deception pass Washington

Category: Social Responsbility Page 1 of 3

The Importance of Teamwork

Sometimes we are tempted to go it alone – to do everything ourselves. We believe that we can do it all and have only ourselves to hold accountable. But in most endeavors we will stretch ourselves thin and burn out if we try that. There are only so many hours in a day, so much energy and brainpower we have with which to tackle most tasks. We need to let lose of the reins of power and share the load.

As someone once said in a planning meeting, teamwork makes the dream work. You have heard the phrase two heads are better than one. Well, multiple people applying their energy and brainpower to a task will make it go both faster and smoother. We need feedback and brainstorming to avoid pitfalls and blunders. We get energized when collaborating. And when there are more people sharing the load if one person falls another can pick up the slack.

The above picture is from my home club Edmonds Toastmasters where we were setting up our hybrid meeting. There is a lot to do and on this day there were 4 of us sharing the load (I was taking the picture). We all had ideas to put into the mix and created a set up that worked both for those attending in person and those connecting via Zoom.

I have had times when I created a team and then got burned out when it dwindled to just me. So I always work to recruit a sizable team whether it is a small project – like an open house – or large – division level speech contest. I have also found that people like being asked to help out and you can help someone learn new things by challenging them to be part of a team.

It does take leadership to direct a team so that the project gets done efficiently and doesn’t descend into chaos. But that will teach you leadership skills and give you confidence in inspiring others.

The Subtle Privilege

As a straight male WASP (white Anglo-Saxon protestant) in America, I am well aware of my privileged status. I take no pride or shame in the fact of those characteristics which I have through no effort of my own. Nor the fact that not only were my sisters and I able to go to college but that both my parents and both sets of grandparents also were able to attend college (some for less time than others). Nor of the fact that I grew up in a nice house on an acre of land in the suburbs/countryside near Portland.

I do realize however that those factors gave (and give) me advantages over many, many others who did not benefit from factors outside their control. I had a coworker in my lumberyard days who while very well spoken had only one year of formal schooling before he had to drop out and help support the family – born in Mexico. We also had dirt-poor neighbors when we moved to Arizona where the father, who was a skilled and ethical mechanic, never had the opportunity to learn to read or write.

I never will be profiled due to race, language, ethnicity, etc. And I never had to deal with the barriers that my sisters or mom or my wife faced based on gender. But I have family members who face those kinds of discrimination and I realize that I have a responsibility to join in the fight against all kinds of discrimination even if it doesn’t directly affect me.

Aside from the obvious signs of privilege that are clear to see (but often dismissed or overlooked), there are subtle signs of privilege. I have realized recently that even being an early bird is an aspect of privilege. How does that work, I hear people ask? Aren’t you one of those annoying early risers who don’t have the good sense to sleep in and let others be?

Yes, I have learned to modify my behavior at early hours and quietly go about my business. But I realize how much of even self-help advice, not to mention managers, is tilted in favor of early birds. My wife who is a night owl had to contend with companies where management assumed you were at work at 8 am at the latest or were considered unreliable. And this latest self-help book I am reading assumes that getting those first-of-the-day priority work is done by noon. I really wish there were books about prioritizing work that were written for the night owls.

I get up early not because I have to, but because I want to. It is the most energized time of the day for me. I also get up early on the weekends (a good way to tell if someone is really an early bird, night owls will sleep in). It is how I am wired, just like I am an introvert, wired that way. There is no right or wrong way, but unfortunately, most business and advice is tilted to early.

Another subtle privilege is health and the absence of negative situations. This book that I am reading, while making good points, tends to minimize outside influences and emphasize personal responsibility. It is true that we need to take responsibility for our own actions. But we don’t live in the same environment or have the same challenges. My sisters and I were privileged to grow up in a loving home where our dad worked, my mom was able to stay home and raise us kids, and we had the benefit of both parents – who were married for over 36 years until my mom passed away. Many other people I know (including my wife) dealt with situations of divorced parents or abusive homes which affected and affects their lives to this day.

And health is another privilege. I have never had any serious health issues, but I had a childhood friend who died from cystic fibrosis, another who died at 17 from heart issues and knew another classmate in 5th grade who had hemophilia. We don’t know how privileged we are until we dig deep.

And the issue with the self-help advice, like a certain political party’s philosophy, to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or “take personal responsibility” is the subtle dismissal of the reality of victims and real victimization. Yes, we should not allow ourselves to be victims – at least as far as we can help it. But sometimes it is harder to fight against the victimizers. And to minimize the reality of victims is to withhold help for those who need help in the fight.

So I urge you to be aware of the subtleties of privilege, be grateful and take advantage of that privilege, and reach out to help those who don’t have that benefit. To whom much is given, much is required.

Little Things You Can Do

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the problems of the world. We don’t see how we can make a difference. But it is often the little things that we do that add up to be big things especially if we team up with others doing their little things.

Picking up litter is one of those little things. How often have we seen litter on the ground and just walked on? We don’t want to get our hands dirty picking up other people’s trash. We often are out walking and have nothing to put it in our there is no trash receptacle nearby. I have started to see more of those trash cans on my walks, but still, you’re having to pick up dirty stuff.

Why not prepare ahead of time and maybe bring gloves and a bag – or better yet one of those picking-up tools – not sure the name but you have seen them. ? Maybe for one of your walks be on the lookout for trash that you can remove from the grass or trail? Dog walkers have to prepare ahead of time, don’t they?

Another idea is going to a group that is doing a regular street cleanup. How can you find one? Groups can adopt a section of road and schedule a regular clean-up time. They can even get trash bags and visibility vests from local governments to help. And then they will post a sign on the section of road they are working. Below you will see 4 signs just around my immediate neighborhood in Mukilteo from groups.

There is an HOA doing it:

There is a neighborhood watch group:

The local Islamic Center has adopted a stretch of road:

And one of our local Toastmasters clubs had adopted as well:

This is four groups, just in a small area of Mukilteo. This is a great help in cleaning up litter in our area and keeping it beautiful. There is power in people gathering together in a common purpose. Years ago our Pacific Northwest John Denver group collaborated in working a stretch of I-5 north of Everett in tribute to him – living out the values he sang about so beautifully.

Don’t despair, there are little things you can do that collectively add up to a great effort. Think about groups you are in who might be open to this. You can make a difference.

Signs of Progress

Does litter bother you? When you see it in parks, especially when there are plenty of trash cans around? Does it seem like people would rather toss their trash out the window as they drive down the road rather than wait till they find a trash can? Do you shrug it off as – they have road cleanup crews for that, why bother?

I recall as a teenager when my parents and I moved to the Phoenix area and I could see the great difference attitude makes. I grew up in Oregon, which was heavily invested in recycling, especially bottles. When i got to Phoenix I was appalled at the lack of concern. It was personal because when I rode my bike on the streets the stretches of broken glass were a really up close hazard to me and my tires.

Fortunately many people have gotten personally involved in cleanup thorough adopting a street to regularly do trash pickups. Our local John Denver group did a 2-mile stretch up north for a while. One of the local Toastmasters clubs does it near where I live. And there is an Islamic Center that has adopted another stretch of road.

It isn’t hard to pick up. Yes, you should be careful, both about where you are and also use gloves or some kind of pickup tool. You should plan what type of bag or container you will use for collecting and where you will be dumping it. But every little bit helps and it doesn’t cost much in terms of time and effort. That along with recycling, composting, and just buying less stuff will go a long way to reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills eventually. This is another of those ‘little things’ you can do.

Giving Back to the Community

Have you ever seen the chaos and trouble in our world and felt like what do I have to give, what can I do? Have you felt that change only comes from big action and you don’t see yourself capable of that? It reminds me of a story where a man saw a boy tossing stranded starfish into the ocean. He told the boy “why are you doing that? It won’t make a difference to all these starfish – there are too many”. The boy replied as he was carrying another starfish to the water “It does to this one.

Remember that there are plenty of little actions we can do, that if we all do them, will make a huge difference in our world. I want to share with you this week some of those small actions that I have done and encourage you to do as well.

The first one today is donating blood. You don’t like needles? Neither do I. I look away when the needle goes in. You worry that you might faint or be dizzy after donating blood or get sick. I’m not saying that those things might not occasionally happen, though they have never happened to me in all the years I have been a blood donor. But there are several things you can do to mitigate the possibility of this happening.

Drink plenty of water, not just on the day of donation, but during the week before. It is something that we all need to do – hydration is beneficial to general health. Eat a good meal before and a good meal after giving blood so that your body is in good condition. Eating a good meal after helps your body build back better. Donors are encouraged to spend 10-15 minutes resting and having some juice and snacks after donation.

You might think you have some condition that would make you ineligible to donate, but you need to read up and make sure. There are some things, like a tattoo or body piercing, where you will have to wait a few months after to donate. There are some health issues that don’t result in waiting. I thought after I started taking medication for high blood pressure that I couldn’t donate, but after reading the guidelines I learned that I was mistaken. The same is true of diabetes.

You might wonder, why should I donate? For one thing, there is a high need for whole blood donations for surgery, auto accidents, and treatment of certain health conditions – like sickle cell anemia. There is a need for platelet donations and plasma, to treat other health conditions and situations. Your body can replace the donated blood over time and certain intervals are given for blood donation – like 8 weeks for whole blood for instance. I donate because there is a great need and I believe it is something I can do. I am in great health, as my dad was, and I am a blood donor like him.

If you try it and it doesn’t work for you- you feel nervous, get sick, etc, then at least you have tried. There may be another small action that is more suited to you. I don’t believe that blood donation is for everyone. I just believe that there are small actions we all can take to give back to our community and all of us together in our small ways can make a big difference in our world.

For more information on blood donation if you are in the Pacific Northwest you can contact Bloodworks Northwest and if you live elsewhere you can google blood donation or contact the American Red Cross. Tune in tomorrow for another small action.

Ignite Connections

Leadership is all about making connections and making connections work. Connecting followers to each other to work in teams and connecting them to the best ideas so that together they can accomplish great things. To make progress they must disconnect from the failed ideas of the past and make new connections that will work for the future. They must always be looking forward, like a chess master thinking several moves ahead.

In order to do that, there are three important types of connections to be made. The first is to make personal connections to new endeavors, constantly challenging themselves, and stretching beyond their perceived boundaries. They need to grow so that they can help their followers grow. It’s the old tradition of the general leading his troops into battle. Never send someone else to do what you are not willing to do yourself.

Secondly, they must be willing to expand their sphere of acquaintances and friends. New people can challenge our thinking and encourage us to expand our range. Traveling to new places, trying new experiences, and meeting new people that may be very different from us.

And thirdly a leader must make new brain connections. It is said that challenging ourselves with new ideas and habits can help our brains develop new synaptic pathways. Here is a recent article that talks about ways to make those new connections: 10 Proven Ways To Grow Your Brain: Neurogenesis And Neuroplasticity | HuffPost Life

Leaders can’t be static or the work will not progress. Exploration and experimentation will lead to better expression and both leaders and followers will grow as a result. Eight years ago I joined Edmonds Toastmasters and it has helped me tremendously Edmonds Toastmaster Facebook

Finding Your Voice

What works for you? What resonates? Once you have determined to be proactive and not reactive, to be a voice and not just an echo, and you have found your Why? what do you do with it? How will you express your passions? What method will you use to voice that desire to change the world?

There are many ways to make an impact. Doctors Without Borders reach the world through medicine. Legal Aid Societies impact the world, and it’s underserved and disadvantaged communities through pro bono legal services. Chef Andre cooks in places of disaster and refugee camps. What would this world be without the impact of sculptures, painters, classical musicians of the past whose art we enjoy over a century or two or more since they lived and worked.

There are many ways to influence the world. It is up to you to examine yourself and your gifts and find a way that works for you. No gift is too small, no effort insignificant. The combined actions of many can achieve much. If you are unsure and perhaps shy find a group of like-minded individuals that you can collaborate with to build confidence and strength.

My voice right now is through writing and speaking. I will talk about that more in the next post, but enough here to say that i have found a group of people to collaborate with and learn from and it has helped me greatly over the past eight years in finding my voice. Don’t let anything stop you from finding that and giving voice to your particular way to enrich the world and folks around you. As a friend recently told me “just start and persist”.

Hybrid – the gift of covid

Years ago I read a book called “A Whack on the Side of the Head” by Roger von Oech. It was designed to get people thinking more creatively by challenging conventional thinking and often way out exercises. He followed it up several years later with another book “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants”, which I also read. His point was that we often get stuck in ruts and need forceful action to resume productive thought. Creative Think

I think the pandemic has been such a force. First of all, it forced us to confront doing things remotely. Many companies resisted until they were forced to change their procedures and working arrangements for health reasons. Many found that the remote processing worked. And then, as the pandemic is receding they were confronted with another dilemma. When and how do we return to in-person work, and should we?

This has led to the rise of hybrid working conditions, where either people alternate between working at home and working in the office. Or the workforce at a company is split – some working remotely and some working in the office. This has also happened in non-profits organizations such as Toastmasters, where meetings can be conducted in a hybrid manner. Some members meet in person and some connect remotely. hybrid harmony – Search (

The challenges involved include extra equipment and setups to enhance the audio and visual connections between the two groups. Making it so that everyone feels a part of the whole is a challenge, both technically and socially. There have been clubs that had been doing that before the pandemic but not many and the future holds both promise and challenge.

In a similar fashion, companies are coming to terms with the hybrid. Many companies have had employees working from home for years. In my industry, health insurance, most of the claims processors worked from home. Provider reps spent most of their time out in the field visiting doctors and hospitals and were rarely in the office. Especially with the advent of imaging, there was no need to physically be in the office. Even meetings can easily be done by phone or videoconferencing.The Rise of the Hybrid Workplace – Tango (

But there has always been resistance, either from a desire to micromanage (lack of trust in employees), or lack of imagination (seeing how it could work),. Or just reliance on the “tried and true” methods and fear of change. But when covid hit many places were forced to change, at least temporarily. It remains to be seen how long the changes will last. Will companies see the fading of the pandemic as an excuse to rush back to the office and resume operations as before? Only time will tell. What do you think and how has the covid and hybrid setup affected you? Inquiring minds are eager to hear.

On the Lookout for Hugs

Hugs. We all miss them. It has been said that they are the thing that most people have missed during the pandemic. And what we most look forward to doing post-pandemic. With family and friends, there is no greater gesture of connection. I wasn’t always a hugger, being very shy, but I had good friends in my college days who did it so naturally that I learned to appreciate and crave it.

During the pandemic, my wife and I were fortunate to have each other close and so we were not deprived of this comfort. I feel sad for those, especially singles, who did not have someone close by to hug. We couldn’t get together with family so that we did miss, but at least we had each other.

Hugs are the cement of friendship and also a strong statement of support when dealing with someone in grief. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. I think a hug is worth more, especially when you don’t have the words to say. People think they must share some comfort and are distressed when they can’t find the words to say. For someone in grief often no words are needed, except to say ‘i’m sorry, I care, I’m here.’ And being there includes a hug if the griever is comfortable with it. Nothing says I care more than a hug.

There are a lot of people who survived the pandemic but who had loved ones who didn’t. They will need those hugs. And don’t forget the lonely ones who had a hard time being isolated. Let’s be on the lookout for hugs needed.

Promote and Applaud Safe Spaces

Do you feel safe? Do you feel you can be yourself without fear of being judged for your appearance, your voice, all that makes up being you? There are many who do not. For many of us, we don’t have to fear being profiled. I am a male, straight WASP and in today’s society, I will never be profiled —- looked at as being out of the norm and suspicious or a danger to anyone. There will not be any laws that will attempt to restrict my freedoms. White, Anglo- Saxon Protestant, for those unfamiliar with the term. My ancestry dates back to the Mayflower, though no credit or special recognition is due me, since I had nothing to do with it.

But there are many, including members of my own family who do not have the same privileges and safety. Just on voting rights alone if the criteria at the time of the adoption of the Constitution were applied, none of the 30+ members of my family would be eligible for one reason or another.

I know plenty of friends and family members who don’t enjoy the same safety in society, due to differences that others would judge them for. Be it race, gender identity, ethnic background, etc, they are judged less than or seen as suspicious. I am incensed that this happens because to me they are family. And I am incensed that this discrimination is rampant in society because it is wrong. I am committed to personally being a safe space builder because everyone is entitled to equal treatment—not just under the law, but under common decency and common humanity.

And I want to highlight and applaud those even in the corporate world who recognize and support the building of safe spaces. We should all promote and applaud safe spaces. There is no place for discrimination and hatred in this world.

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