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Bah, Humbug!: The Season of Dysfunctional Dialogue

From Volume 7, Issue 12:It’s Christmastime again. The season when we all try to decompress and review the past year and vow to chill and get along.

But somehow the opposite seems to happen. I’m stressed because I can’t get it all done in time—tree, decorations, shopping, cooking. The last person I want to be cooped up with on Christmas Day is my aunt, who never smiles. And then there are all the projects, both at home and at work, that aren’t going to get done because I’m putting all the “some assembly required” toys together. Can we just skip Christmas this year?

The Real Cost of Convenience

From Volume 7, Issue 12:What happens when we choose the “convenient” option? It saves us time, hassle, perhaps travel. It doesn’t interfere with our prescribed plans. And it usually costs more, right? But many people lose sight of the non-financial costs of convenience—and of just how high those costs can be.

Hands Up Don’t Shoot vs. Pants Up Don’t Loot

From Volume 7, Issue 11:By any standard, the little St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is a pretty old town. Called Ferguson Station at its beginnings in 1854, it became the fourth-class city of Ferguson in 1894 with 1,000 residents. So we’re not talking about some 1950s-era suburb here. Ferguson was an enclave of well-to-do houses with owners who commuted into St. Louis on one of the eight trains a day that stopped there.

At the risk of appearing to simplify the struggles that the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson has been experiencing, I want to compare and contrast two themes

Authoring the Inner Monologue

From Volume 7, Issue 11:My two-year-old grandson, Oliver, was visiting last Sunday evening. And he’s a chatterbox. To their credit, Oliver’s parents are paying a lot of attention to his (and his older sister’s) self-talk. His mom tells me that she interprets his chatter as verbalization of his internal monologue. Oliver is sorting out who he is and how he fits into the world around him.

A Special Case of Sad

From Volume 7, Issue 10:In one week, a friend lost his 22-year-old sister, another lost her nephew who was to be in a wedding in two weeks, and another became a grandfather to a non-viable baby who would live no longer than a few hours after birth. Two more friends lost their dogs (one to old age and one to the front bumper of a speeding pick-up truck) and another had their family cat run away. All these friends read this e-zine.

Being Right

From Volume 7, Issue 10:Personal note: I hate being wrong. I hate it so much that even when I was, I could argue my point ad nauseum until I prevailed. In many organizational circles, this trait is admired. It also produces armies of yes-men direct reports that allow little innovation or creative thinking.

Mastering Forgiveness, One Vexation at a Time

From Volume 7, Issue 9:”The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”
—Thomas Szasz

This past month has been a maelstrom of angst for a lot of people. Maybe it was the supermoon we had last week. Or maybe it was everybody getting back into the after-summer routines. Kids back to school. School buses clogging up normally simple commutes. Bills coming in from that two-week vacation back in early August. These things can really stack up.

Whatever triggered it, a lot of people in my world, myself included, felt “victimized” by something or someone, and we were mad about it. We’ve all reached a breaking point at some time or another, where we’ve just had enough. Anger becomes the reaction of choice. But it’s not the only option—or the best one.

Sabotage

From Volume 7, Issue 9:When you hear the word “sabotage”, what comes to mind? Some may remember the Beastie Boys tune: “Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage.”

Or maybe that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from earlier this year? (You didn’t see it either?)

Sab-o-tage
/ˈsabəˌtäZH/

verb: sabotage; 3rd person present: sabotages; past tense: sabotaged; past participle: sabotaged; gerund or present participle: sabotaging

1. deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage.

synonyms: vandalize, wreck, damage, destroy, cripple, impair, incapacitate;
obstruct, disrupt, spoil, ruin, undermine, threaten, subvert

I’m guessing you don’t consider yourself a “saboteur” (one who sabotages), yet I think we are all such vandalizers on a regular basis.

Get Unstuck from Your Story

From Volume 7, Issue 8:We all have a story. It’s what we tell ourselves that gives us our identity, our place in the world. It summarizes who we are and what our capabilities and limitations are. We start writing this story when we’re very young, and it becomes an ingrained part of our self-talk. But when you peel away the layers, most of our stories involve at least as much fancy as fact—whether they’re about ourselves or the world around us.

When “OK” Is Only Skin-Deep

From Volume 7, Issue 8:The recent passing of Robin Williams has me thinking about how much of what we believe we know about each other relies on surfaces. Many illnesses, both mental and physical, can torment people without the slightest outward appearance. So when we learn about their suffering, we’re shocked. “But he looked so good,” we think. And that’s the problem—looking good is not the same as being OK.