Archive for September, 2014

Einstein“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”

Recently, I was working with a CEO who was very stuck in the Comparative Paradigm and he simply would not let go of the “right/wrong” concept. He insisted he was right about his judgments and opinions, which he considered to be facts. He was stuck inside the box, and the possibility of looking at specific business issues from a different perspective was foreign to him. His mind was closed to any new ideas and anyone who thought differently was given a dismissive hand gesture and immediately ignored.

 The culture he had created in his company was one of obedience, not creative thinking. His Executive Team had learned to not challenge him and they simply followed his commands, except for one who decided to quit because he felt “my voice doesn’t matter here.” The CEO was upset over his departure and couldn’t understand why his star player had left, especially since he had been so well compensated for his work. To help the CEO understand how his controlling context was stifling his employees and sucking the life-blood out of their creative process, I relayed the following story told by a teacher about a student. . .

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I read the examination question: “SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER.”

The student had answered, “Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.” The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics.

At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute, he dashed off his answer which read: “Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2, calculate the height of the building.”

At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled the student had said he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.

“Well,” said the student, “there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building.”

“Fine,” I said, “and others?”

“Yes,” said the student, “there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units.”

“A very direct method.”

“Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated. On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession. Finally,” he concluded, “there are many other ways of solving the problem. Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: ‘Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer.”

At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think.”

Author Unknown

 (I think Albert would have loved this kid and given him an A!)

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M Brown vs Police pic

Michael Brown vs. The Police


Observe yourself. My guess is the very title of this article incites an emotional response. Look at how quickly we jump to conclusions on either side, or how quickly we tire and don’t want to talk about it anymore. We watch the videos, we read the paper, we listen to various TV accounts, we hear from the experts, we discuss it with our friends, we have our own experiences, we listen to different groups “dialog” their opinions and we form our own.

This is all well and good as long as it is reliable information, the facts are accurate and we listen to both sides of any story. Yet, what do most people do when forming an opinion about whose side is right or wrong, good or bad?

We listen and hear through our own Life View, the filter that formed when we were born and developed as we were brought up – the filter through which we see the world. We manufacture and add data to be right about our Life View and we delete any data that doesn’t fit our Life View. In other words, we only see and hear what will make us right about our beliefs and we side with those who more or less look like, think like and act like we do. It’s familiar and “comfortable”.

Blacks tend to side with Blacks, police with police. There is nothing inherently “right or wrong” with this. It is what humans tend to do and we do it unconsciously. The only problem is that rarely does it lead us to the “real” issue or the root of the problem and it is a breeding ground for violence.

Yes, the police have a tough and dangerous job. For sure I can understand why they want and need to defend themselves when they are in physical danger. Likewise, I can understand why Blacks are angry. Anyone would be, if they saw one of “their own” who was unarmed, be killed and left in the middle of the street for 4 hrs. . . if they knew of case after case of that happening . . . week after week . . . year after year . . .

However, I don’t believe we will solve the issue of violence by taking sides.

Remove yourself for a moment from your opinion of Michael Brown, how he looked and the video you saw of him in the convenience store. Remove yourself from the way the cop looks, what he did/didn’t do after the shooting and where he is from. We need to step back from taking sides with either Michael Brown or the Policeman and simply ask ourselves, “What kind of world do we want to live in? What kind of context do we stand for? Through what context of thinking (filter) do I choose to see life?”

One driven by reactive fear/hate/anger that automatically shoots to kill without restraint or one that operates with a level of consciousness that exercises restraint and respect for all human life?

The question is not who is right or wrong. The question is not whose side am I on. The question plain and simple is: Do I want a conscious police force that values all human life? Once you answer that question, then you can assess the situation in Ferguson.

Yes, I agree a cop’s life is as valuable as anyone else’s. They too, are someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, Mom or Dad. However, like all police, they chose to do that job with the full knowledge it was dangerous and they knew when they joined the force that the very nature of their job increased their possibility of being physically hurt. I am sure every time they encounter a difficult situation or altercation with an individual, they consider the possibility they could be dealing with a lunatic or a criminal with a gun. As a citizen, I am deeply grateful they take that risk in order to assure we are all kept safe and I am proud of them. Most of them.

But if someone is unarmed, do you shoot to kill? Even if he/she is on PCP or some other drug that gives super human strength and threatens the police person’s life? No question, there are times when people, with or without a weapon, must be stopped and reasoning won’t help. But the choice the police make at that moment is critical. Will it be a choice driven by reactive fear and pre-conceived beliefs that automatically “shoots to kill” without restraint, or one that operates with a level of consciousness that realizes limits, and exercises force with restraint and respect for ALL human life? When a person is given a uniform, a badge, a gun and the support of the entire police force behind him/her, they possess a lot of power, and with that is the added responsibility to be self-aware, well trained, conscious and controlled.

The people who are operating through a filter of fear and a perception of prejudice (conscious or unconscious) who have an internal belief system that triggers them to shoot to kill, and who believe in the deep recesses of their brain that Blacks as human beings are somehow different and are therefore inherently more suspicious/dangerous, will shoot to kill even when the adversary is on the ground immobilized. In fact, their belief system will have them keep shooting even after the person is dead. Their belief system will leave that body for hours in the sun and they will deny transparency as well as accountability for their actions. Fearing a backlash and being overpowered, they will bring in even more force as backup.

Likewise, those who operate through a filter of victim and rage will also respond destructively. They will viciously lash back with violence and will take the anger they have against police out on themselves and will even destroy their own neighborhoods and loot their own neighbors’ businesses. This of course only escalates even more counter force, sides are formed and the war is on. It makes no sense whatsoever and it will solve nothing!

When we as a society hold the life of every individual as valuable, regardless of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, nationality, religion or any differentiation, then we will understand that some police need a lot more training than others to think with restraint. We won’t hate them, but we will help those who operate from fear, to understand the automatic racial filters through which they make their decisions and we will support them to become more aware of the power of prejudice when deciding the difference between a person who is a real threat and one who is a perceived threat because of a preconceived belief.

When we seek to understand violence, we will seek to understand how to constructively draw attention to injustice and we will work with those who automatically think that being a victim and using violence are the only solutions. We won’t dismiss them with disdain, we will work to improve economic and educational conditions, support them to take ownership by voting and we will show them the power of joining hands in a peaceful protest whenever we feel injustice has been done to anyone.

We will be conscious of our own limited thinking, continuously work on our own self-awareness, admit to and eliminate our own prejudice and fears and speak up with rational thought and action. We will proactively stand for a world that works for everyone and we will show up and DO SOMETHING!

I am a strong proponent of cameras on all police. I think it’s a win/win for the police and the alleged perpetrators. It eliminates “he said, she said” and holds everyone accountable and conscious.

I am a strong proponent of self-awareness programs for everyone, especially for those of us who are in positions of privilege, authority and influence, so we can understand our personal limiting belief systems and how they directly and indirectly affect the human condition

 I am a strong proponent of learning as much as possible about people who aren’t like we are, with the intention of understanding them and finding the human link between us.

Or, we can just change the channel and watch The Kardasians.

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