To play it safe it to risk it all – Patrick Henry

Sep 7th The nature of the risk moves along with life. When I was young there was a lot of physical risk taking with its subsequent broken bones, bruises, and scares. As I move along in life the risks are becoming more social and spiritual.  However the weight, to have life is to have risk.

Risks must be taken, for the greatest hazard is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing: does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by his certitude, he is a slave. Only a person who takes risks is free.    Author unknown


 Patrick Henry said it well:

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Be crystal clear about your message

August 7, 2010:

On June 15th I shared my first “tip”: a driver of expanding one’s personal effectiveness in front of an audience and fulfilling the five principles noted below.

TIP #1: Be passionate about your topic or do not be passionate: Being passionate drives all other effectiveness aspects of your presentation.

TIP #2: Be crystal clear about the point you wish to make. I am preparing for a major presentation tomorrow. I had general ideas of what I wished to say, but I had not initially gone through the self discipline of being precise about what I wanted to be crystal clear about to the audience.

I buckled down and focused my mind and gained clarity about the point(s) I wanted to make. Since those points were intimate to my personal mission statement it was easy for me to see myself gaining passion about the topic.

My intention will be to photograph the presentation and put it on u-Tube. If I think it is a reasonable presentation I will add a link to this note.

First principle: To come alive not only up in front of people but also in life in general. When I am upfront I am well aware of my personal concerns and worries about being upfront. As I find myself upfront in a supportive club, overtime I learn to overpower those worries and concerns. When I am less worried and concerned about how others think, while I am up front, I become less worried and concerned about what people think in my daily living. I become more of me.

Second Principle: Become reasonably articulate when you talk upfront. Being articulate is linked to and is a normal follow-on to the first principle. If I am not comfortable it is hard to be articulate. On the contrary though I could be comfortable up front and not particularly articulate. Most people join Toastmasters to be both comfortable and articulate.  For most of us, being articulate is a learned skill. When we are upfront we are often so self aware and disengaged from the audience, that our words do not really communicate. In fact when I am really disengaged I do not care if my words communicate or not. I just want to say the words and get off the platform. Toastmasters help people perfect the skill of getting out of their own heads and connecting to the audience.

Third Principle: I am comfortable and reasonably articulate, now say something useful, give a logical well organized presentation. Be able to talk from 5-15 minutes and stay on the same story line, no tangents. While presenting the story line stay connected with the audience to determine if they are getting the message. If they get the message, you have succeeded. Staying connected to the audience is often more challenging than learning to present the story. To stay connected I must know my material well enough that I do not need to think so much about what I am going to say, but stay more focused on the readiness of the audience to receive the message.

Fourth Principle: There is a principle between being articulate, #3 and being “world -changers” , #5. The fourth principle is being intentional, the level we hear from the TI World Champion Speakers. The speech is said with passion. The passion drives voice inflection and body movement. Each thought is ‘weighed’ and given the intentional emphasis so that the audience receives an impactful message. World Champion speeches are not influential speeches in their intent to get you to do something, but they are influential speeches in their intent to arouse emotion in the audience.

Fifth Principle: Give a message that moves people to action, a world changer. This I find particularly difficult. First I must believe in the topic enough to be willing to be ridiculed. I must believe in the message enough to give the time to follow up with those that do respond to the call for action. I must believe in the message enough to follow my own call to action: integrity. I must believe in my message enough to really sell an idea and be willing to deal with the angst of people feeling uncomfortable about being “sold.”

Real Life

July 5, 2010 from Singapore

         My life mission is to overpower mediocrity. When I see a quotation that resonates with that theme I want to share it far and wide. Here is a quotation from Bill Gates that is beautiful to my life’s mission.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world. 

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it! 
Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem.. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. 
Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. 
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. 
Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity. 
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them. 
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. 
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time. 
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to their jobs. 
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one. 

If you can read this – Thank a teacher! 

If you’re reading this in English – Thank a Veteran! 

Are you patient? Me? Not always

March 25, 2010                                 

The other day I was completely blindsided by a comment during the phone conference.  Just after the comment was made, I was angry. I wanted to shout. I wanted to make the other person wrong. I felt embarrassed and made to look the fool, to look incompetent. Not a great response. Funny though, when I am upset, angry, cheesed-off I do not take personal inventory, I just vent externally or fume internally. Alas, something to work on.

Though I was seething, I paused, took a breath, thought for a moment. I chose not engage the comment at that time. I announced that we would deal with that comment on another call.  I took a moment to have patience rather than just react.

This is what Covey labels as “response – ability”

The other day I was giving a seminar to leaders of a police force. A comment from one of the participants just put me on edge. (Amazing huh?) Anyway we bantered back and forth for a few exchanges. For some reason I was very positional. As we exchanged thoughts on the topic, I found I wanted to “win” the conversation, overpower the opponent. ( I know, it never happened to you, but then there is me.) As I wanted more and more to win I could feel my heart pounding. Yikes I thought it was going to burst through my chest. What to do? Imagine, I had enough reserve of thought to realize that this audience is skilled in reading body language. Better changed quick David. What to do? Turn, take a drink of water, breathe deep, turn back and move on to another topic. Not all battles need to be won or even engaged.

Not to act on a wrong suffered immediately will most likely serve us all well, over the years.

4 hours on the tarmac

July 27, 2009                   “Four hours on the tarmac”

                My Mom passed away on Friday at 91+.

She had her hair done at the salon, fingernails, and a pedicure during the day. As she enjoyed her evening meal, she has a stroke and she was gone. Wow, living in the present because we do not know how many extra minutes we will get.

While I was traveling from San Diego to CT where my Mom lived, to take care of her affairs,  I had one of those “testing” air plane trips. The flight landed at IAD on time. The connection flight was to leave in an hour. We pulled away from the gate on time and then spent the next 3 hours sitting on the tarmac waiting on the weather to clear in route. After 3 hours, the flight was canceled.  The plane went back to the gate and we were all on our own. I was able to get a later flight which proceeded to leave the gate on time and sit on the tarmac for an additional  hour.  Instead of arriving in CT at 6PM I arrived at 1230AM.

Why the story?

Seems like when I get a nice thought like “living in the present”, I immediately become tested to see if I am being philosophical or real. 4 hours on the tarmac, what to do? Whine, moan, groan, or ???? FYI, moaning and groaning is usually my first response.  My first seat partner needed a snack and some encouragement, so I got to give it. My second seat partner just needed to talk. She did not like flying and this was her second flight ever. With the weather the flight was going to be a bit bumpy. I got to give the encouragement.

When I am present in the situation and outside of my own condition I usually find that I can be helpful to others. Being helpful to others seems also to help me.

As I lead in several organizations and projects I am constantly challenged to “get out of my own dilemma” and help those around me. At times, I want to have my own “pity poor me party” but I find that rarely satisfying though it happens often enough. Maybe I will learn a bit more from 4 hours on the tarmac