|Yours truly in the co-driver seat. Location, location, location!
I left town....went away.....on the lamb......incommunicado. And I had an e-zine article due LAST WEDNESDAY! My mother's words ROARED in my head "You have a duty to your public", "You told everybody you'd publish on the third Wednesday of every month".
Well, Mom. I was on vacation....having fun running the course-opening car in Oregon (see above) and then getting away with my most significant other for a week.
The delay, however brought two wonderful gifts I leave you at the end of today's thoughts. Enjoy!
the latest Meryl Streep bid for an Oscar, she plays an overbearing, dictatorial
Catholic School Principal in the movie "Doubt".
protagonist in this adventure is Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a parish priest
and a teacher in the school.
screenplay opens with Father Flynn (Hoffman) giving a homily at mass:
"Doubt can be a bond
as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone".
This opening seemed to "lose" more than half the assembled
audience. We bond when we are of one
mind, right? We pull together when we're
all after a common goal. History books
are full of stories of unity triumphing and confusion creating chaos.
I have written in the past few months about how the concept
that "knowledge is power" I've witnessed, seems to be over-rated. I can see how we are seduced into believing
that when we "KNOW", then nothing bad can happen to us. We KNOW the answer. We KNOW the right thing to do. We KNOW the path to safety.
But I have also witnessed (and more
often since I've become aware enough to look for it) knowledge clearly impeding
learning. What? Hypocrisy!!!
How can knowledge impede learning?
Isn't knowledge the currency of learning? Isn't it what we get from learning?
In my daily life, I often facilitate groups attempting to
improve the trust, understanding and camaraderie to accelerate their
effectiveness. We spend considerable
time talking about the filters we walk around with that are borne of our
individual histories. I was born in
rural New Jersey just outside of New
York City. I
now live in suburban St. Louis. My New England style
routes (small community socially centered around the volunteer fire department,
a Catholic Church and a Presbyterian Church) are challenged daily by the hustle
and bustle of suburban and even urban mores.
My favorite exercise in these sessions is to poll the
audience for which way their toilet paper is supposed to come off a roll. Inevitably, there is at least one person in
the room who just KNOWS toilet paper is SUPPOSED to come off the bottom of the
roll. And the fun begins! No amount of cajoling, democracy in action or
yelling can get our "bottom roller" to see how there might be a way for it to
roll off the top. With this powerful
"knowledge", no other answer is possible.
Hmmmmmmm. See how knowledge can
Let's look at something with much bigger consequences. A
girl child of a radical Muslim political
leader grows up in Fallujah, Iraq
learning to hate Westerners. She "knows"
they are evil and a threat to her very existence. At 14 years of age, she straps on 20 pounds
of plastic explosive and detonates it in a crowded market filled with tourists. Do you think she could have been dissuaded
from this self-destructive act? Her
"knowledge" gave her peace as she did this for the glory of Allah.
Somewhere between toilet paper and terrorism lies our real
world. How often do the things we "know"
prevent us from seeing the data that could disprove our knowledge?
John Patrick Shanley, the playwright responsible for "Doubt"
requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction
is a resting place and doubt is infinite - it is a passionate exercise.
Our "knowledge" (our conviction) is our resting place. It is comfortable. It is easy.
It is what we allow to guide
our lives. We store this knowledge from
years of formation in our youth (usually from birth to about 5-6 years old) and
it becomes our resting place. While this
knowledge can bring us success, more often than not, I've seen it impede our
learning and hence, our ability to grow beyond the limits set by this knowledge.
One of my recent coaching client's wife has written a truly graceful book entitled "Simply Mom". As is often my timing, I learned about it the Wednesday after Mother's Day. It is full of clarity and presence in the profession of being a Mom. I would encourage anyone with a Mom, who would want to gift her with a book with wisdom and clarity, please email Pam Scholl
for a copy. (The bonnet is not attached to the book!)
"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider
their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak,
audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the
world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we
want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon,
was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his
last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But
the lecture he gave-"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"-wasn't
about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of
enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time
is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you
think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It
was about living.
Watch "The Last Lecture" in it's entirety. You will see incredible clarity and trust. You will learn from a perspective you probably hadn't experienced before. It's an hour and sixteen minutes long. Turn off the TV. Put down the sports section. Some of you will and some of you won't. It's a little geeky from time to time (remember the guy was a computer science professor), but look past that to his presence and his clarity.
Click here to watch "The Last Lecture".