The Lake

While waiting to meet with a prospective client, I sat in my car and looked out over a small lake. It's artificial, made in the middle of a business park. Despite that, it was pretty. And then my thoughts drifted toward my River analogy. (If you aren't familiar with this, look at the top bar on this page for The River.) Here's what struck me about the River and the lake. The lake is a body of … [Read more...]

Currents And Waters

If you haven't seen my explanation of my River construct, look along the top row of this page and you'll see The River. Take a look to learn more. If you're already familiar with it, see below. Currents and waters are not the same thing. A current is moving, whether quickly or not. The movement is marked by starting here and going there, again regardless of the distance or direction involved. It … [Read more...]

Obama And Circularity

No political point-scoring. I'm not interested. What does interest me very much is to note something that I think you'd agree is a weird part of life. Circularity. How many times have you seen or watched something at one point in your life, perhaps criticized the person or people involved, and then discovered that at a later point many of the same circumstances and issues suddenly find their way … [Read more...]

On The River-I

Throughout the year, I'm going to the same place on the same river at four different seasons. Today was my winter view. I leaned against a tree along a bank for perhaps a half-hour. I had a small notebook and pen in hand, jotting notes on what struck me during this time. I know that this single stretch of will look rather different from one season to the next. And yet, there will be a lot of … [Read more...]

Double Turn

Let's elaborate on one of my points from the previous post. You'll note that I watched a river earlier today. I'd like to say a little more about the double-turn I saw down river. It's a good point to hold up for our own lives. Looking a short distance down river, I saw that the river soon makes a noticeable bend to the left and then, not more than a few yards from there, another bend in almost … [Read more...]

Watch A River Four Times This Year

I've got an odd request for you as we start 2013. Pick a river near you, one that has an accessible bank. Then, circle four dates on your calendar for the upcoming year. Make sure each date is in a different season--winter, spring, summer, and fall. Then, on those dates, go to the river bank and sit down for several minutes and watch the river. Look sharp. Look keenly. Jot down a few notes about … [Read more...]

The Tissue And The Tick Of The Clock

I've noted in the River section of the website that I think the separation between past and future is tissue-thin. I say this because when you think about it, the present (right now, this instant) is really the thinnest slice of time. This moment, whatever your definition of it, has vanished. It's now in the past. The present, I maintain, is a tissue between past and future. So, today is December … [Read more...]

The Currents of Waters

Next time you're on a river or standing on a river bank, take a close look at the water. You'll see there what you see in the river of your own life. Yes, I'd like you to take a moment and think about a part of my River construct. There is more than one current in the water of a river. There is the current on the surface. This current moves faster than the current at the bottom of the river. … [Read more...]

Two Runs

Your history folds over onto itself, layer by layer. Here's one such instance in my life from this past weekend. We had dinner plans at another family's house. They've friends of our two daughters and ourselves. I had to drive separately and arrived about five minutes ahead of my wife, our two girls, and my mother-in-law. I was seated at a kitchen table when they walked into the family's living … [Read more...]

Success, Paterno, and Leadership

Success, Paterno, and LeadershipWe’ve all seen the horrors of the recent Penn State football scandal. I’d like to add a comment on leadership as it pertains to success. It’s a feature of the Penn State story and all too often a feature of success in coaching and other fields.It seems every successful coach—and I’m talking major success here, multiple championships, scads of victories, year after … [Read more...]

Good Newt/Bad Newt And Good Me/Bad Me

As we watch the temporary or lasting rise of Newt Gingrich as the key Republican candidate for president, I'm struck by a comment that I've heard or read several times. Many pundits and/or people familiar with Gingrich will talk about the "good Newt" versus the "bad Newt." Good Newt is that side of Gringrich that is open-minded, intellectually curious, and a seeker of knowledge. Bad Newt is that … [Read more...]

The Signs Of Speed On The River

What for you signals most powerfully the passage of time? It is watching your children grow up? Watching your grandchildren? Meeting classmates at a school reunion? Seeing extended family after a lot of years? Visiting a place from long-ago, such as your childhood home? Looking at old photos? Visiting the burial site of a loved one? The list goes on and on. What is it for you? Regardless of your … [Read more...]

Google and Slavery

Google announced today a donation of $11.5 million to help combat slavery in the world. That's right, slavery. The announcement included the estimate of 27 million people around the world right now who live in some form of slavery. Think our world is so much better than before? Think progress is so clear-cut from earlier generations to our own? Think you and I have cornered the market on wisdom, … [Read more...]

The More I Think About It, The Dumber It Sounds

An American philosopher from the early 20th century, George Santayana, once said, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." Or something very close to that. I used to think that was pretty profound. Now, I'm convinced it's one of the dumbest quotes imaginable, one of those utterances that we're supposed to accept without thinking. That's the trouble. The more you think about it, the … [Read more...]

Six Days Later: The Indiana State Fair And My Video

This video is the second-most viewed of any I've released. And now, some six days out, we've had a chance to gather more information since the tragic event of August 13. I've had a bit more time to reflect. Would I change anything about my video at this point? No, not in the main. I might add a detail or two--a story--about some of the incredible actions that ordinary people undertook that … [Read more...]

From Yesterday: The Attraction Of The Authentic

Yesterday I commented on the differences between the economies of 2008 and 2001 and Americans' reactions in these instances. I wrote that I've had an abundance of calls about engaging me for my history-based seminars, workshops, and in some cases, books and articles. I'd like to pick up on this last point, if I may. One of the things for which I've always strived is the real, the authentic. Much … [Read more...]

A Confession About Late 2008

Nearly three years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 presidential election and Barack Obama's entry into the presidency, I decided to offer a leadership seminar that included Obama. I put together a session looking at the leadership experiences of Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Booker T. Washington. Given Obama's emergence as the self-proclaimed first black president, I thought the … [Read more...]

A New Current on the River

My river analogy has a new current. I've said before that A is when you begin a career or school. Z is the end point, your departure, graduation, termination, or whatever else completes the experience. For that matter, A can be the start of anything and Z its end; in between A and Z the River flows with all sorts of changes and continuities mixed and mingled. In your life overall, all of these … [Read more...]

The Falsehood of Change

I think we approach change falsely. So many people tell us about the barriers to change, its difficulties and the various strategies to overcome them. I've seen people grouped into those who oppose change, those on the fence, and those who champion it. Maybe. But then again, maybe not. I told an audience recently about my River theme and method. I made a point that strikes me as highly relevant … [Read more...]

My Frustration with History–Yeah, I Get It

Quite often after a session, I'm approached by a participant, or two or ten, who explains that they really aren't history buffs but still enjoyed the presentation and discussion. Today I had a realization--like them, I too had many negative experiences with history in classroom format. In eighth grade I argued with my history teacher about the information he was giving on the American … [Read more...]

The Report From Yesterday

"Vintage Historical Solutions, as a leader you left with a lot more than you came with." That was the unsolicited feedback from one of the participants in yesterday's Leadership Now Workshop. As you may know, our topic was tragedy, leadership, and Ronald Reagan's Challenger Speech. We went for 3 hours, using my river metaphor for learning leadership from history. The group was excellent, a … [Read more...]

Pearl Harbor and You

I read about a week or so ago that the Pearl Harbors Survivors Association is dying. Literally. The members of the organization—devoted to remembering an event they lived through in December 1941—are passing away. The river rolls on. Two things die with them. One is the collective oral memories of the members. Yes, it’s likely many of the members wrote their memories down on paper. But there’s … [Read more...]

The River: A Nature of Change and Continuity

The river teaches you to know change and continuity. Currents change, depths change, banks and shores change, surfaces change, bottoms change, the directions change, the things floating or stuck in the water change, living creatures change, dead creatures change, seasons and weather change. On and on it goes. The change is so great that it feels constant and thus, can become difficult to separate … [Read more...]

The River: Not All Currents Flow Forward

Let's revisit my river analogy. Check out my blog index for a full description of it--look under "River." Now, I'd like to elaborate on the current. A river's current does not always flow forward or ahead. There are things called "eddies." An eddy is a part of a river where the water actually pivots and flows backwards in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion. At the end of the motion the … [Read more...]

On the River

Looking back over the past couple of years, I think one of my biggest positive steps was in the discovery of my river analogy. For those of you who don't know it, I liken all of life, all of history, to a river. You put in at Point A (your birth, for example) and you put out at Point Z (your death), and everything in between looks a lot like going down a river. There are twists and turns, shallows … [Read more...]

The River: A Factor Not In The Water

Sometimes you just don't, or maybe can't account for all the factors in any given situation. A canoeing trip illustrated this to me in a big way. I'm paddling down a river, doing a solid job of working with the current and navigating around various obstructions. Then, I encountered something I hadn't thought of or prepared for--coming around a sharp corner and entering a section with few trees on … [Read more...]