Sunday, November 6, 2011

Losing and lessons learned

Ray Charles addressed this issue about as well as can be addressed in his song Born to Lose.. One of the truisms of life is that we are all going to lose sometimes. In fact every time someone wins then someone else loses. As parents I believe that our primary function is to build up our children to believe that they are winners. Then we must build that concept so high and deep that when they lose, which they surely will, that they still believe that they are winners.

We are fortunate if we have someone who believes in us. That is the role of a Mother I think predominantly. I believe that there is a bond between child and Mother that is like no other. A Mother accepts and nourishes her child no matter the shortcomings of her life's creation. Is that always the case? No, not hardly. There are many people who give birth in an act of misgiving over bad choices. They then spend the rest of thier lives resenting and disavowing that child. The child fights an uphill battle in trying to amass some feelings of self esteem. Many times serendipity provides a collateral artery of life giving affirmation. It could be a coach, a friend, a church congregation, a spouse, a cause, etc. There has to be something occur in the life of every human being that resonates with the idea that they are important to someone. They are a winner.

I watched Alabama play LSU last night. It was a very entertaining game. Alabama lost in overtime. No one scored a touchdown. It was a clearly defined, oldtime defensive battle. Both teams made mistakes. The mistakes were magnified because of the lack of scoring. I was intrigued by how the coaches stood up for the players on both teams. Les Miles, the winning coach, bragged on his players and the opposing teams players. Nick Saban, the losing coach, bragged on his own players and the LSU players. Is it a possibility that successful coaches mirror the nurturing nature of a successful Mother? It would be hard to carry that analogy too very far.

When we lose at anything there are lessons to be learned. We miss out on a job we want. We don't get accepted to a particular school. We don't get the promotion at work. We get the crap kicked out of us in a particular form of competition, golf, tennis, bridge, chess, a beauty contest, and so forth. It is hard to isolate the lessons in losing.

Losing teaches us to be humble. Humility is a valuable lesson. The other side of humility is arrogance. Arrogance is more of a negative factor for living than losing on occassion. We have all met people who are not gracious losers. They are numbered amongst those who are embittered and brooding personalities.

Losing also teaches us that we need to train harder. If you lose a marathon with a lousy time then you know if you ever want to win you need to train harder. If you lose consistently at golf becaue you cannot putt, then you need to practice putting until your back hurts. If you consistently miss the business as a salesman then you need to work on your closing skills, presenting skills or get out of the business and become a mortician.

You can bet that Alabama is going to go out and recruit the very best kickers they can find for the upcoming seasons. I suppose that the definition of a loser is someone who does nothing after they lose. Becoming a winner is a proactive pursuit and requires a lot of help along the way. That help comes from people who, for one reason or other, chooses to believe in you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some call it sexual harrassment

When Eve told Adam why she ate the apple she explained that she was beguiled by the serpent and he influenced her to make an unwise choice. So called Lucifer, the son of the morning star, must have had powers of suggestion, some sort of compelling appeal, charisma. He used those along with his other talents to change the course of creation. To this day this sort of influence continues all across the network of humanity.

A little third grade boy gives up his favorite dessert from his lunchbox to a little third grade girl for no other reason than she influenced him with some sort of fascination with her personna and appearance.

Some years ago the corporation where I worked for thirty years required that I attend a conference that was dedicated to sexual harrassment in the work place. I spent a week in a luxury hotel listening to a team of hired specialists that represented a hired consultant organization that had developed training on this subject. I was required to sign a document that stated that if I ever became aware of any sort of sexual harrassment in the workplace that I had a singular responsibility to report it to our human resources department.

Why do you suppose that they would go to all that expense and effort to lay down such a footprint on the conduct of business? The answer is clear and concise. There had been many instances of supervisors intimidating female workers into embarrassing situations that surrounded their jobs and the security of their jobs. Some had filed law suits successfully and had received large awards for having had to endure these unsolicited advances. Once a person had attended one of these seminars they were locked into a dangerous place. An off color joke, a ride in a car unchaperoned with a person of the opposite gender or a compliment on appearance could land you in some hot water. The female person only had to raise the spectrum of impropriety. If they threatened a lawsuit the corporation was safe because they had held a work shop on the issue. You see Mr. John Doe attended our workshop and agreed that he would abstain from such tomfoolery. Here is his written affadavit that he would eschew such a practice. You can go after Mr. Doe, who incidentally doesn't work here anymore, but you cannot pursue us because we have done all that is necessary.

The roll out on all this over the years has been interesting. Did it curtail fooling around in the work place? Not hardly. To me it seemed like it put the whole work place into absolute role reversal. It was always presumed that the more aggressive male workers were the culprits. I have personally seen that it seemed to make women much more bold. They seemed to become more aggressive. Not only in their new supervisory positions but in their speech and actions. It seemed to me that whereas males were on alert as to anything that they said and did might be interpreted as sexual harrassment, women went just the opposite direction.

I have been out of the workplace for almost ten years. I work by myself and have not thought much about all that until the headlines of this morning and Mr. Cain's predicament brought it back to my mind. In the court of the people's minds, the accusation has only to be raised and the perpetrator is considered guilty. Mr. Cain is most likely guilty of repeating a joke delivered in bad taste. If you are the boss, welcome to the world of sensitivity of the female mind. "Why, I was appalled by his comments. I was made to feel diminished, small, an object of lust and derision." I have been in the presence of females who have unabashedly told a joke or made a comment to which they have no accountability. If you were a man and went to human resources reporting that you were sexually harrassed by a female co-worker you would be laughed out of the office. Yet we all know it goes on and have experienced it at one level or another.

At the heart of all this is the tort system that protects some of us and throws the rest of us under the bus. The same book I read the stuff about Lucifer and Eve I also read a quote about lawyers and hypocrites. And so it goes in this fallen, ever worsening world that we live in. You just have to wonder what is next?