Saturday, July 27, 2019

It’s the Why, Not the What.

Often we are told that if you want to know what’s really going on and who’s doing what, “Follow The Money”. That’s not bad advice. But if you want to know the WHY behind what’s going on, you have to go deeper, down to the roots.

And what I’ve learned, after many years, is that when it comes to big decisions and choices that really matter, people act primarily out of FEAR or ANGER or both. They may not admit to fear or anger. It’s hard to admit that you’re afraid or to confess that you are really angry. Fear and Anger are strong words that might cause others to think we are not in control of our emotions. So we use softer words. Instead of fear, we use words like ‘concerned’ or ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’. Rather than say we are angry, we use words like ‘upset’ or ‘not happy’ about whatever it is that actually made us angry.

Since I’ve been in the headhunting business, I’ve never seen a person change jobs unless they were really concerned (afraid) or very upset (angry). They may say they are looking for career advancement or more income. But, it nearly always comes down to some level of concern or being upset. When people are secure about their job now and in the future which includes meeting their income requirements now and in the future, they stay put. When they like what they are doing and who they are working with and for, in other words they are not upset, they stay put. I don’t recall ever placing a candidate who wasn’t concerned or upset about something even if it’s just moving to a more desirable location.

And employers don’t hire people unless the employer has a “need”. And needs to hire are rooted in some type of fear and anger. A fear that if a problem is not solved or results do not improve it will have negative consequences for that employer. Or they are really upset with an employee and want to replace them.

In other words, if there is no problem, there is no need for a solution. And when something is not important enough to create some serious discomfort, enough to cause you to be concerned or upset, then it’s not really a problem.

People don’t make major purchases unless there is a problem. You may argue that people often trade-in late model, low-mileage automobiles for a new one just because they like having a new car. Fair enough. But why do they like having a new car? It could be that they are concerned about reliability and believe that newer is better and safer (they may well be wrong, but perception is reality). Maybe they are concerned about appearances. A neighbor or someone at work, just bought a new car. Got to keep up. Or if the person is very wealthy, buying a new car every year is just not a big decision.

Remember, we’re talking about BIG decisions and choices that really MATTER. If I bought an expensive watch, that would be a big decision. I don’t have a problem that needs a big watch solution. Someone who can afford to buy an expensive watch as easily as I might buy underwear, doesn’t see it has a big decision. But if someone like me made a really irrational purchase that is beyond their means, there is something else going on. That person is concerned about trying to impress others. Or they are upset about something and a crazy purchase of some sort is a way of getting back at whoever upset them.

So if you’re in sales or managing people or just trying to navigate through life, take note of fear and anger. In yourself and in others. It’s in our DNA. Our ancestors didn’t hunt large, dangerous animals with spears and clubs for sport. They were afraid of starving to death. All wars have been fought because people were afraid and/or angry. People commit crimes out of fear and anger. Religions are built on fear and anger. Human fear of higher powers and the potential anger those higher powers might have toward us if we don’t stay in line.

Every big decision I’ve made in my life has been driven by fear and/or anger. Some were good decisions and some were terrible. I look back now and realize there were times when I let my fear or anger get the better of me and I made a poor decision. In some cases my fear or anger was unwarranted. At other times, it made sense to be afraid or angry, but I picked the wrong solution to solve my problem.

So when you are faced with a big decision and choice really matters. Check yourself. What are you afraid of? What’s the concern? Why are you angry and upset? Is there really a problem? If there is, what’s the best way to fix it. Don’t make it worse. .. and we can always make it worse. That’s also in our DNA.

If you try to get rid of fear and anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.- Deepak Chopra

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Mother Bird

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”- Stephen Covey

I live out in the country and there is on old, rocky road on my place that goes over to a barn. I don’t use the barn for much besides storage. So grass and weeds are starting to take over the road. But it is still there with an assortment of colorful small rocks and stones between the ruts.

A while back I was hauling some more really valuable keepsakes (junk) to the barn in my pickup. In the middle of the road I saw a Killdeer. It’s a bird. They do better around water, but for some reason you will see them in strange places in these parts. In Texas we call them Kill-dees. They are not the smartest birds and must have a fear of heights, since they nest on the ground and lay their eggs where snakes and other critters can eat them; assuming some old codger in a pickup truck doesn’t run over them first.

This bird was bowed up with her wings fanned out, so I figured she must have eggs on the ground. I pulled off the road and stopped beside her nest which was really nothing other than a pile of rocks. Her eggs were huddled up in those rocks. I guess she thought they were camouflaged and looked like rocks. Not really. I drove on up to the barn and when I came back she was still there.

For the next couple of weeks I found myself looking for reasons to go over to the barn. I also have some bees nearby and that was another excuse for more frequent trips I suppose. But I was really just curious about this little momma bird and her eggs. I didn’t see how they would ever survive. It was a ready meal for a snake or a skunk and I figured she could not fight them all off 24-7. But, to my surprise she hung in there. I thought those eggs might survive and hatch. Perhaps God had ordained we should have some more not too bright little “Kill-dees” who would grow up to lay eggs in the middle of the road.

I went over there yesterday on foot and there she was standing guard. But the eggs were gone. Maybe they hatched. Maybe not. She was running around in circles but moved away as I got closer. I saw no signs that the eggs had hatched or had ever been there for that matter. I reckoned that some other creature had finally caught her napping or briefly away from the eggs. The eggs were gone and Mother Bird was totally lost and confused by the tragic turn of events.

I usually don’t get sentimental about wildlife. It’s eat or be eaten and the strong and smart survive. Kill-dee eggs are just another link in the food-chain. But, I had taken an interest in this little bird and her eggs. I genuinely felt sorry for her. I went back later before sundown and she was still there, trying to find her eggs or waiting for whatever took them to bring them back. I wonder how long she will fret over those lost eggs. At what point will she forget or just give up and move on. Or will she remain lost and confused hopping around in circles.

I suppose this little mother bird could represent many things in our world. Some of them are too controversial and divisive. So I will not even go there other than to predict that we humans are likely to remain lost and confused, hopping around in circles….and laying our eggs in the middle of the road until our time is up.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Freedom They Long For

I’ve written previously about my ancestors. The old family stories were accurate only going back a few generations. Beyond that it was stories that sounded good, but were mostly untrue.

Several years ago I took a very basic DNA test and was surprised to find that one of those stories that had been told as fact turned out to be fiction. The Clicks came to Texas from Eastern Tennessee and always claimed Cherokee blood. Many of them had dark complexions and the high cheek bones one might associate with Indian heritage. That was not the case.

I had traced my Click (Gluck) ancestry back to the Rhineland region of Germany. But that basic DNA test reported that I was only 10% Western European. The bulk of my DNA was linked to Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. I had more Iberian (Spanish) than Western European (German or French).

Recently, I decided to spend the money for a more in depth DNA analysis and the results were startlingly different. I still had all that was reported in the basic test, but to lesser degrees. The report showed portions of Toscani Italian (11%) and Asian Indian (6%) DNA. Moreover, German ancestry was specifically identified at over 50%. And, the report said I was also 15% French. The Anglo-Scots-Irish was still there but not nearly as much. And the Iberian was about the same (10%). The report noted that German DNA is the most widespread in Western Europe, even into the British Isles. So perhaps some of my English and Scots-Irish ancestors had some German blood or just married Germans when they got to America. Who knows? (I will find out though).

At any rate, the larger percentage of German ancestry made sense. So I went back again for a closer look at the Glucks. The earliest known relative had been living in Southern France before returning to Germany in the 1600’s. Most likely fleeing religious persecution from Catholic France. However, the persecution continued for those German Protestants living in the Rhine Valley of Southwestern Germany, also referred to as the Palatine region. So in the 1700’s there began a mass migration of Palatine Germans to the British Colonies in the Americas.

With the support of Queen Anne and the leadership of William Penn, thousands of Palatine Germans migrated to America. It was a brutal trip. By boat up the Rhine River to Rotterdam. A ship to England and then on to Philadelphia. They settled in Pennsylvania in such numbers that at one point over half of the population was German. The promise of religious freedom and the opportunity to own land compelled them to leave everything behind and face the risks of death, disease, poverty and failure. The potential rewards were simply too great to ignore.

My ancestors arrived in Philadelphia on the migrant ship Lydia in October 1749. Until recently, I thought it was just Ludwig Heinrich Gluck. But further research revealed that he came with his parents. He was still a boy. Johann Conrad and Susanna Gluck, his parents along with his older sister Maria and younger brother Johannes Marx had made (and survived) the journey. Ludwig changed his name later to Lewis Henry Click and moved to East Tennessee to become one of Tennessee’s Founding Families. His parents, Johann and Susanna are buried back in Pennsylvania in the Gluck Farm Cemetery.

In researching the Palatine German migration, I found a pamphlet that had been written by a German immigrant as both a guide and a warning to those still in Germany considering immigrating to America. Mostly it was a discouraging report outlining all of the terrible things one faced on the journey and the hardships that awaited those who survived. But the author of the pamphlet, identified only as “L.M.”, also had these words for those who might come to America:

“Whoever does not come here at all, but remains at home he is the wisest, yet this land is, when one studies it earnestly, a door opened of old to those who suffer for their conscience' sake, to find the freedom they long for. Whoever comes here with this motive will still find what he is seeking. But all other purposes will fail or be difficult to attain, for our motto here, too, is "Labor is Prayer" or "In the sweat of thy forehead shalt thou eat thy bread".

Our current immigration system is a mess. We certainly need people who come for the right reasons and are willing to work. I think most of them do. Those of us who are here need to find better ways to help them find "the freedom they long for" while still protecting our nation. It's been done before and can be done again.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Rattlers, Ropes and Rumbles

“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – FDR

From the Dallas Morning News:

A man and a woman found themselves up a tree in a South Texas park in an attempt to get away from what they thought was a feral hog.
A police officer at Government Canyon State Natural Area, about 20 miles northwest of downtown San Antonio, was notified shortly before midnight June 21 after a woman called 911.
She said a growling feral hog was following her and that she had taken refuge in a tree, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The woman used her cellphone to send the officer her location, and when he hiked there he found her and a man in a tree. The woman warned the officer that the hog was nearby.

One of my favorite movies is Fandango. It was made back in ’85 and was one of Kevin Costner’s first starring roles. It was set in Texas, 1971…if you’re from Texas and from that era…you’ll love the movie. It has become a cult classic for guys like me. But the rest of the world just doesn’t get it. At one point in the movie, the guys are sleeping on the ground out where the movie Giant was filmed. Nothing is still standing there but the old staged front of the Benedict mansion. In the morning just before dawn, one of the guys wakes up screaming, “Snake, Snake…”.

He tells his buddies that a snake has crawled up his pants leg during the night. He claims it’s a rattler. About that time, a harmless lizard sticks it’s head out of his pants and then runs off. The others start teasing the guy who was so scared and he replies, “Well it felt like a snake…” Kevin Costner’s character replies with a thick Texas twang ”No, it was a RAT-LUR…”

When I was a little boy I used to spend summers down on my grandparents farm. It wasn’t too far from the Brazos River and this was back before they built the dam that created Lake Granbury. My uncle would take me fishing and camping down on the river. I was allowed to wonder around, often by myself, in places that if a little boy were allowed to do go these days the uncle would be arrested. But those were different times. They warned you about venomous snakes and river currents and poison oak. It was your job to pay attention and be careful. I think it’s called teaching responsibility. But I digress.

One time I had been down below camp fishing from the bank. A long draught had finally broken and the river was running high and fast. A couple of days before, a young woman had drowned back up the river and her body had not been recovered. Given the way the river winds and bends we were probably 50 miles from where she drowned. But my uncle had great fun telling me to keep an eye out for a floating body. That the woman who drowned was probably “all swole up by now and might float a long way with the river runnin' like this.”

It was the duty of older male relatives in my family to tease and torment the younger ones. It was all about toughening you up and preparing you to face the shit-show of life that awaited. These older males had lived through the depression, the dust bowl, WW2 and a long, brutal drought. They weren’t inclined to worry about your feelings other than to diminish them as much as possible. I think it made me a better man in some ways and a much worse man in others. So I’m not suggesting that it is the right way to treat young boys, but in small doses it might not be a bad thing.

After several hours of bad fishing and intense surveillance, I’d already mistaken several logs and other debris for the dead woman’s floating body. Every time something grabbed my line, usually a turtle or some underwater limb, I just knew I was going to pull up an arm or a leg. So by the time I headed back to camp around sundown, I am pretty spooked by the whole river experience. I had been using minnows for bait and had the minnow bucket in one hand and my rod and reel over my shoulder with the other one. It was a Norman Rockwell image. All I needed was a spotted pup trotting along side. The minnow bucket had a rope on it that was about 8 ft long. Somehow that rope ended up on the ground trailing behind me. It’s getting dark and I’m walking through the woods by myself. My head is on a swivel. I am watching out for everything. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My.

And then I catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. There is a snake right behind me. I drop the minnow bucket and the rod and reel. I am certain that I set the land speed record for 11 year old fat white boys that day. I get back to camp and my uncle is genuinely concerned when he sees me out of breath and white as a sheet. I tell him about the snake and just dropping everything and running. He says let’s take a look. By now it’s getting pretty dark, so he grabs the lantern and we head back down the trail. He sees my rod and reel and then the bucket and then the rope. And then he starts laughing and says, “Aw you were just attacked by a rope snake. Good thing you ran off”. Haw, Haw, Haw. For the next few years, the “rope snake” incident was brought up at every family gathering. The rope got shorter and my fear was elevated with each telling. No I did not pee in my pants.

However, I did gain something from that embarrassing moment and the teasing that followed. To this day, I don’t overreact to things that might, or might not, be dangerous. It taught me a lesson about misplaced fear and anxiety. A rope is just a rope. (And, oh by the way, they found that poor woman’s body less than 100 yards from where she went under.)

So what about the couple we left up the tree in South Texas. After the officer coaxes them down out of the tree, they hear the sound they thought was the wild hog. Then they hear it again. The officer says that’s just cars going over a rumble strip on a nearby road. Just a harmless rumble strip. No wild hog. No RAT-LUR. Nothing to fear.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

American Pride

The headline read:


The article ( goes on to report that 72% of Republicans are “extremely” proud to be Americans while on 42% of Independents and 32% of Democrats responded as being “extremely” proud. The article notes that this is biggest gap between Republicans and Democrats since Gallup began the poll back in 2001. Older white males are more likely to be “extremely proud” of America than women, younger folks, people of color and those with higher education. Raise your hand if this surprises you.

The article includes a link to the details of the survey. Being naturally curious and chronically skeptical of the way survey results are often reported, I decided to check it out. As it turns out the question is as follows:
How proud are you to be an American -- extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud, or not at all proud?

Being an Independent count me as one of those NOT responding as being “EXTREMELY” proud of America. I am definitely VERY proud of America. But, I am a realist and America isn’t perfect. If the question were asked, how would you rank America to all other nations on planet earth, I would definitely say WE’RE NUMBER ONE. There is no greater nation and never has been , in my opinion. But ask me the question, the way it is asked, and I’m going to respond VERY vs EXTREMELY most of the time.

25% reported being VERY proud. Combine with the 47% who are EXTREMELY proud and we have 72% of American’s who are at least very or extremely proud of America. That number peaked at 92% in September 2002, one year after 911. The high marks for EXTREME pride were 2002, 2003, 2004 at 69%, 70% and 69%. After No WMDs and Katrina, the number started dropping. The Trump years have been the lowest at 52%, 51% and now 47%. The number of VERY proud Americans (like me) has been pretty steady since 2006 staying in the 24-26% range, with a bump up to 27-28-29% in 2013, 2015, 2016. (No results were shown for 2014 which I find interesting).

When the first survey was taken in Jan 2001 (pre-911 and in the aftermath of hanging chads and all of that), 87% of respondents were Extremely or Very Proud of America. That we are now down to 72% is indeed cause for concern. If the survey results are truly representative of us, then almost 50 Million Americans are no longer proud of their country. (I don’t count “moderately” proud…that’s just lame).

We are at one of those historical tipping points. Whichever way things go in the 2020s, we are likely to remain a very divided nation for decades. Trump may now be the poster boy for a U.S. divided, but he’s not the real issue. We are divided on fundamental issues: abortion, immigration, climate change, energy, international policies, healthcare, education, religion, taxes, race, gender, sexuality, the size and scope of government, drugs, crime and punishment. Not just a little divided, but in many cases uncompromisingly divided. Our system may be one of checks and balances, but it requires people of good will and some degree of shared values in order to function. On July 4, 2019, I regret to report that very little of either are to be found.