Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beginning With the End in Mind?

“From early childhood I had always dreamed of becoming an
explorer. Somehow I had acquired the impression that an
explorer was someone who lived in the jungle with natives
and lots of wild animals, and I couldn’t imagine anything better
than that! Unlike most little boys, most of whom changed
their minds about what they want to be several times as they
grew older, I never wavered from this ambition.”
-John Goddard

Years ago, I remember when a friend of mine talked to me about my personal vision. From the time he spoke to me until much time later, I never knew the idea he shared was from Stephan Covey. He said one idea that was very popular was to "start with the end in mind." I have reworked my own self image, my own personal dream, my own wavering self confidence, and still, I see how this principle has propelled me forward.

Back when I was in multi level marketing, one thing I remembered was that the head of the company talked about mountains. He talked about how the different people react to the climb. He spoke about how many people speak incessantly about the rocks, and about the problems on the path, while the rare group keep their eye on the goal.

Little is spoken about the problems of the second group. They have their eyes on the goal, and it is sure that they make many mistakes, and encounter many problems. They do not dwell on them. The message of this principle was driven home when I read the account of John Goddard. This man had at ba very early age, listed 127 goals.

We all have goals, but Goddard listed his goals to include livng with tribal people in Borneo to climbing the world's highest peaks, and exploring the world's greatest rivers. I m ay not be Goddard, but I do have an appreciation for the end assessment of his goal listing. Most of the sources I checked say he is still alive, and I read he has accomplished 111 of the original goals listed back in 1940.

What is the message in the game Rock, Paper, Scissors? Is it not a constant reminder that no matter how much we have mastered there is always someone who knows more? Is it not true, that no matter how weak we feel there is always someone weaker? My friends have told me for years never compare my insides with other people's outsides.

When I get frustrated, I remember that we are all somewhere in a continuum. I am still getting older, still learning, and still enjoying life. Some people are greatly influenced by the psychological community, want to encourage me, and praise me anytime I do something well.Sigh. I try to encourage myself. I try to find my strength from within. I do not need people clapping their hands for me every time I do something right. I am not listening for some south american sports announcer to yell out "Gooooaalll!" just so I can find the adrenaline to keep going.

Right now, I still want to run a marathon. I believe a doctor who supports the idea I may get better is the best doctor to have. I am pleased with the exercises my therapist gives me as I focus on mastery of my nervous system.

I remember my friends who said "Keith, slow and steady wins the race."
I think of my physical therapist who reminds me that mastery of an exercise is about a steady mind, and attention to details.

But, even as I move slowly, I remain focused on my ultimate goal.
Thank you for reading.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Time at Lincoln High School...

Once upon a time, computers were a new paradigm in schools, in libraries, out in the world we knew. I recently bought a phone/address book from radio shack for fifteen dollars that boasted an enormous amount of memory compared to the Apple II+ to which I was introduced in 1981. It would be two years before my mother would buy me the Commodore Vic-20. My friend, Howard would get a Commodore 64, and groups with 1200/2400 BAUD modems would be assembling bulletin board services.

Times were fun for people now able to establish relationships with BBS's, and the pre Internet world of online chat was born. But, with this infantile world of information being digitized and sent over phone lines, one man found a computerized machine, and he found an important application for it. With a trunk line installed in his home, and a box attached to his phone with a companion box attached to another phone line in the office of his client.

He says his first client was Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose, California. They purchased from him a specialized computer that nightly would compile a list of students names and phone numbers. The computer then would call the homes of students, one by one, informing the person answering the phone that their student had missed one or more classes that day, and that the absence needed to be cleared.

He seems like such a nice guy. He spoke to me about all the ADA money that a school loses for every unexcused absence. This business of absences leads us back to the ultimate issue which is money. Every student absence lost the school fifteen dollars in government funding. Considering how many students stay home sick every month, that can add up to a large amount of money, even today.

Still, I am thinking about production loss. I am thinking about how many productive hours are lost across the board by these students that could have been studying, practicing sports, working on a play script, or enjoying quality time with family. Instead, many of these students were put in the position of hovering near the telephone, waiting to intercept that unnecessary phone call.

Anyway, the discussion also involved the technology, this little black box in the attendance office was programmed daily with all the numbers to call. By modem, this information found its way to this man's house, and all the calls were made. It is silly to recall there were times that even mild-mannered, conformist me had opportunity to anticipate such a phone call. I even remember when my mother chose to ignore my lame excuse about the fallibility of computers when she did catch the phone before me.

I am grateful to have not cut class too much in my high school years. I just wonder how many times I could say "it is probably a computer glitch" and not sit in despair over my parents' disapproval. Since I mentioned this, I have heard from many fellow students who relayed their own memories of those calls. I have to ask myself how much anxiety could have been avoided if students just did not cut class.

Well, that is a ridiculous thought!
Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Night, 2009

I am not a party pooper. I think Halloween can be a fun, exciting holiday. It would be fun to attend a costume party, and I can see the fun of passing out candy from a porchstep. I just do not get excvited enough to do anything about it. I remember being a kid, and having the job to pass out candy at the door. One years my sister and I set up the front porch so it looked like my head was sitting on a platter, and I remained there a couple hours while the children roamed door to door calling out "Trick or Treat".

Every year I remember I have an entire year to come up with a costume for the following year. Somewhere in my mind, I know it could be fun. Then The week of October 31 arrives, and I never get around to creating a costume.... Now I live in an enclosed complex with locked front doors.... No kids to Trick or Treat herer. Oh well.

Halloween really is a holiday for the kids. I am not a parent, and I am definitely not a kid. Still, aside of passing out candy at my parent's house, I have not been involved in Halloween since the 1980's. On Facebook, I see pages of my friends from high school dressed up in costumes; most of them are parents, however.

The goal would be to come up with a vision, a dream so fresh that people would stand in awe at my preplanned spontaneity. Well, that is my vision for next year. Meanwhile, I sit at home, grateful I do not have a bag of candy that I should avoid.

So, what joy do I get out of Halloween this year? I showed up a week ago Thursday to Sacred Heart Community Service. They told me that instead of putting clothes on hangers, they wanted me to man the Halloween room. I was disturbed. My routine was being violated this day. I went to the room, and was told I would be the door man.

Clients would walk in the room, and hand me a voucher. The voucher would claim the number of adults and children for which they wanted costumes. People combed the room. I watched the way parents filed in and examined everything, piece by piece, finding costumes for their children. We had bags for kids to collect candy, hair gels, hair spray colors, costumes, fake teeth, fake blood, make ups, wigs, tiaras, swords, and eye patches.

The thing I appreciate, only after watching it, is the details, the cares of the parents. People came to me asking if they could get one extra item to complete a costume.

The room stayed open no more than two hours. By then we had serviced many parents. I had handled a large number of vouchers, and the room had been reworked by other volunteers a few times. There was just no more costumes left. I suppose we did alright. I crawled back int my corner, and went back to examining clothes donations. This was a good day.

Thank you for reading.