Monday, October 29, 2012

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose

I Love Politics.

There, I said it. It's one of my favorite things to watch or talk about or be involved in. I know, I know, it's crazy. It seems virtually impossible to have a rational conversation with anyone about politics. Everyone is so passionate about how America is going straight to hell if people don't wake up and start believing what they do about politics and policies. And you know what? It's always been that way. Ever since the beginning of our country, people have been saying the same things. It's because fear is a great catalyst.

But let's get one thing straight: this is not the end of the world. Everyone put down your signs, take off your tinfoil hats, and let's just agree to step away from the hyperbole. It really gets tiring to hear that this is "the most important election of our lifetime" [sic]. Sorry, it's not. If it were, then there wouldn't be so many similarities between the candidates this election (just watch the foreign policy debate), or between President Obama and his two immediate predecessors (all are effectively centrists who have generally disappointed the hardcore elements of their respective parties).

I can't tell you how many different posts I've read on Facebook that I've deleted my comments on before hitting "post". Sometimes I had a serious comment. Sometimes I had a sarcastic one. But I (usually) just couldn't do it. It wasn't going to help anything. To the people I disagreed with, my comment wasn't going to convince them. To the people I may have agreed with but wanted to needle, it probably would have just set them off. I'm much more interested in having conversations about politics with people, and that works much better face-to-face. I'm also more interested in learning why someone believes differently than I do than I am in arguing talking points. I am as passionate about what I believe as any other person, and about the direction I think the country should take, but I try to talk dispassionately to other people so that they are free to discuss what they believe without having to be immediately defensive or feel judged. I had a conversation with a coworker about the upcoming election not too long ago, and even though we disagree about some issues (including abortion), we were able to have an amicable yet substantive discussion. No names were called. No judgments were called down. No vitriol was spewed. And even when I try to point out what I think are errors in people's beliefs, I try to do it in such a way that lets them see what I am thinking. I believe that's a much better way to convince someone; lead them along the same thought processes that got me there. During the 2008 election I asked a young lady why she voted for Obama; she said "Because he's black." Wanting to demonstrate that I thought that was a poor reason to pick a President (the color of one's skin), I asked her, in as calm and unjudging a way as I could (by making a joke out of it): "If I told you that I voted for McCain because he was white, would you be offended?" For the record, I voted for neither, but I wanted to help her see why I thought that wasn't a good idea.

So here is my opportunity to talk about issues and candidates and actually let it all out. I don't feel like I have to edit myself for length or content, because this is MY blog. We might be friends on Facebook, but you may or may not want your Facebook feed clouded up with my opinion. But if you clicked your way here, you're fair game.

Let me say one thing first: I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and so politics comes somewhere long after that. I think that's why I can look at it as a hobby now, instead of the all-encompassing crusade that some seem to take it as. I think that anytime followers of Jesus label themselves as anything but that, we end up having problems. But I also believe that we have been given a great stewardship in being citizens of a free democratic republic. We have the ability and responsibility to be active citizens, and to do good in everything. But I think that many who call themselves "Christians" have used or are using that label to try to push carnal agendas. And I have to agree with Andy Stanley, who said "Anytime the church tries to leverage anything other than love, we go backwards, not forwards." So these are my opinions about earthly matters, but just because we may disagree doesn't mean I don't love you!

Let's start with the issues. These are what I consider to be important to me.

  1. Abortion. If you could label me as a single-issue voter, this would be the issue. Everything else can be shades of gray to me, but this is not. And let me explain to you why: IF you think that a fetus is a human life, how can you not protect it? If we disagree on whether or not a baby in utero is actually a baby or not, then that is a valid discussion. But because I believe it is a human baby from the moment of conception, he/she must be protected. Because we believe that the right to life is an inalienable right, it cannot be taken away without due process. An aborted baby is not given due process. I've been asked what about conceptions in the case of rape. I honestly cannot answer what it must be like to go through that horrific ordeal. I have no framework to deal with that discussion. I'll never know personally because I'm a man, and I cannot even begin to imagine what I would go through emotionally if it happened to my wife or daughter. I just... can't. BUT - if I believe that baby is a human baby, then why should he/she be punished for the crime of his/her father? That is the only logical answer I can come up with, and I know it does NOTHING to answer the emotional pain. It's completely lacking, but it's all I've got.
  2. The Economy. We all want to see the economy improve. I live in an area that is still seeing 12% unemployment. But I realized something the other day: it's true that unemployment numbers are only concerned with those actively seeking employment, but what if companies decide those people are unemployable? What percentage of the unemployed have felonies on their records and so are considered too much of a risk to hire? I live in a low-educated, highly unemployed area of the country. And while we have seen factories close and companies fail, more opportunity isn't the only answer. It would help get that number lower to be sure, but it wouldn't make the unemployable more attractive to employers. I do love the study of economics, by the way, but it's funny to hear politicians throw around numbers as if they are fact when two branches of our government can't even agree on what effect each year's budget (back when we had those things, remember those days?) will actually do. Economics is the one of the only "sciences" in which a theory really can't be tested; after all, there's no such thing as a closed system in economics. Consider me a supply-sider who thinks Keynesian economics is interesting, but doesn't trust it. 
  3. The Budget. Why is this so hard? Because we have 535 people voting on a budget and 1 person signing it who are all trying to get reelected all the time. And the more money they can funnel towards their home district or state or preferred swing state, the more likely it is that they will be reelected. Everyone is for less spending... somewhere else. Not for their area, or pet project. That is one reason why I think a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution would be helpful. It would force politicians to make difficult decisions, decisions that wouldn't always be popular, but we would stay in-budget. There aren't many people who are happy with the cuts that have had to be made to the Georgia budget, but at the end of the day it is balanced. I'd rather have everyone a little upset and the budget balanced than everyone happy and unrestrained spending.
  4. Education. I was homeschooled, so I will always be for more choice and freedom in education. But let's get one thing absolutely clear: education policies will not succeed without parental involvement. And since that can't be effectively legislated, this gets tricky. 
  5. Foreign Policy. George Washington warned against "foreign entanglements", and I wonder what would have happened if we had followed his advice more carefully. To be sure, John Adams following that policy probably kept us from a war that (most likely) would have destroyed us. But since then we have grown more and more involved overseas. I wonder sometimes how necessary it is. Is foreign aid at a time of record deficits wise? If the Defense Department sees budget cuts, shouldn't we cut foreign bases before domestic bases? Is there a way to promote peace and prosperity without having to rattle the saber so much? The funny thing about foreign policy is that no matter what a candidate says about it while trying to get elected, they all seem to change their tone when they get to Washington (especially Presidents). Obama's foreign policy, other than a couple glaring exceptions, hasn't been substantially different than Bush's, when you look at the day-to-day decisions.
So here's what I like and don't like about each candidate:

Mitt Romney
  • I didn't really like Romney until after the first debate. For the first time, he really seemed passionate about what he wanted to do. It was a stunning performance. And while Obama came out swinging in the next two debates, by the third Obama was sounding churlish to me and Romney seemed steady. 
  • Romney has been successful in almost everything he's been in charge of. For whatever reason, he does a good job in a leadership role. Just look at the Salt Lake City Olympics. I remember many people saying that while Romney could certainly help, they would still be mostly a failure; that it was too late. Instead they were a great success. 
  • He wants to repeal Obamacare (or whatever you want to call it). I will readily admit that we have a healthcare problem in America, but I simply don't think that a government program is the answer. They always end up doing less than promised at a higher cost than forecasted. Government programs are simply not efficient. There will come a day when the exact same fights and cuts that have happened to Social Security and Medicare will happen to Obamacare, at which point it won't be helping every person, and isn't that the point?
  • He's a flip-flopper. Now, I like to believe that Romney believes the way I do about abortion NOW, but he didn't at one time. I do wonder sometimes why we don't allow politicians to change their stances on issues EVER. But face it: this isn't the only issue he's changed his mind on.
  • He's a moderate. I'm not saying that I want a President who never compromises, but it would be nice if the values the President fought for were the values I wanted him to fight for. Hey, at least he's been pretty transparent as a moderate from the beginning. Even though he tried to run right, he didn't get far. Most candidates pander to the wing of their party during a primary and run to the center in the general.
  • He's Mormon. Simply put, I don't think he and I have the same religion. But let's be honest: how many Presidents have claimed to be Christian, but their actions were anything but?

Barack Obama

  • He's youthful, energetic, and passionate. Politicians seem to all be cut from the same cloth most of the time, and he's different. A lot of times his solutions seem based in a real-world sensibility.
  • I love, love, LOVE that he is a family man. He is a man that seems obviously in love with his wife and is dedicated to his children. America needs examples of dedicated fathers. As an African-American, his example is that much more inspiring, because there is a fatherhood gap in America and it is worse in the African-American community. 
  • He is strong on foreign policy. I didn't like that he put his timeline for ending the Iraq War out in public. I thought it was risky and imprudent. And I was wrong. It worked. While there are parts of his foreign policy that I disagree with, I don't see that Romney will do anything different.
  • He has offered differing amounts of spending cuts for every dollar in tax raises. While I don't like tax raises, if there are some (or if certain tax cuts are allowed to expire, which they should be) then they should be overwhelmingly outweighed by spending cuts. If we do not find a way to restrain spending, it doesn't matter how much money we raise. In that case, I want more cuts, because I want my money to stay with me and not the government. 
  • I won't say that this is a like, but it is an interesting comment: there is some discussion among Keynesian economists that Obama wasn't allowed to go FAR ENOUGH with the bailout. They believe that if he had been given more money to spend, or had more guts to ask for it, that we'd be better off now. Not saying that I agree, but these people are supposedly much smarter than I.
  • He is ardently pro-abortion. Much more so than any President I know of. He consistently voted against banning partial birth abortions while in Illinois. He doesn't believe in parental notification. I cannot reconcile his position with mine, because it doesn't in any way.
  • As stated above, I don't like Obamacare. I think that it could be a success for a few years, but by year 50 will be in financial trouble.
  • He is more willing to throw Republicans under the bus than he is to actually work with them. He can whine all he wants about the Republicans he has to work with, but good leaders don't whine about the their situations, they lead anyway.
My hope is that with that list I managed to make both sides mad. I've always felt that the best baseball announcers are seen as biased by both teams' fans, so hopefully I've been able to pull that off. But I call 'em like I see 'em. 

Here is the best part: in most of the states, we already know who's going to win. The question of who will be President really comes down to less than 10 states. And if most of those shake out the way everyone thinks they will, it really only comes down to one: Ohio. So if you're reading this and you live in Ohio, GO VOTE. If you're living in Georgia or New York, still go vote, but understand that we pretty much know what's going to happen there anyway. So for all my friends who live in Georgia and want to vote Libertarian, please do! You won't be throwing your vote away (no vote, based on conscience, is ever a "throwaway" in my book), you are very unlikely to swing the election, and you still get to make your statement! DO IT! 

What I ask is that you look at this election, and these candidates, with clear eyes. Neither is the devil, and neither is a savior. They are both men, and will disappoint you. Sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes deliberately. When Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia, there was great excitement. But two years later many people were sad they ever voted for him. I was confused; he did exactly what I expected him to. I guess I thought everyone else had a realistic a picture of him as I did. Don't idealize a politician - it never works out for you. 

So what is my prediction? I think Obama wins. Obama has used a different strategy than 2008. In that election he tried to inspire people, and it worked big time. This time he has played more of a "prevent defense", and while it will make the election much closer, he is leading in the swing states he has to carry to win. This really reminds me of 2004, when Kerry made a late push and so the media started painting the election as an upset, but that was really just to get viewers. Bush ended up winning reelection. It really is true that incumbents tend to win, if only because voters choose the devil they know over the devil they don't.

So thank you if you read my essay on this election. It's too long and likely makes little sense. But writing is cathartic to me, and I wanted to put my opinion out there. I will delete this post not long after the election because I just don't think it'll be relevant for long. However you feel about this election, let me give some free advice: VOTE, and have grownup discussions about why. There's no need to demonize or belittle someone who disagrees with you. You'll never convince them that way anyway. A friend of mine convinced me to vote for a candidate in the primary simply by kindly putting his opinion and some facts in my way. We all want to convince other people, but if you really want to do that, it takes work. I love how much Americans love America. So let's do it well.

Edit: I wanted to add my favorite political ad of the year:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I'm in the middle of trying to hire a new assistant - AGAIN. It seems like every time I get close to having someone fully trained, something happens and I have to start over. I can't blame my latest assistant for taking a new job, though: it is closer to home and will enable her to spend more time with her family. But it stinks for me while I am doing two jobs and trying to go through the agonizing process of trying to pick the right person by predicting their future.

Anyway, I have a lot of interviewing experience. I was the primary hirer for the restaurant I worked at, so I conducted hundreds of interviews there. Most of them were very short, so I tried to get the most information in the shortest amount of time there. Now I have more time to conduct in-depth interviews, but I find myself falling back on some of the same questions I've always used. In the middle of this time, a colleague of mine is about to have his own interview for a much better position. So I've been helping him prepare with a little role-playing and question-answering.

So it felt like lightning struck yesterday. All of a sudden the perfect interview question came to me: who is your favorite superhero, and why? Comes off as mundane or even silly, right? But in the right hands... the answer to that question can reveal a lot about a person.

I believe that the way you answer that question either reveals your personality, or the ideals that you hold in high esteem. Here are some of the answers I have gotten from good-natured people who have agreed to answer:

1) Superman. Why? Because he's the biggest, strongest, can fly, leap tall buildings, etc.

The funny part? This guy used to be a professional basketball player.My take? He idealizes the perfect athlete, the guy who can't be beat, the person who has every ability he needs.

2) Iron Man. Why? Because he's the coolest guy in the room, but he fights for what he believes in.

This guy is a talker. You know, the guy who is comfortable in any room. You can already see the correlation. However, the underlying drive to protect and provide is always there.

3) Green Lantern. Why? Because he has a ring that lets him create whatever he wants.

I don't know this guy very well, but I thought it was interesting that he went straight for the "whatever he wants" angle. What he wants is the power to be able to do what he wants.

4) Catwoman. Why? Because she gets what she wants.

I thought that was pretty self-explanatory.

5) Superwoman. Why? Because she's a woman.

Interesting to me, because she picked a rarer superhero, but Superwoman has the power of Superman but represents the power of women in a normally male-dominated genre. Maybe like the workplace?

So could the connection be tenuous? Sure. But I'm convinced it's a great way to get people to talk about their personalities without realizing it.

So what's your answer?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

O Why Not Tonight?

Coming back from Catalyst a few years ago, our worship minister (who is now the lead minister) had an idea: lock the church building one Sunday and instead hold a different type of worship service; one in which the members serve in the community. A bold idea, destined to make people uncomfortable, but designed to reinforce an idea we had been trying to get across, namely, that the church should be every bit as much about doing as it is about meeting.

Not to diminish the idea of meeting together. Fellowship is necessary. But all too often the church gets caught up in the idea of Sunday morning being what church is about, and it's not. That idea leads to insular thinking, instead of servant-minded or outreach-oriented thinking. 

We have done these Sundays, called Operation Serve, at least once a year since. And you know the funny thing? They are one of our lowest attended services of the year. It's amazing. Mention the word service and you're almost guaranteed that only the die-hard people who really get it will show up. People stay away in droves. 

Meanwhile, we have a small team feeding the homeless downtown. We have 5- and 7-year olds picking up trash in a public park. We have a team of mowers moving from house to house trying to get as much done as possible for those who can't do it themselves. In past years we have spent an entire weekend roofing a member's house.

During the event it is tough not to be ecstatic at the smiles on faces as we serve the community. And even having only spent one day in a soup kitchen was a humbling experience. Too actually be able to look into the faces of those who simply have less, to be able to share a meal with them, to serve them, I truly believe brings us closer to the heart of God.

After the event it is difficult to think of all those who didn't think it was worth their time to participate. To listen to people complain about those who were the recipients of good deeds because the complainers didn't think they were worthy. It's tough not to put yourself in a self-righteous position of being a better Christian.

I don't know why some don't want to/like to/choose to participate. This idea is new, it's challenging, it's against our norms. But if not today, when? Because I'll be honest: I've never met a day in which it wasn't easy to be selfish.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In remembrance...

I have heard that no one forgot where they were when they first heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I know many people who remember exactly where they were when JFK was assassinated.

And for those of us who lived through September 11th, 2001, we all remember where we were and exactly what we were doing when we first heard of the attacks. The disbelief as we thought it wasn't as serious as it sounded. The shock as ANOTHER plane struck. The horror when the towers fell. The fear of what would happen next.

And it is a good thing that we remember. Tragedy on such a scale should never be forgotten. Heroism such as was seen that day should be honored forever. It is monumental because on that day, our world changed.

I wonder sometimes about remembering other life-changing events, though.

I wonder if Peter could ever forget the look on Jesus' face after his third denial.

I bet John could never erase the image of Jesus, while he was dying, asking him to take care of His mother.

And I know the centurion told the story, to his dying day, of how dark it was, and how the earth shook, when The Son of God died. It was life-changing.

9/11 will never mean as much to my children as it does to me; how could it, they weren't even born! But I still will tell them if the horror, fear, bravery and heroism of that day. And I will try to help them understand just how much it meant to be an American on that day and every one after.

But I worry that the crucifixion doesn't mean as much to us because we weren't there. I wonder what we can do to make it more meaningful to those of us who believe, even though we haven't seen. Maybe it means that I count just how much Jesus carried for me that day. Maybe I try to imagine what it was like to endure what He endured. Maybe I try to wonder how I'll thank Him one day, face to face.

How do we make the Cross as important a monument in our lives as some of the other days we'll never forget?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Keepers of the flame

Now, we've all had a lot of fun with the whole "May 21st is the end of the world and the Rapture" story. Two things have stuck out to me:

1) I have heard/read a lot of jokes on this from most people I know. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm all about jokes, but as usual, I had to take a slightly different approach to the story. I couldn't help but to keep wondering "What if they're right?" How many people would that have caught by surprise? Because, let's face it, not even most Christians thought that this was right. But I just sat down and thought about it for a minute - what would it be like to see Jesus return? If I had any inkling that it could be today, how would I spend it? I looked at my family and thought how grateful I would be to see them all in heaven. I wondered just how it would feel to fall at Jesus' feet and hug His neck and tell Him how much I've missed Him. I wondered what it would feel like to have the questions stop. I wondered how joyful it would be to never have to read another story online about a child dying. And I was kind of sad that Jesus didn't show up today. This story allowed me to see that day from another perspective, to actually give my heart a "trial run". And every time I heard someone make fun, I decided it was a great opportunity to share the fact that Jesus IS returning. I talked with a girl at work yesterday, she said "Well, it's to late for me to make it right." I tried to explain to her that Jesus has already made it right...

2) It amazes me how absolutely certain everyone I know is about the "end times". If people weren't laughing at the group, they were deriding them. Look, I have opinions about the end times just like everyone else. But I also don't hold very tight to them. Remember, the Jews had very specific ideas about what the Messiah would do when He came. He was supposed to fight a war, free His people, and reign for 1,000 years. Sound familiar? So whatever your preconceived notions are about what will happen during, precede, or postdate The Return, consider that you could be wrong. The nice part about whatever it is God decides to do is that I just want to be along for the ride. It doesn't matter to me if there is a Rapture, or if everyone goes all at once, or if something happens no one has thought of. I just want to hear that I'm in. Maybe I'm just simple, but it seems to me to be slightly arrogant to presume to understand God's plans. Even if He has laid them out in Scripture, we tend to only understand prophecy with the vantage point of hindsight.

This has not been in any way meant to put anyone down. I just noticed a couple trends, which I took part in to some extent, that I wanted to point out.

"Maybe tonight, Lord, maybe tonight..."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On Perseverance

So, I've learned something about myself over the last few months. First off, I've been meaning to write about this topic since the beginning of the year, but as it kept dragging on and evolving, I kept putting it off, and maybe for the better.

I hurt my knee mid-December. Nothing drastic, just what they call IT Band Syndrome. Take a couple weeks off from running and you'll be fine.

So I did.

The second week after I started back to running, I pushed it kinda hard. But I needed to; I was training for a marathon and needed to get back up to my mileage. I think the breaking point occurred during a 6-miler: I ran/walked the first 5 miles like I usually did, but then ran the last mile back to the house, and pretty fast. That Saturday I went out for an 18-miler and only made it 6 miles. My knee was hurting again.

For the next few weeks, I kept running. I would try to take it easy, but the pain never went away. As a matter of fact, it seemed to get steadily worse.

So I went to an orthopedist.

They do an MRI and discover only little things wrong: the IT Band Syndrome is still there, I have a small Baker's cyst on the back of my knee, and it looks like I have a tiny tear in my meniscus.


At this point, I'm just hoping to run the half marathon. Anything, just please don't tell me that I've trained for 6 months and will have nothing to show for it. (Ok, sure, I lost a few pounds and made some friends, but I did have a goal in mind...)

One month off from running.

I join a gym so that I can do Spin class. I want to stay fit, increase my aerobic capacity, but I can't do anything that will involve impact on my knee. I start a stretching regimen. I HATE STRETCHING. I hate stretching the way Indiana Jones hates snakes. But I do it anyway, in the hope that I can run.

Three weeks before the (now half) marathon, I start back running. And there is still pain! And now it is shooting all around the knee! I'm beginning to wonder what I'm going to have to do to fix this...

Back to the orthopedist.

Where I find out that on top of all the above, I have now developed tendinitis and bursitis. I think I may be the only person to develop tendinitis while NOT ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING TO AGGRAVATE THAT TENDON. So they give me a shot. It's given directly through the most painful part of the knee, straight into the joint. It is not comfortable.

But after three days, I feel fine!

I ran the half marathon. I ran it with a friend of mine, and did pretty well. My last two miles were the fastest miles of the day. I saw my family on the course. I passed someone on the very last straightaway. But there's a twinge of disappointment in only going half as far as I wanted to.

Oh, but there's more.

As I said at the top, I learned something about myself during those months. It came during one of the Spin classes. One of the teachers is a friend of mine; I've known her since I was a kid. She is brutal. She will shame you in a class, not by calling you out, but if you try to keep up with her, you better have brought your big-boy shoes.

Something she said in this particular class made me realize: I had been planning when to quit since the moment I got on the bike. Somewhere in my mind I had been thinking, right from the very beginning, how far I had to get before I could bail and not look like a pansy. The next time I ran I noticed the same thing: I may have planned on running 6 miles, but by the end of the first mile I was already trying to evaluate if I could cut this run short and just "make it up later."

I'm a quitter.
At least in my thoughts, if not always in my actions.

So, what makes me hold on? What makes me keep going when it's too tough? Why do I choose to persevere sometimes, and bail out other times?

A friend posted this on Facebook: "I would like to work out without having to work out." True.

Realization: I will only hang on long enough for everyone to think I've hung on long enough.

So, I'll set lofty goals for myself, but talk myself down from them not long after beginning. I'm the same way in my Christian walk. I want to be more like Christ, I want to resist temptation, I want to read my Bible, but I'm already planning my escape. I mean, how far can one man really go anyway?

I've begun to recognize those thoughts, and to work past them. Not just in working out, because the benefit from that is temporary. But in the rest of life as well. How long can you or I resist temptation? As long as we decide we can. It is as important as we make it.

I didn't have any problem running the half marathon all the way to the finish, because that was what I came there to do. I have problems finishing my training runs because it's hard to see the goal. I have trouble persevering under trials and temptation because it's difficult to see the end goal.

But I'm tired of my own excuses.

W(h)ine and cheese

Emotion never lends itself to an accurate worldview. Be forewarned. I think I write better when I'm very emotional, so this one could be a doozy.

I've had a frustrating day.

At the risk of sounding like "that guy", I feel that I have a lot of good ideas. And I'm not scared to pitch them. But man, does it seem like a lot (it feels like almost all) get shot down. What's worse is when, much later, you see that same idea come back around, but pitched by someone else as brand new. Then everyone else loves it! They prance around the plagiarizer (is that a word?) as if they have received a revelation. Meanwhile, I'm sitting off to the side wondering what made the idea so bad the first time?

I need a win.

I have said before that, as if I needed one more thing about me to be weird, I apparently have weird spiritual gifts. I didn't get faith, nope, nothing that blasé. I think I'm a good encourager, sure, but I wonder if my spiritual gift is dealing with disappointment. Because I sure seem to get enough thrown my way.

non sequiter

I've worked very hard not force my opinions or ideas on other people. In years past, I was in many, many situations where an opinion was forced on me, and I think I came to believe that was the only way to get your way - rhetoric, conviction, logic, and bombast. And something about it turned me off. Some would call it the mellowing of age; I'm not that old. I used to be completely concerned with getting my way, now I think I'm a little more concerned with getting along. Because I can lead all day long, but if no one is following, then it isn't doing much good. To this day I can remember how some people didn't like me as a teen because of my attitude; that arrogance of always being right, and being able to prove it. I don't like remembering that, and I've tried to change.

And that's not to say that I won't argue passionately for something I believe in, it's just to say that I don't place the importance on winning an argument or "being right" as I once did.

But I wonder if, in my desire to be more humble, I haven't allowed myself to become a doormat in a lot of instances. And that idea just pisses me off. So I think, what do I have to do to be heard? To have my opinion valued at the same weight that it seems others' are? Do I have to stake out a position and refuse to budge? To be louder than everyone else in the room? Do I have to demean others' opinions? Should I be so verbose as to simply exhaust everyone? Perhaps I should simply invent facts and situations to prove my point; I could even belabor the hypothetical. Maybe I should be/act offended or put out that someone else is getting their way.

No, I've chosen to (try to) be honest and mature.

So, once again, I'll swallow my disappointment (which tastes remarkably like bile) and hope for better.

One day.

They say that leadership should be collaborative, and that you should empower others. But no one ever talks about how to do that from the middle. Everyone is concerned with how to lead from the top. I don't have a problem with that. How does one lead from the middle of a team? Because I'm not the biggest, strongest, loudest person in the room. And I don't want to be. But I also don't want to be dismissed out of hand, or treated as if it's not a big deal to disappoint me, but it would be to disappoint others.