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Get With the Program

Are you old enough to remember Ozzy and Harriet? If so, you will recall that only the children argued and then only in the most considerate and polite way. Everyone was thoughtful and, well, nice.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just think about how well you think other families get along with each other when they get together for a summer barbecue or a winter holiday. If you think they get along great or at least better than your family does, you have bought into what we might call the Ozzy and Harriet syndrome.

If that doesn’t work for you, take your imagination along with you to work. Picture a workplace where everyone is positive and in an up mood all the time. You and your coworkers are always thoughtful, considerate and, well, nice. It’s always a pleasure to go to work and a joy to spend time with your coworkers.

If you are still struggling to get up to speed with all of this, focus on your relationship with your parents, your significant other, your children, your friends or maybe even your neighbors. It’s an Ozzy and Harriet world. Everyone gets along just fine with everyone else and that is especially true for you. You are always easy to get along with and are a joy to be around. Ozzy and Harriet could have picked up some being nice pointers from you.

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A Special Valentine Gift Just for You

I send this Special Valentine along to you with my appreciation for the time you spend listening and with my best wishes for you and yours. If this Valentine touches a tender spot in you, please pass it along to someone who matters to you.

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Aliens Amongst Us

The Aliens Amongst Us Need Your Help

If you have seven minutes to help our alien visitors, they are sending out their request. Listen to the podcast, and if you can make sense of it, email me and I will pass your info along. Our announcer person has the email address for you at the end of the episode.

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Want to Renegotiate Your Lease on Life?

May be you are totally cool with your lease on life and have zero interest in renegotiating your lease. If so, right on. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. It’s also possible that you think you own your life and are not reduced to leasing or even worse, certainly not to being just a renter. I suspect you also have the perfect answer when asked how many of you it would take to put in a lightbulb. You know don’t you? Sure you do. It would only take one of you. You could just hold the lightbulb and the world would revolve around you.

I’m sorry. I know that’s not you. I just tossed that in there to put off any of those high-and-mighty types who might have unintentionally pressed play and started listening in on our conversation. They think they are above the rest of us. You know the type. They aren’t above anyone but sure think they are. They also think they are entitled and don’t know that they are only leasing the space they have among us and can have their lease canceled without notice at any time. But we know, we totally get it. So let’s talk about our leases.

What are the terms of our lease on life? Yes, there are always terms. The space each of us occupies is by contract only and it’s important for us to know the terms of our lease, terms of our contract, for if we don’t hold up our end of the contract, we will sooner or later get evicted – an unfortunate outcome indeed. Let’s give some thought to just what the terms of our contract to get to live among the rest of us actually are.

Our lease on life has both basic and premium provisions. Here is the catch. The basic provisions apply to each of us and are not negotiable. They spell out what is expected of us. Failure to comply gets us evicted from our place and usually gets us downgraded. Conversely, the premium provisions are the benefits we get from our place in the scheme of things and are usually at least somewhat negotiable but can be changed or taken away without notice or negotiation. We are held firmly to the basic provisions and have to comply. We have some choice about the premium provisions but have to cope with the reality that our lease on life comes with no guarantee whatsoever.

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Audio Tidbit

The Emotional Sweet Spot

What comes to mind for you when I mention “cooperative?” Now consider what comes to mind when I mention “not cooperative.” For me, the only notion that comes to mind is “Uncooperative.

Let’s try the same exercise with ”relaxed.” For me, several emotions come to mind such as up-tight, anxious, agitated, upset, restless, and so on. Even so, I divide the emotional state into “relaxed” and “not relaxed.”

The point is that I divide emotional states into two states that I can characterize as “X” and “not X.” Try it for yourself. For example, What is the alternative to being “affectionate,” to being “supportive,” to being “trusting?” You likely come up with a few words to describe each, but those words are just ways of being more specific about “not affectionate,” “not supportive,” and “not trusting.”

If we were to stop here, the conclusion would be pretty simple. The target emotion is either present or not present. What’s more, We also divide emotions into two more groups: good and not good. Being cooperative is good and being uncooperative is bad. The same good or bad dichotomy holds for relaxed and not relaxed, affectionate and not affectionate, supportive and not supportive, trusting and not trusting. Sure, there are people and situations where good and bad get reversed, for example, where trusting is a bad idea and not trusting is the better part of good judgment. Nonetheless, good and bad are still in play.

In less personal relationships and situations, we may want to replace “affectionate” with “warm” to avoid any issue with meaning, but the present versus not present, good versus bad division still applies. What is the alternative to warm? Terms like cold and aloof come to mind. “Warm” is good and “aloof” is bad.

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Audio Tidbit

A Tale for Aspiring Super Heroes

Do you aspire to be a super hero? If so, this is a tale for you. If not, you may want to listen anyway since sometimes we may have super powers that have escaped our attention. Your best bet is to press Play and have a listen.

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Audio Tidbit

With Style | All The Time | On Purpose

When I dropped into our local coffee shop, several of my podcasting friends were deep into a conversation that had been going on for a while. I’m not sure how they got onto the topic they were tossing around, but they seemed to have some strong ideas that I found pretty interesting. As best I can tell, the conversation is focusing on how they think upping their style game could or should work. They were so into it that I didn’t want to interrupt so I just listened in. Please press Play and join me so we can listen in together.

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Audio Tidbit

20 Gurus on Success

(Roger Fisher and William Ury)

You can change the game. You start by changing your attitude.

Separate the people from the problem.

Attack the problem and never the people.

Focus on interests, not on positions.

Invent options that benefit both sides.

What is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, your BATNA?

(Dr. Norman Vincent Peale)

Always play with abandon.

The next time you’re faced with a problem, try a new approach.

Make up your mind to win and nothing else.

It is always too soon to quit.

All the resources you need are in your mind.

Failure comes most often to people who are unable to focus themselves.

We tend to become precisely like that which we habitually imagine ourselves to be. …

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Audio Tidbit

Better Relationships Are Not Rocket Science

If you are serious about wanting our relationship to work well for both of us:

Help me get what I want and need, help me succeed.

Assume I am trying to do well, trying to succeed.

Do not assume you are a better judge of how things are for me than I am.

Do not use yourself as the standard for how I should think, feel, or behave.

Hold me responsible only for what I can actually do and can control.

Value who I am, my style and personality.

Assume I believe what I say and do not intentionally misrepresent anything.

Respect my feelings and opinions.

Be sensitive to my motivations and interests.

Give me the benefit of the doubt when things are not clear or certain.

If you value me and our relationship:

Make time for me.

Accept me as is without trying to change me.

Respect my ideas and opinions.

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Audio Tidbit

20 Reasons To Be a Democrat in 2020

Note that these 20 Reasons To Be a Democrat in 2020 are in no particular order and that it is not necessary to sign onto all 20 reasons. If you agree with or at least lean toward most of the reasons and don’t strongly disagree with the rest, being a Democrat in 2020 is likely the right choice for you.

Reason 1: You believe that it is important for business to flourish, but also believe that there are other aspects of society that deserve and must receive equal and sometimes greater consideration, when formulating government policy and regulation.

Reason 2: You believe that whether to carry a pregnancy to term is and should be the woman’s choice.

Reason 3: You believe that the accumulation of wealth by individuals and companies is an inevitable product of capitalism and should be limited and to some extent redistributed through regulation and taxation.

Reason 4: You believe that the nation’s natural resources and public areas should be protected from unsustainable use or exploitation through legislation and government regulation and from activities that represent undue risk to the areas where those resources and public areas are present.

Reason 5: You believe that the right to bare arms has to be balanced against the right to life and safety for the public and that buying, selling and possessing guns should thus be limited or restricted through government regulation or policy in order to reduce safety risks to the public.

Reason 6: You believe that global warming is a scientifically provable fact and represents a real and present danger for the planet and for its inhabitants. In particular, it represents a valid and significant threat to life in America.

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Audio Tidbit

20 Reasons to Be a Republican in 2020

Note that these 20 Reasons To Be a Republican are in no particular order and that it is not necessary to sign onto all 20 reasons. If you agree with or at least lean toward most of the reasons and don’t strongly disagree with the rest, being a Republican in 2020 is likely for you.

Reason 1: You believe that what is good for business is good for America. Policies and regulations that are pro business are acceptable, while those that are not should be eliminated.

Reason 2: Abortion is eval and immoral.

Reason 3: The accumulation of wealth by individuals and companies is a natural product of successful capitalism and should not be limited or penalized by undue regulation or taxation.

Reason 4: The nation’s natural resources are vast and should be available to and accessible by those who are in a position to maximize their use as a key driver of the economic engine.

Reason 5: You believe that buying, selling and possessing guns is an unqualified Constitutionally guaranteed right of every American adult and should not be limited or restricted through government regulation or policy.

Reason 6: You believe that global warming is largely a scientific myth and represents little to no future risk for the planet or for its inhabitants. In particular, it represents no significant threat to life in America.

Reason 7: You believe that America’s priorities and interests should always come first politically, economically and militarily on the world stage.

Reason 8: You believe that it is the responsibility of every American adult to handle the economic aspects of all of his or her personal health and welfare requirements and responsibilities and that it is not the responsibility of government to compensate for any shortfall that may occur.

Reason 9: You believe that criminals and those who break the law should be held strictly accountable for their transgressions and should be punished harshly and swiftly.

Reason 10: You believe that America is here for the safety, protection and freedom of its citizens and that noncitizens should only be permitted to enter or allowed to stay if they demonstrate their ability to assimilate into the American culture as productive participants who are economically self sufficient, putting no stress on government resources or services.

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Audio Tidbit

7 Steps to Me Trusting You

Step 1: Be sure I know who you are, who you represent and who you expect to benefit from the time I spend with you.

The first step has three important parts. First, I am more likely to trust you if I know who you are. It may seem not to matter but it always does. At a minimum, unless you are sure I already know, tell me your name. Add more information about who you are if you think it will help me to better know who you are or if I ask.

Second, tell me who you represent. It may seem obvious given the context, but don’t just assume. This is most important when you are representing more than yourself and your own interests.

Third, make it clear who you think will benefit if I spend this time with you. Do you think I will personally benefit? Do you think my company or business will benefit? Do you think some third party or organization will benefit? Do you think specific people will benefit or perhaps the community more generally? Who benefits?

Step 2: Give me a way to verify that you are who you say you are.

As we all know, this is the core problem with robocalls and door-to-door sales people and others who show up uninvited. We usually have no way of verifying that they are who they say they are or that they represent who they say they represent.

If you have legitimate credentials, show them to me, even if I don’t ask. If that is not an option, tell me how I can verify who you are and that you represent who you say you do.

The point is to give me a way to verify that you are legitimate.

Step 3: Be sure that I understand what you hope to get from the time you spend with me. What is the payoff for you or for whoever you represent?

This may be the real key to trust. I want to know if you are interested in anything or anyone beyond your own interests and profit. If I think you are in it for nothing beyond what you get out of the time I spend with you, I may still spend the time, but I will be cautious and certainly won’t trust you. I will take anything you say or suggest with a healthy grain of salt. Everything you say will have to pass through my BS filter. You are giving me ample reason not to trust you and no good reason to trust you.

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Audio Tidbit

Peeling the Political Onion

I’m wondering if you are finding the state of politics as confusing as I do. Maybe you have it all figured out, but I sure don’t. It’s a lot like peeling an onion, but only sort of. When peeling an onion, I take off one layer and am not surprised that the next level is still an onion. There is not much to be confused about as I peel away to the core. The onion is still an onion.

When peeling away the layers of politics, I suppose it’s all still politics. I can’t figure much else. On the surface, we have the Repubs and the Demos. As best I can tell, the Repubs want as little government and government interference as possible. Since they haven’t always been in charge, government has gotten out of hand, from their perspective. The best they can do is to refuse to support any new regulations or government funded services and eliminate or at least limit as many existing regulations and services as they can.

The Demos Believe that the Repubs are wrong. They believe that government is here to make sure that each of us has a fair shot at health, safety and general well being. Government is the nation’s care taker. To that end, regulation and government funded services are essential for the success of the nation.

When I was in junior high, we played a game called jungle football in the school gym — Two teams: shirts and skins of course. The gym teacher would toss a football toward the middle of the court. The goal was to make a “basket” with the football at your team’s end of the court. After a “basket,” whichever team came away with the football kept it and tried to score. As best I recall, there were no rules other than “hitting” or “kicking” another player was not allowed and intentionally hurting someone would get you ejected from the game. It was pretty much minimal government at its best. It was definitely a Repubs kind of game.

I was also in the junior high band. Now that was a different deal altogether. With jungle football, everyone played, but only some of us ran to the football, ready to mix it up. The only participation rule was that you had to at least stay on the court. In the band, everyone had an instrument and was expected to play it, no matter how well or how badly. Being in the band was enough to assure participation. There were a lot of rules and regulations, and everyone was expected to cooperate in ways that enabled all band members to be successful. The guiding principle was the common good. Band was more of a Demo kind of experience.

It seems important to point out that Repubs and Demos are all real people, much like the rest of us. They just have different and often conflicting perspectives, points of view, value sets and expectations for government and for the purpose and role of government in our lives. There are of course zealots in both camps, but I suspect most of us don’t give much thought to it one way or the other most of the time. If we lean more toward self reliance and think things are going well for us, and for the folks we hang around with, we likely edge toward the Repubs. If we lean more toward feeling anxious about our situation and that of the people we identify with and worry about, we likely edge more toward the Demos. In that sense, politics is always personal.

Once we peel away that top level of the political onion though, the nature of politics and politicians changes rather dramatically. We learn that politics has less to do with philosophy and the nature and purpose of government than with gaining enough control and influence to individually protect and support a baffling array of interests and priorities. Since this is far from a zero sum game, some win but most fair less well.

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Audio Tidbit

Our 2020 New Year’s Resolutions (D)

I resolve to be more thoughtful about when and if people are taking advantage of me and to be more cautious about my tendency to go along to get along. My issue here is twofold. First, an unfortunate element of human nature is that letting people take advantage of me simply encourages them to repeat the behavior in the future. The more people take advantage of me, the more people will take advantage of me. Second, being taken advantage of evokes anger, frustration, resentment, and related energy draining emotions and feelings. Along with being unpleasant, these emotions and feelings are unproductive and divert my attention and energy. For me, the bill associated with letting people take advantage of me is quite simply too high. I still want to be cooperative and helpful but not at the cost of my sense of well-being.

I resolve to be less willing to argue with anyone about anything. I know that people who argue with anyone, anywhere, at any time are attempting to manipulate and control others by confusing them, wearing them down, and by emotionally and intellectually overpowering them. Alternatively, I’ll do a better job of simply presenting my thoughts, perceptions, intentions, or point of view and stop. I’ll listen and consider what the other person is saying, adjust my ideas and plans as I think is appropriate, but then stop. If the other person wants to pursue the issue, they must do so without my further participation.

I resolve to step back some and be less willing to try to take charge of anything or anyone. Sure, I’m assertive and comfortable with my position and authority and don’t hesitate exercising that authority appropriately and responsibly. The point here is that I’ll work to avoid using power junkie strategies including manipulation, power games, and expanding my locus of control at the involuntary expense of others. Will I gain more control and influence over time? Yes I likely will. The remarkable point is that this expanding locus of influence will just happen without any active intent of mine. My expanding influence is thus a gift given to me by others and not something I either expect or demand. If I deserve it, being seen as a leader will come in time. It seems likely that this is a product of my getting better at recognizing and exploiting opportunities to facilitate the success of other people. It’s a function of an extrinsic but essential aspect of other people’s success. They just would not be as successful without me.

I resolve to get better at adjusting to people and circumstances without compromising my values, beliefs, personal style, position, or self-perceived status. I don’t expect others to adjust to or accommodate to me, unnecessarily, inappropriately, or unilaterally. I’ll remain who I am regardless of who is present or the specific situation but will intentionally adjust my behavior and demeanor so that others can perceive and relate to me in positive and useful ways. In this way, I’ll avoid any extraneous emotional or social clutter, thus maximizing the opportunity available with each person and in each situation.

I resolve to be more flexible and accommodating to the needs, preferences, and individual situations of other people. My emphasis will be on “accommodating.” I want to be flexible enough to help meet the needs of other people or at least to not prevent those needs being met. The preferences of other people will always be considered to the extent that they don’t preclude satisfying my needs and interests. The point is that I’ll make room for others and their priorities so long as this does not prevent my long-term success.

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Our 2020 New Year’s Resolutions (C)

I resolve to be more positive as I demonstrate my respect for and pleasure with the successes and accomplishments of other people. The key here for me is to respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate my respect and the pleasure I experience when they do well. Respect in this context includes holding the other person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.

I resolve to resist the temptation to expect others to always do as well as they sometimes do. I know that is both unreasonable and counterproductive. The unspoken or perhaps spoken message is, “You aren’t giving it your best effort. You should always do as well as you did before. This applies to a sales person making an unusually big sale, a scientist making a new discovery, a team winning the big game, and so on but also applies to less consequential events and activities. It’s appropriate to expect excellent performance but I know that expecting exceptional or perfect performance every time is a sure way to demoralize and frustrate any person.

I resolve to be sure I am not using my position or authority to run roughshod over other people. I know to deal with people and problems directly and assertively. I also know that many people in positions of authority like pointing out that they always place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done. This is, from my point of view, a sure sign that the person in authority knows nothing about people. When a job doesn’t get done or doesn’t get done as well as expected, it’s obvious that someone didn’t get the job done. It’s also frequently easy to see who didn’t get it done. At that point, the authority junkie is quick to point a finger, “The job didn’t get done and you are the one who didn’t get it done.” Here is the glitch. The authority junkie’s approach usually appears to work. The problem doesn’t recur, performance improves, the job gets done the next time. At the same time, people become more cautious, less creative, and more concerned about avoiding the authority junkie’s ire than in developing better ways to do the job and continuously improving their performance. “Good enough” becomes the standard, good enough to avoid the pointing finger of the authority junkie. For me, the alternative to blaming and finger pointing needs to be automatic. “This is disappointing. You must be at least as frustrated as I am about it. Can we see if we can figure out how to get a better outcome next time? What would help? How can I help?” Sure, enough is enough at times, even for me. People need to be held accountable and deal with the consequences of poor performance. For me though, this needs to be a down-the-road eventuality and never where I start.

I resolve to remember that some people have a short fuse, are highly reactive, and are ready to go to war over anything, while other people are tired, frustrated, anxious, stressed, and atypically touchy and contentious. Either way, I’ll conscientiously manage my interactions, emotions, reactions, and behavior in ways that minimize conflict, animosity, and contentiousness. This doesn’t mean that I’ll hold back, equivocate, or be reluctant to pursue my point of view, opinion, or expectation. To the contrary, I’m typically assertive, clear, and forthcoming. My point here is that conflicts and disagreements are managed as negotiations and not as arguments and battles. Confrontation and power games are seldom the best choice for resolving friction points and personality clashes. I have far better and more effective tools at hand and am going to focus more on taking care to use them instead of resorting to emotionally charged war games.

I resolve to more consistently project a calm, conciliatory demeanor, avoiding any tendency to be harsh or abrasive, even when confronted by animosity or hostility from others. At the same time, I’ll do better presenting an aura of firmness, control, and self-confidence. I’ll work to be more self-contained, neither intruding into the personal space of others nor permitting others to intrude uninvited into mine, thereby letting me process reality with less interference or emotional clutter.