Last week, in weather that was over 70 degrees, a sign warning about ice caught my attention. Don't you think my photo of the sign makes a fitting poster to welcome the new spring? Enjoy the coming season!
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Colorado Jazz Workshop's Monday Combo and Saturday Afternoon Combo are starting the celebration early, on March 26, at Dazzle in Denver. 7:00 PM. Are you going to join them?
March 26 is also the birthday of Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek's Spock). Isn't that auspicious? Spock and jazz! A fine fusion. A cool connection. A nice nexus.
Some of us set goals or make choices based on what we don't want to happen, what we want to move away from; others of us are moved by what we want to attain, or move towards. In any given situation, some people are away-from aroused while others are towards propelled. This away from (prevention)/towards (promotion) preference is called regulatory focus; I have blogged about it before.
While doing some research on zombies and other kinds of monsters, I kept thinking of regulatory focus. If we learn from stories (see my last post which is about whether stories teach), then perhaps our regulatory focus would give a clue as to what kinds of stories are most edifying for each of us. Which stories are most influential are likely not one-size-fits all since we are not monolithic. The type of story that will motivate is probably situational, too: Brian may be motivated by a story about how he doesn't want his life to turn out when looking at finances, but by the story of someone who got it right in the arena of health.
Approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focused seek to find out what has worked in the past and move towards the future with those successes or assets in mind. Their stories don't invite or include monsters from the past. These methods seems to be towards/promotion focused and the stories are, too. The approaches are growing in popularity and who would argue with their spotlight on the positive?
In a significant sense, monsters are a part of our attempt to envision the good life or at least the secure life. Our ethical convictions do not spring fully grown from our heads but must be developed in the context of real and imagined challenges. In order to discover our values, we have to face trials and tribulation, and monsters help us imaginatively rehearse. Imagining how we will face an unstoppable, powerful, and inhuman threat is an illuminating exercise in hypothetical reasoning and hypothetical feeling.
When we seek to teach through narrative or story, should we include a mix of tales? Both of monsters or mistakes and of pioneers or progress? Look at what could go or has gone wrong, along with what can or has gone right? What do you think?
How much can reading or hearing stories about strangers or fictional characters help us learn to make wiser decisions in our own lives? That's a question I've had for many years. How many case studies or scenarios have been presented in classes and seminars I've taken in the past decades? Since I learned to read, how many fiction books have I finished in which characters have overcome challenges? Way too many to count. Have these stories helped me to improve skills, make better decisions, prevail over difficulties?
I don't know. With any certainty, all I can say is many have been entertaining and have provoked some good discussions, even some rousing disagreements. Because I am unsure as to any other benefits, I was particularly intrigued by something I just read in Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions. The authors are questioning the value of thought experiments with which many of us are familiar. They write:
...The history of ethics has become famous for what has been called 'trolleyology' (the ethical dilemma of what to do if a trolley is out of control and about to kill five people), where 'stylised scenarios' of a prepared ethical problem are presented and discussed. [Click for versions of the trolley problem.] Then more formal name given to this approach is 'quandary ethics' which typifies how we try to resolve and make decisions about situations from the lives of others , or situations thought up beforehand. ...
While this approach helps to sensitise people to ethical issues and to play with possible resolutions, the concern is that we can begin to see ethics as simply resolving a problem. From this place, problems are 'out-there' issues about which we can be dispassionate and rational. We are 'outside the problem' ... . The people involved are not known to us, do not have a relationship with us, and so we have to deal with what Appiah calls the 'umpire fantasy'—that we are searching for a judge
Three conflict resolution programs on May 2 and 3. Will you be joining us at these events sponsored by the ADR Section of the Maryland Bar Association?
And what does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with mediation?
Poe is acknowledged by many as the genius who invented the detective story and inspired the genre of science fiction. Over 150 years after his death, we can still learn much from the imagination of this author and poet.
A skilled mediator is a supreme detective. The foremost, primary, and threshold mystery to solve: What method of mediation is best suited to the individual conflict professional, the parties, and the conflict. We will use an assessment approach to facilitate that first solution.
The clues a mediator must be able to read with precision involve self-awareness and self-knowledge, discovery of purpose, theory of mind (or discovering what's in the minds of other people), and razor focus on solutions, not problems. We will take our magnifying glasses to those topics and sharpen those skills.
(Click on any of the photos in this post to see a larger version.)
My leprechauns from Ireland were out playing today, of course. Above is a photo I snapped of them with my animal fetishes from New Mexico.
I hope you are having a good Saint Patrick's Day, and enjoying yourself as much as the leprechauns are enjoying themselves! More photos of their fun below . . . When they jumped on his nose, my cherished pig (a gift from my dad) was not having much fun.
The fetishes on their own, roaming free . . .
Note: I am still learning how to make adjustments from the iPhone to apps to my blog so I don't lose color, sharpness, centering, focus, and more when I move the photos from one place to another. Have patience, please.
While meditation can facilitate mindfulness, it sure doesn't always, and mindful people are not always those who meditate. That's why I have long appreciated the work of Dr. Ellen Langer who looks at mindfulness without meditation. She writes:
Mindfulness as we study it, however, is achieved without meditation. It is the simple process of noticing new things. When we notice new things about people or ideas that we think we know, we come to see that we didn't know them as well as we thought we did, and they become interesting again in the present. Everything is always changing and looks different from different perspectives. Since uncertainty is the rule, when we think we know, our mindlessness is in charge.
A very practical, everyday, approachable definition of mindfulness: noticing what is new.
Since I have become an iPhoneographer, I have been, using this definition, more mindful. Everyday I watch the sky, shadows, light, people, colors, plants, and much more to see what has changed. The shifts that occur throughout the day, each hour, even each minute, are seen by me, and I marvel.
I take photos, too. Some people think I take too many photos. When I asked someone if he wanted to see my shots of the mailman's footprints in the snow, he said, "You've lost your mind." I just smiled and said, "Nope, not at all."
What's new in your world today? Seen the mail carrier? Any prints left behind?
Because I will be giving the keynote address at the event, I am very happy that I will be present to see Rachel Wohl receive this award! (I met Rachel and spent some time with her in 2010, when she and I were at Berkeley Law for the Mindful Lawyer Conference.) Congratulations to her for recognition well-deserved.
The email announcing the award came from David Simison, chair of the ADR Section of the Maryland State Bar. He wrote:
Subject: Chief Judge Robert M. Bell Award to be presented to Rachel Wohl Date: March 13, 2013 5:23:25 PM EDT
I am pleased to announce that this year's Chief Judge Robert M. Bell Award will be presented to Rachel Wohl, Esq., Executive Director of the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office in recognition of her substantial and significant contributions and efforts advancing ADR in Maryland.
Please join us at our Spring Dinner on May 2, 2013 at 6:30 during which the Award will be given. This event, at which Stephanie West Allen will be our Keynote Speaker, is the culmination of Ms. Allen’s day-long self-awareness training sponsored by the ADR Section: Lessons from Poe ~ Detecting the Inner Mediator.
Register before April 1 for discounted pricing.
To register for the Dinner, the Training, or both, go to or click:
I then sent them this excerpt to entice them to read the whole book:
While moral immaturity will hamper decision making, we explore in Chapter 2 the reality that many good people have lapses in judgement. In fact, it is more often the highly skilled and experienced people who transgress most seriously. How can this happen? The focus of our attention here is not 'those other people', but rather the opportunity for us to examine ourselves through learning about the pathways to ethical disengagement. How could I fail myself and others? How could my own moral compass go awry?
I have not finished the book but I have a feeling I will be blogging about it again, so impressed I am with the contribution it can make to this modern and complicated world. As I flip the pages to see what I have in store, I am particularly looking forward to reading about the Six Components of Ethical Maturity (and seeing how the authors believe mindfulness fits in as a part of this maturity). The Components:
Creating ethical sensitivity and mindfulness
Ethical decision making
Implementing ethical decisions
Ethical accountability and moral defence
Ethical sustainability and peace
Learning from experience
After you read Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions, I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts about the book, and any ideas it provoked. Here at idealawg, I will do the same.
People, as individuals and as members of families, do not handle wealth in ways monolithic. In this blog post, Matthew Wesley describes three types of wealth behaviors and attitudes: The Silver Dagger, The Silver Spoon, and The Silver Ladder. I was happy that he wrote
In recounting this typology, it is important to remember that life is never as simple as a typology would have you believe. There most often are elements of all types in every particular situation. That said, a typology can be a useful tool to simplify complexity.
If you work with moneyed clients, I recommend this post. And remember Matt's caveat.