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Photo: author’s own

11.10.20

I have arrived again at my yearly day of renewal. For many years, I have written on this day about the meaning I extract from November 10th, the Marine Corps Birthday, and tomorrow, Veterans Day. I feel particularly in need to reflect upon these dates during this year, 2020. My, how much I have learned.

In 1996, after living a twenty-one year life of relative comfort, I enlisted in the US Marines. No major war. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 years in the future, the Gulf War years in the past. My reasons for enlisting then do not matter as much now. Patriotic pride, sense of adventure, a need to prove to myself and others I had grit and tenacity and worth. These desires now appear foggy in the mist of my memory, glazed over by time of work, marriage, raising kids, and getting older. …


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Teaching How to Catch a Crab. Photo by Mason New

The best teachers I knew were entrepreneurs. No, not in the sense of leaving the classroom to start a business and somehow becoming wildly financially successful. Sure, you can find those examples published in all sorts of media. Rather, I mean entrepreneurs in the sense of people obsessed with solving problems, delivering clear and effective communication, and understanding the basis of our entire society: human relationships.

Teaching is damn hard work. It requires long hours, low salaries, constant conflict of one sort or another with all kinds of stakeholders, and dealing with younger people. At the same time, it provides “psychic income” in excess of almost all other professions. …


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Photo by Mason New

In 1992, I voted for the first time in a presidential election. I remember vividly the pride, the responsibility, in fact the joy filling in the circle next to the name of my chosen candidate, a feeling similar to the one the year before when I signed my selective service card registering for the draft. I felt then as I do now that in the United States, warts and all, liberty thrives. Only through voting and service do we protect this sacred right to live free.

Years later, I studied the origins of our system of government found in ancient history, specifically the philosophical and practical elements of Greek democracy and the later Roman Republic. After witnessing the anemic leadership I witnessed in my first two corporate jobs, I committed myself to one day, should I ever become a teacher, offering a course on leadership with a focus on the works of philosophy that might help my students understand responsibility, authority, humility. …


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Photo by Mason New

There has never been a better time to be a start-up.

Amidst this shut-downs, fear, uncertainty of businesses opening their doors, people stuck at home and unemployed, how is this even possible?

Four reasons:

#1. Disruptors and Dinosaurs playing the same game

For many years, disruption and innovation have been hot topics in business, education, and health. I’ve read numerous books that address these topics: how to build organizations and teams to invent new products and services, how to avoid the perils of not changing, and how to effect philosophical change with employees and their leaders to name just a few. In almost every one of these books, however, the authors take an almost theoretical approach. …


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photo by Mason New

Two years ago, our basement flooded three times. Typically, even big, dousing rainstorms cannot cause this problem even once, but this particular year, we had several weeks of rain intermittently in just over two months. The ground didn’t have time to drain away from the house, so, steadily and relentlessly, the water crept through the walls and the floor.

My wife and I placed items up out of the water or moved them elsewhere. We donned muck boots and sloshed the water towards floor drains that didn’t really work. …


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Tree Hill Farm at Dawn. Photo by Mason New

The thing was to do your job as it should be done.

Albert Camus, The Plague

We all now live in a different world. Steadily, over a few weeks, the news has become more severe, more terrifying. What we once thought certain now seems mere mist.

At these times, I turn back to my books, and the other day, I pulled from my shelf Albert Camus’ The Plague. Years ago teaching my elective “Leadership in Literature,” I had featured this book. It tells the fictional story of Dr. …


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Photo by Mason New

Here’s a question for you today:

Do you see the world in which you inhabit as one of scarcity or one of abundance?

Last year, I delivered a pitch to two organizations about a project that would effectively improve the exact same service they delivered to their customers. These mission driven organizations support people in their quest to attain greater professional development and personal satisfaction. …


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Moving Out. Photo by Mason New

Recently, the words emerged from the far recesses of my memory.

Exhausted, we had spent two weeks in the Mojave desert of Southern California training for the war to come. Daily temperatures had broken 110 degrees, and wearing a kevlar vest, flame retardant Nomex coveralls, and sitting next to a 400 horsepower diesel engine, I swear the heat topped 125. I drank 3 gallons of water a day.

We prepared for our final drive home through mostly easy terrain. Once back on base, we’d have quite a lot of work to do, but it would certainly be easier and less dangerous. Cleaning up, performing maintenance, organizing our gear, and then, the manna from heaven, loading up to go home. For the Marine in the field, the thought of home sustains him or her. …


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Picture by Mason New

What do you, dear leader, think makes a good story?

In the past two weeks, I have had the great fortune to experience three in three different media: the musical Hamilton, the movie Ford vs. Ferrari, and the novel The Goldfinch. My purpose here is not to describe or review these works, but to use these examples to discuss “story.”

Cast a net not far in the world of business, and you will ensnare someone talking about storytelling. A quick Google search will yield a million results- instruction, purpose, methods of storytelling- all in service of selling more stuff. …

About

Mason New

Writer, teacher, business owner, US Marine Corps veteran. I help people build great digital learning orgs. www.newviadesign.com

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