Archive for April, 2020


My life is based upon passion and purpose. –Elijah Cummings

Leaders, whether generals or parents, lead more effectively when they are fed by two powerful tap roots – their purpose and their passion. They are also more effective when. . .  Well, let me give you two examples.  When my children had decided to move from crawling to walking I would stand in front of them and call them to me.  I had to let them fall down, struggle to stand and start again.  I knew that if I stood behind them in a ‘supportive role’ and ‘pushed’ them then they would indeed fall down and they would also have looked at me with great suspicion.  Leaders call forth and trust that the led will indeed ‘advance;’ they will also stumble and fall – they are more likely to stumble the mumble rather than walk the talk.

There have been many great generals and although the context changes over time the greatest generals have at least one thing in common.  During WWII one of the greatest battlefield generals was George Patton.  As he was preparing his army for the breakout from the Normandy beachhead he called his corps commanders together.  They stood around a large table covered by a map.  Patton put down a piece of string measuring about six inches.  He then pushed the string and it bunched up into a pile.  He then pulled the string and it unwound and slid easily across the table.  He looked up and said, “When you push people to do something while you stand by barking orders, they cannot see the big picture, they resist the demands and foster their own defeat.  However, if your mission is clear, passionate and full of purpose for a larger good, and if you show the way and call out the best in them then people will rise to the occasion with uncommon valor.”  The generals and the parents who have both purpose and passion and who show the way and call forth the best in those who have been entrusted to them are the ones who are more likely to engender success.

Two Powerful Tap Roots: Purpose and Passion.  Many years ago I was invited by the president of an organization to come and talk to the employees and see if I could uncover the root of their lethargy and low morale.  I spent some days observing and talking with the employees.  Almost all of them would speak of their duties without any passion or energy; they were like the walking-dead.  However, when I asked them about what they did once they left work almost everyone’s demeanor changed – and changed dramatically.  Their eyes lit up; their posture changed from near slouching to being erect; the tone of their voice changed from monotone to energized; their descriptions were colorful and vibrant.  It did not matter what the topic – parenting or bowling or painting or civic theatre – these folks were alive with purpose and passion.  I was drawn to them – this is what purpose and passion do; they call us forth and draw us to them.

Gentle Reader: What calls you forth; what draws you out; what enlivens you?  This ‘What’ might come from within you or it might be manifested in another; in someone you are drawn to.  Nurture this ‘What’ and bring it to fruition in your own life.  Call yourself forth and respond to being called forth by another.  Seek to emerge a Purpose and nurture it with Passion and then embrace and engage both.

The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, and act rightly. –Gandhi

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…the choices we make are, ultimately, our own responsibility. –Eleanor Roosevelt

I am thankful for elevators and supermarkets for without them we would never had been blessed with Musak (Musak = the adulteration that takes rough edges off of certain songs and waves them through the air with bold blandness).  I am also thankful for Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990).  Malcolm was a brilliant English journalist and satirist and he provided us with the concept of “Newsak.”  (Newsak = the incessant stream of noisome news that seeks us out no matter where we are).  I am also thankful for the tsunami-like number of options that we now have.  I remember my first ‘awakening’ to being whelmed over by options when my daughter was eight and my son was six.  We had gone to Wisconsin to visit my parents.  While there I decided to take them out to a nearby farm to purchase some honey; I had visited this farm as a child and had fond memories of the experience.  When we arrived at the farm we were greeted by a young man who guided us to the ‘store.’  Yes, the little table that had held the honey jars had been replaced by a store!  We entered and I stopped and stared.  Oh, the honey was there alright.  But what greeted us was a variety of honey – more than 30 as I recall.  My children stood and stared – at the honey and then at me.

Today we have more and more options and like Musak and Newsak we have entered into the world of Choosak.  On my cable system I have hundreds of choices – visual channels and audio channels.  I am sitting here sipping my coffee (chosen from a number of flavors and types) looking at more than forty books lying within arm’s reach – oh, which one to choose to read.  Choosak reigns.

Choosak involves making, for the most part, insignificant decisions – but choose we must (even if it is to choose to walk away).  And there is something else that is happening because of life’s growing options.  It appears to me – for I have experienced it in myself – that we are beginning to act as if choosak is actually discernment.  We agonize over the decision and call it discernment (when it is more like ‘agony’).  We pat ourselves on the back for reaching any number of decisions or conclusions.  Our time and energy are focused on these and we seem to more and more ignore the more challenging issues of poverty, homelessness, crime, waste, environmental degradation, etc.  We are not aware of – open to – friends who are in need (we don’t even know our neighbors).  I can still see and feel my gut churning as my children agonized over which honey to choose.  I wanted to yell – “Just choose one!”  Perhaps I did.  My recollection is that I asked them if they wanted me to choose the honey.  They said yes and then I agonized over the choice they had given me.

Like choosing which honey to purchase, the number of choices we have often paralyzes us.  Right now at this moment, there is, some place on our planet, a mother, father, and child and each is faced with making a choice.  I can image the child checking out his or her parents for guidance or the child is trying to figure out which choice they would like him or her to make.  The child cannot choose.  I can image the parents’ growing frustration – the frustration that leads to: ‘Just Make a Choice!!!’  I suspect that any parent knows of what I write.

I can already feel the agony of choosak as I look ahead to how my day might unfold.  Ah, the thrill of victory and the agony of choosak.

…choices bring consequences. –Ezra Taft Benson

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