Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Principle Centered Result

Well, this is what the final result looks like, except much more legible. There are some real advantages to having spent the time soul searching and documenting my beliefs:

  • Changes were thrust upon me this year that stressed and frustrated me greatly, and by reviewing the document I was better able to put these into their proper perspective and relax.
  • I am by nature or nuture a workaholic, and keeping my roles/beliefs visible helps me to better maintain balance and live a happier life.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I use the balanced principles to help me look at the potential solutions from various perspectives. This always helps me generate a better solution.
  • The actions serve to keep me honest and working towards the life style I want to lead, rather than getting caught up in the day to day rush.
Like all other people, I fail often to live by the principles I profess. Yet having them defined and visible has definitely increased the accountability I feel, therefore it has done wonders for my thoughts and behaviors.

Finally, my belief is that this document is just a rough draft and will be under revision until the day I die. It took me until almost age 40 to understand what I really don't know everything. Now I truly believe that for the next 40 years I will continue learning and growing...


Monday, November 24, 2008

Setting Goals & Taking Action

Well, I had documented some general ideas regarding what I "do" as a person, and had defined what I believe in via "my Principles". However, since goals without a plan are just wishes... Now what?

Next I defined some key roles for each general task. As an example, for Serve & Submit I determined that I am a citizen, employee, volunteer, member, advocate and team member.

Then I asked myself: What specific actions do I want to take in the next 6 months to live in better accordance with "my Principles". For Serve & Submit, I figured I was weakest in the area of volunteering and giving back to the community, so I chose give blood regularly, support PRISM and support the District 281 referendum. I now keep these posted in front of me at work, and am doing pretty well on following up on my commitments !!!

My biggest failure is under Feel & Experience... "Learn to Dance" Seemed like something a husband with 3 daughters should get better at... I think I'll carry it into the next 6 months.

Friday, November 21, 2008

281 RAS Superindent Selection - Thoughts ?

What strengths & qualities do you want in our next Superintendent?

How should their contract be changed? (current contract)

How should the district improve communications to the public?

Speed's Superintendent string

Speed's Public Relations string

Befriend & Love, Serve & Submit and Lead & Mentor Principles / Values

From my perspective, these actions share common Principles. The following is what I came up with for:

Befriend & Love
Serve & Submit
Lead & Mentor

I use positive inner dialogue to bolster my self-esteem and self-respect. This frees me to nurture all individuals by being the caring, compassionate, thoughtful and kind person I truly am. (ie empathetic listening, understanding, concern, affection, protect, friends, family, affirm, support)

I strive to treat all whom I meet with courtesy, tolerance and cooperation, because everyone is part of the divine family and deserves my respect. No matter their religion, sex, culture, age or status. (ie justice, fairness, win/win, trust, open minded, honor autonomy of others, acceptance)

I came into this life with a special plan or purpose to help elevate humanity. I am responsible for successfully executing the plan and infusing my service with the creativity of my special God-given talents. (ie benevolence, leadership, community society environmental responsibility, interdependence, mentoring, contributing)

I choose to be optimistic, cooperative and enthusiastic, rather than a victim of my negative emotions, so I remain in control of myself and maintain inner happiness. The alternative would be to choose negative feelings, which would make my life infinitely more stressful and complex. (ie praise, affirm, appreciate, congratulate, collaborate, motivate, cheer, empower, positive)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Balance & Renew Principles / Values

The following is what I came up with for:

Balance & Renew
I maintain my trust and hope even though I live in the midst of uncertainty, because God pervades all things. Faith is my willingness to take the next step without fear or looking back, and yet have the patience to trust God and not try to force the results myself.

I choose moderation in all aspects, because it brings balance into my life and helps maintain my inner peace and true reality. The alternatives would be burn-out, stress and illness, which would hinder my productivity and creativity. (ie abstinence, temperance, emotional/spiritual/mental health)

I accept my present situation as a necessary part of a grander plan. This new freedom allows me to surrender my wants and desires and welcome whatever comes into my life. With this new awareness comes contentment and peace. (ie compliance, patience)

I maintain a feeling of calmness and concentrate on higher thoughts. By focusing on higher thoughts and actions, I am better able to connect with the divine. I also take the time to go within my heart, where I find my true self and creative energy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feel & Experience Principles / Values

The following is what I came up with for:

Feel & Experience
I am grateful and appreciative for what life has given me. I think magnanimously and act generously because abundance is the universal reality, therefore what I give to life returns to me. (ie family & friends, home location, financial security, great job, personal successes, health, hobbies, experiences, prestige, recognition, pleasure, joy)

I maintain an attitude of unpretentiousness and modesty, and realize that God in his own way and time will reward me with whatever I need. As long as I rid myself of pride and maintain an attitude of gentleness toward all life. (ie questioning, humble)

I am alert to highly significant events that cannot be explained, because I then have an opportunity to go beyond the daily occurrences in my life. I am also receptive and have the courage to act on my inner promptings, thereby supporting my transformation into a higher self. (personal freedom/power, independence, creativity, experiences, spontaneity)

I choose a new understanding of my situation, because forgiveness is a conscious act that frees me from the damaging image of myself as a victim and dissolves the poison of resentment. This frees me to extend mercy and compassion to myself and to those who have wronged me, which reconnects me back to my real self.

Act & Role Model Principles / Values

The following is what I came up with for:

Act & Role Model
I align my thoughts, words and actions with truth and have the courage to act with sincerity and honesty. This strengthens me and my relationships. (ie, impartial, objective, open/full disclosure, honor confidences, meet professional and personal responsibilities, loyalty, authenticity, trustworthy, due diligence, no conflict of interest)

I work and strive towards self-improvement, because wholeness is not realized in a moment. I need the confidence to endure all situations in order to reach my goals. (ie diligence, initiative)

Self Discipline
I restrain my lower desires through determination. And through obedience to my higher self, I develop inner control and greater confidence. (ie health, behaviors)

Learn & Think Principles / Values

As I mentioned, teachingvalues.com and Covey's principles did not work for me as they were. I wanted them stated: as affirmations, so the related values or keywords clearly stood out, & roughly grouped by key activity. The following is what I came up with for:

Learn & Think
I work to be discerning and self-aware, so I can distinguish between beneficial and destructive things that I attract into my life. I need courage to take the next step toward wholeness by eliminating the negative desires that attract chaos into my life. If I do not curb my destructive desires, life becomes increasingly difficult. (ie personal development, wisdom, expertness, self renewal, vision, values)

I choose to see the beauty of the simple things in life and perfection all around me, instead of complexity and distortion. Therefore I retain the innocence and joy of life that uplifts me and reconnects me to my true inner self. (ie chastity, live now, notice)

Cause & Effect
I am accountable for my every thought, word and deed, and recognize the wisdom of restraint and being aware of the intentions of my actions. For every action there is an equal reaction. (ie karma, awareness, consequences)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Key Actions of a Person

Hopefully I have made a good case for being open minded and listening to different ideas/concepts/perspectives. Since I am going to spend a few days writing about how I created my "Principle Centered Life" diagram and how I use it on a regular basis. The experts had told me that leading a principle centered life was one of the keys to being happy. I looked at their examples and they simply did not work for me.

This is when I did some further research, self contemplation and brain storming. I decided there were 2 key things I did as a human being. The first includes things that I do "by/for" myself and the second is what I do "with/for" others.

The things I do "by/for" myself include: Learn & Think, Act & Role Model, Feel & Experience, Balance & Renew. These are key to my self awareness, continual growth, renewal, optimism and happiness. Without these my attitude could quickly slip to the dark side and take me with it.

The things I do "with/for" others include: Befriend & Love, Serve & Submit, Lead & Mentor. These are key to my remembering how truly fortunate I am to have friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc that I get to play and work with on a regular basis. These also remind me that with this opportunity comes a responsibility to behave well and give back actively to my community.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Confident people and the baseball bat !!!

I am reading an incredible book right now called "Life's Greatest Lessons - 20 Things That Matter" by Hal Urban. You may have noticed I recently added it to my best book list. It caught my attention in the book store because it was recommended by Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey, two of my favorite "coaching" authors.

Mr Urban raises thoughts that are in alignment with my current string of blogs, so I thought I would mention them:
- Think with an open mind
- Think for yourself
- Think constructively

Now what does this have to do with confident people and baseball bats. Well as I have alluded to previously, I had a very poor capability to listen with empathy and an open mind until I turned ~40. Until then I was climbing the carreer ladder, expanding my circle of influence and succeeding at most things I took on. I was so smart, capable and successful that what I thought must be right !!!

Then within a 2 yr period I pushed myself too hard and suffered a severe panic attack, then over reached my circle of influence and seriously annoyed a couple of executives... Well, though you may not believe it. These were the best things that could have happened to me. They taught me humility, and enabled me to start learning and listening again. (also probably prevented a major coronary event someday) Then after seeing this similar thing happen to several others I coined the phrase:

"The more confident and successful a person is, the larger the baseball bat that will be required, to teach them humility and help them think & listen with an open mind." give2attain

This is why the Peter Principle is so true !!!

So, we can choose to be open minded and listen now or after the baseball bat hits, the choice is always ours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is that what I really believe? Why?

"What we absolutely believe to be the "truth" was created mostly by chance/accident." (give2attain)

Rationale: You had no choice in where you were born, who your parents were, which religion you were initial taught, which schools you attended, who your first friends were, if you went on vacations, how you were punished, etc. Then by the time you were old enough to influence your attitudes, behaviors, friends, learning, etc, many of these were already set by your earlier conditioning/brain washing. Therefore,

"People do not see the world as it is; they see it as they are - or as they have been conditioned to be." (Covey)

The good news is this conditional/brain washed viewpoint of the truth is not irreversible, however overcoming it does take courage, effort and a willingness to really consider the sources/rationale/correctness of our beliefs. One simple series of questions I have learned to ask is:

Assuming the other party is rationale and honest, why do they see this situation differently than me?
If I were in their position, would I feel the same way?
With this new perspective, how can we find a common solution that meets both our needs?
With this feeling of empathy, how can I help the other person or group of other people?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Genetics, Environment or Pure Luck

About 9 years ago I was sitting in an MBA course with a bunch of bright accomplished folks when the Professor asked us what seemed to be a strange question:

What is the single most important reason for your success?

We of course being self confident, accomplished, smart, determined, etc professionals came up with the usual reasons. Our drive, intelligence, work ethic, etc... And maybe a couple of thanks to our parents... His answer was quite different:

You were lucky enough to be born in America !!!

His rationale is very valid. He had friends that were much smarter, more driven and skilled than him. Unfortunately they were born in the Soviet Union and therefore spent a significant amount of time in food lines. I have confirmed his rationale since by working with folks from several other developing countries.

The point of the story: sometimes we seem to forget that "those other folks" could have been us... I have become much more empathetic, since I came to understand this. Therefore I am willing to work harder to help and understand "those other folks".

By the way, this not a "get out of jail free card". I believe folks need to strive for improvement no matter their starting point, however I truly understand now that starting out in my highly educated upper middle class family made my climb a lot easier. It's amazing the power of gratitude, once you finally make a point to notice all of the things you have to be thankful for, then make a point to start sharing some of your good fortune with others who were not so lucky.

Start giving and volunteering !!! The pay back is HUGE !!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Principle Centered Life

I think Leslie's last comment speaks loads about the current state of mind, so I am going to take a couple of weeks to discuss a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and has nothing to do with our community politcs. This topic actually is very personal and unique to each and everyone of us. These are the principles and values that we each believe in and act upon in our daily lives.

I am a big fan of Stephen Covey and his work. One of his key concepts is that people should not center their lives around things. (ie children, spouse, fame, work, money, friends, etc) The rationale is that often when choices need to be made it will lead to conflict and unhappiness. For instance, the work centered individual will sacrifice the spouse/kids often to fulfill their sense of obligation to work. Another is when a spouse focuses all their attention/life around the children to the detriment of their own hobbies/life, or the marriage. Finally, we all know folks who become money/possessions centric. The alternative according to Covey is to identify the Principles you truly believe in and then begin making your choices with these in mind.

Well, I got to this point and became somewhat stumped. I mean what exactly are Principles and how do I define them well enough to live by them? Luckily, I got some help at TeachingValues. (google is amazing...) So, I started with their version and modified them until they fit me.

Just a note: a principle by definition is respected and very similar across cultures, whereas the expected values/behaviors within a principle may change significantly depending on where you are. An example, integrity is respected in all cultures however what truthfulness is varies greatly. (ie white lies, brutal honesty, cultural norms, etc.)

The image to the left is my high level diagram that I will be discussing over the next 2 weeks. Please feel free to comment. I love learning from other folks different perspectives.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Funding & Anonymous Comments Accepted

Hits are still good, however comments are slow, so I am going to start allowing comments from anonymous parties. Not sure why it should make a difference to folks, however I am willing to remove any perceived barriers to open dialogue.

I apologize in advance for any inappropriate comments that are left here. I'll start blocking them again if problems arise. Hopefully folks will use proper decorum...

Interesting funding discussion though I am still unsure what the point/issue is... Possibly, people fund things that matter to them ??? Possibly, those with the most motivation, drive and money have the best chance of swaying public opinion ??? Not sure where the surprise is... Seems like USA politics to me... (originating site)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Visions, Strategies, MGPPs & SMART Goals

A group of us are discussing Speed's concept of a TERM paper on his site. The challenge I believe we will run into is determining what is viewed as value added by the RAS community. (ie worth paying for, purpose of the school, etc)

District 281 and the RAS community worked hard to create a vision document this year. The concern I have is that per the listed priority and goals, the community agreed they want the school to offer everything to everyone. (ie flexibility, student specifc curriculum, excellence, arts, sports, academics, closing the achievement gap, etc)

One exercise we do at work to prioritize the customers wants is to give each member of the customer focus team 10 dollars, and ask them to distribute the money amongst the goals/features as they see fit. They can place them all on one or distribute them as they wish. This helps us develop trade off curves. (ie keep the valued features and leave off the non-valued)

Now I know we did something similar during the RAS vision meetings and am interested in finding out how the participating community members weighted the 24 goals. 1A through 2D most interest me, since this is where most the budget resides. (ie developing children into adults) How would you rank these? What would you give up so another could excel?

Here are 2 other useful acronyms to study: SMART Goals & MGPP

They are not as scary as they seem: imagine the Vision is to climb a mountain. The MGPP will be where you plan to set up camp each night. The SMART goal would be when you plan to reach the camp each day.... By the way, it does not have to be perfect and it can change when immovable obstacles are encountered. However, the Vision, MGPP, & SMART goals keep you heading in the right direction and let you know how you are progressing. Whereas goals with no measures will not tell you if you are making progress.

I believe it will be critical to develop an MGPP and yearly SMART goals in order to track the progress. This helps maintain accountability and focus.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

281 Referendum Passes: Now the Work Begins

Well, I am happy and relieved to report that 281 Referendum Q1 & Q2 passed in a general election year. This should reassure folks that a large number of citizens participated in making the decision. (ie not a minority in an off year vote)

Question 1 Yes = 30,083 No = 24,490
Question 2 Yes = 28,552 No = 25,913

Now what concerns me is that a large portion of the community felt this was a poor investment. (ie 24,490 people) Now you can't please all the people all the time, however this needs to improve. My interpretation of this large number is that:
  • The school district needs to do a better job of collaborating with the community, informing the community and increasing the transparency of their strategy, plan/priorities, expenditures and results.
  • The school district absolutely needs to ensure all 281 schools meet the AYP academic measures. The citizens have set this as JOB 1 for schools by adopting No Child Left Behind. (ie this come before sports, art, music, humanities, electives, etc)
  • The citizens need to dedicate more time collaborating with the district, clarifying their expectations regarding the District/schools and really learning about their community schools
  • The citizens need to volunteer within the schools. This is critical to developing empathy and trust. Besides, with our aging population, there is no excuse that struggling students don't have a mentor/tutor to help them. (kid learns and adult gets to share their knowledge)

By the way, "The Big Stink" from Freedom Dogs and I have a disagreement going. He believes that 281 (ie public education) is a monopolistic bureaucracy that has pushed the citizens out of it. I believe that the citizens got too busy chasing the dream, and stopped helping out the community schools. I sincerely hope the district and it's citizens prove us both wrong in the coming year.

Thanks again to all the folks that helped give the district/community breathing room !!! Now let's all work together to improve the RAS/community relations and help our kids succeed !!!

As always, my statements are pretty opinionated on purpose. (ie too drive discussion) So make comments and straighten me out. (I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. ) Or help me understand how you feel the district could better meet your needs. I would like to combine the comments and present them to RAS and the community.

Either via the blog or at give2get@live.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

281 Referendum YES281 : 281 CARE at it again

Why would anyone trust CARE 281 again? Right to Lie blog Why would any trust worthy party sue for the right to lie?

281 CARE using Robo Calls today? Breaking the law?

Minnesota 325E.27
No one can use or connect an ADAD to a telephone line unless the (1) person called has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message (defined to mean any call regardless of its content); or (2) message is immediately preceded by a live operator who obtains the consent of the person called before the message is delivered. The prohibition does not apply to messages (1) from a school district to a student, parent, or employee; (2) from callers to people with whom they have a current business or personal relationship; or (3) advising employees of work schedules.

A civil penalty of up to $ 25,000, injunctions against future violations, and damages

Monday, November 3, 2008

281 Referendum YES281 : 3 Crazy Weeks !!!

About 3 weeks ago I entered the very interesting world of blogging and it has been a great experience !!! I have been able to have more open discussions with people of different viewpoints than I would have believed possible. Below are links to the most active blog strings I participated in.

However, I do have one favor to ask. If you enjoy this blog, please get involved and add comments. Drop me an email if you want help learning how to add comments. (give2get@live.com) Or see these instructions.

Though I have an almost limitless number of viewpoints and ideas to blog about. (ask my wife, family, friends & co-workers...) I will be much happier and learn more if you challenge me or add your perspectives. That is why I am choosing to continue blogging after the vote.

Now the benefits for you: Where else can you state your opinions totally anonomously and have hundreds of people read them? Also, I am a self & wife certified continuous improvement junkie who will be discussing some really unique concepts. (all for free... reference links provided...)

So thanks for the time you have given me and remember to VOTE tomorrow. If you have made it through my blogs and the linked strings, I think whatever choice you make it will be the right one.

Speed Gibson blog string 1
Speed Gibson blog string 2
Speed Gibson blog string 3
Speed Gibson blog string 4
Freedom Dogs blog string 1 *
Freedom Dogs blog string 2 *

* To see comments at Freedom Dogs: select "Got A Bone To Pick?"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

281 Referendum YES281 : 281 CARE at it again

Well, I still don't get it. 281 CARE again publishes a 2/3 truth and allows no one to correct it with comments.

Why is 281 CARE misleading folks by only showing 2 of the 3 graphs ?

On the upside, they did link to the source . (Coal'n of Mn Busn) The 2 shown graphs depict declining enrollment and increasing state revenue. (ie faster than infaltion?) The third unshown graph shows that property tax revenues have been flat.

The assertion is "It’s not a revenue problem, it’s a SPENDING problem!" Here are the 2 questions I have for Ron:
- What cost of living adjustment index was used, and is it applicable to schools? (Indexes)
- Why did he not post the third graph?

On a side note:
281 CARE sent in a cryptic finance report again. It says they spent $806.89 and had revenues of only $375. The only listed donor is Ron as usual. So the usual question remains: Who is funding 281 CARE and Exposed, why do they hide and what is their agenda?

So don't let the mysterious 281 CARE and 281 Exposed folks sway you without some additional research. I advise Speed Gibson and Freedom Dogs, they at least let others try to sway them/correct any comments they make.

By the way, 281 Exposed jumped on the bandwagon and only showed 1 graph. (typical...)

Vote YES on 1 & 2

Saturday, November 1, 2008

281 Referendum YES281 : Have Faith in People?

I've found that many vote no people seem like theory X folks... Whereas I am a huge theory Y fan, especially with people working within their chosen carreer. And I have almost never been disappointed, since my employees and team mates want to achieve and accomplish things for intrinsic reasons. (good work makes them feel good)

Theory X vs Theory Y

So my thoughts are: Do you really believe teachers, librarians and administrators went to work in the public schools thinking they were going to make their fortune on the back of the tax payers? Or do think these folks really want to help the kids and community?

Of course, after spending time with these "education" folks, and looking at how some people in our community mistreat them, how most of them are paid, and the stress/uncertainty of their jobs... Well, in my opinion they either really like educating kids and helping the community, or they are crazy folks who like suffering... I think the first...

So please help our passionate caring educators by voting YES on 1 & 2

Remember: you usually find what you look for... good or bad... (ie RAS & blind spots)