22 Years Later, The Quality of Effort Persists

The Quality of Effort: Integrity in Sport and Life for Student-Athletes, Parents and Coaches officially made its way into the world on February 27, 1991. It looked like this:

Today, December 10, 2012 the 2nd edition, revised for 2013, made its debut as a trade paperback and a softcover workbook, both of which are also available as Kindle editions.

The new book’s cover appears at the top of the sidebar to the right, and you can find out more by clicking on that cover, which will take you to http://qualityofeffort.com.

Testimonials for both the 1991 and 2013 editions are available here.

The 2013 edition of The Quality of Effort and The Quality of Effort Workbook marry literature and sport, story and effort, the thrill of experience and the “dignities and disasters” of our interpretations. Reggie Marra speaks to us through the soul of a poet-athlete-teacher-caregiver and kid who got cut from the team he later went on to coach.

He invites us into the worlds of Mary Catherine Bateson and Ken Wilber; Bob Knight and Boethius; Joan Benoit Samuelson and Don Beck; and Sacred Heart High School’s 1979-1980 boys’ junior varsity basketball team.

If you’ve been waiting for a perspective on youth, interscholastic, and intercollegiate sport that  embraces The Consolation of Philosophy, Spiral Dynamics, Man’s Search for Meaning and the Bhagavad Gita, and yet at its core is all about your favorite topic—you, your wait is over.

Marra takes us by the hand and challenges us to inquire into our own values, behaviors, and relationships within the complexity of the 21st-Century environments in which we live, learn, work and play. If we’re willing to take up the challenge, this inquiry helps us see ourselves and all those heroes and villains out there from increasingly comprehensive and balanced perspectives.

“Preaching” only what he practices, in The Quality of Effort, Reggie Marra authentically engages each of us to become increasingly more aware of our stories—the interpretations we choose, and how they affect, and even effect, what we do next as parents, coaches, student-athletes and human beings.

Human Nature Universe U.S.

Harry Chapin spoke eloquently about the wonderful gift of Thanksgiving food drives in our nation’s schools right up until his untimely death in 1981, and he had the courage to ask what the recipients of these traditional dinners would be eating the following week. The 47-second audio clip below can also be found on his Gold Medal Collection. Harry put his money where his mouth was–performing over 200 shows a year, and donating half his earnings to World Hunger Year, which he co-founded with Bill Ayres in 1975.


As another Thanksgiving approaches and the northeastern U.S. continues its recovery from Hurricane Sandy, Harry’s nice job, now what about next week? perspective still packs a punch.

While others have made their reluctant, often weakened ways to the northeastern U.S., most hurricanes in recent memory have devastated our neighbors in the Caribbean, Florida, north to the Carolinas, and west along the Gulf coast. We in the northeast have a concern with seasonal blizzards and ice storms, which, while occasionally deadly, rarely matched the hurricanes’ destructive power.

One of the interesting claims that Americans, and most other tribes and nations on the planet, make is that when disaster arrives, we are quick to unite, respond, recover, rebuild (and even strike back and exact revenge when we believe humans, rather than nature, are responsible for our losses). More often than not, we, and others, make this claim as though it is unique to our particular family, community, city, state, or country.

What we fail, for the most part universally, to learn it seems, is that whether its a hurricane,  fire, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, flood, drought, famine, lone gunman, terrorist cell, act of war, or violent crime, our inevitably ephemeral coming together–the invaluable food drives to which the late singer-song-and-storywriter alluded–to help each other is always available, not just when tragedy, disaster or a holiday strikes.

Ultimately, if we’re paying attention in the 21st century, we know there is no real security for our lives, property and possessions, secure and insure them though we may try. We can and do innovate, build, improve, recover, rebuild, cure, heal and innovate again, but when the planet shifts, the seas rise, the wind blows, and the fires rage, the question is not whether we will lose, but how much, where, how and who this time around.

One of the great gifts that space travel has given us is the view of our little planet from afar, with its vast oceans, discrete weather patterns, and perfect, predictable, rotation and revolution. The planet, and the universe at large, are perfect, emerging as they do (and each of us does) from that same moment, whether you refer to it as the Big Bang, Creation, both or neither. The point is that we’re (it’s) all related—as cosmologist Brian Swimme tell us, “You take hydrogen gas, and you leave it alone, and it turns into rosebushes, giraffes, and humans.” Cast the first stone if you originated elsewhere.

As those in the path of October’s Hurricane Sandy continue to process the extent of their respective losses, so too do many who were in the path of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the tornado that leveled Joplin, Missouri, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and countless other more-or-less media-covered, but no less devastating losses on the planet.

This is far from a new idea, but it warrants consideration. Why not keep those Thanksgiving food drives going year round, and behave as though all the creatures with whom we come in contact, even if they seem to be having a better day than we are (and especially if they’re not), would like to be treated with love, generosity and respect. The key is to go first. Don’t wait, and don’t worry about reciprocity. See what happens.

I sure do miss you, Harry.

For folks too young to have heard him on the radio or in concert, here’s a link to Bruce Springsteen’s honoring him and singing Harry’s “Remember When the Music” at the live tribute concert after his death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9dbZDyRNs4

Looking At and As the Empty Chair

Dr. Jonathan Moreno’s essay, “What the Chair Could Have Told Clint,” reflects on what might have happened had the actor/director occupied the empty chair he spoke to during the Republican Convention in an attempt to feel what it’s like to actually sit as the President of the United States. (See below for addresses if above links don’t work).

Dr. Moreno speaks to the techniques used in psychodrama and voice dialogue, in which individuals are invited to speak to someone, often but not always someone who has hurt them, using an empty chair to represent that someone. Competently guided, the process can lead to insight and a letting go of pain, resentment and anger.

What Dr. Moreno suggests “would have really made his day,” was if Mr. Eastwood had taken what is often the next step–actually sitting in the chair himself–which, done authentically, might have allowed him to feel at some level what it’s like to be the individual he so glibly criticized. This “next step” is not intended to dismiss or justify egregious past wrongs if they exist, but to invite a more insightful understanding of what it’s like to be the person represented by the empty chair.

In a more popularized sense, we’re speaking about the metaphorical advice to not criticize someone unless we’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes–which usually means not so much that once we’ve walked that mile, it’s fine to criticize, but that our deeper insight into the “someone” often softens or eliminates our need to criticize.

My experience with this advice is that it’s been thrown around by so many people, for so long, and without any authentic investigation into what the metaphor, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, might truly mean, it’s usually an essentially meaningless, albeit well-intentioned, suggestion.

My concern is grounded in my own attempts to walk a mile or more in someone else’s shoes, and in observing others as they make a similar journey. With very few exceptions, when most of us think we’re taking a walk in another’s shoes, we sincerely think we’re feeling into and understanding the other’s response to an event or set of circumstances by imagining what it would be like to be the other. Inevitably, however, what we do is imagine what it would be like to be ourselves in the other’s circumstances, and this is perfectly understandable.

Each of us looks at ourselves, others and the world through a unique set of lenses that includes worldview, behavior, culture, environment, moods or states of mind, masculine/ feminine balance, personality, and levels of development across a wide variety of intelligences or developmental lines. When we look at this person in whose shoes we intend to “walk a mile,” we indeed look at him or her through our own lenses.

It is not until we can, with some degree of competence, do the work of identifying and understanding aspects of this other person’s unique set of lenses—and experience his or her circumstances through his or her lenses—that we are in some small or large way truly walking in shoes that are not ours. We make the move from looking at to looking as this other person.*

This is no small task. It’s a lot of work, quite complex, and requires the essential first step of learning to look accurately both at and as ourselves, becoming familiar with our own unique set of lenses, also known as biases.

To come back to the ongoing political idiocy in the United States: imagine if leaders and “hardcore” constituents of political parties were both developmentally able and courageous enough to look first at and as themselves, and then at and as their opponents. Imagine if they did this motivated only by a deep, authentic desire to truly know themselves and their perceived opponents in order, not to push forward their ideology, but to work openly toward resolving the myriad local, national and global issues we face.

That’s a long way from the attempted cute, snide, derisive and ultimately embarrassing and useless comments and tactics that political parties regularly engage.

As each of us negotiates our respective “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and unique experiences of “Triumph and Disaster,” may we do so in a way that is increasingly better able to look both at and as ourselves and others, especially, but not only those with whom we come into direct contact day-to-day.


*Two ways of looking—looking at and looking as—have been developed extensively as tools for understanding self and others by Laura Divine and Joanne Hunt at Integral Coaching Canada. For an article that deals directly with these two ways of looking, see Laura Divine’s “Looking AT and Looking AS the Client: The Quadrants as a Type Structure Lens” Journal of Integral Theory and Practice,  4.1 (Spring 2009): 21-40.

Dr. Moreno’s Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/opinion/what-the-chair-could-have-told-clint-eastwood.html

More on Dr. Moreno: http://www.med.upenn.edu/apps/faculty/index.php/g358/p8145264

Journal of Integral Theory and Practice: https://foundation.metaintegral.org/JITP

PDF – Downloadable Excerpt from Chapter 12 of Revised 2012 Edition of The Quality of Effort: On walking a mile in someone else’s shoes: looking at and looking as: https://reggiemarra.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/excerpt-from-the-quality-of-effort-looking-at-and-as.pdf

Leadership, Love and Healing – Allegedly “Soft” Skills Prove Hard to Embody

Ample evidence exists that almost anything that has to do with looking within oneself is termed a “soft” topic or skill by most folks who are paid to lead organizations, and yet actually looking within is inevitably very hard for these same leaders.

One valid, albeit oversimplified reason for this is fear: fear of what might be found within; fear of not being good enough; fear of appearing vulnerable (exacerbated by mistakenly confusing vulnerability with weakness); fear of losing a real or imagined competitive edge; fear that we’re the only person who feels this way or has this experience–whatever our unique way or experience happens to be. Feel free to add your own.

Popular leadership qualities like confidence, assertiveness, integrity, vision and resilience, to name a few, along with an ever-growing roster of intelligences, are essential. Taken at face value, however, these essential qualities can serve leaders whether they’re leading the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Ku Klux Klan, Doctors Without Borders or the decades-long United States Congressional opposition to accessible healthcare for all Americans.

In the absence of a commitment to ongoing development and deepening self- and other-awareness, however, even high-level skill in all the essential leadership qualities–whatever we might agree they are–is limited by the awareness of the leader. This is true whether we’re leading a multi-billion-dollar organization, a local youth sports team, our toddler, or “just” ourselves.

From September 8 through October 28, the Palabra Counseling & Training Center in Middlebury, CT is offering an 8-session seminar for 16 intrepid souls who are willing to explore their own evolution as leaders. Read on for details and registration information.

Leadership, Love and Healing:

Deepening Awareness of Self, Other and the World at Large

8 Sundays, September 9 – October 28, 2012
1:00 – 3:30 PM

Online registration and details: http://leadershiploveandhealing.eventbrite.com

Click here for a PDF with a synopsis of the 8 weeks and registration information.



Beyond, or perhaps beneath, your essential leadership qualities or skills lies your worldview. How aware are you of the lenses through which you view the world, and of the direct impact and ripple effects of your leadership? Your participation in this program will directly engage what you’re able to see, how you see it, and what, currently beyond your field of view, can enhance and deepen your vision.

Eight Weeks at a Glance

Our basic premise is that the more aware each of us is of how we see, behave in, and relate to the world, the more effective we can be as leaders. To the extent that we’re unaware of and unfamiliar with the stories we tell, the beliefs we hold and the conditioned responses that hold us hostage, our leadership is diminished. Over the course of eight sessions, we’ll step back and take a look at the biggest picture available to each of us, courageously step inside our own stories and investigate our unique ways of being in the world, and then re-engage the big picture from a place of deeper understanding and fuller embodiment.

This is not about pointing out or learning “leadership qualities or skills” (e.g. integrity, confidence, assertiveness, vision, resilience, listening, emotional intelligence, etc.), all of which are essential. It is about the invaluable impact that deepening awareness and ongoing development have on these and other qualities: Oversimplified example:  ego-centered leaders listen differently than team-centered leaders; team-centered leaders assert themselves differently than world-centered leaders.

Each session will start on time and include check-in, introduction/review of relevant research and models, direct experience/application and debrief of session focus, Q & A, and brief look at what’s ahead.

Week 1: Welcome and introductions; the roles of vulnerability, intimacy and paradox; overview of “what’s at play each moment of our lives”—a comprehensive map of the stories we tell through the four foundational elements of worldview, behavior, culture and environment; the relationships among leadership, love and healing.  

Week 2: Development and Change; looking at what we previously looked through; a practical look at (some common threads among) different developmental models; “automatic,” “serendipitous,” “imposed” and “intentional” development;

Week 3: Resistance to Change: why even when we’re good people, we commit, and we really try, true change is difficult to sustain (e.g. New Year’s Resolutions). We’ll engage, and you’ll leave with, a process that will allow you to understand and overcome your unique resistance (and you can use it whenever you need it).

Week 4: Inquiry: the power of direct questioning – what’s true, what’s a story, and how can you tell? The difference between “truth” and “truthfulness,” and between “reality” and conditioned “thinking about reality.”

Week 5: Shadow: recognizing and owning the disowned, repressed aspects of ourselves—both “positive” and “negative” as an essential move toward wholeness and healing. We’ll also see why some people who REALLY upset us actually remind us of some aspect of ourselves we’d rather not acknowledge.  Great fun!

Week 6: Dying and Death: understanding those “small, everyday practice deaths” as ordinary elements of development and change, and as invaluable experiences toward preparing for our own physical death.

Week 7: Living Poems, Writing Lives: engaging poetry-writing as a vehicle for processing the work of weeks 1 through 6. No previous poetry-writing experience needed. Show up, engage, and be amazed at who you are, what you can access, and what you can write. Guaranteed. 

Week 8: Summary, Witness and Close: we will step back and honor the work each of us has done, envision our respective paths forward, and continue to live into the answers we’d like, but do not yet have.

Online registration and details: http://leadershiploveandhealing.eventbrite.com
Click here for a PDF with a synopsis of the 8 weeks and registration information.


Palabra Counseling & Training Center | Suite 207-B, Village Square
530 Middlebury Road (Route 64) | Middlebury, CT  

Click here for map and registration information.

Owning Your Story: Anger, Stress & Healing | Workshop Begins July 31

A Gathering of and for Men

This workshop begins in one week, beginning on Tuesday July 31, and ending on Tuesday September 4.

To register online, please go to http://owningyourstory.eventbrite.com/. To view a PDF brochure that describes the workshop in detail, including offline registration, click here. Continue reading for an overview of the who, what, where and when.

When: 6 Tuesdays, July 31 – September 4, 2012  |  7:00 – 9:15 PM

Where: Palabra Counseling & Training Center  |  530 Middlebury Road (Rte. 64)  |  Suite 207 B  |  Village Square  |  Middlebury CT 06762

What: This is a gathering of and for men which may be appropriate if you:

  • feel stressed, lost, or disconnected
  • feel angry, more frequently than you would like
  • feel invisible
  • struggle in or with relationship
  • feel stuck
  • feel in over your head
  • want to be able to laugh more

…and you are willing to:

  • explore yourself at a deeper level
  • speak from your heart
  • listen with your heart
  • do the work that growth requires
  • maintain confidentiality
  • risk showing up fully in each moment
  • write things down (keep a journal)

If any of the above feel familiar, take a look at the brochure and feel free to call (203-723-1421) or email (ramintegraljourneys@juno.com) to ask any questions that come up for you.


Perhaps no one ever told or showed you that stress is part of life, anger often makes sense, and it’s all right to feel and to speak what you are feeling; or, perhaps someone did tell you, and you have yet to take the risk.

Now you feel lost. You feel stressed, you struggle with relationship, and even if you have good work and make good money, you find that work and money do not fulfill the deepest parts of you.

You feel a vague or even a sharp sense of dissatisfaction, and questions of meaning and purpose arise for you.

The good news is that you are not alone, and there are ways through this. More good news is that you can learn to see more clearly, be honest with yourself and do some good work that can lead to change.

If this sounds attractive, consider joining us for six sessions.


An Evolving View of a Fine Artist

….When I was at the MOMA the other weekend I got to thinking, as contemporary art makes one do, what it is about the stroke, the paint quality, the attempt to express that is so very amazing and intense for me. Some people feel the same thing for music, for writing, for math, and for me it is paint, why is that? I was at work all day doing nothing so this is a rant, I realize now, looking above. OK BYE!
– Noé Jiménez, personal correspondence, October 11, 2011

As some readers know, I met Noé in late 2006 when he was 7 1/2, and became his stepdad in January 2000. He turned 23 earlier this month, and graduated from the Paier College of Art this past Thursday, May 24 with a BFA in Fine Art.

My earliest experience of his unique view(s), ways (that I didn’t have), and inspired outcomes came when he was around eight, and we were hanging out with a variety of toys on the floor in the apartment in Norwalk. He was drawing as we played, and after an hour or so, turned the looseleaf page around to show me what he and his pencil had done: a 3-dimensional, to-scale rendering of his Star Wars All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) toy, which, shall we say, got my attention (picture this drawn in pencil):

As he moved from elementary into middle school, he drew and painted less, engaged skateboards and guitars, but began to paint privately again when he was fourteen–this time from his interior–no more-or-less realistic renderings of objects. Middle school and high school were not particularly fun experiences for him for a variety of reasons, and we often locked horns when he acted out against some some of society’s, the school district’s or our family’s structures.

Still, he had a way of reminding me that he was not tuning out entirely: he walks past me in the living room on his way out the door one high school sophomore Friday night, pauses, and says, “That guy sounds just like you.” That guy was Howard Zinn, speaking with Bill Moyers on Now. “Actually, sound like him,” I replied. “Who is he?” “Howard Zinn–remember A People’s History of the United States? He’s the author.” “Oh, yeah. See you later.”

A year later when I published This Open Eye, I looked through the paintings he had stacked in his room and photographed several that I thought might complement the book’s cover. What I finally chose was one he had completed when he was fourteen, and no longer liked.

My work uses the inexpensive and the accessible to build on itself and create a language between the more traditional and ultimately expensive media and techniques of painting, and three dimensional objects. I use mixed media to describe fundamental, or universal aspects of an individual’s impact, or lack thereof on his or her surroundings…
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

A lot more transpired in high school. The three art teachers he encountered at New Milford High School, Paula Marian, Kristi Soucie and Annette Marcus supported him in good times and bad. Annette Marcus never gave up on him in A.P. Art his senior year when a lesser teacher might have.

…The works often refer to the cycle of life, primarily the end of one, and how there is a humor in the structures of society, which we use to subdue more authentic expressions of our personalities. The work plays on the meaning of paint and surface. The paint and the object I put it on are put together in a way that strays as far from the mechanical and technical in order to show that playfulness…
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

So Marianela and I are sitting in Yale’s Battell Chapel for the Paier Graduation on Thursday, and the two words that follow, “The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art,” are “Noé Jiménez,” and several minutes later, those same two words follow “The Sante Graziani* Memorial Award.” Still sitting in the chapel, we’re also in this beautiful interior space in which some faculty and students who were strangers four years earlier have seen Noé as he is, and invited him to step forward and be seen at a time in which he’s increasingly more willing to do that. Pretty cool.

…In that same way it refers to art history and other artists who have explored similar theories on what it is that makes the process and choices made by an artist true, or sign of genius. The work is not for the inner circle, it is conceptual, but I don’t put things into it that the average person cannot perceive.
– N.J. artist statement draft excerpt, 2011

I realized some years ago that what moves me most deeply are seeing acts of extraordinary kindness and generosity of spirit, and seeing someone recognize, or be recognized for, their deepest gifts – their soul essence, especially, but not only, when it comes as a surprise to them. I was deeply moved this past Thursday evening, as most parents are at graduations, and as only I could be in my unique relationship with Noé, and with what I was reminded of each of the three times his name was called.

He now faces the somewhat daunting task of “commencing to continue” building his life as an artist, and at a time in which it’s challenging to build a life in any profession. My sense is that he’ll be fine, not without struggle and doubt, but fine as folks who are driven by the calling of their hearts and souls are fine.

I thought about asking his permission to include the excerpts from his artist statement draft above, and decided that I’d follow his example from those high school years, and ask for forgiveness, if necessary, instead (Ha!).

Here’s to an abundance of new views, more ways, and inspired outcomes, Noé.

*Sante Graziani was Dean of Paier College of Art from 1982 until 1995. At the age of 80 he continued to teach painting and art history. He was a renaissance man who was an accomplished musican and teacher as well as a fine artist. His liist of accomplishments began when he was 22 years old, as a winner of a national prize for his murals.

Even More Views: “Who Just Wrote That? And Why?” Writing to Know The Self

For a variety of reasons, this class didn’t run. The good news is that a number of folks pointed to timing, as in the busy endings of a variety of academic calendars in May and June, as their reason for not signing up. The course will be offered again this coming Fall or Winter. Stay tuned!

From May 7 through June 17, I’ll be facilitating a six-week online writing course through the Transformative Language Arts Network (TLAN). The course description appears at the end of this post.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, along with her colleagues at Goddard College, ushered Tansformative Language Arts into existence as an Masters in Arts concentration some 12 years ago, and from that program grew the “Power of Words” Conference, which Goddard hosted through 2011. The 9th annual conference will be in Philadelphia October 26-29, 2012.

I was fortunate to both attend and present workshops at the 2005 through 2008 conferences, and while I won’t be in Philly in October, I highly recommend it.

The TLAN site describes Transformative Language Arts as “the intentional use of spoken, written, or sung word for social and personal transformation.  This includes community building, ecological advocacy, social activism, personal growth and development, health and healing, and spiritual growth.”

The May 7 – June 17 class will focus on the role of self-awareness in our moment-to-moment experience – with the intentional use of writing to nurture our ability to look at what we are currently looking through. We will rest in an underlying commitment to both fierce wisdom (seeing clearly) and deep compassion (loving ourselves and others as we are). Prerequisites: The course description makes sense to you, and you have a sense of humor.


Integrally Informed Writing to Know the Self

Who Just Wrote That? And Why? Integrally Informed Writing to Know the Self

May 7 – June 17, 2012.  | Taught by Reggie Marra | $210 non-member; $189 members. Register by Jan. 31 and save 15% ($178 non-member; $161 member)

“There is only self interest. What changes is the definition of the self.”

– Richard Barrett

You believe that writing is a valuable tool for understanding yourself and the world. Who is it that believes this – who exactly is the self this believer is attempting to understand through written language? With this question and Richard Barrett’s words as our points of departure, we will work to identify and befriend the lens(es) through which we view ourselves and the world, and we’ll take away, and deepen our relationships with, writing tools and processes that we can use in perpetuity, (even longer if you wish), as those lenses, and our respective worldviews, evolve. Our prospective avenues for exploration include the interrelations among intention, behavior, culture and environment (aka quadrants); sub-personalities; shadow; emotions; intentional change (and what prevents it); skillful means; life as and through metaphor; and anything we agree serves us as we move forward during our six weeks together—at our chosen respective levels of depth and (dis)comfort .

More Information and Registration.

More Views

In the previous post, I introduced “more views” by pointing to some more-or-less common examples: change the physical location/position from which you’re looking; change the state of mind you’re in while you look (are you curious, angry, blissful, desperate, frustrated…?); ask someone else for his or her view and really listen; develop yourself in some way that opens a perspective you’ve not previously held. Each of these is valid, and I’ll focus this post on the final one—the additional views (i.e. perspectives) that emerge as the result of ongoing development. As I use “development” here, I’m referring specifically to change that leads to a more comprehensive, balanced and complex awareness of oneself, others and the world at large.

Here’s a “real life” example: This morning’s national political news focused on the following: “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime adviser to Mr. Romney, said in response to a question about pivoting to a matchup with Mr. Obama and appealing to moderate swing voters. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Mr. Romney’s view of this led him to defend himself: “The issues I’m running on will be exactly the same,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I’ll be running as a conservative Republican nominee — or, excuse me, at that point, hopefully, nominee for president.”

His opponents (who appeared holding those wonderful red-framed Etch-a-Sketches) used Mr. Fehrnstrom’s words to support their anti-Romney views. From Rick Santorum: “You take whatever he said and you can shake it up and it will be gone and he’s going to draw a whole new picture for the general election.” And from Newt Gingrich: “Etch a Sketch is a great toy, but a losing strategy.”

While these three (spokesperson, candidate, opponents) views differ, they effectively come from the same levels of awareness and complexity (and several other factors), i.e. adult white males who are committed to becoming or supporting the next Republican presidential candidate.

Taking a step back, here’s another perspective: Mr. Fehrnstrom’s comment was an accurate statement about the difference between running for the nomination within the Republican party, and what would be necessary to run for the Presidency. A different opponent in President Obama, and a different set of voters (all parties and independents) call for a different strategy. Mr. Romney, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich know this is true. Each of them wants to win, so, working from the same statement and in essential agreement on its strategic truth,  Romney defends himself and Santorum and Gingrich attack him.

Another step back and another perspective: Beyond Mr. Fehrnstrom’s statement and the various responses to it, all of the attention paid to this “incident” and other “misstatement incidents” is evidence of the superficial nature of this political campaign and the media coverage of it. If we (were willing to) rewind and listen to the Republican debates and each candidate’s campaign talks, especially when each was criticizing the other, we would find very little to qualify any of these folks to “lead the free world.”

And from another step back: Were this a Democratic rather than Republican primary, aside from some different positions on issues, the process would be identical–petty schoolyard finger pointing in an attempt to get to the helm, while standing on the deck of a ship that’s setting a speed record, using outdated charts and life boats, while heading straight for an iceberg.

I could go on, and won’t. Additional, more comprehensive views are available beyond these, and, I know, beyond the most comprehensive I can see right now. Increasing awareness—the ability to hold more and more perspectives over time and space, is essential whether you’re leading your kids, your school, your community, your company or your state. And to do any of this well, you first have to lead yourself.

More Views, New Ways, Inspired Outcomes

This tag line, which appears beneath the ParadoxEdge logo is the six-word result of a several-month and many-word exploration of who we (think we) are, what we believe in, what we offer and what we think is possible. In the next three posts, I’ll develop each of them in a bit more depth—not as a final word, but as a current view of what they mean to us. First, a brief look at each:

More views. More ways of looking at everything, and more strategically, more ways of looking at the current focus of your attention. More views can emerge through a variety of means—change the physical location/position from which you’re looking; change the state of mind you’re in while you look (are you curious, angry, blissful, desperate, frustrated…?); ask someone else for his or her view and really listen; develop yourself in some way that opens a perspective you’ve not previously held.

New ways. New ways to do everything, and as above, new ways of doing the thing that currently has your attention. New  ways can emerge through trial and error; throwing what you have against the wall to see what sticks; “dumb” luck; serendipity; using what comes up after you’ve developed a new view or two (or more); asking others what they do and how they do it; acting as if something that currently seems not to be true were true.

Inspired Outcomes. Outcomes that, before they come out, may seem impossible, or at least, improbable. When this happens, more views and new ways are usually lurking in shadows nearby or leading the band at the front of the parade.

At ParadoxEdge we work (and play) in ways in which more views, new ways and inspired outcomes engage an interactive dance of cause and effect—where any one or two of them can lead to the other two or one. A new way can lead to more views. Another view can lead to a new way and an inspired outcome. An inspired outcome can lead to a another view. You get the picture.

Stay tuned. Next post will explore more views.

In the Spirit of Radical Joy…

…For Hard Times:

On Monday, December 12, $3.00 from every sale of Christmas Fun will be donated to Radical Joy for Hard Times, a 501c3 non-for-profit organization based in rural northeastern Pennsylvania:

“Radical Joy for Hard Times is devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Creating a thriving, sustainable future on Earth depends upon opening our hearts to the natural world in its brokenness as well as its splendor.”

While a $3.00 per sale donation pales in contrast with the $7.7 trillion that the Federal Reserve Bank secretly donated to the poor souls mismanaging large banks that are too big to succeed from a customer service perspective, casual observation suggests that $3.00 in the hands of Radical Joy founder and director, Trebbe Johnson, will contribute more to the greater good of life on the planet than has $7.7 trillion in the hands of Jamie Dimon, Ken Lewis or any of the other scoundrels who lied about their failures and their collusion with the Fed.

Be that as it may, Christmas Fun may be the best way to bring your family, friends and colleagues together for an interactive interlude of laughter, animal voices and, well, plain old fun. And at under twenty bucks, considering you can use it for the rest of your life, it may be the best bargain of any kind, anywhere, ever. Is that hyperbole? You decide.

If you decide it is hyperbole, then you’ll have to buy a copy simply because you want to contribute to the inspirational vision of Radical Joy for Hard Times.

Don’t return to work after the holidays to discover that all of your colleagues engaged Christmas Fun, and you didn’t.