"Notes" of An Elder

The actual use of our time, talent, and treasure speaks volumes about what we truly value.

Nothing in life is of any value unless it is shared with others.

"Notes" of An Elder is a depository of pertinent information, knowledge and wisdom. Available weekly will be an elder's "thinking menu" for your use. Enjoy this bounty.


  • Silence is a form of approval.

  • Be more of a leader who is fighting for something, not against something.

  • What’s going on in your head isn’t the same as what’s going on in someone else’s head.

  • Culture describes the shared beliefs, behavioral patterns, and social norms of group members.

  • Knowledge is God’s gift to the mind.

  • “Reappraise the past, re-evaluate where we’ve been, clarify where we are, and predict or anticipate where we are headed.” — Toni Cade Bambara

  • Goal: To become an expert in some aspect of life.

  • The price of winning can be greater than the pain of losing.

  • Intellectually spend time in highly positive environments that will invigorate and feed your optimism.


Languages

  • The language of love and hate

  • The language of truth and happy

  • The language of humor and hope

  • The language of unity and courage

  • The language of profanity and street

  • The language of understanding and optimism


  • When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others build windmills.

  • Some people want you to think with them while others want you to think for them.

  • Always allow a person to be wrong safely and with respect.

  • No one thinks they are the problem, and that’s the problem.

  • To stay relevant and indispensable, you have to consistently upgrade and reinvent yourself.

  • You don’t convince people. People convince themselves.

  • Respect knowledge that is superior to your own.

  • During hard times you may be one of the few bright spots in someone’s life.

  • The actual use of our time, talent, and treasure speaks volumes about what we truly value.


Magic Question

What does justice look like?


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The Lion Within

No one in the jungle buys into perceptions. No one will avoid challenging the lion based on reputation alone.

What are your initial thoughts when you look at the picture above?   

A battered lion returning from a fight. Ferocious and victorious, but weathered. Still dominant, but visibly worn down. King of the jungle, but pushed to the brink. 

What we know without question is that the most feared of all animals had a tough day. Even the king gets into battles and tough fights. Even the king suffers wounds, gets knocked backwards, fights for what he believes in and is forced to prove his dominance time and time again. Even the king is forced to prove his toughness and prove his talents every single day. Each day is life and death for a lion. No matter how tough or how strong, they must demonstrate their superiority.

No one in the jungle buys into perceptions. No one will avoid challenging the lion based on reputation alone. They must prove their toughness with their actions, with their performance. Perception has no place in the jungle. Lions want to prove their dominance, prove that the moniker they wear is real. 

We should examine this picture regularly as a reminder of what lies before us, internally and externally. Our daily challenges are vastly different than those of a lion; yet, we must have the same approach toward being the best in everything we do, or else it could prove costly. We must understand there will be bad days, battles, huge scars, which should NEVER deter us, only make us stronger. We must also understand that perceptions are meaningless — proving yourself each day is what matters most.  No one in any part of life can survive on perceptions alone. The proof lies in our daily work. 

Each day before we start, let’s think of the lion in this picture and know that regardless of what happens, we can still be the king of our own life. 


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Discomfort of Thought

It’s a system of electability over credibility, affirmation over information, the comfort of opinion over the discomfort of thought. 

Seven of the 32 NFL teams are in the process of hiring new coaches, while college football programs have turned over their staffs as well. When a workforce is reduced by one-third every season, it’s an indication of bad hiring processes.   

In June of 1962, President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, gave the commencement address at Yale University, claiming in the beginning that he had “the best of both worlds, a Harvard education, and a Yale degree.” Kennedy urged us in the speech to “disenthrall” ourselves from an inheritance of truisms and stereotypes, to confront reality.

“For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic,” he said. “Too often, we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

What Kennedy was urging the graduates of Yale to do was to not accept something because it’s easy, to not fall in love with affirmation, before information. We all have a tendency to want to affirm something we love before we have all the information. We are quick to rush to judgment before we have all the data, particularly all the reliable data. 

Because the NFL is in the entertainment business, myths can become reality. Instead of hiring the best people for the jobs, those who are electable get the first offers. It’s a system of electability over credibility, affirmation over information, the comfort of opinion over the discomfort of thought. 

For the past 20 years, the system has not changed. Each year, six or seven coaches are fired, and more hired. Then, three years later, the cycle begins again. Until we all take Kennedy’s advice, until decision-makers choose to seek information before affirmation, before they refuse opinions, before they think, this will continue to occur— in the NFL and most other high-level industries. 

Don’t get comfortable with other’s opinions. Instead, fall in love with discomfort in thought.


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Working for a Narcissist

If you cannot quit or find another job, there are some ways to manage the situation effectively. 

We’ve all been fooled by someone we work for — particularly during the recruitment phase. We sign on the dotted line to embark on what appears to be a great career situation and are mesmerized by someone who shows strength, exhibits command and engages us. But after a few weeks, we realize it was all fake; nothing was real, not their compliments, not their kindness. 

Welcome to life working or dealing with a narcissist. 

The hardest part for us is understanding the difference between working for an egomaniac and working for a narcissist. They have some similar traits. Both are absorbed in themselves. Both are selfish, as their self-opinion controls their behaviors. Both have to elevate themselves above others, in their minds and outwardly. But the narcissist has more layers than the egomaniac, more complex behaviors, more shifts in temperament and is more manipulative, making life around him/her impossible. 

It’s easy to be fooled by a narcissist — at least at first, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, the CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems and a business psychology professor at University College London.

“A narcissist comes across as charming, charismatic and confident,” he says. “He/She seems like the kind of person you want to work for—it’s only later that you see the dark side.”

Michael Maccoby, president of The Maccoby Group and author of Strategic Intelligence: Conceptual Tools for Leading Change, adds that narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and require constant admiration. 

So what do we do when faced with this situation? If you cannot quit or find another job, there are some ways to manage the situation effectively. Here are 5 strategies:

  1. Understand Naricissm completely. Google narcissistic personality disorder to deepen your understanding of the person. 

  2. Don’t react. Count to five and understand that a narcissist loves attention of any kind, good or bad. They thrive on being attacked as this gives them the spotlight they crave. 

  3. Don’t pet the tiger. Once you know what you are dealing with, avoid all the pitfalls. The hardest part for anyone is understanding how a narcissist behaves. Once you have that understanding, don’t entice them. Would you ever pet a tiger? Of course not. Why engage a narcissist? 

  4. Stay focused on what is important — remember, there are two types of jobs, one you can grow from and one you can make an impact in. Working for a narcissist will never allow you to make a difference, so make sure you devote time to growth. 

  5. Don’t argue with them. Be calm, state your points and never take things personally as you will learn this is not about you, only about them. 

No matter how bad life can be working for a narcissist, we all can learn from the experience. 


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For Nick Saban, Simple is Better

Saban’s greatest strength is that he does not have complexity bias.

He sat in the first seat of the second bus waiting to head to the airport after every road game, his emotions the same regardless of the result. He would carefully unwrap his mayonnaise to put on his turkey sandwich, meticulous in his preparation, before taking a single bite. Once he finished the sandwich, then-Cleveland Browns Defensive Coordinator Nick Saban would share his commentary with those around him on the game played. He would give an honest, pure, simple explanation of what transpired, good or bad, with amazing accuracy, deep thought and a tremendous level of humility. He made everything seem so easy.

Now, 29 years later, not much has changed for Saban in terms of preparation. But a great deal has changed in terms of success. He’s now a six-time college national champion, one of the winningest coaches in college football and is looking to add one more title to his trophy case tonight when Alabama faces Ohio State for the National Championship. 

“Everybody hears about the process, and really simple terms, it’s about the ability to be excellent in everything you do one day at a time,” Alabama tight end Miller Forristall recently said about Saban. “He attacks all the little things with the same intensity and ferocity that he attacks the big things. He is better at the little things than anybody else…thus, he’s better at the big things.”

Forristall, a redshirt senior from Cartersville, Ga., has seen Saban work for five years, paying close attention to his behavior, methods and uncanny ability to make something complex rather simple. During the run and shoot era in the early 1990s NFL, for example, most teams were worried about the run aspect of the offense, so they aligned six players near the line of scrimmage. Saban aligned just five, reasoning they only block five — why should we waste a player they will never block? A simple answer to a complex problem. Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Adding to the Einstein belief, Andy Beniot claims, “Most geniuses—especially those who lead others—prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities, but exploiting unrecognized simplicities.” 

Saban’s greatest strength is that he does not have complexity bias. He never searches for complex solutions and is instead pragmatic in his approach to large or small problems. They all look the same to him.   

We all can learn from him to never overthink, to not search for the complex solution. Simple is not easy, but it’s often smarter. 

Best of luck to both teams tonight. 


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