Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Love is not always perfect, but it is usually well intended" - Me

"Love is not always perfect, but it is usually well intended!" 
I actually found myself saying this to a past parish member yesterday.  It isn't a quote of someone nobel, deeply spiritual, or extremely smart, just me.  I actually surprised myself !

In the priesthood you can see all manners and means of Love.  It is an amazing and powerful force in our lives and the world. I have witnessed God's Love change people and situations beyond human understanding and only able to be grasped and comprehended by Faith.  It accomplishes things in people that normally would not be the norm without this added dynamic.  It binds us in relationships in a rainbow of variation. We extend Love to spouses, children, parents, BFF's, fiance's,  significant others, girlfriends, boyfriends, colleagues, peers, extended family, and cherished relationships.  I don't think you can enter into a Love relationship without "good and well meaning intent".  However, because of our humanity, cracks and fissures appear, disappointments occur, trust is strained or broken, expectations dashed, and sometimes "it all falls down!"

I am in awe how the true and only power/glue that can fix broken Love is Love itself!  It's that powerful and re-conciliatory!  It is humility, contrite hearts, open minds, extended courtesies, and actions of repentance that re-infuse Love in broken or strained love relationships.  Love heals broken Love better than any other item.  It doesn't come easy!  It doesn't happen quickly!  It doesn't come without personal sacrifice, openness and truthfulness! But it does and can happen!

We are in a culture and time when we don't relate to people that disagree with our points of view even as equal human beings!  We are now quick and tempted to relegate our adversaries in our minds eye as "non-humans" like the images re-shot over and over again as in violent video games that we play in our own homes.  The art of Love is being lost by many, or denied to even more.  We need to relearn the Art! We need to spread it in Abundance!

I'm not meaning like loving homemade ice cream, or a momentary fads or whimsy!  I'm talking about an act of the will; Unconditional, Graceful, Compassionate, Tender/Fragile/Strong and always Trustful!

As John Lennon sang, "All You Need is Love!" Even for me, a result of the 60's and 70's, it may have sounded campy, yet it still holds up over time and pressure.  Whether it be applied in our personal lives and relationships, our places of worship, our businesses, our communities and with those that even would plan to do us harm, Love, just as life, isn't always perfect! However, when we extend it initially or as a means of repairing a broken relationship, we need to do it with the best and purest of intentions!  If we did, maybe we could accumulatively change our world from one riddled with fear and injustice, to one that is improved one word, deed, hug or kiss at a time!  A little loving compassion to loved ones, clients or colleagues goes a long way to build trusting relationships in any context.

We live in fearful times!  We see far too many people forgotten or marginalized!  We are too easy at retaliation and planned means of hatred.  Remember, it's scriptural, There is NO FEAR in Love! Perhaps it's time for us to do our imperfect best efforts, but with good intentions, we try, try and try over and over again till we get it right, just as God would want us to do.  It worked for Jesus!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"You will never have enough information!" - Dr. Edward Deming - Trinity Sunday

In the search for Quality, it is instinctive for humankind to search for information, data, stuff to answer the question "Why is it not perfect?"  The drive for that information can consume one and feed a drive that often times seems unquenchable.  We can test and measure till the instruments seize, wear out, or till we absolutely run out of mind power to think of another parameter to explore.  In fact the search and quest can replace the higher and more important need of "living" managing the process or system, visioning where the overall business is going to be in the next 3-5 years, or what are the changing dynamics that could blindside the whole endeavor!  The consuming collection of minutia blinds us to seeing a "bigger picture" and having the capacity to respond to people, their needs, challenges and not just "things" or data points/measurements.  We miss stopping and smelling the roses, or enjoying a meaningful relationship. We get too busy and focused on detail that we miss obvious answers to simple questions or are mute to alternative insights from others.

We can quickly forget that data is only data unto itself and has no power of itself and needs an application of a theory to become productive and useful.  An overload of data and huge gigs of memory on a flash drive have no power if you forget what it means in light of an applicable theory or the ability to predict short term possible results.  Data is just data!  Knowledge doesn't arrive until a theory and a thoughtful application arrive on the scene. 

Deming's teachings and supportive works of others such as Dr. Carl Juran, William Sherchenbach, and William Ouchi give an exciting insight to this notion.   Dr. Ouchi's Theory XYZ had an amazing impact on business and as explained by William Sherkenback, "You will never have enough information!"  Yet, to impact any organization or even a human individual, to the effect that will facilitate change with a longevity in length of impact, or to the deep depth of the organization or soul, you need to address the needs of that person or organization in a minimum of three perspectives. You do not have to test and search "every/all" data points!

This responds well with the given truth that we live in a "Three Dimensional World - made up of Physical Presence, Logical Presence, and Spiritual/Emotional Presence"  At least these three dynamic perspectives need to be visited in planning, problem solving, and observing for information and learning.  To ignore any one these three perspectives unchallenged, leaves the person, or executive board/CEO at risk and vulnerable to being blindsided by surprise elements that can disrupt and destroy systems, organizations, businesses or personal well-being. I have yet met someone who does well without a healthy body, or an active-responsive mind, or who survived a "spiritotomy!"  We also know how important emotions are to mental wellness.  All three have to be present for wholeness. 

Understanding the importance of this dynamic, we annually revisit this business theory and lesson that actually has theological implications.  In the Church we call it Trinity Sunday.  We affirm that God with great wisdom and power created all things as we know them in a Physically present world and universe.  All things that we can see, touch, smell, feel, hear and taste come from God the Creator (Father).  We understand that the overwhelming magnitude of a relationship with this dynamic God was and is much larger than our mere minds could understand or explain, thus God's revelation of self through a human image and mentor, Jesus of Nazareth, was necessary to respond to our Logical (Mental) Presence.  Jesus and a written account in Scripture, help reveal the personal nature of the Living God.  Next, to respond to our own Spiritual Presence, God offers a Holy Spirit that engages with our soul/life experience, encourages our best choices and enables us to be touched with our emotions.  Through this same Holy Spirit, we have a basis to hear and understand what God is trying to convey to us, and enables forgiveness for the wrongs we commit. 

Trinity of persons, one in Spirit.  One God portrayed in physical presence and manifestation, revealed through the life and teaching examples of Jesus, and present today in each soul that is open to receiving theGod's Holy Spirit.  One God, revealed in Three distinctly different entities, yet still One Being!  It is akin to the example of my live.  I am a Priest, a Husband, a Father of three children, a Brother to my only brother, a Son to my parents, and on and on, and on, yet I am still only the same person, but experience by different people in different roles according to the relationship I have with each.  Different perceived roles, but one person. 

It is this awareness of the primal three perspectives of this life that were important enough for God to intentionally reveal a presence in Physical, Logical, and Spiritual/Emotional dimensions, maybe we as leaders in our Churches, Businesses, Families, and Communities would be wiser if we applied the same depth of understanding when we test, observe, listen, and perceive the needs, changes and challenges that offer themselves each day in our life.  Choose wisely!  Choose in Three's!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"You cannot hear what you do not understand!" - Dr. Edward Deming - Pentecost

"You cannot hear what you do not understand!" - Dr. Edward Deming - Pentecost

It is not always about technology when we ask, "Can You Hear Me Now?"  It works well for selling cell phones and allegiance to a cellular network, but even before mico waves sent phone messages, images and music through the air, the question, "Can You Hear Me Now?" still had relevance.  I know of people with wearing hearing aides that are very subtle, yet very deliberate in turning their "ears" off or to such a low setting that they cannot hear the person/spouse talking right there in their face.  An accident, I don't think so!  It was deliberate and calculated.  In other times,  I have seen people hear an extensive amount of information presented to them that flew so high over their heads because no one in the room connected to the data, the topic, or the speaker.  "Nobody Heard Nothin!"  In fact, an opening private side comment by the person next to me was, "That person must be so brilliant because I have absolutely no idea what that guy is talking about!"

Even as cliche as it has become in the last decades of business teaching.  Paradigms have their way of "blinding -muting" primal and important information to the eyes and ears of those who really needed to hear and see what was being conveyed.  They just didn't get it because of stored experience that mentally told the person, "This information is wrong to our patterned models of experience-past and you don't need to know or worry about hearing or remembering any of this!"  The inner persona just turned off the lights and the sound and the person, "Just Didn't Hear It!"

A lot of this plays out in multiple contexts and scenarios of business between leaders and staff, research and development departments and production line personnel, and the Paradigm freeze moves up and down, and laterally throughout business, organizations, and management suites/boardrooms regardless of size, tech-savvy-ness, production levels, accounts receivable, and stock values.  Information is passed along, and a limited amount of those who hear it, retain it, understand it, or utilize it.

Base lesson; you have to "intentionally" listen to hear and you need to utilize an interest in becoming proficient in the source and means that information, data, and messages are offered.  Technology is part of it.  Understanding languages is part of it.  Making yourself available is a major part of it.  But being engaged in a level of relationship whether it be with a friend, loved one, family member,colleague, peer, long-time-friend, or new acquaintance is the major part of any transfer of information, knowledge or humorous quip.

Is this all new to our day and time?  I don't think so!  It was so important for God's message to be conveyed to as many as possible as quick as possible and as far and wide as possible, that God wanted to make sure that We Could Hear Then, and Now! To do that, God had to move beyond the dependence of men trying to convey the message on their own.  The message needed some power and impact beyond that alone.  God chose people who were open to a new power in their lives, not only their spirit, but a Holy Spirit.  It did a bit better.  But still there was a need for a means to convey the message better; the choice, a family tie, a Son.  Jesus did His level best to be as much to as many in as many of places as a Messiah could muster.  Yet, even with the Good News as portrayed and taught by Jesus, the people surrounding Him most of the time, including the inner circle of Apostles, "Couldn't Hear the Message Because They Didn't Understand!"

It was akin to a fantastically tasteful sauce, sliding off a Teflon coating and onto the ground.  Something was missing in the lives of the "hearers" that was needed to make a Holy Message stick with intended people to become "Holy".  The answer, give them a Holy Spirit also.  One that counters the human temptation to "Paradigm freeze" the New Good News and usher the words and insights from one ear out the other with no sticking time.  A Holy Spirit that could capture Holy Messages, and reroute them into the soul, mind and manifest them into the actions of the body.

It wasn't an accident that this took place in Jerusalem when it did.  It was the feast of the Gathering of the Sheaves, the first cuttings of the crops and the offering of the firstborns of cattle and livestock. It was a "Stewardship Offering Sunday" compliant with the Old Testament Covenant.  Giving something that you raised or grew to God as an offering was the intent.  That is why people from around the world came to Jerusalem for this important day after Passover and in the Spring.  It had all the potential of an Old Testament-Internet Event.  The challenge, how do you speak Good News to an assembly of multi-linqual citizens of the span of the then known world?  Easy, choose a handful of fearful, yet possible faithful people that experienced the Living Son of God in Jesus, who were promised and told to hang out till another present from God was received, empower them with a Holy Spirit, and then kick them out into the streets with the ability to speak and convey the Message of Grace and Salvation in languages that they didn't even know nor have a proficiency.  It Worked!

It works today!  If you are open, willing, and desirous to receive this same Holy Spirit, it can be yours for the asking!  It will open your eyes and ears and mouth and inner perceptions to a level that is in this world like everyone else, but you will no longer be " of this world".  It will be different in what you say, how you act, and how you see/experience the world and those around you!  The intent for us even today as it was with early Apostles, centuries ago, because of God's gift to us of His Holy Spirit, We Can Hear and Understand When God Speaks to Us on a Daily Basis and That is Good News! Due to this, we can be the best, in our loved and personal relationships, our business connections, our local community ties, and most certainly, our places of worship and faith.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

" A Leader is a Coach, not a Judge" - Edward Deming - Ascension Sunday

" A Leader is a Coach, not a Judge"

Dr. Deming knew that business, government, and most organizations that have existed in the past centuries have seen their share of bad and ineffective leadership.  People who like to "Lord" over others, using fear, threats, manipulation, coercion, and absolutely all of the listed "Bad and Ugly" characteristics that I get when asking people in seminars, "What are the traits of a "Bad" leader that you know or have experienced?"  The list comes quick and seems exhaustive.  A pretty good statement that leaders have been "judging" others far too long and extensively, and doing major damage to people, relationships, and means of doing business. 

I have taught multiple times that, " There is no such thing as constructive criticism!"  The very words denote a form of judgment from on high from someone's point of view who is just a human and prone to faults and missperceptions as anyone.  Input, based on listening and empathic involvement and based on a mutual trust goes much further, and chooses words and means of conveyance that are accepted and incorporated.  Judgment statements only put up the walls of defense and posts the parties as warring camps, ready to win their cause no matter what.  There is no sharing of viewpoints, perspectives, accumulated knowledge or wisdom, its war as usual to who can over-talk the loudest, bully the strongest, threat the most fearsome scenarios.  There is a winner and a loser, who then looks for retribution or a means to sabotage in retaliation.  In fact, no one wins this kind of scenario.  All parties lose!  Even Dr. Deming himself said once, "When someone comes into the boardroom with an agenda, everyone loses!"

A better model is patterned by Jesus this week in the scriptures and practiced traditions of the Church.  Today was the "High Priestly Prayer of Jesus" from John 17:1-11 as the Gospel.  It is where Jesus prays for the current Apostles and the future church's believers that will come with the ages.  His prayer is for them to be covered and protected by God's Grace, but more importantly, that they are empowered by God's Holy Spirit to live out the pattern of "Servant Leadership" that Jesus modeled. It is as if Jesus personally lays hands on each soul of the current and future church. Passing on all knowledge, wisdom, faith, and patterned behavior for generations.  Being a Coach instead of a Judge!

It again is all about relationships, trust, shared knowledge and wisdom, and the added element of patterned behavior and conduct as to how to embed those teachings into the fabric someones lives - our life.  Listening for needs, thoughtfully applying theory, patterning behavior, looking for changed results, and adjusting as needed to continue the improvement, that's how it's done!  With Jesus' ascension, He leaves those whom he invested so much time, information, wisdom and models of behavior to their accountability to "make it their own and to pass it along!"  Yes, there would be set backs and failures, and times of denial, but Grace and Godly Guidance to forgiveness affords another try to make it right, not death, or destruction.  Not judging - but coaching and redirection when less that optimum is realized.  It's a Continual Improvement Cycle with implied ascending accountability, not a downward spiral or death sentence.  It's Grace in action, and not Judgment! We get to learn, not fail or die.  It's forgiveness in action that encourages growth and acquiring knowledge from experience, thus enabling acquired wisdom for future times and for future generations when passed along once again in relationships, with trust, and the skill of the mentor to the student.

Judgment is a Tyrants tool of destruction.  To systems, personalities, relationships and anything it touches.  It really only momentarily inflates the ego of the one judging, yet even ensnares them also. ( "Judgment as well as Anger are the cups many desire to drink from with the intent of harming or punishing others, yet all the while, poisoning themselves!")  Input from a wise coach, builds up, invests, encourages, brings to transparency, grows, and sends the student forward with new insight and knowledge for use.

So here we are in the in-between times of Jesus' Ascension. Our spiritual coach is now back in heaven and we are now awaiting for the promised gift to empower our faithful futures.  They had to wait 10 days in the original Apostolic time, we only have to wait as long as it takes for us to make the decision of faith, to reaffirm what we already have requested and received through baptism and by Grace, God's Holy Spirit, the true coach of our daily lives today! It is already present in our personal life, in our families, in our community, our businesses, our church and in our relationships - loved ones and colleagues, if we are so desire.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"We are Here to make another World" - Edward Deming - Ascension Day

"We are here to make another World" - Edward Deming - Ascension Day
When Edward Deming said this, he was meaning and encouraging those who were students and devotees of his statistical theories on a new form of management and leadership that was needed in a then stagnant business world.  He was calling for a transformation of how things were done and even deeper, how people thought.  He was trying to change the world with a revolutionary new paradigm of including input from the common worker, leaning a process that had become fat with waste, variation, loss of revenue, and poor practices that demeaned the worker, robbed them of pride and joy, punished them and drove things by fear and threats. 

He saw a new and different way that encouraged the worker to become involved, invested, and a participant to turn things around, improve the context, raise personal and corporate morale, and to solve problems that had ensnared the old system and means of thinking when it came to motivating people, and making wise decisions that would impact the workplace for the better,  He wanted to raise the success of business in a long term plan of empowering people and reducing waste and loss in systemic processes. He called for a Metanoi -a turn-around-transformation from detrimental old ways, to a new way of thinking and action.

Today being Ascension Day in the Church, it is a feast day that slides by without much fanfare unlike Easter or Christmas, and even to some extent, Pentecost.  It comes on a Thursday, a business day and not on a Sunday.  It also takes place at a side place.  I've been to the site of this event when Jesus rose from this life and returned to the Father's place in Heaven for good until His expected return at the end of time. (Which didn't happen in May as predicted or nor will happen in October as revised!)  You wouldn't know you were at the site of the Ascension if a tour guide didn't have the bus stop by a non-descript wall in a neighborhood.  You go though a common gate to a bare earthen yard with a small chapel in the middle.  No windows, or doors, and completely open to the weather and all.  A simple altar with no chairs, nor paved floor - only a stone in the middle of the dirt floor where you are told if you look closely, you'll see Jesus' footprints from his "launch to heaven".  It is extremely understated and almost invisible to anyone looking for commemorative shrines of Jesus.  It think it was meant to be that way!

We hear of the Apostles being stuck in time gawking into heaven with mouths agape, trying to comprehend what they had just witnessed.  Perhaps the Church would have remained stuck there if it wasn't for the "men in white robes" who asked them, "Men of Israel, what are you looking at and waiting for?  Did He not say that He would be coming back as you just saw Him leave?  Why and what are you waiting around here for?!"  (The upward stare with mouth agape, how they were stuck in time, is exactly how turkeys die of drowning in rainstorms!)

Jesus left so we could grow and become engaged in changing old ways of the world and spread, teach, mentor, and proclaim a New Good News - the Gospel.  Not only as a "once-upon-a-time-story" but as a manifestation of God's story being lived out in Our story and that Our Story is now God's Story being lived out in our day and time.  It was only a short wait for the Holy Spirit to come and complete the metanoia/transfromation (words Edward Deming regularly used in his presentations and writings) that would change the way the world then and now would think, believe, and function.  We are Here to Make Another World!  Not only with our new attitude and understanding of doing business, but as we see ourselves in an entirely new light, the Light of Christ, a Manifested Presence of the Holy Spirit living and changing the world by every act, word, deed or thought we bring into being every day of our life. 

Jesus is no longer here!  As a coach and wise mentor, He has empowered us to become engaged and responsible for our own choices and actions.  Like the parent who eventually has to let go of the child trying to learn how to ride a two wheel bike, the risk is needed for the child to learn how to balance, start, brake and turn without falling.  Some spills are in store to learn the skill, but the pay off is well worth the temporary trials.  So it is when it comes to God entrusting this world into temporary care of all of us.  It's a risk, but one God was willing to take.  We are accountable to how we live and manage each day!  So, Make Good Choices, ones hopefully inspired by the Holy Spirit!