Wisdom Day 11 December 2016: Skin-Deep Stuff

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful face on an empty head. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11, Verse 22, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Which brings to mind:

 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (The Good News of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 6, New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

Have you ever shared some intimate, personal thoughts with an attractive face, only to suffer humiliation and a sense of betrayal when your words are fired back at you in an argument, possibly publicly? I have. Noooo fun.

Is physical beauty a guaranty of any virtue at all? Are there just plain ugly personalities that take any virtue or beauty of character as an affront that merits retaliation?

Is there some face, some attire you find attractive, exceptionally attractive? Is it possible to chart what’s behind the face and the threads from a safe distance, to get a sense of the true dimensions of the persona before getting within grappling range of demons, either in business or in bed? Fighting demons? It’s like wrestling pigs: Everyone gets filthy, but pigs enjoy it.

 

Wisdom Day 22 November 2016: The Way?

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 6, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I just heard something astounding. I came across it while listening to the Tim Ferriss Show #201. It was the part where Tim shares an interview with Sam Harris about meditation. The astounding part for me is that Sam Harris expresses the wish that his young daughter experience psychedelics early enough in life to gain expanded insight. Later in the interview, Dr. Harris shares with Tim that the psychedelic experience can be either marvelous or like unto the most extreme form of mental illness one might ever observe. He indicates that even if one does have a bad trip, there is a chance that one will recover and at least experience compassion for those who suffer from mental illness. A chance?

I know Sam Harris, is published and in many ways much, much more successful than I. In fact, compared to Sam Harris, I am in the media world a cipher, a nobody. Still, I dare to espouse a totally opposite opinion.

My Sophie is five years old, soon to be six as I write this post. Would I gamble Sophie’s emotional future on some probability that she might not have a bad psychedelic trip? This does indeed sound like some worldly wisdom beyond my kin. But that dissuades me not:

18-20 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,

He exposes the chicanery of the chic.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
    of the know-it-alls. (Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth, Chapter 3, Verses 18-20, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

So I am out of date with the times. I’ll settle to be God’s fool as Sam Harris is the wise man of the age. I know that raised in the Spirit and by the grace of the God whose existence Sam Harris denies, Sophie can know compassion and great joy. So I will invest in discipline and jiu-jitsu for Sophie. I surely will not gamble her life on the luck of the trip.

And as for Sam Harris? It comes to mind that even Voltaire recognized the value of having a Christian tailor. And then at the end of his life, this great atheist called for a priest to administer the last sacraments. It ain’t over until it’s over.

Between Sam Harris’s bet on psychedelics for his daughter and Pascal’s wager, I go for the latter or better yet, I prefer knowing The God Who is There. The high when you reach that knowing is costly but free, filling the present and lasting forever.

The crux of the matter? Don’t get mad. Don’t just get even. Get ahead and above. Get high on the high that lasts forever. And bring the kids along for the ride. A really good trip.

Wisdom Day 11 November 2016: Blessed Blessings

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
    those who help others are helped. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11, Verse 22, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Veterans Day and Day 3 of the transition to a Trump presidency, a surprise to many and for some a source of anguish, anger, and rage. Among those who read this post will be some who are committed to the principles of Extreme Ownership. For them the challenge is to own even this period of roiling ire. How? To lead by example and to remember it is not what we preach, it is what we tolerate that counts. We start with ourselves. We must tolerate in ourselves and others only words and actions intended to mend rather than aggravate rifts. Were we on the losing side? Focus on constructive thought and action rather than the desire to break everything. Were we on the winning side? Avoid all gloating and arrogance, both in ourselves and in others. Of course, we can not control the words and actions of those around us, but we can be courageous enough to refuse to enter into conversations, actions, and reactions focused on fanning the flames. Rather, defuse the explosive devices by finding a way to bless others, through our words, our acts, the way we look at people. Curses generate curses, but blessings bring a harvest of blessings. Ourselves and our nation surely need to be abundantly blessed, especially now. It is time for a new Armistice Day.

 

Wisdom Day 3 November 2016: Tree of Life

You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,
    when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She’s worth far more than money in the bank;
    her friendship is better than a big salary.
Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth;
    nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
With one hand she gives long life,
    with the other she confers recognition.
Her manner is beautiful,
    her life wonderfully complete.
She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.
    Hold her tight—and be blessed! (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3, Verses 13-18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Too long away from wisdom. Wandering hither and tither is a fine way to lose the way. I came back to be with Lady Wisdom, my own Madam Insight. I missed her tremendously. I mess up a lot without her around. It’s good to be back, and it’s very good to see you again. Come on in and sit a spell. We can visit some good books, big favorites of My Lady:

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Kindle
Slimline
Study
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Wisdom Day 28 August 2016: Quo vadis?

Lead good people down a wrong path
    and you’ll come to a bad end;
    do good and you’ll be rewarded for it. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 28, Verse 10, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Isn’t it amazing how right Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was?

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. [What is essential is invisible to the eye.] (The Little Prince)

So what is important for a leader? Quo vadis? Where are you going? Actually, I should make it personal: Where am I going? Where am I taking folks? The real answer here is not some physical place. It may look that way, but it is not. It is not the top of the hill. It is not the end of the obstacle course. It is not graduation. It is not publication. It is not even money. Once I know why I am leading and where, only then should I focus on how.

A Sherpa guide isn’t just leading a climber to the top of Everest. The true goal is a thing of the heart. It indeed cannot be seen. Keep asking why. You will find out. If I ask, “Why are you climbing Everest,” and the climber says, “To get to the top,” we should both have a good laugh at the absurdity of the answer. Then we should keep going with the question “Why?” until why can not be asked any more.

Every day my five-year old daughter asks me why more times than I can remember. I either give her an answer that causes me to learn or an answer that is really no answer at all.

Whom do you lead? Why? “Quo vadis?”

Some resources for finding answers to where, why, and how leadership questions:

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Takeaways
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Slimline
Study
Paperback
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Paperback

 

Wisdom Day 28, July 2016: Chaos Country Bear

When the country is in chaos,
    everybody has a plan to fix it—
But it takes a leader of real understanding
    to straighten things out. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 28, Verse 2, The Message, translation by Eugene Peterson, audio by Kelly Ryan Dolan, BibleGateway.com)

Does this get to the point? Is the country in chaos? Where is the leader of real understanding? Might he be found on the Jocko Podcast? God, grant us a miracle. And, Lord, if you can’t help us, please don’t help that bear: Russian bear, ISIS bear. The world is full of bears, at home and abroad it seems. It’s a tough job, baptizing bears!

Oh Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lions den,
Delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale, and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace,
So the Good Book do declare!
Well, Lord, Lord, if you can’t help me,
For goodness sake don’t you help that bear.
(The Preacher and the Bear, The New Christy Minstrels, In Person, 1963)

 

Wisdom Day 27, July 2016: Honor the Boss

If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit;
if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 27, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Jocko Willink really hammers away at this point on the Jocko Podcast and in Extreme Ownership: Serve your boss. Does your boss want to take the credit? Good. Do you find your boss difficult? Good! Show respect. You want to be a leader? Good: Learn to follow.

Had I understood the principles involved here and lived by this advice as a junior officer, I would probably be a general today. I had so much going for me, except the wisdom of humility. My early success had made me haughty, even arrogant, but I didn’t see it.

However, I’ve decided it is never too late to change. Are you young? Get humble! Not so young? Get humble. As Ryan Holiday writes in Ego is the Enemy, ego is the enemy. Holiday’s book is a great primer for practical humility. The Jocko Podcast is a great pulpit from which to hear the message of active, creative, productive humility.

One other thought on my own early pride: I was a Christian. I was arrogant without realizing it. Yes, I had learned some truth. Yes, I did have some important insight not shared by all. I was even a spiritual leader of sorts. All well and good. But like certain religious leaders, of much greater stature than I, my behavior eclipsed important guidance that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for pride:

1-3 I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.

4-5 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—

God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people.

6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (Peter’s First Letter, Chapter 5, Verses 4-7, The Message, BibleGateway.com, underlining by the blog author)

Yes, pride and ego can surely do us in:

18 First pride, then the crash—
    the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 16, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

So I had a big ego and took a big fall. I’m back on my feet a bit wiser. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Meanwhile, the following books offer help in cultivating humility, controlling the ego, and weeding out pride:

Hardcover
Takeaways
Audio
Kindle
Slimline
Study
Paperback
Hardcover
Kindle
Audio

 

Wisdom Day 20, July 2016: Clean Sweep

Hi, Jocko troopers! Today’s chapter from The Book of Proverbs is just an awesome spring of understanding and insight, especially when it comes to leadership. I hope you can find time to enjoy the whole chapter. As I have said before and will likely say again and again, I just love The Message translation of Proverbs by Eugene Peterson.

At Biblegateway.com I can listen for free as Kelley Ryan Dolan reads The Message a chapter at a time. I can follow along in the text. I can highlight, star, and add notes. It’s a pretty impressive site. Hope you can enjoy.

And hey, this is not just for “Christians.” After all, King Solomon was not a Christian, and he was the primary author. Shucks, he didn’t even speak English. Pretty crazy, huh? Well, on to one great passage on leadership from Chapter 20 (There are several others. Hope you ferret them out on your own):

After careful scrutiny, a wise leader
    makes a clean sweep of rebels and dolts. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter  20, Verse 26, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Well, here I am trying to figure out how this applies to me. I am not leading any company or military unit. I can see how this applies to high level leaders like Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreesen. But to me?  Well, what comes to mind is that I am a follower of these men and many other purveyors of wisdom, including Jesus. So I guess I can start with scrutiny of myself. Yep, that works.

If I were working for me, I might have to fire me, given my high rebel and dolt quotient. OK. So today, I’ll see if I can’t line up better with operational wisdom, like being on time and catching up on my accounting. Then I can be better as a leader for the sons and daughters who call me Dad or Daddy, respectively.

Meanwhile, for improving skills as both leader and follower, I’ve found the following to be useful guides. May they also prove worthwhile for you:

Hardcover
Takeaways
Audio
Kindle
Slimline
Study
Paperback
Hardcover
Kindle
Audio