Archive for May, 2012

Gentle reader, please see yesterday’s post for the introduction to congruence.  Here is PART II of our noodlings regarding this stimulating concept.

CONGRUENCE = regarding decision-making: one gathers information and at some point must make a decision (without all of the information); then one must act; then one must reflect (search and learn) and then re-choose and the cycle continues.  In effect, there are no ‘final’ decisions (there are always intended and unintended consequences which require reflection — searching and learning — and re-choosing).

CONGRUENCE = what do we ‘espouse’ and what do we ‘live’?  E.G.: values, perceptions, assumptions, beliefs, etc.  These operate at the conscious level, the pre-conscious level, and the sub-conscious level.  Our challenge is to become more and more aware of what we ‘espouse’ and ‘live’ and identify both where we are in harmony and where we are in dissonance.  We need others to help us – thus we need to invite feedback,  listen receptively and intently, keep our hearts and minds open, believe that we are, indeed, imperfect, and seek with awareness.  Another way we can become aware is to have some serious ‘bumps’ occur in our lives and then learn from them.

CONGRUENCE = Can we act our way into more congruence?  Consciously practice keeping the following more consistently in harmony: emotions-thoughts; emotions-actions; thoughts-actions; values-actions, etc.  There are many pairs that are possible to practice.  Does one always lead out of who one is?  OR When does one act in a way that conflicts with who one is?

CONGRUENCE = in relationship this is ‘the third way’ – you have your way, I have mine (e.g. your values and my values) and together we engage one another so that a third way emerges that honors each of us and that keeps us in harmony.  A dilemma is the result of two ways not being able to either find a third way or discovering that a third way is not possible no matter how hard we try.


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I love to sit and ‘noodle.’  My mother used to ask if I was using my noggin to noodle; using my brain to think and reflect is how I have interpreted what she meant.  I have a close friend that also likes to noodle; in fact we are known to have really, truly, very long conversations as we noodle together.  On 28 October, 2008 we spent a number of hours noodling about congruenceHere are some of my notes regarding our noodling about congruence.  I will post the second part tomorrow.


CONGRUENCE = the quality or state of agreeing, being in harmony; marked or enhanced by harmonious agreement among constituent elements.


CONGRUENCE = in order to have ‘harmony’ you need to also have ‘dissonance’; this is a paradox to be embraced.


CONGRUENCE = an ideal to be sought; the ‘actual’ is always imperfect.  Robert K. Greenleaf reminds us of this throughout his writings when he reminds us that people, relationships and organizations (organizations are people writ large) are imperfect.  Thus such things as tolerance, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, awareness, searching and seeking (for a better way), learning, etc. are crucial.


CONGRUENCE = ‘Walk the Talk’ then is not possible (no one is perfect) and ‘Stumble the Mumble’ is the reality.  Therefore, one must act congruently in more consistent ways, not in more perfect ways.  It is also important to remember that practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. . . so be careful as to what you practice.


CONGRUENCE = one way of living more congruently (to become more consistent over time) is to operate from a position of ‘doubt’ and ‘faith’ rather than a position of ‘surety’ and ‘belief.’  One is always searching, seeking, and learning – continuous improvement



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40 years ago I was blessed with a mentor, Lowell.  He admonished me one day when he said, ‘Doing what you now is your best will ensure that all will work out in the end; commitment and consistency plus doing your best ensures quality.’  He said that the second-best always turns out to be unsatisfying and ultimately unsustainable.  ‘I passed didn’t I’ was my weak reply.  ‘You passed, yes. . .but it was far from your best effort and you will one day regret it.’  He was, as usual, correct; he knew better than I.

The great religions, at their best have also always known better.  They don’t think in terms of five or ten year plans; their view is much broader than that.  They know that quality, the right way, the truth will prove itself in the end if, and this is a big ‘if,’ enough of us practice it consistently and with commitment; those who do so also know that they might not live to see the fruits of their labors.  No matter.

The great spiritual leaders knew this even if many of their followers did not.  Great scientists, great artists, and great leaders also know it; so do very ordinary people like me and you, gentle reader and my mentor, Lowell.  He lived quality, commitment and truth and he remains a greater influence on me today than when he was alive 40 years ago.

Most of us are ‘ordinary,’ but quality, commitment and truth are always possible for us to live into and out of.  It’s just that it is difficult to do.  Lowell would remind me that it is indeed difficult, but not too difficult.  I suppose that all of this is rooted in faith and trust.  The faith and trust that this is who and what I-you-we are called to be as human beings; that we are called to do our best, to be our best; to live a life of distinction and not one of mediocrity.


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I recently read an entry I had made in one of my note books.  During a tennis match, at Wimbledon I presume since this is the only tennis tournament I watch, the net broke and the t.v. camera focused in on an electronic sign: ‘The net has broken down, please send a human.’  So here I sit this morning wondering if the fall-back position for our age rooted more and more firmly in electronics will be to send in a human.  It’s like an experience I had the other day when I called my wireless service and was told by an electronic voice that my problem could be solved if I pushed the right numbers on my phone; all I wanted to do was to speak to a human being.  Eventually, I was given, it seemed with a great tone of condescension emanating from the electronic speaker’s voice, the secret to accessing a human being – in essence I was a failure for not figuring out how to navigate the system via pushing buttons.  On the other hand, rather than becoming a ‘fall-back’ for machines, may be I-you-we are still meant for new and greater things.

The ‘new’ will still come from the minds, hearts, spirits, and souls of us mere humans.  We can dream, we can intuit, we can create – and we can do so out of nothing.  The challenge is that this ‘new’ will have to come from us and not from corporations who are busy figuring out how to get rid of most of us.  The problem with this idea is us.  Most of us, it seems, don’t feel as if we can do it.  ‘Who me,’ we ask?  I am so ordinary.  I like to be behind the cutting edge; I don’t want to be the cutting edge [I actually had a university president say this to me many years ago].

I have been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.  Here is a quote that is attributed to him – and is timely for our consideration today: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.   . . . Your playing small doesn’t’ serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking, so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’    Do I dare to be fully human?  Do you?  Do we?

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I have been reflecting upon my own need for renewal.  My friend, George, reminded me of a poem I wrote two years ago.  He sent me a photo, which for him captures the essence of the poem.  I offer you, gentle reader, the poem followed by George’s photo.  I then close with George’s response to a question I offered him to consider.  George, with deep gratitude — Thank You my friend.



It is time to renew when I no longer savor the moment.

It is time to renew when my spirit is depleted.

It is time to renew when my inner fire is replaced by smoldering embers and dense smoke.

It is time to renew when inner quiet is whelmed over by increased decibels of noise.

It is time to renew when challenge is replaced by meaningless pressure.

It is time to renew when my energy is replaced with appalling apathy.

It is time to renew when hope is displaced by fear, if not despair.

It is time to renew when cynicism kills hope.

It is time to renew when frustration trumps contentment.

It is time to renew when exhaustion supplants alertness.

It is time to renew when rumination about the past and anxiety about the future inhibits my energy to be fully present, now.

It is time to renew when depletion defines my life.


Renewal enables me to wake up and perhaps be disturbed by what I learn about myself.

Renewal enables me to stop, step-back, and reorient my priorities.

Renewal enables me to choose nurturance more than depletion.

Renewal enables me to restore the healthy balance that has faded, been lost or been extinguished.


Renewal invites me to be committed to my own healthy development.

Renewal invites me to choose nurturance over depletion.

Renewal invites me to choose healing over self-violence.

Renewal invites me to refocus my time and energy from starving myself to feeding myself.


Do I believe it is time to renew?

Do I believe it is crucial that I renew?

Do I believe that my survival requires me to renew?

Am I ready to admit that indeed IT IS TIME TO. . .

–©Richard W Smith  10April,  2010



Why this photo, I asked?  George responded with: The wilted roses were a response to the first half of the poem in which the speaker has sunk into darkness and is pondering the darkness.  Instead of using a sign of renewal such as a new bud or something “uplifting”, I followed the question raised in the last 4 lines.  In other words, I don’t know if I’m ready to admit that indeed IT IS TIME TO….  To me the speaker is still down there, not on his way back up yet.


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