Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Barn, Books, Business, The Bus

Some ask me why I ride the bus. My life events seemed to have brought me full circle to what I thought about in my youth, to being expressed now. A near-death experience in the prime of my life stirred a revisit to that expression. It progressed something like this.

On the farm as a youth, it was my job to feed the cows, take them to pasture, and in the summertime, stack the freshly baled hay on the wagon, and then stack it in the hay loft in the barn. During those times working in the barn, the hills, I saw myself helping those neglected, struggling, just trying to make it in life. As I thought about going to college, I would think about studying psychology, sociology then working with VISTA, or a social service organization.

After nearly completing my hours for a major in psychology, my college had an offer by a local TV station to provide jobs to students in broadcasting. I had the opportunity to actually work and get college credit. So I switched my major to broadcast communications.  I seemed to be a natural there and realized I loved communications psychology more than clinical psychology. After a year or two I was offered a chance to broaden my communications skills by creating audio-visual media for a national religious publishing organization. While there I completed an advanced degree in education and communications. I was not making  a great deal of money, but I enjoyed what I did.

Events started to move more rapidly. As president and on boards of several educational/training association groups, I became noted in my field. The business sector caught my eye. Started a video production business producing videos mainly for corporate applications, became a corporate training professional, and moved on to partnering with entrepreneurs as an advanced resource/personal strategist. My professional career continued to advance.

Then all of a sudden things changed.
A near-death experience, barely escaped dying, totally changed my perspective of life quite dramatically.  This summation of those with near-death experiences gives a fairly accurate description of who I am now.

"Most people who face near-death experiences are profoundly changed for even decades after their near-death experience. They particularly become less materialistic, less competitive, less involved in personal power, prestige, fame. Much more altruistic (selfless concern for others), much more concerned with relationships and the spiritual side of lives. Many change careers, change their relationships as a result of their near-death experience."  From:
Resurrected Millionaire doesn't care about money any more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K2I5P36-Z8

I don’t value carrying the image of being successful, having an impressive position, or possessing things as before. Life for me is about living on purpose, a mission, and creating quality lifestyle that’s more internal than external. It is like God sent me back with this message… we all have His gifts and an assignment related to it. I can see God’s gifts in people. He has given me a Gift to guide people in how to use their Gifts for Noble Purposes. Everyday I see a rich reservoir of latent talent, undiscovered, underdeveloped gifts on the bus… not just the bus riders, but also the bus drivers, the leaders that surround the system. No matter how little someone has or how much someone has accomplished, I see so much more that they could be.

I want to help those who want to do better, need to do better, to live out a healthy philosophy of life, an inspired life, a life with purpose, a sense of mission, a reason to be here. As we mature into our God-given Gifts, we make a difference. We then exist in… that happy spot. When in our place as our Creator made us, we find happiness and fulfillment in a measure we value.
“Before you were born, I set you apart for a special role in God’s purpose.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

This has been my ride… the barn, books, business, the bus. An interesting ride. I have returned full circle to the thoughts of my youth I had while riding on top of the hay wagon as the tractor driver took us to the barn. Now it’s the bus driver taking me home.

In all of this, I am finding my own happy spot. The bus has brought me back to seeing this again, and living it again. In my youth on the farm, many remarked that I was a happy person. I created happiness and fun for myself. I like the simplicity that opens the door for that happiness again.

Maybe this helps so you see why I ride the bus. 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Waiting Pleasure

The bus stop is tucked in a quiet neighborhood. In the warm summer mornings I like to walk a couple blocks to it, sit on the bench, watch the clouds overhead, listen to the chirping birds. It’s a real peaceful place with a friendly neighborhood too.  A car or two will pass by. They frequently wave. Reminds me of being on a small town street. As I looked around though I noticed the grass around the bench and bus stop pole was a little high, saw an empty soft drink cup, a few cigarette butts. It’s a nice spot but could use a little sprucing up, the weeds trimmed, the bench painted.

The thought went through my mind we actually enjoy waiting when where we wait is a pleasurable spot. I then started to think about all the other bus stops.

What if we took time each week to manicure them?  All it would take would be a man and a truck, a mower, weed eater, a broom and a trash bag. He could make the rounds each day and cover several routes daily. Cut the grass, trim the grass around the benches, poles, sweep the cement, pick up unnecessary things left there. They could really be a neat place… something remarkable, that would stand out and people remark about. Those waiting on the bus could feel like they were waiting at the 18th hole of a PGA Tour golf course.

Growing up I lived in Amish-Dutch country. Many of the farmers didn’t have much but the barns were always painted, the fences mended, grass cut, always neat and clean. I remember it well, as it was my job to do it. The farmers were always working at making the most of what they had. Those who passed by would remark about how beautiful and well-kept the farms were.

The other day I took Line 5 to a wellness facility. The waiting area had a large fish aquarium, soft music, comfy chairs, and courtesy drinking water with a slice of cucumber in it. I tell people I like to go early because I get inspired by the wait. It’s like the tucked away bus stop I like to go to, where it’s a nice place to sit, relax, take in the calm, refreshing feel of its environment. …just lifts my spirits being there.

A principle of life started coming home… we don’t mind waiting, or even anticipate it, when the wait is pleasurable, with a pleasant atmosphere and surroundings. When the wait is pleasing, we come more often… the wait can even be something we look forward to.

Lesson: when you need someone to wait for you, make it as pleasurable for them as you can.

(By the way, I looked up the word manicure. Its parallel meanings include beautify, polish, cut, shape, clip. We think of manicure as care in beautifying, polishing fingernails. It's a good fit for other things as well.)
“He who is faithful with the small things is also faithful with much.” (Jesus)


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Monday, June 9, 2014

A bus ride always helps with flow

First bus by on a Sunday morning. Hopped on and Dawn said you’re up bright and early today. And I said I was trying to figure out how to say something I want to say and a bus ride seems to always help. On the short ride around, I hopped off at a convenient spot. The ride and walk helped bring this together in my mind.

One day as I took the bus on one of my frequent trips downtown to the library I saw a bus driver checking out a book. I figured she was on her lunch break. So you like the library too I said. A favorite place for her, could stay here all day she said. I thanked her for using the public library as she hurried off.

In one part of my life I was involved in the Missouri Educational Communications Association. I have always been an advocate for the public library system. And now an advocate for advancing public transportation in a community. Plus I am all for cultivating the entrepreneur skill in America, and doing all things according to God’s Principles from the Bible. Blend these, and we have a strong force.

One day on Line 2 which goes close by the community college, a girl got on and sat across from me. A friend asked her how college was going. She said she had just dropped out. Overhearing this, I wondered why. Every person is gifted in some way or another. She seemed a little despondent. Has anyone ever helped her find her unique gifts and talents? Does she know anything about entrepreneur skills where a person can make it, do something or survive in any economy?  Still on my life to-do list is to teach entrepreneurial skills, so anyone can make it or advance with or without a job. That desire increased on this ride. With just a little guidance, education, opportunity, anyone can accomplish more of what they hope for.

Another area of life is learning flow. That’s why the ride this morning… to get into flow. Flow is a mental process where we come into a “flowing” stride, do things at our best. It starts with information gathering. Then when our brain is full, taking a break and doing something different. We allow the subconscious to organize all the tangents. When we come back to the task a flow begins, we become like a faucet.  It just pours out.

I don’t know if I am smart or not. But when doing my graduate studies, I learned this.
I was not rated as being real smart going into college. Then I learned flow. I became a top student. I realized everyone can do this. When I don’t apply it I seem to function as not being very smart. When I feel a struggle, I know how to get back into flow. A bus ride stimulates a return to flow for me.

The girl on the bus, who dropped out of college, could learn flow and entrepreneur skills. The bus driver probably uses the trip to the library to get her mental wits together for the second part of her day. Knowing how to return to our best self, when we see we are waning, is something that can be learned and used regularly.

It reminds me of what John Maxwell advocates. Have a think spot. A place to sit, be quiet and just think.  The Scriptures say be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). We have help, psychologically, from our subconscious mind, using it for what it can do.  And Spiritually,  the Spirit of God who stands ready as well. I have learned to trust both.  

Take a walk, ride the bus, get on your bike… it seems to work wonders.

The Rise of Superman is about flow, on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Here’s a summary along with my Spiritual additive.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Public Transit … an injection to the entrepreneur spirit

A startup online video producer wanted to attend a 1 Million Cups  meeting with me. At these meetings a couple entrepreneurs are featured each week to talk about their business ventures. 

I had been talking to him about the benefits of using public transit so I suggested he meet me there. He said he could ride his bike to get on Line 9, transfer to Line 2. Then he could get off just a half of a block from the meeting location. Afterwards, he could go back on Line 2 which goes by his new office (of which he worked out a deal with the owner of the office space trading video services for use of the space.)

I was telling him how using public transit can make a difference in getting a business idea off the ground. Here’s a few things I pointed out to him.
1. Keep overhead costs down. Do the math. It costs less to use public transit than using a personal automobile. Let your wife use the car to get to work, and you follow the walk, bike, bus combo plan. It keeps living expense down by not having to pay for and maintain two cars.
2. Stay unnoticed. In the beginning stages, as you work to establish a good track record, staying unnoticed is important. Fly under the radar for a while so you can build things up. Some make the mistake of going overboard in talking about their business. Talk less, do more, and be discovered by how well you do your business.  On the bus you can remain unnoticed. By blending with regular folks, you stay humble and keep working diligently.  
3. It gives you time to think. I get many ideas while on the bus. I am not distracted by traffic issues I have to deal with while driving myself. It’s good to have think time, solve problems, have a place where ideas pop up. The bus provides you that opportunity. I get many solutions to things or get ideas while riding.

Physical exercise is good. By using the bus he walks more, and with his bike he is getting the blood flow that refreshes the brain (helping to subdue stresses of the day and remaining calm while thinking through issues of his business). To make his business work, keeping costs down, staying unnoticed, and thinking, creative-thinking time contribute a great deal to the entrepreneur mind.  The bus is a unique strategic option for stimulating the entrepreneur spirit.

In all things it is important to stay humble, be frugal and cultivate the innovative spirit by looking at things from different perspectives.  A danger we face is to be too pre-occupied with our life and lose sight of what is going on in the lives of those around us.

Here’s a new book about how to get an idea, product, company up and going by Lori Greiner of Shark Tank.
Invent It, Sell It, Bank It.


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

A city bus terminal … a city’s cultural intersection

This week I had the privilege of sitting in on an informational gathering session in prelude to an architectural firm designing a new bus terminal. The firm was seeking community preferred interests for a terminal’s function and design.

After hearing viewpoints from many aspects of a city’s functions, organizations and rider interest groups, I sent a response email to the session’s facilitator. As I was writing the email, I realized I was expressing a philosophical position for city public transit. So I decided to post the core of the letter as it has relevance to any city’s culture and a desire to build a healthy, vibrant lifestyle in a community. Below:

To summarize my views, as a city bus passenger for the last couple years, I have a cultural mission in what I do. Which is...  transit within its operating practices and services can affect a community beyond the functional service it provides to revive it, make it stronger, and stimulate economic and sociological advancement.

Some may see it as a service for the poor, disadvantaged, down and outer way to get around. In my view, the general culture of our community would benefit from more cross-cultural interaction.

A bus transfer facility could enhance this. The struggling, less influential culture could be positively affected by those who have established, comfortable lifestyles. A quality facility, physically attractive as well as functional, could attract the more accomplished person who would lend to a balanced blend of people connecting daily. This intermingling presence alone would have positive impact on a culture as a whole.

So I see the terminal as a key cog to facilitate this. Also, a quality environment would bring the self-image up of those who use transit as their sole method of getting around… being bus patrons who are part of something the community sees as a positive center piece of community activity. It can be an attractive gathering place blending a city's cultures, promoting better community understanding, and nourishing a community's heart of well being.

From this perspective, it is a key to creating long-term, significantly positive impact on a community.

Lesson learned: one part affects how all parts work… each affects all the others. Maybe that’s why Jesus prayed may they be One as We are One. A chord in a piano out of tune makes the whole piano sound out of tune. All in tune with each other can make music very pleasing to the ear.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If they don’t want to…

Saturday can be a little more of a wait coming back from Walmart. At the sheltered bus stop, I sat down in between two men. It was a conversation between one person trying to help another.  As I was in between this, I figured out the one slept behind the buildings across the street and the other was trying to get him in a shelter. The helper called someone and left a message that he knew someone needing a place to sleep that night. 

What was different was the person needing a place to stay was reluctant to respond to an offer of help. The helper offered to get on the bus with him and take him to the place he knew would give him a bed and shelter. He continued to be non-responsive to his offer in any way… neither accepting or denying the offer. Do you have money for the bus the helper asked. No response. He just mumbled something. By now I was becoming, inadvertently, part of this.

The helper guy offered to give him money for the bus fare. Still no response. Here comes the bus “so ride with me,” he insisted. Being caught up in this conversation, I gave him a dollar and the other guy a quarter.  Then I told him exactly what he needed to do to get to the location. He needed a transfer to get there, so I gave him another quarter (a transfer is a dime more, but it was the only change I had). He just didn’t want any help. 

As the bus showed up, the helper guy asked him again to get on the bus with him. He didn’t budge. Walking to the bus he asked one more time. Still no response. The helper guy and I boarded Line 2 bus and the guy needing help stayed behind.

Then we went off as the guy sat there. Not really knowing why. Maybe it was how the helper guy was going about it (which could be another story).

In most instances someone willingly accepts a little help from unknown friends, but this person just seemed totally depressed. I know that because I was depressed at one time, and maybe I still am to some degree. It was like I was frozen. I couldn’t move or anything. I had a hard time walking to a bus stop let alone getting on.

How can we help?

First is understanding what is going on and then realizing someone must want our help. If help is not wanted, there is not much to do.

A large part of our culture probably is depressed and can’t get out of their stupor. That’s the greatest challenge. All we do won’t work unless we figure this first part out. When hope is totally diminished, we just can’t use intravenous methods to get hope into a person. Then, for whatever reason, someone must want it.

The hardest code to crack is the “no hope” code. Our human person without hope just doesn’t function. And then to be able to accept help graciously (for me the hardest part).

I am still puzzled. Some people on the street may stop you to ask for money for the bus. But for this guy to just refuse, in his quiet non-receptive way, was unusual. He had to be depressed. And that is the biggest puzzle. How to get out of it?  If you don’t wanna… it won’t happen.

All who pray and believe they have already received what they ask for, will receive what they ask for, Jesus said.

If we could turn our thoughts around to "we can have it better," then it can become better. Even if just a little bit at a time. And then we need to accept help when offered to restart our engines and accept help from our friends, even if we don’t know they are our friends yet.

Lesson learned:  We gotta wanna… and we must be willing to say yes, and thank you.

(In the Way of the Seal, we see a completely different person.  A person wanting to excel above average which is how the Navy Seals perform.)
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

What was his song?

While sitting at the terminal,  I saw this dude with some interesting attire. He wore a cowboy hat, pulled down to the top of his eyebrows. Wore casual western type clothes and had ear plugs in his ears. He walked out to look at the bus map in the middle foyer. His head bobbing slightly and rhythmically with what he evidently had plugged into his ears. As he walked outside down the terminal, his body rhythm seemed to be with the music he was listening to. I wondered. What is he listening to?  What does it mean to him? Why does he like the music he hears. But it was for his ears only.

The more I thought about it, it dawned on me that without hearing his song I don’t really know much about him. When we have a song, do we share it with others or do we keep it to ourselves.  We can’t really relate unless we hear the other person’s song. Those who share it have more who know them and may join them in being part of their song. Those with a song who keep it to themselves, keep others out of their rhythm of life. We may never really know them and know what to sing to be in harmony with them.

We each have a song. The more we share it, the more others may be singing in harmony with us. What if we all live in the joy of celebrating the other person's song with them and we share the melody of our song with others. We each sing a song. What would the melody of life be if we shared our song? And, we learned how to sing along with each other's song?

Haven’t seen this mystical cowboy again. Or was he a cowboy as I judged him by how he looked to me. I will never know for sure as long as I haven’t had a chance to hear his song.

“Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong...Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song.”(Carpenters) And those around you may be singing the song with you.

Another lesson of life I learned while riding the bus: if we knew each other’s song, we’ll probably see more of us getting along.

“He gives me a new song to sing.” (Psalm 40:3)