character, Leadership, politics, Reflection, self realization


Remember the lines from Julius Caesar

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them

One can watch leaders as The Independent did this weekend and make their own assessment of what leadership really is:

The German Chancellor,  Angela Merkel was born in a family of modest means.  Donald Trump was born to a wealthy one.  Both achieved greatness on their own though one started with additional advantage; and both had additional greatness come their way.

But as The Independent observes.  Angela Merkel has now become the leader of the free world – a role usually ascribed to the leader of the US. The current one has squandered what was thrust upon him.

What it says is that character and integrity matter. How one fulfils the role is what counts – not titles. Most of us have modest titles in life – if any!  But how we carry out those roles will matter in the long run.

Beauty, Pausing, Reflection


One of my very favourite arrivals on Sunday morning is the latest version of Brainpickings,org – Maria is an amazing curator of interesting sources of reflections on life.  And today’s talk is about busyness.

It’s interesting to read how concerned that Kierkegaard was in 1843 – complaining about people being “brisk about their food and their work”.  So it got me off the hook to spend more than three hours over a relaxing lunch saying good bye to friends who were moving soon – I wish I could say the same about the briskness of daily tasks.

Hesse is also quoted extensively today on other ways to avoid busyness – but there is one way that moving into new quarters has worked for me,  He says:

Just try it once — a tree, or at least a considerable section of sky, is to be seen anywhere. It does not even have to be blue sky; in some way or another the light of the sun always makes itself felt. Accustom yourself every morning to look for a moment at the sky and suddenly you will be aware of the air around you, the scent of morning freshness that is bestowed on you between sleep and labor. You will find every day that the gable of every house has its own particular look, its own special lighting. Pay it some heed if you will have for the rest of the day a remnant of satisfaction and a touch of coexistence with nature. Gradually and without effort the eye trains itself to transmit many small delights, to contemplate nature and the city streets, to appreciate the inexhaustible fun of daily life. From there on to the fully trained artistic eye is the smaller half of the journey; the principal thing is the beginning, the opening of the eyes.

On the first evening of daylight saving time even that sky helps take us away from our petty distractions with a moment of awe.



Parent, Adult, Child


The child in all of us sometimes expects the adult to put on the brakes.  Stop me before I get hurt, it says.  The child also looks up to the parent and gets upset when the powerful figure shows feet of clay – and hopes that he will become more circumspect – presidential perhaps.

And then there is the parent in us all.  Sometimes we are indulgent – boys will be boys, isn’t he kinda cute when he misbehaves.  But something pushes us over the edge – he doesn’t listen to me, he’s out of control.

When it’s all in the family, usually we can count others to step in when we lose it.  But now these games are playing out on an international stage.  The entertaining child got himself elected as president.  Things aren’t going as planned.  he gets up at five o’clock in the morning and issues tweets.  Everything is someone else’s fault.  We worry about bullying of school kids on the internet.  But getting back at your political opponents on Twitter takes this to a whole new level.

As a Canadian, I watch this with a mixture of disbelief and familiarity.  I’ve noticed for years that America defines itself in terms of being against somebody – Communist Russia, gays, Isis – but also Republicans or Democrats depending on your starting point.  Terrorism terrifies because it can’t be dealt with through conventional warfare – and the enemy might be sitting next to you.  The fear is totally irrational – nine Americans dying per year via terrorism since 2001 versus 12,000 shot to death via non-terrorism incidents according to the New York Times. And to make it worse, Americans have been responsible for those terrorism related deaths – not foreigners.

It’s easy to see the problem.  It’s harder to see a solution when what unites the opposing sides is their fear.  Instant access to news and our addiction to it makes it almost impossible to step back.  How to make America safe again is not going to be easy.  It’s not safety from terrorists that is the issue so much as relief from its own fears.

Meanwhile the sun continues to rise – there are clouds but in the larger world there is much more light than darkness.


effectiveness, Leadership, media, politics, Reflection, reporting, workplace



When you are a reporter for the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC and The Huffington Post and find yourself excluded from a White House Press conference this past Friday, you need help with bullying when it happens again.  So I looked online to find some advice:

 Act with Awareness, Calm, Respect, and Confidence

Projecting a positive, assertive attitude means holding your head high, keeping your back straight, walking briskly, looking around, and having a peaceful face and body. Staying aware also helps you to notice so that you can deal with it sooner rather than later.

Leave in a positive powerful way

 Leave in an assertive way, saying something neutral in a normal tone of voice like “See you later!” or “Have a nice day!”

Set Boundaries About Disrespectful or Unsafe Behavior

Your values are to have a welcoming and safe environment for everyone – and that being cruel or hurtful is wrong whether it happens in person, via social media, by texting, online or in any other way.

Use Your Voice

Leave and go to an adult to report what happened and get help as soon as possible.

Protect Your Feelings from Name-Calling and Hurtful Behavior

The reality is that, no matter how committed we are to safety and respect, not all places have the same commitment – and even when they do, people will still make mistakes. . . . saying, writing, emailing, or texting in ways that are hurtful to anyone makes problems bigger, not better.

Speak Up for Positive Inclusion

Being left out for reasons that have nothing to do with behavior is a major form of bullying

Be Persistent in Getting Help From Busy Adults

Learning how to have polite firm words, body language and tone of voice even under pressure and to not give up when asking for help is a life-long skill.

Use Physical Self-Defense as a Last Resort

Help for the kid in us all:  Excerpted verbatim  from


politics, Reflection



It hasn’t been this interesting in a long time.

Women on the march – women silenced in the senate – reading letters and legal opinions on Facebook instead of looking at pictures of cats and cute babies – lawyers offering free services at airports. Has there ever been a time since Watergate when people are so interested in the evening news?

Of course, our Canadian Prime Minister got bumped from almost any mention in the New York times on the day of his Washigton visit this week. We Canadians can calm down and see how little we really matter in the scheme of things.   Of course our Canadian newspapers and media presented an alternate universe with its front page headlines, commentaries and photos.  But switch to the New York Times and PBS and we know more about Nordstrom’s merchandising policy that what will happen to the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The Israeli Prime Minister is likely to get the same not-with-it reception from the US Twittterer-in-Chief.

The groups that are totally forgotten these days are all those hurting Americans who saw their way of life disappearing and eroding without knowing what was happening.  Disruptive elements in societies used to happen slowly.  It took the mediaeval church a while to discover the disruptive power of the printing press that allowed people to form their own opinions when they could start to read things on their own.  We have come full circle when anything we read is now segmented in terms of interests, education, geography, politics and culture. I wonder to what extent all of us have been in a trance.

Some of us have felt victimized by disruptive change.  When that happens, it is common to look for a savior who will deliver us from all the pain.  It’s an even better solution if our world is primarily reality TV – where losers are much more prevalent than winners and seem like our kind of people.  We can let somebody else figure it out. But when that doesn’t happen, we become disillusioned but eventually we wake up –  it can take a long time though.  Often all it brings is more disillusionment and more pain.

Others of us have been totally distracted by our own concerns – maybe the best gym, the best recipe – and suddenly woken up to find ourselves in a different place.  What happened?  What do we do now?  Everyone from the press to ordinary citizens reacts with hysteria.  It’s only after a month of what might be now seen as a farce rather than a tragedy that we are starting to respond.  We haven’t been victimized.  We just haven’t been paying attention to things that matter.

Responding rather than reacting is now on the agenda and it always takes time. Reflection is not something most of us do too often.  Usually coming out the other side does mean lowering both the tone of voice and the temperature.  But it doesn’t allow us to avoid paying attention.  At least we’re doing that now.

character, effectiveness, politics, Reflection



It’s interesting that women can be silenced but men can be allowed to go on reading the same thing.  But it’s also a reminder that we have to continue to be activists no matter what our gender.  I was glad to see the suggestion in a recent New York Times that this is an analog process as well as a digital one and there were a few reminders for any of us no matter what country we live in

  • Educate ourselves by reading legislative documents – not just people’s commentaries on them
  • Know who our political representatives are at municipal, state or provincial and national levels. Visit their websites and read their newsletters.
  • When we have strong views on issues, let politicians know.  Visit their office, phone them. Individual letters make much more impact than polls and questionnaires. Ringing phones have more momentum than tweets.
  • Join advocacy groups that work on things we care about and support their advocacy efforts
  • Let companies know when we question their political support – give them positive as well as negative feedback
  • Most of all – when we know that information is questionable when we hear friends utter it, respond – but gently rather than stridently.  By saying, I notice. . . . ,  I wonder . . . . we allow both ourselves and others their integrity.  We’re going to have to keep that in mind when we inhabit divided states.
media, Pausing, Reflection, reporting



How do we cope with a Tweeting leader?  Should tweeting be subject to censorship when it spreads lies or hatred  by anybody – no matter who?  Are social platforms really publishers even though they think they are not?  What power does an ordinary citizen have? If I protest, do I deserve a backlash from people who voted for the leader – even though they think they had a numerical majority when most reliable sources say they didn’t –  but they believe the lie because a certain leader tells them so.  Now when the press is called the opposition party, I really wish Marshall McLuhan were around to help us straighten out the time worn phrase that the media is the message.

Social media have been professing themselves as merely the conduit of free speech for quite a while.  Perhaps it feels different lately.  Faith in letting people say anything they like seems to be wavering among tech leaders – especially when it affects their own employees as it did last weekend.  We all need to pay attention, reframe and rethink responsibility in a digital age.