My rambling thoughts, Haiku style!

Writing my outlet———–Speaking used to be my style————–I found another way.

Getting old happens———-No avoiding it taking place————-What do you do then?

Challenge is a gift———push yourself to do it now———–Waiting is for what?

The world is changing———-but so are we and lucky———-Opportunity.

Exercise today———–tomorrow is its own day—————–If it comes to you.

Be here, be now too————-another time might come———-Maybe yes or no.

Dialogue is rare—————–When it happens enjoy it————-you may learn something?

Walk and breathe deep———-enjoy the day and what comes———–and does it matter?

I enjoy my life————-mostly I enjoy my wife———–she is why I live.

Her smile lights me up————just being with her is all————I ask nothing more.

Time is so precious————waste not one moment or day————–be all you can be.

There is more to say————-When I do it just comes out————–No plan, no intent.

Cal it “happening” —————no pressure to do anytime—————just feeling, it comes.

Hope you enjoy one or two.   Sy

Being Born Unique—A Blessing Or??????

Yes, we are each born unique to a degree, but growing into what self we each are, is never easy—and perhaps the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest? Why I think this is so is what I will attempt to share in this paper.

Institutions including religious, political, educational, and organizations of every kind create the mechanisms necessary to make our becoming what they want us to become; and even family has its picture of what their members are or will become. It is rare to find environments and systems created by people that support maximizing a self’s uniqueness. In fact, it may be impossible to find systems that support the true growth of a self that at the same time seeds and nurtures respect, regard, and responsibility for others. And here I mean all others. Is this not what the Biblical words “love thy neighbor as thy self” mean?  Do these words qualify the neighbor? I do not think so.

When I began to write my book about six years ago, I decided that I needed to know “what kind of leader I was.” Much too late to do anything about what took place seventy years back, yet I still felt I needed to know. The answers I got back made me feel good, but perplexed. At that time, I was completely unaware of any deliberate effort on my part to teach respect and regard for the children they worked with and with each other. But I was this to them and this is what they were with each other and children.  Why? I never asked, but I was this to them and did not know.

Years later when I began working with professionals and entrepreneurs, I became a serious student of leadership, power, and relationships. I was also more aware of myself. I knew my responsibility as a self and therefore to assist leaders in the absolute necessity of being themselves, whatever that meant to them. As this evolved so did the leaders, doing all they could in helping others be more themselves. Growth was reciprocal; in that all of “us” benefitted from an environment that fed BEING. It was why all that participated took what they were experiencing at work home with them. After-all it was each of them being themselves.   Next: Of what we do which activity is most oneself?  Sy

The Benefits of Living in A Community Where Social Interaction Is A Daily Occurrence

Each evening we go to dinner and enjoy a meal with other residents. Either we are invited to join two other people, or we invite two people to join us. It is here at the dinner table each evening that we enjoy a wonderful few hour of conversation and the sharing of histories. Everyone has a story to tell, so sharing a table makes the telling of tales possible. 

The beauty of this is that we get to know each other. A bit of history, what we did for a living, where we grew up and bits about family. It is an enlightening experience to often be with people that have lived and continue to live interesting lives. Of course, this is not always the case, but the chance to meet interesting people is there and dining together is an easy way for this to happen.

It is also the case that some residents remain apart from the social opportunities. They may have family living within the area and spend their time with them. Their lives are lived apart from other residents and although family and friends are especially important the chance to make new friends at the trails end is no small thing. All of us need relationships beyond family and old friends if we are to continue to grow instead of just getting old. 

Growing old is an “attitude” as well as a “fact” As a “fact” what is there to discuss? As an “attitude” it is worthy of books upon books and discussion. Those that are old and give in to waiting for their last breath are to be pitied for a condition none can avoid. Those of us that continue to mix with others and, if able, read, write, and continue to exercise creativity are wise and thrive.

Life, whether limited by old age or other factors ought not be wasted. Opportunity to learn and to give back is restricted by our own behavior. A wonderful example took place a few nights ago.  We joined two others at a dinner table without reservations. Usually, people arrange being together over dinner in advance, but now and then we allow serendipity to do its thing.  We joined a lovely lady we have had dinner with many times and a gentleman we have not met before. 

As usual, it turned out to be full of wonderful dialogue between us and a lesson in history led by the gentleman. He is a new resident of our senior complex. We will find out more about him in the coming days, but during this first dinner together we discovered that he was born and lived his youth in Tennessee, worked in Washington in government and had something to do in later years with a University in Atlanta.

In any case, our conversation took us to the problems and division of our country today. He led the conversation and his knowledge of the subjects we discussed was impressive. Interestingly, he continues to write and research on the subjects we discussed. Two hours engaged and time flew by. We can hardly wait to continue being involved in an education experience. 

Need I express the importance of what accidentally took place, and does almost every day? We are surrounded by people with a variety of life experiences. All have a story to tell and will if given the opportunity which has to include people interested in learning and sharing.  Sy

Life offers so much————pay attention and receive————to learn is a gift.

My Own Revelation

As most of you know, in the mid-seventies I began to work with organizations for the sole purpose of improving relationships between coworkers. Those that employed me saw this as a serious enough problem to warrant finding someone to resolve this problem that (as they saw it) was between and amongst their staff. What gave me my reputation were my own employees and our camp’s remarkable success over a period of 27 years that I believed was due to good fortune and awesome child workers. I saw myself as lucky to have found and hired such capable people.  As leader, I saw me as incidental and simply a good problem solver. I believed that my work was to facilitate the work my staff did and that my leadership was incidental to their excellent work. It took observing other leaders and years of intensive research to realize how wrong I was.

 Initially, my workshops had all to do with helping an organization build a more cooperative and productive environment between coworkers.  What I soon discovered was that troubled staff relationships are not the primary cause, but the result of bad leadership. This troubled me deeply since I, as leader, may have been a major contributor to the personnel issues I faced during my leadership days. For my many years as leader I was absolutely ignorant of my part in staff issues. Simply put, some of them were the problem, never me. So, don’t change me, change or get rid of them.

This shook me at my core since I never remember checking me out as “what kind of leader was I?” When I trained my staff I trained them to be the most creative and able with children as possible. But I was not conscious of the impact my relationship with any of them had on our relationship and the work they did. 27 years later as mentor to other leaders and the solving of their staff relations I discovered how important boss/staff relationships are. Nothing is more important!  

Two changes had to take place. The first had to be the leader’s awakening to their power and influence and the other had to be the planting and nurturing of genuine dialogue, not monologue between the leader and the people they worked with. Also, due to this awakening I began to study Leadership, Power & Influence from any and every source. It continues to this day. 

The success of the workshop program literally exploded and I desperately needed others to join with me in helping leaders grow into their natural, nurturing and empowering selves. Not an easy task.    Sy

A Desire to Grow

A desire to grow, to go beyond one’s self, needs to come from inside us. We make the decision to be open and vulnerable to the experiences life throws at us. We make choices to either be open and a willing participant, or to be closed off from what we hear and experience. Having arms twisted and minds forced open does not make for receptivity. Others close to us may sincerely want this of us, believing it is for our own good. Unless this comes from within us efforts by others is wasted. It is not what others want of us, but what we want of ourselves.

My workshops are classic examples. I know I prepared what I believed was valuable material, history, philosophy, psychology in preparing for a workshop. I also know that creating the safest possible environment was my responsibility. I needed to do everything I could to make this a reality. One way was to not push people to share what they were thinking and feeling. If one chooses to remain silent they were respected for this. They would pick their own time to share or not to share their thoughts.

 It is not what I said and did that made any difference. It is the receptivity that each individual brought to the moments. If closed or resistant to what I shared how did I know this? And what could I have done to create any dialogue between us? Acceptance of where each was at was my most successful approach. When a person was ready to speak their mind, they did and I confirmed them; not judge them.

The whole point was to create an environment of trust, respect and understanding. When feelings (always so personal and unique) began to be shared, and be listened to without being judged individuals spoke what they felt and thought. This opened up even the most reluctant. The key had to be safety and then the courage to express one’s self.

As a result of the safety and acceptance of one’s thoughts and feelings people opened up to each other. In fact, I often received letters and calls prior to a workshop asking that certain subject be discussed before I presented what I had prepared.  I never stood in the way of this. It was our goal in any case.    Sy

 I speak my own mind–And want to hear this from you–We say what we say.    

I want to thank everyone that called or sent me a birthday card!

I want to thank everyone that called or sent me a birthday card. I feel so fortunate. Thank you all for remembering my birthday: 12/5/26

A brief look at why I believe I am what I am: I was born to my mother that gave love without condition and a father who never set limitations on any of his family. They were and remain my role models. They and my five brothers and sister are gone. I remain and remember. 

Pete was my oldest brother followed by Annette (my one and most wonderful sister) followed by Hy, Joe, me and Bob. We grew up during the time of the “great depression.” We all lived very close in mostly 3rd floor apartments that had one bathroom. In fact, the first time I actually had my own bed was in the Army.

Pete was almost blind and as hard as he tried could not enlist in the Army. He made Torpedoes during the war. Hy enlisted right after Dec.7th; spent his war time on New Guinea and many months recovering in Military Hospitals. Joe was in the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. I spent the end of the war on Okinawa and Bob in the medics (Korea). I am an amalgam of them all.

Probably one of the beautiful stories I remember is after the last staff and children left Camp Shasta my father who spent the whole summer and his last summer at camp, came up to Lenette and I and placed his arms around the both of us. We were giving a final touch-up to cleaning camp before we left for LA.

“When you graduated UCLA I was disappointed that you did not become a psychologist, but witnessing what the two of you do for others at camp I realized that the work you both do is a wonderful gift you give to them all. I am so proud of you both.” Coming from my father whose total education was as a laborer and carpenter with no formal education. He taught so many the art of the hammer and saw. What a man.

Here I am celebrating my 94th birthday. When I do look backward how grateful I am for my family, my friends and the love of my life, Lenette.  I knew I loved her from the moment I interviewed her for a job at Purple Sage. Nothing has changed since those moments accept I’m 94.   Life is unknown————-We live each day and know this———-Enjoy the moment.     Sy

Role Models-More on the “Problem Child”

What happened between us that erased so quickly his volatile behavior and transformed him into a positive force? I was fully present with him, he felt my respect and regard, I listened carefully to what he was saying and then confirmed what I heard him say. Also, my responses to him and what he felt, assured him a relationship of trust and mutuality. Finally, my candid response “sure!” when he asked to return to his class nailed it all.   

This is “genuine dialogue” between equals even if I stood feet taller than him and held all the power. Fear may have stood between us at the very beginning of our meeting, but our few minutes of silence and just looking at each other took that away. I have to believe that my look of acceptance eliminated any fear of me he may have had. Nothing but a little space stood between us. I intended this and he experienced this.

What would have been gained had I conveyed my authority and power over him? Fear would have ruled his behavior and even his anger and what might this have resulted in?

When I was first informed that the principal was bringing a troubled child to me I immediately made myself open to anything that might take place including a very frightened child. Most importantly, I made myself present. What better way to meet the unknown?

When his teacher came to me two hours later she was remarkably open to what I had to say. It was a very receptive moment for her and other teachers sitting around the table. I explained that my making myself present and showing respect for him as a person set up the environment between and around us. It also had to be made clear that nothing I did was performance, but was real, real to me and real to him. Anything less would have turned the environment toxic between us.

His apologizing to his teacher and students suggests a possibility to me. I may have touched his “self.” I believe our “self” loves and is the best of what we are. If true, I accessed his “self” and he responded by being his “self.”   Sy 

The Birth of a Philosophy-Pt.3

The Role Model I’m writing about is “authentic” and rare. They are what one sees, hears and easily relates to.  No physical, mental or behavioral disorder exists that forces this role model to hide or wear a costume. They are whole within themselves and when with others. They are relatively easy to know and understand. They are what they are and for them “life is what it is.” Events dictate their behavior.  

When they do have influence and power over others, whether through position or selected by others as a role model, they work to empower those they live with, work, and befriend; they do not seek dependent relationships.  It is particularly important to note that the role model I refer to does not select anyone to be role model to. Yes, they are automatically role models as parents, leaders and teachers. Otherwise they are selected by those that believe they benefit by having the role model in their life. I repeat, the role model I have in mind does not seek being role model to anyone. It is also true that there are people who thirst to be multiple role models and to have power and influence over others. They relish this role over others whether spouse, children or coworkers. They love power over almost anything, but in particular over people. They are mentally and emotionally sick. What matters to them is control and winning.

When I write of teachers beginning with pre-school through 3rdgrade being role models I do not intend that the benefits and problems associated with “being a role model” diminish or go away as we age. I do believe the influence of the role model may be most important and effective for children ages to about 10 and why the early grades are most important.  I know as a leader and teacher for most ages I was a role model both chosen and not.  I did not ask during my teaching and entrepreneurial periods. I can only guess of my success or failure. In paper 18 I shared a bit about working with 5thand 6th graders and know for sure that my students enjoyed being together, learned and grew. I must have done a fair to middling job as role model, leader and teacher? I certainly hope so; and most certainly when I played at being an entrepreneur for 25 years and mentoring leaders and key personnel for the following 35 years.  Sy 

Aspiring to be an Effective Leader

After I retired from working with leaders, power and key personnel, I refer to as “the Inner Circle,” I sought an outlet in order to express what I know is essential if one aspires to being an effective leader. Writing seemed to be the best vehicle as long as I was determined to continue teaching what is to me the answer to relationship and leadership issues. One page essays have become my way of sharing my thoughts to this day. I also developed a respect for the Haiku, a Japanese way of expressing stuff and nature from the 13th century. The form is 5, 7 and 5 syllables on 3 lines and not a penny more. When I have space on a page I add a few Haikus always taken from the meat of the paper. I love how much so few words can mean.
But the point to this page that I’m presently writing is to clarify why the sequential approach over the last few months. I feel and believe the sickness and destruction discrimination and hatred has brought to societies for many centuries is treatable and may even be, eventually, eliminated. But, it won’t happen in families, their homes and around the Kitchen Table.
Working with leaders, organizations and families of many leaders I often witnessed significant changes in people’s behavior and attitude. Dialogue happened more frequently as did listening and understanding of each other. I also look back on my teaching and classroom days with 5th and 6th graders and camp. Not only do I clearly remember changes in the ways many related to each other, but am told how meaningful to this day; music to my mind and heart.
The work we did in the workplace, the work counselors did at camp and the way I related to my students in the classroom made differences in the lives of most that participated. This way of relating and communicating are what I will share in my coming papers. No theory or “hair brained” ideas; just the facts. Sy
Discrimination——–why this and hatred one has——–what is taught, how else?

The Birth of a Philosophy-Pt2

My experience with the LA Bd of Ed. began in the mid 50s and continued to the mid 60s. During this time I did folksong concerts, was a “story teller,” had counseling sessions with troubled students and teachers, did Inquiry Training with 5thand 6thgraders and for extended periods took over classroom teaching with difficult 5thand 6thgraders.  In other words my time with LA elementary school education was full, challenging and fun.

My working philosophy came right out of my camp experiences with campers and staff. I made my students a big part of what we did in every possible way. We would talk about what we were doing and to be doing. In fact, dialogue was constant between us as a group and as individuals dealing with one’s unique issues. I was always available for one on one talk and if they did not come to me, I went to them. 

When it came to academics like math or reading I would assign A and B students to work with a class mate that was a C or D student while I would work, one on one, with F students. When the slower students improved, and they always did, their mentor would be acknowledged and receive applause from their class mates. Also, to continually mix them with each other so that getting to know their fellow classmates and to develop some degree of responsibility towards each other was assured.

The relationships we established with each other and as a tribe or gang was a constant. Nothing took place that did not accentuate both the “I” as an individual and the importance of group. This grew to the point that Saturday’s and Sunday’s actually got in the way of school and their being together during the week. They missed each other and I have to guess that they missed my being the adult amongst them? Many years later and with the help of intimate work and relationship with leaders, along with intense study in the history of Leadership and power, I accept that I was a “role model” and not just a leader to campers, staff and my students. Being a “role model” is vastly different from being a leader, but is absolutely essential to a leader’s success with those they lead.   Sy