Who Knew

It is not often that so quickly do negatives turn into positives. During the months of December and January this became the norm.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was involved in a car accident. An accident involving my bright yellow Chevy Aveo, Tweedy Bird. I am fine, the car was totaled. My insurance company decided that the cost to fix the car was more than the car was worth. To make it more insulting, the last payment on the car was made in December. So, I was a proud owner of a car not worthy of being repaired.

As I began to look around for another vehicle, purchased using the insurance check, I realized that a lot of me was linked to that bright yellow Aveo. The thought of purchasing a white, or black, brown, or black car really was making me ill.

The positive? Another chevy Aveo, a year younger with 30,000 less miles on it. I am now the owner of this car, without a sun roof, but with cruise control, something I wished I had on the old Tweedy. So, now I am riding in Tweedy Two.

The downside is that I had to finance this vehicle, even if for only 3 years. Not enough received as cash from the insurance needed to purchase another car. Since moving to the cash basis of living, I had been welcoming the thought of one less debt. Instead, though the debt is less, it is still there.

The positive? Since I had to finance a minimum amount, I was able to use the balance of the insurance check to make needed repairs to my house, pay down other debt and make last minute contributions.

The weather for the last Sunday in Advent was snowy. In fact, by the end of the day, 16 inches had fallen in my part of Delaware. I had traveled out twice the previous day, and felt that coming into church would not be a problem. That said, I did not check the website to learn that services had actually been canceled. Upon arriving, I realized that not many were in the parking lot. In fact, counting the two priests, the acolyte and myself, there were four in church.

The positive? Sitting together directly around the altar. A feeling of how the early Christians must have observed communion. The sermon, interactive, speaking directly to each other. What a gift. The bad weather continued and this gift presented itself again on Christmas morning.

The Disciple Study Group that I am a part of has had a profound affect on my way of thinking. Reviewing the history of the Jews and their relationship with God, has me understanding that God's answers to problems or crisis do not sometimes happen at that moment. I am learning to wait and see.

Hopefully, not the normal waiting period of 40 years.

There is a phrase in the Books of Esther and Jonah, "Who Knows?"

"Who Knows" when your answer will come.

Am I willing to accept that no answer is an answer?

Am I willing to accept the possibility that the answer is not something I have thought of?

Am I willing to accept that God could take away something that means so much to me only to replace it with something better?

Are we willing to accept the pain of heartache and loss and live into the hope of something new?

Who knows?



A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward.

This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.

This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant.

Make sure you read as well as listen...forward and backward.

This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 5 0" by AARP.

This video won second place.

When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.

So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it.



You Only Think You Know the Story

This is from my friend, Major Saif, living in Bangladesh.

Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.

The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he'd lost the race.

The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race.

This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with. But then recently, someone told me a more interesting version of this story. It continues.

The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only because he had been over confident, careless and relaxed.

If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

The moral of the story ? Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady.

If you have two people in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow, methodical chap.

It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.

But the story doesn't end here. The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route. The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river .The hare sat there wondering what to do.

In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

The moral of the story? First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.

In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you. If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make report and send it upstairs. Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.

The story still hasn't ended. The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better.

So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the river bank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier.

The moral of the story? It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.

There are more lessons to be learned from this story.

Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures.

The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure.

The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could. In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both. The hare and the tortoise also learned another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

Here is the story of the Real Life Tortoise and Hare.

When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's growth. His executives were Pepsi - focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time.

Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth. He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14ounces.

What was Coke's share of that? Two ounces.

Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market. The competitor wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.

To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.

To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things. Chief among them are :
That fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady;
Work to your competencies;
Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers;
Never give up when faced with failure; and,

Finally, compete against the situation - not against a rival.