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Monday, July 27, 2015

Hephzibah Menuhin

Some people believe that freedom means doing whatever one pleases.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Freedom is about making choices.  And one's choices defines whom one becomes.  People seem to forget that freedom actually means taking responsibility for oneself and others.  Freedom is about choosing which burdens to bear.  Freedom is about choosing one's passions and obsessions.

As creative leaders, we are free to choose how we express our ideas, beliefs and opinions including what paints or metaphors to use.  Our freedom is in the choices we make.  But freedom is not just about our expression, it is also about our obsessions.  What are we focused on?  Where do we spend our time?  What are our passions?  What drives us to share?

Freedom is also about choosing to accept our burdens.  None of us live without pain or challenge.  We all face the darkness that haunts our dreams.  We must choose to accept that which weighs us down, to shoulder our responsibilities, to bear the brunt of our pain.

About Hephzibah Menuhin

Hephizibah Menuhin was born in San Francisco on May 20, 1920 and was descended from a distinguished rabbinical dynasty.  She became a pianist, writer and human rights activist.  She died January 1, 1981.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jack Penn

To be human and to live with other humans is to face challenges and difficulties. We experience disappointments, heartaches, roadblocks, failures and even death. How we choose to respond to the challenges that life hands us is a measure of the type of person we are. Do we pick ourselves up and make something of what has happened or do we remain buried in the rubble wishing to die? 

One of the biggest challenges that we face as writers and artists is selling our work.  Writers send out manuscripts to publishers only to receive rejection slip after rejection slip.  Artists seek galleries to represent and sell their art and often must sell it themselves.  Making a living from creative work has always been a challenge.  Even Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous artists today, sold only one painting in his lifetime and that was to his brother.

Is the blank page or the empty canvas your stumbling block?  Is the lack of time preventing you from creating new work?  What is holding you back and preventing you from moving forward? Do you need to improve your skills? Do you lack commitment? Have you failed to set measurable goals?

As creative leaders, we have been given the gift of creativity which can help us turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones. So get out your chisel and chip away at that stumbling block in your path. Find the opportunity hidden within the stone. Find the hope within the fear.  Grasp the victory from the claws of defeat. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book Review

Hard ChoicesHard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, let me say that prior to reading this book I was not a Hillary Clinton fan.  I supported Obama in the 2008 election.  And I was concerned that this book was just a brochure for her next run for president.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  This book is full of stories of her time as Secretary of State and the people she met.  I was fascinated and intrigued as I read it.  She tells stories of both failures of diplomacy and successes.  She provides insight into many of the key players on the international scene and some historical context to current events.

If you are interested in international politics, you should read this book with an open mind.  While you may not agree with Clinton's conclusions, you will have a better understanding of who Hillary Clinton is and the challenges the United States faces on the world stage.  And, yes, if she obtains the Democratic nomination, I will probably support her.  My only wish is that she would have remained as Secretary of State another four years instead of choosing to run for President.  She could have accomplished so much more.

I also have walked away with the belief that people who run for President should have spent time as Secretary of State.  Presidents have less influence on the internal affairs of the country than they do on the international scene.  Congress has greater control and influence on the American society than any one President.  Congress makes the laws and determines the direction of the country.  Decisions made in Congress are with us for generations.  Presidents can twist arms, but in the end, their influence is short-lived.  Presidents can do more on the world stage than they can at home.  Unfortunately, most candidates for President have very little experience on the international stage and waste much of their time in office learning how the world works.  If Presidents spent time as secretary of state before running for President, they would have a greater opportunity to influence world events.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in international politics or in understanding what makes Hillary Rodham Clinton tick.  I also would recommend that you listen to the audio version of the book.  While Clinton read the opening and closing chapters of the book, she did not read the whole book.  Kathleen Chalfant did an excellent job of reading most of the book. Though, I would have preferred to have Hillary's voice all the way through.

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Book Review

The Cider House RulesThe Cider House Rules by John Irving
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Cider House Rules is another brilliant novel by John Irving, one of American's finest novelists.  I saw the movie based on the novel about 15 years ago.  I remember little of the movie except for Michael Caine who played Dr. Larch.  I liked the movie at the time and will now have to watch it again.  Irving is a phenomenal storyteller who tells his stories in a circular fashion.  Each circle reveals more of the story.  Detail after detail is slowly added to the story.

The story is about abandonment — about orphans and abortions and about unwanted children.  Dr. Larch has spent a lifetime doing what he calls: "God's work."  He delivers unwanted babies, raises them in the orphanage until he can find a home for them.  He also provides abortions to women who are early enough in their pregnancies.  At the heart of the story is Homer Wells for whom Dr. Larch could never find a home.  Larch teaches him how to deliver babies.  Homer ventures out into the world and his life becomes entangled with the lives of Candy and Wally.

This is a novel that everyone should read.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Harley King

Are you on fire?  Are you burning with passion? Are you passionate about life? Some people walk through the world of existence lost in a fog. They have no idea what they want to do with their lives or what they want to accomplish.  They are simply trying to make it through the day so they can spend another night in their dirty beds.

Creative leaders must find their passion to be successful.  When I graduated from college, I wanted to be a writer, but did not know what I wanted to write about.  There was nothing I was passionate about.  Nothing that drove me to put pen to paper and spend hours writing. If you want to be successful, you must burn with passion.

When I began speaking many years later, I did have a passion.  I had a message I wanted to deliver.  I had a desire to make a difference.  I was on fire and I touched the hearts of others. If you put yourself on fire with passion, people will come to watch you burn.  People will be engaged and inspired.  If you are not passionate about what you do, people will not pay attention.

What is your passion?  What drives you to rise before dawn and create? What are you passionate about?  Passion helps you burn through the negativity and hostility that the world heaps upon your creative work.  Passion helps you to keep going even when everyone is telling you to quit.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harley King

The home is one of the most important places in the lives of people from all around the world.  It should be a place of retreat and comfort, a place of hope and rejuvenation, and a place where we rest our head at night and restore our spirit.  Yet, how often do we take our home for granted?  How often do we fail to appreciate what we have?  How often do we look at our neighbors and wish we had their homes?

My seven year old daughter reminds me again and again about how important the home is.  Whenever we talk about moving, she wants to bring our house with us.  For her, the home is a safe and loving place.  

Here are some quotes that talk about the importance of home.

  • "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do . . . but how much love we put into that action."  Mother Teresa
  • "The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home." Confucius
  • "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  Maya Angelou
  • "He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • "The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there."  Ellie Rodriguez

Changing the world begins at home.  I believe we first need to change ourselves before we can change others.  Second, we need to change our home before we can change our village.  What are you doing to make your home a place of peace and love, a place of warmth and conversation, and a place of hope and respect?