Browsing "Musings"
Sep 25, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

“When You Are Going Through Hell – Keep On Going!” – Winston Churchill

Courage 5Subtitle: Sometimes ‘Lessons’ do not come easy – but when truly learned always lead to progress.


I was led away in handcuffs. Not on my daily itinerary.

Three years earlier, with my father as the primary investor, I had assumed the position of Managing Director of a company that had purchased the assets and business operations of a large trucking and moving company in the Republic of Panama (R.P.) and former US Canal Zone (CZ).   To do so a new company was set-up under the laws of the R.P.   For this type of company the laws required that the majority of the issued shares be in the name of a Panamanian citizen. The Board of Directors also had to be controlled by Panamanian citizens.

I was named Vice President. A local prominent CPA, initial R.A.T. (really!) was named President and his daughter Secretary. R.A.T. was issued the majority of shares and signed them back to my father and me. This worked for three years, as I was able to expand the business significantly and profitably.

One morning I walked into my office to find two Guardia (Panamanian policemen) and a local abogado (attorney). They informed me that the Board of Directors had voted me out of the Company and that they were taking full control. My vociferations and antics only led me to being handcuffed and roughly whisked away in front of my hundreds of employees.

It turned out that R.A.T., in collusion with his daughter, had issued themselves sufficient new Company shares to assume controlling ownership. My American attorneys promised to undo this action promptly. Promptly never came.

Most of my Company’s business was operating contracts with the US military force residing the Canal Zone. The CZ operated under US laws and had its own US court system. Normally a fraudulent activity like that undertaken by R.A.T. would have been quickly overturned. However, the CZ was in transition as a recent treaty between the R.P. and the US had been signed which would eventually give the CZ to the R.P.   During this transition there were no sitting judges assigned to the CZ. R.A.T.’s planning had been well-timed and executed. The next assigned US Circuit Judge would not rotate-in for another 60 days.

When the Judge arrived he was so snowed under with common legal matters dealing with marriages, divorces, deaths, and adoptions, etc. that my case, buried in the stack, was never advanced. Two more months passed. Different judge – same result.

I became a reluctant househusband. My wife was a teacher for the US Department of Defense schools in the CZ and her salary provided our livelihood.   One unintended consequence became a personal blessing. I spent many hours with my one-year old daughter, Robin Lynn. Also my racquetball game improved.

After many painful months a US judge accepted and heard my case. As the main office of my Company was in the CZ, where US law applied, upon reviewing all of the evidence and Company history, he overturned the issuance of R.A.T.’s new shares and re-instated me to the Company.

I returned the next day, not on a white horse with trumpets blaring, but feeling so. In the intervening six months much damage had been done to the Company’s operations. Service levels had fallen and the Company was at risk of losing its contracts with the US military and contracted international freight forwarders.

The next few months were full of nights and days overseeing services and repairing relationships.   Churchill said it best when he stated. “When you are going through Hell – keep on going.” So I did. Many bruises and lessons learned later, with the full support of my staff and workers, we were able to ‘Re-set’ (see my story of ‘Re-setting’ at Together we re-stored the confidence in our services and began to thrive again.

What were ‘Lessons Learned’?

  1. Legal preventions must be established in business and relationships where invested trust can be misused.
  1. Establish foundations of trust, compassion, and contributions for the well-being of friends and workers. Do this as an expression of your life principles. Often such practice also yields needed sustaining support during times of personal challenge.
  1. Prior to any significant event or enterprise always have a ‘Back-up Plan’ – and Alternative Air Field.

Adversity 9a

Sep 6, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

Stuck in a Box???

Courage - Leap of FaithFeeling “Closed-in”?  No Progress?  
Can’t Escape?

Personal story: Air Force POW/Survival Training

As an U.S. Air Force pilot in the early ‘70’s, I underwent POW/Survival train- ing. The training was to teach skills that would allow you to survive in the wilderness with no food, tools, or companions, using only your wits and the resources available in jungle or forest habitat. The training was very rigorous and demanding.

The training was also designed to prepare you for the extreme duress of being a Prisoner of War (POW).

One process used to simulate the isolation and torture that would likely be ex- perienced as a POW was, after much physical and mental harassment, to lock you into “pitch black” box about the size of a small washing machine. This was extremely uncomfortable and nearly mentally unbearable.

The time spent “in the box”, although usually less than an hour each time, seemed to last forever, kind of like in life, when you are experiencing a rut, depression, or severe problem with no solution in sight.

The box experience was transforming. For some, it was so horrific that they failed the test and did not complete the training. I even heard comments like, “If being a POW is anything like the training, I’ll never let them take me alive!” For others, the box experience was motivational. Motivating from the point of view that even with the nearly unbearable anguish, we could “come through”, complete the test, and move forward.

The box became a symbol of our inner strength and commitment to do what- ever is necessary to survive, to succeed, to care for ourselves, our family, our country. I trust that this was the real intention of the learning exercises.

Many of us who completed the test shared reflections that regardless of the physical and mental suffering we were sustained by knowing that it was a simulation; that the Air Force had just spent a million dollars training us as pilots, and the faith that they were really on our side.

This comforting and sustaining awareness was crucial to survival. And so it is with all of our life experiences. What if you lived your life believing that the Universe is really on your side?

It is my firm belief that we were not given life for no reason. Not yet knowing the reason is not justification for not embracing the nurture of a sustaining Universe. Treading in the comfort of a purposeful and nurturing Universe gives us strength to move through life’s challenges, and it inspires and stimu- lates us to move toward greater insight, wisdom, well-being, and contribution.

The magic of life is that these are different for everyone and we get to play in a world of unlimited diversity, beauty, privilege, and opportunity. And it always starts from where we are— now!

So what box are you in? Where do you want to go armed with the knowledge and faith that the Universe will support?

Remember, even with such support, it’s You in the box and it’s You who must do the doing to move through and toward your challenges and contributions.

So our next questions should be, What do I want to do? and What will I do to get there?

It is my personal belief that the necessary expression of appreciation for the Universe’s support is Action and Service for the benefit of others.

Behind me is infinite power.
  Before me is endless possibility.   Around me is boundless opportunity.   Why should I fear?

– Stella Stuart

Courage 5

Aug 22, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

7 life lessons to learn during difficult times

Pains and UnderstandingsThe truth is, life wouldn’t be worth living if there were no difficult times. Although no one wants to face them, one thing to note is that you’ll always learn more about life from times like this. And it’s either you become stronger or it kills you. But it’s always inspiring to tell a victory story at the end of the day.

Alicia Fanning of All Women Stalk shares some life lessons you should always remember:

  1. Give yourself the gift of gentleness:When you go through something difficult, be gentle with yourself. Comfort yourself the way you would a friend going through the same thing. Sometimes you have to be your own friend and encourage your own heart. That’s more than okay; in fact, it shows that you have strong coping skills. It’s wonderful if you can see that you need to treat yourself with gentleness.
  2. Break the circle of unfairness, unkindness or injustice: When someone treats you unfairly, unkindly or any other way that’s completely wrong, it’s normal to have the urge to treat them the same way. But not giving in to that actually makes you the better person. You’ve got the stronger character. Learn from the way you’ve been treated. Let it be a lesson to not repeat that behavior toward others.
  3. You can learn from watching the lives of others:You can learn so much by watching the actions of others in their life. If you’ve watched someone destroy themselves with an addiction, be vigilant that it doesn’t happen to you. If you’ve stood by as someone drowned in self-pity and bitterness, make the conscious choice to have a grateful heart instead of following in their footsteps. Others can show you exactly who you don’t want to be. Be thankful for that life lesson.
  4. Who has your back and who doesn’t:Trying times will reveal this truth with glaring certainty. I’m so thankful for the love and support my husband gave me during the difficult #time I went through. It’s sad to learn who isn’t in your corner but it definitely strengthens your bonds with those who are. For me, I learned that my husband always has my back. For you, it may be a friend or family member that devotedly stood by you. Whoever it is, be thankful for those that love and support you in troubling circumstances.
  5. To feel your feelings:It’s important to allow yourself to feel your feelings when you’re going through something difficult. Don’t deny or repress them. Feelings aren’t wrong. Allow yourself to be angry, sad or whatever other emotion you have. Processing your feelings is healthy and helps you move on.
  6. Time heals all wounds:It’s true that there are wounds that never completely heal. But they do fade or they heal to the point that it’s only a scar. Time can heal in such #beautiful ways. #Things that are devastating today won’t be as difficult in a few weeks or months. Allow #time to do it’s work on your heart.
  7. You are stronger than you think:Lastly, after you emerge from a difficult time, you’re going to realize that you’re stronger than you knew. You may not see it in the midst of what you’re facing. This’s something you see more in hindsight. But it’s a wonderful thing to #look back and see that you grew as a person through the experience you went through. It can be empowering to see your inner strength!
Aug 16, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

Surviving Grief and Tragedy — The Spark Within (audio)

I wonder what's over there? copy

Here’s the bad news:

Virtue isn’t a golden ticket to a pain-free life. Bad things happen to good people as often as they happen to bad people.

It seems unfair, but in the natural order of the world, suffering is random. To expect otherwise is to sentence oneself to despondency, disillusionment, bitterness, and anger.

Here’s the good news:

The magic power that comes with our humanity isn’t a shield protecting us from misfortune but an inner strength that helps us deal with it, overcome it, and learn from it so we can still find love, laughter, and joy despite it.

At our darkest moments, we can’t see and often don’t believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we think the tunnel is our life. This is when we need to have faith in our inner strength and summon the moral courage to find the spark within that, with just a

puff of hope, will become a flame bright enough to show us the way out.

But what can we do if despair is feeding on the soul of someone we love?

We can’t carry their burdens or make their pain or grief go away, but we can be a friend so they don’t suffer or grieve alone.

Simply by being there – with a shared tear, a kind hug, or an outstretched hand – we can be a living answer to despair’s dark question: “How can I go on?”

In the midst of despair, being reminded that tomorrow is another day provides no comfort because it’s hard to believe tomorrow will be any better. But it will be. Tomorrow is the doorway to the future, and that’s where we’ll live the rest of our lives.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Friends 9 copy

Aug 16, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

An Overpass to Understanding

Leper's handsBangkok, Thailand: Recently for several weeks in the early morning I had been using a pedestrian overpass to cross over a large boulevard. At the far-end, squatting at the entrance to the down staircase, was a blind leper.   He had only nubs for fingers and toes.   The shirtless leper positioned himself there to request alms from the people crossing the overpass on their way to work. He held the palms of his disfigured hands together in the gesture of a respectful ‘wai’.

Each morning before crossing the overpass I would take a 20-baht note (60 cents) from my money-clip in my pants pocket and slip the note into my shirt pocket for easy retrieval.   As I passed the leper I would drop the note into his cup cradled between his bent legs. Too often I would drop my note and hurry past not giving him or myself any sense of connection. Why? Somewhere hidden in a foolish place in my psyche I suspect that there is a fear of being contaminated – not with his leprosy – but his tragic luck.

Walking down the stairs I felt a faint sliver of contentment in having done some small charitable act.

One morning with my readied 20-baht note in-hand I walked the length of the overpass and down the stairs without encountering the leper.   I repeated this exercise several times during the next two weeks and never again saw the man.

Thoughts that he was sick or had died persisted. I wondered who was caring or cared for him. What are the circumstances when a blind beggar with leprosy dies? Is he simply discarded as if resolving an inconvenience? My thoughts included my sense of thankfulness for my own health and of my family members. They also included unanswerable questions about why some are selected for lives of misery and others’ lives of privilege and plenty. No epiphanies occurred – but a resounding confirmation of personal responsibility in acknowledging the privileges and contributing through service to those without.

Giving - Loving copy