No longer the arbiter of truth

Nikon P7000, Auto ISO (100), ƒ/8, 1/30, -2 EV Fill Flash

Good morning! This is how we typically great one another. For those who are morning folks like me it is good, some people are not morning people.

A tidbit:

I learned the choice to be a morning person or not is genetic. The ability of a person to wake up effectively in the morning may be influenced by a gene called “Period 3”. This gene comes in two forms, a “short” and a “long” variant. It seems to affect the person’s preference for mornings or evenings. People who carry the long variant were over-represented as morning people, while the ones carrying the short variant were evening preference people.

Each day for me is a new opportunity or a fresh start. While yesterday may have been quite fruitful I always see places for improvement. I look forward each day to the opportunity to have a better day.

If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.
–Mary Pickford
One reason I look forward to new days is I struggle in putting into words my thoughts. What I have found over time is those who seem to navigate relationships either know how to react to almost any situation with just the right words or they are more reserved and less likely to say much at all.
Those who suffer the most in relationships are those who speak their mind freely. While we all love someone who is honest and truthful we really only appreciate those who do so with a warmth and care.
When to speak up in business
I was covering a professor at Georgia Tech teaching a civil engineering class where the lesson was on speaking up, but it wasn’t that obvious. The professor had divided the class into teams and each team was given a bridge to build. 
It appeared to be a test of them building this bridge out of balsa wood to see if it was going to support a large weight to later be put on the bridge.
However, the real test was for them to come to the professor after reading the bridge specs and communicate that this bridge will not work before they start to build the bridge. They were to speak up and communicate before spending time and resources on a bridge that was doomed to fail. 
It was the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger where they went back to all the engineers to see if someone had failed to speak up on a faulty ring design. The engineers had spoken up, but their superiors ignored them and went with the launch.
The ramifications of not speaking up when you should requires you to inform those you work with your concerns. 
Even when doing the prudent thing can have negative consequences. Often whistleblowers suffer a reprisal for speaking out. Many people do not even consider blowing the whistle, not only because of fear of retaliation, but also because of fear of losing their relationships at work and outside work.
When not speak up in business
Even speaking up when it can save lives can be costly. This is why so many people are silent about their opnions in the work place.  
My first job out of college was working for a newspaper.  I was trained to be the arbiter of truth due to the first amendment. Journalists must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience. This stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society.
One of my mentors, Howard Chapnick, wrote a book for photojournalists called Truth Needs No Ally: Inside Photojournalism.  Everything I was learning was to speakup.
I went from the newspaper to working for a Christian magazine The Commission which was communicating was missionaries were doing all around the world to their supporters. However, this is where I started to learn that speaking your mind can backfire.
One of the first meetings I attended I was asked for my thoughts in the meeting. I spoke from the heart and truthfully. I did not understand that this was more of a gesture to include me, but not a sign to welcome your opinion. I was not told they didn’t want to hear my opinion, I just felt very uneasy with the response.
It would take years before I understood that sharing your thoughts isn’t really welcomed in business. 
The art of Decorum
Decorum is an appropriateness of behavior or conduct.

I didn’t speak until I was three years old. Later I would work with a speech pathologist to develop my pronunciation of speech.

After some testing they discovered I was quite bright in certain subjects, but my social interaction and communication skills were not on my age level. While I wasn’t formally diagnosed with autism at the time I would later discover I was. When I did my internship for Social Work I was placed in a clinic where they had done my testing earlier. I was able to sit down with the psychologist that tested me years earlier.

Try to think of non-verbal communication, such as, inflections of the voice, a half smile, tired eyes, posture, fidgeting hands. These are things that we pick up on instinctively that are not taught.

The irony in all of this lack of picking up on non-verbal skills of communication is that I became a professional photographer. I believe all my years working to understand body language and subtle visual cues that famous photojournalists like Eugene Smith had captured in photographs was what was helping me overcome my aspergers (form of autism).

One of the techniques I have learned to use when meeting people is to engage with them on whatever I can find as a common ground. Sometimes it is as simple as asking did they see the baseball game last night or how did the thunderstorms last night affect their neighborhood.

Many times I just like to get people talking about themselves. I get to learn something new and in the process they begin to relax.

Navigating social situations is difficult for me. I often mess up and find myself having to apologize. My studies have introduced me to the cardinal virtues that I find helpful in navigating social appropriate behavior.

Cardinal Virtues

The cardinal virtues are a set of four virtues recognized in the writings of Classical Antiquity and in Christian tradition. These consist of:

  • Prudence – able to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice – proper moderation between self-interest and the rights and needs of others
  • Temperance or Restraint – practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation
  • Fortitude or Courage – forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation

I often will find myself failing somewhere during the day in some relationship.

One of my favorite hymns from my Christian tradition is Just as I am. It was made popular by Billy Graham during his crusades around the globe.  To me the third verse was one I could relate to all the time, because I continued to struggle in my social interactions.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
It is difficult to master the cardinal virtues because I am human. I am a flawed person who makes mistakes and must constantly ask for forgiveness. If you haven’t had to say your sorry in a while you might not be in any relationship. I think being in relationships will cause you to stumble because you care and want the best for your loved ones.

Just living life will make new days welcoming. You have a new opportunity ahead with each new day and keep the cardinal virtues in mind as you live each day.

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