I began his professional career in the U.S. Army as a communications technician. In the initial invasion of Iraq I was able to reengineer military equipment to function beyond its capabilities and participate in the largest tactical military network in history. As time progressed, I was assigned greater responsibilities. I began functioning as a project manager impacting larger and larger organizations. From 2012-2013 I deployed to Afghanistan as a consultant where I applied agile principles enabling my client to function 18 months ahead of their projected glide path. Later I would work as an IT Program Manager for two years where I successfully managed 37 projects, across 11 countries, utilizing 23 teams. 96% of all employees I've managed have advanced in their professional careers. I've been described as a competent leader and passionate coach who believes in helping organizations and individuals become their best.
The company in charge offers a hefty bonus for new drivers with licenses. For various reasons it’s not a job I’m interested in having. One reason is that with 4 kids, both my wife and I each feel like we’re bus drivers already.
So far this year we’ve done trips to wrestling, tennis, basketball, trumpet, choir, orthodontist, urgent care, and church group. All instead of pursuing the things we see as adding value. I’m sure other readers have longer lists. This one may not be as diverse but there’s a lot of repeat business in what’s summarized above.
The bonus the bus company offers gets paid after a certain amount of time with the company. The bonus you get paid as a parent comes after a certain amount of time as well. Like last night when my oldest boy talked to me about his future–nothing special–but he shared his feelings. He thought about his words.
I once heard that parenting isn’t always about quality time, but quantity time.
Yesterday a delightful staffer at Utah State University’s Alumni office asked me if I would donate $18.88/month for 12 months. The money (she graciously explained) would go towards helping students with financial risk so they could continue on with school.
It sounded like a noble cause, but the staffer was only giving me a part of the story. She wasn’t explaining how this impacted other systems at the school.
We did not discuss my concerns about how students would be selected and determined worthy for the gift. We did not discuss how the program would be advertised so students could become aware of the program. We did not discuss the current health of the fund or its track record.
My issue isn’t with helping people. I absolutely believe in being charitable and I practice what I preach. I learned from the Army Emergency Relief fund that even if a charity has $343,000,000 of assets for a population of only ~ 945,000 people you’ll still ask that same population for money without bothering to tell them the fund is healthy.
Goldratt taught the world that contributing to any part of a system other than the bottleneck is useless. How do I know that this fund addresses the bottleneck?
I personally believe that flow, feedback, and innovation are part of any system. Creating structure to impede these naturally processes damages the effectiveness of the overall system and its ability to adapt to the future. Would this fund impede or assist with the flow, feedback, and innovation of the systems that allow the University to perform?
In particular, as tuition has risen among colleges over the years (and to be fair, USU is not as bad as other options) how would increasing the money supply that could be spent on tuition impact the feedback loops which help to incentivize keeping tuition low? Those who have to leave their educational for temporary financial setbacks could be serving a much greater purpose than they realize. They’re a valuable part of the feedback loop to keep down costs at universities. I just couldn’t see a compelling argument to disrupt that process.
The road to becoming a better person is generally not without its potholes of frustration. Learning to navigate through those potholes and overcome the adversity that allows us to reach our goals can be daunting, but also rewarding.
One of the mental traps worth avoiding is the comparison to others.
Everyone I’ve ever met in life is flawed, yet some seem to be having an easier time than I. Experience has taught me another good one-liner:
Just because they’re better at something doesn’t make them a better person.
And that’s not intended as a line to tear down their accomplishments, but rather to simply acknowledge that maybe I don’t know them well enough yet to understand the challenges they face in life. This concept simply helps me avoid the mental trap of thinking that others are somehow better in general than anyone else.
Lets pause for a moment and notice how pervasive the marketing campaigns are for us to change our behavior about where we put our trash. The campaigns are in our kids schools, sitcoms, and the labels on the bins at every residence and office. That marketing presents recycling as the number 1 cure for solving large scale environmental problems. In most cases the marketing focuses on influencing our behavior, not telling the whole story of what happens next.
In some cities recycling isn’t just another bin that’s provided for you. It’s a mandatory practice. When we were living in Germany it was mandatory.
I don’t mind things that are mandatory.
I do mind things that are mandatory by force.
If something is a good idea, then I don’t believe that force (or the threat of force) should be an influence in the decision making. Avoiding certain substances isn’t something I choose to do because there is a law. It’s something I choose to do because it makes sense to me. Similarly, choosing to do something is better done when compelled not by fear, but by anything other than fear.
Returning to the marketing campaign on recycle. It’s pervasive and persuasive, but does recycling even make sense?
In the sense of reusing and re-purposing what you have to give it the longest life possible, yes. Recycling makes sense. You’re not going to get an argument from me against being frugal and using what you have.
Just because recycling in general makes sense doesn’t mean our recycling programs make sense.
Let me explain. Boise is big on being a town that tries to take care of the environment, but as I understand it their recycling program is far from it. Items put in the recycling bin have to be sorted. From there some of the trash is sent to the landfill. Some of it is sent to Salt Lake City to be turned into Diesel fuel, and some of it is sent to the west coast and shipped thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.
When KTVB did a story on recycling in 2018 it wasn’t about does this program make environmental/economic sense. It focused on if people knew where to put the trash. That’s a pretty big miss on a good question in my book, but it’s totally understandable about how that happens. Because the marketing is so pervasive we take for granted that recycling is doing something good.
Here’s a good question to look at, if the goal is to go green then why does going green involve significantly increasing carbon output?
In my home I reuse what I can, and I also chose to put as much as I can in the trash. The town doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to properly reuse the materials and the way it processes them can be seen as actively damaging the environment.
Downtown Salt Lake City has a lot to see and yesterday I got to take a long-time friend of mine through a couple of tours downtown. I’d been on or given this tour several times, but it’s always interesting how there’s more to learn.
We started with the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Being both morning people we arrived before the main attractions of the building were officially opened. A kind gentleman had also arrived early for his shift and gave us a private tour. Wow!
We then went on a tour of Temple square led by two highly capable Sister Missionaries. We did the tour backwards. We started in the South Visitor’s Center and looked at the interactive model of the temple.
Talking about why were weren’t going to go into the Temple was actually pretty easy. We showed her the virtual tour and explained that the Celestial Room is designed to be a rest from the cares of the world and that the spirit of reverence that you need in such a place would be difficult to achieve if people were there to admire the art and architecture.
She got-it, appreciated the honest answer, and enjoyed the rest of the tour. We proceeded into the Assembly Hall, Tabernacle, and North Visitor’s Center.
In the North Visitor’s Center we saw the lovely statue of Christ with open arms and I noticed two things that are worth sharing. First, his pose is of the body stance of a person right before they give someone a big hug. Second, was something I realized as I was talking.
“It is a beautiful statue, but can see you see how it’s not about the statue?”
The statue is lovely, but the real reason to be there is to enjoy how the statue helps to understand and draw us closer to the Savior.
I’m not sure how different this might be from the religious artwork my readers have been exposed to as well, but I think it’s worth noting. In general, religious artwork is designed to inspire us to move closer to our Heavenly Father.
It’s not about the art, it’s about the feelings from experiencing the art.
Do you have a painting or statue that you feel inspires a similar positive experience?