Category Archives: Ideas Worth Spreading

FoolsGold

Fool’s Gold and Fool’s Mate

The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.” ~ General Omar Bradley

Education – whether formally given or self-taught – is necessary, but not sufficient to the expression of balanced wisdom. I have known highly-educated medical doctors, for instance, whose fervent devotion to the principles of Western allopathic medicine was as fanatical as religious extremist’s zealous and inflexible views on spirituality. Likewise, I have met scientists who become so consumed with the minutiae of their speciality that they have clearly lost the forest for the trees in their ongoing discovery of the natural world.

Education is a double-edged sword. It can facilitate the expression of wisdom, but it can also frustrate its articulation. Education provides the mind with intermediary points of connection between inner or “invisible,” thought and feeling and outer or “visible,” words and actions. Education brings a sense of order to the mind yet an overly rigid structure can restrict or even block the flow of wisdom, original and creative thought. It is the willingness to release the white-knuckled grip on a particular mental construct that opens the floodgates to wisdom.

Wisdom moves from the inside out. It is not manufactured externally, neither is it directly a product of the mind. Wisdom is known as a clear pathway is given for its expression into the field of theoretical consideration or practical circumstance. Education – and I am careful to note again that I mean more than formal, traditional classroom education – sets in the mind the railroad switches as it were through which the brilliance that is within you makes its way from the originating depot to its destination. As such, the quality and content of education received is vitally important to achieving brilliance with wisdom.

Intelligence is not always accompanied by wisdom. It is possible to be classified as being intelligent while suffering from a deficiency of social graces, ethical boundaries, personality or feeling. Wisdom contains all of these, for it illuminates on a basis that is fitting, no matter what the circumstance, place or framework in which it operates.

Wisdom has suffered at the hand of the drive for specialization in academia and industry that was catalyzed by philosophers likes Descartes and further accelerated by the scientific and educational institutions over the centuries that followed the Renaissance. Despite the many advances in intelligence, in the accumulation and organization of the growing body of knowledge of the natural world, I, like General Bradley, am concerned that we find a way to balance this apparent progress with wisdom and conscience.

Knowledge is a bottomless pit in which mankind can lose himself if he is not careful. Similarly, the brilliance associated with intelligence can be more blinding than elucidating if it is not sufficiently counterweighted by wisdom.

Brilliance without wisdom is fool’s gold. Power without conscience is a fool’s mate in the game of life.

Take care that you worship at the altar of neither.

purpose-in-life

Your Purpose in Life

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ~ Henry David Thoreau

How many of your daily activities are devoted to honestly purposeful, generative activity? Like ants, we move around busily from place to place and activity to activity, but how often do you stop and take an inventory of that which you do to determine if it is making a difference in the world you center?

There are a great many things in this world which can command your attention, yet how any of them would you say really truly matter in the scope of life? Some might rule out entertainment in response to this question seeing it as frivolity no matter when or where it occurs, yet it has its place. Others might object to undertaking anything that does not directly relate to career advancement, or job completion, but is that balanced?

A great many people have come and gone on earth over the eons, some busier than others, yet I have to wonder how many of them stopped to consider the thought: “What am I busy about?” If it is just to survive, to make the rent, or something along those lines, you are likely only scratching the surface of life itself, missing the deeper point, that is, your purpose in life.

Why are you here? What is your purpose? What have you come to do? I cannot answer that for you, but I do know that to the degree that you center you life in service to others you will discover your purpose in no time. If, instead, you center your life on self-interest, self-service, self-gratification, etc., you will forever be blind to your deeper purpose and unfortunately, far away from happiness.

This process works out with mathematical precision, despite the many millions, if not billions of people who have come and gone on earth without ever realizing even an ounce of their true potential. Your life, no matter how humble its beginnings, is meant to be glorious, radiant, fulfilling, and dynamic. Let no man tell you otherwise.

If you dedicate yourself to helping others to their fulfillment, you will leave this earth a happy, fulfilled person, who made a difference and left the earth a better place that you found it. Sure, some will disappoint you, turn on you and fail to live up to their potential in life, but many others will hear the call, rise up to the challenge and dare to be busy about something that truly matters.

365

Three Hundred Sixty-Five Days!

At one and the same time we must philosophize, laugh and manage our household and other business, while never ceasing to proclaim the words of true philosophy.” ~ Epicurus

I am delighted to note that this morning’s post marks three hundred sixty-five consecutive daily blogs on Gregg Hake’s Blog!  It has been a delightful process for me and I trust that my words and the brilliant quotes I have shared from those who inspired me over the years have (1) touched your minds and hearts and (2) compelled you to refinement in thought, word and deed.

Onward and upward!

hand

Taking Time to Grow

Taking Time to Grow by Mary Mapes Dodge

‘Mamma! mamma!’ two eaglets cried,
‘To let us fly you’ve never tried.
We want to go outside and play;
We’ll promise not to go away.’
The mother wisely shook her head:
‘No, no, my dears. Not yet,’ she said.

‘But mother, dear,’ they called again,
‘We want to see those things called men,
And all the world so grand and gay,
Papa described the other day.
And – don’t you know? – he told you then
About a little tiny wren,
That flew about so brave and bold,
When it was scarcely four weeks old?’

But still the mother shook her head;
‘No, no, my dears, not yet,’ she said.
‘Before you see the world below,
Far bigger you will have to grow.
There’s time enough to look for men;
And as for wren’s – a wren’s a wren.
What if your freedom does come late?
An eaglet can afford to wait.

Haste, they say, makes waste. But why? There are undoubtedly many reasons why this is true, chief among them is the tendency to miss important facts, factors, steps or phases in what would otherwise be a coordinated, coherent and complete creative process.

Childhood should never be rushed. There are important phases in childhood development that, skipped or hurried, result in flat spots that can be quite challenging to overcome later in life. And later may be sooner than you think! “Terrible twos,” for instance, are more often than not the direct result of an improperly managed infant. Toddlers are not inherently evil and neither are teenagers. Work with an awful teenager for any amount of time and you can quickly identify what was missed, overlooked or circumvented in his or her earlier years.

Parents and caregivers bare the burden of responsibility for the end product, except in cases where there is a legitimate limitation, such as a chemical imbalance or a genetic abnormality. A childhood must be carefully managed and custom-tailored to each child. There is no magic formula.

Each and every child born to this earth comes with a unique set of potentialities and needs. In this sense, every child is a “special needs” child. The perfect mix of nourishment, encompassment and supervision for one child is rarely optimal for another. A wren’s a wren and to the degree that we forget that we stunt the growth and development of children everywhere.

Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Women

“The house does not rest upon the ground, but upon a woman.” ~ Mexican Proverb

I read this and had to chuckle as it is either a statement of profound wisdom or a proclamation made by the Mexican Ambassador to the Lollipop Guild upon seeing the legs and red shoes of the Wicked Witch of the East. Seriously, though, I do feel that women play an important role in the development of nest of home and the heart of any successful business.

Sitting by the fire yesterday evening after having put my sons to bed I found myself reminiscing about the days of my youth. I recalled the great challenge faced by young women my age in high school, namely, that it wasn’t “cool” to get good grades or to appear too smart. How tragic! I don’t know if that paradigm persists, but it certainly placed an artificial limitation on what could have been achieved in school by many who subscribed to that policy.

I am equally thankful for the men and women in my life. Father and mother. Aunts and uncles. Girlfriends and guy friends. All of them made important contributions to the rich nest of home that served as an introduction to me of love and truth.

That said, there were and are certain women I have and continue to be privileged to know. My mother. My childhood girlfriends. My teachers, counselors and professors. Co-workers. My mother-in-law. My wife. Truly phenomenal women. Dedicated. Passionate. Intelligent. Beautiful. Diligent. Devoted. Fearless.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Maya Angelou‘s rhythmic verse describing women, you’re in for a real treat.

Phenomenal Woman, by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I would love to hear from you as to what makes a woman a phenomenal woman in your eyes!

Banded peacock butterfly, Anartia fatima, resting on blue sweater.

The Real You

“It is required of every man,” the ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.” ~ Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”

How abundantly has your spirit within you walked abroad among your fellow-man? Are there times where you were more at rest with yourself, more willing to let your spirit “travel far and wide” than others? If so, why? What was different?

Many people have lived their lives running to and fro in the earth, desperately seeking a way to extract joy, pleasure, fulfillment and happiness from the world at large, while many others have lived their lives motivated almost exclusively by a deep-rooted fear of loss. Either approach misses the point of life entirely and both tend to end in the same shallow grave.

One of my favorite aspects of my company’s corporate culture is the idea that my team and I can build a safe place where the spirits within us can find safe harbor. I know of no one who has escaped the jaws of life as it now is without a bruise or two, and letting down the barriers and fronts to reveal one’s inner spirit can be a bit daunting at first. Over time, however, the spirit within shines more and more brightly, illuminating the way for others.

This all sounds a bit airy-fairy as I write this, but it is a very real, tangible and at times visceral process. When someone believes in you more than you believe in yourself, when someone trusts you more than you trust yourself and when someone pushes you more than you push yourself you have an opportunity to let go of self-constructed limitations to the expression of who you really are, The Real You.

It will likely take time, as those walls, defenses and scar tissue took time to build and grow, but given the right nourishment and surround, you can and should blossom. Holding back is the only thing that will stunt your growth or retard your progress.

I believe that people can always change for the better. Scrooge did it late in life in what is perhaps one of the most inspiring pieces of literature ever written, and so can you! It is never too late to give more freely of yourself to the world around you.

The question is: will you do what it takes to let your spirit travel farther and wider than you’ve permitted until now? Life is too short to hold back. Whether or not the ghost’s warning is true, I see no reason why anyone should tempt fate and fail to do his or her part in allowing for the unconditional and unrestricted flow of spirit into expression no matter how big or how small the task at hand might be.