Okinawa-Part 2

The return journey from the caves to the compound and my squad proved uneventful. It did not take long to figure the truck out, and I passed my first test behind the wheels. A week went by, and my Sargent instructed me to build an outdoor warehouse for equipment found in the fields and separate what might be repaired and stored from the stuff they were dumping in the ocean. He added that I pick up a few prisoners to use as laborers to do the heavy lifting.

On my trip to the compound, I saw the same three that came out of the cave and whom I drove (a harrowing journey, to be sure) to the compound. We recognized each other, and all of us smiled. I’m sure that reaction was all about survival—but even so, I arranged to have them brought to the location where the warehouse was to be built. How could I know then we were to become close and caring, and yes, the best of friends?

There was Yamamoto, in his late thirties and a former bank executive from Hiroshima, Ohara in his late twenties, a former streetcar conductor in Tokyo who was tall and muscular, and Kato, a small guy who was a former actor in Tokyo. I was nineteen, the youngest and least experienced. This was the original team that eventually built the best and largest outdoor warehouse on Okinawa with forklifts, cherry-pickers, a crane, and three trucks. The staff soon grew to a dozen.

Using Life Magazine, we taught each other our languages. My Japanese and their English became good enough so that we communicated, laughed a bundle, and got things done. My trust in the three of them was total. I never questioned any of their decisions, and whatever equipment was requested (radios, field telephones, etc.) was handled smoothly and effectively. For all we achieved, they always made sure I got credit for the results. They taught me leadership.

A story of caring: A PW ran away, apparently heading for a cave. I grabbed my carbine and headed off to find him. Ohara and Kato tackled me and held me down, explaining that Yamamoto went for the runaway. I immediately thought I lost two prisoners! Ohara and Kato tried hard to assure me that all would be well, and Yamamoto would return with the runaway. An hour or so later, he did just that. Yamamoto then lined our workers up with me in the front and spoke harshly to the prisoner. After which, he slapped him across the face… then, we all went back to work.

Sy

Okinawa-Part 1

Humans need each other. To begin with, we could not exist without others bringing us into this world. Of course, we understand this and why our parents are so vital to us. What takes place beyond our conception and the nurturing that parents provide is that as we grow, so does our need for others. I have shared the story below many times because it so strongly emphasizes that our need for each other as humans never goes away. And, when we meet and serve each other’s needs, our regard for each other grows more important.

On Okinawa, the war was over, but many Japanese Soldiers remained alive and well while living in very elaborate caves. The potential for danger was a problem that had to be resolved, and while doing so, I met three Japanese soldiers who became my “best friends.” I was part of a squad that drove into the hills near Naha, the largest city in Okinawa. We had two prisoners with us that we would send into caves to convince anyone inside that the war was over and that the best thing they should do was lay down their arms and come out. They would be safe and cared for—proof of which was provided by the two sent into the cave.

If they did not come out, we would proceed to blow up the entrance to the cave. But in this case, three soldiers came out with the two we sent in. From the looks on their faces, it was clear the three thought they would be killed. At that moment, the Sargent yelled out, “Ogulnick! Take the prisoners to the compound.” We had arrived in a ½ ton truck, so it meant he wanted me to drive and take them to the compound. I had never driven anything before, but boy did I want to. I had no intention of telling the Sargent that “I could not drive.” If I faced a typhoon and other life-threatening experiences, then I could drive a truck, no problem.

I got into the driver’s side and immediately began to read the metal instruction plate placed on the dash. The three prisoners and guard climbed into the back of the truck. I got the motor turned on, and with pure fear and excitement, I began the task of heading downhill in one of the many gears. The truck responded in a series of jerks, and the four in the back immediately fell to the floor, holding on for dear life. All this while I began my first ever experience as a driver of a vehicle. (Story continues next week.) Sy

Making Differences Work

In numerous ways, we are different from each other. Sometimes our differences are glaring and, as such, may even be threatening to our own beliefs. We see this in religious, political, or in lifestyles beliefs. Or the differences may be minuscule, in which case we view what others say and do as insignificant behavior. In any event, we may prefer to be with people who have similar beliefs to our own. Yet, there is a benefit to seeking out those whose ideations are different. My life has introduced me to a wide variety of people and beliefs, and I find that I have grown and benefitted hugely from our differences and what they have given to me. Without question, I prefer to be with people that are different from me. In fact, I owe much of what I am to them.

WHAT MAKES DIFFERENCES WORK IS “RESPECT” FOR THE INDIVIDUAL, AND THIS MUST BE MUTUAL, EACH THEMSELVES AND NOT READING A SCRIPT ATTEMPTING TO PLAY A ROLE THEY ARE NOT. RELATIVE TO THIS, I NOTE THAT THE MORE PEOPLE I WORKED WITH, AND IT MATTERS NOT THAT I WORKED WITH THEM AS A TEACHER OR A LEADER, OUT OF OUR RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER CAME MUTUAL GROWTH.

This is particularly true when differences are authentic. That is, when being oneself is not an act but real and powerful. As I have said repeatedly, the more real a leader is, the more their followers become real, and real means different, and differences are the most sincere gifts we give to each other.

As a teacher, I essentially taught that people should be present, understand what they heard, and be candid in response. Meaning that they should share thoughts and feelings as they are, not what one thinks the other wants to hear. This did more to bring growth than the typical silence or false agreements. Growth was demonstrated by the differences people began to express when being completely candid. Finally, in most work situations, expressed differences made work safer than homes, where dialogue became our method of communication. Our differences became gifts that do not go away. Our use of dialogue as opposed to monologue was our equalizer.

Sy

We are not the same——-But who wants to be the other? ——Not either of us.

Some Thoughts…

For those of you that have received and follow my writing of one-page essays you also know that when I have some space left at the bottom I write a few Haikus, at least in form. The Haiku’s form is five syllables followed by seven syllables followed by five syllables and attempts in these few words and three lines to paint a picture of the natural world. For me I so enjoy the 5-7-5 syllables form that I use this to express anything and everything.   Let us see if I can fill this page with a variety of thoughts using the Haiku form.

Haikus:

The other day they came————Two friends from Fort Worth, Texas————Memorable time.

What gifts they arranged————–Virginia City————-Lake Tahoe, blue sky, and rain.

Another time other guests————-Like family they are to us————How blessed to share time with them.

Family, not blood—————We have this with each other—————And stories galore.

Our history full——————Plus memories of people ——————Rich experiences.

Grateful is easy—————–We see the bright side of things————A choice that we make.

Time is limited——————We must make the most of it—————–Be kind, be caring, love lots. Share yourself with others. Anticipate needs, fill them——————Be a gift to others.      

Sy 

Power & Negative Influence

Power and the negative influence that many in power evidence has always bothered me. As a kid growing up in Chicago, I remember that I not only would not be intimidated by bullies but sought them out and took them on. If you were family or friend, I fought on your behalf. No problem, and as I grew, so did my reputation. I do not know why but standing up against inappropriate power and the characters that acted this way seemed to be my calling. Apparently, I someway somehow knew that power misused had to be stood up against. I did so without knowing why, except that it is what I felt, and acted accordingly.

As a young entrepreneur, I led and trained people that worked for me, and I believe I never used my powers to push or harm them. In fact, I do not remember using my power and influence in any way other than to assist them to be as good as possible with children. If an employee refused to grow, and the way they worked demonstrated this, I made it easy for them to quit. I made it clear that it was “grow or go,” always in respectful ways. I never knowingly used my powers to harm another.

In 2014 I decided to write a book on “Leadership, Power & Consequences” and spoke with several people that worked for me as long ago as the 1950s. I heard that many saw me as a “role model.” I asked why, since I do not remember asking anyone, “what kind of leader am I?” I did what events called for me to do, and never do I remember wondering if I was a good leader or a bad one. Would it have made a difference? Maybe and maybe not?

When I worked with other leaders of businesses (professional and otherwise) and their “Inner circles,” I witnessed that Leaders often were the problem to the answers they sought with their key people—Was this me as a leader? In other words, was it the way that leaders spoke, looked, and shared the feelings that came out of them as leaders? This led to years of study and the realization that leaders, whether good or bad, make the most significant difference in how organizations function.

Why I am, who knows? ———-But I become regardless————I play the cards dealt.
Sy

Power & Influence

Power and influence are potentially strong emotional issues. Depending on how used and interpreted, they can grow or diminish a person. My concern is that those in power work to empower those they lead so that “growth” is one’s chosen path, creating a sense of ownership and improved participation. Compare this to people being treated as things and feeling like pawns; where are the benefits? Note that how one feels influences behavior. To believe “feelings” have nothing or little to do with relationships is to miss much of what brings and holds people together. Through research and “hands-on work,” I have learned that “communication is clearly the problem to the answers we seek between us.” And that when we respect and give time to understanding each other’s thoughts and feelings, the likelihood of a positive and productive relationship increases. Those that use their power wisely know that feelings have much to do with people’s behavior.

Another issue for those in power is that when they use this power and influence to satisfy their own needs, they assume agreement is unnecessary when it is essential to the contract. People are not things to be used as parts of a machine while treating agreement as unimportant influences. This negative attitude harms the relationship and the job to be done. The leader that listens, understands, and confirms their followers and seriously seeks what is felt about their relationship and discussion wins—as does the follower. Powerful people that nurture good feelings in those they lead will also share the benefits.

We are what we inherit, but I believe that we are mostly what we experience. Our behavior is a result of one, the other, or a mix of the two. Which predominates may depend on a third force, and that is the powers that rule our life.
Sy

The Challenges Facing Human Relationships

Every human relationship faces challenges. We are each unique and, in this uniqueness, different from each other. Since no two people are identical, how we communicate with each other tests our differences. Are we willing and able to have genuine dialogue that accepts our differences, or will we insist on agreement with our singular position? Consider the differences between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, teachers and students, boss and employees, people with different political and religious beliefs, etc. Because of these differences, is communication/dialogue possible, or is this the primary problem between us—or could it eventually destroy us?


The facts support that we are different from each other. The differences may not be imposing stone walls, but they exist, and we must acknowledge this. And if we accept this, does that mean we support the other’s position or that they have a right to have one? In other words, can we recognize that we can disagree with each other, and both feel heard and understood? How likely are we to learn something from each other?


So not only are we different as a matter of our life experiences, we are different in the way we see, hear, feel, and think. Also, we are often generations apart. Take the example of grandparents and grandchildren: Two generations separated, and do we expect because we have blood in common that we would understand each other’s views? Impossible… unless we experience genuine dialogue with each other.


“Time” is a huge factor in our lives. The world constantly changes, along with the environment and so much more. Those who grow and live in one generation cannot know another generation except through what they are told and have read. Experience is the powerful force that makes us what we are and will become.


Love and acceptance are just a beginning, but an important one, to be sure. It nurtures our need to be ourselves and who we are at that time. Yet, who and what we become is made up of a bunch of tomorrows. Tomorrows bring life experiences and people that may or may not influence what we become. We enter each day knowing what was, and if lucky, we come out knowing a bit more.

Sy

Belief vs Fact

It takes two at minimum to dialogue, but what if only one is open to experiencing it? When it comes to dialogue, the parties involved in that moment of conversation must be in a place that includes each of the fundamental rules which makes dialogue possible. Parties are present, receptive, and respectful, listening, working to understand what is being said, and questioning if they do not.


Confirmation of what the speaker has said is essential. It may sound like “so what you are saying is———,“ but in any event, the response should be to the speaker’s satisfaction. In answer, the listener is now candid in response and is so as authentically as possible. Relative to these few hard and fast rules is that agreeing to agree is not a condition that exists in the dialogue from either of them. While it sounds simple, it is a rare occurrence.


What makes this so rare is the unwillingness for some people to concede that the beliefs they share are open to challenge or disagreement. Simply put, they do not see their thoughts and words as beliefs but as facts. And because of this, they build an almost impregnable wall that allows for no attack against what they know as only “facts.” In other words, “it’s the gospel.” Any attempt to argue against a position that claims such truth is futile. If maintaining a relationship instead of breaking one apart is a possibility, I suggest the choice one makes needs to be based on the “historic” relationships between people. This is a deeply personal issue. And examples abound. Family and the “kitchen table” come immediately to mind.


So easy to picture the young family in discussion or lecture taking place around the table or in the living room. Before the advent of technology, it was our primary way of being with each other, and in many homes, conversation was the standard way of communicating. Also, in many cases, power ruled the discussion, and the father or mother’s words were heard and not others. The lucky of us were invited to participate, and our opinions were heard and even valued. Early on, some of us learned the art of dialogue, and although all of us have beliefs—we do not have all the hard facts. We need to be able to know the difference between what we believe to be true and what we know as “facts.”

Sy

Why do we argue? ———–We may disagree, why not? ———–At least we listen.

Why It Matters

I wish to discuss the power of making rational, risk/reward assessments based on evidence and logic compared to decisions based on fear and anxiety and their impact on oneself and others.

All humans possess both capabilities to either run and hide or to face events head-on using the best of their resources. Based on research, the capacity to make decisions based on relationships with others is essential in being a contributing member of a group/tribe. In other words, the attribute of deciding which actions to take based on what is best for self and one’s tribe is an advanced development within human behavior.

During my history as a leader and the philosophy I gained from my experiences, the choices I made almost always had to do with problem-solving—not running away from them. So, whether it was an event with people, nature, or happenstance, I believe I had no other choice but to stand my ground and deal with what had to be dealt with. In my opinion, certain actions and behavior people choose are often so potentially powerful that choosing one course over another may be life-changing.  This may not be a consideration at the time, but it could be the seed that grows into a powerful and contributing life choice. On the other hand, choices some people make may be harmful to them and others, but they are caught in the grip of their “fight or flight” pattern. Their behavior is all about protecting themselves, all others being incidental.

A recent example is worth relating: We live in a senior village, a resort-type setting where I believe all here have had two vaccine shots. On one recent night, we sat with a newcomer, and during a light conversation, I asked her if she had her shots. She answered “no” and went on to say she did not intend to do so. I replied that she was imposing her fears and the possibility of contracting covid 19 on those she now lived with. Her response was, “I can do what I want.’  My immediate response was, “not on the people living here.” She moved out soon after.

In my opinion, she is a selfish person and probably has no sense of responsibility towards her family (if she has one) or the people she was presently living with. Apparently, evolution is not assured for all.     Sy

Without Dialogue and The Spontaneity That Happens When Dialogue Takes Place, What Do We Have When Participating in a Lecture?

We see, we film, and we also hear. It is also likely that some understanding of what is seen and heard may be happening. But without the invitation and opportunity for spontaneity between presenter and student to exist, how is the audience to ask questions, make comments, or express an opinion? If the chance to interact when needed is being denied, what and who is being served? Might this be felt as abusive by those who may already have issues with inappropriately used power? How can this lack of interaction facilitate relationships, and how can any teacher see this as unimportant?


Learning from a knowledgeable teacher is a gift and, ideally, where dialogue happens. Too many teachers are unaware that their power must be exercised as a beneficial source in their roles as moderator, teacher, and presenter. Deferring a student’s ability to ask questions or comment when they need to be made is the worst possible teaching situation I can imagine.
Consider that when teachers and students pay strict attention to each other, respect exists in the space between them. They become equals in the give and take of the moment. They listen, seek to understand, and are candid in response. The result is learning or the best opportunity to learn, which becomes the teacher’s finest gift to the student.


In my opinion, students have little opportunity to learn in an environment that limits itself to presentation alone. A lecture usually doesn’t allow any questions, comments, or opinions until a specific time. In a teaching environment, this can only restrict the learning potential. Students experience this restriction and the thoughts and feelings that come with it in one way or another. Will a learning experience of this type help us become more ourselves and more an individual contributor? Sy

Recognize myself————-My need to know and to grow————-It is why I ask.  

Do not back off, you—————Express what is inside you————–Be you not another.