The Amazing Ukrainians
Posted on January 5, 2023 Leave a Comment
The ability of a determined modern army to overcome overwhelming odds and come out on top
If you had told me the Ukrainians would have been the winner in a war with Russia, at the start of the war, I would said you were crazy. As I watched key landmarks being met like (the early seizure of the airport near Kyiv). I remember saying to my wife that “despite the Ukrainians’ best efforts the pundits are correct, this would end in a week”. After the first month, I quickly noticed there was a significant difference in modern combined arms warfare. I was amazed again and again. I saw a short interview with a Ukrainian soldier who stayed behind as the Russians took the airport and called in accurate fires. He had destroyed the enemy at great risk to his own life. He and his small band of just a few men allowed the Ukrainians to take back that airport.
The ability of the Ukrainians to improvise, adapt and overcome has been legendary. Zelenskyy himself did something, rarely, if ever, done, becoming the tail that wagged the dog. He used his extensive knowledge of television media and messaging to appeal directly, live, to world leaders, in public addresses. The appeal was and is simple, to paraphrase “we are a free democratic nation being invaded by a neighbor, superior in number, with overwhelming odds against us. We will fight to the last man to remain free. We will resist whether or not you help us, we are prepared to die for our freedom. If you don’t stand with Ukraine against this Russian occupation, we will surely lose. However if you help us you will be living up to everything you promised when we established our country in the Budapest accords. NATO said it would protect us against aggression, if we gave up our nuclear capability. We lived up to our bargain, will you? Implicitly suggesting that you either stand up for democracy and sovereignty or you implicitly endorse this illegal behavior. Behaviors that include: violence against civilians and a host of other verified war crimes.”
It probably seems like we acted slowly but I would argue that the worlds largest body of western countries and all the nations of the EU, let alone America, rarely agree on anything. To agree to offer man pad rockets to keep Russia from achieving air supremacy was a key in keeping Russia fighting the last war. To fight and win in modern combined arms maneuver warfare is based on achieving air superiority, then air supremacy to support war fighters on the ground and to offer greater ability to maneuver and to take ground. With each new donation of weapons the Ukrainians used their ability to iterate applications, software, technology and consumer drones, to give them a distinct advantage directing fires. While the Ukrainians do not possess a large air force the ability to direct fires with drones showed their resourcefulness to adapt to changing circumstances in real time on the ground.
Getty ImagesZelenskyy Addressing US Congress
With each weapon system given the Ukrainians made good use of opsec, and maneuver to overcome returning fires from the Russians. As the Russians lost so many of their modern fleet of weaponry the Ukrainians so theirs at a much slower rate. Even though the Russians are still superior in number some of the most elite units have been neutralized. The ability to fight this war and win would require something like 90% (according to some analyst) of their fighting forces, to sustain and rotate, their army to keep morale high and win decisive battles.
Sending warm bodies that are not professional soldiers will be very hard in terms of attrition. The Ukrainians are fighting to stay Ukrainian, they are fighting for their homes and families. A Russian conscript has no real motivation to fight besides the basic will to defend his country. In this case they are not defending, they are attacking, with shifting rationales for why Russia is in Ukraine at all. They’re sleeping outside in winter, while the Ukrainians can seek shelter in any number of places, in their own country. While the front lines of the Russians are backfilled with more and more inexperienced fighting they are dying at an alarming rate compared to their Ukrainian counterparts.
The Ukrainian ability to use OSINT (open source intelligence) HUMINT (human intel assets) and the technology of their NATO, American and EU partners supporting them in this proxy war. They have been effective at discovering the enemies routes of entrance and egress and to cut of their lines of re-supply. Most likely the Ukrainians mount a major offensive as they had in Kherson, as soon as the ground freezes to allow passage of men and heavy equipment to maneuver. When this happens the lines of re-supply will be destroyed and any attempts to support the army will be thwarted (IMHO). By Spring the Russian Army should culminate this round of fighting with an inability to sustain their fighting positions.
If the Ukrainians breakthrough the result will be a long retreat to the next lines of defense and surrendering more of their gains. If the Ukrainians use momentum to continue to gain advantage, it is conceivable by Spring they could cut the Russian forces into two pieces then force a surrender or retreat of the Crimean peninsula. If they achieve victories like these they will disrupt the Russian hold on the Black Sea and the Sea ports and transport of grain to the free market.
As the Ukrainians hone their abilities at combined arms fighting and using technology and fighting will they will be nearly impossible to displace. The Russians are fighting for the abstract concept of security by fiat by force of arms for a hollow victory while the Ukrainians are fighting to have an ethnic identity, they are literally righting to remain Ukrainians. The Ukrainians are fighting for their rights both as a sovereign nation and as an ethnic group. They are fighting to protect their own homes and families and to avenge all the Ukrainians whom have laid down their lives.
Ukrainian Soldier in Trench 2022
The Ukrainians have been nothing short of amazing from the start of this war. However its not over yet. As the Winter or Spring offensive approaches the fighting spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people will prevail. Arbitrary acts of terror cannot dictate how the rest of the world responds, the free world must prevail in this war or these acts of aggression will only continue to destabilize the world. I stand with Ukraine, glory to their people and glory to the heroes.
New Renaissance of Ideation
Posted on August 26, 2017 Leave a Comment
It’s a phrase you hear in industry today “ideation” from “ideation to creation”
The idea the “the idea” is such a hot topic is a key indicator thinking independently is gaining influence again.
What I mean is the paradigm of hiring young people out of college so we ((more seasoned (fancy way to say older) professionals)) can mold them into carbon copies of ourselves – that way they can be “professionals” like us.
We thought of that as mentoring. We were altruistically helping young people be more professional. In a year or two they could help drive growth.
That model has some legitimacy and a place in a modern industry.
What changed for progressive companies is hiring younger people who have new skills who think differently to “teach the teachers” how to leverage tech like them.
It’s millennials who grew up in an age you could dream of a new thing in the morning, create it virtually on a computer in the afternoon and print it in 3D the same night. Not older generations.
Not too long ago prototypical examples would take months or years to develop and production could be two or three years on the horizon.
It’s conceivable now to take certain ideas from ideation to creation in weeks. If you want to win be prepared to learn something new!
Embrace Disruptive Change
Posted on July 29, 2017 Leave a Comment
10 Disruptive Change Agents – Thriving in Chaos
Remember Get Smart the popular comedy television show in the 60’s? I do. It centered on the life of Maxwell Smart, hapless secret agent. The thing that sticks out in my mind is the overall theme, the forces for good working in a shadow spy organization to maintain order. The villainous spy organization known as “Kaos” working to destroy that order and everything we hold dear. We are programed from an early age to learn this lesson, disruption is bad! When I was watching Maxwell Smart the idea of being a disruptive change agent was met with a sound cracking with a yardstick over my knuckles by a frustrated Catholic nun. Sister, you were wrong! Disruption as it turns out is very good.
10 Notable Disruptors of the Status Quo (In no particular order)
1. Women in Industry
I have been lucky over my career to have worked with very interesting people. One of the things I did during the early stages in my career was work on a Cruise Line. Working on the Cruise Staff of a super-liner as a young single guy you notice one thing that stands out. Women, lots of them from all over the world. The industry employs a lot of women and the infrastructure that supports the industry supports a lot more.
I worked on the cruise ships in the late 90’s when the industry was really starting to grow and thrive. The management staff from a gender equity standpoint however was pretty status quo. At the time I never considered how the industry would evolve and change and what would happen next.
I recently wrote an article about Carnival Cruise Lines and reconnected with some folks I used to work with and interestingly I connected with some new senior leaders in the industry. I could not help notice that many women who worked in supportive roles in related industry who were managers or department heads while I was working there were now senior leadership.
Gender Equality and Industry
At first it did not strike me as odd I met a lot of very capable women during my career and of course a number of these women would get ahead in industry. I looked across the industry and noticed that some of the women I knew as directors were in very senior positions and some of the women who were leaders in related industries had moved into the industry as President, CEO, SVP.
It struck me as interesting because I noted several at first. I wondered as I dug a little deeper how many women were in the pipeline in positions coming up the corporate latter. Something stuck out to me, not only the number of women increasing, but the roles they these up and coming women were filling.
One such female is Edie Rodriquez, CEO of Crystal Cruise Lines, who I admire. She has come to power in an industry formerly dominated by men, despite the odds and her determination, and grit stand out in my mind as key factors in her success. She not only runs a Cruise Line she runs Crystal Cruise Lines, rated number one in quality for many years. Setting the benchmark for quality as a frontrunner.
What stood out in my mind was the dynamics of human nature. You may think you are the most impartial and just decent executive in the world who is not swayed at all by any bias. Then it happens, someone who comes into your organization went to your college, vacationed in the same beach town, played the same sport and without realizing it your comfort level lends itself to bring that young exec up the corporate latter to the C-Suite. We even coined a name for the “Old Boys Club”.
Dynamics of Change – Gender Equality in the C-Suite
Women in the cruise industry who have entered into the senior leadership have statistically overwhelmingly worked for men during their career. According to statistics 94% the last I checked of Fortune 500 CEO’s were men. But, and here in lies the rub, some are women who figured out how to thrive in industry. One I was very lucky to work for Kathy Mazzarella.
(EXCERPT FROM BLOOMBERG NEWS)
Kathleen M. Mazzarella
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President,
Graybar Electric Company, Inc.
$3,576,370 (Estimated Income)
As of Fiscal Year 2016
Ms. Kathleen M. Mazzarella, also known as Kathy, has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Graybar Canada Limited since June 1, 2012. Ms. Mazzarella has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Graybar Electric Company, Inc. since June 01, 2012. She served as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Graybar Electric Company, Inc. from December 2010 to May 2012. She served as a Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Graybar…
If I continued to list her credentials it would fill the page. Kathy suffice it to say is very successful. She has thrived and succeeded in a male dominated industry and has bucked the status quo. Women in industry have a unique advantage when judging other executives, they are more likely to more seriously consider all candidates equally
These women have worked in a male dominated world of very intelligent and powerful men, have had mentors that were males along the way but also were shaped by their own passion and desire to be great and cultivated female role models. Hell now they are female role models themselves.
Female Industry Leaders Cultivating a New Generation of Leadership
This change will keep happening with every successive wave of leadership change powerful women will begin to bring more women into the workforce into leadership over time. In my humble opinion this will be a force that changes the dynamics of business conversations and changes the tone in engagement.
Every man I know who daughters told me having daughters made them better men. They were more careful about how they spoke and acted around their daughters than their sons because they were a bit more protective of their little girls. But the interesting thing that struck me was them being more attentive, more sympathetic, more understanding made them better listeners, and hearing more of what was needed most were able to provide in a more compassionate and engaged way.
Cut to women working in industry, if this totally unscientific sampling of men I know is indicative of an overall larger trend of men interacting with women. Women in industry will change the “tone” of the conversations, they will shift the perspectives of leadership and improve the quality of interaction in business.
I recently read an article where a very senior executive was asked what his management style was, he replied it was empathy, he was surprised at the question and had never been asked. The reply he got was, why not compassion? Have you tried compassion?
In a modern world of connected executives from around the world a greater degree of sensitivity and finesse is required to succeed. It is no longer enough to be understanding, you have to be understanding and care about outcomes so you synthesize your solution sets around engaged and satisfied employees rather than mandating change as you see fit. As the demands on workers increase and productivity gets higher and higher people want to know that their concerns are not only discussed but brought into the larger conversation of company policy and culture. This will be a powerful disruptor of the status quo and a change for good in industry. In Kathy’s recent article she speaks about the quality of life and work life balance.
2. Technology as Disruptor
We all know the names of amazing companies that have and continue to spearhead disruptive change, Apple, Tesla, Space X to name a few.
In a new digital age technology will play a leading role in the frequency of change and the dynamics of change and it has already increased the rate and severity so much now we commonly use the term “Disruptive” change.
3. Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything
There are few technologies that I know of today that are more interesting than an automated custom made world. A “smart” building and “smart” technology. The idea that someday I will walk into a building and it might know who I am and could even tailor an experience designed for my person comfort is amazing.
You already seeing this in homes and business’ but it will continue to change in ways I cannot predict or imagine.
My parents both worked in the defense industry for their whole career. They worked for a sub-contract organization that was at that time on the leading edge of innovation, technology and change. They would have “family day” and one of the things that would fascinate the kids would be a computer programmer making a giant Snoopy the Dog poster from 1’s and 0’s by programing a computer to print the image on green and while lined paper. At that time there was a very large “computer room” where IBM computers were working 24 hours a day. A giant interconnected web of computational power unlike any the world had seen before. Running digital information onto reel to reel tape to change the way the world was working at the time.
Now the telephone in my pocket has more computational power than that whole room probably. Before my Mother passed away Apple announced it had crossed the threshold of supercomputing in portable form. They now had a machine that could make 1,000,000 computations in one second.
This computer was so powerful it was banned from sale in certain countries. I asked my Mom if I told her that I would have a computer in my brief case that would be more powerful than that whole room of computer at work, what would she have said in the 70’s. She said without any hesitation I would not have believed that was even possible at that time. I probably would have laughed.
4. Energy as Disruptor
Yes we of course thing of solar power as a technology of tomorrow but now with the advent of better more powerful battery systems the concept of solar power being stored and viable for consumer use on a much larger scale is not only possible but happening right now with Elon Musk in Australia.
This battery technology combined with technology like a microgrid have tantalizing possibilities for things changing in another entrenched old school business energy. What will happen with solar and battery storage in the future is far from certain but my point is we live in a time of interesting and increasingly relevant changes that will have a greater and greater impact on the quality of our lives. Below I will post an article about what microgrids are for anyone who would be interested.
6. Emerging Technologies
As we look to tomorrow the companies that are best at embracing changes are going to be the ones that thrive. The companies that harness the dynamic nature of change as a force of good will be the ones who lead not follow in a modern age.
7. Controls and Devices
There are companies like www.GraybarElectric.com www.schneider-electric.com/ www.legrand.com that will lead the way in connected devices and controls that will shape the future and it is an exciting time to live. I cannot predict the number of changes and the nature of changes but the one thing I know is things are going to change. Changing for the better is up to those companies in leadership positions that embrace change and harness the power of chaos and disruption for the betterment of our lives
I could write all day if I include every major disruptive technology but another major entrenched and old school industry is being disrupted by Hyperloop technology. High speed trains, once the most modern thing in transportation and reserved for just a few countries with the technology and money to carry the idea out is not old news. I am not a conspiracy theorist but Elon Musk must be one of the reptile people human alien hybrid, otherwise my life in comparison is an abysmal failure. Slow down Musk, you’re making us ordinary puny humans look bad!
This makes the idea of Uber look at lot less sexy and interesting but if you told me my neighbor would drive me to work in his car for money like a cab a few years ago I would have laughed in your face. It is amazing how many things are changing the rate they are changing and the way that they change.
9. Banking (Seriously Banking)
The idea of digital currency is still something I cannot quite get my mind around and I am seeing it every day in the news, Block chain. This idea would have been the ramblings of a science fiction buff years ago, a futuristic world were currency and legal tender were no longer valid and we paid with our galactic universal I.D.
Well tomorrow is today people it’s happening for better or for worse and it will stand things on their ear. In ways that are not even known yet.
10. Bank of England (BOE) and Fintech
Huh? I get a connection request on LinkedIn I see the person works for a company FIN TECH. I’m not a banker and I don’t think much about banking but finacial technology in the age of bid data and a connected world, and bitcoin is becoming increasingly relevant and important to the long term plans of major banks. I come to find out, this person is on the leading of a change, that is considered so fundamental that officials from the bank of England are giving speeches about it.
The idea that a mainstream institution that has been in existence for so many years’ regulating currency and market rates would embrace changes like this is indicative of just how fast and how dramatically things are changing. It is an amazing time we live in.
I am increasingly more and more fascinated with radical change makers and inspirational leaders today. More than ever before things are changing and not incrementally, monumentally and quickly.
Weather all the changes will be for the better will be for our robot overlords to decide I suppose, as they light their robotic cigars, burning this digital money to light them laughing and saying oh those humans are priceless. (Just kidding—I hope!).
I have decided the nuns were entirely wrong – the change makers, and disruptors of the world are really the leaders. They are waving their hands and trying to get people to pay attention to an oncoming virtual tsunami of sweeping radical changes and the change makers will be the ones who are the early adopters of disruptive constructive, radical change.
Andrew J Walker
The Passing of the Torch
Posted on July 13, 2017 Leave a Comment
In honor of Dad, John F. Walker Sr. A humble and distinguished man who lived his life honestly, demonstrating integrity, character and love – He showed us the way through life with his torch light. He’s passed his torch, I try to follow his example in my life – Love and miss you everyday.
I recently read a post of a eulogy for a man who recently lost his father. My own father passed away a number of years ago but it is still an emotional touch stone. An old friend just lost his Dad, we spoke about it the other night.
We spoke of course of his Dad and memories of days gone by, his general manner, style. We spoke of the nature of this particular loss, the loss felt over a parent, especially the loss a son feels when his father passes.
There are seminal moments in every man’s life that etch themselves indelibly into your memory. You can see this clearly in any person with Alzheimer’s Disease. People with this disease will recount days past as clearly as if they’re happening that very moment, they perceive people who left a mark on their consciousness so vividly.
My own aunt had this terrible disease and often asked her long time spouse when her Dad and brother would arrive. They had both died many years earlier but she could still recall the memory so vividly that she would tell stories about them and laugh as if it happened days before. She was confused, why had they chosen not to come? During her life interaction with her beloved family etched itself so deeply into her mind, even this awful illness could not erase.
The special relationship shared with parents is different than others, their passing is acute, the burden of this grief can be very difficult
This terrible event (A parent’s passing) is ushered in with doctors and lawyers usually, signing paperwork and putting things in order you never even knew existed to certify the next steps. There are legal papers needed to be filed to prove, without any question, your loved one has indeed died. Then every single person, your beloved owes so much as a nickle, quickly forms a line to get it.
After such time the appointed person or agency presiding over this matter decides all the debts are paid you get what your parent or parents worked for their whole lives. Not so fast says Uncle Sam, you owe me your inheritance tax, surprised you comply and pay Uncle Sam. Thinking now your troubles are over and you can get on with your mourning. Not so fast, Uncle Sam exclaims again, you have to pay tax on the income you received from that money I just took the other tax from, last time we talked.
You agree (again) and pay more taxes. Your now free to grieve, and mourn or are you? Not so fast says a realtor, you need the sell your childhood home or keep paying the mortgage, to do that, you need to go through all the boxes full of cards and letters, family vacations, gifts you made in grade school and get rid of what’s not important. Then take away what’s valuable, you make decisions – who gets what – if you have siblings. Then you grieve right? Not so fast says, some family member, Dad said he would give me that or I’m attached to that, etc…
During times like these the world conspires against you, as if no one wants to give you space to breath, take in the enormity of the tasks at hand and make the mental adjustments.
you’re now the standard bearer for your family, you’ve been handed the torch – now “Man of the House” – you’re the parent now not the child. You feel a sense of dread in this moment, knowing someday your children will have to go through this too, when you pass the torch.
I can say without hesitation, in my case, I did not have a difficult time with regrets or angry siblings fighting over a chair or table. Oddly we separated all the material things without any disagreement at all very quickly and sold my parent’s house in two weeks. The hard part was the letting go. Every scrap of paper I threw away felt like a betrayal against my parent’s. It must have been important to them because they saved it for some reason in this box or on that shelf.
Every Christmas card and letter felt like a sacred text that came down from the mountain, etched in stone by the hand of the divine maker himself. For me it was so daunting, I just could not deal with it and rented a large storage unit, literally put it off for three years. Up until the time of this article writing there are still boxes in my basement I could not empty.
Stages of grief in psych 101, turn out to be very real
After you get through many difficult tasks and copious paperwork and administration, you’re allowed to celebrate the life of this person and honor them. Usually in the majority of my friends this happens with some ceremony or funeral rights.
Now you’re really in for it, this is when it all becomes real. All those photos you so treasured, from those boxes you emptied, your life on display. These are going on display for your fiends and family, maybe in a multi-media slide show or apple movie! This fills your heart with a lot of those emotions from the moments you cherished and shared and the certain knowledge that you will not share any more. For me these days were like a symphony with every member playing in his own key. The feelings and mixed emotions come in waves. The strange thing is you fear this day and dread it’s coming but when it arrives it is the best part of this process. There are usually many people you know and love to offer consolation and most importantly to show just how valid this feeling of loss and longing is. How beloved and missed your family member will be to them. Its a testament to the life they lived and it really makes you feel better. You feel that love and take it in and it washes over you and soothes your soul.
If you have a father that was a veteran, the roller coaster of emotions you feel during military honors is indescribably heart rendering. Your heart melts with pride, and as the coronet player sounds taps with that horn the loss hits your heart like a hammer ringing a bell.
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
When these words are spoken they have a profound, lasting effect on you. A military funeral, as ceremonies go, is about as simple and direct an affair as you could ask for. But every movement has been perfected by the unfortunate practice having been repeated so many times in our history. Every moment of the ceremony is poignant. It’s an honor that fills you with pride and a remarkable spectacle – impossible to capture with words.
You recognize at once the solemnity of this ritual and the profound nature of every word and deed. The sounding of taps is haunting, even today, many years after my dad’s passing I’m transported back in time to the sailor who stood at the door of the chapel to play taps for my Dad. When I look at his warriors heart contained in the folded flag, on display in my home, I think of him – proud of his selfless service.
Getting back to the roller coaster of feelings, the heart swell of this ceremony and heartfelt love you feel at the wake and funeral passes away, in short order. You’re left sorting and sifting through your lives in the form of possessions and memories and when you’re alone you feel the loss most. At least, in my case, I did. It was the moments no one was around, when I would break down. This loss felt exceptional, unlike anything else I had ever experienced, it would creep in when least expected.
In my case my father died when my children were both very young. I felt like my wife was so busy raising our kids, she had a full-plate, my kids were too young to understand what was wrong. I would push down these feelings. I would go out to my car to drive to work, I would make it around the corner and sometimes, stop, just out of sight of my family, to dry tears that would momentarily make it impossible to drive the car. The feelings would flood in waves, torrents all at once that could not be controlled, like water from a broken water main. It was not a drip, drip, drip it was a gusher.
During this stage, the “depression stage” was deeply rooted and heart felt grief and a sense of loss was so profound it felt like any time I allowed myself the luxury of a joyful memory from good days gone by, the well-spring of emotions would surly follow – it would take me away. in my mind, like a tornado picking up Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz.
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto!
What should I do now? Was a frequent inside voice question asked
Strangely in a similar way to the events in that movie the day does come when the sky clears and somehow life some makes sense again – you figure out how to go on and move forward. Now the joyful stories come forth and you smile and laugh. You feel the loss but experience joy at the same time.
You pull back the curtain … to receive insights into courage
Somehow the madness and tears, confusion and depression clear away and the clouds part and you begin again. Your the parent now, the torch bearer, the family standard holder. If feels strange at first. It does not feel correct, its like new shoes. You were measured, you know they fit in your mind but they take some breaking in to feel like you own them. This new found courage feels about the same, you know you own it and you paid for it but it takes a bit of breaking in.
You have the courage and move ahead, but sadly there’s no medal
Take my word for this, when and if this day comes. You will find a way, you will have the courage, there’s no place like home. There is no man behind any curtain, coming with medals but you will see the rainbow and ride the damn thing to the other side of grief and there will be joy in your heart again. This day will comes, and you feel the earth shift under your feet when you realize it has. You’re the man of the house now and that is OK. You are the parent now and you hold the standard for the family instead of your dad and you earned this honor. I personally like to think, somewhere, there is a divine creator an architect of the universe who knows my heart and planned my life, for better or worse. I needed to take heart, move forward, and become the torch bearer and light for myself and my family.
It’s hard to do but the rainbow is coming – I promise you, when you find the courage in your heart that moves you forward, the rainbow will be there waiting.
While you tell all the stories to your family and friends of wonderful days gone by you once shared with the previous lamp of wisdom in your life. You will laugh again at these stories and they will laugh with you and under a clearing sky – you will again see the rainbow.
***…let us arise and go up to Bethel, I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
There is one thing I know for certain, none of us get out of here alive. Savor the days you get to share with your family. Time conquers all and will conquer you too.
There is no substitute for saying “I love you, I missed you, I’m proud of you, I’m sorry, I’m glad you’re here”. Don’t wait to say these things, don’t think some thing of value or delight replaces the words and deeds that show you care. Tomorrow is not the best time to say it, today is, right now!
A cynic will promise two things, death and taxes. Have courage because the architect of the universe is waiting to pin that invisible medal for courage on your heart, when he does you will be free to enjoy what ever is over the rainbow. Death if final, but your memories last forever, at least for you they do. Don’t wait to work things out with the ones you love. Things won’t “work themselves out” if you leave well enough alone.
If you want rainbows, you need courage, invisible courage medals are pinned on for merit by universal architects, not for showing up. Show-up, suit-up, shut-up and be brave.
Get through the messy parts of accepting the torch. Grief is as messy process, not a simple one happening on your schedule. It’s a process, with a beginning, middle and end and one that offers beauty and joy over the metaphorical rainbow and what’s better than that?
My friend, I promise, there is a rainbow! Until you get there, remember the heaviest burdens are drawn by teams for a reason. Each member of your team wears their yoke and pulls some of your load, the team is arranged in a determined order – the course is charted to avoid pitfalls and perils. Have faith in the power of your team to pull you through in times of greatest need – that’s what your team is there for. Don’t be downcast the hoop you need to jump through is larger than you think.
Somewhere over the rainbow… this will all make sense. Have faith – it will all work according to plan. All my love to friends and foes alike – we’re in this life together, I don’t want to wait for tomorrow to say I love you and appreciate you all, today.
***POST SCRIPT: The Bethel mentioned in the above bible passage has no relationship to my old buddy, Col. David Bethel – I had to put this disclaimer in or he might think God wrote him into the bible to illustrate the greatness of the Marine Corps. God Blessed the USMC with Col. Bethel who selflessly serves our nation and the Marine Corps – I appreciate your service buddy.
By Andrew Walker – If you liked this article please “like and share” it.
#Andrew-Walker-Co #AndrewJWalker #AndrewWalker #Passingthetorch #MilitaryFuneralRight #Veterans #JohnFWalkerSr
A Weird Dog Saga: My Devious Plan Gone Horribly Wrong
Posted on July 12, 2017 2 Comments
I guess we were lucky growing up. Every dog my family owned was just plain good. Obedient, listening well, came when called, laid down when asked, house trained, never escaped from yard. Just plain old good. In fact, I secretly used to think people with bad dogs had somehow corrupted their essential good nature and somehow tarnished their spotless character through some terrible family behavior.
Similarly, I also owned a few cats, same story. Came when called, happy to see me, sat on my lap, generally cats who demonstrated traits you want to make you want to own a cat – well behaved virtually every minute of every day.
…Having owned three dogs and two cats growing up I couldn’t wait to have my own faithful companions first chance I got with my own family…
The rub was, I married a woman who was allergic to cats and dogs. Completely dashing my hopes on the rocks of broken dreams. I went along with this arrangement, resigning myself to my fate of dogless adulthood. Dutifully going about my lonely days and empty lapped evenings without one pant, bark, meow or purr for some time.
When we first got married we lived in a condo so the lack of a pet did not particularly bother me. We had not had our kids yet, I traveled more, we had movie nights, date nights! Hey, who needs a furry friend under these circumstances right?
Fast forward a few years, we have our first son, then our second, we move to a larger home, then a home larger still. I am starting to notice my wonderful date nights and world travel supplanted with trips to-day care and endless sporting events. Now the absence of man’s best friend started to pull at my heart-strings. However I am still the dutiful husband, honoring his wife’s “condition” she cannot be around any animal.
Then it happened…my wife decides to get, not one but two cats, she’s on the “Pet Finder” website at a fevered pitch and will not stop looking until she finds the purrfect (see what I did there?…still got it)
Long story short, she looks until she finds two healthy young Abyssinian cats, brother and sister, “King George” and “Queen Sophia” – they apparently have a custom of naming pure breed cats with unusual names.
Anyway, I negotiate the treaty with the Russian cat breeder who turns out to be very nice. We go to Brooklyn and we meet our new cats “George” and “Sophie”. My wife being from Europe immediately announces we are going to let these two, pure breed, cats run free outside, like we live on a farm.
Her rational “we do this in Europe” my defense “Well in America We Don’t!” does not seem to have the same weight in terms of decision-making power.
I am happy to have a pet anyway. The cats turn out to be really great and we all love them. They are the best cats ever. These cats are weird though, in that they come like a dog when called. So they are God knows’ where out in the suburban wilderness, you call their names and they come running, literally running to our door.
…George and His Benefactor Gabi…
Don’t get me wrong, I love the cats like everyone else in the house but after twice weekly visits to the allergists to have cats (by my wife) I am feeling a little slighted.
I bring up the topic of dogs to test the proverbial waters. “Hey how about we get a dog,?” I say casually.
My wife meets this comment with an incredulous look. Immediately firing back, you know I am allergic to animals!
Because I’m so mature the fact my wife was willing to get shots, for three years, to grant her own cat owning wish, has virtually no effect on my mood or behavior what so ever.
Just kidding, I like many men, am a man-child, who wants his own way too. I’m now holding on to my man’s best friend resentment daily. It is like a simmering pot, eventually this is going to boil over it is just a matter of time. I know this in the depths of my heart.
I wait a few months, with the disaplin of a monk. Then ask another way “Hey what if we got a dog and we have a dog house in the yard?” She quickly shots me down with the fact we live in the northeast.
I persist, undaunted “we can keep the dog downstairs only…” again my wife looks at me with a look of disbelief and say’s you don’t think I am going to endure another three years of those painful shots just to get a dog, do you?”
I say “of course not” because I am really mature and logical…Just kidding, I am in no way on-board with this logic and do, in fact expect her to do this.
I realize in this moment my more base childish nature will eventually win this battle. I will use my normal strategy of doing something I know, full well, my wife will hate, apologizing profusely and groveling for forgiveness”
Now I know my wife, she is a hard-headed Hungarian with a memory like an elephant. She will never let me live this down if I take this leap.
She can also sniff out my schemes, like no one I have ever known. I need to exercise the discipline of the Samurai and be stealthy as a ninja.
I decide to lay low, I have been talking dogs too much, she is starting to give me the Elliot Ness interrogation look. I can see her looking for the bare lightbulb and chair to tie me up in, to beat the truth out of me.
So I am as disciplined as can be. I say nothing for months, then start to hatch my evil dog-buying plans. I should say, my evil dog(s) buying plan.
I spitefully decided if she gets two cats, then by God, I get two dogs too. I am “all-in” with this insane plan now, I have gone 5150 dog buyer now, I just don’t give a shit.
I realize she is going to probably murder me in my sleep for this one. I already pulled this routine with a piano, table saw, 1949 GMC pickup truck. I’m seriously running out of the forgiveness with this particular Hungarian.
I stealthfully acquire a secret list of hypoallergenic dogs off the internet to start to secretly interview my wife. I say to my wife, “Gabi, do you like poodles?, I hear they are really smart, what do you think?”
Immediately she says how much she hates poodles, then lists a dozen reasons poodles are no damn good.
…I lay low again, lying in wait with the next name on my potential dog buying list, next breed…
“Gabi, do you like Schnauzers? I think they’re really cute, what do you think about them?” Gabi immediately has a “Schnauzers are terrible” then recites a list of 12 reasons, adding a personal anecdote about her friend Judy, who had a Giant Schnauzer who literally leaped from the window of her moving car.
Again, with the purity and disapline of a monk, I lay low again and meditate on this. I am waiting for the next name on my list, to spring my trap. If I go to fast with the questioning “Sherlock” is going to sniff my plan out.
So I wait….finally getting down to literally the last breed on the list, Basenji’s “the barkless dog”. They do not bark, at all, they never bark in fact, they hardly make any noise at all, ever. They are just the right size and they are good looking.
I ask, “Gabi, do you like these dogs?” eureka, I hit pay dirt! “Yes I do (she says emphatically), they’re really pretty”
Literally, five minutes later I’m in our spare room, frantically searching for basenji breeders. I’m on a mission from God, to get these damn dogs. I am so ready!
I don’t want to take any chances, this operation is going to be found out, my palms are sweaty, thinking about my wife interrogating me. I will crack under pressure, I know this, name rank and serial number only.
So it goes like this, I find a breeder who has great dogs. I make some excuse to go on a southern business trip down and I make the run to South Carolina.
When I say this breeder was in the back woods, I am insulting the people who live in the back woods. This place in really in the boondocks. I go down an unpaved road for miles, met by stares that say “you’re not from around here are you boy?” to pick up the dogs.
I realize I am truly in crazy town when the dog breeders husband starts telling me about how they opened the farmstead when they realized the Illuminati were going to take over America. I decided, maybe it was time for me to go. Before I ended up in a ditch somewhere as a suspected Illuminati sympathizer.
So I get the dogs, they are cute as you like, they really do not bark, but they literally are the worst dogs ever.
My wife is as hot as a firecracker and really not happy with me. To compound matters, these dogs are digging out of the yard, literally every day, running the town. They never come when called, they listen if they want to and if they don’t like what you’re saying, forget it. They come in if they feel like it, when it is sunny. They hate getting their feet wet, so if it rains they hide in their dog house, then come inside to pee on the rug.
When they are not peeing on the rug, they are eating the furniture. So far, one couch, two Ethan Allen arm chairs, the piano bench (yes that piano – the ask forgiveness piano is actually dog chewed, by the SDK forgiveness dogs)
But we do love them, despite the fact my Dog’s act like cats and my cats act like they’re dogs.
…This is my little girlfriend Lily, my favorite of all…I tell myself she feels remorse for her misdeeds
This photo was taken moments before the devil took my pencil or a sock, or some other damn thing she decided to eat. No matter how many times I tell her, no matter whether I scream and yell or just try to appeal to her better nature, this dog is literally the worst pet I ever had.
She has escaped from the yard so many times, I can’t count. Her brother is equally cute and equally bad. They are now about 6 years old and they are now (mostly) house trained, they (kind of) don’t frantically chase the cats.
Charlie, Lily’s brother, is named after my Uncle Charlie, who ironically is a man that lived almost 100 years and I can think of nothing he did wrong his whole life
Progress report on these two…
They are mostly, sort of, not eating the woodwork anymore, and they eat (less) furniture and fewer pencils. We’re on the 8th Sony play station remote.
Lily has eaten so many pencils and so much paper, I swear she has a Russian novelist living in her stomach, working on his next great opus. But despite it all, we love them.
At the end of the day, bad dogs are better than 90% of most people I know and hell, they don’t bark, so I have to count my blessings – the funny thing is, even my wife now loves the dogs and they sit with her on the couch while she says how much she hates them and is still mad.
But I am still asking for forgiveness – only this time I have dogs to ease my pain and suffering!
How can you stay mad at this face?
My boy Charlie, the son who never gives me any lip, this guy is as silent as a monk on a sacred vow of silence!
Fear, Evolution and Human Nature
Posted on July 12, 2017 Leave a Comment
Reconnecting recently with an old friend by phone, we spoke about the subject of fear. The idea fear was actually hard-wired a leftover remnant of natural selection and evolution, the idea was in an article she read, fear was a natural part of human nature, natural selection had weeded out human beings long ago who did not have the right amount of fear. The idea fear was passed down from generation to generation to preserve the fittest of us and to protect the species from extinction.
Personally, having a background in sales I frequently projected, and mapped out strategy, reviewing possibilities and responses to several most likely scenarios.
In business this is a great advantage during strategic planning. Thinking of every eventuality, analyzing available data, market trends and mining conventional wisdom or other informed opinions to make predictions and plans for the future of your business.
This is exactly what you want in business, the ability to expand on these educated guesses, then properly prepare an appropriate response. The devil however is in the details, the problem with advanced strategic planning is it is hard to separate today and the present reality from tomorrow in your strategy, you don’t only think about the future of your company, you contemplate personal circumstances in light of the assumptions and think about consequences if the projections come true.
When you project success and anticipate a win, you may be brimming with confidence and optimism, full of good cheer. When you settle on a prediction one way or another, weather you like it or not, your mood sometimes begins to match your expectations. Feelings are not facts and your emotions can be deceiving. If you feel failure may be the logical outcome you might feel insecure or full of self doubt. I’m not a psychologist but I suspect this is pretty normal.
The problem with taking stock in your predictions when you’re engaged in an important relationship in business is that your fear may start to effect your feeling, and those feeling could cause you to broadcast these doubts to the rest of the world. In a difficult negotiation or contract dispute you want to negotiate from a strong position. You can’t walk in the room with a long face and a look of dread or desperation. Your competitors and customers will sense that weakness and take the upper hand. You must demonstrate confidence to inspire others to follow you and for customers have faith that you can deliver on your promises. You should be cautiously optimistic in team development meetings and positively influence the sales process. Your marshaling your troops to support your effort and you need them to give it all they have.
I thought about this topic’s effects on relationship building and sales development and came to the conclusion I wanted to make sure that I was doing every thing possible to maintain the proper perspective when engaged in strategy sessions. This negative side of projecting must be avoided. Undue worry and negative projections can create a self imposed limitation in a professional situation. The same holds true for personal relationships as well. If I have some unrealistic fear that has me worried or concerned it may effect how much I am listening and engaged with the people around me. Some of those people are very important. Like my wife and children, my colleagues at work or people in my community.
….this is the question that came to me as we discussed the topic. Am I negatively effected by feelings of worry or concern I may generate when I am planning something I suspect might not go as I plan it to? More importantly does this fear and worry cause me to give less than my full attention to my work, my colleagues, my friends or my family?
As we discussed this topic the necessity of realistic fear and healthy concern for dangerous or unsafe things was very clear. You cannot live very long if you aren’t afraid of anything. We recognized it was important to maintain balance when thinking strategically to be rational and concerned and not emotional irrational and worried.
The reasoning is clear, to insulate your strategic advantages for planning an operating at your peak, but most importantly to avoid the sense of dread that can accompany fearing future negative events. I know the future is outside my control to accomplish my Strategic goal of avoiding undue projection and worries I needed a strategy. To force myself to activate my rational mind and my will to make a strategic plan for better performance, and for a happier more balanced life.
…this plan seemed so simple, frankly I didn’t think that irrational fears or worries had that much sway over my emotions…keep it simple, don’t worry about the future, you can’t control it…
The decision not to worry about uncertain outcomes and future events without cause turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would. I was not the pull the covers up to my chin and cry the sky is falling, Chicken Little, type, I am the variety that might recognize statistical possibilities, trends or opinions and have doubt, those doubts may occupy my thinking too frequently. Which required making a deliberate and conscious decision, replace my emotional reaction, with more facts, better logic and less conjecture, and identify when the outcome is so uncertain that it is totally out of my control.
…It’s harder than I had suspected to assert your will over your emotion and force your mind to swim against the tide of evolution and human nature…
To stop myself from fearing uncertain events in the future strategies I needed to tell myself the same thing over and over and over again…“I can’t change the future, so I can’t waste time worrying about it.”
New element of my evolving plan:
…refuse to give permission to indulge in projection that wasted time, or made me miserable. I caught myself falling into my old habits sometimes. I would then apply this new part of the strategy and rescind my mental permission to stop the progression that lead to the bad aspects of unhealthy projections…
If I was going to be truly “present” and actively listening to colleagues, family and friends I needed to make this kind of change sustainable. If I failed in my strategy I needed to restart my day, then and there, and try again, being more authentic and more present for the people in my life. Paying full attention to them in the moment with my whole mind body and spirit. This attention translated to more enjoyment of these moments and that was the underlying goal.
The more I thought about this idea, the more it made sense and the easier it became. If I noticed myself getting off track by projecting, I would restart my day, and reduce my strategy down to a few words and say this…
“No influence over outcome, no need to worry”
I realized even if I knew of some certain bad future outcome that I could rely on, worrying about that did not change that outcome or make things better. In this instance I could ruin my day for nothing, then adding insult to injury, sometimes find myself holding the emotional bag. Not only did the stuff I worried about not happen, but to compound matters, sometimes something great and unexpected would happen. This would cause an emotional boomerang effect. First I would be happy with the unexpected good news, then invariably it caused reflection on the wasted time and regret would replace the surprise and still rain on the parade of good news.
…as I realized the good effect of being worried less was positive so I decided to be more proactive, take more steps to change my thinking.
I developed another step, in the evolution of this new strategy, be more discriminating about information that was influencing my thinking and information I was using to make predictions in my life and in strategic plans…
I needed to be “in the moment” and “present” more often to get greater enjoyment out of life, not necessarily overflowing with optimism every minute , but living in the hear-and-now, more authentic and true to myself and true to those around me. What I mean is actively listening, paying closer attention with my full mind in order to make a more valuable contributions to the relationships in my life – taking part in that present moment with authenticity, with my full attention and full mind and experience these moments with my colleagues, friends and family with more depth.
…The next step in the evolution of my planning was to think about how I would go about changing the data I willingly took into my thinking on a daily basis…
…try to create a better data set to draw from, to make better decisions, planning the future…
The next step was to clear away extraneous info that influenced my mood, interfered with my judgment, or generally wasted my time. Cataloging things that occupied my time, Facebook, political discussion, arguments, TV, internet trolling to kill time, people who took more than they gave or who often made me frustrated. I decided to apply this logic every place I could. I routinely applied this logic at work to do good strategic planning, clean data gives you better facts and analysis and helps you make better decisions, good data in – good data out.
This would be my new strategy for sustaining this new way of thinking. I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna. I have normal concerns, and worry occasionally, but when I reduced the amount of negative information I allowed into my thinking, on purpose, I noticed less emotional and irrational info influencing my thinking. I had less to cloud the rational thinking and pull me off track.
I started to filter my own “data stream” more carefully, what I watched on TV, who my friends were on social media, who I followed on social media, or who I chose to speak to regularly, music I listened to, who I associated with at work and in my life and what conversations I chose to have. I cut free anyone and anything that I could I felt was not supporting my goals.
Some of those people have come back into my life again, some will not. I limited the kind of news and editorials I read and other media I consume. If I have a choice to read fiction or non fiction, I would choose the later – avoiding more biased news on the left and the right. Limiting my speech on controversial subjects. I have found I am enjoying my life more.
..I worry less and care more. I have better perspective and judgment, I am more calm in general, have more time to think, am frustrated less and make more informed decisions that I base assumptions on during planning.
…The natural consequence of this new way of thinking is I am less jammed up about projecting about the future because I’m in the “present” more of my day…
Today a colleague from work looked concerned the first thing in the morning I contemplated saying something but decided it was none of my business. I went about my business, but the truth was it was fear, in that moment, I was afraid she would feel intruded upon, or worse, she would say “what the heck are you talking about, I’m fine” then I would really look foolish. I recognized this was the same kind of thing as the strategic fears ruining my day.
I saw her later the same day and decided to stop what I was doing and ask her “are you OK?” She immediately seemed relieved – told me she was a bit overwrought, she was in need of encouragement. I put my arm on her shoulder and gave her a word of encouragement. I could sense her burden lifted in that moment, a little bit, she had a listening ear and empathetic heart, reaching out authentically with a small gesture. Human nature recognizes sincerity and earnestness, she knew I was concerned for her and my concern was appreciated. It is human nature after all, when someone cares for us, we notice this.
The amazing thing about this small exchange was my own burden seemed to be lighter too. The great paradox of living in the present more authentically and giving of yourself more was, the more I gave of myself with my full mind and intention, the more I got back. The more I shut out negativity, the more room in my mind and heart there was for positive things I want to focus on and would rather spend my time on.
…The more I give of myself to the people around me, the more the people around me reciprocate, weather I ask them to or not, which makes life more enjoyable, more full of joy, who doesn’t want that?…
The more you do for others in their time of need the more your own needs become relevant to those around you – this thought experiment offered much needed perspective, as a bonus, the world seems like a better place to live in – If I can remember to be more present and authentic – it’s better for me and everyone else I come into contact with.
If you like this short article and you would like me to do a series of pieces on fear… please be sure to “like” and “share” this blog post and please follow my blog at
https://andrew-walker.co/ – I can use the support and encouragement.
Why Terrorism Always Fails
Posted on May 22, 2017 Leave a Comment
In light of this latest terrible attack in Manchester UK, I wanted to make a short post to assert what all good people know is true. Terrorism always fails. England stood up against Nazi buzz bombs, the Blitz of WWII and good people always prevail. A lunatic with a gun, a knife or a bomb may strike fear in our hearts but they also reveal the charter of good men and women who will not allow this type of madness to win. You may win some small skirmish some insignificant battle but you will lose the war. These mindless terrible, cowardly acts will only focus our attention. All eyes will be on the cities you hide in as they are razed – more people will needlessly perish who do not share this zeal. Ultimately terrorist die in flattened cities accomplishing nothing, remembered only as tyrants and lunatics who came from cities erased from maps. For what? Good will prevail – period – God Bless Manchester UK – our hearts and minds are with you in America.