Wisdom Day 5 September 2016: Bonehead Way?

You don’t want to end your life full of regrets,
    nothing but sin and bones,
Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me?
    Why did I reject a disciplined life?
Why didn’t I listen to my mentors,
    or take my teachers seriously?
My life is ruined!
    I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!” (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verses 11-14, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I relate, but not done yet!
Still time for another step.
Discipline or folly?
Lots left to gain
or lose.
Wisdom!

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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:

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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 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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Wisdom Day 23, June 2016: Disciplined Instruction

Give yourselves to disciplined instruction;
    open your ears to tested knowledge. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 23, Verse 12, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I always love it when my time invested seeking wisdom actually leads me to wisdom! Is that strange or what? How do I know when I have found relevant wisdom? Answer: When I know I don’t have it and must work to acquire it. You see, with me, wisdom does not come naturally. As mentioned in a previous post, I am by nature a fool. So if in my search for wisdom I come across something and say to my self, “Hey, self, look at that. Just like you!” then I have a pretty good idea I just slipped into foolishness.

Johan_Mouchet_Royal_Library_Copenhagen
Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark; photo by Johan Mouchet, Unsplash.com

Anyhow, when I was listening to Kelly Ryan Dolan’s awesome recording of Chapter 23 of the Book of Proverbs this morning, Verse 12, cited above, was one of several passages that grabbed my attention. I thought, “What is disciplined instruction? Is there such a thing as undisciplined instruction? Pondering this question brought to mind a success nugget from So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. This MIT alum and MIT professor of computer science holds that all practice is not created equal. The practice that really counts is “disciplined practice.” In Chapter Seven: Becoming a Craftsman, Newport explains why in spite of years of practice he never became a great guitarist on a par with Jordan Tice. During a visit with, Tice, Newport realized it was not so much a matter of total hours of practice but rather a question of how much of the much vaunted 10,000 hours of practice was “deliberate.” In Chapter Seven, Newport credits psychologist K. Anders Ericsson with coining the term “deliberate practice” in the early 1990’s and credits Neil Charness, a peer at Florida State University, for his research in this domain.

Yes, So Good They Can’t Ignore You makes for a great read, and for me, at least, provides some pretty good insight into Verse 12, Chapter 23 of the Book of Proverbs, a verse which is otherwise known as Precept 7 of the Thirty Precepts of the Sages: Disciplined instruction is not just any instruction. It is first of all instruction that requires discipline, no insult intended to any reader’s intelligence, duh! That does mean, though, it may not provide you flow. It may require effort. It may in fact be the one thing you’d least like to do when you’re thinking about vegging out for an evening of TV.

So, the take away on disciplined instruction from this post? Among many possible answers to that question, I would say one big take away is that disciplined instruction may just save your ass, whereas a class on underwater basket weaving or the latest TV series likely won’t.

So “happy trails to you until we meet again:”

Meanwhile here are some good sources of disciplined instruction:

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Wisdom Day 14 May 2016: A Good Leader

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
    leadership is nothing without a following. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 14, Verse 28, from The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Does Jocko Willink have a following? I wish I could see the numbers charted day by day. The growth rate must be exponential at this point. Why the big success? Jocko is not a pop singer; he is not an actor; he is not a professional athlete. As far as I can tell, he is none of the things our society normally runs after in a big hurry. So why the success?

My take is that Jocko manifests wisdom in virtually everything he says, writes, and does. He may have foolish moments, but if he does, his wisdom is to keep those private. What basis do I have for these opinions? I read Extreme Ownership, the book he and his colleague Leif Babin wrote. I listened to Tim Ferriss’  interview with Jocko and other interviews since then. I have listened to every production of the Jocko Podcast. I look forward to every new release. I follow Jocko on Twitter. Jocko always talks wisdom. Maybe folks are tired of foolishness. Jocko is a welcome change.

As I experience what Jocko has written and said publicly,  I keep thinking of the Book of Proverbs, the premier book of wisdom for me. So for all my Jocko bros and sis’s, I hope to share regular insights from the Book of Proverbs. This is the first installation.

There are 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs. Thus, there’s always a chapter for each day of the month. Today’s chapter is 14. The Message translation is one that really reaches me. The audio recording by Kelly Ryan Dolan grabs my attention. It makes me think. I hope it will do the same for you. To get audio, click the speaker icon toward the upper right edge of the chapter when you get to the page on BibleGateway.com: The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 14, The Message. I found plenty of great nuggets of wisdom in this chapter. Please let me know what you think, pro or con, believer or non. I delight in the dialectic and in Jockonian Dichotomy.

For your own copy of The Message resources, here are some choices:

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