Saturday, February 18, 2012

From My Neck of the Woods TO Your Neck of the Woods.

Often the The Ronin Post articles are long. But for this month, we’ll keep things short.

First. Spotlighting two Allied Ronin Associates - Madeline Wade and Susan Hammond Madeline, a Master Somatic Coach, has years of training and work with Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D. Susan is a Feldenkrais Method® practitioner with extensive experience. She too sports a Strozzi-Heckler connection. She holds third degree black belt in aikido and we train together at Richard’s dojo. Madeline and Susan have added greatly to the past success of the Allied Ronin Leaders’ Retreat. Susan is also instrumental in the delivery of The Art of Practice & the Organizational Dojo™ (AOPOD). In January we traveled to Wenzhou, China, and delivered the program there. On March 14th we will conduct our third annual offering of AOPOD to Environmental Chemical Corporation’s leadership conference hosted for their executives, managers and engineers coming in from around the world.

I strongly encourage you to sign up to receive Madeliine’s and Susan’s monthly newsletters. How? Visit their websites and sign up. Through both newsletters you will find practical techniques and insights on how to keep yourself on track. Both will help you move through life (including physically) with less stress and less pain. You can’t lose with Madeline and Susan. Your body, your mind and your spirit will thank you. Plus, if you are in search of a good life coach, someone who will be spot on and connect beyond a cookie-cutter approach that (sadly) the coaching industry is fast becoming known for – then contact Madeline and see if she has space available on her schedule for you.

Second. The Allied Ronin Leaders’ Retreat. YES, there will definitely be more in the future - most likely shifting to a Spring & Fall schedule rather than winter & summer.

The Leaders’ Retreat has been off my menu since last year because the lodge at Four Springs Retreat Center (our desired venue) burned to the ground in May. Four Springs and its director, Tim Locke, have gone a long way to support the Leaders’ Retreat to make it something special and unique over the years. I want to retain the venue whenever possible.

Dr. Derick Tagawa, a past and frequent Leaders’ Retreat attendee, once described the Retreat as follows: “The Japanese have a word which summarizes all the best in life, yet has no explanation and cannot be translated. It is the word shibui. A person is said to be shibui when he or she contributes to the overall success of others without doing anything to make him/herself stand out individually. The Allied Ronin Leaders’ Retreat is VERY shibui!”

Third. I just returned from spending five days in the forest lands of the Pacific Northwest. There I had the opportunity to connect with some great folks. At the end of the trip I went fishing. Alas, the only bite to be had on the Skoocumchuck River was the one I took from my sandwich. That’s why it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”!

Two Cranes Institute was first on my list of visits. I had a wonderful meeting with the institute’s founder, Kimberly Richardson. Kimberly is keen for

the Samurai Game® to be offered in support their outreach to businesses, universities, and individuals in the greater Seattle region. It looks like this may materialize in September. Nothing yet guaranteed – but Stay Tuned!

BJ’s Enterprises was the second visit. BJ’s is the company that put legs under Allied Ronin back in 1995. They have repeatedly used our programs for their entire employee base. I’m forever grateful to Bertha Jane (BJ) Turnipseed and her family. Because of her and her staff, hundreds of people focus on and daily practice great customer service. Thousands of people receive that service, and they acknowledge that. Eighteen months ago BJ spoke on behalf of Allied Ronin. Her voice and the voice of her relative, Toni McConnell, were listened to by the Puyallup Tribal Council. As a result, Susan Hammond and I began delivery last year for the Tribe with two rounds of The Art of Practice and the Organizational Dojo™. Now, an aggressive proposal is on the table to continue for the future. Like anything in business, there is no guarantee that they will move forward. But, it is something worth sharing.

My third visit was to be an all-business-aside-ninety-minute-lunch with a good friend, John Pace. We’ve known each other about thirty years. We flown airplanes together, taken hikes together, talked deep issues together, and shared some of life’s joy and pain together.

You can read about John’s love for and dedication to his wife, Rashmi, in the Ronin Post’s article “Perseverance Part II” The April 2011 Ronin Post article “Paragraphs: Life Lessons in Bite Size Pieces” spoke to John’s diligent efforts in correcting problems facing Boeing’s 787 aircraft, and the ramifications regarding managers who would put a financial bottom line ahead of safety and the well being of the public they are charged to serve.

On January 26th in the middle of lunch, we found ourselves talking about leadership, public service and corporate governance, and of what we as a nation find ourselves listening to on the radio and watching on TV. We both agreed that our “news” in the US is lacking when compared to what we both have found when venturing across borders - whether that be to Canada, Mexico, India, China, Europe or elsewhere.

At one point John said, “You know, I believe that many, if not most, of our companies, organizations and institutions really don’t screen for leaders any more.”

“What do you mean?”, I asked. “Well,” he answered, “I think they are looking for are people who can best bully and push others around in order to increase a short-term bottom line or to just get some pre-determined way that’s already been interpreted as being ‘right’. I think the American mindset has mistakenly begun interpreting bullying as leadership. Yes, it’s important to have a strong voice. But bullying and leadership are two very different and distinct things. We’re walking on some dangerous ground here.”

John’s a thoughtful guy. He takes care in assessing problems and situations. He’s dealt with some intense issues, including - keeping his bride alive in the face of opposition from doctors who told him there was no hope, and doggedly persisting to correct issues facing the 787; refusing to allow management teams in their drive to push ideas that could have had disastrous consequences.

He continued, “If this continues, we’re in for some rude awakenings here in the U.S. Even politically. We’re not engaging in, or practicing, or expecting meaningful dialogue. We are missing the respectful exchange of ideas for the purpose of finding common ground for a better future. Very few conversations actually exist to solve problems. What’s become commonplace? Loud voices that just need be right in order to win. People dig in just to keep their opinions alive and profitable. Nothing gets accomplished. Nothing gets created. Nothing moves forward. It’s short-term thinking. There was a day when we in the US led the world with creativity. Now it seems we’ve become greatly invested in being polarized and being right.”


I suppose I could have written about something else this month. Like maybe, why I didn’t catch a fish. But given our current national discourse (and posturing), I’d rather us stew for a while on what John Pace had to say over lunch on January 26th.

A gnawing (and disturbing) thought of mine for quite some time has been that we in the US have developed such a fascination with entertainment that we’ve developed some weird interpretation for what “reality” is. Entertainment and politics and business have all become enmeshed. We don’t get “the news” any more. We get “the repeats” with a slightly new spin. We live by and inside of sound bites. We don’t investigate or research what we find on the internet, or what we read in some passed-along email, or what we hear on the radio, or what we see on the TV. We are so used to being hearing some talking head (regardless of industry) say, “what you really need is” that we begin to think we really do need it! We are used to hearing questions asked by reporters that are never answered. And then the reporter just lets that slip on by. Why? We don’t have time for the answer because we’ve got to get to the commercial. And what happens when someone lies and actually gets caught on record? He or she justifies the lie, and gets away with skillful re-language, saying, “I misspoke.”

As a child I used to read Al Capp’s comic strip called Li’l Abner. Therein was a character named General Bullmoose. His motto was: “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA.” Of course, General Bullmoose was a fictional character. Just ink and color in the Sunday morning cartoon section. Turn the page.

Like it or not, John Pace’s voice struck chord at lunch on January 26th.

What he said has merit.

It is something worth thinking about. Isn’t it?

My question is – what to do about it?

No comments: