Monday, November 21, 2016

The US Election–A Warning For America

The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting, animating and stirring to action. - Felix Adler

If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example. - George Bernard Shaw

I remember as a kid taking high school physics that I was fascinated by vector analysis, the notion of netting out multiple forces with different directions and vector quantities such as displacement, velocity, force and acceleration to find out what ultimate direction and other vector quantities an object being acted upon by these forces would exhibit.  (Who knows – maybe they teach this in kindergarten now)

And now as I watch people continue to triumph or melt down down over the election result, my memories turn back to my old physics days, about how a result is the net effect of many of forces coming to bear at a single place and point in time.

But first a background story that caused my old physics days to come to mind.

A long-time friend of more than 25 years recently said goodbye to me because he couldn’t live with the notion that people couldn’t have differences of opinion.

He and I were both immigrants to America.

We both found significant success in America.

But here we diverged a little.

I embraced the nation, being grateful every day that it accepted me as one of its own and that I had equal opportunity to thrive and seize success if I wanted it.  When the Star Spangled Banner would play at an event, my eyes would tear up in gratitude to be afforded such opportunity that few in the world dared to hope for.

The nation wasn’t perfect but there were many places in the world that were MUCH worse.

Our differences of opinion were significant although not immediately apparent to me until recently.

I believe a nation’s flag is sacred and while its protection and respectful treatment is not enshrined under law, I believe that to smear the flag is the ultimate insult to a nation.

He believes that burning the flag is a useful form of protest (although he can’t explain how or why).

I believe that our armed forces, law enforcement and first responders in general need to be honored every day for the incredible, unselfish sacrifices they make so that we can go about our business and reach for our dreams.

He believes that the armed forces are an embarrassing example of a primal, degenerate nature that don’t deserve our respect and therefore should not be honored in any way.

I believe in the notion that if we spread any kind of information, it should be authenticated, validated, shared respectfully and built around making the world a better place.

He believes that any information is useful, including false or misleading information, if it accomplishes the objective.  He also believes that if this hurts people, then so be it – the ends justify the means.

We have many differences as is usually healthy amongst friends.

However, I drew the line recently when he began promoting pro-hatred rhetoric proven to be lies because he was so disappointed that Hillary Clinton had lost.  All was fair in terms of overthrowing the hateful person (in his eyes) that had become the President-elect.

“This man”, he said through his actions, “is an embarrassment to morals and ethics in America.  Look at how he treats others including ……” and he listed off a pile of stories that have already been established to not be true.

Feeling a little weary of this series of lectures, I asked him “If you believe so strongly about morals and ethics, why are you cheating on your wife?”

What followed was a blistering attack against me followed by the ever mature, ever useful (not) unfriending.

I am not judging him for cheating on his wife with someone much younger.

When my end-of-days arrives, I will have many things to atone for in my own Life as is true for most of us.

But what I do take umbrage over is when someone lectures others on morals, values and character while reserving the right to be none of the things they expect of others.

And that’s when I got to thinking about vectors in high school physics.

As I have noted in older blog posts:

Trump, for better or for worse, was elected fairly in the greatest democratic process on Earth (despite all its shortcomings).  That is something to be championed and not complained about.  As I noted in the past, Americans complaining about their President-elect fail to recognize that the winner is not an aberration of their society but is in fact a product of it.  Given that, who else could win other than someone who represents a natural evolution of their society?  If someone doesn’t like the result of the election, rather than examine the winner, we must examine the system that produced the winner.

Many, many complementary and opposing forces, created over generations, have come together to create the system we have now and the President we have elected.

If we don’t like the election process that was used, the process as it was executed (including by the media and in social media) and the result that it produced, it behooves us to look at the many forces that went into creating and using all three. 

When an object (or a President) is propelled in a certain direction in a certain way, it is not merely the actions of the object but the forces (or vector quantities) in place at that moment that propel the object.

The forces aren’t created spontaneously or from thin air.

They come from our actions.

Too often the things we claim to not like are merely the symptoms of a more complex problem or are projections based on our own biases and fears.  Knowing the difference between targeting the core issue versus the symptoms means the difference between finding a solution or immersing one’s self in insanity or an endless litany of complaining and/or feelings of victimhood.

The President-elect is not the problem.

We are.

The Bottom Line

The President-elect is the net effect of the thoughts, words and actions of all of us, both present and in our past.  It’s not only what we do but what we promote or condone in others – the end result being the net effect of what we do and what we allow over time.

If don’t like how he was created or what he is, we need to look less at him and more into the forces that have created him and propelled him into the position that he is in.

Such an analysis, while complex, difficult, painful and potentially embarrassing, will produce far more results than chanting slogans of hurt feelings in the streets of America or constantly sharing in social media how “I can’t stop crying” or “I’m leaving America”.

When we become cognizant of our thoughts, words and deeds, it occurs to us that the enemy may not be the person or process we don’t like.

It may be ourselves.

And for this reason, perhaps when we seek a better world without, that we begin by creating a better world within and in doing so, we enable our actions, not our desires, dreams or hypocritical standards, to create the world we believe we are capable of producing and that we claim to be entitled to.

We will always create the world we deserve, in business, in politics and in Life.

But a better world starts with what we believe we or the people around us deserve and then we take actions to create that which others deserve.

What do you and the people around you deserve?

Are you / they experiencing what you believe you / they deserve?

Is there a gap and if so, what are you doing about it?

If there is no gap, how do you know?

Be the change you wish to see while there is still time to create it

In service and servanthood,


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Calgary Airport–The Power of a Smile

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles. - William Hazlitt

My insane personal and professional schedule brought me to Calgary Airport today and at one point, reflecting on things that I had read, written and spoken about, I found myself sitting in a nice comfy chair in Banff Hall between Starbucks and the Era kiosk.

On the other side of the security glass in front of me, electric cars whizzed back and forth, carrying a lot of people from one end of the airport to the other.  Most of the occupants were unsmiling, looking tense, exhausted, confused, distracted, angry or heavily focused on “something”.

When we are in an airport, we often forget the incredible combination of Life circumstances that have come together within one building – people on their way to or from job interviews, funerals, family reunions, vacations, meetings, successes, failures and the like.

Travel can be …. well …. exhausting, frustrating and even frightening for some.  Most of us just need to get where we’re going as fast as we can get there.

And so as I watched the electric cars zoom back and forth, I turned towards my colleague and said “someone needs to wave and smile at these people and break them out of whatever trance they’re in.”

My colleague said “sure” and as the next car went by, we waved.

The people looked at us awkwardly and one person did a half-wave.

Undeterred, when the next car went by, we waved again and some of the people waved back.

By the time we were a dozen cars into our little wave-fest, even the drivers were waving back with gusto and large smiles.

Somewhere in the love-fest that ensued, the drivers must have told the passengers to anticipate this because as the cars approached our location, the drivers and passengers began to smile and wave at us before we had a chance to wave at them first.

We had fun for quite a while before Life responsibilities drew us away.

As my colleague and I walked away, I looked over my shoulder and I could see the drivers looking for us as they drove by the now empty chairs.

My colleague and I joked that a lot of people were wondering who “the two goofs” were in the chairs, waving and smiling at people.  No doubt, in some corner of the world later tonight, someone may reflect on the difference a smile made, offered or returned and someone may share a laugh with friends or family when they arrive at their destination.

And as I thought about this, something occurred to me.

For every wave and smile I sent, I received 5-10 in return.

So maybe (and here’s a confession here – don’t tell anyone), just maybe, I suggested the wave-fest somehow knowing that I would get a lot of love in return.  After all, in the middle of my own cross-country move and large business deals, a little love never goes astray, right?

But don’t tell anyone I told you that.

After all, we tough guys have a reputation to uphold.

In service and servanthood,


PS Here’s a suggestion for Calgary Airport Authority.  Place a sign there telling people if they sit in those chairs, that it is a mandatory “wave and smile zone” for people on the other size of the glass.  You never know the impact it will have on both the giver and the recipient …. and the people who are observing both. 

It’s also a great promotion for the Calgary Airport (which has an amazing new international terminal if I may toss in a free plug for them).

I also hope that the Calgary Airport Authority reaches out to the drivers of those cars to thank them – they made a lot of people very happy today.

They may have even changed a Life.

We’ve got enough examples of hate being spread around the world these days.

Let’s find ways to spread a little love while we still can.

It matters.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Civil Unrest in America: Trump Is Not the Problem - You Are

My core belief is that if you're complaining about something for more than three minutes, two minutes ago you should have done something about it. - Caitlin Moran

Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining. - Mason Cooley

I’ve received a lot of calls, emails, texts and social media messages in the last 24 hours from people citing all the violence “caused by Trump”.  Apparently there is a run on women, gays, Muslims and Latinos, all the fault of Trump, and as a result, people reaching out to me are freaked out that their nation has fallen.  Some even asked me what I was going to do about it, apparently anointing me with powers and influence that I was unaware I had.

If I had known that I had that much influence, I would have been tackling more important issues of the day – like why isn’t the McRib on the McDonald’s menu all the time?

Seriously …. unfortunately, most of the things they are talking about are not true.

One person who called me cited a hate crime against a Muslim woman that was allegedly inspired by Trump.  I asked the person for evidence and it was provided – “I saw the post on Facebook”.  I looked at the post, did a quick Google search and realized it was an old story that has been circulating around for a while, with the name of whose fault it was being the only thing that changed over the last few years.

I pointed this out and that the post was being distributed by a person who has a history of citing unrest with unsubstantiated stores that only they seem to know about and which are clearly filled with a venomous agenda.

Sensing an opportunity for education, I told the person about a story I had just heard in Foreffsakes, Alberta, where a bunch of oil drilling thugs (this person is also anti-oil) had beset upon a gay man and tattooed “Trump” on his forehead.

He demanded that I give him a link so he could share it immediately on Facebook.

I laughed and said, “I lied.  There is no such place as For F Sakes”, placing emphasis on the place name to highlight what I had done.

I explained, “You realize when you share an unsubstantiated story that is distributed by a person known only for sharing hateful things, then you are part of the problem in this world.  Instead of looking for solutions to real problems, you take alleged problems and blindly post them, sharing hate and not light, with no effort to actually diminishing the hate you claim to dislike.”

“By the way”, I continued, “If you are going to focus on agenda-centric hate, there is always someone hurting someone, black versus white, gay versus straight, one religion versus another, etc.  If you are going to make a Life out of merely sharing these stories without getting to root causes and cures, you are going to be a very busy, very bitter person.”

I guess he had hoped that I would give him an opinion that he wanted to hear and not what he needed to hear.

He hung up and horror of horrors, he unfriended me.

I was devastated.

Not really – but in a world where we are the company we keep, my personal network IQ average just went up as a result.

When a person shares hateful, unverified, venomous stories with no intention of checking out authenticity and without an eye towards answering the questions “How can I make this world better?” and “Does blindly sharing this make the world better or worse?”, I wonder one of two things:

  1. Does this person have an agenda of their own?
  2. Is this person so weak or easily manipulated that they are vulnerable to be used by others who have their own agenda?

Because anyone who can think on their own and who is actually focused on measurable actions that make the world a better place could surely see that such sharings accomplish nothing of the sort.

Meanwhile, people are protesting across the country, screaming “This is not my President” in reference to Trump.

Such delicate wallflowers who have gotten too used to an overly politically correct world where saying “boo” offends someone should realize one thing:

Trump, for better or for worse, was elected fairly in the greatest democratic process on Earth (despite all its shortcomings).  That is something to be championed and not complained about.  As I noted in the past, Americans complaining about their President-elect fail to recognize that the winner is not an aberration of their society but is in fact a product of it.  Given that, who else could win other than someone who represents a natural evolution of their society?  If someone doesn’t like the result of the election, rather than examine the winner, we must examine the system that produced the winner.

Because if we protest too long and too loud about not liking the result and insist on continuing to complain until we get a result we like (however long it takes), we might wake up some day and find that someone has taken away our right to protest or to choose a leader (see my musings on Executive Directive 51).

And then we will have something to scream about.

But by then, we won’t be allowed to use our voice.

The Bottom Line

A lot of things are right in our amazing world.

A lot of things are screwed up.

We make our world better when we cherish, share and magnify the things we do well and we take action against the things that we believe need to be fixed.

Merely pushing “Like” or “Share” on social media (especially when magnifying the problem with no effort towards a solution) doesn’t accomplish anything useful nor does screaming in the streets that “I’m affronted because I didn’t get my way” .

If you are not careful about finding answers and instead, merely promote problems, you will likely create the very things you are afraid of..  You can’t reclaim light and love by merely promoting hatred.

You have a voice – knowing how and when to use it effectively is what makes it a powerful tool for change.

Do you know how to use your voice?

Are you sure?

Because if you don’t know how to use it effectively for positive change, you are not part of the problem.

You are the problem.

Is that how you would like to be remembered?

Is that the best you can do for your family, your country and the world?

What do you intend to do about it?

When do you intend to start?

The world is waiting for you - what are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood,


PS Rex Murphy highlights in a calm, rational way, how Donald Trump won the election in this YouTube video. A disturbing and accurate reflection on politicians and the people who elect them.

Addendum - November 11, 2016

My great friend Keith G. shared this quote from Thic Nhat Hanh and an observation which I found important to share. It reads:

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."

Keith then noted: Hate, blaming, violence will never lead to anything positive. We need to make the effort to understand each other. We’re all rational human beings and we all have our reasons. The more we understand, the more we can progress. We’re all in this together.

It is ironic (and sad) that on this day, November 11, 2016, when we pause to thank people (military and first responders) who sacrifice every day for us, that the US struggles with accepting the election of Donald Trump. Those who serve, whether in military or as a first responder, do things we wouldn't have the courage to do for people whom they will never meet so that we have the freedom to do as we please. While we must be careful to not take this freedom for granted nor the gift and the sacrifice of those who serve, people protest, not because a travesty of justice has been served, but because they didn't get their way.

In their effort to promote their fear of what could happen under a Trump government, they create the very thing they fear with protests that have turned violent, with flag burning and the like. It's as if to say, "If Trump wins, he will burn down the country - if he wins and the country doesn't burn down, then we will burn it down instead".

Where is the sense in that?

Where is the gratitude for those who have served and died, that we can be mature enough to collaborate towards a better world instead of being spoiled people who whine because we can't have our own way?

It doesn't take much courage to complain about not getting our own way and to lash out and hurt others under the guise of creating something better.

Where has the courage to do the right thing fled?

Thank a veteran today for his or her courage - these people set an example that, while we should be following, we seem to have lost sight of.

Let's work harder to rediscover the courage they showed (and show) - Lest We Forget.

Addendum 2 - Where Are the "Leaders"? - November 12, 2016

As the demonstrations grow larger and more violent, where are people like Hillary Clinton and Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, people who should be reaching out and asking for a proper sense of decorum during the transition of power?

Harry Reid is stirring up emotions with inflammatory remarks like this.

And Hillary Clinton is nowhere to be seen.

Neither are exhibiting the actions of a leader. Watching this blow up serves their need, even if at the expense of the people.

And so why do the minions follow them, blindly sharing unsubstantiated stories of hate to add fuel to the fire?

It doesn't matter to those in power - hatred is one of the most useful tools of manipulation and they are exploiting it to the fullest.

It's too bad that those who are manipulated aren't intelligent enough to see it.

The possibility of Executive Directive 51 looms closer.

If it gets invoked, it won't matter what your opinion is - you won't be allowed to share it.

For those who crave power, it won't matter either - they will have the power they seek.

Now that's something to collaborate together to prevent.