Three books on fear

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

I estimate that fear is the dominant problem in the world. Some wise people confirm that.

The three I have in mind are Pema Chödrön, Chögyam Trungpa, and Krishnamurti. The books are, in sequence, The Places That Scare You, A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times; Smile at Fear, Awakening the True Heart of Bravery; On Fear.

I will mention that Pema wrote the forward to Smile at Fear.

Dealing with fear, these teachers tell us, involves several challenges. My personal favorite is to smile at fear. Invite it to join us for dinner. Raise a glass to its consistent dedication to duty. Offer it a warm place to sleep.

Frightened people tend to generate fear in other people. This is intended, I suppose, as a defensive move. I’ll intimidate you before you do it to me. It explains the state of the world.

One of the great lessons these teachers impart to us is that we are not real. The self we try so desperately to protect does not exist. It is basically an idea, and we contribute to the definition of that idea.

The teachers invite us to choose a different idea to describe ourselves. The better idea is to be a warrior. Trungpa offers us this:

There is another way we could describe the education of the warrior, which is by looking at the development of ego and how the warrior works with fear and other problems that arise from a mistaken belief in the self as a solid entity.

The notion of working with fear is my personal highest priority. I want to redefine my notion of it, and I want to avoid causing you any of it.

Trungpa emphasizes that our problems are not really trying to destroy us. He explains, “The important thing is to be friendly toward our problems by developing what is called maitri in Sanskrit, or loving-kindness in English translation.”

He tells us not to turn this world into a battlefield. Doing that, he says, solidifies our view of the problems that seem to afflict us.

I welcome your comments on dealing with fear.

On understanding our crisis

img005Men want to be in charge, but they do not want to expose themselves to risk.

We are taught in school, and on the job, and by the rules of society to disable our curiosity and sense of wonder. The same discipline is available in church as I remember, but I have not been in one for a long time. Things might have improved.

We are taught by every source of authority to “tone it down.” And we obey.

We pay an enormous price for that alleged safety.

I like to browse Tumblr for photos of women displaying their charms. I marvel at their sense of freedom and their joy. Men limit such displays of gusto to flattering professional athletes at public events by shouting and waving.

The United States was formed in an act of rebellion. The British were the masters of obedience and conformity. We have forgotten, I believe, the lesson in that, our learning experience.

There are areas of culture and life where I would enjoy more innovation and curiosity. I offer this short list:

  • Opening our imagination to expanded definitions of decency and morality. Why are boobs considered evil?
  • Why does skin color matter to so many people, and what can we do to influence their thinking?
  • Why do we eat meat? And beyond that, why do we obsess on doing that?
  • Why do we give so much authority to employers? They are ordinary mortals like us.
  • What moves us to consider being a servant a demotion?

I welcome your comments.


Thanks, Opie


Andy Griffith and Ron Howard.

Ron Howard loves life, and by extension, his creativity. Or maybe it is the other way around. I don’t know.

I loved him as Andy Taylor’s young son, Opie, along with Aunt Bee, in The Andy Griffith Show. He is seven years younger than I am, and very successful.

This video is inspiring. It’s about caring, kindness, and self-expression. It contains a quote that advises forgetting about happiness and pursuing what we love. That probably is happiness.

Mayberry RFD was the sequel to TAGS.

Mayberry R.F.D. was number four in the Nielsen ratings the first two years of its run. While its ratings were strong enough for renewal at the end of its third season (#15), it was canceled despite public complaints. That year CBS, seeking a more urban image, canceled all its rural-themed shows including Green Acres, Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies in what became known as the “rural purge“.—Wikipedia

Men are devoted to purges. It makes them proud of their vigor and authority. They purged “rural themes” in 1971, and we are still looking for things to reject.

Creating a better future starts with a conversation. —Bryce Dallas, daughter of Ron Howard

It’s well worth 10 minutes of your time.

An executive’s guide to pornography

My second favorite teaching site online is YouTube. The first is TED Talks.

img005YouTube ventures wide and far in terms of subject matter. I have a master’s degree, and I have been treated as if I were a practitioner of pornography, and on more than one occasion.

I have been viewing YouTube videos of porn stars. It is extremely informative, and to me inspiring.

I learned, for example, that people outside the business are categorized as civilians. Porn stars do not, generally speaking, become jealous if their spouse performs for pay in sex scenes with other people. It’s viewed, so the interviews say, as just a day at work.

The YouTube site contains videos that feature topics such as:

  • What would you do if you were not in porn?
  • What drew you to this line of work?
  • Do you enjoy your work?

I have never been asked those questions by an executive at any of the name-brand companies where I have worked. We can learn some valuable lessons from pornographers.

I suspect that many executives view their employees as being pornographic. I was, even though I have a college degree, spoke in proper English, and always wore shoes. And a tie, when appropriate.

I want to emphasize that executives would do a great service to their organizations by asking more questions, exercising more curiosity, and setting aside hardened definitions of what people do and their value to the organization.

A lot is at stake. Our economy is in trouble, and I attribute it to rigid and brittle attitudes. As Robert Greenleaf reminded us, the role of bosses is to serve.

Your thoughts, my silent readers?

Good ideas

An embarrassment of riches.

An embarrassment of riches.

I earned a graduate degree in leadership at Chapman University only to discover that managers do not aspire to leadership capability. Just look at our government for evidence. People who are in charge simply want to continue being in charge.

The best sources of leadership guidance, in my opinion, are some of the authors of books and some of the speakers in TED Talks. Simon Sinek operates in both categories.

If you are as ancient as I am you might remember Peter Drucker. He introduced the idea of treating employees with some credit for their intelligence and good intentions. It was a novel idea in 1964. It still is.

Click the links to view some wonderful TED Talks.

How to Run a Company With (Almost) No Rules. This is a potent talk by Ricardo Semler, an amazing fellow from Brazil.

Richard Branson offered us lessons in this many years ago. So did Jan Carlzon and Tom Peters. Mr. Peters wrote the forward to Carlzon’s Moments of Truth, New Strategies for Today’s Customer-Driven Economy.

How to Help Refugees Rebuild Their World. Melissa Fleming. Remarkable.

Refugees are as close to us as the median strip on our high-traffic roadways. They are the social issue of our century. This talk puts the challenges in perspective.

Do Schools Kill Creativity? Ken Robinson tells it like it is. Of course they do, and what we learn at school we apply on the job. This is one of my favorite TED Talks by far.

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe. Leaders do not allow themselves to feel threatened, or if they do, they shrug it off. The result is they recognize anxieties among the people in their circle, and they work to relieve them.

When I was in school we did not have TED Talks. That series is perhaps the greatest innovation in learning in my lifetime.

My readers say little on these pages, but let me know if any of these TED Talks move you.

Ciao, baby.

On the state of pornography


I would be pleased if more people would speak up. We need that. Silence is not golden, in the context of saving the world.

I started watching pornography when it required going to a movie house and sitting in plain view of others. We sat as far from other people as we could.

Now it is is available on the Internet. And for free.

What has the porn industry innovated during this period of 40 years? They now consider incest an appropriate theme. They present step moms having sex with their sons. Brandi Love tells her stepson, “Your father doesn’t need to know about this.”

Pornography offers us a potent classroom for examining the state of our values, assuming that we have some.

There are other industries equally void of creativity and innovation. I think the value of examining and discussing pornography is that we can avoid the politics of talking about, well, politics. Nobody is going to defend porn on the grounds of some alleged virtue. It has no virtues that I know of, so we can use it as a case study without stirring up conflicts. At least, I hope so. I see the Republican party as an expression of pornography, but that’s just me. Companies that profit from fossil fuels seem pornographic to me. Just an opinion. Universities that create decades of debt for their graduates seem to me to be pornographers. Just saying.

The defining character of pornography, in my opinion, is that it allows us to express lust without any sense of responsibility for it. Our culture, generally speaking, mistrusts responsibility and welcomes lust. We would do well, in my opinion, to talk about that.

Your thoughts?

On prostitution and pornography


Casting this mannequin as a hooker is an injustice on my part. I admit my guilt.

I’m in favor of dignifying both prostitution and pornography. This TED Talk by Toni Mac sets a groundwork for the prostitution piece of the equation. Porn is, in my view, a variation on prostitution. People have sex just for the money and suffer the indignities that go with the experience.

Toni’s TED Talk is, I believe, very relevant to our values and the way we make laws. I admire her.

Pornography is in the state it is in because men hope to profit from it financially regardless of its lack of taste, finesse, or educational value. I want to emphasize their lack of taste as well.

Pornography could serve us in several ways. One of them is to be instructional. Another would be to show us the range of possibilities in the realm of sexual interests and appetites. Another might be to relieve tensions among the lonely, if you get my drift.

Attaching stigmas to prostitution discourages people from expressing compassion and creativity through those channels. It tells us the subject is off limits. We all lose value when that happens.

I own a book titled She Comes First, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. All the guys I’ve seen in pornographic videos would do well to read the book. That’s my point. I have rarely seen a guy in porn who showed any evidence of thinking or caring about anyone but himself.

My partner is the original John Wayne – to the core. And for him to read a “how to” book on anything just isn’t going to happen. Well, he doesn’t have a lot of experience in the art of pleasing a woman…you know, cowboys just get on and ride! Well, somehow, he heard about this book and has it ever made a difference. A difference in everything – our level of intimacy, our happiness, everything we do…we are now closer than ever before…and we’re both in our 60’s!—A review on Amazon

Dignifying porn would be an event I would deem a miracle. I like to think big.