Monday, December 31, 2012

There is One Difference

A man died in a violent car accident and found himself standing in front of the Pearly Gates.   Before him stood St. Peter reading from The Book of Deeds.   When St. Peter finished his reading, he closed the book, looked at the man and said, "Your life has not been the best, yet on the other hand, it was by no means the worstWhere would you prefer to spend your eternity - Heaven or Hell?"

"You mean we have a choice?" asked the man.
"Not always, but in your case since your deeds are right on the border, I will make an exception", St. Peter replied.

The man thought silently then asked, "Could I see both Heaven and Hell before I choose?"  St. Peter thought that was an excellent idea and agreed.   He led the man down a hallway that ended with two doors - one was labeled Hell, the other labeled Heaven.   St. Peter pointed to the door labeled Hell and said, "Feel free to go on in."

The man pushed on the door and immediately heard beautiful music playing.  When he entered Hell, he saw a huge banquet hall filled with thousands of long wooden tables.  People wearing beautiful silk robes were seated at the tables.

On each table were large baskets full of fresh fruit and platters made of gold piled high with delicious foods from around the world.   As he walked through Hell, he noticed something odd.   Every person seated at the tables had large wooden knives and forks strapped to their forearms.   The knives and forks were at least three feet long, making it impossible for anyone to eat the food that was placed before them.

When he left Hell, St. Peter pointed to the door labeled Heaven.   As the man pushed open Heaven's door, he once again heard beautiful music.   Upon entering Heaven, he again saw a large banquet hall full of long wooden tables. Again all the people, exquisitely dressed, were sitting at the tables.   On each table again were baskets of fruit and platters of fine foods.  Finally, he noticed that all the people in Heaven also had large three foot wooden knives and forks strapped to their forearms.

Upon stepping back in the hallway, St. Peter asked, "Well, you have seen them both.  Are you ready to make your decision?" 
"Well," said the man, "There really doesn't seem to be that much difference between the two; however, I did notice one odd thing."

"What was that?" inquired St. Peter.
"Well, the people in Hell all look sad; their bodies are gaunt and frail as if they were all starving. Yet the people in Heaven are laughing and smiling and all look happy, well nourished and healthy. How could that be, St. Peter?  Everything appears to be equal?"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Enthusiasm vs. Experience

One day a huge US Air Force cargo plane was lumbering across the sky over the Pacific Ocean.  It was on its way to a remote Air Force Base in the Philippines.  Out of nowhere came a small jet aircraft streaking across the sky; the young jet jockey wanted to show off his flying skills for his cargo hauling colleagues.

The young pilot flew his smaller craft alongside the bulky transport, came on the radio and said to the transport pilot, “Watch this!”  Immediately the jet pilot went into a steep climb soaring up several thousand feet.  He then nosed his plane down and did a series of spectacular barrel rolls.  After leveling off in front of the cargo plane, he ignited his afterburners and shot across the horizon creating a loud sonic boom.  Finally he returned alongside the transport and asked, “Well what did you think of that?”

The older cargo pilot said, “Very impressive.”
“Well old man, show me what you can do with that garbage bucket you are flying.” 
“Okay watch this,” said the cargo pilot!  The jet jockey maintained his air speed alongside the cargo plane and waited.  For five minutes, the cargo plane rambled along.  Then the pilot came on the air and said, “Well son, what did you think of that?”

Puzzled, the young jet jockey asked, “What the heck did you do?”
The seasoned cargo pilot said, “Well, let’s see.  First, I took off my seat harness.  I then stood up, stretched my legs, walked to the back of the plane, said hi to all the crew members, picked up an updated weather forecast, went to the restroom, washed my face, combed my hair, poured a cup of coffee and picked up a cinnamon roll.  I am now seated back behind the controls enjoying a nice cup of coffee and a delicious roll.”

The moral to this story – When one is young and inexperienced, speed and flash are the preferred methods to get a job done.  However, when one matures and acquires wisdom, comfort and dullness are generally the best way to perform most jobs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Around The Corner

Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end.
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone.

And I never see my old friend's face,
For life is a swift and a terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell.

And he rang mine but we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.

Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.

"Tomorrow," I say! "I will call on Jim,
Just to show that I'm thinking of him."
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner, yet miles away,
"Here's a telegram Sir, Jim died today."
And that's what we get and deserve in the end,

For around the corner I have a vanished friend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Guard At The Tomb

Most of us know there is monument in Washington DC erected solely to pay homage to unknown soldiers who lost their lives in military battles.  Most of us refer to this monument as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or Soldiers; however, its official name, as designated by Congress, is the Tomb of the Unknowns.

To fully appreciate this monument and those who guard it, here is a story you might enjoy.

As Hurricane Isabelle approached the east coast back in 2003 and threatened Washington DC, members of the US Senate and the House scurried to evacuate the area.  For the first time in history the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave the military sentinels guarding The Tomb permission to suspend their duties and evacuate the city.

Every guard respectfully declined; they all volunteered to man their posts.  For two days, the guards were subjected to hurricane force winds and relentless pelting rain; however, the guards never left their posts.  Their refusal to suspend their duties means The Tomb has been continuously guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since it was inaugurated in 1930. 

If you enjoyed this short story on The Tomb, I am sure you will find the following Tomb trivia of interest.

* Military personnel who apply to be a Tomb Guard must be between 5'10" and 6'2" tall and have a waist size that does not exceed 30".

* Individuals selected for Tomb Guard Duty must agree to serve a two-year assignment.  However, before accepting their post, each sentinel must swear never to drink any alcohol on or off duty during their two-year tour of duty.

* Newly assigned guards are required to study and memorize the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  Among the notables interned at Arlington are President Taft, Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy (the most decorated soldier of WWII), and Joe Lewis, the great American boxer.

* Tomb guards are issued unique shoes that have special extra thick soles.  The thick soles prevent their feet from being affected by the heat and cold.  In addition, both shoes have metal heel plates that extend all the way to the top of the shoe to ensure a loud, distinctive click is made when the guards come to a halt. 

* Tomb guards must wear gloves while on duty.  Guards wet their gloves before reporting for duty to prevent their hands from losing their grip on the rifle they carry.

* Each guard takes exactly 21 steps to cross The Tomb – the 21 steps symbolize a twenty-one gun salute.

* After walking across The Tomb guards execute an "about- face", then pause for 21 seconds before they begin their return walk back across The Tomb.

* Guards always carry their rifles on the shoulder facing away from The Tomb.  After they walk across The Tomb and execute their "about-face", they ceremoniously transfer their rifle to the outside shoulder. 

* During the summer, guards change shifts every 30 minutes; during winter, every hour.

* The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

* When a guard successfully completes his/her two-year assignment, he/she is awarded a lapel pin.  Guards are allowed to wear this pin on their uniform.  The pin is a small wreath.  The wreath signifies to all that they were ...

                  A Guard Of The Tomb

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Kid Had Enough

A young boy about ten entered a coffee shop located off the lobby of a swank downtown hotel.  When he sat down at the counter, a waitress came by, slammed down a glass of water and brusquely asked, "What can I get you son?"

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
"One dollar and fifty cents," she snapped. 
He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small amount of coins and studied them.  "How much would a plain dish of ice cream be?" he asked. 
By now several well-dressed people had entered the coffee shop and were waiting for tables.  The waitress harshly replied, "One dollar."  
The boy counted his coins again, then said,  "I'll have a plain ice cream."

Wanting to get rid of the kid, the waitress quickly brought out his ice cream, dropped it on the counter in front of him, then set the bill next to it and quickly walked away.  She never bothered to returned to see how he was doing.  When the boy finished his ice cream, he picked up his bill, paid the cashier and walked out.

Noticing the kid finally left, the waitress walked over to the counter and picked up his dish.  When she went to wipe down the counter, her eyes teared at what she saw.  There, stacked neatly beside his empty dish, was one quarter, two dimes and a nickel.  The kid actually had enough for a sundae but chose not to get it because then he wouldn't have had enough to leave her a proper tip.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Unintended Consequences of our Decisions

Many Americans are not aware that the standard railroad gauge in the U.S. (the distance between the two metal rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.  Why the heck did our country ever establish such an odd size for spacing the tracks when building our first rail lines?

Well, that is because, when our local government officials and business leaders decided to construct our first rail system, they relied mainly on British expatriates who had immigrated to America.  These English tradesmen were the same individuals who designed and built the British railways and they built railroads the only way they knew how.

You see, many years earlier, in order to encourage greater trade and commerce (what we call economic development today), the British government adopted 4 foot 8.5 inches as its standard rail gauge.  That was because a wheel spacing of 4 feet, 8.5 inches was needed to match the distance between all those ruts in English roads.  If the wagons and carts of the British merchants had wheel spacings other than 4 feet 8.5 inches, their axles would more than likely break while traveling over the ruts.

Wait a minute Gabe!  Why did English roads have ruts and where did they come from?  The ruts in the English roads were put there by the Imperial Roman Army when Rome invaded England in 25 BC.  The Romans brought with them war chariots.  Years earlier, Caesar had ordered all Imperial War Chariots to be drawn by two horses.  Caesar believed war chariots drawn by two horses would help intimidate Rome's enemies.

To comply with Caesar’s demand for two-horse chariots, Roman engineers calculated 4 feet, 8.5 inches as the ideal distance to space the chariot wheels if pulled by two horses. Therefore, if the British government wanted to continue to use all the wonderful roads built by the Romans, it too had to accept a standard wheel spacing of 4 feet, 8.5 inches.

Years later when the British Parliament authorized the first railroads, they called upon the craftsmen who, for years, had built and maintained their highway and tram systems.  Those craftsmen only had tools and jigs to construct wheel spacing systems of 4 feet, 8.5 inches.

Now it might be hard to believe, but it is true.  The standard U.S. railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is actually based on an ancient Roman law that required chariots to accommodate two horses side by side.  Nineteen hundred years later, the British Government perpetuated this 4 feet, 8.5 inch standard to ensure economic development.

So Gabe, what does all this ancient Roman War Chariot stuff and British trade have to do with decisions made in modern day leadership and management?  Well, get ready, the moral of this story might be crucial for your career.

You may have watched a news program and saw a NASA Space Shuttle sitting on a launch pad in Florida.  If you recall, there were two rockets attached to the sides of every space shuttle. Those rockets were what NASA referred to as solid rocket boosters, or SRB's.  The lowest bidder on the contract for the SRB's was a Utah based firm - the Thiokol Corporation.

NASA's engineers had initially envisioned much larger SRB's for the shuttle, but discovered a major transportation problem.  You see, the SRB's built in Utah had to be shipped by train to the launch pads in Florida.  All rail routes from Utah to Florida run through the mountains.  The mountains have rail tunnels and the SRB's had to be able to fit through those tunnels.

Railroad tunnels, you might surmise, are just slightly wider than the railroad tracks, and railroad tracks in America, as you now know, are 4 feet, 8.5 inches, or about as wide as two horses standing side by side.

Consequently, the US Space Shuttle program in place during the late 20th century and early years of the 21st century had to have significant components re-designed to meet mandates imposed by the Imperial Roman Government over two thousand years ago and later enforced by laws enacted by the British Government in the late 19th century.

The two very important management lessons local government officials can learn from this saga are:

1) Be extremely careful when making decisions in your organizations. The decisions you make today may have long-lasting consequences for future generations to come.

2) While participating in budget and planning sessions, never ever, under any circumstances, agree to accept a policy or vote on policies just to accommodate a couple of horses' asses who are in the room grousing about some insignificant issues.  If you do --- the odds are overwhelming that those programs and policies you agreed to will come back to haunt your local government body later on down the road.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Dumb American Decision

A few years ago, the city of Paris hosted an international conference for engineers from around the world.  On the second day of the conference, the engineers were informed that the coast of Japan had been hit be a massive tsunami.

While eating their lunch, the engineers listened intently to the radio broadcasts coming in and learned the President of the United States had made a decision to deploy two US aircraft carriers to Japan.

Immediately, many of the European engineers began to chuckle.  Finally, one French engineer said, "How dumb is that?  The President of the United States is sending two aircraft carriers to Japan.  What does he intend to do, bomb the Japanese during this natural disaster?"

An engineer from the Boeing corporation who was attending this conference and seated at an adjoining table heard this comment and leaned over toward the table of European engineers and said, "All American aircraft carriers have three hospitals on board which can treat up to five hundred people per day.  They are all nuclear powered so they can supply unlimited emergency electrical power to facilities on shore.  Each ship has three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 6,000 people three meals a day for up to 90 days without the need to resupply."

He then went on to say that every carrier is equipped with a sophisticated desalination system that can produce over 40,000 gallons of fresh water a day from seawater.  He also pointed out that all US carriers sail from port with a minimum of six helicopters on board and noted that these helicopters can fly injured citizens back to the ship for medical attention or can transport victims to higher grounds if necessary.

When he finished, he looked at the table of European engineers who scoffed at how dumb it was for the Americans to deploy two aircraft carriers into a natural disaster area then ended by saying, "America has eleven such ships; just how many similar ships do your countries have?"

The European engineers just sat silent and laughed no more.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Give`em Only What They Need

A young Minister and his family were transferred to a small rural community.  On the eve of his first Sunday, a major snow storm hit the area.  When he and his family awoke on Sunday morning, there was nearly three feet of snow outside. "Do you think we’ll be able to have a service today?" his wife asked.

"Quite honestly, no," he replied.  "I just don't see how anyone will be able to make it to church through all this snow."

Well, two minutes before the start of the scheduled service, a loud engine roar was heard in the distance.  When the family ran to the windows, they saw a farmer driving his big John Deere tractor and he was heading straight for the church. When the farmer arrived in front of the church, he jumped down off the seat.

The Minister ran out to greet him and the farmer said, "Reverend, I hope you don’t mind me driving my tractor this morning, but I just couldn’t make it through all this snow with my car."  Then the farmer realized the parking lot was empty and he was the only person at the church.

"Maybe you weren’t planning on holding services today?" he inquired.
"Not at all.  We are glad you are here, please come in.  We would be delighted to hold a service for you," replied the Minister.  As they walked into the church, his wife began to play the organ and his children, who were sitting in the choir loft, began to sing.

About an hour and a half later when the Minister finished his sermon, he walked to the back of the church, stood by the door and personally thanked the farmer for attending his first service in his new community.  Curious as to how he did, the Minister asked the farmer, "Did you enjoy the service this morning?" 
"I sure did," said Farmer Brown, "but to tell you the truth Preacher, it may have been just a bit too much."

"Too much?" replied the Minister.  "What do you mean, too much?"
"Well you see Preacher, I am just a simple farmer. The only responsibility I have is to feed my cows when they come home from the fields each night.  Once in a while after a big storm like this, only a few cows will make it back to the barn. Whenever that happens, I never ever give them the entire load of hay. I only give 'em what they need."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why do Government Officials Make Dumb Decisions?

There was an international conference held in Paris a few years back and engineers from around the globe flew in to attend.  After morning-long seminars, they broke for lunch.  Upon walking out of the meeting rooms, they heard the Japanese coastline had been hit hard by a massive tsunami.
As the attendees funneled into a banquet room for lunch, they listened to the radio broadcasts.  It was announced that the President of the United States had authorized the deployment of two aircraft carriers to Japan.  Immediately, a few of the European engineers in line began to chuckle.   They said,  "How dumb is that?  The President of the United States is sending two aircraft carriers to Japan.  What does he intend to do, bomb the Japanese?"

An engineer from the Boeing corporation who was behind them in line commented, "An American aircraft carrier has three hospitals on board that can treat over five hundred people per day.  They are all nuclear powered so they can supply unlimited emergency electrical power to many facilities on shore.   They have three cafeterias with a capacity to feed up to 6,000 people three meals a day for up to 90 days without any need to resupply. 

He went on to say that they are also equipped with a sophisticated desalination system that can produce 40,000 gallons of fresh water from seawater each day.  Finally, he pointed out that all US carriers sail from port with a minimum of six helicopters on board.  Each helicopter can be used to transport victims to safety or any injured back to the ship for needed medical attention.

He then looked at the European engineers who scoffed at the dumb idea of the US President sending two aircraft carriers to Japan and said, "America has eleven such ships.  How many similar ships do your countries have?'

The European engineers stood silent.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Secret of Success

One day, a young man went to the home of Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, and asked, "Sir, I have come to seek your wisdom.  Will you help me?" 
Socrates looked at the boy and replied, "How can I be of assistance?"
The boy responded, "I want to be a great success. Will you teach me all I need to know so I can be a great success?"

"Certainly, my son," replied Socrates.  "Walk with me."  Socrates began to walk and headed towards the sea.  Once on the sand, Socrates continued to walk straight into the water.  The young man followed.  When both were chest deep in the ocean, Socrates placed his hands on the young man's head and quickly forced it under the water. After about ten seconds, the young man fought his way to the surface and began to gasp for air.  Socrates released the boy’s head, turned and walked away.

The young man was appalled.  He had traveled a great distance to meet with this scholar whom he admired and respected and when he asked for his wisdom all he did was put his head under water.  Never again, vowed the young man, would he seek the advice of Socrates.

However, time as we know, has a way of healing wounds and after a week went by, the young man thought maybe he did something to upset Socrates.  So back he went to visit the scholar.  Again he beseeched Socrates to teach him all he needed to know so he could be a great success.

Socrates smiled and once again agreed. He asked the young man to follow him and again they walked toward the ocean. Just like before, Socrates walked in the water and, when the water was chest high, Socrates grabbed the young man by his head and pushed it under water.  This time, however, the young man was ready.  Before going under, he took a big gulp of air and held his breath for almost for thirty seconds before coming up gasping for air.  As he wiped the water from his eyes, he saw Socrates already on the shore walking away.

Now the young man was livid.  Twice he had approached Socrates for the knowledge he needed to become a great success and twice Socrates took him to the ocean and put his head under water.  Never ever again would he be insulted and humiliated like this.

Well, thirty days passed and the young man had time to reflect. He truly wanted to be a success.  Socrates had the wisdom he needed so he decided to go one final time to see the scholar.  Upon arriving at Socrates’ home, he rapped on the door.  When Socrates appeared, the young man said, "I hope you remember me?" 
Socrates flashed a big smile and said, "I do.  You are the young man who wants to be a great success."
The young man once again asked Socrates, "Will you please teach me all I need to know and all I need to learn to be a success?" 
Socrates nodded and said, "Absolutely."  Then he started walking toward the ocean with the young man following in step.

This time the young man was well prepared.  As soon as Socrates grabbed his head, he took a deep swallow of air, relaxed and was able to hold his breath underwater for almost two minutes. When he finally surfaced for air, Socrates had already walked away.

Furious the young man ran after Socrates.  When he was a few feet from Socrates he shouted, "Socrates, why is it every time I come to you and ask for your help to gain the wisdom and the knowledge on how to be a great success, all you do is take me out in the water and dunk my head?"

Socrates turned around, faced the young man, and said, "Son, I have tried three times now to teach you the secret of being a great success. The secret is simple: When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, you will be a great success."

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Canoe Race

A Chinese corporation challenged its American competitor to a canoe race.  The challenge was simple:  Each company would form a canoe racing team and the teams would race 'three miles' down the Mississippi.  Without hesitation, the American firm accepted the challenge.

The American company assembled its canoe racing team which it titled the CRT.  The CRT practiced three hours every day.  When race day arrived, the Chinese team won by almost a mile.  Feeling sorry for its American competitor, the Chinese executives offered to host a rematch in one year. The American firm readily accepted the new  challenge.
Word spread quickly throughout the American company that their CRT loss the race and every American employee was stunned.  Worse yet, morale within the company began to sag.  Senior executives were adamant to determine why their CRT suffered such a crushing defeat.
A special committee, the Canoe Racing Fact Finding Committee or CRFFC was created and given two responsibilities:

    1) Determine the cause for the CRT's loss, and

    2) Recommend strategies for next year's CRT.

The CRFFC got right to work.  After an exhaustive investigation, it concluded the primary reason the CRT lost was because the Chinese team had seven people paddling and one person steering, whereas their CRT had only one person paddling and seven people trying to steer.
The CRFFC made the following recommendations:

First, The CRT needed to be restructured. The CRFFC suggested a position of 'Director of Canoeing' or DC be created.  The DC would be the sole person responsible for how the canoe was steered.  Since this was a such a critical position the CRFFC suggested the Director be assigned two deputy Directors called D/DC's; one D/DC would develop canoe steering procedures and the other D/DC would implement effective steering policies.

Second, to ensure every steering direction given by the DC was clearly understood, the CFFC recommended four Canoe Area Steering Managers or CASM's be hired.  The CASM's would sit in critical areas of the canoe and relay the DC's steering directions.

Third, the CRFFC recommended firing the current canoe paddler and hiring a new paddling team.  The new paddling team would be big, strong and possess great canoe skills.  The new Canoe Paddling Team would be called the CPT
Fourth, the CRFFC recommended a special compensation for the CPT.  The CRFFC believed the CPT should be compensated based on merit - meaning if  the CPT won the race, the CPT would receive a substantial bonus.  The CRFFC believed a bonus incentive would ensure the CPT paddled harder.  The CRFFC suggested this new  compensation system be called the "Canoe Paddling Performance Compensation System"  or CPPCS for short.  

Fifth, the CFFC felt the CPT should attend all CRT meetings.  Having the DC, his D/DC's  and the CASM's along with the CPT in the meetings would ensure everyone had input on the CRT strategies.  

Sixth, to keep the CPT motivated during the year the CRFFC asked the Human Resources Department (HRD) to develop an employee slogan such as "Quality Canoeing Wins Races."  HRD ordered Quality Canoeing Wins Races lapel pins, pens, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, signs, and memo pads, etc.,  which were distributed to all company employees.  

As the year progressed, the CPT, DC, D/DC's and the CASM's practiced every day and held weekly staff meetings. HRD kept passing out the "Quality Canoeing Wins Races" incentives.  Soon the second race day arrived and this time the Chinese company won by almost two miles.

Furious over this second loss, senior management decided to:

   1)  Terminate the CPT, the DC, the D/DC and the CSAM's
        citing failure to achieve objectives;
   2)  Cancel all future CRT investments and expenditures;
   3)  Sell the all the CRT equipment including canoe,
        paddles, life preservers and trailer.

Senior executives did, however, feel the establishment of the CRT was a bold, forward thinking endeavor.  To thank all employees who sat on the CFFRC for their hard work and for displaying such initiative and exerting great creativity, senior executives decided to reward them all with a sizable year-end bonus.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is It Okay To Lie?

Two elderly gentlemen were admitted to a long-term care facility and were assigned roommates.  One injured in a car accident was not expected to live long; the other had advanced heart disease and had just undergone triple bypass surgery. 

In addition to his life-threatening injuries, the car accident victim was now blind.  The heart patient needed to exercise his heart and was given specific instructions by his doctor to get out of bed each morning and walk around the room.  So each morning around 10:45, the heart patient would painfully rise from his bed and walk around the room.  As soon as the  blind roommate heard him up he would ask, "Could you please look out our window and tell me what you see."

The heart patient would slowly walk to the window, pull back the blinds and gaze out the window.  After a few minutes of looking outside, he would begin to relate all the sights he saw outside.  He would describe the birds in the air and animals he saw on the ground.  Then to the delight of his roommate, he would talk about the people he saw walking down the street entering and exiting the various buildings on the street.

One day the heart patient noticed a young man who came outside to eat his lunch in the park.  He sat by a beautiful water fountain not far from an attractive young lady who was also eating her lunch near the fountain.

As the days went on, it seemed the young man sat a little closer to the woman and it was obvious she noticed.  They soon engaged in conversations and often times they'd share bites of their lunches.  From what the heart patient observed, this man and woman were definitely forming a relationship.  Perhaps this couple might fall in love, get married, and enjoy a wonderful life together thought the blind man.
Unexpectedly one night, the heart patient died. His personal possessions were quickly gathered up and removed from the room.  The next morning a new patient with a broken arm was brought in.

As lunch time neared, the blind man asked his new roommate if he would go to the window and describe the events taking place outside.  He particularly wanted to know if the young couple was having lunch by the fountain.  The new roommate jumped out of bed and briskly walked over to the window.  He pulled the blinds back and starred for several seconds then began to laugh uncontrollably.

"Why are you laughing?" asked the blind man. 
"Because you asked me what was going on outside our window.  Our window faces the back side of another building and there is nothing but a solid wall of bricks.  I assure you there is absolutely nothing of interest for you outside our window."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

THE CRACKED POT … A lesson in Leadership

There was once a man who had two large clay pots which he would hang on the ends of a pole he carried across his neck when he went to fetch water from a stream.  One of the pots had a small crack in it while the other was perfect.  The perfect pot always brought home a full pot of water while the cracked pot returned home barely half full.

For years, the man would always return from the stream with only one and a half pots of water.  The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishment; however, the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection.  It felt terrible that it only accomplished half of what it was intended to do.

One day while kneeling by the stream to fill his two pots, the cracked pot spoke out, "I am sorry Sir and want to apologize."
"Why?  What are you sorry about?" asked the man.
"Because of my flaw, I can only give you half a load.  Never ever have I given you what you expected," said the cracked pot.

The man continued to quietly fill his pots.  When he put his pole over his neck with his two pots attached, he looked at the cracked pot and said, "Today as we walk home, look down at the path as we walk."   As they walked, the cracked pot did what he was told; he looked down at the path.  By the time they arrived home half the water in the cracked pot had leaked out and it was feeling sorry for itself again.

After the man put down his pole, he asked the cracked pot, "What did you notice along the path on our way home?"
"I noticed beautiful flowers growing along our path," replied the cracked pot.
"You're right," said the man.  "Flowers do grow along our path.  "However, did you notice they only grow on one side of the path and not the other?"

You see, I have always known about your flaw and I decided to take advantage of it.  I only planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered the seeds for me.  Because of you, I have always had an abundance of beautiful flowers to decorate my home and share with my friends.  Without your flaw, I would never have had all this beauty in my life."

Remember the employees we have are just like the cracked pot. They all have flaws. Rather than complain about their imperfections, maybe we should acknowledge their flaws and take advantage of them to make our organizations better.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remember - Only Give'em What They Need

A young Minister and his family were transferred to a small rural community. On his first Saturday night, a major snow storm hit the area. When the Minister and his family awoke on Sunday morning, there was nearly a three foot blanket of snow outside. “Do you think we’ll be able to have a service today?” his wife asked. “No,” replied the Minister, “I don't see how anyone will be able to make it to church through all this snow.”

Well two minutes before the start of the scheduled service, the family heard a loud engine roaring in the distance. When the family ran to the windows they saw a farmer driving a big John Deere tractor and he was heading straight for the church. When the farmer arrived at the church he jumped down off the seat.

The Minister ran out to greet him and the farmer said:  “Reverend, “I hope you don’t mind me driving my tractor this morning but I just couldn’t make it through all this snow with my car.” Then the farmer realized the parking lot was empty and he was the only person at the church.

Maybe you weren’t planning on holding services today” he inquired, “Not at all, we are glad you are here, please come in. We would be delighted to hold a service for you” replied the Minister. As they walked into the church his wife began to play the organ and his children, who were sitting in the choir loft, began to sing.

About an hour and one half later when the Minister finished his sermon he walked to the back of the church, stood by the door and personally thanked the farmer for attending his first service in his new community. 

Curious as to how he did, the Minister asked the farmer “Did you enjoy this morning's service?” “I sure did,” said Farmer Brown, “but to tell you the truth Preacher, it might have been just a bit too much.”

Too much?” replied the Minister, “What do you mean to Much?" "Well you see Preacher I am just a simple farmer. The only responsibility I have is to feed my cows when they come in from the fields each night. Once in a while after a big storm like this, only a few cows will make it back to the barn. Whenever that happens, I never ever give them the entire load of hay. I only give'em what they need.”

Remember this when you are conducting business - only give the audience what they need. Too much can be too much and sometimes less is best

Monday, April 30, 2012

Which Role Do I Play

I watched them tear a building down,
Sixteen men in my hometown.

With a mighty heave and lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,
Just like those you’d hire to build

He laughed and said, "No, indeed!
Common laborers are all I need."

And I can wreck in a day or two,
What talented men took years to do."

Then I thought as I went my way,
Which role in life do I play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
And lives each day by a rule and square?

Or am I a wrecker in my hometown,
Content to knock and tear things down?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


There were two childhood buddies who went through kindergarten and all the way to college together.  When war broke, they joined the army together and asked to be assigned to the same unit.  One night while out on patrol, they were ambushed.   Bullets were flying everywhere.

Out of the darkness came a voice, "Harry, help me. Please Harry, help me."   Harry immediately recognized the voice of his childhood buddy, Bill. Harry asked the Captain for permission to go out and help his buddy.  
The Captain said, "No, I can't let you go.  I am already short-handed and I cannot afford to lose one more person. Besides, the way Bill sounds he is not going to make it."

Harry kept quiet, but again Bill's voice was heard in the darkness, "Harry, please come.  Please Harry come help me."  Harry sat quietly because the Captain had ordered him to.  Again and again Bill's voice was heard on the battlefield.
Harry couldn't contain himself any longer and ran over to the Captain, "Captain, that's my childhood buddy. I have to go and help."  The Captain reluctantly agreed and let Harry go.  Harry crawled through the darkness, reached Bill and dragged Bill back into their camp.  

When they arrived back at the camp Bill was dead.  Now the Captain was furious and shouted, "Didn't I tell you he was not going to make it?  He is dead.  You could have been killed and I could have lost a hand.  It was a mistake for you to go out there."
Harry replied, "No Captain, I did the right thing.  When I reached Bill he was still alive and his last words to me were 'Harry, I knew you would come.'"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why We Should Never Whine

One day upon a city bus,
I saw a woman with golden hair,
I envied her, cause she looked so fair.

But as she rose to leave the bus,
I saw her hobble down the aisle.
With only one foot, she used a crutch,
Yet when she passed, she shared a smile.

O God forgive me if I ever whine.
I have two feet; the world is mine.

Later when I stopped to eat,
an old man grabbed me by my arm.
We spoke at length and then he said,
"Thank you Mister you've been very kind.
You see," he said, "I was born blind."

O God forgive me if I ever whine,
I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Heading home I walked my way,
and saw a girl with eyes so blue.
She stood and watched the others play,
yet seemed to know not what to do.

I asked, "Why don't you join the others, Dear?"
But she looked ahead with a word.
Then I knew she could not hear.

O God forgive me if I ever whine.
I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I want to go,
and eyes to see every sunset's glow, and
ears to hear what I need to know,
I'm blessed indeed - the world is mine.

and God forgive me if I ever whine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Reason To Play

Bobby was a football player; however, he wasn't a very good football player.  Though he had some talent, his heart just was not in the game.  He would often fumble the ball and avoid tackles whenever possible.  Worse yet, he would arrive late for practice wearing a dirty uniform and was always the last one to finish laps around the field.  On game days, Bobby was happy to just ride the bench. The other players, as well as all the coaches, wished Bobby would quit the team, but he never would.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, the day before the big homecoming game, and Bobby was once again waddling around the track in his dirty uniform doing his laps when a messenger ran out of the school office to hand the coach a piece of paper.  After reading the note, the coach blew his whistle and motioned for Bobby to come over.  "Bobby", the coach said.  "I have some bad news. Your father has had a heart attack and has been taken to the hospital.  You better go see him."

Bobby darted off the field, changed his clothes, then ran to the hospital.  Later that night, word was received that Bobby's father had passed away.  The next morning Bobby did not come to school; however, that evening about halfway through the first quarter of the big homecoming game, Bobby waddled out onto the field.

"Coach," Bobby asked,  "Can I play tonight?"  
Looking at Bobby in his dirty uniform the coach said, "No Bobby, you should be home with your family."
"Please  Coach.  I'd really like to play," Bobby repeated.  
The coach knew Bobby was a senior and this would probably be the last game he would ever play, but because this was the homecoming game with a rival school and the bleachers were packed with alumni, the coach said, "Maybe later, Bobby."

As the game progressed, it turned into a disaster for Bobby's team.  Though the other team had scored 21 points in the first half, Bobby's team was still at zero.  Following half-time, Bobby ran up to the coach and begged him to play.  
Again the coach replied, "Maybe later."  When the 4th quarter arrived, the opposing team made another touchdown making the score now 28 to 0.  There were only minutes to play.

Bobby, watching the clock, got up and ran over to the coach and asked, "Coach, can I please play?"  Realizing that nothing was going to change the outcome of the game at this point, the coach agreed and let Bobby go in.  Within minutes of being on the field, Bobby intercepted two passes and then tackled several opposing team players.  With only seconds to go, Bobby blocked and tackled so effectively his team was able to score its one and only touchdown.

Even though Bobby's team lost 28-7, it was obvious to all that Bobby was the most valuable player and, as a token of  appreciation, the team gave Bobby the game ball.  After most of the players had left the field, the coach walked over to Bobby and said, "Bobby you really surprised us tonight.  Why didn't you ever play like this before?" the coach asked.

With his head down, Bobby replied, "Coach, to tell you the truth, I never wanted to play football.  It was my Mom and Dad who wanted me to play." 
Puzzled, the coach said, "Bobby, I don't ever remember seeing your parents at any of our games."  
Bobby said "I know, Coach.  My Mom couldn't.  She died when I was 8."

"Well, what about your father?" the coach asked.  "If he wanted you to play, why didn't he ever come to any of the games to watch you play?"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why This Puppy

It was Johnny's birthday.  He was eight years old.  His parents promised he could get a puppy when he was eight, so right after breakfast, they hopped in the car and drove to Grandma's house to get his puppy.

Grandma lived several miles away in a much bigger city.  Shortly after arriving at Grandma's house, Johnny's mother asked, "Johnny, would you like to walk to the pet store to look at the puppies?
Johnny proudly walked on his own down to Main Street where the pet store was located.  As he approached the store, he could see several puppies bobbing up and down in the big store window.  As he entered the store, four puppies huddled together in the display area began to jump up and down when Johnny came near.

Johnny introduced himself to the store owners and explained why he was there.  He asked if it would be alright to hold some of the puppies; they agreed.  While playing with the four puppies, he noticed a fifth puppy all alone curled up in the far corner and asked the owners if that puppy was from the same litter?

The lady responded he was but that he was not for sale. "How come?" Johnny  asked. 
"That puppy was born with a bad hip socket," she said, "and one of his back legs doesn't work very well."
"Wow," Johnny said, "What will you do with him?"  
"Well, tomorrow my husband will take him to the vet and have him put to sleep."

Johnny asked if he could hold that fifth puppy and the lady  nodded yes.  Instantly, the puppy responded to Johnny's touch with several big licks and they immediately became friends.  "This is the puppy for me.  This is the puppy I want to buy," Johnny said. 
The pet store owners reminded Johnny that the puppy was not for sale; however, Johnny insisted that this was the puppy he wanted to buy. 

Johnny turned to walk out the door and he said, "I'll go home  and get my money and be right back." 
The wife said, "I don't understand.  Why do you want this puppy when you could get one that is perfect and won't cause you any trouble?"

Without saying a word, Johnny lifted his left trouser leg and exposed a large chrome brace circling his leg and running up the entire length of his leg.  The owners looked at each other in silence.  Finally the husband spoke, "Son you don't need to go get any money.  We would like you to have that puppy."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Obituary That Changed The World

Just over a 100 years ago, a successful chemist was reading the obituaries listed in a French newspaper.  He had learned that his brother, Ludvig, died while visiting France and wanted to read what the French newspaper was saying about his brother.  Much to his surprise, he was shocked to see his name, not his brother's name, listed in the obituary.  The French reporter had gotten it wrong and the newspaper reported his death instead of his younger brother’s.

Upon seeing his name, his first response was shock and disbelief; however, once he regained his composure, his thoughts became somber and he wanted to see what the people of France were reading about him.  The obituary read: "Merchant of Death Passes Away - The man who killed more people in the world than anyone else is now dead."

"Is this how I will be remembered?" he asked himself.  Once he got his emotions under control, he decided this was not the way he wanted to be remembered, so in 1895, he had his last will and testament rewritten.   He made it clear that the bulk of his great fortune (approximately $250 million in today's dollars) was to be placed in a special foundation and from that day forward, he started working toward world peace.

He established five awards he wanted bestowed annually. The five categories of the awards he created were for eminence in the fields of Physical Science, Chemistry, Medical Science or Physiology, Literary Works, and the last award - to the person who best promoted the cause of International Fraternity.

His name, which you probably have already guessed, was Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist and the creator of the Nobel Prize.  

But what impressed me was not the awards Nobel created, but how Alfred generated his huge fortune.

Nobel discovered that if he mixed nitroglycerin with an inert absorbent substance it became less volatile.  This discovery made nitroglycerin safe and convenient for the average man to handle.  He patented his new mixture in 1867.   He planned to call his invention "Nobel's Safety Powder".   However, his financial backers pressured him to change the name.  They wanted it called "Dynamite", the Greek word for power.
Alfred then went on to experiment with other volatile compounds to create other new explosives.   His second invention was a transparent, jelly-like substance, which was even more powerful than dynamite and was called "Blastin".   Blastin was patented in 1876 and marketed as "Gelignite".   Gelignite, like dynamite, was very stable and easily transportable.  However, instead of being packed in sticks, it could be conveniently formed into almost any shape, such as to fit into the long narrow holes bored in mine shafts.

Finally, as an off-shoot of his research with Blastin, he created a third invention - Ballistite.  Ballistite, the precursor of modern day "smokeless powder explosives", was ideally suited for high-powered {bullet} cartridges and rocket propellants.
So the question we need to ask is, how should Alfred Nobel be remembered?  As the "Merchant of Death" or was he a harbinger of world peace?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thanks for Your Assistance

One night around 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway
trying to endure a lashing rain storm.  Her car had broken down and she was desperately seeking a ride.

Soaking wet, she tried flagging down one passing car after another.  Finally a car stopped and a young white driver offered to help, which was generally unheard of back in those conflict-filled days of the mid-1960's.

The young man drove her several miles to an all night diner and made arrangements to have her car towed.  He bought her a cup of coffee, then personally called her a taxi and waited for it to arrive.  Finally, he assisted her into the taxi when it arrived.

Though the woman was obviously in a big hurry to get going, she stopped briefly to ask the man for his name and address, which she wrote down before finally allowing the cab to leave.  Once in the cab, she thanked him one more time.

Several days later, a knock came at the man's door.  To his surprise, a delivery service brought in a giant console color TV.  An envelope with a card inside was taped to the television console.  The handwritten note read: 

"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night.  The rain had drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits.  Then you came along.  Because of you, I was able to make it to the hospital and be at my husband's bedside before he passed awayGod bless you for helping me with all you did and unselfishly serving others."


Mrs. Nat King Cole