Do not pass Go, go directly to jail


I repent daily, even without a street messenger to remind me.

The title of this post is from one of the drawing cards in a silly and culturally destructive game called Monopoly. I spent hours playing it as a child. In part, that explains some of the less interesting aspects of my personal weirdness. I have weirdness I am proud of, but it does not involve prisoners or judges. I learned that from out-of-touch adults.

Consider, if you will, this recent news item.

The report, published Wednesday by the National Research Council, describes the rise of incarceration in America as “historically unprecedented and internationally unique.” It found that from 1973 to 2009, the prison population grew from about 200,000 to approximately 2.2 million. With this spike, the U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population.

I personally wonder how judges can set the duration of prison sentences in advance devoid of knowledge about the rehabilitation progress of the offender. Well, I guess that is why they call them judges. They have the black robes, and a gavel. Maybe I need a gavel.

In our culture we like to judge, and we are wary of listening. Those might be the defining characteristics of our nation at the present time. At least that is my view of things.

Any thoughts you would care to share?



Not much more to say



My friend Dan Plumer threw me a challenge, and I am grateful for that. He sent me an email about my rather boastful post that appears below, and he said this:

A suggestion:  Write a blog that takes an antithetical view to ALL your positions. You of course realize that your positions are just your interpretations.   So take the time to generate a totally different perspective, and do it without sarcasm.  I believe it would be an eye opening exercise for you and perhaps others. It will also be hard.

I accept his challenge, and I say, Dan, you’re the man!

The original post begins here:

The post brings the total to 464.

By now you know my favorite topics: The nourishing qualities of art. How organizations fail us. The best ways to promote originality. The necessity for courage. The general shallowness of men. The courage and expressiveness of women. The cultural shifts over the last sixty years, and what they mean to us. The lack of innovation in modern times. The dearth of new good music. Courage. Sexy ladies. Our responsibility to nourish and preserve the joyousness children are born with. The virtues of disobedience. Rosie the Riveter. The effectiveness of dialog. Pointing to and praising people who inspire and guide us. Avarice in the business world. The pleasure of viewing good photographs. Distinctiveness. Things that are no longer helpful. Me, and my friends.

With the exception of me, my friends, good photographs, and sexy ladies, I don’t think I have any more to say about these subjects. I like to write blog posts, so I need a topic of interest to me, and hopefully to you. Maybe I should just concentrate on my four favorites.

I will be thinking about this, and I am open to suggestions.

When men were men

By Melissa Hardiman

By Melissa Hardiman

One of the wisest people I know left a wonderful trail for us to follow. I’m referring to Roger Ebert, the film critic.

He wrote many informative, insightful reviews that do much more than guide us to the best films. His reviews also guide us to a better understanding of our values.

One of the best, in my opinion, is his review of the extraordinary film, Open Range, starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. Mr. Ebert highlights the decline in values and how that decline is presented in films. He illuminates the ways the lead characters navigate through life and how they deal with the contradictions that exist within them.

Costner’s character is rough and crude, yet he admires and reveres Duvall’s character.

One of the many ways in which the Western has become old-fashioned is that the characters have values, and act on them. Modern action movies have replaced values with team loyalty; the characters do what they do because they want to win and they want the other side to lose.—Roger Ebert

The statement that “they want the other side to lose” helps us define our times. Duvall’s character, we are told, “does not believe in unnecessary violence, and is willing to put his own life to risk rather than kill someone just to be on the safe side.” That insight informs us about the state of the world.

His review of American Graffiti is another that is informative at a profound level. This passage comes from that review:

On the surface, Lucas has made a film that seems almost artless; his teenagers cruise Main Street and stop at Mel’s Drive-In and listen to Wolfman Jack on the radio and neck and lay rubber and almost convince themselves their moment will last forever. But the film’s buried structure shows an innocence in the process of being lost, and as its symbol Lucas provides the elusive blonde in the white Thunderbird — the vision of beauty always glimpsed at the next intersection, the end of the next street.

Note the phrase “innocence in the process of being lost.” We no longer notice such things as the loss of innocence. We now abandon innocence without comment, and probably without awareness that we are doing it. A walk down the cereal aisle at any supermarket is a dazzling statement of lost innocence. Cereal makers are predators, and children are their target.

Reading Mr. Ebert’s reviews is one of the best ways to study history, art, acting, and culture. When you find a personal favorite please share it. You can access them on the Internet Movie Database,

How to pull a rabbit from your hat

I offer you this exchange from Rocky and His Friends, a charming television show from years ago:

Bullwinkle: Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
Rocky: Again?
Bullwinkle: Presto!
Lion: ROAR!!!
Bullwinkle: Oops, wrong hat.

What business needs today is someone who can find the right hat. They need it badly, and they need it yesterday.

The reason executives cannot find the right hat has been explained many, many times. This version from Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap is one of the very best. It is from their book Deep Smarts.

Deep smarts cannot be built in a culture that allows no questioning, because in such an organization, only top managers are assumed to have relevant experience; only their beliefs are assumed to be “true.”—Leonard and Swap

Maysa and me.

Maysa and me.

Executives cannot find the right hat because they always return to the same one, just as Bullwinkle did. They return to the hat of rules, of executive superiority, of habit, and of elite business school traditions.

The authors point out that people often choose their field of endeavor based on who shares their beliefs and values. They find reinforcement there rather than challenge or novelty.

I attended a party on Sunday and was introduced to a chef who works for a famous hotel chain. I asked him how they treat their people. His answer was the usual yadda, yadda. Work them hard, enforce the rules, and keep everyone in his place. Demand perfection, and provide little encouragement or guidance. They clearly have not found the right hat.

This post is to remind you of two things.

One. You probably work for someone who cannot find the right hat. The answer to the problem can be found in Deep Smarts, How To Cultivate And Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom.

The answer is provided in Managing the Unexpected, Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity. The authors are Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

A third source is the venerable 1964 classic Managing for Results by Peter F. Drucker. It is a good read if for no other reason than to show us how good advice can be ignored for 50 years by people who have been to college.

The pertinent question is not how to do things right but how to find the right things to do, and concentrate resources and efforts on them.—Peter Drucker

Two. Maysa and I “get” the answer for finding the right hat. We can bring it to your organization. Please tell your friends. Call us: 520-408-7507.

You matter, and what to do about it

Enakai Makino

Enakai Makino

We are born with a joy of being. Children show us what that looks like.

The joy does not always last. A lot of people work hard to discourage us as we grow up, and it intensifies when we get a job.

We receive little or no instruction on celebrating our own significance. We may forget that we matter, and if we remember we might not know what to do about it.

I use the word matter to mean that we have a place in the natural order of things. We have virtues that we do not recognize because they are obscured by fear, or guilt or a combination of the two. Our role emerges over time as we continue our practice of exploring the true nature of things.

The first thing to do to honor our significance is to take a careful inventory of who we think we are. Chögyam Trungpa tells us not to judge what we see, but simply to notice it. Many people blame themselves for who they think they are. Blame does not lead to freedom, we are told.

The next thing to do is give up the quest for security and safety. This effort is merely a distraction. Life happens. Our lack of control does not indicate that we do not matter.

Then we go on to practicing love and affection. The Sanskrit word for this is maitri. Trungpa’s book title is Smile at Fear. I think what he is telling us in the book is to smile at everything, including our notion of self.

Smiling at everything, we are told, invites the universe to dance with us. Good fortune emerges out of thin air. Smiling also creates a shift in us that awakens our enjoyment of dancing.

I have published about 30 books for myself and as gifts to friends. My friends matter to me.

I have published about 30 books for myself and as gifts to friends. My friends matter to me.

I am not in this wondrous state of being. I still think of mundane things to do. I practice simple things such as photographing people. I maintain this blog. These acts are expressions of myself consistent with how I see myself at this stage of understanding. I recommend being real as you understand the term.

I recommend shrugging off the morality of the crowd. I read a quote today that said the body is not a temple, it is an amusement park.

I like to keep track of what I have done, and celebrate it. I publish books to satisfy that intention. I encourage people to express themselves, and to take notes in some form. Notes demonstrate respect for our experience.

Finally, don’t indulge those people who don’t recognize that you matter. Hang out with people who appreciate you. You deserve it.



The moon in my heart

BuddhaChögyam Trungpa wrote Smile at Fear. It is one of my primary study guides now. He uses some unusual imagery to make his points. One of them is the metaphor of the moon entering our heart.

He tells us we might not like the experience. One reason might be that it awakens us to what it means to be real. He wrote, “For the first time, you have discovered yourself as a real person, as opposed to being a fake.”

The moon does not take away our sadness. He wrote, “Such sadness is longing for higher wisdom. There is more to come.” It will be followed by the sun entering our head.

He emphasizes throughout the book that our problems are not here to destroy us. They are here, he says, to guide us to being real. That is difficult to accept most of the time, at least for me.

Lately the world has seemed, may I say, a bit surreal to me. I wonder if I am experiencing the approaching moon. He says it comes through your bedroom window, and then enters your heart. It can make your head spin, and provoke all kinds of resistance.

I commented in a previous post that when I watched the video of the B. B. King performance at the White House that I was overwhelmed by the ease and energy obvious in the performers. They hand off the lead to one another flawlessly and with no apparent effort. It planted in me a vision of taking that wondrous ability out to the world at large. What if all of us played with such gracefulness and joy?

I also received a vision of containing that same spirit myself. What if I judged myself as competent as I judge B. B. King and Jeff Beck to be?

That is basically what the teacher says lies ahead for each of us. Incredible, if you ask me. And the journey toward doing that makes me feel crazy much of the time.

If you have a story to share, please do so.