Everyone Has A Viewpoint

This week we have been talking about curbing violence. It seems that the main reason for violence stems from fear, bullying, demoralization, and degradation of oneself either internally or by others. We have discussed that taking guns away will not help. Guns are tools, and unfortunately, any tool (gun, knife, rock, pitchfork, glass bottle or anything else,) can become a weapon.

So we’ve worked our way through to ‘how.’ For stopping the violence, first, we have to believe it can be done. If you try to do something that you think you can’t accomplish, the chances of that ever happening are greatly diminished. This is why we need mean old master sergeants. Mean old master sergeants don’t think something can be done, we know things can be done.

Imagine that you went up to our founding fathers and told them something you knew was going to be true? ‘Mr. Jefferson sir, your new nation will put a man on the moon within the next 200 years.’ True or not, that fact would probably not be fathomed in that day and age, and you might be locked in the stocks for your own protection until you came back to your senses. The truth is anything is possible as long as you believe you can.

So how do we do this? We could become farmers. We plant seeds of belief in other people that this can be done. Some people are hard and set in their ways. They will not listen. Some people have no depth for the roots to grow. They will agree with your idea today, forget about you tonight, and be on a totally new thought tomorrow. Some people will realize what can be done, and grow fast until others start putting them down. The wind from all that negative talk blows them over, and their belief whithers. And yet, it is hard to keep the truth from being heard. If you plant the seeds of sincere belief and nurture them, you can grow a forest.

How do we stop violence? First, we need to believe it can be done. Then plant the seeds of belief in others, knowing that some will fail and others will grow. We nurture the belief in others, and the positive fruits of our endeavors will come forth.

In a culture where we blame inanimate objects for the actions of people, we need to make a change. We can start this change with a new generation. We can get to the heart of the matter and tackle bullying, belittlement, hubris, and anti-socialism. Easy? No. Achievable? You bet. If we go to the moon, and if we can go to Mars, we can do this.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope to see you again tomorrow.

A New Generation

Back in the late 1960s, America was changing. The Air Force knew that it had to change its ways also. There was a need for better management and leadership systems and better leadership training for the enlisted men and women.

I joined the Air Force in 1972. I was part of that new Air Force generation and benefited from excellent training. The old guard of senior noncommissioned officers (NCO’s) was still in place. They were always respected by the rank-and-file, and their orders were always followed. As a new member of the Air Force, I had a career of leadership training before me. I went to leadership schools and other events every few years. I went to an NCO Academy for 6 weeks in Texas. And, I even took a Senior NCO correspondence course while working in the Azores.

The big thing that I learned from this was the fact that you can teach a new generation and have them succeed without first getting rid of the old guard that came before them. I think that is an important thing to know. We honor our past, even as we learn new ways to do new things.

This week I have been writing on trying to curb violence in America, especially deadly violence. Today I start to look at the ‘how’ to get it done. First off, we come from a long legacy, and we must recognize that and honor it. The next thing we need to realize is that as the world changes, we need to learn and adapt our ways to meet new needs. I do not mean to make this sound like a contest. It is merely a fact of life. Those who learn, grow and succeed. Those who stop learning and stay with only what they knew up to that point, stagnate and fall behind.

We need to develop new ways to engage people from many backgrounds, lifestyles, and societies. We need to find ways to learn from each other, and we need to find ways to understand and empathize with one another. We do this while honoring those who have come before us and taught us their ideals, and at the same time recognizing that for us to grow and succeed we must also find and develop new ways where all can equally benefit.

Maybe we need to forgive and be forgiven for old sins and felt slights. Perhaps we need to reach out in understanding and realize we are really one planet with one people who have a very diverse past. As we celebrate our diversity, we should remember that we are, at the core, one people.

Tomorrow, I will talk more specifically on some of the ‘how’s.’ I am also wondering if you have any ideas on how this could be accomplished. If you have any, please let me know in the comments. I would be glad to share any thoughts or ideas I receive.  Until then, I want to thank you, my blog readers, for being here with me. No one person ever does anything alone, it always takes a team.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Before It Is Too Late

Today we continue a useful discussion that we started yesterday on ways to curb violence in America, and hopefully many other places as well. This is no easy task. And it’s not for the faint of heart. The one thing that you did not and will not hear from these writings would be that it is impossible. Nothing is impossible if we really want to do it.

We have a few mountains we have to take down. Mountains that were never intended to be there and yet were built over time. There is an old musical that tried to bring light to the divisions between different peoples. This was done in the hope of having everyone realize the errors of the divisions and attempt to reverse them. The song talked about having to learn before it’s too late. It went on to talk about hating all the people your relatives hate. I believe this was a tongue-in-cheek song meant to show the audience how wrong hate is.

We have to learn before it’s too late. We have to learn that everybody is the same. We are all people built out of Stardust. With various colored hair and eyes, and different skin and languages. And, within each of us, we are all the same. I do not tell you this because it sounds good. I say this because it’s the truth. Until we see each other as the same as we view ourselves, we go nowhere. Until we fix the way we look at each other, fear, loathing, and hatred will continue. And these are three of the pedestals that violence sits on. Remove those three foundations, and violence fails.

Often you hear the argument that we fight for God. We need to remember that there is a difference between God and religion. I say this not to cause ire within many people. I say this because if you look at the major religions in the world, the God of all our fathers is actually the same God.

Languages may be different, yet the feelings and emotions are the same, as are the thought patterns. We may celebrate different holidays based on our culture, but we all celebrate holidays. Everyone loves a party.

I think it’s time for me to tie the first part of this together. If you can remove fear, loathing, and hatred, violence doesn’t stand a chance. If you can help everyone see each other as equals with similar goals and aspirations, fear goes away, and peace can gain a foothold.

So, our question for tomorrow becomes how. We’ve already discussed the ‘what’ shootings. The ‘who,’ people who fear and therefore hate. The ‘how’ is going to be the most essential piece. How do we get people to set aside some fears and hatreds that may go back thousands of years? How do we help everybody to see a better way? How do we even get this noticed and brought to the forefront? This is a question that may end up taking more than one blog to examine an answer. Yet until we have the ‘how’ figured out, it will be hard to know where and when.

I want to help everyone understand that we need to replace hate and violence with caring and togetherness. Violence only leads to more violence. Hatred, fear, and loathing only produce more of the same, and you end up with more violence. It would be great to give everybody in the world a timeout, just to think of this for a few minutes, I am just not sure how to do that, yet. If you have a good idea as to ‘how,’ please let me know in the comments section.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

It Is Time to Talk


Everyone likes to talk. Not necessarily just gossip. There are debates on many issues. I don’t think that there is a debate more important than stopping the violence in America’s cities and protecting our children in school. This week, with your permission, I would like to explore the topic of shootings.

There are many thoughts and ideas on shootings in America. We do tend to leave the world in this type of violence. Before everybody gets defensive, I would like to suggest that we keep this an open and honest debate that we can all participate in equally.

According to Pew Research, Homicide by firearm is actually down about half of what it was in the 1990s. And, suicide by gun is double that of homicide. Homicide by firearm is between 11,000 and 12,000 annually.¹ When I first heard this, I thought it was a low number. Yet, I believe it’s probably somewhere between 11,000 and 12,000 too many.

Taking guns away is a non-starter. Too many people use guns as tools. People in the Southwest that must protect themselves from rattlesnakes, people the southeast must work in or around swamps, and cowboys who work in Montana and the Dakotas need protection. In many other places, a firearm is a legitimate tool. Having said this if you need a semi-automatic hunting rifle with a 33-bullet clip to put food on the table, you probably need to take more lessons at the local shooting range.

I also have to tell you that guns don’t jump up one day and say let’s go shoot somebody. Quite often what causes the trigger to be pulled is someone with low self-esteem which has been bullied and harassed, or believes they have been, and are looking for revenge. And, I think this is the target that we need to fix.

This will not be easy, for it’s been going on for far too long. How long? I believe that the first family on earth had a problem with someone feeling bullied or harassed, or let his ego get away from him. Because of this, I believe that the first family on earth lost a son.

I believe that lowering our homicide rate, especially in mass shootings, will not be a one-step fix, and it will not be easy. Yet I have faith, because we are the people who put a man on the moon, and we are the people who are looking to go to Mars. I do not believe that ‘easy’ is a qualifier for us to do anything that we want to happen.

The mean old Master Sergeant is on board with me in this endeavor. He’s going to initiate, starting next month, the Mean Old Master Sergeant’s No Bullying Books.

I don’t mean to be writing you an encyclopedia about this. Yet, with your permission, I would like to use this week to discuss the problem and some actual ideas of what may work. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

[1] Krogstad, j.m., Oct. 21, 2015, pewresearch.org, Gun Homicide steady after decline in ‘90s; suicide rate edges up,



What Are You Doing for Blue 4 Today?

I used to work at a headquarters during my last tour in the Air Force. I worked with an engineering unit that sat across a common area from an operations unit. The operations unit was made up of pilots and flight officers. And they had a huge sign that could be read from almost anywhere on the first floor of the building which said, “What are you doing for blue 4 today?”

Coming from air weather service and communications I wasn’t really sure what the sign was saying. I interfaced with a lot of the people in the operations unit, and one day I just had to ask the question, what did the sign mean?

The person I asked, used to fly a jet. He explained to me that blue 4 is the last jet in the flight formation. The sign also had another connotation about being sure that we were doing everything we could for everyone involved right down to the last man.

I had always thought it was important to do my best for everyone. Now that I understood what the saying on the sign meant, I adopted it as my mantra. I don’t fly except commercially, yet I always think of this sign and its meaning.

Whenever I work on anything, I try to look at how the work will be received, and will it be understood. Will what I build or do work down to the very last person involved?

Next time you take a moment and are wondering what you’re doing and how it’s being received, or how your work affects others, you can always ask yourself, “What have I done for blue 4 lately?” If you have the opportunity, you can go out and talk to somebody on the shop floor or someone in the field.

Sometimes you’ll be surprised about what gets through and how it’s perceived. Sometimes it will surprise you in a good way, and sometimes the surprise will make you want to dig in and work harder for everyone, even the last person in line.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope to be with you again soon.

Four Types of Learners

The majority of anything is showing up. And we’re not just talking about being there physically. If you want to make being somewhere to learn count, it’s even more essential that you are present mentally.

I look at four main ways that people show up, especially to take a class and learn. The four thought patterns are:

  1. I’m here, but I can’t do it, so I’m just going to end up failing.
  2. I’m here, and I’ll play along, but things are rigged so I can’t pass and will have to retake the class.
  3. I’m here, and I may not get everything, but I’m going to pay attention and do my best.
  4. Lead, follow or move over because I know everything and am only here to check a box.

In case number one, the person is there physically, yet they’re not going to try anything, and have already made up their mind that they are unable to learn. In this case, these people are writing their own destiny. And their writing does not bode well for them or anyone who needs to count on them.

In case number two, the person will try to learn and will give a halfhearted attempt, but other thoughts are on their mind. Their mind is awash with many ideas, and they are not concentrating. The fact is they may try, but real learning is not in there for them today.

Number three is concentrating. Will work hard. Will not take losing personally. And will strive to learn. This person has a much better chance of learning than the first two students. With everything being equal number three is a good student and will have a good shot at learning the information.

Everyone has an ego of one kind or another.  Number four has a huge ego. And unfortunately, the overconfidence of number four will cause a great block to actually learning something new.  We used to call this the John Wayne effect. This type of person actually believes that he or she knows it all, and cannot fail, and anybody who’s not getting behind him or her is lost anyway. It will typically take a significant failure for this person to see the errors of their ways and make a change.

I can say this based on observations of the last 40 years in training, studying behavioral psychology and motivational techniques, and much scrutiny.  I do not encourage you to take my word for this.  I suggest you sit back and observe for yourself, and see if this idea on learners seems to hold truths or not.

These are just the observations of an old Master Sargent who knows that he does not know it all.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Take Charge

Taking charge of your life is essential. The fact is if you don’t take charge of your life many others will try to co-opt you for their purposes. And they will use almost anything to do this.

The question used to be ‘do you work to live, or do you live to work?’ I would like to rephrase the thought just a little bit. Are we working to fulfill our dreams, or someone else’s?

We all need to live. And to exist in our economy, we must work. Even those with money must work not to lose it. And although we would all like to work for ourselves, it is not always realistic or feasible. Remember, no one comes up with an idea and automatically starts at the top of the heap. A great friend reminded me yesterday that the only people who start at the top are ditch diggers.

The best of ideas still requires support and funding. Many of the Impressionist painters whose works are worth tens of millions of dollars each today, had to have paying jobs working elsewhere so that they could live while they were painting them. Van Gogh whose works sell for hundreds of millions today, only sold one painting while he was alive for I believe about 150 francs.

If you have a good idea and are building a business, figure you’re income chart is going to be flying near the surface for 2 to 3 years and then you’ll see that curves start to accelerate up. And to make that climb happen there many parts of the business you will be feverishly working for those years until the success starts to pour in.

Remember it’s your business, and I am willing to bet you love the idea, or else you would not be working at selling your goods. Remember though, there is no vacation, no time off, no sick days and if any of these occur, the business work does not get accomplished. Because when you start, you are usually a one-person shop, mainly because you haven’t earned enough money yet to hire help. I am not telling you this to cause you apprehension, just to prepare you.

If you don’t give up and don’t give out, and if you have an idea that resonates with the public and can get the people to come and look at your venture, in time you just might make it. You need to keep your faith in yourself and your product and work harder than you’ve worked for anyone else. And there’s one more ingredient. Luck plays a part in all of this. I call it serendipity.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.