Tuesday, February 10, 2015

David Brooks

Those of you who know mw are probably aware that I am a major fan of David Brooks. I love his work because he is thoughtful and measured. He doesn't spout off and point his finger. He tries to give context and understanding to all his opinions. And, although he represents the Conservative voice on the PBS News Hour on Fridays, he is the kind of Conservative a Liberal like me can work with. He has much to teach me and it always seems to be worth it and more.

Here's todays article, supposedly about Brian Williams, but, of course it's about the reader. We are being called to be part of society in a powerful and connected way. We are also given the opportunity to step into Mr. Williams' shoes and try them on.

I am Brian Williams. I wish I were David Brooks.


Check it out and let me know whether or not you are changed.

Monday, December 8, 2014


In the last post I made a connection between Power and Survival. And since the topic is Belief, maybe it's time to begin the connections.

What is Power?

This isn't about electricity or horsepower, I mean personal power. It's that thing mom and dad always used to enforce decisions. And teachers and big kids. It seems those early meanings of power largely define the way many of us still see power today as adults. And so it shows up as the means to control others. It also seems that the automatic reaction to fear is control. Now I'm not talking about the panic of being attacked or a real life threatening situation. I'm referring to that fear that is present, perhaps under the surface, therefore not measured, which makes me want to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.

What I just described is something very familiar to me and perhaps to you. Again, what I have described is mostly unconscious behavior. I have a definition of Power I'm not clear about, that I'm trying to use unconsciously to deal with other people in an unaware controlling or manipulative way in order to feel safe from a threat I haven't clearly identified.

If that is hard to follow, that's totally understandable. And it actually illustrates the ability people have to confuse themselves into unconsciousness about their choices and behaviors.

Now I'll bet you don't trust yourself when you think you're confused. So, if a person doesn't know their feeling is afraid, react to it unconsciously by controlling and has to meet with a customer or a boss or a spouse, what are the chances of having a successful experience with the most important people in our lives?

I've gotten by in such situations. But in truth they were always corrosive to the relationships in question. So let's talk about doing something that isn't better. Better than poor is probably still lousy. Lets' talk about doing something different.

I claimed at the outset that this would be about Belief. So in order to investigate that an agreement about definitions is critical. There's no use exploring ideas if we have individual understandings of the words. The first is Power.

If my definition of Power comes from age 5, adult life is going to be difficult. Power as I am using it means having the ability to exert my energy in a specific direction. (You math people might relate to a vector).

And I know I have Power because I am breathing and that isn't possible without it. Further, I can choose to do one of three things with that Power. I can give it away, as most of us have done in situations where we have felt suitably threatened, thinking someone else will protect me. The next thing I can do is use it like the bullies do, against someone else. I hope you'll agree that neither of those is likely to produce a worthwhile result for me.

The third thing I can do with my Power is use it for my own benefit. And when I do that, I make my life better. And the interesting side effect is that all the people who are important to me also benefit; some directly, some indirectly.

Someone who has this Power and is willing to use it as described in the last case can use that Power to identify his/her feelings. In that case, I discover what it is I am actually afraid of and how serious is the threat I'm facing. Specifically what do I need the Courage to face? And I can use my Courage to take the appropriate action to deal with the fear. There is no need to avoid, control or manipulate.

None of this is possible without being aware of what I think and how I'm feeling. And my definition, in this case, of Power is actually a Belief in how things are. In a way, this is a building block of my mythology.

C'mon back for the next piece. See you soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


The last series of post here dealt with emotions and the way 21st Century humans in the West are dealing with them. Which is to say, describing some of the ways we are trying to avoid them. It doesn't matter whether it happens in the workplace, where the expectation is that feelings get checked at the door, or at home where they tend to be relegated to the female part of the family, or when the males lose it and explode all over the wrong person.

While I'm aware that these are easy generalizations that don't describe every situation, none the less, it still holds that most contemporary Americans don't know what they are feeling and have no idea what they mean when they become aware of them.

We are often encouraged to be in the present. Eckhardt Tolle has made a great success for himself speaking and writing about it in his best seller "The Power Of Now." The title is misleading to me because it claims that Power is somehow contained within Now and that I can somehow learn to either harness the power for some purpose, or I can succumb to that power and then, I don't know what comes next.

As you might expect, I have raised the topic of belief so I can look at how it exists in society. After almost 19 years of coaching I have become aware that the clients I've worked with are a lot like me. They act based on the way they believe things are. Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime learning about and teaching the way myth has operated in the lives of humans as far back as he could see. We have come down from a ling line of myth makers, yet we are pretty much mistaken about what Campbell was trying to teach us.

Humans are pretty much awe struck by what we call Creation. It is enormous and mystical, beyond our comprehension. So we have always tried to understand how everything got here. Actually I think we have tried to figure out how we got here. So these myths that have been created by civilization after civilization are the stories told to try to figure out the mystery of us. They explain the ineffable.

Today we think of myth as a synonym for lie. Actually, a myth is a Creation story, as told by the observers of a time. Where they seem to be untrue is at the scientific level where our knowledge and experience find details that seem to invalidate the myth. But the myth is about a culture and their understanding of what they see and what inspires their awe and the way they explain it to themselves so they can focus on being hunter gatherers or farmers or fishermen instead of being constantly amazed and spending their days in wonder.

You might ask, what does this have to do with belief in today's world?

Good question. The answer requires looking back in order to see the context that gives rise to our belief.  Not long before his death in 1987 Campbell was talking about the fact that our current mythology (our Creation story) has been overtaken by our Cosmology. What he was referring to was the nature of the gods. Or for monotheists, God. Early humans thought the gods were among us. While we couldn't identify them, they were responsible for the events we could observe but not understand. The next view was the gods as Giants. They lived in the forest outside our view somewhere, but we saw the evidence of their work. The next stop was Mount Olympus, followed by Heaven.

Campbell said that we always find the gods so powerful that they couldn't live where we live, it wouldn't make sense. But today we travel the heavens, as we call it, and we have no new way of seeing the gods out of our reach. The danger with this is Hubris, or excessive pride. That dangerous belief that I am God. Interestingly, every Western civilization's stories begin with Pride. Whether it's the Garden of Eden, or Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Odyssey, every one is a war with our vision of power and how it is expressed.

It seems that what's most important to humans is Power, at least in the West. I can claim no familiarity with Eastern Mythology and am unable to quote it, but I suspect there is a similar story to tell there.

This connection here seems to call for a proposal. The connection between the struggle with and for power must be connected to the most important subject to the human. That's survival. The most important thing to every species has always been claimed to be survival. And all the successful species have found ways to support and assure their survival. Interestingly, most species are dedicated to the survival of their species. Humans seem to have evolved to the point that I am more important than the species. And the speech in the West is continuing to focus more and more on the individual. Yet the anthropologists think it is our interconnectedness that has assured our survival so far.

Have we lost our humility and connectedness to our hubris?

More tomorrow.

Friday, October 3, 2014


There's an ongoing battle inside every human being, particularly in our country and within anyone who has come out of the 20th Century. This internal wrestling match is articulated well today by David Brooks in his New York Times piece. Yes, he's my favorite commentator today. Yes he's considered conservative. Yes I'm still a flaming lefty. 

Here's something more important to me that labels. It's thoughtfulness. The 20th Century was a time for technologists. Anyone who could invent a better mousetrap got rewarded for making our lives easier and faster. The theory was that we would have lots of time to relax and take it easy. Instead, we became the most over working nation on earth. Some places one might think the compulsion to survive would drive people to endless effort and persistent labor. But it turns out that people who are actually fighting for survival quit when they can. But a good day's work isn't satisfactory for us.

My theory about this is that we have adopted a belief system that requires ever more effort at achieving greater amounts of control over our lives and our supposed comforts. Some would say that this is about our native limitations as humans. Churches would call this sinfulness. Bosses would call this laziness. Politicians would call it entitlement.

I think it's about unrecognized fear. But that's an emotion and we aren't supposed to have them. We've all been told that feelings are bad, that feeling people are weak and can't maintain self control. There's that control thing again.

You might ask about this control thing. Where does it come from? Well, smarter people than I would say that control is a natural response to fear. If fear is about an event that hasn't occurred yet, so I try to control the world around me so the thing I fear can't take place, or at least I'll be out of harm's way.

But let's say I'm not worried about being hit by crossing traffic. Let's say I've already stopped at the red light or train crossing. What if I'm afraid I won't have enough. or I'm going to be struck by an unknown assailant or...anything I can't nail down or measure?

Or even worse, I have this unsettled feeling in my gut and I distract myself from it so I can't determine the threat. When that's the case in my life, that uneasy queesy feeling eventually becomes anxiety and then, and then and then...?

But what if, and I'm not kidding about this, what if I could ask myself to name what the threat was? What if I found out about that feeling? But I'm often confused by this stuff and my head starts to swim and before long I need to think about something else. Or have a drink,as my friend, Kevin says, "Have a feeling? Have a drink>" Or how about this T-shirt

We have options. Check David out here. http://nyti.ms/1rR6IHI

Take the weekend to think about it and we'll pick this up next week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who Wants A Gift?

Yes, you can get a gift and it isn't even Christmas. Or any of those other gifty days like well, you know. 

And amazingly enough you can give it to yourself. Actually, no one else can give it to you. It's time to find a new best friend. Not another new friend. Most of us have had way too many of them. They just come and go, often without leaving a trace.

No, we're talking about a real best friend. The kind you had as a kid. You could pal around with him or her and just do the stuff the two of you wanted to do, which was almost always the same thing for each of you. And about this time each year one of you would go on vacation and your heart ached until they came back. Life was so much bigger and more fun when that best friend was around.

So, here's what I'm talking about Mr. or Ms. grown up. The kind of friend a big person needs to make their life bigger and better. Hop on your adult version of a bike and join us as follows:

Allow me to introduce your new best friend, COURAGE.

This isn’t a stranger to you, just a better friend than you’ve known. This is the friend that helped you make all those decisions, both hard and not-so-hard. Whether you were choosing a college, asking for a date or having a child, it was courage that was there, by your side, helping you move forward. Or not. Either way it was a decision. And that decision caused you to confront yourself, your expectations, your hopes, your fears. You may have told yourself you weighed all the pluses and minuses and came up with a rational decision but research tells us that the decision was likely to have been made and the logical augment merely justifies that decision.

Our decades of coaching and our individual life experience has helped us to see the power of the unconscious in our lives and the lives of our clients. Connecting to that part is really valuable to leading a life that is better at serving us. And the better it serves us, the better we serve the people who are important to us.

This experience has been so valuable to us that we decided to offer a worship to help others learn how to use this connection better. This is about connecting with Courage at the emotional level, not merely the intellectual level.  That’s where the Courage work is done. If you’re curios, and we know you are, join us for this life altering experience. Details follow.

We offer a day long workshop in which we explore the scary situations we all face on a daily basis uncover the actual threats and chart a path through the deep-seated process it takes to connect with the power of your Courage. And so the experience has the ability to stay with you over time,we will help you anchor it in your body so you can call it up whenever you choose.

The Courage Workshop will be help Saturday, August 2 from 9AM-5PM.
The location is a space called design cloud, 118  N. Peoria, Suite 2n Chicago 60607. 
The cost is $150 per person. 
We will break for punch and encourage you to take one of the following options for lunch. Either bring your own, or order with us from here: http://lorettasbakeshopandcafe.com/
Ordered lunch will be delivered and each will pay for theirs individually.
Call with questions or to register at 773-817-6700.

We look forward to joining you on this adventure. See you soon.

You’ll be glad you did.

Bill Campbell
Bill Flynn 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No more Amazon

Dear Reader,

A rant is about to follow. read it at your own risk. Or if you'd like to do something about the trending economy, please read on.

I do not shop at Wal-Mart. I refuse to support their way of doing business. I refuse because what they have done is to drive small businesses out of small towns. This allows more people to buy more stuff and spend their days driving out to the Wal-Mart Mall on the outskirts of town. They do this instead of buying a hammer ot T-Shirt or prescriptions from their next door neighbor who then retires to Florida, leaving someone in his house with an upside down mortgage and no one to sponsor the little league team your kid plays on. Because Wal-Mart doesn't contribute like that. They contribute to the Walton family in Arkansas.

I told you it was a rant. I warned you.

Now it's Amazon. They have driven most of the independent bookstores out of business and it seems Jeff Bezos is on his way to doing the same to lots of other stores too. Please don't think I'm wild about the retail businesses that may disappear. They are vulnerable because they have relied on the manufacturers and sale prices to bring people to their stores. So they have failed to build their brands, so so so.

Phil Rosenthal wrote in today's Tribune about the dirty tricks Amazon is pulling on Hachette, publisher of perhaps many of your favorite authors: Scott Turow, James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and others. I am not pleading the case of Hachette, because they haven't done anything for me personally, but because they are a legitimate publisher. They work with authors to create quality books. The kind that have lots of readers and no split infinitives. What I mean is, they are publishers, with editors and designers and a history in the profession. They are not working for the lowest price tag. They are looking to create product that has merit first, followed by quality production and widely available distribution.

None of that comes at the lowest price! This is not a process which lends itself to automation beyond the mechanical parts.And Amazon has made it's business all about saving the consumer money. This is not a workable business model, because it only looks at one thing---efficiency.

Mr. Rosenthal refers to Scott Turow, one of our most popular and prolific authors. Even he doesn't crank out lots of books, relative to a product that can be made on an assembly line with robots. Even a cr company needs to make many, many times more items per year than Mr. Turow can possible make. Or Stephen King or anyone else. If we continue as a society to buy cheap, sooner or later what we are going to get will be cheap.

We are seeing it now in the manufacturing arena. If we don't want to buy a knock off product from a low cost provider overseas, or we can't squeeze a few more cents out of the hourly of our own citizens we can't find it. We have demeaned factory work to the point where employers are unable to find capable workers because they are going to more valued jobs.

Buy books from Barnes & Noble. Or from your local bookstore if you're lucky enough to have one. And find your shoes and clothes and electronics from someone else too. There are plenty of good buys out there. Keep someone in business for a change instead of going for a little cheaper. None of us needs much more stuff anyway. And Amazon will get us in the end, if we empower them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LIVE from Lincoln Square!

Now, for something completely different...

Okay, it's not Saturday Night Live and it's not Monty Python. It's not even comedy, although I'll be disappointed if no one gets a laugh.

It will be live and it will be Saturday night and you certainly will be entertained in a different way. It will be more exploration than hilarity.

The topic will be Inspiration. I did not select the topic, Jamie did. And she asked me to present about it. I have to admit that I was more surprised about the topic than the request to present. Those of you who know me would not be surprised to see it announced that I was going to expound on any topic under the sun, and you certainly wouldn't be surprised or hear that I would think myself capable. Here's the surprise.

Inspiration is one of those topics that I see as emotional rather than intellectual. Motivation is another one, and I've had a disparaging attitude about motivators since I had my first selling job way back in the seventies. I was able to get hyped up, but I wasn't able to control when and for how long. I was like getting high and then wanting to stay high. It can't be done. So we won't be focusing on getting inspired on Saturday, we'll be learning about what we already know about the subject and the tools already at our disposal to find that "hit" when we need it.

Jamie asked me to do this some time ago and I've been working with it ever since. It's going to work and it's going to be fun. And I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn from you.

Roots Salon Master Speaker Series Presents

Saturday, May 31 at 8:00 PM at Jamie O'Reilly's Roots Salon,
(private address in Lincoln Square, Chicago)

I am so excited to host Bill as a guest speaker at Roots. A lifetime supporter of the arts and keenly alert to their impact on the community, Bill will talk to us and with us about INSPIRATION and its place in our lives as professional creatives. He's the guy to hear for pep talks and new perspectives on being your best and vibrant creative self, facing your fears, and having fun. "SHOW UP FOR ROOTS! That's what Bill does, and when he's here, he's all there!

Admission: $25 donation. We serve dessert. You BYOB. Seating is limited. Street parking.(private address in Lincoln Square). ph 773-203-7661; Email: roots@jamieoreilly.com. Purchase tickets online.
Read Bill's Blog here.

Sat May 31 at 8:00