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Author: Jack Dermody

Meghan and Harry’s Wedding Revisited (Fiction)

Meghan and Harry’s Wedding Revisited (Fiction)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry invited me to sit in the nave for their wedding. I was stuck in Arizona that Saturday wearing grey shorts and a black T-shirt. I watched much of it on BBC, but had questions. What was up with that screen between the nave and the choir? What was it like to be filthy rich and crammed together on folding chairs?

I lucked out because, just last year, Elon Musk’s Elon-Navigator went commercial. His chrome-covered machine now transports a whole person anywhere they want into the past for a short time—sort of like a DVR, but real, not digital. The price for a twenty-four hour pass, believe it or not, was less than Concorde tickets in the 1970s.

I boarded the Elon-Navigator2.1 in Fremont, California. No waiting. Apparently most people are still afraid they’ll never be returned to the present. Half a dozen had been lost on 1.0.

I felt obligated to sit inside St. George’s Chapel because Lorraine Ali wrote in the LA times the day after the wedding that Meghan and Harry’s guests were caught with “stunned expressions, stifled smirks, and uncomfortable glances.” My reaction to the article was disappointment. Sure, I caught some ambiguously smirky smiles on TV, especially during Rev. Michael Curry’s sermon on love. Curry was moving around the pulpit in the oh-so-sober St. George’s Chapel as he could have at a church in Harlem.

I needed to join the guests to try to gauge their real feelings.

My assigned seat was still available when I got to Windsor, three seats to the left of the center aisle and a dozen rows back from the screen. Yes, that medieval screen really was built to separate the laity from the clergy centuries ago. At this royal wedding, it separated the simply rich of the nave from the rich-but-royal in the choir. I guess not all royals got to sit in the choir. The tuxedo next to me claimed to be the Earl of something or other.

I strained to see the Rev. Curry’s head at this live wedding. I used the opportunity to look around for faces near me that might be smirking. A dozen smiles looked joyful, not at all smirky. It was a big deal for an African-American bishop to deliver words and rhythms and effusive body language in a place like St. George’s. The grinners in my pew probably agreed that the stone that Martin Luther King Jr tossed into the Potomac River on Wednesday, August 28, 1963 with his “I Have a Dream” speech had finally released its rippling across the Atlantic pond onto the shores of Great Britain on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

Soon before Curry spoke, I felt I could touch Lady Jane Fellows, Princess Diana’s sister, who read the Song of Solomon from an archway in the screen. Curry followed up by riffing on Solomon’s ancient lyrics. “Set me as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.”  I’ve never wanted a tattoo, but I’d consider inking those words somewhere on my body.

Solomon’s words linked this couple’s passion to the passions of pre-Christian-era Israelite kings and peoples. They positioned this wedding as a milestone in the Windsor chapel’s long history of witnessing major human events. Elizabeth II, the latest monarch in 1200 years of the English monarchy, was witnessing it.

I wondered if some of the elderly in folding chairs around me might have been “those” nobles who spent their lives trashing divorcees, commoners, and non-Christians. Could those witnesses now be supporting these latest outliers? In their hearts? Really?

The chairs turned out wider and softer than I figured, but I felt as claustrophobic as in a middle seat of economy class on the world’s most stripped-down airline. Ironic. The major leaguers around me were accustomed to private jets, seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, and the entire stage of the Kennedy Center in D.C. to voice their opinions, if they desired. The closest “first-class” seat in St George’s nave had to be an aisle chair.

Still looking for genuine smirks, I did sense comedy and absurdity. It is likely ninety percent of the congregation never went to church, never mind believed in a Christian creed, or prayed. Europe and America have moved secular, so moving one’s uvula, tongue, and lips in communal prayer probably felt silly or hypocritical to most.

Or did it? There must be a few people like me who show up at any funeral or wedding and realize that the secular world has distracted us from trying to link up with something, or somebody, higher than ourselves. Simple logic and pure science scream religious rites are illogical, unscientific – maybe stupid and insane. Yet… at Meghan and Harry’s wedding we intoned the Lord’s Prayer as did our parents, and their parents, and our ancestors back two thousand years or so. Our ancestors’ bodies have crumbled to nothing in space and time, but we get to move our tongues and lips exactly as they did, trying to connect to similar divine powers.

There were no detectable smiles in the rows near me during the Lord’s Prayer. Nearly all lips whispered the words.

On the TV broadcast a few days before, there was much ado about the song “Stand By Me.” To me, it was a musical softball. Sure, it made points about history, but the delivery nowhere reached the emotional and rhythmic high it could deliver at a Sunday service in a cool neighborhood.

In contrast, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” song hardly got a mention by TV commentators. But live, it took my heart hostage. Correct trajectories of echoes danced around this Eden of perfect acoustics. I was a child again. I heard again what I knew to be otherworldly ancient music, that same mix of sounds that once introduced me to my own seven-year-old soul. It was Camelot. Similar harmonies had washed over me and my family from choir lofts at high masses.

Meghan and Harry’s choice of John Rutter’s 1981 arrangement felt early-Christian basic. It juxtaposed simple tones against delicate pairings of parts, then emotional mixes of all four choir parts. The lyrics felt like a warm cloak in mid-winter. They were the “priestly blessing” lifted word-for-word from the Book of Numbers. God in that early scroll spent gobs of time punishing and reeking vengeance over the Israelites. God was not all that empathetic. Mercifully the verses of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” unveiled a glimpse of divine caring. The repeated words in 2018 showed empathy once again – for two and a half minutes. They held promise of an eternal covenant of devotion and trust. They staved off mass depression from today’s global turmoil.

So you are asking me, “Jack, why did you go to the wedding? Are you some kind of school girl waiting for your prince to come?”

Here’s my answer. For this wedding, the tabloids were genuinely affirming a universal need for witnessing a positive win in world history. Personally, I crave positive historic anchors to celebrate life. And I don’t think I’m alone. Without anchors, we are doomed to live in endless chaotic fluidity – seldom connecting to history, perhaps never finding meaning. We learn from experience that weddings and funerals of our own families validate us and establish anchors. So when our leaders wed or die, it’s a chance to secure our tribe’s rightful presence in history books.

Meghan and Harry’s wedding may have set a record for connecting tribal dots in history.

St. George’s Chapel itself was already jewel-like in the 14th century when craftsmen began to build it. In 2018, we have established our own place as witnesses in that chapel, along with a who’s who of historic figures that include the infamous Henry VIII and third wife Jane Seymour, who both happen to be buried there.

The columns that we see ascend almost to the sky are surprisingly upstaged by acres of glass that can illuminate the interior on the foggiest day in Windsor.

Churches are gifts to everyone because their grandeur belongs to beggars as well as kings. The doors may be open for centuries to everyone. They were open to me the few times I have been lonely and out of money. Grand chapels like St. George’s provided physical and mental shelter when all other buildings for miles around were strictly commercial enterprises. Empty pockets triggered cold receptions there.

The Church of England service was no less theatrical than the building itself. Churches can be depended on for that. Whether we believe in a religious institution or not, we can be grateful for the pageantry when our hearts swell with joy or break down in sobs from losing loved ones. A wedding promise made in a church—especially in a gothic wonder of the world—gets to be a solemn vow. An anointed priest is said to represent God Himself. Paperwork demands royal seals and other signatures behind a screen. Witnesses see and hear it all through the full length of the choir and nave. As you and I witness the vows thousands of miles away, we want them to be real. We want our highest ideals to be realized and to last forever.

And we dress up for a wedding.

I realized one day in the late ‘70s that our world culture was on a slippery slope because I had not bought a pair of leather shoes for my sons until they graduated from grade school. My mother had given me leather shoes well before my first birthday. Are you laughing? Okay, unless you are a funeral director, FBI agent, Mormon missionary, or attorney, when is the last time you wore a suit?

They dressed up for Meghan and Harry, as our historic counterparts did for long lines of royals in baptism, marriage, or death over 700 years.

An Ascot Landau bore the bride and groom through the streets of Windsor. Yes, I was impressed with the regal carriage, the four horses, and the carriage men festooned in red and gold. The royal horses had descended from their own set of ancestors with the just the right genes to learn perfect prancing.

It’s just as impressive to realize that our own ancestors—nowhere near royal in their station, but only one or two generations back—rode in similar landaus and buggies that were taxicabs in cities like New York or common vehicles to get around in. Once upon a not-very-long-time-ago, nearly all people rode horses or were pulled by them.

Queen Victoria’s funeral procession to St. George’s Chapel in 1901 may have been Windsor’s biggest. The horses numbered in the thousands. They led and followed a single gun carriage with the queen’s coffin atop it. But on that freezing February day, the weather was nasty and the roads slippery. The horses pulling the queen’s cortege were spooked and had to be replaced with dozens of sailors who saved the day. The few people who ranked high enough to enter the Chapel had to be grateful for the shelter and the light from the acres of glass.

Some events stand out as worthy of processions and parades. Rome’s two hundred years of peace. The Renaissance. Women’s suffrage in 1920. My personal favorite is the establishment of the U.N. in 1945. The Marshall Plan in 1947. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963. The Civil rights Act of 1964. The moon landing in 1969. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. I would nominate the founding of Facebook in 2004, then the unveiling of the iPhone in 2007. President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade marked the beginning of the end of a long, sad era for the United States.

Are you remarking I mentioned not a single war, or even celebrations for the ends of wars? You are correct.

Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry definitely earned a procession that broke restrictive traditions and sought out a new era of love and a call for peace.

Some bystanders interviewed on the news remarked they were grateful for a break from international unrest. For half a day, we got to observe our better selves in grand circumstances.

Still in Windsor, I was toasting the day with a cousin from Canada in an Irish Pub with Guinness in our hands. The Elon-Navigator thrust me back to Fremont with suds from the River Liffey still half way down my throat.

 

 

 

 

The role of personality in sales

The role of personality in sales

Museum of the City of New York

Let me escape from the limitations of my own personality to imagine how people of other personalities would think to sell books. I am an Idealist, as impractical a person as you can find, so it’s a no-brainer to ask other personality types to help draw a roadmap for successful book sales.

My next book is heavy on history, ancestry, and psychology. Conservative Guardian types would of course make sure every possible bookstore ordered a few copies and had me speaking and signing books at most of them.

The ever innovative Rationals would see from the book’s contents that the target markets would be most receptive in Southern California, Arizona, and New York City.  The book’s theme of respect for history, family pride, and a really good mystery story could allure merchants well beyond traditional bookstores. Such would include gift shops in museums, tourist destinations and airports. Even local branches of national stores like Costco could go for it. (My writer cousin in Newfoundland managed to get a stack into her local Costco.) Rational marketers would be the first to insist on online sales through my own site and on plenty of other entrepreneurs’ online stores.

The most action-oriented personality group are the Artisans who can’t sit still and would insist I don’t either. For them, I should do performance readings at workshops in museums, different deliveries than what bookstores get. They would want to be in on the entire book design so that even non-readers would brandish their credit card at the mere sight of it.

Finally, I think there is energy to light up the cause from people and groups who care deeply about lives similar to mine. They include Irish cultural groups, historians, adoption story writers, wonderfully fanatic geneaology students, and fans of memoirists. All personality types are to be found in such groups and, from among them, riciculously creative people have produced TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries and Who do you think you are? Maybe somebody will take that extra step of producing a show around the book and hawking the original on their online platforms? Yes, why not dream big!

Can an Idealist be President?

Can an Idealist be President?

image

 

The people of the U.S. have yet to elect an Idealist president. Imagine a Martin Luther King running for the job. Already you feel that’s a stretch, right? However, two major Idealists who did manage to rise to chiefs of state elsewhere in the world include Gorbachov and Mandela.

The problem with American Idealists is they tend to think rich people and large corporations are inherently evil. Even if the moguls might be toxic, they are the wrong people to treat like an enemy.

Here’s my issue. The President of the United States is allegedly the most powerful person on earth. But how would it be possible to avoid mingling with, haggling with, even fighting with the rest of the powerful people in the world and still claim to be the King of the Beasts? To make the point clearly, Hillary Clinton’s participation in the Clinton Foundation is often interpreted as sleeping with our enemies, inviting corruption, and compromising America’s stance in the world. But hello! How could an American President not deal with all of these people — the wonderful ones as well as the horrible ones — and still wield American leadership with knowledge, experience, and strength?

Idealists tend to make a populist case of “us versus them” — regular people versus rich people. What they are missing is that a real President must work with the values and power and strengths and needs of absolutely all the people in the world. Yes, it is true that regular people, through the ballot box, must never let the wrong powerful people take over decision making for them, but neither will those with gobs of money and indisputable world power allow some “crazy” Idealist mess too much with their personal influence and bank accounts.

The reality of the world is that nobody’s ideology is perfect, nor could it ever be. All decisions are always in flux. We cannot stop fighting for what we feel we need to fight for, but we all must realize that nobody wins all the time, nor should they. There are no precisely definable good guys and bad guys on the world stage. It’s a crowded place. If you want to be a King of the Jungle, then you had better be willing to play ball with everyone else who aspires to be a king. If you want laws and economics to be more fair for everyone, as Idealists usually do, then you had better organize your idealistic armies in the voting booths with stronger fervor and passion than that of the princes who would be kings.

So can an Idealist get elected as a U.S. President? John Kerry is an Idealist. He almost made it. If Eleanor Roosevelt lived in today’s world, she almost certainly would have been a contender. The track records of both of those people demonstrate that some Idealists retain a sense of the world as it really is and have enough toughness and foresight to haggle and fight with mighty people of all types.

As a side note, you might be asking if Bernie Sanders is and Idealist and if he could play on the world stage with all powerful people, nasty or wonderful? It is this blogger’s opinion that he might not qualify because he seems overly judgmental and unforgiving of the rich and powerful, people who might eat him for lunch. In addition, Sanders is not as much an Idealist as an ideologue, like Ron Paul with his ideology, or Ted Cruz.

Is Hillary an Idealist? Not for the most part, in my opinion. If she has ideals, they are very long-term. In the short run, her policies are incremental, as any successful leader’s initiatives would have to be in today’s world. Hillary would be more utilitarian and practical than tactically clever or diplomatic. If she wins the election and chooses people in her inner circle who make up for her weaknesses, she may be an admirable Queen of the Jungle. If not, we could be in for a tough slog.

 

 

 

HOW TO SELL YOUR IDEA AT WORK

HOW TO SELL YOUR IDEA AT WORK

Sell an idea at work
Jack in Persuasive Mode

 

Do you truly want  to sell your idea to the right people at work? And then watch your idea be implemented?

The Answer: Two Words. Gold and Green

Do you know that about 85% of all executives and managers could have either a Guardian Gold or Rational Green temperament? So if you want your idea accepted, consider selling to Gold and Green values and strengths.

Gold Guardians

Gold Guardians put your feet to the fire on their core value of responsibility. Here are some questions that Gold decision-makers surely have in their heads when you want to sell an idea.

Gold Question #1. Is the proposal perfectly clear? And ‘perfectly clear’ is no joke. You don’t want a Gold person to ask what you really mean? So is your idea countable, measurable, sketchable, and undoubtable?

Gold Question #2. Are you reliable, all the time? If your idea will inflict more change on the team than Gold people are comfortable with, do you have a reputation for consistently delivering sound, workable ideas? In other words, will your Gold manager not worry about regretting a decision in your favor?

Gold Question #3. Will we get value for our dollar from your idea? If nothing else, Gold managers are rigorously careful with money, so be ready with return-on-investment research that honestly reveals business risk.

Gold Question #4. Who else has done this already? This may be the most important question for Gold managers. Gold folks tend to be the most risk-averse.

Green Rationals

Green Rationals nail you for their core values of deep knowledge and trustworthy competence. Here are predictable Green questions.

Green Question #1. Are you a person worthy of respect for your knowledge and competence? Related to that, do you share connections with other experts that your boss respects? Are you the in­-house expert on this subject? Are you known for doing your homework? Do you deserve profound respect for your thorough research and careful presentations?

Green Question #2. Where’s the beef? In other words, where is all the research? And can I see it when I ask for it?

Green Question #3. Have you done enough work on this that I don’t have to fix it? Green managers pride themselves in the perfection of their work and they never, ever, want to be caught looking incompetent. So are you an icon of competence where you work?

Green Question #4. Am I learning something new from you? Perhaps the best way into the hearts of Green managers is to consistently wow them with new information based on an expertise they do not possess. If you do this regularly, you will be invited to more brainstorming meetings and your word will carry weight over others’.

So You Are Orange or Blue?

If you are an Orange artisan or Blue idealist, you might quickly agree with the advice above, but the odds are high that your standards of expertise, of detail, of completeness, and pure naked objectivity come nowhere close to what Golds and Greens actually expect. So try this: Run a few ideas by your favorite Gold and Green friends and ask them to critique the ideas severely. The truth may hurt at first, but you will probably learn how to prepare better when you need to ask for serious changes at work in the future.

 

Some people cannot vote

Some people cannot vote

Some people cannot or will not vote for real-world reasons.

My wife and I have been on the streets of Phoenix registering new voters this election season. You would be amazed how many people cannot vote, or will not.

Felons, for example, are forbidden to. Surprisingly both felons and ex-felons that we spoke with tended to admit up front that’s what they are. Of course plenty of people are not  full-blown felons, but are hiding outside the law. Consider folks with multiple DUI’s,  missed court dates, or persistent creditors from hell. Voter registration would shed more light on them than they want.

Plenty of Americans say they are working hard to keep the government out of their affairs. They can, and do, choose not to have government ID’s like driving licenses, medical cards, and voter registration cards. Because social security cards are issued to us as children, very few people can escape that ID, but they can still choose to reject nearly everything else. And we all know that plenty of people earn their living from unreported cash. We are not only talking about illegal immigrants.

Some politicos are pushing legislatures to make voter registration automatic for all citizens. I wonderful if they know they will get blowback from the many people who do not want to be on the grid, automatically or any other way.

We even met a few individuals who wanted to escape jury duty because, as you know, voter registration rolls are often the data source to locate jury candidates.

Homeless people want to get registered, but life can be so challenging that addresses and other contact info become quickly obsolete. So they may opt to not even try.

The saddest reasons we have heard for not registering deal with mistrust and disgust. Thousands  honestly feel their votes do not matter. Many say they know nothing about the candidates or about the issues — which is probably true in most cases. Plenty believe the system is rigged.

If you are an idealist who hopes for a hundred percent voter turnout, you must realize that’s an impossibility. On the other hand, the citizens who choose to vote continue to be the majority, at least we hope so. That’s why we’re in train stations, bookstores, and neighborhoods signing people up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lochke: From Apology to Atonement

Lochke: From Apology to Atonement

I am glad I waited for Matt Lauer’s interview with Ryan Lochke (8/22/16 Today Show) because the preceding slam of headlines portrayed Ryan as a jerk from a despised fraternity. Yes, his early statements deserved harsh judgment from both Americans and Brazilians, but it’s clear he finally got close to “getting it” in the apology department on the Today Show.

Apology

The proof that an apology is effective can be revealed in the hearts and reactions of the injured parties.

Focusing on the Brazilians, just imagine being called third-world for decades. Imagine getting tagged a banana republic by journalists, tourists, even politicians for a lifetime. Imagine being constantly demeaned as some family’s poor relation longer than anyone should bear. But in face of all that, you still throw the biggest possible wedding for your rich cousins, expending all of your resources, and then you get branded inferior during a toast by the best man who makes international headlines effectively calling you a violent, low-class relative.

Ryan Lochke effectively had done that, but he clearly moderated his message in this last interview with Lauer.

He owned up to the facts as he knew them and also to the evidence provided by local police and others. He took full blame for his role in vandalism, intoxication, and confrontational behavior with the Brazilians who pulled him out of a taxi and demanded restitution. He owned up to messing with the truth in early interviews.

And yes, he did express regret to the Brazilians. He acknowledged they put on a great Olympics. He said the people of Rio were warm, welcoming, and generous and that they did not deserve the smear he launched with bad behavior and thoughtlessness in front of the world press.

But did these words change the minds and hearts of the injured Brazilians? Did they look like a real apology?

Atonement

Probably not. Victims understand actions more than words. Certainly Ryan Lochke’s current and future sponsors will understand actions more than words. To take an example we can all relate to, if I break your window, I not only replace the pane, but I might also pay a carpenter to repair and paint the frame around the glass, then invite you over for a barbeque to celebrate a new relationship. We all know this as atonement. Unfortunately for Lochke, his atonement would have to be on a scale far beyond the stuff he broke in a bathroom. Personally, I would hate to see Ryan wait around and end up succumbing to penalities possibly applied by the IOC or by American Olympics interests. Right now, he could announce measures of sincere atonement that would likely hit both hearts and minds of Brazilians, his teammates, and all of us in America who are embarrassed. He could very well regain respect.

Ryan Lochte surely wants to regain his image as a great Olympian. Probably his best chance is to be a Great Atoner. For instance, he could fly back to Brazil right now and directly apologize to the property owner he hurt, the security guards he disrespected, the local Olympic committee he offended, the national leaders whose fortunes and sweat were laid on the line to pull the Olympics off, and the millions of people whose pride was hurt. Beyond that, if Lochke does this right, he will continue to get endorsement contracts that he can leverage to provide trust funds for much needed causes in Brazil, perhaps especially for young athletes and scholars.

And even if atonement, even the sincerest form of it, does not win over hearts and minds, the very act itself is healing and the right thing to do.

A manual typewriter produced this post

A manual typewriter produced this post

I am writing this blog post on a manual typewriter and you are asking why. On this portable Royal made in the 1940s, I get no interference from the internet. Nobody is spying on me. I feel I am carving letters into stone instead of floating temporary nothingness into a cold, silent universe. Finally, a typewriter demands more focus on correctness of spelling, grammar and well-constructed thoughts.

Typewriters once freed me from loneliness when I was a teenager. Some innate passion to write bubbled up around age sixteen and has only grown more ferocious over many years. When my son Jason gifted me this machine last year for my birthday, I had no idea what joy lay before me. From his perspective, hearing me clack and sound the carriage bell immediately triggered memories of his father at the dining room table with a chain of cigarettes hanging from his lips. These were nice memories for the both of us. Yes, I am sorry cigarettes are death threats to us. I gave them up around 1979, but still miss them and the sexiness surrounding the smoking culture of my generation.

So are you now asking how this hard copy typing got digitalized for a blog post? To me, it was surprising how easy it was to just take a photo through the Microsoft Office Lens app, then edit it digitally right away.

I am including a photo of the original typewritten piece so you can peek at the process.

At least the next few posts will start on this Royal. I am speaking my own Personality as a Second Language (PSL) through a typewriter. I even love how the machine smells. The bottom line, and this IS the bottom line, is that THE REAL ME IS BACK!

manual typewriter
First draft on manual typewriter
Appreciating what’s driving other people

Appreciating what’s driving other people

The only way to change the world, according to Tony Robbins at the very end of his TED Talk Why We Do What We Do, is to “appreciate what’s driving other people.” People in my training sessions have all experienced what other people’s values actually look like. For example, Orange people are driven to compete, but non-Orange people can judge all that competition as just plain annoying. So instead, shouldn’t non-Oranges step back for a moment? Should they not consider that their NASCAR-loving brother-in-law Mike gets high on life when he gets a chance to be top dog? Orange Mike is driven to compete. Mike gets off on winning, or at least trying to win. What business do we have raging at Mike’s great joy in life? Perhaps we should ask ourselves what core values in our own lives will make us just as passionate as Mike.

It can be hard to see what’s driving other people

My own mother unknowingly tortured me, my sister and Dad with tales of heroic frugality at every dinner table. I am not kidding. She listed the prices of all the food items. She walked us down the aisles of the stores she visited.  Mom recalled the coupons used.  She smiled at her own cleverness of heating up leftovers when possible. She bragged our desserts were homemade and surely finer and healthier than the expensive goodies advertised on TV. Sadly, it was only decades later that I realized she was glowing with pride for high Gold achievement. For Mom, frugality enshrined the Gold core values of responsibility and conservation of resources. She was certain she was always striving to do the right thing. She used the dinner table to role model and teach the right thing.

So I ask you. Imagine how smoother my relationship with Mom could have been. Her core values were definitely not my core values. I too often chose to get angry about hers. I chose to demean her for being almost ridiculously true to her own belief system. Needless to say, I could have figured it out. She did grow up in the Great Depression. Believe me, her family had been dirt poor, but came out on top because of unrelenting hard work and, yes, frugality.

And what else might I have done to have better conversations with Mom? For one, I could have learned to speak Gold. For example, when I wanted to urge her to buy store-bought desserts, I could have countered with nutrition info. I could have comparison shopped. I could have made a case for time savings. I could have bought a few items with paper route money for her to sample.

I like to think I could have changed my little world a little by appreciating better what was driving Mom.

 

Are we born with a personality?

Are we born with a personality?

If we really are born with a personality, as many psychologists tell us, there is plenty of evidence to makes us think so, but also plenty to argue against it.

If I were a Badass Orange person, for example, you just might agree I was probably born with great physical abilities and an adventurous nature. I would tell you that, yes, I worked hard to get skillful, but that I honestly feel that I was gifted at birth with a terrific body type, a bottomless cauldron of endless energy, and a ridiculous comfort level with risky behavior. I’d say, yes, you are looking at a naturally born Badass. I am Orange, Orange, Orange.

On the other hand, we just might discover that our individual temperaments are nothing like our parents’. Our siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and our own children have core values in direct contrast to our own. How could our own DNA manifest itself so differently? How is it, then, that we are ‘born’ with this personality?

I challenge you to look back over your whole life for just a minute. How different are you, really, from the kid in grade school you remember? Was your main core value that much different from now? For example, if you were dependably responsible then, are you still that way now? I mean, is ‘dependable responsibility’ still more important than harmony seeking, than knowledge and competence, or than personal freedom? If that principal core value remains the same, there’s a case to be made that you came into the world with a strong DNA-based temperament. You always were and always will be Gold, a Loyalist, a logistical thinker.

Needless to say, you were a hostage of your parents until your teenage years, so you have to wonder how much of ‘who you are’ comes from a natural temperament and how much comes from the intense nurturing that your parents and community thrust upon you for over a dozen years. All those people influenced your thinking, your philosophy of life, your religion, even your politics and career choices. You have to ask yourself, “How many of my life choices came from the real me, from my innate temperament, and how many were influenced by the society around me?

Whose life?

So am I living my own life, or someone else’s idea of life?”

To paraphrase Rene Descartes, we can’t live until we reject everything we’ve been taught and then begin to design our own life. Descartes’ thinking must have come from the realization that a real, innate self needs to trump the weavings of the cultures swirling around us in order for us to truly fulfill our destiny. Ah, there’s the word: Destiny. And I don’t think the word ‘destiny’ here means ‘pre-destined fate’ that we really cannot control, but a pre-determined set of talents and intelligence that need to blossom under our own control, in the face of the cultures around us, to find the best possible path for a lifetime.

So do I think we were all born with a temperament? You betcha. Both nature and nurture contribute to who we are as whole persons, but I am certain our brains and bodies arrive with some kind of pre-installed hard drive (temperament) that develops into a whole character through configurations with the apps of life.

The trick, I think, is to discover the right path early in life rather than later. And if it’s clear our own path differs significantly from the paths of the gang that lives around us, our choice to follow our own right path will probably demand a ton of uncomfortable honesty and raw courage.