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Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

Please join us, have fun, and interact with others in the same kindness that you would like others to interact with you.

Remember Them

This is the Memorial Day weekend. A time where we stopped to remember and honor those who have done what they could to make our life better.

Yes, these folks are the military and many others. The statesman who first put their lives on the line to form our great nation and that lineage carrying on to today. Brave congressmen and senators some of Whom have faced overwhelming pain, torture, and partial dismemberment from the enemy both in captivity and on the battlefield. Those who were shot while practicing for a charity baseball event, and those who stand to do what’s right every day, we honor them all.

We honor the firemen who charged into a high-rise building to save others, knowing they were the ones who would not make it back out. The policeman who was killed during a routine traffic stop, trying to keep the roads safe. The next-door neighbor who stood up to be counted when someone called out pleading for help. These are the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They did so to make a difference in the lives of others and to protect the way of life they loved.

It seems that one day or one weekend to memorialize those who have passed is not enough. Every day we should spot these people who do the good for others. And, we should thank them, for every good action a person takes makes everyone that much better.

Have a great Memorial Day

The Cost of Freedom

Good morning.

One of the things I got to do my last tour in the Air Force was to manage some special projects. One day when returning from an off-site meeting, I drove back to base with my commander in my immediate supervisor in the car.

As we approached the front gate to the base, there were comments in the car about the Tuesday protesters who were at the gate protesting. Like my dad, who was career Army, had always done, I gave a disparaging remark against the protesters. My commander, a full bird colonel who had spent most of his military life in Europe, faced off against the Iron Curtain, stopped me right there.

He told me that those protesters were doing a valuable thing. He explained to me they were proving that I had done my job well. He told me I had sworn an oath to defend the Constitution. And those protesters at the front gate proved that I had done my job well. He said it was the Constitution which allowed them to be there and voice their opinion in the first place.

I had to think about that, and I realized he was right. Every person who serves in the military takes an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. The fact that the Bill of Rights lives and is used stands as an essential testament to the hard work and perseverance everyone in the military has given to this country.

It is important to note that the Bill of Rights is not a cafeteria type document. In other words, you cannot use the amendments you like and condemned the amendments you don’t want. If you want the second amendment on gun control, you have to accept the First Amendment on freedom of speech. If you want the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, you have to take all 10 amendments.

Why were those protesters so important, though? It falls to one other fundamental truth. Freedoms not used because of any fear, are never free. I am proud to have defended the Constitution of the United States, and I am thrilled to live in a free land.

Because We Can

If the future were left to those who believed the status quo was the best that we could be, we would never evolve to find our full potential.

It’s not the sane and the rational who move us to new abilities. It is those who refuse to accept anything less, those who do not know it cannot be done, and the sheer willpower of the stubborn who declined to be defeated.

You have heard me state before, and it is true that up until 1900 knowledge doubled about every hundred years. Today it doubles roughly every 13 months. Except for some newer technologies. Nanotechnology and a few others are still doubling every 2 to 3 years. From our healthcare systems to our space programs, to our better understanding of our world, and even to the better understanding of each other, our lives are improved through the expedited growth we are enjoying in knowledge.

This is not the time to dig in heels and claim we have to slow down just because we don’t know or understand. Now is the time, like none other since the Elizabethan era, when we should learn everything we can, do everything we can, and find ways to help everyone we can. Why do we do this? Because we can, and now we are allowed to grow and be part of the solution like no other time in history.

For millennia, governments have feared change. Even our own government wanted to keep items such as breaking the sound barrier out of the news and ventures into space limited to the government people charged with doing so. Now government partners with the private sector to fulfill our future in not only spacecraft and space travel, but also a whole host of other initiatives which used to be the government’s domain.

This incredible resurgence and growth in knowledge are fueled in large part by significant companies once again willing to perform research to first discover and build the items that will then, at a later date, give them monetary success. The advantages we gave up when we curtailed our willingness to invest in unknown research are slowly coming back. We are not the smartest nation. We are not the best-educated nation. We are not the healthiest nation. Yet, hopefully, we are the nation back on the path and going back to where we’ve been before.

 

Accountability

Unfortunately, we once again suffered another senseless school shooting in our great nation. 10 more of those destined to guide us into the future, perished in senseless slaughter. This aggravates me to no and, as it should all of us. I spent the weekend racking my brain for the why and the what can be done to stop the deaths of so many young people in their haven of learning.

I first looked at the schools themselves, and realized arming teachers is not the answer. I looked at local law enforcement, the legislature for caving into demands, and other places to lay blame. It took me a while and then I think I stumbled on an answer.

My first thought was that all weapons should be locked in the town Armory and signed out by their owners as needed, and then returned to the armory and signed back in. And then, I realized the irrational fear of the government taking guns. I then thought of the owners of weapons developing and running their own armory where the people they would hire would control the arms and sign them in and out. For many, the fear of armed villains breaking into their homes would preclude this. That’s when I realized I was overthinking the entire problem.

What we need is to hold the NRA responsible for gun violence in schools. The Second Amendment did not guarantee 33 round magazines. Nor did it guarantee automatic weapons. The Second Amendment was written in a time where if you were really good with your gun you might possibly get off two shots a minute. Today’s automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and high capacity magazines were not dreamed of when the Second Amendment was written.

The NRA lobbied and bullied to have its way in Congress, and the street armament we have today is a result of that. It is time to hold the NRA responsible. Until the NRA makes our schools safe from mass murder by weapons it lobbied to make legal, they are on the hook and should be held accountable.

I am not talking in a figurative, or pie-in-the-sky thought pattern. The NRA as a whole needs to set protections in place to ensure no schoolchild or teacher is injured by a rifle or a gun at any time on campus. If they fail to do so, federal and state government should step in and hold them accountable for this protection. And, they should reconsider their need of high-capacity magazines. If it takes you 30 rounds to shoot a deer or an elk, you probably need to stop hunting and take up a hobby that would be safer for the rest of us.

By the way, when I was a kid, I was a member of the NRA. They taught me to shoot with my single shot .22, and they did an excellent job on gun safety. Like anyone else in life, they have their good points in their bad points. Don’t we all.

Just one mean old master sergeant’s opinion.

 

Softly Speaking Wins

From time to time, we will run into situations where someone will get aggravated and start speaking loudly or aggressively. And, when peaceful calmness is broken, no one wins. Aggravation and loss of one’s temper never put anyone in a good light.

Speak softly, for loudness and agitation only bring more volume and anxiety in return. If you talk softly and look at the other person while doing so, and the louder they get, the softer you speak, they will calm down, and the tension will begin to evaporate. No one is helped by anger. And, no one is understanding anything, while voices are enraged.  Anger only causes more anxiety and rage.

At that point, everyone is trying to outdo everyone else to win.

If you want to win, be quiet and in control. Doing so you can disarm rising tensions.

Critical Thinking

I’ve talked to you lately about time being more important than money because you can make more money and you know you can’t make more time. And we have talked about planning. Today we have to talk about the ‘do it’ factor.

Once we know what is important enough to us that we are willing to trade time we cannot get back to see ‘it’ done, no matter what ‘it’ may be, we have to do ‘it’.  Believe me, everything looks easy until that point. But when it comes down to getting something scheduled, done, or playing the video game, or just sitting and resting, actions may become hard to accomplish. At this point, an interesting item called critical thinking can come to your rescue.

Actually, you can do either, the task or something else. The question asked  is, “Do you really want to do something else?” At the moment the mind will probably tell you, “Yeah just relax.” Yet, you know the task needs to get done.

Critical thinking allows you mentally to walk around to the other side of your decision and see what comes out. You were supposed to clean up the kitchen and run the dishwasher. That’s what was scheduled. It has been a long day, and you’re sitting in the easy chair playing your favorite video game. You can quickly decide what to do by using a little critical thinking.

Start by thinking of the task you need to do, and how long it will take. It’s not a big kitchen, you can probably be done in half an hour. When you start to play your game, it takes about an hour. Now, imagine what the kitchen looks like after you clean it up. It’s nice it’s clean, and it makes you feel good.

Now imagine what the kitchen will look like after an hour of playing the video game. A pile of dishes is sitting in the sink waiting to go into the dishwasher. Below all the dishes puddles of gum get the bottom of the sink. Who knows what that could be? Crumbs and spills over the counters. And a floor that needs to be swept.

If you’re like me, there is no one else that will do it for you, so that vision is only going to stay with you and get worse until it’s cleaned up anyway. If you do the task now, you will feel better. There will probably be time for some video games a little later on. You may even do better because you feel better.

Just a thought.

Have a great day!

Before You Teach

There’s a sign in a Boy Scout camp down in Alabama, and it says:

You can’t teach what you don’t know

like you can go back to where you ain’t been

Poor grammar aside, it is a truism. To teach one of the most significant requirements is that you actually know what you’re talking about. And yet, it is not the only requirement.

To teach others, you need to meet them where they are. After you have the connection, then you can guide them to wherever they need to go. Failure to do so would mean a collapse in the transfer of knowledge. And that could happen no matter how knowledgeable the instructor is.

The greatest thing you could have in teaching others is to know and understand those you are working with. Until that understanding occurs, more likely than not, there merely groups of people trying to search for something in the dark.

The question becomes if you are writing a course, how do you really know your audience and what they need? The answer to that is easier than you think. You need to go out and interact with them.

Many people miss the step because they think it can’t be done or is very hard to do. Yet, is one of the easiest things in the entire training process. To know your students, you just need to go out and communicate with them, be with them, empathize with them. Then, you will know how to teach them and what they need to learn.

Where and how you may ask? If you’re teaching people, who build computers, go to the factory and be on the line with those people for a while as they build the computers. If you’re writing lessons for vets, go to veterans organizations and military bases, and maybe a bar or two near those places.

Coffee houses are great places to learn about other potential students and what they have to live with on a daily basis. Restaurants, parks, charities, organizations, and meet-ups are just a few of the places you could go to talk to people and learn something before you teach others.

Worried you’ll be ignored? Say hi a time or two, and you may be surprised. Offer to buy somebody a cup of coffee, and then listen to what they say. Watch their mannerisms. Their timber and emotion in the voice will tell you where the pain points really are.

When you teach somebody something, you are actually offering them a better way to deal with the pain point. Students need to know something which you are going to teach them so they can do something better. And that relieves the irritation, pain, or worry.

In doing this preliminary work, you are actually removing your own worry, stress, and pain points. Because once you have done this learning about your students, you have made your own work of teaching much easier to accomplish.