The Silenced Majority

“Nobody likes bullies. They push you. Shove you. Mock you. It’s bad enough to be bullied by people you don’t really know and don’t particularly care for. But to be pushed into the path of bullies by people you love and trust — that’s a far deeper pain.”  (Bible Studies For Life – Adults – Spring 2015 – A Death Like No Other)

Bullying is not just an issue for students

I covered this as it was exhibited in the 10/21/14 school board meeting in a couple of prior posts – Watch Your Back and YOU Are Not Alone – so I will not rehash it here but I did want to elaborate a little bit to better explain what really is at stake here.

Free Speech

I did mention in the YOU Are Not Alone post that bullying, intimidation or whatever you want to call it is not exclusive to the school system in Enterprise. There are many in Enterprise from many different vocations who are unable to speak freely about issues that affect them and their families. They have been told either explicitly or by implication their jobs or contracts would be in jeopardy if they did so.

Just so there is no gray area here let me hit you over the head with the proverbial sledgehammer –

Freedom of speech is being suppressed in Enterprise, Alabama.

Boll Weevil Monument, erected by the citizens ...
Boll Weevil Monument, erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama to honour the pest that ended their dependence on cotton, a poverty crop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is The City of Progress really making progress?

This is no revelation at all to those of you living in the midst of this, whether you’re speech is being suppressed or you are doing the suppressing. You know who you are.

However, if you are seeing this for the first time and having a hard time believing it, I did too. It’s not something you want to believe about the place you grew up and call home. It’s also not something I would say about this same place I call home if I was not sure it was true. If you refuse to believe it exists in Enterprise you are either being naive or are in denial.

Enterprise is called The City of Progress. It is painted on the water tower for all to see. From the outside looking in the perception is this is true, but is it really from the inside looking out? Is Enterprise really making progress when many of its citizens feel like a gag order exists and cannot freely express their feelings?

What Can YOU Do?

You stop intimidation or bullying the same way it has always been stopped – by standing up to it. When your livelihood is at stake it’s not as simple as it was in elementary school when you stood up to the class bully. That probably wasn’t easy then either. However, knowing there are others who are feeling the same as you (see YOU Are Not Alone) and can stand with you can be empowering even if you can’t talk about it in public. YOU are the Silenced Majority in Enterprise. It still takes guts and can be risky to stand up but doing nothing is risky too.

 

Rules over you_Voltaire

 

The quote above should make you think and might open your eyes to something that has been right in front of you but maybe never fully acknowledged. Maybe it has.

In any case, you do have an opportunity to change this environment for the better at the ballot box in the next election. Supporting Take Back Enterprise is a great way for you to get involved now. Increased transparency and accountability will decrease bullying and intimidation and that is what Take Back Enterprise will provide.

It will take action on your part though if any change is to be realized. Sitting at home and expecting “someone else” to do it rarely works in your favor. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a form of insanity. Providing support to Take Back Enterprise will be doing something new and can be your opportunity to collectively stand up and push back and see different results. Think about it.

Candidates Needed

In the last city election in 2012 three councilmen and the mayor ran unopposed and in the two council seats that were contested the margin of victory in District 2 was 155 votes and in District 3 was 106 votes. You can refresh your memory here Enterprise Incumbent Council Remains if you are interested.

This illustrate a couple of things to me.

  • Candidates are needed if changes are to be made.
  • The numbers needed to be elected are well within reach for you, the Silenced Majority in Enterprise, if you decide to act.

If you know someone who you believe would be a good candidate for any local elected office talk to them and encourage them to explore the possibility of running and serving. Public service is definitely not for everyone. Often those who don’t really want to or think they can serve make the best public servants. They just need a little push from their friends.

I hope you never neglect your privilege and your responsibility to VOTE whenever you have that opportunity! Many have died so you can exercise this privilege. Until that day arrives, don’t neglect your opportunity to get involved and help bring about the change you seek. The next city election is less than 18 months away.

Get involved and help The City of Progress really make progress!

Take action now so in 18 months you can say “I am glad I did” instead of “I wish I had.” The change you seek is well within your reach.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar to the left and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

Take Back Enterprise

I am just one person who observes and shares what I see here occasionally with my thoughts and just as importantly, questions. In conversations with many of you I have learned it does make you think or affirms what you already think or believe. I do appreciate that and you, the readers. I also understand why you don’t feel comfortable to share your thoughts about this blog or many other issues publicly. I plan to post more on that particular subject in an upcoming post.

If you have read many of my posts you know I often encourage you to get involved in the political process and make changes if you don’t like or agree with what is going on in our city, or at the county, state and federal level of government as well. Along those lines, I have recently learned of a new organization created in Enterprise named Take Back Enterprise that will help you do just that and become a more informed citizen and, hopefully, voter.

Take Back Enterprise will expand what I do to a much deeper level with research and analysis and its focus will be on elected officials and decisions made in the governance of Enterprise.

I thought this might interest you too. Keep reading and make your own decision.

The What

Take Back Enterprise is a 501(c)(4) organization. A 501(c)(4) is a non-profit organization created to provide information to the public about issues, voting records, etc.  A 501(c)(4) is prohibited from actively engaging in politics as its primary function and can maintain donor anonymity. Their donors are not disclosed to anyone. 

This differs from 527 organizations or PACs, which I am sure you have heard of, which are formed with political activity as their primary purpose and must disclose the identity of its donors.

The Why

Here is their purpose statement.

TBE Mission Stmt01

 

The purpose statement goes on to say, Take Back Enterprise will accomplish this by performing the research necessary to gather the facts and will then inform the citizens through advertising and community forums.  Take Back Enterprise’s work will be performed entirely by un-paid volunteers and when necessary may employ the assistance of paid contractors that specialize in marketing and research.”

The Who

The principals and board members of this organization are Turner Townsend, Reid Clark, Mark Jipson, and Michael Townsend and they are looking for others to join with them in this endeavor.

The result of gathering and sharing this information will be a much more informed citizenry better able to choose those elected to lead our city. This information will either benefit the current elected officials in presenting their case for re-election or benefit anyone wanting to challenge them in the next election. Regardless, the citizens will be better informed and making informed decisions with their votes which is the goal.

The facts are what they are and are stubborn things.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.”

The When

The when is now.

The next city election is just a little over a year away in August 2016.

The Where and The How

This is an effort to create that “informed citizenry.” It will take funds to gather, analyze, and provide this information. The principals have already made the initial investments to get this organization established. They will need help from citizens like us to sustain it and keep it moving forward effectively. The easiest and most effective way you can get involved and help is through your financial support. You can do that by sending your contributions to:

TBE_POBox01

 

Contributions are not tax deductible and any amount will help so don’t think whatever you can give is too small. If you have any questions or want to volunteer to help in any way you can also contact them at the above address. Of course you can also talk to any of the board members as you see them around town. They will be glad to discuss and share their vision in more detail.

Anyone can participate

Whether you live here now or not if you do consider Enterprise your home – maybe you grew up here or this was one of the stops along your life’s journey - YOU can get involved as well. Anyone can contribute and help make local government in Enterprise more transparent and accountable.

Frustrated?

I know many of you are frustrated with what you see going on around you and that frustration is magnified by not being able to speak freely about what you see. Supporting Take Back Enterprise is one way you can get involved which can help with some of that frustration. YOUR participation will give you hope that better days are ahead. YOU can be part of making that happen, AND you can maintain your anonymity which I know is important for you too.

Help Turn the Lights On!

I chose the fog in the images above to represent the “transparency” in government. It is really more opaque than transparent. I see Take Back Enterprise as the light in these images, shining the light through the fog so all can see more clearly. Where you can participate is helping provide the funds to pay for the electricity to turn these lights on and keep them burning.

I encourage you to get involved and get informed.

Until next time…

PP_If You Like

35 Days? Not Necessarily

DontWorryAboutItIn my last post An Eventful Year I highlighted a couple of dates and events regarding the 1/2 cent sales tax increase in Enterprise last year. The dates were 6/11/14 and 7/15/14. By my count that is 35 days between the public announcement of the “crisis” and “need” for a tax increase and the approval of this tax increase by the city council.

This is the second of three posts regarding events in Enterprise over the past year or so. In this post my goal is to focus on that tax increase and either remind you of how quickly or not so quickly this occurred and maybe point out a very common process that you might have previously never realized existed, and pose a few questions for your consideration.

“Don’t worry about it”

“Don’t worry about it” was the admonition given in 2013 whenever the subject of the $550,000 annual debt payback the school board was to begin paying in 2016 was mentioned as a concern. The reason behind this admonition did not become clear to me until June of last year when the sales tax increase proposal was made public. It was there all along just waiting for the right crisis to surface as the impetus for its implementation.

Classic Tax Increase

It followed the classic tax increase model used over and over again by those who have the power to levy taxes.

  • Create or take advantage of an issue/crisis that affects people emotionally or supposedly “gives them” something they now “need.”
  • Propose a tax increase as the only solution to this crisis. 
  • The tax increase will then become a reality very quickly.

In this case it took 35 days from initial public disclosure of this “crisis and need” to a simple unanimous vote by the city council.

I guess we should give the City Council credit for going through the motions for 35 days. They could have simply passed this at the next board meeting on June 17th. They did hold a public hearing to appear as if they were seeking input. However, I don’t believe anything said at that hearing could have affected their decision because it had already been made. I hope those citizens that did not support this tax increase will make their feelings public at the next city elections in 2016, just a little over a year away.

What Happened Between January and June?

There was no mention of a new income stream (translated tax increase) needed at the 2014 State of the City. In fact at that event we were told by the mayor, “Although the economy has been slow elsewhere, ours has remained on a steady upward growth to a planed out growth and it’s not declined.”

What happened between the end of January and the beginning of June that caused the need for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase? On the surface the obvious answer to that is helping the school system was the reason but was it really? Were they really not aware City employees deserved a raise in January? Were they really not aware Police and Fire personnel deserved raises, new hires and a new fire station in January?

Would different decisions have been made?

If you attended the 2015 State of the City event you would have heard about many new plans for 2015, including hiring more fireman and policemen, and building a new fire station with ‘to be paid from proceeds from this tax increase’ following them.

If they were not expecting to get this increase would they have made different decisions and prioritized spending differently in 2014? For example, would more funds have been allocated to Police, Fire and City employees’ needs and less to the Farmer’s Market in 2014 if they were not expecting and counting on this new revenue stream beginning in September 2014?

These are just questions that come to my mind when thinking about these events. Some will just call this prudent planning. Just to be clear, no laws were broken I am aware of and none are implied here. Public officials are fully aware that any action they take is subject to scrutiny and review and that is all that is being done here. Transparency with the people being served goes well beyond what is legal and I do wonder if that standard was met. Transparency is often used in politics today as a talking point but almost never practiced if it is even attempted.

Is transparency too much to expect of our elected officials?

So, was it really 35 days or was this tax plan was in the works much longer?

Should we have worried about it?

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Until next time…

PP_If You Like

An Eventful Year

As noted in the school board meeting in January, Dr. Wright has just completed one year as the Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools as have several others. I thought it would be worthwhile to review this past year and highlight what I consider to be some of the major accomplishments and changes that have occurred. Please let me know if you think it is worthwhile too.

My thoughts will be in the blue font. Everything else will just be a statement of fact and public records.

Highlights for 2014 and a couple from 2013

October 2013 -Capital Plan created by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood completed during the interim superintendent’s tenure (I know this was in 2013 but it played a major role in the events of 2014)

November 26, 2013 – Dr. Camille Wright was introduced as the new Superintendent. If you were at that meeting you heard her say she doesn’t plan to come in and make several changes.

January 2, 2014 – Dr. Camille Wright takes over as Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools

February 14, 2014 – Decision to move 9th graders to the high school announced by Dr. Wright. The announcement was published in the local papers and was stated it could be done without board approval but would be presented to the board at the February meeting.

February 25, 2014 – Move of 9th graders to the high school beginning with the 2014-2015 school year approved

March 18, 2014 – Board passes resolution in support of Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core)

April 8, 2014 – Decommission of Enterprise Junior High School and moving all 8th graders to Dauphin Junior High approved

June 11, 2014- Capital Facilities Plan presented to the City Council and Mayor showing $16 million would be needed to make renovations and build a new junior high school. Decommission of College Street and deeding to the city would be part of Phase II of this plan. Request for forgiveness of the $550,000 per year debt payment to the city was also included.

July 15, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax increase passed unanimously by the city council

July 22, 2014 – Agreement between school board and city approved by the board in the last meeting presided over by the outgoing president and includes:

– Enterprise Junior High to be demolished and land deeded to the city.

– Bates Memorial Stadium to be deeded to the city.

– College Street Elementary to be deeded to the city.

August 25, 2014 – Land purchase – approximately 30 acres for $540,000 – approved for new Coppinville Junior High School

September 1, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax is implemented

October 2015 – Based on Check No 34361 for $546,279.75 for Land in the check register it appears closing on the purchase of land for the new Coppinville Junior High School was completed sometime in October.

November 18, 2014 – Architectural contract with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood approved

December 16, 2014 – Bid of $70,668 from Cross Environmental Services, Inc. approved for the demolition of Enterprise Junior High

Many Accomplishments and Perspectives

These accomplishments can and will be viewed differently depending on your perspective. One of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes is,

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Reagan_No Limit Paperweight

That quote can be applied to the accomplishments noted above and may make some look back on the year and feel pride in what has been accomplished.

The other perspective some may hold is some or all of these changes were not necessary at all or were not necessary in 2014.

There will almost always be a difference of opinion with most any decision made in the public arena, with the obvious exception of school board and city council votes in Enterprise. The question is, are the decisions being made in the best interest of those being served or not? That is a question that should be simple to answer but ultimately each person will answer for themselves. Much like discussion after a motion is passed it is only productive if it leads to change. You cannot change the motion but you can work through the political process to change the ones making and approving the motions.

Not many changes?

  • Do you think the changes made were warranted and necessary for 2014?
  • If you didn’t agree with the changes initially did your attitude change as they were implemented as the year progressed?
  • Did you not agree with the changes because of who will get the credit for engineering these changes?
  • Is it relevant we were told not many changes were coming but several major changes were made?
  • What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Addendum (My original post ended here but then this happened)

If you are wondering what the board thinks about the past year the addendum shown below should help. This item – Superintendent Contract Addendum – was on the agenda for the February board meeting and approved unanimously. No discussion or explanation of the addendum was given and it was not mentioned at all in the newspaper coverage of the meeting I have seen.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that any agenda item with no details or supporting information provided by the board encourages rumors. That is a fact. This one is no different than any other. However, since a concerned citizen and friend took the time to go to the Central Office to find the facts and then shared them with me I have included them below so any further discussion can begin at the same place, with facts. I think the addendum speaks for itself but I do have one question.

If the performance of the superintendent was meritorious and commendable as stated wouldn’t it be worthy of comment in the board meeting where it was approved?

 

SupContAddendum_20140224_3-1-2015 8-34-06 PM

 

Until next time…when I will discuss a different aspect some of these changes in a little more detail.

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Watch Your Back – Update

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150Last November I published Watch Your Back which is still by far the most widely read post to date on this little blog of mine.

As a result of the actions taken at the 10/21/14 school board meeting (the subject of Watch Your Back) the teacher suspended, Sonya Dean, subsequently filed a lawsuit against the school board claiming, among other things, she was wrongfully suspended and denied due process under the law.

As I understand it this case is one of the first, if not the first, to challenge a new law passed in Alabama in 2011 called the Students First Act.

“Approved by the Legislature in May, the new process — the Students First Act — replaces arbitration used under the Fair Dismissal Act of 2004.” Quote from the article link below.

As in most situations there are at least two sides to every story. According to some, this act changed tenure law and greatly limits the rights of teachers. According to proponents the law will help school boards better manage their staff.

You can learn more about this act at the article link below and the SB310 link to the actual bill as passed by the legislature.

Students First Act replaces arbitration process for firing, disciplining teachers

SB310 – The Act as passed by the legislature

This could be one of those landmark decisions as if this case is dismissed it will discourage and possibly even preclude others from being brought in the future.

Hearing was held

I was able to attend the hearing on the school board and superintendent’s request to have the case dismissed Thursday, 02/26/15, at the Enterprise Court House. It was both informative and instructive for me. As most cases go each side presented their position in the best light possible. I don’t know how the ruling will come down in 14 days.

However, I was reminded that often what seems right is not the outcome under the existing laws. Sometimes the law is just not written in a way that is favorable for your side of the case. There are always two sides though and the other side will likely have an opposite interpretation. The judge has to rule on the existing law, not what is the right thing to do if those two conflict. This can be an impetus for changes to such laws. Laws have to be tested in practice. This is one of those tests.

I do know it took courage for Sonya Dean to stand up for her rights and bring the case and that is to be commended. I also believe that many are more aware of the Students First Act is as a result of this case.

From my perspective, regardless of the outcome of the case, this was a worthwhile effort and lessons learned in this case will be beneficial for others if faced with a similar situation in the future.

What do you think?

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

 

Common Curiosity

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150I am a curious person.

What I have been curious about for some time is whether or not what I am seeing anecdotally from many educators and parents around the state and the country in regards to Common Core are true here in the Enterprise City School System. I call it a Common Curiosity.

I suspect if it is true here any ECS employee would probably not feel comfortable or safe voicing their opinion publicly because you do want to keep your jobs. I get that. I know that Tommy Bice has bragged about schools showing teachers the door if they didn’t conform to the new teaching philosophy and methods “recommended” by the Alabama State School Board. So I understand your reluctance to talk openly or maybe even among yourselves because you are unsure of how others might feel about the subject.

I also understand that I am just a guy with a blog and there is no compulsion or reason for you to respond to my curiosity if you choose not to. I get that too.

However, since I am curious, I wanted to describe a few examples or anecdotes I have seen reported elsewhere and see if they are familiar and are happening here. I think too often we think, “(Insert scenario or issue here) is bad but I know it is not happening here. We are fine.”

I am curious. Are we really?

Teacher Resigns Over Common Core

This story is from April last year but that doesn’t make it any less illustrative of what many teachers are going through today. Colorado public school teacher Pauline Hawkins resigned from her position as a high school English teacher in protest to Common Core standards. You can see her full resignation letter on her blog here. A couple of quotes from that letter on her blog post stood out to me.

“We feel defeated and helpless: If we speak out, we are reprimanded for not being team players; if we do as we are told, we are supporting a broken system….
I cannot stand by and watch this happen to our precious children–our future. The irony is I cannot fight for their rights while I am working in the system.”

Here is a link to another blog that gives several more examples of teachers quitting with Common Core as the primary reason, Common Core, How Many Teachers and Parents Have to Leave. There are teachers from New York, Ohio, Florida and several other states. Are there teachers in Enterprise, Alabama who feel the same and have reached this point of frustration?

Some of My Thoughts

It seems odd to me when one of the big buzzwords in teaching now is “engagement” with the students yet conformity is what is required from the teachers by the administrators as indicated by the Pauline Hawkins quote above. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

I may be old-fashioned…No…I am definitely old-fashioned but I would think a better environment for teachers and students would be one where administrators engaged with teachers and students conformed. After students learn to conform they can then learn to engage. I don’t think it works as well when those are reversed but that is just me.

Is input from teachers, the ones who know the students and know best how to  reach and teach them, encouraged and welcomed or are you “reprimanded for not being team players” or worse when you suggest a different possibly better way to get the desired result?

Curriculum Concerns – Teachers and Parents

There was a recent story from Florida where a world history class was teaching the seven pillars of Islam but not Christianity in a World Religion class. The pages that would have covered Christianity had somehow been removed from the book.

I assume you have all seen some of the bizarre examples of what students are going through to solve simple math problems. If not just google “common core math problems” and you will have millions of examples. I just got 4.3 million. Is that methodology being used here in Enterprise? Does it make sense to anyone?

Is social engineering based on someone other than your own beliefs, principles and standards taking place in your child’s English and Math courses? Is History being omitted, added to, emphasized or de-emphasized in order to promote this same social agenda?

Are curriculum decisions really being made at the local level or somewhere above that?

Your Turn

These are some of the things I am curious about and look forward to hearing if anyone else has these same curiosities, concerns or examples from your experience as a parent or teacher. The only way I can gauge that is by your responses to this blog by either sharing it, responding to it, if you feel comfortable doing that, or letting me know your thoughts or thumbs up or thumbs down when you see me at Walmart, School Board Meetings, Church, etc.

If I do get feedback I will provide an update to this blog to let everyone know.

If you are not comfortable commenting here on the blog comments or on Facebook you can send me an email at stansblog@roadrunner.com with your comments, examples or to tell me I am clueless and need to go jump in the lake. Feedback from you, the reader, is the only way I know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me.

Any update I do publish will not mention any names or comments that would indicate where they originated without your consent. I will just give a generic update describing the responses I received and aggregate numbers.

I am curious now to see your response.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

Is Work Art?

Have you ever considered your work to be art?

ArtOfWork-3D-LeftFace-Shadow

Jeff Goins, in his latest book, The Art of Work, contends it is and makes a very good case to support that supposition.

This might be rather unconventional but I don’t think you should read The Art of Work IF:

  • You’ve already discovered what you were meant to do and have already done it. If the Magnum Opus of your life has already been written and your legacy is secure there is probably not much to benefit you in this book. If your life and career is on track with no room for improvement God Bless You! According to most polls on the subject of job satisfaction you are in a minority.
  • You don’t enjoy reading inspiring success stories about those who have found their calling and vocation in life.
    • Ginny was at a crossroad in her young life. She was 23 years old and pregnant and being pushed toward an abortion by her boyfriend and her parents. If she chose to have the baby she would lose her boyfriend as well as the business opportunity he had offered to help her start. Her parents were going to kick her out of their house and disown her. Then she received a phone call that would change the trajectory of her life.
    • Jody experienced the loss of her husband and two close friends and those experiences led her to start her own business that now helps others going through similar experiences.
    • The rest of Ginny and Jody’s stories and many more are explored in The Art of Work.
  • You believe your purpose in life or your calling will just appear one day with no effort on your part, then you obviously would be at odds with these quotes from the book.

We all struggle to commit to the work necessary to find our purpose.

A vocation is not something you try; it’s someone you become.

You can’t find your passion if you don’t push through the pain.

However, if the scenarios above do not describe you OR if they do and you are still curious, keep reading.

A Few Reasons You Might Want To Pick Up A Copy of The Art of Work

  • You are in a job doing work you don’t think matters and is not challenging, satisfying or fulfilling.
  • You are in a job that is going well, everything is good, but you are just a lifetime learner who wants to see if there is something you might have missed or can do better.
  • You have often thought of escaping the drudgery of your current job but have never acted on that thought.
  • You know you are not doing what you were meant to do and want to discover how you can change that reality.

This book can help you to realize many things you might have overlooked on your journey so far. You may be much closer than you think to where you want to be. Once you make yourself more aware of where you are and what you have learned and accomplished so far, you will learn how to apply that knowledge and move forward. After all, part of the title of the book is, A Proven Path To Discovering What You Were Meant To Do.

Jeff researched hundreds of people who had found their calling and discovered seven characteristics common in each of their journeys. Each chapter describes these characteristics using at least one life story of someone who exemplifies that particular characteristic. These characteristics are not steps as much as they are stages that often overlap and continue as your journey continues. It was hard to just pull one quote to represent each characteristic but that is what I attempted to do here

  • AwarenessA calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.

  • ApprenticeshipApprenticeship, then, isn’t a class you take or a mentor you meet—its’ a choice you make.

  • PracticePractice can teach you what you are and are not meant to do.

  • DiscoveryA calling takes everything you’ve done up to a certain point and turns it into preparation.

  • ProfessionEvery calling is marked by a season of insignificance, a period when nothing seems to make sense.

  • MasteryWe are not what we do for our living, but our life is made up of what we do.

  • LegacyLife has a funny way of teaching us that sometimes the most important stuff is the ordinary stuff.

Jeff concludes with, “The work is never done. Your calling is not a destination. It is a journey that doesn’t end until you die.”

How are you doing on your journey?

If you think there is more “out there” that you could or should be doing The Art of Work might just be the trigger you need to set your journey in motion.

As in any book review I publish here I believe there is someone out there reading this blog that will benefit from buying and reading the book being reviewed. A book can remind you of something you knew once but had forgotten, teach you something new you have never even considered, or just entertain you for a little while. I hope I have given you enough here to pique your interest in this one. If not, maybe the free offer below will.

Order The Art of Work from your favorite bookseller and get the audiobook + $250 in bonuses! You can order here from Amazon.com and then go to this site to enter your email and receipt number to receive your free audio book and bonuses.

This offer expires at 11:59 PM CST on March 28, 2015

Until next time…

PP_If You Like

2014 Year In Review

As another year begins I wanted to write to thank all who have stopped by and read, commented, and shared any of the words I have posted here on this blog in 2014 so here it is…Thank You!

I do appreciate your time and input and hope to be able to post something that might interest you in 2015 too.

As the old year becomes new it is always good to look back to see what interested most readers last year, what worked and what didn’t. That information is always useful to me and it is a factor in what I choose to write about in the future. It would be silly and foolish for me not to consider this information. I am silly from time to time but try not to be foolish when I can avoid it.

Based on total number of views here are the top five most popular Peculiar Perspective posts of 2014.

Watch Your Back – Published 11/22/14

In case you missed it there were some interesting events in the October 21st school board meeting. Here is how it was reported in the local papers.

An Enterprise third grade teacher remains on 20-day suspension after the Enterprise Board of Education voted unanimously...Read more here Watch Your Back

YOU Are Not Alone – Published 12/01/14

A little over a week ago I published a post called Watch Your Back. In that post I asked for feedback both positive and negative as feedback is the only way I know whether my thoughts and observations have any validity or not. I mentioned I would be happy to post a follow up if feedback indicated I was on the wrong path. Well, this is that post…Read more here YOU Are Not Alone

Partly Cloudy – Published 01/29/14

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Mayor’s State of the City luncheon last week. I am grateful for that opportunity to visit with friends both old and new, enjoy a good meal, and learn about the state of Enterprise, The City of Progress, through a presentation by Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell.

In case you were not able to attend or did not see the reports in the Enterprise Ledger Friday and Sunday, the state of Enterprise is very good. Read more here Partly Cloudy

Confused Yet Confident – Published 03/04/14

It has been 18 days since the announcement the 9th grade would be moving to the high school next year and one week since the school board meeting, and then the post-board meeting. I attended both and am still confused as to why now. Read more here Confused Yet Confident

Why I Don’t Have A Fish On My Car – Published 08/08/14

I don’t have a fish emblem on my car and probably never will. I have nothing against fish or what the Christian fish emblem represents nor am I judging or condemning anyone who does have one on their car. I am a… Read more here Why I Don’t Have A Fish On My Car

Reading and Writing in 2014

The post that generated the most blog comments was Reading and Writing in 2014 published on 01/16/14.

As a follow-up to this particular post I had mixed results. I did meet the writing goal of 500 words a day for most of the 31 days of the writing challenge but that did not translate into an ongoing practice throughout the rest of the year. I would like to get back into that routine and actually create one that I can continue this year.

For the reading goal that one lapsed also but I did get 25 books read in 2014 which is about the same as 2013 so I am still reading and learning and still believe this is critical for anyone to continue to grow and improve themselves. I think a book every other week is a pretty good pace and goal and hope to meet that again this year.

Fewer Posts

I did have fewer posts in 2014 than 2013, 29 versus 38, even though the blog was active the entire year versus only about 9 months in 2013. Although I did have fewer posts they were viewed more times than the posts in 2013, an increase of about 60%. This information has helped me come to the realization that one blog a week is too ambitious for me. I am going to cut that in half this year and shoot for one every two weeks or twice a month.

Where was it viewed from?

It is always interesting to me to see the different countries where this blog was viewed from. In 2014 it was viewed in 56 different countries. Of course the United States was the primary location but coming in second was Brazil, which was a surprise, and then Canada was third. It was also viewed in India, Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mali, Ghana, Pakistan, Angola, New Zealand, France, Germany, Poland, Indonesia and South Africa, among others.

That still boggles my mind but just shows the potential reach of anything posted online, whether it be in a blog, in a Facebook or Twitter post or any other social media platform. Once Publish, Send, or Post is clicked those words are permanent and this is a good reminder or caution for anyone in the techno-social world we live in today.

Thanks again for your support and taking the time to stop by last year and may 2015 be your best year yet! I hope you choose to stop by here again from time to time. If you want to make sure you are notified when a new post is published, enter your email address in the sidebar to the right and you will get an email. You will not get added to any other email lists if you choose to do this.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

George Bailey or Bill Gates?

Are you rich?

In one of the most beloved movies of all times “It’s A Wonderful Life” ***spoiler alert*** Harry Bailey, George’s brother, says George is the richest man in town because of the life he has lived and the friends he has.

Forbes Magazine says Bill Gates the richest man in the world.

Who do you believe Harry Bailey or Forbes Magazine? Or both?

These are obviously two very different definitions and examples of being rich. Which one do you align more closely with and which would you like to be if you had the chance to choose?

If you are honest you would probably say, like me, I could be George Bailey with Bill Gates’ money, but could you really?

Matt Ham explores exactly what it means to be rich in his new book, Redefine Rich. Redefine-Rich-front-667x1024He might just help you redefine what rich means for you. Through personal stories and experiences from his life, he reminds us of some important life principles.

How do you define rich? Does the world’s definition of riches leave you feeling empty?

“Is there more to being rich than what you’ve come to understand?”

Redefine Rich will help you ponder these questions and will either give you a new perspective or remind you of one you once had that has slipped away.

Books don’t always have to reveal something new in order to be entertaining and enlightening. Often they are just reminders of something we already knew or help validate what we already know. If you can identify with any of the experiences or stories the author describes it can be life altering for you. Redefine Rich can be just such a book for you.

Matt digs deeper than the surface question of “Are you rich?” to “Are you living richly?” which is a question you may have never considered.

There are many passages from the book I have highlighted in my Kindle Notes. Here are just a couple.

“This book isn’t about finances. This book isn’t about death. There are many books on both subjects. This book is about our choice. A choice to live richly.”

“Can we all live a life abounding in desirable qualities? Can we all live richly? If so, what would that look like?”

As the author says, this book isn’t for everyone but his ground rules are.

1. You can live a rich life.
2. It will not happen by accident.

The thing about books is, as the old saying goes, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” Covers can be nice, pretty, disturbing or awful but you can only judge a book by what is inside the covers and you can only do that by opening it and reading it. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Redefine Rich and open it and read it. I believe you will be richer for making that decision.

This could be considered another spoiler of sorts but if you have read this far probably not,

“A great, wonderful life has everything to do with being rich, and being rich has very little to do with money.”

You might be richer than you think.

You can also check out Matt’s blog here http://mattham.com/blog/

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

 

YOU Are Not Alone

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150A little over a week ago I published a post called Watch Your Back. In that post I asked for feedback both positive and negative as feedback is the only way I know whether my thoughts and observations have any validity or not. I mentioned I would be happy to post a follow up if feedback indicated I was on the wrong path. Well, this is that post.

Most widely read post I have ever published

Watch Your Back was the most widely read post I have published so far. However, the reason for the follow up is not to report I received a lot of negative feedback saying what I posted was wrong or off base;  just the opposite. I have received zero negative feedback from this post, indicating to me most who read it agree with it.

This is not a conclusion based on a scientific poll of some kind just one based on human nature. People are just more likely to provide negative feedback than positive. Think about how many times you have contacted a company to give them positive feedback and compare that to how often you have contacted them to complain. No one has felt strongly enough to dispute anything I said.

I have received comments on Facebook, on the blog and in person that have been very favorable and in agreement with what I wrote but none indicating otherwise. The reason I felt this needed to be shared is to encourage anyone who did read it and think you were the only one who held these feelings.

YOU Are Not Alone

Many “suffer in silence” believing they are the only ones who notice or are experiencing this dynamic when, in fact, they are not. After well over 2000 views of this post, I can say with confidence in this case YOU are not alone. That is the primary reason I thought this post was necessary. Without this follow up post you might have thought there was only one other person who understood your situation. Based on the response to Watch Your Back you can add at least a couple thousand others to that group. I also know in the past the blog statistics I see do not reflect the total number that normally read the post but I can verify well over 2000.

Other reasons I thought this post would be worthwhile are:

  • If knowing there are many more in the same situation helps just one person know they are not alone then it was worthwhile.
  • If it helps one or more to speak out then it was worthwhile.
  • If it encourages one person to get involved, attend more meetings, and vote in the next election who might not have otherwise, it was worthwhile.

Not exclusive to teachers

My previous post was triggered by the board meeting I attended and subsequent lawsuit filed by Mrs. Dean. However I suspect there are others in town who are not teachers in the Enterprise City School System that share similar feelings about their jobs as well.

What can YOU do?

  • If you have concerns I encourage you to talk to school board members, the superintendent, city officials and express your concerns. Attend board meetings and city council meetings. Bring your concerns before the board or city council if you feel strongly about them. If you don’t feel like your concerns are being heard or addressed then there are other options available to you. I will mention a few here but this is by no means intended to be an extensive list.
  • On speaking out I know many still do not feel they can freely do this individually and publicly and still keep their jobs or at least suffer some repercussion on their jobs. An experience with some of my comments being posted as a Letter to the Editor in The Southeast Sun reminded me of an option that is available to anyone who wants to speak out on this or anything else and remain anonymous. My comments were inadvertently posted with “Name withheld by request” instead of my name. That was just an honest mistake and there is no harm done from my perspective. However, if you do want to speak out and need to remain anonymous you can send your comments to the Southeast Sun and request your name be withheld. They will do this as long as you do sign your comments. I am not sure if the Enterprise Ledger/Dothan Eagle will do this as well because I have never requested this myself.
  • Another way that everyone  who lives within the Enterprise city limits can express your displeasure with this or any other decisions and actions taken by the school board and central office is to vote in the next city election.  You CAN still cast a vote without any fear of repercussion and elect city officials who share your principles who will appoint board members that also share these principles. That is the only way real change will come. The next city election will be in 2 years in 2016.

Just for reference, in the last city election in 2012 three councilmen and the mayor ran unopposed and in the two council seats that were contested the total votes cast in District 2 was 453 and in District 3 was 630. You can refresh your memory here if that interests you Enterprise Incumbent Council Remains.

In any case, I hope Watch Your Back and this follow up are confirmation to you, if you needed it, that if you do feel bullied and intimidated in your job, YOU are not alone and there is something YOU can do about it.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.