Author: gary

Let Us Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

Here is John Lewis’s last writing. It asks us each to become the best we can be, and to help each other do that also. I share his vision for our country and our world.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/opinion/john-lewis-civil-rights-america.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage&fbclid=IwAR0BJWOANT7ma4UXpkLbVSKDNq5uhJrvppV_qyUrDxFslFIohAiNj17DQCE

Together, we can, and we must, redeem the soul of our nation.

Gary

Does Being Kind Pay Off?

Science says that acts of kindness pay off by making us feel better and healthier. This is hardwired into our social DNA because it stems from way back when humans were living in tribes. Being kind to others in the tribe increased the odds of survival for the tribe.

Recent research at the University of California Riverside has shown that people who were kind to others became happier and more connected than those who were kind to themselves. In another study several years ago, a researcher divided college students into two groups and gave each student $100. He told one group to buy presents for themselves, and the other group to buy presents for others, including people they did not know. The second group felt better about themselves and was much more socially connected.

I invite you to test this for yourself. For two weeks, do three acts of kindness per week for yourself. Then for the next two weeks, do three acts of kindness per week for others.

If this is indeed true, how can you use this in your organization? What would happen if staff meetings or team meetings started by explaining this research and encouraging each person to do acts of kindness for others, both inside and outside the workplace? What would happen to employee engagement? What would happen to creativity? What would happen to productivity? What might happen to the dynamics in meetings – would people be more willing to work together instead of disagreeing and digging into their positions?

You can read the Associated Press article at https://apnews.com/f487b63befb2f4c3181404bcc87be1c1.

I welcome your feedback

Gary Langenwalter

Avoiding the Worst Outcome of COVID

COVID has cost us dearly. Approximately 119,000 people have died in the USA, with over 2 million confirmed cases, and our economy is in the tank. As painful as these are, a social recession which weakens our social fabric so that we are no longer a country but a collection of fractious factions, looms as potentially the worst and longest-lasting cost of COVID. A social recession is caused by physical distancing, which leads to social distancing, causing us to feel increasingly disconnected from the people in our lives. It results in reduced health, reduced learning on the part of children, reduced workplace productivity, and a “me-first” attitude.

Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, says, “Typically, in moments of stress, we reach out to people. We spend time with people we love. And now we’re being asked not to do that, at least in physical terms.” He cites recent research from Wharton, “If we want our kids to do well, if we want workers to do better in the workplace, if we all want to be more fulfilled and healthy, …human connection is at the center of it all.”

He encourages us “to build our lives around people, and to make the case for creating a people-centered society, … putting ourselves on the path to creating a society that is healthier and stronger, but also more resilient, than before the pandemic began.” The 4-page conversation is at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/avoiding-a-social-recession-a-conversation-with-vivek-murthy.

I invite your comments and your ideas about how we might do that. We owe it to our children and their children.

Stay well,

Gary Langenwalter

Your Values Are On the Line

Who you are, matters. Right Now! What you stand for, matters. Right now! What you do matters. Right Now! What you say matters. Right Now!

If what is going on makes you uncomfortable, the time to speak out is NOW! Even though speaking out is uncomfortable. Even though you might “do it wrong” or upset someone. If you are silent, you tacitly support the status quo. It is time to let your true values shine. For many years to come, you will be remembered and judged for what you do and what you say RIGHT NOW. The picture is my public stance in McMinnville, Sunday, May 31, on highway 99W. I could no longer sit safely and silently on the sidelines.

Whatever your sphere of influence, people respect you and will listen to what you say and how you say it. And they will watch what you do and how you do it. Where do you invest your organization’s resources? Where do you invest your time? How do you treat others who have different ethnicities?

Think about the leaders whom we admire. Each of them took a stand, knowing that their stand would make some entrenched powers uncomfortable. That’s the price of being a leader who makes a difference. They spoke truth to power. And they did so with deep respect and compassion for the people whose lives were being affected. It’s time for each of us to do the same.

I cannot do great things. But I can do small things with great love. And when others do the same, we collectively build a better future for our children and their children.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

Masks Make Good Neighbors

Masks Make Good Neighbors

Like many people, I used to assume that wearing a mask would protect me from the COVID virus. Unfortunately, masks do NOT protect the wearer from germs that other people are spreading. Instead, MASKS PROTECT OTHERS by limiting the spread of germs by the mask-wearer, keeping the majority of those germs in the mask or very close to the wearer rather than being broadcast at face level. And because people can be spreading the virus without knowing they have it, asking them to wear a mask to prevent them from infecting others seems to be in the same vein as restricting smoking inside buildings. As my Dad used to say, “Your right to swing your fist stops just before it hits my nose.”

Rephrased, the people who choose to not wear masks in public are increasing the probability that they will (unknowingly) infect others. So I wear a mask when I am in public, and I intentionally steer clear of people who are not wearing masks. I will even encourage them to wear masks.

Finally, I applaud and support those organizations (including Costco) who are now requiring that ALL people wear masks.

I invite you to join me.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

Forget Your GPS – Use Your IGS

The problem with a GPS is that it needs you to put in your specific destination. Saying “I want to get gas” is not enough; you need to specify one particular gas station. Unfortunately, nobody knows what the new “normal” will look like, or how our organizations will be functioning then. Thus, we can’t use our personal and corporate GPSs as guidance systems to get to the new destination – we don’t know what it is!

Instead, we need to rely on our IGS – Internal Guidance System. What is that? It’s not our left brain. Not our ego. Instead, it is our inner sense, our “who we are”. It tells us the next turn, and that’s all. It is VERY tactical! It doesn’t tell us our final destination. Why not? Because it can’t. Because our final destination is being co-created, by us and many others. All our IGS can tell us is our next step, from the myriad of choices of next steps. And sometimes, it doesn’t even do that! That might be because any of several next steps is equally valid, equally appropriate. What route do you want to take to get to the grocery store? Unless something unusual is going on, it really doesn’t matter – they’ll all get you there in about the same time and with about the same distance. One major difference between a GPS and an IGS – for a GPS to work, we have to be in motion. Sometimes, our IGS wants us to sit for a bit and be still, to get clearer about what is real for us and how that might lead us forward. Remember, not all who wander (or sit) are lost. Methinks we’re in the middle of a major “wander.” And I “wander” how it’s going to turn out. (Pun intended)

For people who are goal-oriented, this process is particularly frustrating, because we need to know the ultimate goal so we can constantly monitor our progress and make the mid-course corrections to ensure that we arrive at our intended destination – e.g. the gas station. My wife and I took a drive into the Coast Range Sunday afternoon just to be out in nature. Our objective – take a drive in the Coast Range. Perfectly legal, because we weren’t going to be within 100 feet of anyone. So each time we came to an intersection, we’d decide which direction to go. We found a really neat wedding venue, in a meadow above a small river. Beautiful! We also found a horse ranch that provides trail rides, which we will try in the near future. We didn’t even know they were there until we were driving up a road we hadn’t taken before. And then we used our GPS to get home, and it brought us home by a different route.

Let’s share experiences of using our IGSs. I look forward to hearing from you.

Acknowledgement – I learned about IGS from a very wise woman, Elaine Cornick, of Cultural Butterfly Project. www.culturalbutterflyproject.com/ She also happens to be my older sister.

Gary Langenwalter

How to Buy a New PC

Buying a new PC can be scary – a wrong decision can saddle you with a PC that does not meet your needs for the next 3-4 years. So how can you choose one that works for you?

The screen on my beloved laptop, long in tooth at 4 ½ years old started failing seriously and progressively 10 days ago. So I did my shopping on the web and ordered my new PC, which I am now using. Here’s what I did:

I created a spreadsheet with potential computer models down the left side as row titles, and the various attributes as column headers. The column titles were:

· CPU speed (available from PassMark) – faster is better. An Intel Core i3 can be faster than an Intel Core i5, depending on generation, etc. For example, an Intel Core i3-8130U is rated at 5080, while an Intel Core i5-4300U is rated at 3739 (and an Intel Core i5-4300M is rated at 4411). Checking speeds is easy – just google http://www.passmark.com intel core-i3-8130U. Clock speed doesn’t necessarily matter – a 2.2GHz chip is not necessarily better than a 1.7GHz chip.

· Disk (hard disk or solid state – I decided that I’d rather have a Solid State Disk drive rather than a traditional hard drive (with rotating disk). Solid state disks make a computer much faster and more responsive, although they’re more expensive

· Memory – I wanted at least 8 gig, again for speed

· Battery life – (sometimes this information was not available)

· DVD/CD Drive – some newer models don’t have DVD/CD drives. But that’s how some of my software would need to be loaded, so I needed that drive

· HDMI port – I need that to connect to my monitor; it has superior picture quality compared to VGA. My new laptop has a Thunderbolt port, so I bought an HDMI adapter pigtail for it which I will leave permanently attached.

· Refurbished/New – I wound up getting a much more powerful computer refurbished. I have had other refurbished laptops that ran very well for years.

· Warranty – since I got a refurbished laptop, I bought a 3-year warranty from Square Deal.

· Price

· Vendor (the retailer you’re buying from)

You can also get laptop brand ratings from Laptop magazine online, to check the brand you’re considering.

My new (refurbished) system is a screamer, with an Intel Core i7-4800MQ rated at 8497 and 500 g of solid state disk. And it was under $500 (plus $79 for a 3 year warranty); it originally retailed for $1300-$2000. If you’d like, I’ll tell you what I actually bought.

PS – I have an external hard drive attached to my laptop whenever I’m in my office, backing up my system continuously. I STRONGLY encourage you to do the same, just in case your hard drive crashes.

PPS – for this column, I let my inner geek out to play. Yes, I do have a quantitative side as well J

Gary

You’re Here to Work, Not Play!

“You’re here to work, not to play!” my boss scowled when I cracked a joke or laughed in one organization. I’ve also worked in organizations where people laughed and joked as they worked.

My experience has been that when people are laser focused on the task at hand, they do indeed accomplish that task. But they are not as creative – their focus prevents them from thinking outside of the parameters of the problems that they’re trying to solve. And while they can take pride in their tangible accomplishments (one more deadline met), they lack deeper connectedness to their team and their organization. They feel more like human cogs in a big machine, where their worth is measured solely by their output. They don’t try to go above and beyond.

By contrast, when people are relaxed enough to laugh with each other, their creativity is unleashed. They come up with novel ideas. These workers also know how to meet deadlines, and laugh together as they do so. They’re part of a team. They make work fun. And in the long run, I think they get more done.

Does this matter? Which organization style do you think will be able to attract and retain the best workers? Which organization style do you think will produce better results?

What has been your experience?

Gary Langenwalter

Inspiration Does NOT Matter!

I’ve deliberately sought to be inspired as I’ve worked, because I’ve believed that the work I do when I’m inspired will be higher quality than the work I do when I’m NOT inspired. And yet, my own experience strongly suggests that there is no direct correlation between inspiration and quality.

My major form of production is writing. I’ve written 3 reference books, 3 CPE courses, countless proposals and reports, and 350 sermons. And some of the time I’ve been really inspired – the keyboard has been smoking as I poured forth inspired words of wisdom, explanation, insight, etc. Reading those words later, I have thought that they were really good! However, they still required some editing.

At other times I have been completely uninspired, flat, blah, when I have had to write to meet deadlines. So I’ve just gutted it out and written what needed to be written. Those writings tended to require more editing before they could be released.

BUT…

3 months later, when I read documents that were written while I was on fire with inspiration, and documents written when I was so flat I could hardly write a word – I can not tell any difference in the quality. The uninspired writings are just as good as the inspired ones. This has been consistently true through many manuscripts.

What’s the take away? I no longer worry that my writings when I’m uninspired will be lower quality – I just leave some additional time for the extra editing. I still find that writing when I’m inspired is more rewarding.

Could this be generalized to other activities as well? Does this work for you? What do you think?

PS – Since I was inspired as I wrote this, it took about 25 minutes. I spent another 25 minutes editing a day later.

Gary Langenwalter

Summer Treat, formatted

Here’s a summer treat, reformatted for easier reading

My-rish Blessing

Words & Music by Joy Zimmerman

May your cats have no more furballs

May your basements all stay dry

May your joints remain stable

May you eat some humble pie

***

May you dance and go on roadtrips

May your allergies go away

May you sometimes surprise yourself

May gratitude light your way

***

May you have a lot of picnics

May you sleep to the sound of rain

May the squirrels not eat your birdseed

May regrets not cause you pain

***

May you renew your license easily

May you let someone else win

May you sometimes surprise yourself

Be brave and kind again

Be brave and kind again

***

Last Friday evening, my wife and I were privileged to hear Joy Zimmerman, from Kansas, play acoustic guitar and sing. We were in a wine-tasting room outside McMinnville, watching the sun slowly set. Joy created an atmosphere of peace, well-being, and hope.

May you have a wonderful summer.

Gary Langenwalter