Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

"The world is too big for us, too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It's a constant strain to keep pace... and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen rapidly, you're out of breath trying to keep pace with who's in and who's out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can't endure much more."
~ Atlantic Journal, June 16, 1883

Can you believe it? This was written more than 120 years ago.

For sure there are pressures on us all. For many, it is simply the weight of responsibility. For others it may be the difficulty of living under a tyranny. How do we deal with it?

Everyone needs a safe harbor, a place to get away. A place to find rest when weary. For some, getting back to nature is a wonderful escape. Others find refuge in their hobbies. For many, relief is found in their faith. Christians, for example, find comfort in the words of their Lord when he says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

It seems almost comical when the writer from the Atlantic Journal states, "Human nature can't endure much more." It depends, I would suggest, on where you are sitting.

Monday, July 30, 2007

It's About Time

“Effective executives do not start with their tasks. They start with their time.” ~ Peter Drucker

Every couple years it seems there is a big stink made by politicans regarding the “irresponsibility of Hollywood” with regards to television content and its impact on America's youth. Conservatives blast Hollywood for all the sexual innuendo and anti-family messages woven into a majority of the shows. Liberals abhor the violence. (Forgive me this oversimplification.)

The issue isn’t WHAT kids are watching. The problem is THAT kids are watching. I mean, there is so much more to do, so many tens of thousands of ways to use one's time, to express oneself, to help others, to learn more about one's world. Why waste a child’s childhood by turning them into mindless vegetating couch potatoes?

Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps the most brilliant general in history (and most written about human being of the 19th century) considered time to be the most valuable resource on earth. Napoleon’s writings and sayings are peppered with comments about the importance of time. “I may lose a battle,” Napoleon said, “but I shall never lose a minute.” Strategy, he believed,was the art of making use of space and time. “Space we can recover, but time never,” he asserted.

Notable management consultant Peter Drucker devotes a whole chapter to the matter of time in his timeless bestseller The Effective Executive. Writes Drucker, “Time is a unique resource. ...The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore, always in exceedingly short supply.” (Sounds to me like Drucker was reading Napoleon.)

Because lost time can never be recovered, in order to be effective it is a prerequisite for business managers to learn how to manage their time. Likewise, as teachers, parents, and managers of households, we need to find ways to get a handle on the use of our time. Television is only one of the great time robbers. There are many other kinds of activities that conspire to steal our time as well. If you're feeling hopeless about the prospects of getting a handle on your time, know this: Time use does improve with practice. But, as Drucker quickly reminds us, “Only constant efforts at managing time can prevent us from drifting.”

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Effectiveness Can Be Learned

"The most important thing to report is that I have found that effectiveness can be learned -- but also that it must be learned. It does not come by itself. It is a practice that must be acquired." ~ Peter Drucker, The Efective Executive

A lot of people may pass this book over thinking he is writing for executives and there is nothing here for me. But the reality is, this book is jam packed with insights for all of us because we are all "executives" -- presidents and managers of our own personal lives. For this reason, the vital truths presented in each chapter have application for all of us. Chapter two addresses the importance of time management. Another chapter addresses decision making. Another gives practical instruction on the importance of setting priorities.

The first chapter of this book lays the foundation: Effectiveness Can Be Learned. It is not enough to be busy. Nearly all of us know what it is like to be busy, tongues hanging out as we try to get through the lists we make for ourselves. Drucker challenges this busy-ness problem by asking the question, Are you busy with the right things? "The executive is, first of all, expected to get the right things done."

Intelligence, imagination and knowledge are all well and good, "but only effectiveness converts them into results." And results are what matter.

Yes, the book is directed particularly toward effectiveness in organizations, but be assured that if you wish to bring renewed focus to your life, this is a great asset for your personal library.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Recommended Reading List

A Recommended Reading List
for success in business and life

Here is a short list of books that have helped me over the years in my career, with a short commentary afterwards.

1) The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker
2) Think & Grow Rich, Napolean Hill
3) Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell
4) Personal Marketing Strategies, Mike McCaffrey
5) What Color Is Your Parachute, Richard Nelson Bolles
6) How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie
7) Bottom Up Marketing, Ries & Trout
8) Positive Workaholism, Dennis Hensley
9) Obvious Adams
10) The Elements of Style, Strunk & White

This is a non-comprehensive list of books that I have found useful at different times in my life. Drucker is a seminal thinker of the past half century and this book is extremely practical, useful... a well you can return to throughout a lifetime.

What Color Is Your Parachute? is on this list because of its appendix, which is a collection of exercises to help you know yourself better that you might find the career that is especially suited to who you are. In business and life, I've noted that all too many people are mismatched with their jobs or life situations because they just did the next thing without thinking about who they were or believing there is a path that is more suitable and worth pursuing. I strongly recommend that all young people (though anyone feeling stifled by their job/career situation) find a copy of this book to own and use.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a practical and important book. Too old fashioned for modern times? No way.

The Ries & Trout book is included here as a token recommendation since I could have recommended a half dozen others by this pair with equal vim. My first Ries & Trout book was Marketing Warfare. Their ideas about positioning became highly influential in the world of marketing. I ought to include David Ogilvy's books on advertising in this but not everyone is in advertising, so I can't say that I would recommend him to everybody. For me, he has played a pre-eminent role, however, in the formation of my ideas about advertising. If you are involved in a business that has advertising and promotions as part of the business, Ogilvy on Advertising is a must addition to your personal library.

The Strunk & White book belongs in everyone's personal library. It is a concise presentation of the basics of good writing. No one who communicates in written media should be without it.

I believe Obvious Adams has been reprinted again. It was written about a century ago, is very short, but highly entertaining. If you read it, it isn't long before the point becomes.... obvious.

Quote of the day:
Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. ~ Mortimer J. Adler

Friday, July 27, 2007

One of the Keys

"Strong conviction of one's calling has always seemed to me to be the greatest element in a successful career." ~ Paul Tournier, Escape from Loneliness

Life is the process of finding out who we really are. Simultaneously, life is the process of creating who we will be.

In the realm of career, Tournier observes here that a sense of calling assists us in remaining focused, rather than diverted and dilluted, thus enabling us to become more likely to achieve success.

How does this sense of calling emerge? Why do some have it and others do not? For some it may be innate. For others, it is a series of false starts, much like the explorations of a mouse in a maze. Why some give up seeking and others maintain a relentless pursuit is likewise a mystery.

I believe that the messages we tell ourselves have a strong influence on our life decisions. For this reason it makes a difference who we listen to, who we read, who we hang around with. If we surround ourselves with people who suggest that change is futile, that striving to "make a mark" is useless and absurd, we will smother the spark inside us that is striving toward a better hope, a better life, and a better world for our children.

Today's message: Keep pressing on. Find your calling, and never give up.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Add caption
Dylan hospitalized with rare heart infection.
May 30, 1997

Dylan's comment after release from hospital last week: "I almost saw Elvis."
June 6, 1997

Have been a long time Bob Dylan fan. He was born here in Duluth, but my fan-hood began 40+ years ago when I was growing up in NJ. What a long time ago, and a long strange trip it's been.

Last night, I decided to place a short vid clip on YouTube in an effort to learn how to do it. The piece I selected was a little overview of a section of wall in my garage where I have Dylan memorabilia, newspaper clips, etc. A link to this clip can be found on my personal website at the bottom of my review of the 1998 Dylan concert I attended in Duluth that fall.

To check out the review and the clip, visit: http://www.ennyman.com/dylan.html

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


To accomplish "great things" on any level requires comitment and sacrifice. The true challenge is to rise above the herd... and a fundamental component in this equation is motivation. You gotta want it. But this wanting is also a choice: not magic, not windy mist. It is a choice and a commitment.
May 23, 1997

It's interesting that my nephew has thrown his hat into the ring to run for mayor of Duluth. His chances slim to nil, but he is learning some things about local politics and the media that he would never have learned any other way, all by taking this absurd leap. How many others would do something this audacious? Only twelve area citizens submitted their names to the ballot. For sure, these are the few, the brave.

If nothing else, he will have a forum for sharing original ideas that he feels are not being heard and issues not properly addressed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No Victims?

Completed Joyce Carol Oates' "First Love"... Long short story or short novella. Painful, dark, so vividly written it tears, mutilates your own heart. Incest and dark secrets from 11 year old victim's point of view.

Some people say there are no victims. But yes, there are. Adults make choices and children suffer. This suffering of the children is the tragedy, the great tragedy, of the Fall.
May 9, 1997

At this moment I am reminded of Princess Di's work with regard to land mines. One of the great horrors and tragedies of war are the massive quantities of unexploded mines and bombs which sit idle for years and decades, scattered in massive quantities about the globe. All too often it is the children, out to play, who discover to their own peril these maiming implements, not of mass destruction but of personal life disfiguration and dismemberment.

I think, too, of the investors who profited from the development of these terrible devices, and who continue to profit from investing in companies that create new concepts for doing damage to tomorrow's children.

Perhaps we should think it through. Can we invest in organizations and businesses designed to alleviate sorrow? Yes, that is what giving to charities should be about. But what about the totality of our lives? In addition to our giving to charities, both our livelihoods and our investments can contribute to making the world a better place.

On every level we can make a difference. If we so choose.

Monday, July 23, 2007

U.S. Grant & the Battle of Vicksburg

No one who saw U.S. Grant during his "lean years" could have imagined that THIS man would one day be catapulted to the presidency of the United States. His rise, when it came, was meteoric.

David Chandler, in his book The Campaigns of Napoleon, noted that of the 20 most brilliant battles of history, only two were from the U.S. Civil War. One of these was Grant's leadership and decision making in the Battle of Vicksburg. His decision at Vicksburg -- a strategic plan that emerged from a long hard brooding over the problem -- was one of two or three key decisions in the war.

As in our own lives, much of life is simply execution... plodding... Only in certain moments do we have the true power and opportunity to lay our mark on events. Grant was an original thinker who took initiative. The Battle of Vicksburg was his "mark" and it changed the course of the war, and history.
May 4, 1997

Along with several other books about our 18th president, I have twice read the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, published by Mark Twain, and drawn great inspiration from his life. What I find especially exciting is that one never knows what tomorrow will bring. After the Mexican War, Grant fell into the boring tedium of non-combat soldiering followed by a retreat from the service altogether to be with his family. As a farmer he likewise failed and ended up a clerk in his brother's hardware store. Only when the war came did he have the opportunity to fulfill the role destiny had prepared for him. Grant rose to the occasion, and distinguished himself. His singular character qualities set him apart from other generals and earned him great respect from those who served under him.

May we ourselves do the same. If you wish to read a brief summary of the key character qualities that made him an inspirational leader, visit http://www.ennyman.com/grant.html

Sunday, July 22, 2007

On Goals

Goals work is life work.
No one just "happens" to write a book. It is a deliberate act of commitment.
April 17, 1997

The bigger the dream, the more resolve required to achieve it. JFK mobilized a whole nation in pursuit of the goal of being first to walk on the moon. The consequences from taking this effort seriously were far reaching at all levels of our culture.

On a personal level, goals taken seriously can have equally far reaching consequences, not only for ourselves, but for our world. When young we feel so small, insignificant and powerless. But the truth is that as we apply ourselves, we can multiply our influence exponentially.

Or we can choose to drift. Drifting is much easier. Like a cork on the sea, you end up wherever the currents push you. If, however, your aim is to arrive in London and you are currently in Singapore, your odds of achieving this objective are significantly reduced if you choose to get there by drifting.

Apply yourself daily to a significant goal, and you may just surprise yourself at what you achieve.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How important is inspiration?

Rilke spent a segment of his life developing an external poetic form that enabled him to write without being "dependent on inspiration." He developed the concept through friendship with the scultptor Rodin.

Is compromise the death of art?
April 10, 1997

Dorothea Brande, in her book Becoming a Writer, says the same. We cannot be dependent on The Muse. This kind of attitude toward the creative results in an imprisoning mindset of passive waiting. The posture is not one of initiative, but of passivity. From whence does the creative urge emerge? If within our power, then we must learn the processes that stir it, that stimulate, that revive its power.

To some extent it is not about what we do, but rather the energy with which we do it. On command. The energy resides within us. We do not have to wait for circumstances and stars to align. We can choose to pour ourselves out, on demand.

We have no control over the things that lie outside us. But we can control our thoughts and actions. Learn how to prime your pump, how to take charge of your creative powers. The world will be there to absorb the streams of creative life you bring.

Friday, July 20, 2007

If a tree falls in the forest....

Composed a poem while lying awake during the night, but never rose up to record its rhythms and rhymes. With lyrics long and melodious, I took pleasure in the patterns of meter and measure.
Did it have no value because I never rose to record it (for posterity)? The words that flowed like a stream through my head as I lay on my bed....
If a poem falls in the night and nobody hears, did it exist?
Feb 9, 1997

There is probably a philosophical name for this kind of question. The difference between so-called experts and the rest of us is that they know all these names, have labelled the categories and pigeon-holed everything.

Wherein does meaning lie? The particulars are lost in the rumble of existence unless linked to other things in the giant "one".... The problem of the one and the many is that when we ourselves feel isolated, we wonder if our lives have meaning, like the tree or the poem that no one heard. The reality is that we do have an interconnectedness to all things that is significant by virtue of our participation in the family of humankind. Our actions contribute to the history of this humanity, and reveal something about our human nature.

In actuality, because I never rose to record the poem, it no longer exists. Ideas are the same. We have them and let them go, or we have them and record them. If it is unrecorded, it is eventually lost.

The act of rising in the night to get out of a comfortable bed and to go put words on paper is a sacrifice. Without making sacrifices, things will go on as they were. If we wish to alter the future, to share more of ourselves with the as yet uncreated tomorrow, we will need to make sacrifices today.

What have you created that is forgotten? Don't let it happen. Take the time to capture it. Let it enrich another. Let it bring greater light into our world.... and lightness.

Have a great and wonderful day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Reach for the stars...

And the world will be better for this
that one man, scorned and covered with scars,
still strove with his last ounce of courage
to reach the unreachable stars.
~ Dale Wasserman, Man of La Mancha

How high do you want to go? How much difference do you want to make?
Go big. That is the only way to find out how far you can reach.

In today's cynical and suspicious world, you may appear a fool in the eyes of many. To believe you really can make a mark that lasts, make a difference. You will be swimming upstream. But do not give up. The current will take you backwards. You are tired? Hold on to something firm, catch your breath, then continue. There are rewards for those who make such an effort... Keep on keepin' on. You really can achieve the unachievable.

But first, you must want it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

What does it take to get us to face our demons? Paul Newman's demon in this film.... believing a lie about his wife and best friend? Or knowing the truth that he shut out his best friend in his friend's hour of need?
Skipper's demon: that in himself he was nothing.
Big Daddy's: that he was not going to live forever.
Facades. Clouds of deceit... mists of misrepresentation, smothering the heart and vital life out of them all.
Feb 2, 1997

It is hardship, not ease, that tests our character and helps us to grow. Not all survive the tests of life. Some become hardened. Others are broken and flattened out. But others, and this is within our grasp, become wiser, stronger, with a sense of accomplishment at having overcome the various obstacles we must surmount.

The vital joy of positive self esteem comes not from self talk, but from achievement. When we climb a mountain, then look back and see the valley below with its shadows and confusion, we feel good about ourselves. But first, we must face our demons.... or rather, face the truth about ourselves. Hence, the well worn maxim that self understanding is the essential foundation for personal growth that we might become all we're meant to be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Killing Time

Solitaire, chess, puzzles -- why the fascination?
Many people play card games all day... for a lifetime. Why?
1) Easy
2) Engages the mind
3) Passes the time
For many, life is just a matter of putting in your time till you die.
January 20, 1996

What are we doing here? That is, what are we doing here on earth?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a difference. What kind of difference will you make with your life? You only live once. This is your only go-round. You have one stack of chips and when they are played out, it's over. Are you just going to sit around killing time?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Unspoken Things

"It's all the unspoken things that make us feel so alone."
January 19, 1997

We learn to talk at a very early age. It is something we do all our lives. But do we know how to communicate? Real communication can be very challenging. And there are consequences when we fail.

There are many barriers to effective communication. We must realize that communication does not mean speaking words into the air; rather, it is conveying a message to another human being. This other human being may be distracted, or disinterested, or carrying a raft of insecurities himself or herself. This other person may be defensive or may have purposes that thwart communication.

Whether in the home or the workplace, we must learn how to communicate. If someone does not hear us, it may be our own fault and not just theirs. Hence, the importance of courage in communication, when it really matters. Otherwise, the unspoken things will leave us isolated and alone.

I once heard this saying, "A large tree can be blown over by a strong wind, but a forest laughs at a hurricane." Becoming isolated and alone makes us vulnerable. Being connected to others strengthens us, helps us get through the hard places of life, and enables us to go on helping others.

Never give up striving to share what's in your heart. It will be good for others, and for you as well.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Is This True?

Democrats Have Daggers Drawn for Bush
By Stephen Collinson
Agence France-Presse

Sunday 08 July 2007

With daggers drawn for a weakened White House, congressional Democrats return from a short recess this week plotting to further undermine President George W. Bush's waning political sway.

>>> OK, so my question is this. Is the war against terrorism real or not? Are we in a war or are we not? That is the crux of the matter. If we have an enemy who is seeking to do harm to the U.S., seeking to destroy the U.S., then why would any Americans want us to fail and lose this war?

The 9/11 tragedy was not an isolated incident. The assault on the World Trade Center that failed in 1990's was perpetrated with the same intent. Other assaults followed. Ultimately, 9/11 succeeded, but this was not the end of the war upon the U.S.

Was the U.S. correct to invade Iraq? In retrospect, it may have been a wrong move for this country to make, but everything is easy in retrospect.

More importantly, is it in the best interest of this nation to lose the war on terror? According to this French news story, Democrats in appear to be embracing this very agenda. Somehow, it does not seem right. As a citizen, I here express my concern.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

The age old dilemma. What is my life all about?
Jan 2, 1997

In point of fact, as I sift through old journals it becomes tedious and tiresome to see the recurring preoccupation with these kinds of questions. There are other themes, but so many entries are little more than surface scratchings.

But maybe this is not all bad. Routines can be good. The drama of perpetual crises might be more "interesting"... but to what end?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day as Symbol

Independence Day as symbol.
Thoughts about our need for symbols. The flag, the Cross, the Lamb, bread, wine. Many symbols have transcendant power.

Independence Day means being done with anxiety over money and the future, means being free to focus on one's Purpose, the reason for my existence. All else is being "anxious for nothing."
July 4, 1996

Some interesting starter thoughts about symbols. This ties in to the notion that we often do not see or hear people, but tend to encounter the symbols. A man in rags sees a man in a suit and does not encounter a person wearing clothes, but instead sees the symbol of wealth and power. The man in the suit may not see the man in rags as a person, but as something vile or unclean or dangerous to be avoided.

With regard to transcendent symbols.... Are we hardwired with regard to symbols? Is there something inherent in our hearts and minds to respond to certain symbols? Does the mind look for patterns and symbols (and find them) or do we simply create them?

Then there are the symbolic acts. In relationships we sometimes read into a gesture, a perceived snub, and fail to see that there was no "meaning" behind an action. The act was harmless, unintentional.

Yet, in other instances -- for example, the initial steps in moving a casual relationship to a more serious level, esp. amongst older people -- every word, every look is weighted and conveys import, presenting a minefield of challenges.

So too, job interviews can become so dense with meaning and significance that the individual, instead of revealing himself (easygoing, confident) conveys a far too self-conscious projection.

For Americans, today is Independence Day, symbolizing our national freedom. Freedom is a great value in this country, one which has been defended and preserved with blood. It is an experience that is not shared universally. It is a way of life we too often take for granted.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Dream

(Note: As a teenager I never kept a diary of my real life because it was so dull and uninteresting to me. Instead, I kept a diary of my dreams and have had the ability to recall many of them upon waking. Some of these dreams make it into my journals such as this one.)

We were an army on patrol or something like that during a war, and an enemy attack commenced, with fighter planes strafing us. It was some kind of semi-rural town setting with houses and open spaces.

We were discussing poetry while fighting took place... machine gun fire, explosions and the loud assertion that the poet's content and character should dictate the poem's style. Style flows out of the person. I then exclaimed, as bullets flew, that a good example was Heathcliffe's poem in Wuthering Heights.

The irony here is that I've never read W.Hts nor do I know whether Heathcliffe ever made any poems, though I do not doubt it and ought to find them if he did.
August 1, 1996

For a link to a handful of additional dreams which I have posted online, visit:

Monday, July 2, 2007

On Time

Is time a "reality" -- something that exists -- or is it only a perception?
Existence outside our selves, perceived by our experience of duration.... the assembled memories from a sequence of events. We do not create time. We experience events in time, in the framework known as time.

Why this line of thought this a.m.? I had the notion of wondering whether time was a man-created, mind-created phenomenon. It seemed as if memory aided us in the creation of time. But in truth, memory helps us maintain our internal clock, to keep us in sync with time, which ratchets ever forward in its course.

God Himself was the first to break time into pieces, by creating days and nights. Night, and sleep, are truly blessings... providing relief from the unwearying walk of time.

Time can be one of life's great trials. It seems we are always waiting for something. This, too, makes us tired.
July 5, 1996

Sunday, July 1, 2007

More about truth & love...

Saying more about less is good.
Saying more with less is better, more or less.

A poem
The drums sound bright in the distant night,
Dark forces unite in the distant night,
False hopes appear
When the end is near,
It's the hour men fear:
The distant night...

The truth is something we "live"... not simply talk about. In fact, to write about it and talk about it, and not to live it is thereby a denial of it, and a declaration that we never knew it.

"The one who does not love does not know God."
There it is. Knowing that we ought to love & talking about love... well, this is not the command. The command is to love.
Nov 25, 2002

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