.
  • If you choose to join us in this, you may find that you will be a better health care professional in almost everything you do.
  • If you find that you can not support the program, we can't use you on this team.
  • Will you join us in choosing life for Dad?

If you ever do find yourself in this situation, you may also find a poster that is on the wall in Dad's room helpful. You can see a copy at: http://www.jointcommission.org/NR/rdonlyres/C6635523-8F35-405F-8306-2EA04AC249FF/0/SpeakUp_Poster.pdf

Best wishes for good health for you and yours.

Nick

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Toddler and North Korea

I've been thinking about the situation with North Korea having nuclear weapons, the flow of diplomacy with them, and how it may impact my little boy.

When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, we actually did practice "duck and cover" drills in school. We lived with the threat of nuclear annihilation, and followed the progress of various negotiations with the old Soviet Union to try to avoid MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Apart from all that, it was a pretty great time to be a kid.

Then, of course, in the 80s and 90s, we saw the beginnings of d├ętente and the eventual end of the Soviet Union, and all of us who had images in our heads of "The Day After" breathed a sigh of relief.

Moving on a bit, as my wife and I try to be good parents to our son, we have learned that one of the best ways to discipline him is calmly. It's not always easy, but it is most effective when giving him a time out to say something like, "Aw, Andrew, it's really too bad that you chose to do that. Now it's time for a time out." The lessons seem to be learned a lot faster than when we allow our upset to show, and he's much calmer in experiencing discipline.

So now I wonder if it would make sense to communicate to our friends in North Korea something along the lines of, "Aw, Kim Jong-il, it's really to bad that you chose to build nuclear weapons, after agreeing to not do that. Now it's time to go to your room for a time out." (Meaning that you can live with the stick of Mutually Assured Destruction, not the carrot of lots of trade and goodies.)

Yep, toddlers of all ages learn much faster when you set clear boundaries and stick to them. I wonder if we have any adults in the room in our State Department.

Nick