Installment 28: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Perilous Times)

March 29, 2020 

img_1133Unlike my last entry, today is a rainy, drizzly, chilly Spring day. It certainly wasn’t a beautiful day to get outside but get outside I did… for a nice ruck road march. Got some exercise and got some perspective. That’s what I needed.   

I’m writing this from what has become, my alternate, alternate office. We are now more than 2 full weeks into the national emergency that has been spurred by the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Had we taken the trip to NM; we would have been back for a week now. However, as you know, we didn’t. Instead, I shifted into full-time emergency management mode. I’ve spent very little time in headquarters. My work office is a small space in a former jail that is being converted into and Emergency Operations Center and a Coordinating Center for resource management and information flow. My second, alternate office is a corner of my living room, with a laptop, a tablet, 2 cell phones and a pile of folders, where I can keep working, even when I mark off-duty. Technology is amazing.   

Pro-Reading  

Short report on the pro-reading. No excuses, but I’ve only gotten my morning reading in about ½ the time. I’m still working on dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work,” by Brené Brown (Brown, Brené. dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work. 2018. New York. Random House.) I like it. As I said, it’s different, but I’m enjoying the different perspective.   

On top of my personal pro-reading, in the interest of full disclosure, I have also read more about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) than I ever expected or hoped too.   

Other Reading  

I’m pushing through with the Jordan Peterson book, but to be honest, after going to bed very late one night and opening it on my Kindle, I just couldn’t. I backed out to the home page and downloaded a Terry Pratchett fantasy novel. I’m most of the way through The Wee Free Men, and I needed it. A little perspective from an imaginary world to distract from this one. I’m not sorry.   

Other Learning Opportunities  

The City’s response to the Coronavirus has been pretty much my full-time job for the past 3 weeks. I have definitely learned a lot about my team and their capabilities. I’m very proud and very grateful.   

I have also learned a lot about remote access, video conferencing, conference calls, and working out of the front seat of my cruiser. On the other hand, I’ve had a couple of training travel opportunities cancelled as a result of this. Over the next month and a half, I’m going to have plenty of chances to take advantage of my Online Teacher Certification to figure out how to remotely delivery supervisory training and critical incident management training. I’ve got to look at that as a silver lining.   

FUN 

I don’t want to belabor this post tonight, so I’m going to break fun for the last 2 weeks into 4 buckets. Here we go.  

I have had a lot of fun discovering and learning how to “do” Date Nights while relying on takeout and dancing in the living room. Re-purposing “prompt” cards from my writing for discussion prompts with my bride has been a blast.  img_1128

While I miss my dojo family, I have had a lot of fun learning how to replace my Jujitsu sessions with other exercise. I’ve definitely gotten more ruck marches in than I normally would in a 2-week period. I’m blessed to have invested in some pretty cool workout gear that I don’t use nearly enough. The past couple of weeks have reintroduced me to my kettle-bells and my sandbags and have caused me to reexamine how and when I use some other tools. I’m getting great workouts, despite not being able to go to the dojo and I’m learning a lot that I can keep when life goes back to normal.  

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I have had a lot of fun learning how to support my friends and neighbors who own restaurants and other small business. Our local downtown association created a one stop shop for going online and buying Gift Cards to support member businesses. This online “store” let’s you select any of a number of businesses and buy cards in a variety of denominations to give them some needed income now and redeem later. I had a blast sitting on my couch thinking about different experiences I’ve had in these stores, and why they’re important to me.   

Finally, late last week, I decided to jump on an online bandwagon and start reading children’s stories and recording them to share with the community. I was a little apprehensive about this project, but it has been very well received and I’m glad that I decided to pursue it. I might have to go record some more content now.   

Well, I think that is more than enough for now. In these unusual times, my ordinary salutation doesn’t seem like enough…in addition to the below…STAY HEALTHY AND KEEP SMILING!!!

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1* 

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Episode 27: New Adventure, New Opportunity

March 15, 2020 

Happy, sunny, Sunday afternoon VFOT friends, fans, and followers. I had anticipated completing this entry from an airport somewhere…I’ll get into why that isn’t the case in a little bit. However, before that, I have a confession to make. This blog project is one part of a concerted effort that I’ve been making for the past year plus at both professional and personal development. In addition to writing, reading, exercising, and working with an executive coach, it has required a lot of self-examination and self-reflection.   

One of the things that I have come to realize is that most of my negative emotions, fear, sadness, anxiety, grief, depression, etc., manifest themselves as anger. Anger is how I demonstrate and display those things I feel I have no control over. Well, I must tell you, after the last couple of days, this morning, I was barely keeping the lid on a bad case of simmering rage. I was right on the razor’s edge.  

Fortunately, my beautiful bride always knows just what I need when I’m on edge. So, we packed our gear and our pup and headed outside. We took a short drive over to Olivia’s Overlook in Lenox and hiked the Burbank Trail loop. It isn’t all that long and it’s not overly strenuous. Gypsy loved it. We got some sun and fresh air. Plus, I got my emotions in check and regained control of myself. Balance restored.   img_1069

I’ll get back to this a little later.   

Pro-Reading 

My pro-reading this period has been dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work,” by Brené Brown (Brown, Brené. dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work. 2018. New York. Random House.) I’m not too far along in it yet, but so far, I like it. Brown’s position is that we have to recognize and embrace our vulnerability in order to get to effective leadership. That might come off as a little foo foo, particularly since I’ve been trying to embrace Extreme Ownership and Discipline, but while the language is different, the practices are complimentary. I’m enjoying it.   

Other Reading 

 One of the authors that I have become familiar with through reading Commander Willink’s books and listening to the Jocko Podcast. Is Jordan Peterson. Peterson is a notable public speaker, university professor, philosopher and psychologist. Although he has sometimes been viewed as controversial, I’ve been listening to some of his more recent podcasts. He’s also frequently referenced by Malcolm Gladwell. So, I decided to try one of his books. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been supplementing my pro-reading with Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.” (Peterson, Jordan, B. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. 2018. Toronto: Random House Canada.)  I’m only about a quarter of the way into it, but this one is really good. Plus, his podcasts are both informative and entertaining. He’s on my to keep list.   

Other Learning Opportunities  

Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned more than I ever thought possible about the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and pandemic responses. I’ve participated in conference calls, planning meetings and strategy sessions. It’s been an emotional and cognitive overload.   

I also attended a legislative lobbying day for Early Childhood Education and After-school programs at the Statehouse in Boston. I was asked to attend as a member/representative of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. That was an interesting and eye-opening experience.   

I got to engage in a little more yoga study, but that was short lived.   

I also got to change up my jiu-jitsu schedule a little bit and jump into some extra no-Gi classes.   

FUN 
 

Well. Back to the intro. So….today, C and I were supposed to be flying across the country to New Mexico. We were supposed to fly from Albany to Albuquerque. Then, we were supposed to drive 4-hours into the southwest mountains of New Mexico for a new adventure at the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. We were going to spend 4 days there, then head to Dallas to spend 3 days with friends there. That didn’t work out.   

Even as the COVID-19 situation developed, we were pretty comfortable traveling ourselves. I briefed up my team and arranged for a smooth change of command transition. All of the parts were in place. Even with a little increased anxiety about leaving my team, everything seemed to be lined up. Then yesterday, the situation changed. We were pretty certain that we would make it to NM without issue. The question became, would we be able to make it home? We both hold positions of responsibility within our organizations. It wouldn’t have been fair to our teams to leave with that type of uncertainty. As we neared the go/no-go point for a decision, my anxiety continued to increase. Eventually, we decided to postpone. We made that call late in the day yesterday.   

So today started with disappointment, frustration, grief, and more anxiety…which as I said before, presented as anger. However, I’ve built new skills and tools over the past year. So, now, after a beautiful hike I’m in a better place. Our new dates for the trip have been confirmed and I remembered to take the insurance on the flights. We’re healthy and fit. We have lots of time for travel in the future. Ever disappointment is a learning opportunity. On that note, that’s enough for now…until next time…  img_1090

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1* 

Installment 26: New Adventure, New Opportunity

March 1, 2020

Don’t want to read to the end…check out the video version here!

Good Sunday afternoon VFOT friends, fans, and followers. It is Sunday March 1st, following Leap Day 2020. I’m not certain that has any real significance in life, but this weekend has certainly been unusual and a little unproductive. However, last week was both physically and emotionally exhausting…and I’m really ok with having an unusual and unproductive weekend. We earned it.

Pro-Reading
While the weekend may have been unproductive, the week was not. I finally finished Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It, by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz (Voss, Christopher and Raz, Tahl. Never Split the Difference, Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. 2016. New York NY: Harper Collins.) As I stated in the prior installments, I struggled with this one. Not because of the content, but I think because of the structure. As I said, this is a great book and definitely worth the read. I just had to step away from it frequently. This is billed as a business book. However, I think this is really a book about communications. Since communications is so important to leadership, I really think this one is going on the recommend list.

I also finished Leadership Strategy and Tactics (Willink, Jocko. Leadership Strategy and Tactics-FM-02. 2019. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.) by Commander Jocko Willink. This is now my go-to quick reference book for diagnosing and managing difficult leadership situations. I love this book and highly recommend it. You should get and read this book.

Finally, I picked up a 3rd book as a distraction and rushed right through it. This one was Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Coram, Robert. Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. 2002. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.) I was familiar with Colonel Boyd, due to his concept of the OODA Loop. However, I was way off on when he developed that, and I was completely unaware of his other contributions to strategy and warfighting. If you like military history and/or biographies, I think that you’ll enjoy this. He was a very hard and difficult man, but his contributions are amazing.img_1059

My lovely bride, C, has recommended a new title. So, this week, I’ll be starting Dare to Lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work,” by Brené Brown. I’ll get back to you on this one once I get into it.img_1027

Other Reading

In my other reading this week, I kept with my Clive Cussler rotation. As I got ready to fall asleep early last week, I even downloaded a new title to my Kindle. I selected Zero Hour by Cussler and Graham Brown (Cussler, Clive and Brown, Graham. Zero Hour: A Kurt Austin Adventure. 2013. New York, NY: Penguin Books.) The next day, I got the news that Mr. Cussler had passed away. I was legitimately saddened by this loss. He authored over 80 books and helped locate over 60 shipwreck sites, including the submarine Hunley. I’ll feel his loss, but remember that he lives on in his works, many of which I have in my collection and I’ll just keep visiting his creations. Rest in Peace Sir! Thank you for everything you gave us.

Other Learning Opportunities
I was off my schedule quite a bit in the past 2 weeks, so that meant substituting No-Gi Jiu-jitsu for my normal Gi classes. That led to a really nice learning opportunity, because I got to practice a knee-on-belly to armbar transition that I’ve really struggled with.

We continued our ballroom dancing classes on Friday nights. In the 3rd and 4th classes, we moved from the Waltz to the Foxtrot. We had a lot of fun doing this. While we won’t be continuing on into the next 4-week block, because of upcoming travel, we’ll do this again.

Last Friday, I started facilitating the 3rd Session of the City’s Leadership Development Academy. We have a great group for this session. It’s a different composition that both prior cohorts, but it is a very interesting mix. I’m looking forward to working with them.

On Monday, I participated in a planning session for a pilot program on training public safety supervisors in skills to assist their teams with resiliency. I think this project is going to be successful and I’m happy to be in at the beginning.

On Thursday, we had an in-house Supervisory Roundtable Meeting. This was a good one and the team stepped up in both their discussions and their exercise. I’m proud of them.

FUN
Besides the ongoing dance classes and making a regular appearance at Jiu-jitsu, we had a couple of other cool opportunities for fun.

Last weekend was beautiful and warm. Sunday was a perfect day to get outside for a mid-winter hike. We originally planned on getting out with our pup and heading to Roaring Brook. However, while the day was warm and sunny, the trail was a complete sheet of ice. We erred on the side of caution and diverted to a contingency plan. We decided to walk from the parking area to nearby St. Helena’s Chapel and took a nice walk around the Meditation Meadow. That was a good call.img_1048

We had some fun date nights and went out to a couple of locations that we don’t normally include in our rotation, including Jae’s at the Hilton Garden Inn. On Friday night, we met our friends to celebrate the wife’s birthday. We did that with dinner at District and had a great night out.

Friday afternoon at work, we had a visit from Officer Clarence (a Saint Bernard) from the Greenfield PD. Clarence came in to spend some time with our personnel and our families, because it had been a rough week. I made the call to have him and his partner/handler come for the troops, but I think that I really did it for me. It was a good way to end a difficult week.

Well, that is probably more than enough for now. I’m well into the 3rd page and no one needs to read all of that. However, it has been awhile since I did a video version of one of these posts, and I’ve got some new gear, so maybe I’ll record a video before I close this out. Until next time…

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*