Passion

 

A few random thoughts

I recently saw an update on the three young boys I met about three years ago.  It’s really gratifying to see how much they have changed in the years since meeting them.  All three are now in pre-school or school and, for the most part, doing well.   They have worked hard to deal with the issues their situation forced upon them.  At each step, they have been supported by a wonderful loving family.  Their adoptive mom has worked equally hard to create as normal a home for them that she can.  She, in turn, has been fully supported by her family and friends, all of whom have taken these three young boys into their hearts.  Yes, there have been setbacks, some bureaucratic in nature and some resulting from the boys’ struggles to deal with their issues.  But the setbacks have been offset to some degree by the forward steps these young boys have experienced.  Educational goals have been set and met.  Behavioral goals have been set and met.  Social skills goals have been set and met.  I love the fact that the oldest boy and I have an arrangement  involving books and I don’t know who’s having the most fun.

I love the fact that these boys, finally enveloped in the arms of a loving family, have shown all of us the true power of love.  It will never erase the memories or even some of the scars they each carry with them, but it does show them that life doesn’t always have been lived in the darkness of abuse and pain.  Love will show each of these truly lovable boys that they are worthy of seeing the better things in life.  Each of them has value and I, for one, can’t wait to see how they will change their little slice of the world for the better.

Did I Just Figure It Out?

For some time, I’ve been trying to figure out why some organizations continue to experience the same management issues time and time again with no solution in sight. I admit that I’ve been trying to figure out why the issue of victim abuse is met at times with a “so what” kind of attitude. I’ll also admit that I don’t understand why we aren’t working harder in all venues to try to stop the abuse of individuals, especially children, the elderly, and other other vulnerable populations. But recently, I had an encounter with some folks at Microsoft and I think I finally figured it out.
I despise the Microsoft Office’s error filled grammar check tool that comes as part of that program. Whoever programmed that inane tool apparently doesn’t know the difference between “it’s” and “its,” just to cite one example. Fast forward to a telephone conversation with an tech and her supervisor. The tech’s solution – if it bothers me so much, why do I continue to use their product? Now why didn’t I think of that? Anyone want to guess the response I got from talking with her supervisor? He admitted that he doesn’t really know English grammar and their programmers rely almost exclusively upon customer comments posted in discussion threads to see what they might need to fix. No discussion thread? Apparently there’s nothing to fix.
So our efforts to address victim abuse might be getting the same response. No real effort to identify and address the problem means no discussion. No discussion thread? Apparently there’s nothing to fix.
We need to change that perception. We need to engage in a creative, collaborative discussion to finally, once and for all, develop and implement solutions that will end the abuse of any victim, young, old, or in between. Let’s get this discussion thread going and keep it in operation until victim abuse is appropriately addressed or, better still, ceases to be. Will you actively join me in that discussion and search for a realistic solution?

(P.S. Yes, I have turned off the grammar check. You can call me an honor graduate of the Microsoft approach to problem solving.)

It’s Been a Bad Week

I should stop getting updates from a variety of news sources. This week has seen a flood of reports about abuse of children and others. The one that stood out was the sentence of probation passed out to a woman defendant in Minnesota who attempted to hang a 16-month old in her home based child care center. The sentence handed down by the judge? A ten year term of probation, including special conditions for mental health treatment, and no unsupervised visits with minors, among others. The defendant was credited with the 20 months in jail that she has served since her arrest in November 2016.
Here’s the problem – a sentence imposed in a criminal matter has a number of functions to fulfill, not the least of which is specific and general deterrence. According to defense counsel, the defendant already served a sentence of imprisonment because of her pretrial detention and she’s now lost her career in child care. Seriously? How does the sentence imposed address the important consideration of general deterrence? So long as our criminal justice system continues to be inconsistent is punishing offenders who inflict harm on others, especially children, we all will continue to read horrific stories of people inflicting unspeakable harm on victims, especially those who are too vulnerable to fight back. Those of us in positions of leadership, whatever the organization, can be of help by working toward a more consistent approach to effectively punish anyone who inflicts harm on another. Our criminal justice system is good, but by exercising our moral and ethical leadership, we can make it better, especially for victims of abuse.

It’s Raining

A characteristic of our summer is the monsoon season, which officially began on Friday, 15 June.  Sure enough, for the first time since March, I’ve seen rain at my place yesterday evening and today.  I have to chuckle at myself as I head out to see if the clouds are building up enough to give us some rain at the house.  Even the pups are looking skyward, although truth be told, the biggest of them refuses to get wet.  If it’s raining and it’s time for him to go outside, he pokes his nose out, feels the first drop and heads back inside.  Hard to explain to him that just answering the call of nature in the express lane is a whole lot faster and drier than trying to find ways to avoid getting wet.  And this got me thinking –

It is unfortunate that problems happen.  Like the rain, we know that many of them are going to occur simply because we have yet to hit upon the long-term solutions for stopping them. My one pup spends more time trying to avoid getting wet than simply going and doing his business and like him, we also try to avoid addressing the issues. As leaders, it’s important for us to know and believe that whatever the problem, each of us has a contribution to make in finding the long-term solution and, in the case of abuse (especially of children), each of us has to follow our heart and our passion in resolving that issue.  What’s also important is that we all focus on the same goal – developing and implementing a solution that, once and for all, addresses the issue effectively.  Like the raindrops, individually and collectively, we can make a difference.

Imagine

Scanning through the Internet yesterday, I came across a difficult piece of news. Charles Krauthammer has written a letter announcing that he is losing his battle with cancer and reportedly has just weeks to live. I was struck by the grace and dignity present in his words, especially the following: “…I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life…I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life I intended.”
Imagine being able to say such a thing about our own lives, that we all lived our lives the way we intended them to be lived.
Even better – imagine that each of us, in our own way, did all we could to insure that victims of crime, especially the children, were given a voice so that their stories could be told and proper actions taken to punish those who inflicted the harm. Imagine doing everything we can to insure that the future of our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations would be one where no individual, no child, no elderly person, would be physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed by another. Child abuse, sexual assault, or elder abuse offenses would become a distant memory, part of a dark and difficult history. Such behaviors would no longer inflict harm because we’ve educated ourselves and our future generations to keep such crimes from ever happening again. Just imagine.

Problem Solving – The “Whack A Mole”© Method

Ever watch young kids try the arcade game where they hammer the moles into oblivion? As the game progresses, they hammer the moles harder and harder. The older kids quickly realize that no matter how hard they hit the moles, another one is going to pop up. They generally walk away, refusing to play anymore. Ahem, leaders and supervisors – a lesson to take to heart?

Simply addressing the symptoms of an issue within your organization is not going to result in any meaningful solution to your problems. And if you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome, you’ve just succeeded in demonstrating Einstein’s definition of insanity.

A key component to problem solving is the correct and accurate identification of the cause of the problem. But I think that’s the issue. Identification of the underlying issue seems so simple at first. When the identification doesn’t come easily, the tendency is to revert to looking at the symptoms because they’re more obvious and easier to address. Address the symptom, hammer another mole and problem solved. NO! Symptom addressed.

Here’s a practical suggestion: Put the hammer down. Sit down, take a deep breath, and get a plan together. Put together a quality work team to begin the problem solving stage. Talk with AND LISTEN to the people involved in the problem situation and those who have experience handling such issues. After collecting information, work together to develop quality responses. Communicate with the people involved in the situation, as well as the entire organization. Decide on your best solution and implement it. Use the evaluation phase to assess how well the solution is working. If it’s working, great! If not, make the necessary changes to either fix the implemented solution or toss it out and implement one of the other solutions developed previously. It’s hard work but worth the effort. And if you want to pick up the hammer and whack something, take your kids to the arcade and see how many moles you can whack.

Let’s Ignore the Cabal in Criminal Justice

I have watched with increasing concern, the behavior of some folks who have sworn to uphold the laws and the Constitution. Seems we have a cabal of individuals who believe that certain people are to be treated more fairly than others. A privileged class of individuals has grown who flagrantly violate the law – the same law that others without political power or money are prosecuted under and are often sentenced to prison when convicted.

Why am I worried about what some would call “old news?” A couple of reasons. First, I’m very proud of our Criminal Justice System (“CJS”) in this country. It’s not perfect but I know that we have dedicated folks who are passionate about insuring that changes are made so that we can achieve the fair and impartial administration of justice. These individuals should not have their efforts tarred with the self-serving conduct of others who support a privileged class of select citizens.

More importantly, with the cabal in place dominating the headlines, time, and effort, those of us looking for meaningful changes in the way in which victims are protected and served throughout the entire CJS will be stymied.

Getting laws passed is the least of our concerns – fair and impartial enforcement is the most important concern. Prosecutors who pick and choose who to prosecute based upon status and perceived political power; judges who consider the future of the offender over the rights of victims; or, universities and colleges which decline to press for criminal prosecution for a campus rape, continue to threaten our efforts to implement change. Members of the CJS who work daily to insure the fair and impartial administration of justice are the folks which should be grabbing the headlines. Indeed, their efforts and passion about protecting the rights of victims should be fully acknowledged and recognized. Shine the spotlight on these dedicated folks, and let’s ignore the cabal.

The Value of Military Experience

I may be dating myself but I was taught from a young age that service to one’s country is a high calling. I was fortunate to be able to answer that calling and I received both an excellent education and training as a military officer. The oath that I took was a sacred bond – a contract, if you will – between my country and me. There’s something about taking such an oath, and the awesome responsibilities that come with it. I can see the same qualities in many of the young people serving as officers and enlisted within our military today as I saw in the officers and enlisted who came after me years ago. There is a dedication and sense of purpose in taking such an oath and it carries over into whatever they do. What is even more remarkable is that our service members are all volunteers. Their dedication and professionalism are qualities highly valued both in the military and in today’s workplace. Whenever I can, I encourage employers to look to the veterans and retirees of our military if they want staff members who are excellent problem solvers and able to get the task done right the first time.
Why am I writing on this topic today? Because tomorrow, 11 November 2017 is Veterans Day, a day when veterans are honored for their service. It is a day when I hope that people will pause for a moment and remember those who made that contract with our country and have served this nation with distinction and with honor. Our veterans deserve the very best our nation can give them in recognition of their service and their sacrifice. No one completes their military service without some sacrifice. Please take a moment tomorrow, and be thankful that our veterans were so willing to step up and do what our nation needed to have done.