Sy’s Final Paper

I knew it was coming, and finally, it’s happened. My eyesight has failed to the extent that I can no longer sit at the computer and write. I now find myself in the position that all good leaders one day find themselves. I wanted to write one final paper, so I asked a good friend to help. The decision to move into the final phase of hospice was mine, and mine alone. I miss Lenette so much. I have spent time expressing my thoughts on aging, and to say that it has been a challenge would be a tremendous understatement. As long as I could write and my mind worked, I could fill enough of my day to manage my loneliness. Of course, my friends who always come to visit have helped. But now, I have come to the end of my road. And that is okay. 

I have spent a lifetime working as a leader, teaching, lecturing, and writing about leadership, yet I wonder if I ever wrote about the most important act any good leader can and must do. They must recognize and acknowledge when they can no longer lead and, in fact, must be led. Still, this is only the first part of a leader’s last act. The second part is to find someone who can be the leader’s leader. Whether by design, providence, or perhaps dumb luck, I have done this, and I am so grateful. Perhaps Lenette had a hand in this. Her talent for planning, in the short and long term, has never ceased to amaze me. No doubt she was the caboose that pushed our train down the tracks. 

I can honestly say that I have accomplished all I set out to do in this life and then some. I know that Lenette and I have left our prints on our world and that what was most important to us will live on.  I am ready to be reunited with the love of my life. Thanks to all of you who have been there.

Until we meet again.

Sy

The Future of the Blog

With great sadness, I regret to inform you that Sy Ogulnick peacefully left this world on the morning of May 3rd.

He felt strongly that his words were a large part of his legacy, as was his desire to share them. In accordance with his wishes, the blog will remain online for the foreseeable future in hopes that those following Sy’s essays will comment and contribute their own thoughts on the subjects he considered important.

While Sy will be sorely missed, the blog will preserve his presence so his observations on power, leadership, relationships, and aging will continue to inspire and inform.

Sincerely,

Steve Zuckerman, site administrator.

Where I’m At

My eyes are going. My hearing is going, yet my mind is fine. I feel trapped; still, how long I will live is one of the questions to which there are no answers. Macular degeneration has only one outcome, so another unknown is how soon I will be completely blind. Thankfully, hearing is less of a problem since my hearing aids help.

When people say that aging is a blessing, I must strongly disagree. That, and similar sentiments, are expressed by those who haven’t reached their eighties.  As I approach 98, I will continue to live as long as my mind is what it is and my remarkable friends stay with me and care for me as they do. I will not let any of them down. 

On the positive side, going to bed is still a wonderful experience, and I sleep well. My food intake is down but adequate, and all else is functioning normally. 

I feel good about all that is taking place around me. I write, do poetry, and write haikus each day. While that makes the day for me, I thrive with my visitors.

I might be getting a bigger screen for my writing. I hope it will make a difference.  I can also get a microphone and speak instead of typing. I spent my working life talking and teaching, not writing so that accommodation would take me back to my old and natural ways.  My love to you all.

Right now, I am here—and I will stay for a while—until I am not

What Your Visits Mean To Me

Today, Ron and his son flew in for a few hours to visit me. Mark was here in the morning, and Steve came by in the afternoon, as did Ian. What does this mean to me?

I see and feel it as an act of love. I do not take any visit for granted. I see them as invaluable gifts to me, ones I so appreciate.

Being alone is not my cup of tea. I can’t read, the TV does not work for me, and the computer (my creative tool) has its limits, but I fill the afternoon using it to create.

So, if you can, come on over and spend some time with me. We have stories to share, and I promise to be a good listener. I have been told that is one of my better qualities and an essential part of what I have taught many over the years.

It is interesting that not hearing well forces me to concentrate more than ever on the person I am with. Since I love being with the company, that is a plus.

Thanks for listening to me.

A visit means lots—Easy to understand why—Thanks for sharing time

Where I’m At

While I have no desire to speak for others about their experiences with aging, I can only tell you what I am undergoing.

I am 97, which means I am seriously old. Only a few reach this age, so allow me to share some of what life is like for me. Every night, I go to bed early, usually around 7 PM.  Due to macular degeneration, I can’t see, nor can I hear, likely a result of my being in the military, but otherwise, I am fine. 

Yet my mind is perfectly sound. I am amazed at my recall and ability to write poetry, haiku, and essays.  In particular, the essays regarding power and relationships.

After 97 years, I know how and why relationships and power can fail and how and why they can succeed. Both are at the root of the human psyche and the making of family. 

I also know that we have the capacity to grow and to change our behavior. I know this to be a reality, and the work I have done for almost 80 years is my proof. 

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to restate the overarching problem as I see it.  If people seek agreement instead of discussion, the conversation is fated to fail. If agreement is necessary for either party, the entire point of dialogue is moot.

People must be able to share their feelings and be heard without demanding agreement; otherwise, authentic communication is impossible.  

The rule is simple. Agreement must be set aside to allow for honest dialogue. After all, what game does not have rules that must be followed? 

Thoughts on Power

Negative power is the Power that damages all relationships, including those at home, school, or work.

Regardless of location, where power is used badly, it does significant harm. Destructive power always begins as a hierarchy where someone sits at the top of the pyramid, and only a single chair exists.

That chair at the top might be for a father or a mother, or it could be a teacher, an immediate boss, and all the bosses above.

Power can be found almost everywhere.

It might be gross or subtle. Ideally, the job of the one in power should be to “empower” others lower in the hierarchy. Ignoring this obligation will make matters worse. Subordinates know what they experience, hear, see, and feel. To empower is to give and grow the other.  So, if you can do so, be a good farmer.

To empower, my job—what other way is there for me—And that, to build you

Another Book on the Way

My 4th book is being edited and will be on Amazon soon. 

So, what will this version of Sy be? It will explore the “Leader of Leaders,” power, the leader as an employee (most leaders are), relationships, dialogue, and The Inner Circle. Also, since I enjoy poetry and the Haiku form, I hope to have a poetry/haiku book edited and published soon. I have fun playing with words and thoughts, which is what poetry and haiku are to me… Fun!

I invite you to feel free and join me in what I write. If you want my thoughts on a given subject, please reach out to inform me. Maybe I will have something to say, or maybe not, but I will write if I feel I am able.

I have no idea where this journey leads until I sit at the computer and begin to type. It is my style. Words lead to more words and thoughts to more thoughts.

Being productive—Is what I must be, just me—I am what you see

Bringing You Up To Date

Lenette has told me I must live as long as I am productive. So far, I am doing my best.

My 4th book is being edited and should be in the publishers’ hands soon. I believe that the essays in this book are among the best I have written.

My essays on “The Leaders of Leaders” contain fresh insights into a better understanding of power in the hands of certain people.

Over 27 years, teaching my pragmatic philosophy was always an essential part of my work with staff, a practice that led to working with professionals and entrepreneurs.

Guiding these organizations in ways to improve their staff took me into a new profession. This led me to discover that staff is not the problem. Unthinking and blind power in the hands of the leader is the problem.

What I have learned about power and leadership has taught me that while leadership has built our world, it also has the potential to destroy it.

Leadership, with its power to influence and accomplish, is the prime factor in all relationships. Relationships depend on whether those in power can create a positive environment for healthy give and take. This applies to the family kitchen table and large organizations alike.

Unquestionably, those in power (the Leaders of Leaders) hold tremendous power. They alone build and influence their environments. They are everywhere, from professionals building organizations to leading their families in discussions around the Kitchen Table.

I am the power—Around the Kitchen Table—No one else but me

A relationship—Never easy to have, keep—We need this badly 

Number One

I want you and everyone I have ever met to be number 1. That is, to be as much themselves as possible. I am myself. I am me, and I have never met another like me. I have no intention of glorifying myself. I simply mean that I am myself and want others I relate to be themselves.

Throughout my work with children, young adults, professionals, and entrepreneurs, I not only wanted people to be themselves but also did my best to make this happen. Promoting self is vital to me.

To clarify, the desire to be oneself is central to me. I also realize this is difficult if your history is about not being.

The other night, I dreamed that I was at the Kitchen Table, sitting across from my two-year-old son. I was reading the paper and enjoying a cup of coffee, and the child across from me said, “Dada.” I slowly put the paper and coffee cup aside, grabbed the child, and held him close.

I said, “I love you,” and held him even tighter. “What do you want to say?” I asked him.

Instantly, I had another dream segment. I heard the child say, “Dada,” yet continued to read the paper and drink my coffee. I did not ask for more. I heard him but kept my nose in the paper, ignoring him. What message did that send?

All of us are born unique. We are one of a kind. Yes, strong similarities exist, but we are not identical. I believe in the specialness of every individual on this earth and treat each person with whom I meet and live in that special way.

When I hugged my son in my dream, I not only told him that I loved him but was ready to hear more from him.

During my many years as a leader of leaders, I always listened to my employees and friends and never treated anyone with less than respect. I listened, asked questions, and took care of what needed to be cared for. 

As a leader, I was, and am, also a role model and teacher from my behavior and by simply being me. I know I have power that must be exercised wisely. It is what people see me being. If I want people to be themselves, I must acknowledge their efforts. 

A major problem is one’s history. Moving past the childhood environment is challenging to deal with. Even one’s present life at home and with family is not a small thing. 

My approach to people is consistency, respect, and regard. It is imperative that my message and support for a person is to be as much themselves as possible. This could not happen if I treated them as things. 

To me, everyone is a number one. They may see themselves as a 2, 5, or 8 because, without question, that is how they were treated as children. None of this is inherent in blood or DNA. All is conditioning. I know for a fact that in healthy and loving relationships, people can come to be number one. They are born with this potential, which remains with them, even if buried deep by their family. When I worked with individuals, their history made no difference to me. I treated them as number one, and guess what? That’s what they became.

You and me are one—Not me ahead we are one—I will help you be

Love

Love.

It may be a word that is the most frequently used word in the English language. You hear the words “love you “ being said wherever you are. I do it, too. So, what does it mean? Is it real love or just a way to let someone know you appreciate and value them here and now?

I decided to define this word as I see it. So, what does “Love” mean to me?  It means that when I am with you, I am with you and PRESENT with you. It means that I HEAR you. It means that I may or may not UNDERSTAND you and can ask for clarification so that I can confirm with you.

Confirming is so much a part of love. It tells you I am where you need me to be: To be one with you in that moment.

So. the “love” I write of takes and makes one from two. I know this personally, not just intellectually. Not many of us do. It is part of the way I envision the “Kitchen Table.”

I see mother, father, and children sitting around their table in the kitchen. They are talking and attentive to each other; all are involved. They are present, listening, and spontaneously jumping in; they are being heard and unafraid to ask for clarification or more details. Here, dialogue is happening, and age doesn’t matter. One’s voice is important; it is being heard and is an essential part of the family. Every individual knows, feels, and experiences this nurturing taking place.

More than anything else, love allows us the need to be ourselves.  And for the luckiest of us, it happens around the “Kitchen Table.” Love between people is healthy food for our hearts and souls. 

My family sees me—They hear and listen to me—And I come to be

Here’s an abstract sketch that Dall-E AI created from the haiku. Machines see human relationships in mysterious ways.