Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Main Entry: prog·e·ny
Etymology: Middle English progeny, from Middle French, from Latin progenies, from progignere
b : offspring of animals or plants
3 : a body of followers, disciples, or successors

This is an interesting word that has become more abundantly used around me as of late. I had heard the word progeny before and had a rough self-derived definition based on the context in which I had heard it used. I had never contemplated the concept of progeny. Many circumstances have occurred recently which have caused me to ponder the concept of progeny.

I am at an institution of higher learning which recently has undergone some coaching resignations/firings. During the discussions of the replacements for these coaches some of the candidates have been described as progeny of particular coaches. The progenies are associated with the characteristics of their precessors. This is what started my most recent reflection into the concept of progeny.

I guess I have contemplated a time or two before what type of progeny I am. As I have attended Hall of Fame Banquets at professional meetings, etc. I have heard the accolades of these esteemed professionals and who they would thank for mentoring them into the respected positions they have obtained. My mind will wonder to consider who I would mention should I be fortunate enough to be awarded a similar honor. In those situations I often think of prior teachers and employers, co-workers, colleagues, etc. The people I would pick would be picked due to the investment they made in me. They may have taught me and challenged me. They may have given me a chance when it meant personal risk on their part. It might have been words of encouragement and believing in me when I had been beaten up so much that I lost all confidence in my abilities. This is a fun exercise and frequently causes me to get in touch with these people and catch up on how their life is doing, etc.

This most recent situation with the basketball coaches has challenged me to look at progeny in another light. Now I want to consider what type of progeny am I "creating." I take this very seriously. I have developed a viewpoint of my students as junior colleagues. The reality is that in two or less years they will be professionals in the same field I am in. I want to see them as just that. I wish to see the best in each and every one of them. I would like to think I can help them become more than they can become on their own. I have played with the idea of creating stock certificates with each student's name and picture on it. This visual representation of my investment in these students would be especially helpful at the times when it doesn't seem like you are making a difference.

I am excited to live vicariously through people around me. I recently read a blog by a friend of mine (Relevance) in which he discussed his high school music teacher and the tremendous impact that particular person had on his and other peoples lives, not just their music. I can only pray to have a similar impact on those around me. My students are the easiest examples to share but many other people can fit into this same concept of progeny - my children, my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors.

I really think this ties into an earlier blog I wrote about Love Is the Killer App (which I have now completed). Just like buying stock you have to have something (i.e., money) to buy the stock with; to be able to invest in people you have to have something (e.g., compassion, knowledge, love) to invest in them. I believe that creates value in life is relationships. Time spent investing in relationships is an investment that will pay dividends when all other investments (i.e., worldly) will leave you broke. I believe this is most profoundly demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ as he came and "invested" all he had in humanity. He didn't do it for fame or wealth. In fact, as the Creator he didn't even need to do it at all. He did it because he wanted to establish an eternal relationship with us. It seems like there are so many people today that think their "dividends" will come from working more, etc. While they let their other investments (e.g., family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, relationship with God) waste away. Perhaps I can play a little part in showing them what a mistake they might be making.

Am I a good progeny?
Am I investing enough in others to be able to claim them as a progeny?

Take care.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How far is the East from the West?

Today was a very interesting day with many unrelated activities. It is when I stand back and look at the activities I was involved in that I really see how far I "travelled" today.

I began the day reading more of "Love is the Killer App." Today's reading discussed the development of a network of contacts and the act of developing this network involves more than just collecting/exchanging business cards. The author suggests that we should constantly be on the look out for connections we can help facilitate between our contacts. This will help you spread 'the love' and expands your network. There is much more that could be said about this interesting book but I choose to focus mostly on the string of activities today.

I next ran to the office to file some paperwork to be able to complete a job offer for a new faculty member for next fall. The process was on hold until I turned in every piece of material I had written on regarding this search throughout the process. Lot's of administrative hoops in the name of protecting the University.

I came back in time to go with my wife to drop the kids off at school. After the bus drop we went to work pulling together about 300 lunches for an Easter 'picnic" taking place at church tomorrow. My assistance was needed to drive a group of 6 (out of 75) junior high students downtown to pass out some lunches that were prepared for homeless people. After delivering the lunches we loaded back up and headed to a local pizza parlor. We called ahead so the pizzas would be ready when we arrived.

After the junior high students were dropped off back at church my wife and I went and picked up our kids and headed home for a couple hours. The evening involved a men's ministry meeting and chior practice for Easter.

I am now home, where it is warm, watching my TV, typing on my laptop, and reading some blogs. I feel like I have gone from one country to another all in one day. I woke up in my nice warm bed and looked out on the rain as it filled my swimming pool. I chose to help around the church today. I am on Spring Break so I can chose what I want to do (as long as it is OK with my wife). I really didn't feel like driving downtown. I haven't had a lot of experience doing that type of thing. I sucked it up and did my duty. It was one of the most personally challenging things I have ever done personally. I found that I was not uncomfortable with those people. Most could carry on a conversation just like my people. I met a young man who was telling some of the young girls about some of his friends, who were former professional football players. I thought I recognized him as one of the athletes who used to play at the university I worked at. He was just about my age.

There but for the grace of God go I?
Why was he here and I was not? What turn in the road did he take that I chose not to take. I chose to get out of my warm bed this morning. I chose to read in my comfortable chair while drinking a nice cup of coffee. I chose to serve the church today by making some sandwiches, driving some kids, meeting with some men, and singing some songs. Just about everything I did today I could have chosen not to do. The young man (an others) who were on the street eating the lunches we prepared didn't have an opportunity to make the kind of choices I was allowed to make. What choice was it several days/weeks/months/years ago that caused these people to have no choices today? What choice was it back then that allows me today to make just about any choice I wish to make?

What about the choices we make today? Are we making the choices we need to make today so that we can have choices tomorrow? If I lost it all today would I still be hopeful? Would I still be faithful? Interesting how related today can be to the things I contemplated yesterday. What is it that we are left with when all worldly things are gone? Do the people we served lunch to today know that they still have that value which was given to them by the Creator. Can someone help them realize that they still have this value? I believe helping people discover this value will pay bigger dividends then a bad lunch every once in a while. If the value of serving lunches today was so that I could discover this reality then the activity was not for the homeless people but was really for those of us that served the lunches. It is strange how life works.

I am now choosing to go to bed. I am now much more aware of how blessed I am as I pull my warm covers up over my head without a concern for the rain falling outside. It is never a bad idea to count our blessings. We should probably do it much more often. Take care.

Monday, March 21, 2005

When all is stripped away...

This morning I had breakfast with some buddies. We have been going through a book called Tender Warrior by Stu Weber. The chapter we happened to be on today used the Book of Job as an example of dealing with challenges in life. From the Christian perspective the book demonstrates how Job stood firm in his faith as all his worldly possessions and family were stripped away. This broke off into a discussion about the worth of a man (person).

What is it that makes us "valuable?" We often equate our worth with what we do or what we own. It might also center around what we control (power). Job lost all of these things. All he was left with was a nagging wife. Was Job still worth anything?

This got me thinking about what I tell my students that makes them valuable. We can safely assume that there will always be smarter people, richer people, more powerful people. We have probably all known these people but some were not "valuable" in our current concept. What are you left with when you have nothing left, from the worldly point of view. I tell my students that the values, traits, disciplines they learn and that become part of what they are gives them value.

I am sure we have all heard about employers that are looking to hire someone who has a bachelor's degree. It doesn't seem to matter, to these employers, what that degree is in. What are they looking for? What are they getting? They are using completion of a degree as a sign that this individual can finish something. It shows they can meet deadlines. It shows that they can study and learn, retain information. It probably also means they can think critically and problem solve (at least we hope so). This also explains why someone from one "industry" can move to another unrelated "industry." What do they take with them? It certainly isn't knowledge about the new "industry."

I really think the answer to all these rhetorical questions is character traits. What Job was left with was his faith, loyalty, perseverance, etc. These are as valuable as knowledge. I don't believe this post to be contrary to my last post regarding Love the Killer App. I think Tim Sanders gets to these "characteristics" when he discusses compassion. These character traits are how we want to be treated and therefore should be how we treat other (see Golden Rule - Ask your mother).

Take home message - Build an indepth knowledge on a foundation of strong positive character and you end up with a valuable citizen. Isn't this what we need today after all? Take care.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Love in the World Today

I am reading a facinating book by Tim Sanders. It is called Love is the Killer App. Tim takes a contrarians view of business. I am in the business of education but I think the book has some great views regarding "how things work" in the world today.

His premise (life study) is that "yesterday's" business models don't hold up well in today's society. An unashamed steriotypical view of this "old" model would involve stepping on the competition to get to the top while maintaining an extensive database of "trade secrets" that were never shared. Give to others only if you can see what you can get out of it yourself.

His paradymn revolves around knowledge, networks, and compassion. With extensive professional experience in the rapidly changing tech world of Silicon Valley he has seen how his greatest commodity is himself. This does not involve an arrogant view of his abilities but rather a personal quest to learn something useful to others.

He defines love as the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your bizpartners. He believes today's market is more about the intangibles rather than the tangibles.

Based on a book by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore titled The Experience Economy, he (and they) suggest there have been four phases of economic progression: 1) commodity phase - people sold resources in the raw form (e.g., agriculture, energy, precious metals), 2) goods phase - people took commodities and organized them into products, 3) service economy phase - creation of more than goods; it emphasized benefits over features, 4) economic progression phase - organized around experience. The example Tim included from Pine and Gilmore's book which demonstrates these phases involves the grandmother who would bake a birthday cake from scratch taking half a day and cost less than a dollar (commodity phase). The mother (goods phase) would bake the birthday cake using a boxed cake mix taking about an hour and costing a couple dollars. The wife (service phase) would purchase the same birthday cake at a bakery costing about ten dollars. The phase we are just entering relys heavily on experiences. Now we have to stage an experience for the birthday by going to Chuck E. Cheese, Disney Club, etc. costing over a hundred dollars. We are currently in a generation who expects/desires this experiencial existence and is willing to seek it out. Another example noted in the book was Rainforest Cafe. One moment you are shopping in the mall and the next you are in the middle of a jungle. The food is not bad at Rainforest Cafe but it also is not known for its exceptional cuisine. It is the experience people are looking for, craving, expecting.

How does this relate to my world?
These "people" are us, our friends, neighbors, students! This really helped give me some insight to what my students are "expecting." They are bombarded by "experiences" at every turn. The classroom might be the most somber place they spend anytime each week. I am now thinking of ways to make education "an experience." I am fortunate to be in allied health education where practicums and internship are common place; but what about the classroom?

How about church? If today's culture is seeking an experience I don't think this would end on Sunday mornings. I am fortunate to attend a church that appreciates this desire. We have not yet perfected it yet but honest efforts are leading us in this direction. I think understanding this new phase we are now entering helps explain and justify EPIC services. People are looking for experiential worship services which are interactive. They want to participate in the services. This is a great model of how to apply this understanding of today's "culture."

If I can now just think how to take this into the classroom. I don't think it will be difficult but I would love to have your suggestions. I would also like to hear any views you have regarding this experiential economy. How is it affecting your world? Take care.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Introduction to a blogging sailor!

Most communication mediums begin with the end-user in mind. Blogging goes against those conventions drilled into us by our English and Speech teachers. While I believe there is a place for the free flowing of ideas I don't believe anyone is interesting in these ideas unless they are given some semblance of structure and context. I will attempt to apply these principles as the blog goes on.

I am a complex busy person (as are most people I have met). I have varied interests which will be reflected in these posts. I will try my best to make these linkages apparent to the reader. They are often crystal clear to me as they have myself as the common denominator. You will discover my interest in faith, family, friends, education, politics, health care, leadership, and various other areas.

I am learning to be an avid reader. My reading lists are mostly non-fiction. I will occasionally venture into fiction based on recommendation from friends, etc. but my energy for reading comes from my earnest hope that the read will enlighten my life, work, relationships, etc. I envision most of these posts will involve some form of application of my newly acquired knowledge obtained from these books and how they interact with the world as I live in it.

I will save some reading suggestions for future posts. For now the first of many posts must end. You probably have some other blogs to read now anyway. I know I do. Thank you for your time and comments.