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Day 3 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

March 18, 2020 – Live to Blog from My Recliner

Very early today I talked to a friend by phone…very early, sometime around 5:00 AM. The call went something like this:

  • Friend: “Tom?”
  • Me: “Yeah…what do you want? Are you okay? Do you know what time it is?”
  • Friend: “No, I don’t…hey, what time is it anyway?”
  • Me: “Never mind. You seem okay so what do you want?”
  • Friend: “I don’t know. I’m just…well, I’m a little confused. What day is this?”
  • Me: “What DAY is it? Am I ‘Time and Temperature’ now? What’s going on?”
  • Friend: “No, really, what day is it?”
  • Me: “It’s Wednesday, March 18th.”
  • Friend: “Ohhhhhhh…”
  • Me: “What do you mean, ‘Ohhhhhhh…’? What’s going on?”
  • Friend: “It’s just that…well…I mean…this is the first time in 30 years that I’ve been awake and sober before noon on the day after St. Paddy’s day. I didn’t realize what it was like…”
  • Me: “Ugh!” (Click)

Since I was up early, I decided to take Dolly and Madison (the Girls) on their first walk of the day. We were out early enough that we, thankfully, did not run into anybody. Today I noticed something quite different: the sound of silence. Not Simon & Garfunkle but real quiet. Quiet is very rare where we live. We live almost exactly half-way between downtown Baltimore and downtown Washington, DC, – a distance of 22 miles each way – about a mile off Interstate 95. We are in the approach/takeoff pattern for BWI airport and the flight path for helicopters carrying people between DC to Fort Meade. Typically I hear trucks and commuters on I-95 and commercial jets and helicopters flying over head. Today, I heard mostly silence and when I listened carefully, I could hear birds singing. It almost made me glad for having to shelter in place.

Dolly and me giving a warm social distance greeting to one of our neighbors.

It is Day 3 of this blog and Day 2 of my Sock Offensive. Clemencia did not see me put yesterday’s socks back on this morning. It was pretty easy, actually. I just waited until she was in the shower and – TA DA! – I got them on. Victory! YES!

After work today I took the Girls out for another walk. It was quite nice outside though a little cool. We had a happy experience and even ran into some neighbors whom we greeted appropriately.

Fun Fact: I have eaten baked oatmeal nearly every morning for breakfast for nearly 10 years.

According to Me

Actually, I’m nearly out of baked oatmeal and it is time to make some more. I’ll probably do it tomorrow…if I think of it. Also, if I think of it, I’ll post my baked oatmeal recipe. I think you’ll like it.

My good friend and colleague, Forrest Alton, president of 1000 Feathers, has always impressed me with his clear-headed, pragmatic thinking. A couple of days ago, just as offices and stores were beginning to shut down and move employees to remote work, he posted this blog, We Get to Work from Home…Now What? Take a few minutes to check it out. I loved his suggestions and I think you will as well.

Finally, I got a response to yesterday’s blog from a long-time friend that snapped me back to our new reality. She told me that members of her extended family had contracted coronavirus. Shortly after that I heard from a client who has an employee with the virus. Then I heard from a third friend and colleague that a neighbor had contracted it too. These reports were not all from within a “cluster” of the virus, such as Washington State or New York City. They were from three very different and distant parts of the country. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would know someone who had the virus or was close to someone who had it. If the projections are accurate, we will all know someone who has contracted COVID-19…soon. It isn’t too early for us to be thinking about how we will respond with empathy and love, and how we can still provide support but from a distance.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands. Physically avoid everyone and still find a way to be connected to your brothers and sisters on this journey with you. We’re all in this together, together we are stronger, and together we’ll get through it.

Tom

Day 2 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Sheltering in place can be a very lonely experience, especially for those who already live alone. To be greater by doing good today, take a moment to reach out to someone (by phone, email, video conference) whom you know is sheltering alone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – Live to Blog from My Living Room

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! True confession: I didn’t wear any green today. Green has never been a good color for me. With my complexion it tends to make me look pretty sickly. Except when my face is red but, then, I look like a deranged Christmas elf. Though I am greenless today, I am sending “thoughts and prayers” to those in mourning for the loss of this year’s holiday to COVID-19.

The cool thing about sheltering in place is that you don’t have to change clothes…for days! I told my spouse, Clemencia, that I was going for a new record for continuously wearing the same clothes each day. She smiled sweetly at me and said, “Of course, mi amor.” She disappeared briefly and came back with my jacket, a facemask, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and said, “Good luck out there, mi amor. See you in two weeks…I hope.” So, I changed my clothes…but not my socks! Ha!

We have two miniature schnauzers (Dolly and Madison) who actually are elderly. As you can see, they LOVE sheltering in place. By social contract they are entitled to at least three walks a day. Today, after work (yes, I do try to keep work hours at home), Clemencia and I took “The Girls” (as we affectionately call them) for their afternoon constitutional. We thought it would be a good time to go out to avoid people. We were wrong.

We ran into a bunch of friendly people…which would be nice under most circumstances, except we are trying to avoid people. Isn’t that the point of sheltering in place and social separation? What is it about the term “pandemic” that some people just don’t understand?!? One friend came directly across the street toward me and was going to come within the appropriate social distancing limit (six to 10 feet). I had to stop her so I said, in a very Midwestern polite way, “Hey, sorry, we can talk but we just need to talk from a distance.” She stopped, looked at me, and for a moment I thought she was going to start screeching at me like Donald Sutherland at the end of the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (You know, that scene where the audience realizes he’s been snatched and all hope is gone. Be sure to click the link and check out the clip – it is about 50 seconds in length.) Happily, she didn’t do a Donald Sutherland on me but I did one her…just for fun. But I don’t think she saw the movie or got the reference so I’m pretty sure we’re not friends anymore.

Speaking of people getting too close, in the tiny town in rural Iowa where I grew up there was a man who was notorious for talking too close, too loud, and too fast in a very high pitched voice (kind of like Donald Sutherland’s screech). For years I never had any idea what he was saying to me when he would come up to me, actually get in my face, and screech, “HITOMMYHOWSTOMMY.” If he had been a step or two away I might have had a chance to read his lips. However, he was so close, I couldn’t even see his lips. His tonsils did look pretty healthy though.

Before I close, two recommendations for the sake of sanity. First, my friends and colleagues at the Tamarack Institute in Ontario, Canada have put out a really great resource for learning or refreshing skills for working remotely. Please check out Guidelines for Working Remotely. Second, to keep your sense of humor fresh, check out 50 Coronavirus Jokes That Should Help You Get Through Quarantine.

Do not be deceived, my friends. I know how serious the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak really is. In the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Nobody knows this as well as Clemencia, my incredibly tolerant spouse. Her super hero identity is actually Dr. Clemencia M. Vargas, PhD, DDS, etc., etc. She is an epidemiologist and was a fellow with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (Class of 94). She retired from the University of Maryland last October but she and I have been following this thing very closely since news first broke in early January. She cannot “turn off” her inner epidemiologist and I’m glad. If I’m ever tempted to make too much light of it, she brings me back to reality. I hope this blog lightens your day, but never for one moment believe that I am making light of a very serious situation and none of us should. This is only a momentary diversion for me and, hopefully, for you.

Remember, stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and, still, find ways to virtually reach out to others to stay connected and to share your concern, compassion, and love. In this way we continue to be greater by doing good.

Tom

Day 1 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Social Separation, though necessary in a pandemic, highlights inequities. Let’s remember to be kind, compassionate, and fair. Do you REALLY need all that toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your cart?

Monday, March 16, 2020 – Day 1

Those who know me well know that I think when I write and I write in order to think. I’m also a social person and I need to stay in touch with people even as I shelter-in-place during the COVID-19 outbreak. So it seemed logical that I write about the experience. For the next several days of our collective confinement, I’m going to try to write a daily blog. Follow along if you like. If not, that’s okay. I’m mostly doing this for my own sanity and well-being.

I got home late last night (Sunday) after working for several days in Jackson, Mississippi. Originally, I was supposed to make the trip by air but that changed three days before my departure date. Instead I rented a car and drove the two days down and the two days back. I have two conditions that put me in the highest risk category for contracting COVID-19. First, I’m an old coot (though I dare you to tell my mind that when it still sees a younger man in the mirror each morning). In reality, since I’ll be 66 years old, I’m technically in the senior citizen category, what some would call “elderly.” Yuck! That word has so many negative connotations! Second, I also have hyper-tension. And some people just thought I was hyper!

This trip reminded me of one that started on September 11, 2001. I was living in Iowa, owned a consulting business, and was traveling the U.S. as a speaker and trainer. On the morning of 9/11 I was at a gym working out and watching the morning news. I watched the planes crash into the World Trade Center and, at first, I thought I was watching a new movie trailer. By noon that day, I was to be on the road to speak at a college in Northwest Iowa. From there I was to drive to Aurora, Colorado to lead a three day curriculum training. Not hearing any news from the college and unable to reach anyone due to the shock and confusion of the day, I started the drive to Sioux City. I arrived in the midst of a memorial service for the victims of the attacks. I met briefly with a small group of students where we threw out the intended topic and simply talked about the events of the day. The next day I left for Denver.

The trip to Denver was Twilight Zone, or some would say Black Mirror, weird. I remember seeing very few cars or trucks on Interstates 80 and 25. When I’d stop for gas, food, or bathroom, there were few people and nobody was talking. We all just stared at the television that was on in every location.

Driving back from Jackson wasn’t quite like that but it was still a different experience. The hotels were not busy. The people I saw were quieter and kept their distance. And like 9/11, wherever the television was on, people were watching it intently. One thing that struck me as odd was the music playing at a Wendy’s where I picked up lunch on the way back home. It was Christian gospel music. I’m not opposed to gospel music but it just seemed odd to hear it in a Wendy’s.

Today I did some last minute shopping at Aldi, one of our favorite grocery stores. I was able to get most the supplies on Clemencia’s emergency supply list: oranges, chocolate, bananas, chocolate, orange juice, chocolate, rubber gloves, chocolate, cookies, tortilla chips, and chocolate. I was not able to find ground beef, chicken thighs, or toilet paper. I get the ground beef and the chicken thighs…but toilet paper? Actually there was still Kleenex on the shelves. Doesn’t anyone realize that Kleenex tissues can be used as toilet paper?

COVID-19 Humor: A little boy asked his mom, “Mommy, how long are we going to have to be hiding from this virus?” His mom replied, “I don’t really know, sweetheart. For now, just eat your toilet paper and get ready for bed.”

Last night Clemencia and I decided to watch Contagion again. We had seen it when it came out in 2011. It has a star-studded cast and it is a compelling movie, especially right now. When it came out, we decided to see it because it tells the story of how the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clemencia had been an EIS fellow (Class of 94).

I really liked the movie the first time and I liked it even more this time because I found myself paying much closer attention. Contagion is the story of a type of novel coronavirus that breaks out in Asia and spreads quickly around the globe. In the movie, the virus spreads very rapidly, like COVID-19, however, it is more quickly fatal to the general population than COVID-19.

Did you know…that SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19?

BBC, March 17, 2020

As I was looking up the movie, I learned it is being streamed a lot these days and, frankly, I think that is a good thing. I think it is an important film to watch right now because it explains why we need to take the COVID-19 so seriously, how EIS does its job, how things should happen, and what can happen when things go terribly wrong. The movie is eerily similar to what we are living through right now. For this reason I won’t tell you it isn’t scary; but I will say it is the kind of good scary we need in this moment to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep safe.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands!

Lower Your Guard?

Fighting is the easy way out. It saves us from the humility of seeking forgiveness. It saves us from accepting any responsibility. It saves us from the modesty required of accountability and reconciliation. It saves us from the difficult, bruising work of finding a way forward together despite our differences. Isn’t it time to lower our guard?

It is easier to define ourselves by what and who we are against. This is what I find is saddening, and maddening, about these times.

It is too easy to define ourselves by what and who we are against.

Here’s a silly but illustrative example: I’m an Iowa native who grew up about 45 miles from Iowa City, the home of the University of Iowa and Iowa Hawkeye sports. I am a lifelong fan of the Haweyes and the Big 10 conference (though I now live in Maryland and my sport’s soul is trapped in Terrapin (Terps…”Fear the Turtle” country). Despite the team rivalries in the conference there is one thing that unites fans of all Big 10 teams, save one: We hate any Ohio State Buckeyes team. I have no rational explanation for this. I just know it makes our day brighter when the Buckeye’s lose in any sport. This is not to say Ohio State isn’t a good school where people get a very good education…probably. 🙂

It’s only sports, right? Those of us who are not Ohio State fans have a little more fun following our teams because we are united as one against the Buckeyes. There are many things in life where we square off against one another for fun based on preferences that don’t actually matter to the universe, regardless of how passionate we may be: Starbucks v. Dunkin; McDonald’s v. Burger King; Netflix v. Prime Video; pilates v. yoga; Samsung v. iPhone; Subaru v. any other car on the road, but especially BMWs; etc.

Squaring off does matter on those things that have an impact on others. Take, for example, the public health debate about vaccination; gun rights v. gun violence; inclusion v. exclusion of others who are not just like us; freedom of the press v. suppression of “fake news;” death with dignity v. “death panels,” just to name a few. Once we take a position, we tend to hang out, in person and online, exclusively with those who fuel and justify our opinions, ideologies, and perspectives. We believe we have a clear view of the world. We have certainty because, hey, we all agree in this group don’t we? In fact, within our groups we have squared off against any “other” who does not fit with us.

Can we find the courage to lower our guard enough to engage one another again?

Therein lies the problem. We rarely try to engage with the “other” who holds an opposing idea or position. Well, unless it is to try to win them over or, at least, to give ’em a good ideological whoopin’. It is easier to stay inside our group and fight the enemy outside our walls than to meet our opposition and risk having a change of perspective.

Several years ago I undertook a research project for my doctoral dissertation on a sensitive ideological issue (sex education) within American society. My research required me to find and interview people who passionately held opposing positions on the issue. Of course, I would have to personally engage with people who held views very different from my own. It became one of the most fascinating and rewarding experiences of my life.

The research did earn me my doctorate. What I discovered in doing the research was even better. I discovered the power of genuine engagement and authenticity. When I approached people with humility and a true desire to hear from them and dialogue with them, we established a baseline of trust, and we heard and learned from each other.

This research experience taught me several important things about controversy management and conflict transformation. In 2014 I used the research to create a training event designed to help opposing sides in an ideological conflict engage one another more productively. Now, in 2019, we are even more polarized than we were then. We struggle to speak to one another and, even more, to hear one another from opposite sides of our ideological divides, including (especially?) on political issues. Recently, even on Facebook where personal debate on difficult issues had been common, it seems people have given up and retreated to the comfort and safety of their groups. To be clear, I’m not recommending Facebook, or social media more generally, for any kind of meaningful discussion; I’m only calling out the change.

Over the Winter I dusted off that training event, updated it, and am making it available again, but with a difference. To support the restoration of civil discourse and dialogue in American society, I’m making it available to organizations at a reduced price that includes my travel costs. I know this is a very small effort in such a large country. Nonetheless, I’m hoping people will use the event in their organizations or communities to accelerate dialogue on the issues that are most divisive for them.

To learn more about Strategic Controversy Management: Managing Controversy and Transforming Conflict in Organizational and Community Change, download this flyer. Take a look and if you think it could help people in your organization or community take their gloves off and reconnect as colleagues and neighbors again, send me an email at twklaus@tenaciouschange.us or text me at 240-319-8525. I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Be Greater, Do Good, Everyday, and remember to lower your guard as you Change Forward,

Tom Klaus

Christmas Eve at Aldi

December 24, 2018. Last minute errands on Christmas Eve are a holiday tradition in our home. Usually the last mad dash to the grocery is quite uneventful. Not so today.

I had two errands to run this morning. The first one was to the bank. The second one was to Aldi to pick up pineapple chunks for the ham, Señor Rico’s rice pudding (to which I may have developed an addiction), and to wander the special buys aisle to see if there was anything I thought I needed.

U.S. Highway Route 1 bisects Laurel, Maryland where we live. Both the bank and Aldi are located on the West side of U.S. 1 though the bank is the furthest. It makes sense, therefore, to go to the bank first, and then stop at Aldi on the way home, which is what I did.

Leaving the bank I turned onto Rte. 1, moved to far right lane, and prepared to turn into the strip mall entrance where Aldi is located. A car quickly appeared behind and tailgated me as we turned into the access road beside the large parking area. The driver of the tailgating car turned into the parking area one entrance before the one I used. What I didn’t know is that the other driver was in a fierce hurry and began to cut across the empty parking spaces. When I made my turn and looked up, there was the other car on course to T-bone the passenger side of my car. I slammed on my brakes. The other driver slammed on her brakes then started gesturing impatiently and, might I add, rudely, toward me. I turned to her and offered the universal gesture for “What THE are you doing?” (No, I did not “go nuclear” with the gesture, just to be clear.)

I went on by and then she continued to race across the parking lot without looking. She parked her car – but too far away for me to yell at her without sounding like a mad man myself. Then, she proceeded to go to the cart rack at Aldi, put in her quarter to unlock a cart, and go inside. As a further assault to civility and decency, she was wearing holiday decorated yoga pants and sweatshirt. Considered together, in my only slightly biased opinion influenced by our mutual near death experience at her hand, I thought her outfit looked like the hands-down winner of any ugly Christmas outfit contest on Earth…and I thought I might let her know that when we finally met in the store. Instead, I settled for glaring at her at every opportunity. And, yes, I did get that opportunity…twice. She ignored me.

I finally got the items I came for, couldn’t find anything else I didn’t come for, and gave up trying to make the badly dressed driver feel bad. I got in line and put my items on the belt – including a nearly two week fix…er supply…of Señor Rico. I chose this checkout line because I believed it would be faster than the line next to it where a woman was buying for a massive Christmas celebration and the items overflowed her cart.

Behind her was an elderly woman whom I had seen earlier holding a couple of canned items and scavenging for a small ham in the meat section. As the first woman, with the overflowing car, was just about to pay her bill, she told the clerk to put the second woman’s items on her bill and she did. At first, the second woman didn’t know what had happened until she tried to pay for the items. The Aldi clerk explained to the woman that the first woman had paid for her items. The elderly woman was shocked, began to thank the woman profusely, gave her a hug, and burst into tears. Together they went to the packing area together to bag up their bounty. Except that we are living in such divisive, hateful time, it should not be noteworthy that the first woman was black and the elderly woman was white.

Witnessing this powerful act of kindness washed away the anger I was feeling toward the badly dressed driver who nearly ran into me. Even more, it reminded me of the kind of person I aspire to be. I do not aspire to be the angry guy gesturing wildly to the bad driver. I do not aspire to be a judgmental fashion critic. I do not aspire to be the crazy guy that is looking up and down aisles in Aldi for a “chance” run in with the bad driver so I can glare at her. I aspire to be the person who kindly buys the groceries for another without judgment or expectation of gratitude.  

This year’s Christmas Eve run to Aldi was more meaningful than most. I learned something about myself. I learned how easy it is in a world where incivility seems to be the norm once again to also default to incivility myself. Shortly after Thanksgiving I sent out an eblast to clients, colleagues, and friends that offered this aspirational thought: Peace on Earth starts with the simple acts of kindness, compassion, and civility we do and give to each other everyday.

I offer it again here but only as a reminder of my own humanity and of the kind of person I still aspire to be.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, celebrate them with joy.

Be greater, do good, everyday…change forward.

Tom

A Meditation on Seeing the Good

This week I had the privilege and honor of representing our faith community, Sandy Spring Friends Meeting, at an interfaith Unity Service of Giving Thanks in Olney, Maryland. The following is the brief meditation I shared on behalf of our Quaker community. I hope you enjoy it and find it uplifting for this holiday season:

Worship in the Quaker tradition is often misunderstood and misinterpreted as being “silent.” It is far from that. Historians often identify Quakerism as being “Christian mysticism.” Certainly the mysticism part fits, though Christians are not the only ones who participate in Quaker worship and community at Sandy Spring.

Many Quakers prefer to think of the worship experience as “waiting worship” rather than “silent worship.” Outwardly, waiting worship appears to be silent, though, inwardly, it is anything but. In fact, it is filled with the work of reflective listening for the voice of God to speak to us and discerning whether the Spirit of God is moving us to share aloud what we’ve heard. To guide our reflection, we often use “queries.” A query is a reflective question that focuses our listening and discernment.

Rather than speak for five minutes, I’d like to use some of my time to offer a query for Thanksgiving and an opportunity for you to experience a minute or so of waiting worship.

The query is one that speaks to the challenge of living in this time. It is simply this: How are we to give thanks in the midst of tempestuous times that have too much terror and tragedy for us, our children, and our families?

Please take the next minute to reflect on this question in waiting worship.

I wish I could offer an answer to that question for you, me, and all those we hold dear. These are indeed challenging times and it seems we are regularly facing the realities of terror and tragedy in our nation, our communities, our neighborhoods, and even our places of worship.

I am reminded, however, of another who faced horrific things at the hands of his own brothers. I am referring to Joseph, the son of Jacob, whom God called Israel. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, yet rose to a level of trust and authority among those who purchased him. From this position, Joseph showed compassion toward his brothers in their time of need. When Joseph’s father died, his brother’s knew they needed to make peace with Joseph after all the evil they had done to him. So they humbly went to see Joseph.  

Genesis 50:19-20 tells us Joseph warmly received his brothers and said to them: “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today.”

Perhaps we can give thanks in these difficult times because, as Joseph understood, the good was yet to come.

May we all, in this Thanksgiving season, have the insight, hope, faith, and vision to see the good that is coming.

Be greater, do good, each and everyday….change forward!

Tom Klaus

A Word to the Wise & a Caution to Fools

lao-tzu-bronzeToday is Thursday, November 8, 2018. The Mid-Term Elections in the U.S. came and went two days ago. (Woo Hoo!) Of course, there are winners and losers. To the winners – those who have been elected to lead us at the community, county, state, and national levels – remember that ancient wisdom is often the best advice. So consider the words of Lao-Tzu about leadership from the Tao-Te Ching:

To lead people, walk beside them…

As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.

The next best, the people honor and praise.

The next, the people fear;

and the next, the people hate…

When the best leader’s work is done the people say,

We did it ourselves!

 

And so I ask you…whether you won election this time or are planning already for your next run…what kind of leader do you plan to be? 

I hope you will…be greater, do good, everyday, and always change forward!

Tom

Noses On!

It’s that time again! May 24th is the day! To be exact, it is Red Nose Day, one of my favorite charity events! For this one day a lot of media and public attention is given to the cause of ending childhood poverty. Since it was launched in 2015, Red Nose Day has raised more than $100 million dollars to impact the lives of nearly 9 million children.

Here’s what I love about Red Nose Day…

HOPE Buffalo is a movement in Buffalo, NY in support of adolescent health and wellness. HOPE stands for health, opportunity, prevention, and the three “E’s” of education, equity, and empowerment. The staff and volunteers see the impact of poverty everyday on the lives of young people. Last year they joined the call to don the Red Nose. They look great, don’t they?

First, it attacks a root cause – poverty. I’ve been working in human services, public health, and social change for my entire career. Within these domains there are many issues that adversely affect children which can be traced back to a common factor – children and their families living at or near chronic poverty. Red Nose Day is an attempt to address poverty by supporting programs and initiatives that keep children safe, healthy, and educated. These efforts do more than simply meet an immediate need for children. The myriad acts of kindness associated with helping also address the poverty of hope that children and families living in chronic poverty experience. You can make a difference by spending as little as $1 to buy a Red Nose at Walgreens or Duane Reade stores. If you would like to do more and give more, become a member of my fundraising team at A Nose for Tenacious Change.

Okay, isn’t this the cutest Red Noser you’ve ever seen? A couple of years ago a colleague got a nose for herself and for her son. You can just see this photo being featured in a graduation montage in a few years, right?

Secondly, it animates important ethical and spiritual values in my life. For me these are informed, with neither apology nor arrogance, by Christian Quaker spirituality. They come specifically from the teaching of the disciple Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31 to 46, a selection the Common English Bible calls “Judgment of the nations,” an intriguing title during these times. Most people already know this passage because one small phrase – “the least of these” – is frequently quoted in the context of explaining why we should care about others. If you have never read the whole section to get the full context and story, you may wish to do so. Though you may not share my faith, you may find we share the ethic.

Howard Macy’s “Red Nose Training Manual.” Download it today and get started!

Thirdly, wearing a red nose is fun and a great way to brighten the day of others! Don’t forget…to celebrate Red Nose Day you need, of course, a red nose. May 24th is just around the corner and you don’t want to be the only one with a naked nose do you? Okay, I understand the doubt and I can hear that voice in your head right now asking, “Yeah, but…what do I do once I put the nose on?” Good news! My friend Howard Macy (professor emeritus, philosopher, theologian, a wicked trumpet player, and a fellow Red Nose aficionado) is the author of the Red-Nose Manifesto which you will find in his Red Nose Training Manual, a masterpiece which might have won the Nobel Prize in literature if the Swedes had not cancelled it this year. (Sorry Howard.) To get started, simply download Howard’s brief, easy-to-read book (lots of illustrations) and follow the instructions. From Training Phase Moves to Intermediate Moves to Advanced Moves, Howard will lead you by the Red Nose to the point where you will be proudly sporting it wherever you can. Here is one of his Advanced Moves that I have used before, “When teaching or leading a group, slip the nose on subtly while looking away, then turn around and continue to lead.” If that seems too daunting, how about this Intermediate Move: “Slip on the nose when you’re stuck in traffic. Smile broadly, sing with the radio.” If you are Red Nose virgin and even a semi-public appearance seems way too much to you, try this Training Phase Move by yourself: “Slip the nose on when you’re tempted to feel disrespected or seriously important.” Personally, I have no less than eight red noses – including one in my backpack for Red Nose emergencies when I travel. (Fair warning: I’ll be working in San Luis Obispo, California this year on Red Nose Day. Ha!)

As much fun as I have with my array of red noses, especially on Red Nose Day, the cause is a serious one and the need is great. I do not often ask people to contribute to something, but I am making that ask today. My life’s work has been to try to make this world a better place for all – including “the least of these.” The mission of Tenacious Change is to animate and equip people, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. Participating in Red Nose Day is one small thing each of us can do for the greater good. I would be honored to have you on my Red Nose Day team at A Nose for Tenacious Change. Thanks!

Remember…Be Greater, Do Good, Everyday. Put on a Red Nose and Change Forward!

Tom

Click here to join A Nose for Tenacious Change at Red Nose Day. And thank you!

 

Just 1 Story – Episode 2 Is Airing!

Episode 2 of Just 1 Story is now available and airing. It is titled “The Pay-It-Forward Mentor.” This episode tells the story of a man whose career and life was transformed by a chance meeting. Just 1 Story features stories of defining moments and personal leadership in the lives of people. Do you have a story that has defined your life and work? If so, consider sharing it in the second season of Just 1 Story. Click here to learn more about how you can share your story in the Just 1 Story podcast.

Inspiration from Saskatechewan

Four years ago I worked with the Prevention Institute of Saskatchewan to help leadership and staff establish a province-wide community of practice. The community of practice was originally set up for people and organizations working in the field of adolescent sexual health.

Of course, adolescent sexual health is one of those issues that is impacted by many other adolescent issues: healthy relationships, substance use, bullying, body image, gender norms, etc. As a result, groups with a secondary or even tertiary focus on adolescent sexual health benefit as well.

Hardly a week passes that I do not receive something new on the list serve from a member of this community of practice. I learn about resources, upcoming training, funding opportunities, and other useful bits of information. Sometimes I even get something that is just downright inspiring.

Recently I got a link to a music video produced by young people who are part of the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan. It is a well done video with a powerful message of hope for First Nation youth. Take about 4 minutes and 36 seconds to watch it, listen to it, and feel inspired by these young people.

A community of practice can be done in a way that is so complicated and time intensive that nobody benefits and, eventually, nobody participates. Alternatively, it can done simply and effectively so it will increasingly attract new participants and remain relevant to the needs of the participants. This community of practice from Saskatchewan seems to have evolved into the latter rather than the former. Congratulations to the Prevention Institute of Saskatchewan. Kudos to the Kawacatoose First Nation youth for a powerful, inspiring video.

Be greater. Do good. Everyday. Change forward!

Tom Klaus