Glimpses of History #2: The Origin of Tools, Arts, and Belief

While many animals have learned to manipulate objects such as twigs to release food from inaccessible places, humans are the clearest example of what psychologists call “theory of mind.” People’s instinctive identification of their own and other people’s minds or mental states, including beliefs and thoughts. The ability to attribute mental states to oneself and to other individuals and thereby to be able to predict the behavior of others develops from a very early age in humans.

The Origin of Tools, Arts, and Belief

Early art indicates that this is as old as humanity—depictions of people and events are physical manifestations of mental processes, made to look recognizable to others, and with this came other significant abilities.

Studies of the sociocultural backgrounds of particular art objects, forms, and styles center judiciously upon the art as part of a larger system. In other words, dedicated, anthropologically based study of art is desired, which would try to find data about art and its environments from a number of different societies and pull out all the stops to station such studies in a equivalent conceptual framework.

One is that an individual can imagine what another individual might do; verbal communication can go beyond information and orders into storytelling and attempts to guess another’s reactions: associated regions of the brain developed rapidly in this period (some have suggested that civilization began with the ability to gossip). Another is that composite and abstract notions can be communicated, containing plans for hunts or future projects—things that cannot be seen. A third significance is an awareness that this ability ends when an individual dies: surprisingly early, we find humans buried with personal objects.

Venus of Willendorf

Archaeology as a branch of learning endeavors to reconstruct the origin, prehistory, and history of the human race using objects remains such as relics, settlements, ramparts, burials, and skeletal remains. The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1-centimeter-tall Venus limestone figurine assessed to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. It was unearthed by Josef Szombathy on August 7, 1908 near Willendorf in Austria. It is now housed in the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum,) Vienna. Such figures are acknowledged to have been made as representations of fertility or fecundity, intended to bestow or ensure fruitfulness in some form.

Tagged
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Change Leadership: Many Start but Few Finish Well

Organizational Change Management Strategies

Planning and Execution of Change

Most organizations have a leadership deficit because they ignore leadership potential and do not offer training or relevant role models.

When time is restrained and rewards are high, the most effective leaders count on their ranks to do what they do best. These leaders galvanize people to use their proficiency to solve problems and achieve goals.

Great leaders get others to move in a direction that is sensible for themselves, the business, and community. Today, we need more leaders who can help groups come up with visions that are not self-serving—visions that serve the entire enterprise.

Historically, great leaders are self-confident people who have extraordinary capacity to make decisions when others crumble. They are confident, but not arrogant. In fact, great leaders are often described as having humility and vulnerability. I am often struck by the extraordinary arrogance of some leaders—an arrogance that says, “I’m above the game. I am smart and accomplished. Therefore, I know what is best, yet I have to put up with stupid rules set by small-minded people. It’s only natural that I maneuver around those rules.” You do not find that same arrogance in great leaders.

For change to be good, it has to be in a positive direction. Initial stages of transformation are usually positive, but the change effort is perverted as it becomes successful and as executives become more arrogant. Change is not the issue; arrogance is. As some leaders start running into problems, in their arrogance they say, “No problem. We can handle all this. We can cut corners and make our own rules.”

Companies need to be able to exercise sound leadership when responding to a crisis. But what if you didn’t need to be eager to execute this style of strategic leadership?

'Organization Change Theory and Practice' by Warner Burke (ISBN 1506357997) In organizations with a strong brand, if you do not have senior leaders who are humble and vigilant, you develop an arrogant culture. The single biggest challenge in managing change is not strategy, structure, or culture, but just getting people to change their behavior. One reason why that is so challenging is that we rely on giving logical reasons for change but fail to present people an emotionally compelling case. People change their behavior only when they are motivated to do so, and that happens when you speak to their feelings.

You need something visual that produces the emotions that motivate people to move toward the vision. Great leaders tell stories that create pictures in our minds and have emotional impact. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, not a strategy or goal, and he shoved us his dream, his picture of the future. People change when they see something visual (the vision) that touches their feelings, challenges their thinking, and incites actions. People may realize the need for change, but not do anything differently because they lack the passion to break out of routines or habit patterns. The momentum of “how we’ve done things” tends to make our future look like our past.

Principles and Theories of Organizational Change

Overcoming complacency—so vital at the start of change initiatives—often requires a bit of surprise, something that grabs attention at an emotional and intellectual level. You need to surprise people and disrupt their view that everything is perfect. Successful change leaders show people what the problems are and how to resolve the problems. They use images that people can see, hear, or touch. This may mean showing a video of an angry customer rather than a report of a customer survey. Change leaders make their points in ways that are emotionally engaging and compelling. They tell and retell vivid stories. You do not have to spend a million dollars and six months to prepare for a change effort. You do have to touch people emotionally.

The ability to move people emotionally is a special gift. Few of us are born with it, but we can learn it. In writing The Heart of Change, we found many people who had learned this skill. Some did not look like leaders, but somewhere along the way, they learned to speak to people’s feelings. One story involves people who realized that they had to start changing their own behavior. Many managers skip this part and start with, “Here’s how you need to change” because it is easier to tell other people that they are acting incorrectly than to admit that you are not perfect. Executives, as they become more successful, get less feedback or information showing how they are a part of the problem. Many of them have never learned the principle, always start with yourself first—and then go from there. It is a great rule of thumb.

Personal example is a powerful method of influence that can affect feelings and facilitate change. However, when leaders do not examine their own actions, they might give the wrong example, something that is inconsistent with what they are saying to people. People pay attention to deeds more than words.

All of us, deep in our hearts, want to be heroes, at least to our children or team members. Today we need heroes at every level. More people need to step up and provide change leadership. Most of this leadership will be modest. It might be a young sales rep who sees a new business opportunity or puts together a vivid demonstration of a problem. The sum of all these heroic actions—large and small—enables organizations to change in big ways.

Change Leadership: Many Start but Few Finish Well

Organizational Change Management Strategies

People need more positive examples of what works. In stories of what works, I never find a theme of self-preservation. Change leaders are not self-centered people. When focused only on yourself, you will not stick your neck out, lead the team to new glory, or create a shared win. You need a larger vision beyond saving your own skin. Several change proposals seem to presume that people will begin to shift their behaviors once formal elements like commands and encouragements get underway. People who work together on cross-functional teams will commence cooperating because the lines on the chart show they are intended to do so. Managers will become clear communicators because they have a mandate to deliver a message about the new strategy.

If you are frustrated and powerful, you tend to fall back on fear to motivate people. You say, “I know the right thing to do here, and you’ll either do it or be fired.” While using fear may be natural, it is usually ineffective. The only lesson your people learn is that you have power, and they need to fear being fired. They learn nothing about the enterprise, its challenges, and the need to do things differently. Fearful people do not listen carefully to customers. They hide or come up with schemes to protect themselves. Fear cannot drive transformation. However, fear may be used effectively as a surprise element. It is the “hit them upside the head with a board” approach to get attention. Then you have to quickly convert it into something positive or you get the drawbacks of fear.

Even if people are motivated to change, they are often blocked by a feeling or belief that they cannot change. Pessimism creates an emotional block to change. Effective change leaders use inspirational stories to bring out the natural optimism in everybody. They know how to inspire confidence, even in tough circumstances where people are depressed. They paint a hopeful picture in such a credible way that it soothes people and lead them to get out of the trenches to do something.

Managing Organizational Change

The change has to seep into the culture. The new behavior must maintain itself for a few weeks and show that it works. Then, the culture must support the change. For the new way of doing things to take hold, one change agent or leader cannot support it all. People need to see the right behavior producing the right results. Too often leaders assume that once they start the change effort, they are done. They must make it part of the culture; otherwise, when they leave, the old way creeps back in.

'Change Leader Learning to Do What Matters Most' by Michael Fullan (ISBN 0470582138) How can people stay focused long enough to create short-term wins and change the culture? This is where vision helps. If you have clarity in your mind and heartfelt commitment to a vision, you stay focused. Again, the vision has to be something you can see clearly—not some blur or list of unrelated items. So many strategies and statements of values, visions, and goals boil down to lists of unrelated items, making it hard to stay focused. Your focus bounces from one item to another because you lack a framework to guide you. You might let something else that is not on the list blow over you and push you in another direction.

You might carefully select two areas where you can achieve short-term successes and have one team focus on one item and another team focus on the other. People need to see that the changes are not oddball ideas being pushed by the boss. They need to see short-term wins that validate the change vision. If the win is clear, visible, and valuable to people, then they will likely make change happen.

To use this emotive energy, leaders must look for the constituents of the culture that are affiliated to the change, bring them to the foreground, and fascinate the attention of the people who will be affected by the change.

Communicating strategic intent empowers leaders to determine direction and noticeably defined goals. Leaders renounce from nit-picking the specific execution of the intent, but still hold their team members or subordinates answerable for change management.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor’s Iconic Bookstore Mural

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Ann Arbor’s The Bookstore Mural is a famous outdoor mural by artist Richard Wolk located on the corner of Liberty Street and State Street in downtown. The mural is an Ann Arbor emblem and one of the city’s most prominent pieces of public art.

The work, sometime ago known as the Bookstore Mural, was painted in 1984 when David’s Books occupied the corner of Liberty Street and State Street. A Potbelly Sandwich store presently is housed in the building.

Bloomfield Hills-based Richard Wolk, who graduated from the University of Michigan, contacted the management at David’s Books (which closed in 2011) in early 1984 on the subject of replacing a preceding bookstore-related mural with something a bit more fun: actual authors. He started work in March 1984 and completed it in June 1984.

According to a feature in the July 8, 1984 issue of the Ann Arbor News,

The mural certainly rebels against bare cement, but whether it’s an artisitic rebellion is, well, unclear.

Larger than life, the giants of literature beckon passersby into David’s Books, the owner of which commissioned the mural.

Is the mural a billboard, a clever advertisement for the books and ideas behind the wall? Perhaps partly, but to Ed Koster, the owner of the bookshop, who hired the artist, the mural is “aesthetic.”

“I like the portraits themselves,” he said, “but I would have preferred a different background.” The background is in two parts: a starry night sky above a field a flowers.

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Measuring about 60 feet by 20 feet, the mural portrays the headshots of five cultural icons, whose work was familiar to the artist Richard Wolk.

  • Woody Allen: the American film director, scriptwriter, and actor. Allen has starred in most of his own films, many of which have won Oscars and which hilariously survey themes of psychosis and sexual shortcomings. Artist Wolk chose Woody Allen because of the proximity of the mural to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater and State Theater.
  • Edgar Allan Poe: the American short-story writer, poet, and critic whose fiction and poetry are Gothic and characterized by their examination of the gruesome and the bizarre.
  • Hermann Hesse: the German-born Swiss novelist and poet whose written works reflect his concern in spiritual Eastern values and his enthusiasm for Jungian psychoanalysis.
  • Franz Kafka: the Prague-born Czech German-language novelist, who wrote in German whose written works portray of an mysterious and terrifying realism where the individual is apparent as lonesome, confused, and defenseless.
  • Anais Nin: the French-American writer whose first novel House of Incest (1936) evokes haunting images of love, lust, desire, emotion, and pain. Wolk selected Anais Nin because his 1984 girlfriend liked Nin’s writing.

The Bookstore Mural has also been called The Poet Mural, Liberty Street Mural, and East Liberty Street Wall Mural.

In 2010, the mural gained significant media attention as the original painter was hired to touch it up, 26 years after he originally painted it.

The Bookstore Mural was represented in the official movie posters for the 2011 film, Answer This, which was mainly filmed in various locations around Ann Arbor—the setting is the University of Michigan.

The famous mural is also one of the most prominent public places for the setting of wedding pictures.

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Health is the Greatest of Life’s Gifts

Consciousness of Strength

Consciousness of Strength Health is relative. A wholesome person is one who lives with the consciousness of his strength. Morbidity consists in concentrating on our aches and pains. If there were enough energy at our disposal to balance our weakness, then we need not fear, for we then have sufficient strength to meet the commitments of living.

Let us be among those whose lives are determined by their strength rather than by their weakness.

It is filled with hopes and fears, and produces very trivial lasting or rich happiness. From thus we may learn, that if a man sees his solid image in a plain looking-glass, the part of the glass that reflects his prototype, is but one half as long and one half as broad as the man. We also exercise generousness to free others, to extend welfare and happiness to all beings, to in some way, as much as each one of us can, lessen the suffering in this world. The microscope, which magnifies small bodies to such vast bulks, is a tool of myriad use to philosophical system, since by it a new world is opened to the eye, of which humanity before never even suspected the creation.

Honor is Dearer Than Life Itself

Honor is Dearer Than Life Itself A little of this is essential to old men, and according to the constitution and erstwhile manner of life, more may be born without incommodiousness, or indeed with advantage.

If people insist that honor is dearer than life itself, what they really mean is that existence and well-being are as nothing compared with other people’s opinions. Of course, this may be only an exaggerated way of stating the prosaic truth that reputation, that is, the opinion others have of us, is indispensable if we are to make any progress in the world. It is called the steam engine, a simple machine by which the thrust of steam is made to answer all the purposes of the joined strength of hundreds. Jonathan Haidt writes about changing opinions in The Righteous Mind:

… The main way that we change our minds on moral issues is by interacting with other people. We are terrible at seeking evidence that challenges our own beliefs, but other people do us this favour, just as we are quite good at finding errors in other people’s beliefs. When discussions are hostile, the odds of change are slight. The elephant [one’s intuitions on the issue] leans away from the opponent, and the rider [the rational mind] works frantically to rebut the opponent’s charges.

But if there is affection, admiration, or a desire to please the other person, then the elephant leans [or is already leaning] toward that person and the rider tries to find the truth in the other person’s arguments. The elephant may not often change its direction in response to objection from its own rider, but it is easily steered by the mere presence of friendly elephants (that’s the social persuasion link in the social intuitionist model) or by good arguments given to it by the riders of those friendly elephants (that’s the reasoned persuasion link).

There are even times when we change our minds on our own, with no help from other people. Sometimes we have conflicting intuitions about something, as many people do about abortion and other controversial issues. Depending on which victim, which argument, or which friend you are thinking about at a given moment, you judgement may flip back and forth as if you were looking at a Neckar cube.

And finally, it is possible for people simply to reason their way to a moral conclusion that contradicts their initial intuitive judgement, although I believe this process is rare.

The second procession condenses commentary subject and engenders forms inside the cosmic circle; sets the countless worlds floating in the electric space, and infuses the stupid, blind life-principle into every form. It is said, in general terms, that an echo is a thoughtfulness of sound, striking against some object, as an image is reflected in a glass. It is to be inferred from this, that the health of ship companies depends in a great measure upon state of affairs within the power of officers, and upon them much more than the medical branch, the physical condition of the men depends, in as much as prevention is better than cure, and the art of physic is at best but imperfect.

Tagged
Posted in Health and Fitness

Zen Koan #28: Parable of Open Your Own Treasure House – Buddhist Teaching on Wise Choices

Zen Koan #28: Parable of Open Your Own Treasure House - Buddhist Teaching on Wise Choices Buddha just means awake; one who is awake. When we allow thoughts, we can create incredible stories that make us laugh and make us cry. The more you try to control your mind, the more stray thoughts will come up to bother you. At this point, we may have come to the conclusion that we should drop the whole game of spiritual materialism; that is; we should give up trying to defend and improve ourselves.

Let’s return to the opening lines of the poem, “The Supreme Way is not difficult if only you do not pick and choose.” Actually, it is not hard to reach enlightenment if you do not grasp or reject. If you carried it home with you, your bowels would be in serious trouble. They ponder over all sorts of issues. They doubt the method and whether they can reach their objective. It requires meticulous attention. Those who do not practice Zen are not aware of their deepest vexations.

Daily problems and the pain of daily life may often feel almost poisonous. However, meditative awareness can help you to convert that poison into medicine, the medicine of cheerfulness. Taking refuge in the Dharma means taking refuge in the law, in the way things are; it is acknowledging our surrender to the truth and allowing the Dharma to unfold within us.

Zen Koan: “Open Your Own Treasure House” Parable

Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?”

“Enlightenment,” replied Daiju.

“You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.

Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”

Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”

Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

Buddhist Insight on Wise Choices

In Zen Buddhism, these words embody an experience just as the world love embodies an experience of mind and body. All these phenomena arise dependent upon a number of casual factors. Doing so will help one to forget one’s insignificant worries and troubles, to clarify one’s thinking, and to recall the decisive values and truths upon which one should build one’s life. With wise choices, no discipline is ever needed. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

How much of the knowledge, information, and strategies of our story serve us well? In our life story we experience hurt, pain, fear and rejection, at times caused by others, at others self-inflicted. Understanding what causes sorrow, pain, and devastation translates into discriminating wisdom, and we do not knowingly expose ourselves to these conditions. We are all asked to make wise choices in our lives – choices rooted in understanding rather than fear.

The Buddha used the analogy of a raft. Walking beside a great river, the bank we are standing on is dangerous and frightening and the other bank is safe. We collect branches and foliage to build a raft to transport us to the other shore. Having made the journey safely, supposing we picked up the raft and carried it on our head wherever we went. Would we be using the raft wisely? The obvious answer is “No.” A reasonable person would know how useful the raft has been, but wisdom would be to leave the raft behind and walk on unencumbered.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

The Romantic Rome at Nighttime

The Romantic Rome at Nighttime

During the day, Rome is a very busy modern city of two and a half million people and people are going about their business—they are crowding onto the buses, they are trying to hail a taxi, there speeding like heck through traffic—and it really can be very exhausting.

When the sun goes down, the entire character changes and it’s not just for tourists but for the people there and this is what they live for in Rome. To be able to come out and socialize and everything becomes more relaxed and people’s attitude changes. For them, the and evening is not “I’m going to rush here to this concert” and “I’m going to rush there to get dinner” and “I’m going to grab something to go” the way many Americans would do—instead it’s settling down into this easy rhythm of life and seeing what’s going to happen next.

Think about to the traditional Roman siesta. People will take their large meal in the afternoon and maybe even sit down and take a little nap or watch a little TV for 20 minutes or something—all in order to recharge their batteries so that they can come out at night and that’s when they really live and that’s what tourist should also do. Take a little break from your sightseeing in the heat of the mid-afternoon, take your little siesta, and gear up for the wonder of Roman nighttime.

Archaeologist Rome Romantic Rome by Night

Archaeologist’s Rome by Day and the Romantic Rome by Night

Get ready for the transformation of Roman grandiosity to Italian intimacy. What makes an intimate Rome easier is the way the city is lit at night. It was a deliberate choice on the part of the city administration not to have this neon glare that sort of flattens everything and makes everything look the same, but to have these very soft orange lights that are supposed to imitate the light of a torches in the past. So when you stroll through the city at night you can’t see everything together from afar. You have to discover it closely as you get to it. All this affords a gradual intimate look that you’ll really love and also makes you imagine the city in the evening.

There is an interesting distinction—there’s the grand Rome and then there’s the intimate Rome. By day it really is the grand Rome with icons such as the great Roman monuments, the Coliseum, and Pantheon. But really that the night-time Rome is the small, medieval lanes the people walk through. By day it’s the archaeologist’s Rome and by night is the romantic Rome.

The Aperitivo Culture - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

The Aperitivo Culture

Even if you’re not a type of person that likes a cocktail before dinner, have a drink on a piece of expensive real estate, enjoy the little munchies surrounded by local people doing exactly that. If you’re in the mood to splurge, join in a rooftop bar at a hotel downtown, or just have an aperitivo on one of the squares. Then have dinner, skip dessert, take an after-dinner stroll with gelato.

A wonderful Roman night is all about the pace of things. Romans don’t try to fit in like dinner and a show … it just kind of dinner. You linger over each course because the meal becomes the evening’s entertainment itself and the Romans love to dress up to go out to meet their friends, sit at a little cafe or restaurant with rickety tables and traffic roaring past them. It’s that little slice of intimacy where they can then get into that pace of life and that rhythm of life where each course becomes a new magical thing. Don’t be a traveler who wants to keep it moving.

Charming Medieval Roman Neighborhood Trastevere

Trastevere—a Charming Medieval Roman Neighborhood with an Intense Character

You got that that local pride; there was a time when they would never cross the river on the other side of the Tiber River. In fact, literally Trastevere means “the other side of the river”—the district’s name derives from the Latin words “Trans Tiberim” beyond the Tiber River.

This is that other side of Rome—the intimate side of Rome—the Rome of the narrow lanes of the red pastel colors, buildings with green ivy hanging down with the people’s laundry hanging overhead, lanes pop into tiny little squares that feature little cafes, restaurants, pizzerias where you can sit down and enjoy your meal. The food is great, the aperitifs are great, but it really is presenting you the theater of the people. Don’t let that pass by. Hang out in these squares and you’re paying your cover charge for a great celebration of life.

Nighttime Romantic Walks - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

Nighttime Romantic Walks in Roman

For a great walk, start from St Peter’s Square because in the evening is lit up splendidly and I would just walk towards the river where the Castel Sant’Angelo, a Fortress where the Popes used to escape to in the past. It’s also a little beautifully lit monument cross the river Tiber, where you can cross the bridge of the Angels which is decorated with his beautiful Bernini statues. Walk along the Via dei Coronari and it does give us that back street village that is very romantic and end up at the beautiful square Piazza Navona.

Castel Sant’Angelo was originally a tomb for Emperor Hadrian. That was the original structure and then it took on other uses as time went on and in the medieval times because it was so tall and so monumental, it was used as a castle and as a prison. This tomb for Emperor Hadrian is across from the river Tiber because Ancient Roman laws established that the dead had to be buried outside the city.

it’s a wonderful place to go up at sunset. A great way to kick off your evening you go up there and you look across and you have this incredible view of Michelangelo’s Dome and all of the other domes of the city. You watch the sun turn orange and you watch the pigeons as they start flying by and this is where you begin to see night descend on the Eternal City.

What’s great about Rome at night is that on the one hand you’re walking down a little alley way or a little narrow street and then torch lit or seemingly torch lit with this new lighting and on all of a sudden you pop out and there’s a floodlit monument … there’s the pantheon … and all that then surprise element and you’re getting that mix of this very romantic and dark that this then punctuated with a blaze of light and glory from ancient monument and you can have a kind of a quiet street and suddenly you step into a floodlit square with three grand fountains and artists and street musicians and outdoor cafes in the evening.

Via del Corso Spanish Steps - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

Via del Corso, the Fountains, and the Spanish Steps in Rome

The main drag, the Via del Corso is shutdown, with police on horses monitoring the activities. It says a lot about the way in which an urban setting can be experienced … the Romans hate crowds as much as anybody else but they also don’t like deserted places. The passeggiata can feel that you’re part of a community … part of something bigger than just yourself.

Go to the Spanish Steps because that’s where all of Rome will be descending for nightfall and you will see the things that are typical of Rome at night. Witness the flood lights, see Bernini’s fountain down at the base, with people sitting on the on the steps, and if you wanted to you could climb up to the top where you can get a great view out over all of Rome so you can really feel like you are in one place but you’re taking part of the entire city.

Fall in Love with Nighttime Rome

During the day it can be an overwhelming city by day where everyone’s in a hurry and traffic generally competes with some of the greatest city views anywhere, but after dark that’s when Rome becomes a true spectacle.

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Characteristics of Transformational and Emergent Leadership

What Constitutes Transformational Leadership

'The Difference When Good Enough Isn't Enough' by Subir Chowdhury (ISBN 0451496213) Transformational leaders are those who bring order to guiding change. They must not only convey a compelling vision and be sensitive and responsive to the needs of their constituents but also behave as role models who walk the talk. These leaders typically are officially designated and have the formal position, authority, and backing. They drive change, establish the vision, and mobilize the troops.

  • Cause / create change
  • Freeze, unfreeze, refreeze
  • Create order from chaos
  • Role model—“walk the talk”
  • Create something different by changing the one
  • Broad issues (visions, paradigms)
  • Space for either/or
  • Transcend and include; refocus
  • Drive change

What Constitutes Emergent Leadership

'Personal Leadership' by Barbara Schaetti (ISBN 0979716705) Emergent leaders, on the other hand, may not be officially sanctioned and are more on the chaos side. They may, in fact, be part of what Ralph Stacy terms the shadow organization—interactions among members of a legitimate system that fall outside that legitimate system. As people operate in the shadow system, leadership roles emerge. The roles then shift based on contributions people make and how they make that contribution known.

  • Navigate in a context of change
  • Go with the flow
  • Live between order and chaos
  • Partner—“walk the talk”
  • Create something different by combining the many
  • Human / existential issues
  • Space for both / and
  • Transcend and include; embrace
  • Allow change to unfold (facilitate / nurture)
Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership

Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Durga temple is the biggest and arguably the most attractive temple at Aihole. Though it is called Durga Temple, it has nothing to do with goddess Durga or Durgi. The name of the temple may have derived from the word ‘durga’ meaning fort. As one enters Aihole from the north, this temple is found near the fort and people should have named it Durga (fort) temple.

Durga Fort Temple in Aihole - Chalukyan Architecture The most important charm of this temple for which it is celebrated is the apsidal character of the posterior part of this architecture. Generally apsidal or gajapristha form is found in Buddhist monuments. Nevertheless, this temple being non-Buddhist and yet having an apsidal posterior part is an mystery, which has not been explained satisfactorily by art historians. Conceivably one of the architects experimented with this type of plan in the Hindu temple and it did not become popular and for this reason given up. There is a comparable apsidal temple at Mahakuta, very close to Aihole which was also an primitive Chalukyan art center.

The temple consists of an apsidal garbhagriha, sabhamandapa, a mandapa and a mukhamandapa in east-west axis and the temple opens to the east. The temple has a base of six different moldings. The temple is entered through two flights of steps to the south and north of the mandapa. On the basement are square pillars all the way through the construction including the apsidal garbhagriha.

Hindu Temples Architecture during Chalukyas - Durga Temple, Aihole

The rows of pillars contains two pradakshinapathas, which is an exceptional architectural feature. The longish sabhamandapa has been divided into three portions by its pillars. The large number of pillars in this temple have been utilized by the artists to carve a large number puranic stories and self-supporting sculptures. These sculptures are of high order and add refinement and charisma to this temple.

Shiva Dancing Statue Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka On the pillars of the mukhamandapa are found passionate couples in various suggestive poses. On another pillar is found Shiva dancing on apasmara. The inner wall of the mukhamandapa has Ramayana panel, Ardhanarisvara and Ugranarasimha killing Hiranyakashipu. The front entrance of the mandapa is well carved with dvarapalas, Yamuna and Ganga, and further sculptures.

Unfortunately, there are no inscriptions to date this temple. Derived from stylistic evidence, various dates have been assigned to this temple. While many scholars consider 600 C.E. as the date of this temple, some others assign it to seventh century C.E.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys

The Phenomenon That’s Guernica—Picasso’s Fabled Artwork

The Phenomenon that's Guernica---Picasso's Fabled Artwork

To tackle appreciating the art of Spain, you can certainly hit the top highlights. That would include the Prado Museum in Madrid, arguably Europe’s greatest painting museum. Also in Madrid is Picasso’s Guernica, a monster painting that not only is a testament against modern warfare but is so much part of the Spanish history with its horses and bulls and weeping women imagery and gets right to the heart of Spain’s Civil War.

I’d certainly put on the list the Alhambra in Granada. This is evocative of 700 years of Muslim settlement in Spain which we now think of this great Catholic country but for 700 years ago it was Muslim. The Alhambra is a lush Arabian-nights-wonderland is the best place to appreciate the Muslim settlement of Spain.

Finally there’s Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This gives the grandeur of Spanish dreams into this cake-melting-in-the-rain sort of architecture with the soaring towers this become very much the symbol of the city of Barcelona.

The Prado Museum’s incredible wealth of paintings is my favorite collection of paintings from all of Europe. Madrid has so many art treasures because it was the capital of the Spanish colonial empire. The Prado’s collection is illustrative of the how important Spain was in the past. There are a lot of famous Flemish paintings there because the Netherlands was actually a Spanish colony.

The Guernica, located in Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain’s National Museum, is incredible painting by Picasso. In a lot of ways it is the painting of Europe—when you talk about the struggles of the 20th century. The reason why Guernica is located in Madrid is that Picasso was the curator of the Prado Museum during those 12 years in the Spanish Civil War and that is always his cubist interpretation of the Spanish Civil War. The message is absolutely bleak, with direct impact. In black and white, the piece has the importance of a newspaper photo. Flailing bulls and horses illustrate that the visceral horrors of war are not just an insult to human civilization, but to human life.

Picasso Painting Guernica For many years Picasso’s Guernica was actually in exile in New York City and that’s because Picasso insisted that the painting was so much against the then dictatorial government of Spain, led by Francisco Franco. Picasso would not allow his painting to be in a Franco-ruled Spain and it wasn’t until Franco finally died and a new democratic regime came in to power that that painting could be repatriated and brought back to its homeland. Guernica is a vast canvas in solemn tones of grey and blue, it shows in scorching detail the suffering of people and animals as bombs fell on their town.

Guernica is actually a town in the Basque Province of northern Spain, to the east of Bilbao. Formerly the seat of a Basque parliament and it was bombed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, by German planes in support of Franco. This event is depicted in the famous painting by Picasso. Picasso’s painting of the bombing of Guernica is one of the 20th century’s most famous images.

Franco died in 1975, but sadly Picasso died two years before that and he lived to see the day when his most famous painting went back to his homeland. Picasso pledged that neither he nor this painting would ever pay a visit to Spain until democracy was restored. This did not happen until 1978, five years after his death.

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Top Performance from the Bottom Up

Top Performance from the Bottom Up

We can best help people improve performance not by trying to solve their problems for them but by helping them learn to solve their own problems.

We can’t approach performance improvement from a reactive and fragmented stance. Rather than reacting to each isolated performance problem, the key is making performance improvement integral to the way people manage their work. After all, steering clear of problems, identifying problems early, and resolving them so they do not occur again is what managing work is about. All people are responsible for managing their own work; some are responsible for managing work within a team or a function, others for managing across functions, and still others for managing entire firms.

Managing work consists of three components:

  1. setting goals;
  2. letting work happen and comparing work completed against goals; and
  3. deciding whether to change how the goals are being pursued.

When these things are done well, individuals and organizations almost always meet goals. But, these three things are rarely done well. Few managers consistently prevent costly performance problems or ensure that goals are achieved.

'The Performance Pipeline' by Stephen Drotter (ISBN 0470877286) Performance consulting is simply coaching people on setting goals, letting the work happen, comparing results to the goals, and then deciding how to proceed. Most emergencies are simply breakdowns in one or more of these three areas of management. The solution to performance problems is always to help the person, team, or organization manage itself more effectively.

When people learn new behaviors, not only will they resolve the current emergency, but they will know how to address or avoid the next emergency.

Think of these levels of managing work as layers of an onion.

  • The outer layer is like the upper tier where organizational goals are set and monitored. These goals involve overall direction and objectives, and decisions are large in scope.
  • Below that layer is the cross-functional (or process and project) layer. Goals at this layer cover a smaller scope but must align with organizational goals. They include things such as what products and services will be available when, and which internal processes currently need the most attention. Goals are reviewed and revised a little more frequently than at the higher layer.
  • A third layer is where individual and group goals are set and monitored. The same basic practices for helping individuals manage 1heir work apply to helping executives manage their work. Since the magnitude of distractions and decisions are much greater at the executive level, practice this approach at the lower levels.

Self-Sustaining Performance

'Fearless Leadership' by Carey Lohrenz (ISBN 1626341133) The desired end result is a selfsustaining performance system (SPS) a systemic approach that provides an immediate solution while leveraging the performance perspective for sustainable long-term success. The SPS always assumes that the performers are missing one or more of the three conditions that guarantee successful performance. Those conditions are:

  • Clear performance expectations: Each performer must know exactly what he or she is expected to do and how well, and must commit to it.
  • Frequent, self-monitored feedback: Each performer must know, at any given point, whether he or she is meeting performance expectations.
  • Control of resources: Each performer must know that, if he or she provides warning that performance is not meeting expectations, management will either help the performer succeed or change the expectation.

The three conditions summarize all the factors that affect performance in the order they should be addressed. When all three conditions are in place, we have a performance system. When most members are operating in an effective performance system most of the time, we have a SPS.

Just implementing the first two conditions usually results in productivity increases of 30 percent or more within a very short time.

The third condition, control of resources, ensures that productivity increases can be sustained. It also ensures that manager and performers have a stake in whatever performance improvements are implemented. Whether the need is for better tools or better organization, they are more likely to turn the required change into improved performance. And because they have frequent self-monitored feedback, they will be the first to know if their performance is improving.

By implementing a SPS, you help people steer clear of most problems, immediately identify problems when they do arise, and resolve those problems so that they do not reoccur.

A successful SPS means performers are consistently successful and raise the bar on their own performance. Instead of waiting for performance to get worse, they prevent problems and coordinate work effectively.

Contributing to systemic improvement as opposed to everyone tweaking their isolated functions, must be the expectation for every member.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership