Speaking The Truth & Only The Truth

How do I know the truth? I know it through experience. I know it through “being there, seeing it, swimming in it.” In other words, not my imagination, something I read or have someone tell me what they believe is true to them. Truth is truth and not what we want or wish something to be. Truth demands courage and must be expressed in its naked form and not dressed up so that it comes across as opinion. 

The problems associated with “truth” are many and why it is difficult and challenging to be truthful. One basic reason is that truth as an individual knows it to be may not be what others want to hear or accept. It is why I have often written and lectured on the subject of “genuine dialogue.” Genuine Dialogue demands a true listening and understanding of what a person is saying. Agreement is not an imperative, not asked for, but understanding what one is saying is. So where is the truth? The person speaking may believe that what they say is the truth, but back their words up with speculation, hearsay, (what others have told them), or what they have read. In other words, the speaker wants the listener to believe that what they say is the truth and, more importantly, they want the listener to agree with them. If agreement is what a speaker expects, they need to be prepared for non-agreement and accept that this may not be the case in the listening or in the response.

In too many cases when people are in conversation, they have an expectation that they are being heard, understood, and possibly agreed with. Likely, none of this is the case. In this day and time, the amount of immediate information is mind-boggling. Just click your cell-phone and the information one seeks is instantly available.  Is truth guaranteed or is it just information? In fact, does listening between us really happen or are we just physically present but our mind somewhere else? How often do we witness people in a restaurant sitting at the same table, but each with their cell phones at their fingertips? So, what is the truth of our relationships? Dysfunctional is my truth. It is what I witness all too frequently.  Sy 

I see you, but hear?—————Maybe yes and maybe no—————Do we care which one?

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

The Importance of Agreement and Non-agreement In Our Relationships with Others

Relationships are essential to life. It brings us together; forming family, friendships, the creation of organizations, cities, states, and countries. In the process of establishing relationships, we communicate—and this communication does much to bring us together. In fact, without communication, how would we come and be together?  This paper is about the issue of AGREEMENT & DISAGREEMENT THAT EXIST BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS AND COUNTRIES.


When this is achieved, the conditions as described above switch to the listener, who now becomes the speaker. Note that the process has nothing to do with agreement unless this is understood by the parties.  Expecting agreement without asking for it upfront is a “quagmire.” Stating the need for agreement at the beginning of dialogue is the better choice but is still problematic. It may be an impossible request(?).

In today’s world, we see this played out in families and between dear friends, co-workers, associates, and certainly within organizations and nations. This is a difficulty that challenges the best of relationships, and I offer no easy answer. Religion, politics, child-rearing, and education are examples of issues that often bring conflict and even pain when and where people talk. It is why I mention the “kitchen table” where implantation of beliefs and conflict is most likely to take place. The problem is that expectations are buried in opinion and not fact.

During true dialogue, there is no leader and no follower for that moment. Clearly, that presents a challenge to most leaders accustomed to being in charge and those followers accustomed to acceding to the demands of the leader. To experience dialogue is rare for these reasons, and yet it is essential if people are to be “real” and “honest” with each other. So much is missed in our relationships when dialogue is avoided and monologue takes the stage.


Bureaucracy And System

I watched the interview of Prince Harry and Meghan and it stirred up some concerns of mine that I have had for many years.  Those are the issues of “bureaucracy” and the visible and invisible barriers created by “bureaucracies.”

I openly share that when I personally or my organizations bumped into “bureaucracy,” I backed off. In other words, my being ruled and restricted by administrators or systems never sat well with me.  When it happened (and I am sure it did) I walked away if I could. If not (school; jobs I had as a kid, military service, etc.), I did what had to be done to the best of my abilities but made little noise and stayed in the shadows. Being myself and following my own tune is apparently deep-seated in me.

Interestingly, I remember reading that Confucius (the father of bureaucracy in China) had constant trouble with bureaucracies wherever he tried to influence leaders. This is also true of Plato when he was invited to be with Pericles, the leader of Athens. How often has this occurred that bureaucracy created to manage systems also attempts to controls all that live within its invisible walls? 

I see this as a non-problem for most people since we are born into systems. We call this our family and remain in a variety of systems throughout our lives. Lenette and I created organizations, and as leaders, we think and hope we dealt with our employees as individuals and not as part of a “system.” Yes, all organizations have rules; some are stifling and others flexible. And yet, I wonder now whether we did or did not create systems and walls? It is long past that time, but those who were there would remember and know. Systems may be ubiquitous so avoiding them may be impossible.  

It is why I believe most people may not understand Prince Harry and Meghan.  Prince Harry was born and raised within the Royal Bureaucracy. This is what he has experienced, and this is what he knows. Without question, what his wife has gone through is so powerful an experience that they are both deeply scarred by what transpired and can never again be without scar tissue.   

The creation of “systems” may be inevitable, and I suggest that “bureaucracy “may be necessary to serve the system and the people within it, but bureaucracy ought not to rule. I reacted against powers that sought to control me. Being responsible for my own actions “was right for me.” I have experienced and know that degrees of responsibility are what most people can handle. I also know that there are those that avoid any responsibilities. So be it. We need to recognize and accept the differences amongst people and respect what a person chooses for themselves and how they live their own life. 

Living under the control of professional administrators is what some people are born into and learn to expect they will be cared for throughout their lives. They become accustomed to the structure and security provided by the system.  When care and controls are expected but denied there must be a terrible sense of helplessness if one lives within the system. It takes courage to live one’s own life and be fully responsible for oneself. Some of us would have it no other way.  Sy

 I am born helpless————-In time I become able————-Freedom to be me.  

If I am cared for—————–For how long and in what ways? ———-Knowing essential.

Teacher as the Catalyst


In recent weeks I’ve written papers that will lead to my recommendations for a workshop for teachers of early grades. The workshops are designed to focus on the teacher as the catalyst that is meant to create an environment of mutuality, respect for the individual and the importance of each child as the unique being they must be and are to become. Being a listener, a questioner, a confirmer and being candid in response are the essential building blocks to each child’s becoming. And with the teacher being this as their role model, they do.

Academics and how to teach reading, numbers and writing are not the purpose of the workshop and are not to be included. The sole purpose is to empower each child and to give them the tools of respect, regard, relationships and dialogue with each other and their adult example.

In most cases what will be experienced by each child may not be their experience at home and around the “kitchen table.” At home most children are not empowered to be in dialogue with their family, but to be witness. The more common experience for most children is to be silent and an observer to family conversation.  

As a child develops so do the powers of others outside their family; the potential for being influenced by the “sensitive, aware teacher” is immense. But this potential has both the power to grow the child as a unique, sensitive, aware of others, person, or to close the child off to themselves and harden their defenses. And the full reason for the workshops I suggest. Early grade teachers are the key to opening a child to their potential and why, as the role model, teachers are the one that can make a huge difference in a child’s life.     Sy

Being present and open:

The other day I was approached by a member of the health club I go to who had just finished reading my book. He felt the book dealt with leadership in ways he strongly believed in and has not read in other books. He was enthused enough to ask if I’d speak to a professional group he belongs to. Of course, it pleased me to hear him express his pleasure with the book. But what he said intrigued me. He told me that I was communicating with two different groups at the same time. 

“On the one hand, you speak candidly to leaders about their power to influence those important to them. That through a leaders words and actions their followers are aided in their desire to grow or are restricted in their efforts ‘to be’ and contribute.” He agreed fully that most problems in an organization are the result of poor leadership. “On the other hand,” he continued, “you also speak forthe silent and disenfranchised majority, all of this often on the same page and most pages. Also, you don’t tell the subordinates what to do and how to communicate with troubled leadership. This is not a “self-help book” for followers.  What you do is confront the leader with their responsibilities and the importance of authenticity with their key people. You also make it apparent that whether the leader is aware or not they are teacher, sometimes student and definitely a role model to those most important to them.”

In a recent paper (and probably a few others) I explain that I wrote the book about a relationship philosophy that took years of work and study (which never ceases) and both fortunate and unfortunate personal experiences. Like good soup it took time and ingredients to form into a philosophy that is teachable and of proven value to people in personal and work situations. Many of you have contributed much to its creation and know it is not theoretical, esoteric meanderings or wishful thinking. It is practical, a hammer and saw, if you will, and is clearly hands on, in your face communication. In fact, is there a better path to genuine dialogue and mutuality? Being a mentor to other organizations made it possible for me to realize what it is that I know about communication and how to teach others this gift. Even now the lesson learned yesterday continues to pay dividends today.

In addition to the above there is much I’ve learned about what I’ve written, about myself and how important others have been to me. Not a few leaders have said to me that had they been aware of their power when running their own business applying this philosophy of leadership would, not could, have made a huge difference in the success of their business. I often think of my own ignorance and the many incidents that pushed me this or that way. Yes, not being aware of one’s role as a leader/role model and the influence that comes with these positions means dysfunction to individuals and relationships. In its broadest sense this is what creates the ‘disenfranchised majority’ I refer to above. They are silent, passive and pawns to most leaders, but are they?

Ignorance of one’s power over others is no excuse, try as most leaders do to fault others for the omissions and errors in daily work and personal lives. Acceptance and awareness of the gift that power is, and using this power to empower those we have influence over is what every leader needs to do. Whether received openly or rejected this then becomes the responsibility of those we are initially responsible for.  So, really, no one changes anyone. Only the individual self can do that.                             



What is truth? I find many answers to the question in religion, philosophy and history. Ask people and they will have their own definition and their own set of truths. Most people strongly believe what they believe is truth and arguing with them over what they believe more often than not hardens their position and maybe alienates them from any further discussion. In the worst case, the relationship may suffer. The wise know that challenging another’s belief invites trouble. Don’t! 

 Are their universal truths? What first comes to mind are truths that existed millions of years back? Examples abound: At one time the earth was covered by water. A truth that is difficult to grasp when we see mountains that reach beyond 29000 ft., or the giant dinosaurs that once roamed on land and sea. That an asteroid hit the earth and wiped out the giants that ruled the earth. That scientific evidence is now able to follow our heritage back to a place In Africa where human life began? 

These are truths, but so is the hard evidence that we are, at the very beginning, from one set of parents; that we are related. It is also true that as our predecessors increased they, of necessity, moved in every possible direction seeking food, water and some degree of safety. That man had to band together developing tribes because numbers also meant increased safety. This led to divergence from hunters to farmers, from loose bands to communities.    

Moving to almost every corner of the earth also changed appearances, the color of skin, the shape of our eyes, even our size and weight.  The different environments made for different looking people, but not the blood that flows within each human and the brain and emotions that rules human behavior.

What came out of mankind’s evolution are tribes, communities, villages and eventually countries, but throughout, forms of leadership and governance. These are all truths even if not fully understood or accepted by all of mankind.

People believe certain issues as irrefutable truths. Whether true and actual, or what they wish things to be and are not. This exists in one’s religion, economics, politics’ and forms of governance. Some want total individual freedom and others a “big brother” to care for them from birth to death. Believing is not incidental, but at its core, one’s truth. In some cases so strong that they would die for their belief 

Therein are the ingredients for problems between people. The refusal to accept difference (as I have previously written) is that beliefs can be so powerful as to cause all others whose beliefs are different to be “mine enemy” and that justify horror between brothers and sisters. One of the worst examples In recent times is the “Holocaust.”

Please be you with me. Sy

Haiku: Be different, please————-Be you and support me too———We are related.

Are we different?————-Yes and no and a good thing—————–difference a gift.

Making Relationships Work

Each of us is different in small but significant ways. Even if identical twins we each witness the world from a unique place, that is, from within ourselves. The mixing of what is inherited with what is experienced (people and events) add up to our being different from any other. This reality contributes to the unique selves we were to what we are this moment and to what we are to become. Since nothing is exactly what it was a moment ago we are literally bombarded by people and events that push and pull us towards unknowns we cannot know until we are there. Not unlike a lump of clay we are constantly molded by forces beyond our ability to control including aging. This is “actual,” not potential, but the degree of change depends on experiences and how we incorporate them. Here, so much depends on our being courageous and vulnerable to others and events. How else do we learn?

If we take the time to know ourselves as we are this day we need to discover this from and through our meaningful relationships. Those close to us know us better than we can possibly know ourselves. We are subjective when it comes to knowing ourselves and more objective relative to the other as they are to us. We may think we know ourselves, but the evidence is sketchy. It is the other that knows us as we do them.  Remember, the King thinks he’s dressed in finery, but everyone else sees him as he is without any clothes. Truth is so hard to come by?  

Examples abound: Are we good partners, parents, teachers, students, leaders, employees, friends and how are we to know any of this without genuine dialogue which must include respect and trust existing between us? Also, how is any of this possible without really being there for and with the other in this moment or when the other or events calls for us to be present? 

We know it takes “Two to Tango. “  A dance that demands some intricate and exotic moves from the parties involved. And so it is with relationships. We are either in step with others or out of step. This is so evident with significant others; doing the dance as it needs to be danced, is essential. There is either a coordinated dance that blends two and more into creative and productive relationships or confusion, stumbling and even conflict. So it goes with important relationships. Harmonious or dysfunctional it takes little to see, feel and know the difference. No one in the dance is fooled.

 Everyone’s journey has to do with actualizing one’s self. That is, being as fully one’s self as is possible. This journey is rarely easy and certainly not a solo one.  It requires others beginning with conception taking us into whatever life has in store for us. Our first lesson begins with our parents and formally or otherwise continues with others we interact with as we mature. The wiser amongst us seek to learn and allow experiences and others to enter into our very being. We are able to Tango.   Sy

Differences vital———-Experience and others———-Essential to us

Am I successful?———–A question I must answer——–Since truth is within

Do I dance alone?———- It does take Two to Tango——- Completes the picture.

Bernard Palissy’s Quote

A family member sent me the following quote attributed to Bernard Palissy, Fourteenth Century artist, engineer and writer. 

“Even if used a thousand reams of paper to write down all the accidents that have happened to me in learning this art, you must be assured that however good a brain you may have, you will still make a thousand mistakes, which cannot be learned from writing, and even if you had them in writing you wouldn’t believe them until practice has given you a thousand afflictions.”

Who amongst us has not experienced the difference between listening to what others say, reading what others have written compared to our own full immersion in the issue or project we read and hear others discuss? It’s why I contend and have written time and again of the importance of our own experiences, whether planned or accidental and how vital it is that we learn from what we do as well as the errors, omissions and successes of others. This is ultimately how people arrive at that “aha” moment. It is where “I Know!” results from endless head, heart and hands involvement. 

How many times in a day do we hear someone say “I know” when really they are parroting the words spoken and written by others? People say they “know” even if they have not actually experienced what it is they say they know so they don’t know, but think they know and too often this means beings closed off to knowing. For thousands of years people depended on pictures on cave walls, word of mouth, story tellers and balladeers for information. The data instantly available today is almost overwhelming. But whether the picture on a wall or the unlimited information on the internet none of this is knowing when compared to knowing from personal experience. And to complicate the issue of experiential knowing, our personal experiences are never without bias. 

Have you ever played the game of “telephone” where someone whispers to the person next to them and the next person whispers what they heard to the next one and so on until all the people in the circle had a story relayed to them? It’s a laugher as to how quickly a story is changed from one person to the next. Is it that we hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see?

We humans are limited in our ability to be objective. As long as we have feelings and history we also have influences playing on our thought processes and behavior. So nothing is crystal clear and pure when it comes to humans as reporters, story tellers, leaders and teachers even if they have “been there and done that.” So the “knower” never conveys an exact truth. People are not cameras. No, our subjectivity is pervasive and is part of everyone’s experience. That being said, I strongly hold to the quote at the beginning of this paper that in order to really know something one must experience it. The message is clear: Don’t deny or resent your experiences. Learn from them.   Being a student is a never ending drive for some and all students are to be commended. But being a student to others written and spoken words does not lead to knowing it leads to a”between the ears” understanding. This is a good thing, but limited to answering questions not solving problems. The true problem solver is similar to the true entrepreneur. They will be knocked down, maybe bloodied, face failure time and again, but continue their particular journey because they are driven to know and to know must be experienced.

What does it mean to be “vulnerable?”

I intend it to mean strength, courage and a willingness to be open to those closest to us and to ourselves. It is where growth takes root and moves out into the world we live in and with those with whom we live and work. It is honest, respectful, nurturing and accepting. Most importantly those who are vulnerable listen and work to understand the other. In the process being who they are, but because of events, people and being vulnerable are also in a state of becoming.

In truth, all humans are born open and vulnerable, but too soon begin the process of closing up to being and becoming what others (in power) influences them to be. And, therefore, to a considerable degree we learn to be what others choose for us to be and this may be harmful or loving.

If loving, nurturing and accepting we remain ourselves still growing, being and becoming, but always our unique self and not what others would have us be.

If harmful to us and unconscious or intentional to the perpetrators (those who hold power over us) we become what we must in order to survive. But this is learned behavior and regardless of how deep, it is still learned. And what humans learn can be unlearned. Much difference between what we inherit and what we learn. The former is permanent and the latter may be changed.

Not without courage to be open and vulnerable are people able to change. All of us can appear to be open, but “appearance” is an act. It is the wearing of an exterior that we believe hides us and therefore fools the other, but in truth, those closest to us are not fooled. They know much of the truth of whom and what we really are. Others are, after all, relatively objective of us as we are of them, but we are all too subjective of ourselves. We rarely look in, but spend most of our time looking out and believing the mirror.

And this is what being vulnerable means and why it takes courage. Being open to the objectivity of those close to us is never easy to experience. First, of course, it is fear of our weaknesses being exposed. And secondly, it means giving up one’s power to significant others if even temporarily.  

Finally, if just for now, the most powerful amongst us are the people who most need to be vulnerable and invite those important to them to communicate what they “know” of the one in power. Dangerous grounds to stand on without a knowledgeable mentor to facilitate the interaction and any hope of mutuality and true dialogue.

True growth and change begins deep within each self and happens only when what is outside is allowed in.    Sy