Into the shadows

The lights go down, the music starts to play and simultaneously 1o,000 voices cheer because their favorite band has taken the stage.  Lights. Noise.  Excitement.  Joy.

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In that moment, ten thousand screaming fans are all mesmerized by the same familiar sound as they heard the day before on their ipod. But this community of fans doesn’t necessarily know they’re a community. They left their everyday lives to celebrate their favorite music. It’s all too easy to be a fan and to celebrate with others even if a connection has never been made before. Ever been to a sporting event?

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We scored? High five the guy next to you! Don’t know him? Who cares! You’re linked as fans of the same team!

After all, it’s easy to be a fan. It’s easy to celebrate when good things happen in our lives and in our friend’s lives. The promotion at work, the news that cancer is in remission, the good grade on a test in school, etc. We know how to celebrate (CAKE!). We know how to cast a spotlight on the good things in our lives.

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But what about the shadows. What about those who don’t have anything in life to celebrate? Are we willing to mourn with those who mourn? My wife and I have found that there is so much secretiveness to sorrow. We’ve been through a lot in the couple years that we’ve been married and while this isn’t the time to write about it, there may be a time in the future. As we shared our story with close friends, we found that there were many people who shared the same painful stories that we shared.

We know how to cast a spotlight on the good things in our lives.

You see when we cast that spotlight on the good things, we hide our sorrows in the shadows because we know that no one wants to venture into the shadows and deal with real life. But in the shadows we leave behind the fleeting joys of the moment and when we mourn with those who mourn, we find out what true community is.

 

So may we open our lives to others and if we are so strong, may we venture into the shadows so that we can comfort those who feel as though all hope is lost.

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Anatomy of a Call: Road Map for the Journey

It was 1991 and we were sitting in a townhouse in Champaign, Illinois all hunched over a map of the new twin cities where we’d be living as soon as my folks could find a house. While my mom and brother had a couple good laughs, I sat mesmerized by this set of cities stretched out into one mile grids. It was so different than the winding roads that we were leaving in PA and so much more simple to navigate.

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Once we had transitioned into our house, one block south of Champaign, I knew that I just needed to exit my neighborhood to the west, and go north on Prospect Avenue about four miles and I’d be at my school. The University was to the east on Windsor and then north on 1st. Church was up Lincoln from Windsor. A grid. A map… and it made sense to me.

As I thought about writing a blog again, I knew I needed some structure or I’d end up writing as a whim arose and that’s just not good enough for me right now. East on Windsor…

Why CALL?  Well… I picked four topics that I thought I’d like to write about and I figured out how to make a word out of them, because, if you don’t know me yet, you’ll soon learn I’m a nerd.

  1. Community: I really like how community comes first, because people are important. If you join me on Mondays or sign up to get my posts in your mailbox each day, you’ll hear my thoughts on the interconnection of people.Example: Wednesday when Prince Fielder (a baseball player) was forced to retire from the thing he loved most, what can I learn about how his team rallied behind him.  Hint – Monday, Aug 15th is going to be about mourning with those who mourn – somber perhaps, but hopefully encouraging.
  2. Analytics: One of my favorite parts of my day job is the necessity to take data and make it mean something. I think numbers can paint pictures and my hope is that we can look at a set of statistics each Tuesday and find some meaning for our lives there.Example:  Recently the New York Times posted an infograph online that showed that only 9% of Americans had voted for either Clinton or Trump in the primaries. I fully expect to keep politics out of this blog, but I think that numbers like these matter and should inform us.
  3. Leadership: If you are familiar with me, you probably know that I’ve long been interested in Leadership.  What makes a leader tick?  Why do people pursue the leaders they choose?Example: I’m currently being mentored and I’m finding that the life experiences that having, are similar to some that my mentor has had.  So while I won’t be breaking confidences, I’d like to examine the role of mentors in a person’s life. Can someone truly mentor someone else without having similar experiences?
  4. Learning: I kind of fell into a career path where I’ve been attached to learning. From my time as a guide in two national parks, to working for an e-learning provider, to administrating learning systems at an online school and a large engineering firm.  On Thursdays, we’ll talk about trends in learning.Example: With the ease of training people online, are we failing to cater to those who learn in different ways?

I’m excited to take this journey with you, so let’s turn take out our maps and head toward our destination together.road-sky-clouds-cloudy.jpg

 

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Beginnings

There’s been an itch, if you will, in my head and heart over the last few years to write. This itch has at times been squashed by my desire to be perfect or by some notion that I really have nothing to write about. The gifts we are given are written on our hearts. We must allow ourselves to release those gifts to benefit others.  With that said, many of the musings you’ll find here will be directives to me. We cannot elicit any change in our world if we are unwilling to be as Ghandi is often quoted as saying: the change we want to see.

In his book Earth in the Balance, Al Gore tells a story about a woman who comes to Ghandi asking him to tell her son to stop eating so much sugar.  Ghandi asks her to bring him back two weeks later.  When she does, Ghandi tells the boy exactly what the mother wants him to tell him.  When asked why he didn’t just do this on the first visit, Ghandi replies that he needed the two weeks to stop eating sugar himself.

So whether you read this blog or not, I hope you do see change in me.

I’ve decided to write about a topic each day from Monday – Thursday and as it happens, the topics spell out CALL.  Community, Analytics, Leadership and Learning.  Fridays will be a free day to muse about the world, to have guest writers if I’m so lucky, or to write short stories. Tomorrow I’ll flesh out what I intend by each letter of CALL and next week we’ll start Monday with Community.

Thanks for indulging me.

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