Being Creative with Relationships

Creativity, even making an effort to be creative, means going where you haven’t been before. And that’s the beauty of creativity; discovery. In the context of relationships, it might mean doing and saying something you haven’t done or said before. Mark Twain said that “all life is an experiment and that the more we experiment, the broader and more meaningful are our experiences.”

That resonates with me because I like to experiment with ideas and people. Years back, I experimented with children’s behavior. My experiment in creating a positive environment enabled children to grow and achieve their potential. They were able to move on from being what they thought others wanted them to be and instead to be more themselves. I discovered that if children felt safe being themselves, they were also more willing to be open and receptive in their relationships with others. Experience has shown the ability to be authentic directly affects whether an individual will become more trusting and open—or more closed and restrictive.

I have always believed we are here for each other and for ourselves at the same time. While certain experiences bring us together, we still need to discover and experiment with what brings us greater awareness and appreciation of the person next to us. We all benefit when we create opportunities and experiences within our relationships to better understand and appreciate each other. In striving to keep our experiences positive, we grow from our authentic interactions with each other. Otherwise, we miss an opportunity for growth.

The challenge is that we are different and similar at the same time. Being able to experience and appreciate this is important. Indeed, the creative application of what I’ve often referred to as authentic dialogue plays an essential part in this.

Each of us has the potential to be more open and truer to ourselves. To be what others want us to be is a loss to all.

I am me to be————–So I choose being myself————–We both benefit.
Let me be myself———–Better for both, this is best———-Being you and me.

Sy

Another Story To Tell

Boo-Boo (Brutus) was our first dog. He was mostly Beagle at least in size and temperament, brown and black in marking, and very bright. This was obvious in how quickly he took to evidencing and learning certain behaviors and joining in as a member of our family, which soon included Cleo, a pure white and very productive cat in that she gave birth to 48 kittens. This was the way we lived until Heidi and Jeff joined us. Although we lived in tight quarters, to be sure, we all got along exceptionally well—many wonderful memories.


The story, for now, is about how Brutus entertained us. He would sit straight up in my arms and do numbers for us. If I asked him to multiply, divide, subtract or add, Brutus would do just that by barking the correct answer. For example, I would ask him to multiply 3×3, and he’d bark nine times. Or to divide, I’d say two into four, and he’d bark twice. It may sound like I was giving him cues, but not true. This incredible animal did what he did (almost everything) when he saw that something ought to be done. One example was bringing the morning paper to me. I never asked or trained him. He possessed intelligence that amazed.


When Heidi joined our family as a puppy, Brutus took on the role of mentor to Heidi. And Heidi (ultimately a huge German Shepard) came to adore her little friend. In fact, they were twins in the way they cooperated and communicated—Here’s an example. We bought a steak (a rare purchase at that time) for dinner. Lenette placed the steak carefully on the BBQ and left it for a few moments. Heidi and Brutus both knew that what we set on the BBQ was for us, and they would get whatever scraps were leftover. We never missed sharing food with them, so we never experienced prior “theft.” But it happened. With Boo Boo’s guidance, Heidi gently pulled the steak off the grill. Then, off in the corner of the yard, they indulged. Guilt may have oozed out of them, but the steak they still enjoyed. And so it goes.


Not as expected——–Things do not go as we want——-The steak our story.

Sy

Haiku Thoughts

The Haiku is simple. Five syllables in the first line. Seven in the 2nd line and five in the 3rd.

Try it, It can be fun. Here is a pageful!

Time has its own time——–It unfolds at its own pace——–Fast or slow, it goes. 

I read and I write——–Working to fill a time with thought——–It works and then does not.

Been smoke and cloud-filled——–Not a good time to go out——–Try to be fulfilled.

Age is a topic——–What to do with it?——–A question I try to answer.

This day is just fine——–Sun, blue skies, mountains so clear——–One of those sweet days.

Often our state of world——–Troubles me and I know zero——–Or can do nothing.

Nice to be in touch——–Hearing from you, so good——–Thank you for doing.

This day is vital——–How many more are left us——–Enjoy the gift.

How lucky to be——–I see, I hear, I feel now——–What else do we need?

Time cannot be held——–It is not a thing or place——–Or river that flows.

Enjoy each moment——–It leaves too soon and now what——–Waiting is foolish.

We are so unique——–None the same and yet we try——–Be yourself and glad.

Words are a challenge——Be sure of how you use them—-Often misunderstood.

Nature offers so much——–vTry saying this as Haiku——–It is original. 

Sy 

My Thoughts on Aging

I’m compelled to write a paper having to do with “My” aging process. Maybe there’s a lesson for some others I stay in touch with and maybe not, but this is about me in any case.

I consider myself lucky. I will be 95 years young this coming December 5th.   I’m feeling fine; I still exercise, read, write, enjoy being with people, and am very aware that time is precious.  And that’s probably the main point I’ll try to make in this paper.

I have a sense of three very distinct parts to my life. That is what I’d like to share with you. The first is the present. It is where I live, spend much of my time, and try to be with each minute of the present. That means Listening as best I can to what others are saying. This is not easy since I wear earpieces, and the sounds in our dining room bounce off walls and resonate throughout the large room. I concentrate on what is said, not what I have to say. This is fine with me since I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life getting people to listen to me. So obviously, I’m learning Lots more about others and worrying less about what they learn from me.

The next important part of my life is my history. I DO NOT LIVE IN MY HISTORY but use it to explain the reasons behind my attitude and behavior towards most things in the present. I draw from my history as history and do my best to clarify that it is a resource I draw from, not to be confused with current events.  I consider myself blessed to have excellent recall, and I use this in my storytelling.

Finally, the day will come when it is our final day. We all have a diminishing future. It is important to maximize each moment, and I do. Whether with Lenette, friends, my cat (Mia), or reading, eating and enjoying our snuggly bed.  I fear not and know I’ve been blessed.  So have most of us.

Please don’t interpret this as a premonition of anything. I feel I’ll be around and hopefully remain creative for a good couple of years.  I’m still enjoying—so, why not?  

Sy

Life is an unknown———So let it come as it will————–Today is our day.

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