Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Note to self:

Strom Thurmond and Strobe Talbott are NOT the same person!!

Colleague:  "I think we can get Strobe Talbott to deliver the keynote for this session"

Me:  "Strobe Talbott?  Didn't he die, like 10 years ago?  Something to do with can of Pepsi and pubic hair?"

Colleague:  "  That was Strom Thurmond.  Similar,; I take that back.  Not similar at all.  You deserve a head slap for that."

Sheesh.  I'm such a moroon sometimes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Welcome, Comrades!

Ok, I'll admit it:  Sometimes, I like to check my blog stats to see who has stopped by and whether there are any new faces out there.   (I've Googled myself a few times too, just to see what the world is saying about me behind my back.  Call it narcissism if you want, but I just like to know, OK?  Don't judge me.  Especially as you sit there picking your toes at your desk because you think no one is looking.  Because believe me, they are.)

So anyway, the last 48 hours has brought a flood of hits (like, 25 or so a day -- I'm not all that popular, so 25 is a flood) from a bunch of IP addresses across the Russian Federation.  And not all from the same city. 

So hey there!  If you're in Mother Russia, drop a comment so I know you're not all a bunch of crazy stalker-types, looking to steal my identity or anything, OK?




Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Act Now! Operators are standing by!

I got an email today that offered me a chance to become a Certified Strategic Negotiator!

They weren't making this offer to just anybody; oh no.  They were only making this offer to people they thought could pay the $595 a piece for the seven classes you have to take in order to be a Certified Strategic Negotiator!  Imagine how honored I felt.  I've never seen a CSN.  But I can be the first on my block to be one!

I asked myself several questions in follow up:

1)  Do I get to don a cape and a blue spandex top emblazoned with an "N" (for 'Negotiator Girl') when I'm done?  Do they make Spandex tops that don't reveal your muffin top?

2)  If I don't complete the coursework, do I just become a Non-Strategic Negotiator?  Or perhaps a Strategic Doormat?

3)  If I convert to Judaism, then take the coursework in Negotiating in the Arab World, am I then capable of crafting my own solution to the Middle East crisis, beat myself down on terms over occupation in the Gaza and then sign my own accord?

4)  What if I'd rather be a Tactical Negotiator?  Do I get my own set of hostile takeover term sheets and a rocket launcher?

 Clearly, I am going to have to take this exciting new offer under due consideration...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

In response to BHD

I posted the following comment in response to a blog post by my dear friend, C, over at Blue Heron at Druid Labs.  

"Our ability to acknowledge, yet forgive, wrongdoing in others is inextricably linked to the ability to see hope and forgiveness in ourselves and by extension, to our ability to love and be loved -- in short, to our very humanity.  It doesn't mean that we have to become doormats.  It doesn't mean that we have to accept abuse and neglect when we recognize it.  It doesn't mean that we have to welcome the perpetrators of wrongdoing into our homes and our lives.    It means, simply, that we recognize the right and ability of each and every human on Earth to love and be loved.  The capacity each of us has to be better than we are."

Forgiveness and compassion allow us to rise from adversity and to accept the love of others in our lives.  It is absolutely essential to our survival as healthy humans.

My comment only addressed half of BHD's question, however.

In some respects, forgiveness and compassion are the easier part of the equation when it come to how we can both hold wrongdoers accountable and still treat them with compassion.  Those who would point to the story of the crucifixion of Christ as an example may be tempted to say that forgiveness and compassion trumps all -- that we are unfit to judge others and to mete out punishment, and that only the divine can judge the actions of humans.  We may similarly point to the Buddhist tradition to justify wimping out on holding others accountable.  If we hold ourselves the lowest, how can we judge?

If you examine the teaching of Christ and the Dalai Lama in more detail, however, neither instructs us to tolerate abuse and wrongdoing.  Christ called upon sinners to "Go forth, and SIN NO MORE".  The Dalai Lama says of the balance between compassion and accountability:

"It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefiting others, one needs to be engaged, involved."

We have a system of social justice that punishes criminal activities.  But that system does not address the individual wrongs we perpetrate on each other and ourselves.  Part of loving each other, and part of loving ourselves is to acknowledge wrong actions, and to recognize and choose right actions.  To reject wrong action is not a lack of acceptance or forgiveness.  It is the ultimate act of love, and self-love, to insist upon right action and right thought.

I believe we can forgive, recognize the humanity and the ability to change in every living being, and still not expose ourselves to wrong action.  It is OK to say, "I forgive you.  I feel human love for you.  But I have not seen a change in your action, and I will not allow you to damage me further. Until you can demonstrate to me that you will 'sin no more', I cannot allow you in my life.  Be well."  Our challenge is to mean every. single. word.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

On Venturing Outside the Safety Zone.

"A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things"

-- Admiral Grace Hopper

RADM Grace Murray Hopper has always been an inspiring character for me, and a source of practical wisdom.  One of my FB friend posted the quote above on her status the other day and I was reminded of the lessons Admiral Hopper's life taught me in my earlier years.

Born during an age where women were not expected to learn math and science, let alone use them, Grace Murray Hopper not only learned them, but bent them to her own will to help design the computer language that would later become COBOL, to attain the rank of Commodore (later renamed Rear Admiral) in the US Navy, and at the age of 79, to retire from the Navy to become a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation.  She was a tireless educator, an engaging speaker and an inspiring leader among women.  She. Was. Awesome.

She is widely credited with discovering the first computer bug, a literal moth that had lodged itself in a Navy processor relay in 1947.  She's also credited with being the first to utter my second-favorite phrase:

"It is easier to ask forgiveness than to obtain permission." 

She pushed the envelope.  She challenged those around her to be more than they thought they could be.  She refused to be ordinary.  She lived her life with genuine passion.

She also, as nearly as I can tell, refused to compromise her non-negotiables. 

This last year, as you all know, has been a period of change and painful self-assessment for me.  The "rules", as I knew them, all have been squarely up-ended.  I am left with the reality that my life is NOT going to be what I expected.  That means, of course, that it's time to take a more active role in determining where it goes from here.  I got reminded of what it feels like to get burned last week.  But the thing about getting burned is that it means you have a fire under you.  And that may not be a bad thing.

I'm getting a chance to operate in a more strategic role -- my "Happy Place" -- at work. And my boss, having watched me all last week, is finally backing off and just letting me do it.  I forgot how good it feels to be doing what I'm naturally good at, instead of having to make myself good at whatever needs to be done at a given time. It's riskier -- screwing up at this could cost me my job, and I'll take others with me if I fail.  But it's a damn sight more satisfying than plodding along in the safer task-related world I've been living in for the last several years.

Time to cast off.