"Don't be bold..."

I was with some long time friends and telling a colourful story when someone happened to infer what I was talking about was "bold". To that someone else offered up a detail from my past that I had forgotten, "Remember when your mom used to say, 'Graham don't be bold'".


It brought a laugh to be sure, and for a moment an adult's reflection on his youth — an adult interpretation of a child's interpretation of something said so long ago.

bold [bōld] ADJECTIVE: (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

I could not help but wonder how being told not to be "confident and courageous" had impacted me — a request to squash these virtuous qualities must have had some sort of impact. Why would a parent tell a child not to put these tools in his tool bag? What was my mother thinking? As I considered the shackles that had been thrust upon me so long ago I came across this:

Ná bí dána! 

It's Gaelic for "Don't be bold/naughty!"

naugh·ty [ˈnôdē] ADJECTIVE: (especially of children) disobedient; badly behaved.

It now seemed to make much more sense now because of my mother's Scottish roots and, as an adult, I could easily interpret some of my childhood actions as "naughty" — my loving mother's virtue was still very much intact. Ultimately this short trip down memory lane offered a glimpse into meaty topics such as the impact of words, the impact of words on children, how communication is precarious at the best of times, and how it's better to be "bold" rather than "naughty". It also had me consider another word —

reck·less [ˈrekləs] ADJECTIVE: (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.

I suppose it may have been more constructive if my mother had said, "Be bold, try not to be naughty, and definitely don't be reckless". If only I had a time machine.

Rest in peace Mary Margaret Edwards.


Moments — where you are


When you are able to get away from the bright lights of the city you are given the opportunity to look up; it's a glimpse, if you're philosophical, that offers perspective. 

Surrounded by stars, you can't help but self reflect — figuratively or literally, you are drawn into contemplating where you are. Against the backdrop of a universe (that is over thirteen billion years old according to current thinking) there is an insignificance so unfathomable that your capacity to comprehend has to bring you back down to earth.

The concepts of where you've been, where you are, and where you want to go become more within your capacity to understand.

These are the perspectives that offer up a semblance of control, accomplishment, and destiny, and become the framework for the stories you tell yourself (and others). In the presence of the universe it becomes clear, if only for the briefest of moments, that where you are is the most valuable of these perspectives, and it's not about the memories of where you have been or the ambitions of where you want to go. Where you are is the benchmark and foundation for everything — and under the stars you can not hide.

You are never lost when you know where you are, and when you're not lost, you can go anywhere you want.


Pissing in your pants...


To be exact, what he used to say was, "Pissing in your own pants to give yourself a nice warm feeling".

The "he" I refer to was my first boss when I decided to get into the rough and tumble world of marketing — I learned many of my fundamentals from him and I am forever grateful. I hope he is well. The only reason I even thought of this is because I recently heard a saying cut from the same cloth, "Drinking from your own bath water". 

And if I want to round off the triad with pithy sayings there is always, "Living in your own little bubble". 

As trite (and slightly off-putting) as these sayings are, there is a crucial message that offers insight into the consequences of being internally focused, self centered, or operating in a world that is closed off (either by design or circumstances). This is one of those crucial messages to keep top of mind because in the end:

Your pants will get cold and uncomfortable very quickly

That dirty bathwater will make you sick

The bubble will burst (and that's usually complete destruction)

There is a story of a leader who was on top of the world, thought the situation was under control, and all his actions were "spot on"; that was until one day he was candidly briefed on the real situation, what was really going on, and how ineffective his activities really were.  To that he simply said, "Why didn't anyone say something?" 

As an aside, this has reminded me of the book we are reading for our up coming book club entitled Radical Candor by Kim Scott (and that I should crack open the cover and start reading it) — I suspect it will offer further insights into this. In the mean time, I beleive it's always important to ask yourself two questions: 

Am I doing this to make myself feel like I'm accomplishing something or will it tangibly make a difference?

Have I created an environment and a channel for communication to get information whether it is good, bad, or indifferent?

Not always easy but crucial for success, and besides, who wants to be stuck wearing a cold and wet pair of pants — it's uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing.