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Monday, April 28, 2014

Love & Loyalty: A Tribute to Speck

Perhaps you’ve seen the poster: “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” A lot of wisdom here. Three messages worthy of exploring. Today I will focus on the second one: Love like you’ve never been hurt.

On Easter Sunday I made the dreaded decision to end my dog’s life. Her name was Speck. She was 16 years and 4 months old —a long life for this Dalmatian mix. In the last year or so, caring for her became quite a labor. At the very end, her hips were so weak she could barely walk. Her hearing was significantly impaired and cataracts were setting in. There’s more, but I’ll spare you.

Speck was a dog, yes, but she qualified as a true friend. Not everyone understands the deep connection we humans have with our pets. I saved a wonderful blog by Dr. Paige Patterson from a few years back when he lost his beloved Noche. I’m providing the link for any dog lovers to read. Or those who want a glimpse of a devoted canine relationship.

Some say dogs don’t really have emotions like humans. An article from Dr. Stanley Coren in Psychology Today in 2013 disputes that. He writes, “…we now understand that dogs have all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans. Dogs also have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes that humans do during emotional states. Dogs even have the hormone oxytocin, which, in humans, is involved with feeling love and affection for others.”

But do dogs have a full range of emotions? Dr. Coren believes it so, saying “…a dog will have all of the basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust, and even love. However based on current research it seems likely that your dog will not have those more complex emotions like guilt, pride, and shame.” \

It’s that love emotion that gets tricky. And what about those intangibles to which all dog owners can testify: the relational prizes of loyalty and devotion. I can’t be sure dogs know how to forgive, but it certainly seems so. Either that, or they are blessed with short term memory for our faults.

Readers of my blog know that I write to connect ways to improve the workplace. I can hardly think of four more powerful words that would radically improve our business relationships than love, forgiveness, loyalty, and devotion. And consider this: We often fail to give these gifts even though WE are the advanced species!

The oft quoted “love chapter” from the Bible comes to mind to guide us: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.“ (I Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV)

Want to make a serious impact on others? Read those words daily. The “hound of heaven” has His eye on you!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Anger Management

Who can forget the torturous experience actor Adam Sandler witnessed in the movie Anger Management? (Well, I guess anyone who missed seeing the film can forget it.) As a refresher, Sandler becomes very annoyed at a fellow passenger’s behavior on an airplane flight. The passenger is played by Jack Nicholson.

The situation on the plane escalates to the point where Sandler must be subdued. He is sent to anger management classes, much to his frustration and amazement. The experience gets worse for Sandler’s character when he discovers the class instructor is the annoying passenger from his plane ride!

If you’ve not seen the film, I won’t spoil the rest of the story. Throughout the movie, I felt a steady uneasiness wanting the unwarranted treatment of Sandler to get resolved positively. Which it did…in the end.

I thought about this recently when reading an article by Rebekah Campbell, the chief executive of Posse. It was titled, “No More Ms. Nice Guy.”

Here are some of her thoughts:

“Back in school, I was the good girl who enjoyed her role as teacher’s favorite. When I started my first business in 2001, I acted in much the same way: Little Miss Perfect who worked hard to ensure that clients, colleagues, and partners all liked her. I thrived on positive feedback and placed everyone’s interests ahead of my own. I suspect that this need for praise and harmony is more prevalent in women; it feels like the way my instincts are wired.”

Ms. Campbell then shares a very difficult situation with a board member over which she had significant disagreement. Her efforts to find a “nice solution” were unproductive. She was very frustrated. Probably angry. Seemingly justified in her feelings. After getting counsel, she made a determined stand and revealed a true spine. It worked. Her business life was changed.

We often view anger that derives from great frustration to be a negative. But anger can have very positive consequences, and is a totally appropriate human emotion, when viewed properly and acted upon responsibly.

Bestselling author Gary Chapman (The Five Love Languages) has written an excellent book on anger. It is titled, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. Read up on this if anger is an emotion you need to better understand.

Many issues in the workplace can cause us frustration. Unresolved frustration can lead us to anger. Unresolved anger can defeat us and sometimes take dangerous turns. Witness the recent Ft. Hood killings!

The Bible has many things to say about anger. Among the most quoted is, “Be angry, but do not sin.” And it is followed by another important statement: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) Truly this is easier said than done. However, learning to master this emotion may be one of the most important things to do to make you effective in the workplace.

And remember this important word: goosefraba. Why? I have no idea.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mozilla Godzilla

We are just a few weeks away from terror coming to a movie screen near you. The release of Godzilla (is this version 3.0?) is due out in May 2014. It may well be a true “monster” of a movie.

Before this robotic nightmare arrives, a different attack has already struck from another kind of monster. That one is titled P-C — for “political correctness.” It hit hard at the head of a high tech company which has plenty of woes to work on besides removing their chief executive for having family values.

By now you must be aware of the story. Brendan Eich was in his early days as CEO Of Mozilla (developer of Firefox) when it was “discovered” that he had the audacity to give a personal contribution a while back to support the infamous California legislation known as “Prop 8.” This referendum, supporting marriage between a man and a woman, actually passed with majority vote in an election! And in the Golden State!

It should be no surprise to anyone that corporate executives everywhere, including Planet Silicon Valley, have been helping influence American politics for…well…FOR-EVER! Many support agendas that people have strong disagreements about. The difference is…these execs keep their jobs.

But not Eich. Here was a corporate leader in a company that prides itself with Monday “town hall” meetings where employees are encouraged to speak their minds on most anything. Imagine! But support one of the basic, fundamental building blocks of human society and you have crossed a line that can cost a job.

Sad. But VERY real.

We’ve learned the hard way over the years that societies pay a price when they restrict freedoms so basic as free thought and speech. Here’s the greater concern, though. What is next? What if Mr. Eich had dared make a private, personal donation to the CREATION MUSEUM? (Gasps heard around the nation!) Why he must be a…(fill in the blank). Or suppose he gave a dime to a non-global-warming environmental group? C’mon…he must a be a nut! Send in the Terminator!

But wait! Mozilla Godzilla has turned its face. It's now looking at…YOU!!!  And that, my friend, is the scariest part. What would you dare support in the coming days that might cost you a job? Better find a way to give anonymously if you know what’s good for you. 

Get ready. The days of darkness are here. Best buy a subscription to Political Correctness Daily so that you’re up to speed on the latest social trends.

Want to know what happens to bold men who live by their convictions? I heartily recommend reading the first several chapters of the book of Daniel in the Bible. It’s a burner of a page turner.

Do it quickly. Before The Good Book goes on the RESTRICTED list. And for goodness sake, don’t get caught reading it where you work! You could wind up moving from the corner office…to the lion’s den.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Give Me Government That Cares

It is no surprise to most who would read this blog that I am currently unemployed. Or…“retired” in the words of my former employer. Either way, the fact is that I am looking for my next assignment.

That being said, I filed for unemployment benefits last December, which I have (sporadically) been receiving. There is good news on this front. The state of Illinois makes it convenient to sign up via the web, thus avoiding the lines at unemployment offices and needless trips to turn in paperwork.

The not-so-good news is that it can be frustrating and complicated at times working through the web-related process. Sometimes the log in to the site does not work. Questions asked do not always give options for answers that might fit. But these are minor. Except for one thing. (There may be more.)

A checkbox in the bi-weekly form asks if you’ve applied to receive any pension benefits. Recently I did. So I clicked “yes.” No follow-up question appeared. Two days later, the day we would expect a benefit deposit...nothing. Instead, a form is sent indicating “your case is being investigated.” Oh, great.

This also generated a phone call explaining that I needed to submit some paperwork. Of course. AND…an appointment had been set up to discuss my case. Understandable. Except…no payments would be made until this was resolved.

Basically, if you receive a pension amount greater than what you are entitled to receive in unemployment funds, you get nothing. If your pension is less than your unemployment benefit, you get that deducted. TOTALLY understandable.

Here’s the problem. For those people who have little to live on, these delays in payments create unnecessary pain and suffering. I am not in that situation. But I FEEL their pain and frustration in a program that cannot give you answers and resolution in a timely fashion.

In my situation, another letter was generated explaining my case had been resolved and I would be receiving a reduced amount. But when? What about the weeks nothing came? No word of that in my letter. No answer readily available. Like most government systems, it’s….complicated.

On the other side of this ledger, there are the tax software companies. They take what may be the most complex of organizational systems — the U.S. Tax Code — and make it EASY to complete taxes because they ask the right questions to get you the immediate answers you need. And they deliver the right results. This is because they are driven to perform for a profit! They care…because they MUST CARE.

The Bible is not silent on this issue. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” We find that in Proverbs 22:29. Developing a skill in truly serving others requires that we pursue excellence in any and all of our work. Our “profit motive” should always be to please God rather than man alone.

Okay. I’m off my soapbox. For now. And, besides, I need to go check my mailbox ...

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.