Wisdom Day 19 November 2016: Kid Smash

In Our Hands

Discipline your children while you still have the chance;
    indulging them destroys them. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 19, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

We feed them sugar in its myriad forms, buy them a dizzying array of plastic stuff, and use the TV as our baby sitter. Then we pay the dentist. But the chance is gone to form their character and their intellect.

This holiday season, let’s give them the gift of ourselves, an informed us.

So what will I do for Sophie? I’ll play Zoominoes with her tonight and do tic-tac-toe. She loves that and cheats. Not really. She just changes the rules as we go along. Maybe she is on her way to Extreme Ownership. She does lead to win. By that I mean she grabs the pen and changes my O to an X. Voilá! Victory for the five-year old.

Oh, and maybe I’ll revisit Simplicity Parenting, the best book I know on child rearing, other than maybe The Book of Proverbs, which takes us back to where this post started.

We Stand!

We know what we stand for, #0445club! Extreme Ownership!

. . . I will always do my duty,
No matter what the price,
I’ve counted up the cost,
I know the sacrifice.
Oh, and I don’t want to die for you,
But if dyin’s asked of me,
I’ll bear that cross with honor,
‘Cause freedom don’t come free. (Toby Keith, American Soldier)

 

 

Wisdom Day 26 September 2016: Beware: Tigers!

Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there!
    Tigers are prowling the streets!”
    and then pull the covers back over their heads. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26, Verse 13, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I can relate! I never considered myself a loafer, but there have been times when I woke up ready to get up, then thought of all the tigers, not in the street so much as in my life. The tigers were circling. Bed seemed a safe place to be.

That was before Extreme Ownership, before The Tim Ferriss Show podcast with Jocko Willink, before 40 + episodes of The Jocko Podcast, before joining the #0445club, and before the recent #fastingsavages sally.

Now, it’s no longer Beware: Tigers! It’s Tigers, beware! Now when I wake up, I feel the spirit of hundreds, maybe thousands of fellow Troopers around the world with me. And I think of the servant of  the prophet Elijah:

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (The Second Book of the History of the Kings, Chapter 16, Verses 15 & 16, The New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

And today it is true. There are more and more of us. We are the tigers in the streets. Get it on, Troopers!

Oh, if you’re not a Trooper yet, you can fix that. Or maybe better just cover your head? Wait for the tigers to spring? No slack.

Some homework?

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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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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:

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Wisdom Day 22.a, July 2016: 30 Precepts of the Sages

I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
    tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
    and will keep you accountable
    to those who sent you. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verses 20 & 21, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Thirty Precepts of the Sages, Thirty Sterling Principles! It just struck me this morning that I’ve sought for years to learn a myriad of principles, some by sevens, some by threes, and even 21 immutable laws. These are all great, so great, in fact, that they brought to mind the really immutable laws, the Big Ten, the ones that are so controversial they are more and more often banned from public display. When bureaucrats decide something is so dangerous it should not be available to the public, that becomes even more important to me, knee-jerk rebel that I am, or is that just Jerk Rebel? Rebel Jerk? Hmmm? Maybe all of the above.

Anyhow, such was the inspiration this morning, that I wanted to see what you think of this list of thirty that is much less in the bureaucratic cross hairs than the Big Ten are. These Thirty Sterling Principles, the Thirty Precepts of the Sages, begin in Chapter 22 of the Book of Proverbs.

One thing that really surprised me was the fact that the very first Precept of the Sages deals with the poor and the weak:

Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
    and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
    the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verses 22 & 23, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

In none of the many other lists of principles for success have I found the top item to be something about how to treat the poor and/or weak. This is a bit of a puzzler. By comparison to the tech leaders of Silicon Valley, among others, I am poor. But actually I can look all around and see people much worse off than I, both nearby and far away. Am I somehow walking on them, using my position to crush them, without realizing it? I don’t think so, but then maybe I deceive myself. I heard one time from a clergyman that “The terrible thing about self-deception is that it’s so deceptive.”

Taking Extreme Ownership may be one way of overcoming self-deception. Hearing The Message might also prove helpful, especially for grasping the Thirty Precepts of the Sages. The following are some resources to those ends:

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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:

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Wisdom Day 12 June 2016: Wise Counsel

Without good direction, people lose their way;
    the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.
(Proverbs 11: Verse 11, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Since I am by nature a fool, I need lots of wise counsel. In some ways my IQ has been a stumbling block. Smart does not equal wise. Along with wisdom, I need inspiration as well as an occasional kick in the pants to actually put the wisdom into action. At JockoPodcast.com I get plenty of all three essential ingredients: wise counsel, inspiration, and the boot leather to the butt. Wishing you the same. Not always pleasant but can be quite productive.

Some sources of wise counsel:

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Wisdom Day 6 July 2016: A Brainless Act

Post Rated R: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Adultery is a brainless act,
    soul-destroying, self-destructive;
Expect a bloody nose, a black eye,
    and a reputation ruined for good.
For jealousy detonates rage in a cheated husband;
    wild for revenge, he won’t make allowances.
Nothing you say or pay will make it all right;
    neither bribes nor reason will satisfy him. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 7, The Message, www.BibleGateway.com)

When in doubt, guys, keep it in your pants. And if your super sex overdrive gets out of control, take the situation in hand: A bird in the palm better than lost in the bush. Enough said? But if you need a bit more wisdom to keep it all together, maybe you can find some in the links below. Oh, BTW, we’re talking Picides above.

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Promise Owner Extreme

Imagine how the scene plays out as the spies report back on the Promised Land.

27-29 “We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it.”

31-33 But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (The Book of Joshua, Chapter 13, Verses 27-33, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Grasshopper photo
Photo by Gouthaman Raveendran from Unsplash.com

 

Imagine this scene! In front of CinC Moses, peers in G-2 (the other spies), the rest of the army, and all the taxpayers, Caleb Promise Owner Extreme stands up, cuts short the chatter, and says, Let’s get after it! Well, what happened is history. The people did not pay attention to Caleb nor to his bud Joshua. So you hear from this guy again 45 years later:

Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite spoke: “You’ll remember what God said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me back at Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of God sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. And I brought back an honest and accurate report. My companions who went with me discouraged the people, but I stuck to my guns, totally with God, my God. That was the day that Moses solemnly promised, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance, you and your children’s, forever. Yes, you have lived totally for God.’ Now look at me: God has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty-five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. And here I am today, eighty-five years old! I’m as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I’m as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said.” (The Book of Joshua, Chapter 14, Verses 6-12, The Message, BibleGateway.com.

Is this extreme ownership of a promise, or what? Forty-five years later!! So at the age altitude where I fly now, Caleb is my hero. But Caleb can be a hero for anybody who wants to just get up and get after it.

Most of us, maybe all of us, face some giant problems: internationally, politically, financially, at work, and at home! As for me, sometimes I really do feel like a grasshopper in front of giants. Guess what, though! Caleb got his land, but not on a silver platter. He did not back down in front of public pressure. He did not give up for 45 years. Let’s don’t let the giants make us flop down and roll over. My hope is to go for it sword in hand. I think if we all do the same the giants will turn and beat it out of Dodge.

If you can manage a click over to BibleGateway.com, the audio recording of The Message by Kelly Ryan Dolan is well worth the trip. Meanwhile, if you need some motivation, check out the following (Yep, I do make a little if you buy, but not enough yet to buy frijoles for a week):

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