On Aging—A Personal Journey

A friend asks that I write a paper about aging and in the request I felt concern facing this chapter of his life. So I’ll do my best, but with the understanding that I write only about what I am experiencing. What others my age and older feel I will not guess. I know me and that’s what the paper will be about.

To begin I start with Lenette because she is more why I am here and now than any other cause. So I believe that relationship with someone special is of immense importance. I want to be with her as long as possible, but with the understanding that I not be a burden to her. If and when I am I’ll b ready to let life go.

With Lenette being absolutely essential to my life and the desire to remain around as a partner what do I do to assist my continued stay? I exercise five days a week. I read a great deal of history mixed with current events and enjoy the companionship of friends. 

As for food: Lenette feeds us lots of fish, vegetables and fruit. Breakfast is big for me; Protein drink and nuts for lunch and a dinner prepared by Lenette that is always delicious including a generous salad.  My contribution is doing the dishes. 

My exercise routine is the same Mon, Weds and Fri and takes about two hours to complete. Tues and Thurs are different and take a bit less to do. All five days include aerobics and muscle groups and surprisingly am slowly improving my strength and aerobics. If decline is taking place it is hardly noticeable. Living in the present is my reality. I take each moment as a gift.  

Important to me are my essays. Receiving comments and suggestions generates more reason for me to write. What people have to say is important to me. Whether in agreement or not each response is looked forward to and stimulates thought. Making comments and suggestions for papers is welcome. As long as my experiences are accessible to me they are what I’ll write about.

I also recognize that I’m more thoughtful about things today than ever before. I know that when past events, whether people or issues, took place I did not give much thought to the action I should or should not take I just took action. I was open to the demands made upon me and reacted as best I could. Maybe aging is that time for reflection on things past? This is true for me.

I appreciate being here and feeling as I feel. I certainly feel lucky in that I remember things, am still somewhat creative, able to write brief papers (and Haikus), read lots, exercise, get hungry for a good meal and mostly love just being with Lenette.   

Aging is real. Don’t fear it and don’t run from it. Take each day as it comes and do your best to be grateful and give love.                                                       

I am what I am———I do not need or want more———-All is what it is.

Life a special gift——–I know this and am grateful———Events dictated.             Sy

Our journey and Self Actualizing

From birth, being self is not easy and the road we each travel in order to attain degrees of self are challenging, often dangerous and what road exists may disappear along the way. What then when there is no path to follow? 

So much depends on those that give us life and the environment we are born into. The cards we are dealt are full of unknowns until, that is, we are able to make a few of our own choices. In the process how often do we dare to challenge the unknown? Too many remain fixed in place where they age and eventually die.

If experience is our best teacher being fortunate enough to have parents that can afford to provide us with mentors, good education and a variety of experiences gives us the resources to become more than what we are and the potential to also give to others.. Compare this to the many more that are limited to basic and survival needs? Growing up with few resources and limited experiences hardly provides people with the tools and desire to do for others. Caring for one’s own basic needs is usually all those with limited resources can do. In this case, one’s potential “to be” is limited and not only are they likely losers, but so is society.

If not from experience where does growth come from? Aging is unavoidable, but growth demands our willing participation. Do books and teachers provide us with the same power to influence us when compared to personal experience? Without question, experience has the greater power to induce growth, but with the condition that we pay our dues. This “dues” has to do with the degree of presentness and openness to what we are experiencing. Learning is not automatic and only the courageous amongst us draw lessons from experiences. This is why we continue to have many of our experiences (wars, deteriorating environment, disease, etc) repeated endlessly. Humans either learn and grow from experience, or remain stuck and-the journey to actualize is denied. The potential loss of any human “to be” must be considered a loss to everyone.

Unless held hostages by certain illnesses, people know where they have been; know where they are and where they are going. Life is generally events expected, but the unexpected happens frequently and those with limited experience are rarely able to deal well with the unexpected. Worse, nothing is learned. Those blessed with self actualizing opportunities are better prepared. Sh–  happens and they deal with it. They know to be immediately present and open to the unexpected and take in the lessons that appear.  Societies need to facilitate self-actualization for one and all. Benefits are without limit.  


 Self is that unique———nothing is duplicated———-each of us special.

I continue growth———-what stops  me is you or me——–but I choose which one  Events do happen————-Is value found within them——-Lessons are in most things 

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.

Quality Leadership

Saturday’s Wall St Journal (3/23/19) has an article that clearly supports the message I’ve been trying to live and do my best to teach for seventy plus years. It is about quality Leadership as the key to success of the huge majority of people organizations. I am flabbergasted that this is the hot lesson of the day and forces me to ask “what will it take for those in positions of power and influence over others to learn and apply so obvious a truth?” It’s only been around since the idea of group living and the better chance of survival takes place. Without question quality leadership has been and is the key to human creativity, productivity and a better life for the majority. Nothing new under the sun; It’s only a matter of discovery and that through experience personally experienced as often as possible.

Look into any operation that depends on people and if it is a successful operation there is an excellent leaders right in the mix of what is taking place. These leaders are front and center or behind their people, but in most situations a part of the action. They are role models through behavior. Words may be part of their value to others, but it’s the actions they take that counts the most. But this is just a beginning. 

This quality leader is not sitting in an office far removed from the playing field, but is a participating member without always being in charge.  This point needs to be clearly understood. The leader I am writing of empowers those they work with to take leadership if and when the event calls out to them to take over. Situations count more than any fixed hierarchy or construct.

This is impossible to attain without trust, respect and dialogue being established between the leader and their key people. These are essential ingredients leaders bring to each of their meaningful relationships. And as challenging as it may be, none of this begins with subordinates, but is the leader being their authentic self.  How received by those that are led depends on each and their own personal history dealing with power issues. Whether growth (change) takes place between them has much to do with this. Nothing is assured.

The beauty of this is that most people seek better than their past. They want to be trusted, respected and to experience dialogue that confirms their existence as a self. Quality leadership may not guarantee this happening, but there is no better way to reach another. Truth, respect and openness have remarkable curative powers.


What is reported————It reads as if news today————–Who cares; let it be.

Leadership required——–Someone must, without which way?.——–A leader at helm

Trust and respect————–what brings and holds together————Not easy to do

Enlightened Leadership-Where Art Thou?

I’ve written and lectured on Leadership for many years. Have read thousands of pages on the subject and studied the philosophers from different periods seeking possible answers to what attributes or life styles contributes to a person attaining high marks as a leader. What comes out of my search, which continues to this day, are the life experiences an individual has and what knowledge they extract from those experiences. In other words, they not only stand on the shoulders of great leaders that have come before them, but themselves have been muddied and bloodied in the process of becoming what they are. None are born leaders, in fact, there are no such people, but only through thought and action (the trials and tribulations they have faced) a few become great leaders. Also, none are self made, but shaped through relationships with others whether brief encounters, even accidental, or lifelong partners.

It is also true that quality leaders teach primarily through being who they are and in the process become students to those they teach. Keep in mind that this relationship and the cross influences are not necessarily formal, but an organic way of relating. This sharing and growing are natural processes we label “mutuality.” It is seen in the trust they demonstrate with knowledgeable people they bring into their Inner Circle. These special people are not ideologues, but people with considerable experience and success in their respective fields. None are puppets to be manipulated, but proven leaders themselves. 

The quality leader does not seek extensions of them self, or waste their time forcing agreement. This leader views each person as the unique being they are and as a consequence they participate with them in “genuine dialogue”. And they are not blind to history, but know that what was is yesterday and that “what is” and “to come” is considerably more important. They are an open book and apart from the pages of their own history what is to be written has few if any hidden expectations of themselves or others, but truth, honesty and fairness.

Jose Gasset, (philosopher/professor, Spain 1920s) made the following observation to his students: “Many that live in these days believe the period we live in is more than all the rest that precedes us. And yet, at the same time feels that it is a beginning. Superior to other times, but inferior to itself; strong, indeed and confident and at the same time uncertain of its destiny; proud of its strength and creativity and at the same time fearing it.)   I quote Gasset because I strongly agree that the quality leader and “the student to be leader” accept this as truth. That today is full of almost unlimited possibilities and the leaders of this day and time are given the responsibility as none before have been given. We live in a time where leadership is becoming more important than ever before. Previously we believed we lived in separate lands divided by large rivers, mountains, deserts, jungles, oceans and that nations could stand alone. We know today that this is all history long gone. Now most of us accept that we live together on a small planet, limited resources, exploding population, degrading environment and science that has proven that we are all, black, white and others brothers and sisters. We are relatives one to each and all.  If True, why is hate so prevalent? We would think that most of us know or have learned that we either live and to live well together, or the alternative which must be unacceptable to all, but sadly is not. And that is the destruction of our home we call Planet Earth, but certainly civilization as we know it. Our time, as no other time, calls for Enlightened Leadership and the question: Where Art Thou? 

On Aging – A Personal View Pt.2

The friends that requested my thoughts on aging opened a can of worms. As long as I stick with expressing my own feelings and thoughts I’ll continue to do so. Have no intention of speaking for others. I can’t and won’t.

Since creative writing is one of the essentials to my well being I’ll continue this brief essay approach. It’s my style anyway. To begin: Based on the comments I receive this feeds me to write more on a given topic or work on other paths.. A good thing to be sure because it stimulates ideas to write on and I so enjoy hearing from those I send my essays. Whether in agreement or not it’s all food for thought and I look forward to whatever is written. On the other hand, no obligation to respond to anything I write. Expectation is not my thing.   

What I find interesting is that my recent papers on aging have produced a significant response. In fact it is why this paper continues with aging. Having always given effort to being there for those I worked with and served it’s obvious that this is a hot subject and calls out to say more. I try.

To begin I certainly believe each of us approaches aging in our own unique way. Some fear it and do what they and money can do to allay those fears. They may try, but to what avail? Time is limited for all. I say and live each day as best I can. Now is good enough; be grateful and loving to yourself and others. 

My primary anchor to life and living is Lenette followed behind by an exercise routine and proper diet. Also very important are my friends. How blessed Lenette and I are to have many and so varied.  Added to this list is reading and creative writing which forces me to think. Also the ancient adage and my mantra “live in the present and be as fully here/now as possible.” Something I had trouble with when younger. It was always one foot in the present and one foot in the future. Today it’s all: Live and love now.

In any case, writing and speaking about aging as I am is fair game and I am able to do that. I can and will share with you my thoughts on the subject. Speaking for others is out of the question. We cannot know the other. Trust me when I say or write “It is difficult or maybe impossible to know the other.” 

So this is about me and if it offers a bit of a road map for you, maybe that’s a good thing?  Finally, (a proper word here) I do not waste my time with longevity. The future is not mine to know so I let it be. Today is my gift and I do my best to love my way through it.   Sy


Life’s the gift to live——Waste not what is so precious——–It is here and now.

One is the teacher———One is the student to teach———They need each other.

The journey is short———-Smell each rose and see the sky——-Feel the path you walk.

On Aging-A Personal View Pt.1

A dear friend asked if I’d write about aging. I’ll give it a try.

Since I’m not too far from entering the 90s (three plus months) one would think I ought to be able to write/say something about my own growing old(er)? I do not speak for others (don’t believe I ever have) always trying to do my best to share what I know to be true or believe to be true. So what follows are my present experiences. One thing for sure is that I’m coming to recognize that aging is a complex subject and that I am going through phases or periods of being what I was and being what I am and even thinking about what I might be? Clearly, it is not easy to “broad brush” aging other than to acknowledge it is something I’m working hard to understand. I just as soon not think about it, but I find this to be impossible.

First and relative to my past, I continue to feel I am still capable of teaching about power and its off shoots (relationships, communication and leadership). In fact, I often find myself thinking about the subjects and its importance in all of our lives. I also have a sense (perhaps because I am more contemplative than I remember being?) that I actually understand the issues with greater clarity than previously and getting to the meat and potatoes of what is significant and needs to be understood. Why and how come? I have more time to think about my many experiences. Previously, everything was about preparation and execution. Digging for significant insights and understanding had to be my first task and this followed by sharing in the most enlightened way I was able. My intentions were to be pragmatic as against philosophical and now I feel I am a bit more philosophical. That is, I feel philosophy is the earth that gives life to what is pragmatic.   

The second part of what I am experiencing is my being present and in the moment. Most everything, each day, is something very special and enjoyable for me. Sharing time with Lenette has always been my first choice. Today it is even more so. Also, looking at trees, flowers, birds, the river, sky, colors each minute gives me pleasure as do the people I am blessed to share time and dialogue with. Even composing this brief one pager is a joy and a challenge to me. I don’t anticipate completion and, in fact, do not set a time to complete anything, but to be in the middle of what-ever I am doing and allow it to unfold in its own particular way. A brief pleasantry to share: On the way to the gym I belong to (work out five days a week) is an eagle’s nest. Each year for the last six or seven two eagles arrive, settle in on their large nest high up in the tree, lay eggs and soon are caring for three to four eaglets. Almost daily Lenette and I drive by the tree and nest to view the eagles. We both feel blessed to be witness to their family life until they all depart before summer. And yes, we look forward to next spring and the eagles return. 

The third part to my triad is the future. What the future holds is a mystery that unfolds each moment as we move into it and we are aware of its unpredictability. Looking backward we are aware of how the past-present and the past-future occupied our full time and energies.  If we did not control events of that time we thought we could, and even if not possible we tried. Finally, in the midst of all that we created and were responsible for we found time and ways to explore the physical world and its people. Someway, somehow, we feel and hope it all worked out well.        Sy

How important is leadership?

To know is a more concrete word than believe because it is what we actually experience. So, what I know is that a leader’s words and behavior are far more important to those under and close to them than generally accepted and understood. Too often leaders are unaware of their power to influence whether through a subtle look or actions they take. On the other hand, those who are close to their leader, because they experience directly the words and behavior of their leader, are definitely more aware of who and what the leader is than the leader can possibly know of their impact on them and why. The leader is not blind to the results of their influence, but usually to its cause. Hence, results that meet the leader’s expectations may be rewarded, but if negative, leaders tend to blame others for disappointing outcomes.

 The “why” is simple? Those dependent on the leader, and in particular those close to the leader, experience the experience of harmful and even destructive leadership, or, if lucky, the benefits of quality leadership. People know this first hand if they are close to the leader and not through hearsay. If the leader does not create the environment for dialogue to take place who does? How is mutuality possible without the safe space that needs to exist between the one and the other? And the feeling of true safety in relationship does not exist through words but consistent behavior that exudes respect. 

Inadequate, out of touch, destructive leaders are not cast in concrete. Their behavior is learned behavior beginning early in life. And it is what they have learned that is actually possible to unlearn meaning that any person who has difficulties in relationships whether between two or leading a class room of students, employees or a squad in battle has within them the capacity to change, to grow, to know a different way of being and I do not mean or imply acting. 

The very difficult challenge is not an exterior experience, but a commitment by the leader to know themselves through the eyes and words of those who know them best. This takes considerable courage on the part of both the other and the leader. The other (subordinate to the leader) takes great risk in being genuine and must know deeply in their gut they are safe to go where they have not gone before. They must feel secure and welcome. They must experience being listened to and confirmed by the leader. At the same time leaders must be seen as vulnerable (open) and accepting even if not agreeing with what is being communicated. (Agreement is not essential to Genuine Dialogue)Without the aid of an appropriate facilitator/mentor this may be possible, but not likely since overcoming previous experiences of misuse of power is a difficult barrier to set aside. People may forgive, but do not forget.

Learned behavior tends, over the years, to become inflexible and rigid, but not hardened to the point that only a sledge hammer can do the job. Clearly, destroying a leader is destroying a human and never the intention of change and growth. In any case, it is not the words coming from outside the person that brings a change in attitude, behavior, understanding, but the way the leader processes what they hear and feel. Nothing written here is meant to imply nuance or subtly. A leader that chooses to grow never does this easily and without considerable trepidation. Not many leaders or people are willing to be vulnerable with those who know them best. True growth means rarely going back to where you have come from. This is not an appearance change, but a change of perspective and understanding. Sy

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