Life lessons and how to make small talk your jam
I spent the late 80’s and half the 90’s pursuing a dream of financial independence. I worked a couple different sales jobs and a small business to get that freedom but it did not happen.
My small business failure however was not a total waste of time. As with everything in life, if we try, we either succeed or we learn. There is no losing.
I learned about my strengths and my weaknesses. Specifically, I learned some things that challenged my pre-conceived notions of how the world is, and how it should be, that I inherited from my family. That turned out to be a very good thing.
To have the understanding that what we know about something or think we know, is probably incorrect, or at best incomplete is the start on the path towards wisdom. I started on that path and I am still on it today.
I learned more about positive mental attitude, which I knew a little about in my previous sales job (that I also failed) and I learned how to dress for success.
However by the time the 90’s ended I learned that I was an introvert trying to succeed in fields filled with really smart extroverts. I was misplaced, temporarily.
I learned that if I was going to be successful I was going to have to learn how to talk to people.
My past experience at parties, meetings and gatherings of strangers was to imitate the potted plant in the corner, hoping I would not need to speak. I think deep down though I wished they would come talk to me. I liked the spot light if I knew what I wanted to say. Its just I had nothing interesting to say so no one wanted to talk to me.
I ended up gravitating to a career that was well suited to my past experiences talking with people even if I wasn’t great at it. I at least controlled what we were going to talk about. I was privileged to serve as a national security and public trust special investigator.
I ended up interviewing thousands of people. Everyone gave me at least 15-20 minutes of their time whether they were some big shot US ambassador, assistant head of an intelligence agency, three-star general, or submarine commander. Some just cleaned the floors or happened to live next door to one of these people who hold a security clearance. But necessity forced me out of my introversion and with time I became comfortable speaking in front of and next to total strangers.
One of the easiest ways to start a conversation with a stranger is to remember the acronym FORM.
It stands for Family/or From either one, as in “ Mr. Jones are you married or have kids?” or “ Where are you from Mr. Jones?”
Dale Carnegie a very famous 20th century author and speaker said in his famous work “How to Win Friends and Influence People” ‘get people talking about themselves and they will naturally like you. Also the most pleasurable sounding word for a person to to hear is their own name. Use it when you speak to people and watch what happens’.
The R stands for Recreation. As in “What do you like to do in your free time Mr. Jones?”
O stands for Occupation. As in “What is your occupation Mr. Jones?”
The M stands for Motivation or Message depending upon what you are trying to do. This can go like this “So Mr. Jones what would you like to see happen here tonight?” Or maybe “Mr. Jones, what if I could save you some money on your car’s extended warranty policy would you want to hear about that?”Anyway you get the idea.
F.O.R.M its easy to remember and it works. Good luck!
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Color or Character: What matters more?
Color & Character
One Red, one Yellow, one Black, one Brown, one White.
Which do you choose?
If you were told you could live in a home that would be yours to keep forever the only catch was that all the houses are fundamentally the same on the outside except for their color. All you had to do was choose one. Which one would you pick?
Before you answer let me give you some more information.
Inside one of these houses, it is frigid cold beyond comfort and everywhere you went you could not get warm. One house is filthy and crumbling with decay everywhere inside and there is no place that’s not in need of some repairs that seem endless; one is hell itself haunted with pain, turmoil and chaos and unbearably hot; and one is just empty inside, just a shell with a facade or phony exterior. It’s so unbearably lonely there too. It provides neither comfort, shelter, warmth, or really anything.
Ah, but one house, this house is special and beautiful inside. It has everything you could want. It is warm when things are cold and cool when things get too hot. It is comfortable all the time and provides a feeling of safeness and well-being that envelops you when you are there. It is just a joy to live there.
So, what house do you choose? The last one of course, but you do not know which one is the best one for you just standing outside.
Would you not want to know something more about the house you are choosing or have a hint about what is inside those so differently colored homes that are very different inside before you make your pick? Maybe get a peek inside a front window before you spend significant time there in that wrong place?
Alternatively, maybe spend some time sitting on the back porch swing looking at the foundation more closely to see if you can notice cracks or flaws you could not live with.
Ideally, you would probably want to try to sit in the living room for a while, examining the floors and ceiling, looking for leaks or water damage, things that you know will cost you significantly later.
Would you not do all of this before making such an important choice and investment?
Of course, you would, because even though you might be very fond of the color because it is familiar, the inside is much more important, isn’t it?
The character of those buildings inside is more important than what is painted on the outside.
Let us look at something else. Replace houses in this example with people. Would we treat people differently than in these houses?
If we were going to choose a friend, business partner, salesman, fraternity brother, counselor, pastor, or lover to spend a significant amount of time with us and invest in them sharing a portion of our lives, isn’t it infinitely more important that we get a peek inside that person?
Should we not take the time to get to know them, examine them, so to speak, character-wise? Should we not scrutinize their conduct before making rash decisions about spending time and resources on a person based exclusively on the color of their skin pigment or the perception that one color is better than another.
It seems like a no-brainer, yet some knuckleheads still choose the color option.
Over fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The inside is what matters the most, folks.
One Red, one Yellow, one Black, one Brown, and one White, and many others mixed and varied. Which will you choose?
Be more concerned with the internal, not the external; if not, you are just guessing and maybe acting prejudiced.
Is life not fair? Nahhh…
Our 21st-century lives are expected to be functional. I think it is even demanded. As in, if you do not work, you do not eat. If you do not do your job or show up, you get fired. If you do not call on clients, your business will fail. If you do not pay your bills, you do not get the goods and services you want. If people do not like you for whatever reason, they will shun you or not associate with you.
Life seems exceedingly unfair, and maybe it is living it this way. It promises you nothing when you get here except that someday you will die.
The world does not care if you are too short, tall, fat, skinny, disabled, dysfunctional, unhealthy, or your skin pigment is the wrong color. It does not care if you were born under-privileged or disenfranchised or of the wrong gender or sexual orientation.
Life does not care.
Hopeless? No, far from it. We are just meant to function differently.
We have been given this thing called life and given humanity to keep us company. There are billions of us here right now, so we are not alone though it might seem like that at times. We are all connected though many of us wish to be apart.
Life allows us to be grateful. We should be grateful because we have life. What could we accomplish if we were dead? Any day above ground is a good day, as the saying goes.
As humans, we can and should show love to one another, reminding us we are not alone and allowing us to keep each other company, learn different things from one another, and not to mention opportunities to reproduce, which can be fun for most.
Life allows us to share what we have with one another to meet all needs. Without needs, the ability to share would not exist. There seems never to be enough, so this alone gives us some purpose and should keep anyone busy. There is, however, no need for boredom.
Life allows us to provide for ourselves and our families, allowing us to continue to live, have companionship, and reproduce if we want.
Life allows us to educate ourselves to improve ourselves and be better at living, sharing, and loving more people.
Life has given us these beautiful tools to overcome all of our perceived obstacles. We should be grateful we have obstacles as without them, what kind of life would we have?
Unfairness. Nah. The challenges define us as humans and make life worth the living.
If we are alive and being honest with ourselves, we can all be more functional and should demand it of ourselves.
State of our Union
Anyone watching tonight’s state of the union speech should be very aware by now they are seeing America in a nut shell: divided intractably by issues because both sides see the world very differently at all fundamental levels. You ask how could they not clap at some of the most seemingly non-partisan subjects. Well they see the world as different as some of our enemies do and some of them hate us just as much. They think differently. Perhaps that is fine for a country to have different viewpoints but fundamental differences on basics is at issue. How we survive in the future is at stake.
Don’t get mad at our Congress representatives and their behavior. Nancy tearing up the speech in a childish act of defiance changes nobody’s mind about anything. They are only doing what their constituents want and reflect the situation in miniature. The problem isn’t Congress.
We all are the problem. Not enough of us vote. Not enough understand the issues, the history or the existing laws. Not enough care. That is sad.
Want to fix it? Fix yourself first, go learn about what’s important to you and your loved ones foremost then work on your family, and neighbors changing their minds so when it comes time to vote they change. It’s the only way it’s going to get better.
An engaged, informed society is a better society. Something I think we all should want.
“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
The Light in the Heart
My wife and I were talking about just how divided our country has become on many issues especially after the recent election. I told her I think we are all seeing and hearing the byproduct of communication being perfected. For the first time in human history we are really able to see and hear what people are thinking in real time. It’s alarming and shocking to now know what your friends and family truly believe in and just how different and varied their opinions are from yours and the world. It’s as though we have been eating from the forbidden fruit of knowledge since the internet came along and the veil has been slowly lifting from our eyes to the point we can now see each other’s opinions in print, videos, movies, photos, and memes in real time and know what our brother-in-law is really thinking and feeling on any number of subjects. We are able to know what’s going on around the world now in an instant; and are being daily bombarded with opinions about it. We are beginning to know all of it; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the issues that truly divide us as a community, a nation and a society.
More of us each day around the world are using the internet more and more for work, play and education. We are willing and feel more comfortable sharing everything about our intimate selves from something as benign as what our favorite color is to sharing the results of personality and emotional intelligence quizzes, our political preferences, sexual preferences and habits, pictures and videos of ourselves, even our present state of mind and health. We communicate now so candidly that people feel no aversion to talking about their colonoscopy or hysterectomy results with their friends on their cell phone while sitting in a restaurant or in a bathroom stall in ear shot of total strangers. People say it’s no big deal. However is there a point where blunt honesty, candidness and truth stop being a good thing? In short, most everything that was purposely hidden or withheld by us in years past is slowing being shared and revealed in the public domain and sadly the prying eyes of government. We hear, think and feel instantly what others hear, think and feel by way of modern communication.
My personal feeling is the divisions that we read about today between us all have always existed but we as a society had not reached a point where we felt comfortable sharing what we truly believed out of fear of what others might think of us or out of necessity to keep the peace around the holiday dinner table. The old adage around the holidays was “we don’t talk about religion or politics or we risk arguments”. However now as a society we have become empowered to voice our thoughts, beliefs and opinions like never before. We readily share our true intimate-selves via the Internet where in years past we could not or would not feel comfortable. In years past we might have arguments about issues or people with our friends, neighbors, or relatives but we never really shared too much out of fear of alienation and future arguments. The peace was kept by not talking about politics and religion or any controversial subject. Today that is unavoidable. The internet and social media has enabled us to reveal our deeper selves without direct confrontation. It has opened the lines of communication but with it revealed the deep divisions, biases, and flaws in our characters.
The question then becomes were we better off learning of our differences slowly over time while simultaneously learning to work out those differences, or is knowing everything there is to know and recognizing readily just how different we are a good thing? It remains to be seen.
For now I will share a piece of advice, agree to disagree with your friends, relatives and neighbors at the holiday dinner table.
The bible has this to say about it, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1
History and Education
Last night once again I watched the movie “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. It’s one of my favorites. I’m not a movie critic so I will not debate the historical accuracies or inaccuracies of the film. The character Gibson plays Benjamin Martin is loosely based upon the lives of some very real Americans like Francis Marion known as the Swamp Fox who fought a guerrilla war against the British in South Carolina and is regarded as one of the heroes of the American Revolution.
Say what you want about Mel Gibson the actor, he might have issues with alcohol and bigotry but the characters he plays in his movies are emotionally visceral, and stir the passions of most audiences. That’s something a good movie should do in my opinion. When I first watched this movie back in 2000, when it came out, it provoked an interest for me in a…
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Imagine if someone you don’t know breaks inside your home uninvited and brings with them friends or takes a liking to your daughters. This stranger begins to eat your food, have sex on your couch and gets their friend pregnant or your daughters. This intruder sleeps in your spare bedroom, refuses to work, but if they do they send their tax free money to their homeland. They pretend their one of your family and when they get sick you have to pay for it.
Then after you’ve had enough and you finally call them out on this home invasion they act as if they are entitled to live under your roof and protection, and demand you speak to them in their native language. To make matters worse your dumb retarded brother-in-law thinks they should stay and believes they have the same rights as invited guests.
Yeah illegal immigration is just like this in America today. You wouldn’t put up with it in your house why should America as a nation!
The Future of America
Clinton is as corrupt as they come. The overwhelmingly damning information coming from Wikileaks and the FBI’s agents proves this and could not be any clearer. She will do anything to gain power and the masses who support her are every bit as corrupted in my mind.
Your neighbors, teachers, pastors, relatives, and friends and others who you have trusted for years are going to support a lying degenerate who has a PhD in BS, Graft and Corruption. What’s that say about them? What’s that say about you who associate with them?
There are two America’s within our borders and one of them is trying desperately to destroy the old culture and laws and replace it with their false god Leviathan. I am referring to the over oppressive Administrative State. Think about that the next time you see a I voted for Hillary sticker. We are a divided nation and will continue to be one until we are no longer a nation. No amount of cooperation and compromise will change the very different ideological thinking that exists today. It will only get worse. You cannot make peace with someone who seeks your destruction.
- If you are a person of faith count on being unmercifully persecuted because they hate you. Their god is Man.
- If you are a person of truth. They will ridicule you because truth is relative in their minds.
- If you are a person of laws they will shame you because they believe law to be ever changing and not immutable and always open to interpretation.
- If you accept responsibility for your own actions and your safety they will say you are kooky or a nut because they are weak minded, irresponsible and always seek others to provide for them. They seek others to take the blame when things go bad, and to protect them from every threat real and imagined.
- If you love liberty and the US Constitution they will despise you as they reject God and thus the natural rights of man bestowed upon us by him and referred to in our founding documents. Ironically the very rights defined in the document for which their own rhetoric is protected.
In short we are at the present time in a Cold War with ourselves that will turn hot if only a few things more take place.
The apathetic, ignorant or foolish will reject this but I think it is time to pray hard for peace and understanding, but prepare for war as I think its coming. These two forces cannot co-exist indefinitely. The enemy is in the room with us now not outside our door. We only need to pay attention to the trend towards government control of everything and the patterns of corruption from our leaders and ignorance of the followers to realize it.