Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Suckers Choice or The Elusive “AND”

Our youngest daughter is a senior in high school.  Lexie is our “baby” and when she leaves the house next fall, Ginger and I will have the house to ourselves—-YIKES!!  Ginger is already bracing herself AND looking forward to it.  Let me explain.

This week Lexie is working on an assigned paper regarding science and religion.  The question is whether or not they can co-exist.  She is using a plethora of analogies on both sides to make the case.  This can be a very deep and personal topic and as we discussed her ideas, a thought occurred to me.

milky-way-galaxy“Let’s go outside and gaze into the Milky Way,” I suggested.  When you look deep into space, you realize immediately, that we have limitations in both science and religion.  I, personally, believe that not knowing everything is part of the “plan” to develop faith.  Knowing our limitations as mortal beings should allow us to easily accept the premise that science and religion not only can co-exist, but they MUST.  There is no need for them to be mutually exclusive.  We enjoy salt and pepper don’t we?  They compliment our meals terrifically, but can be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

This got me to thinking about a company study recently in the book Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.  In it they talk about two ugly options using the word “either”.  In other words, many conversations in our businesses proclaim this concept, suggesting we can’t have it “both ways”.   This is known as the “Sucker’s Choice”.   When we open ourselves to change and possibilities, and can learn to effectively incorporate the word “And”.  In our business for example, some used to say you can have quality or production, not both.  WRONG.  We can have quality AND production, and we MUST have both.  So we must search for the elusive “AND” while eliminating the sucker’s choice.  This will open up all kinds of possibilities.

Lexie’s school paper brought this home again.  Science AND religion for example can co-exist, and in many aspects of our business and life, we must realize our limitations, stop judging quickly on the surface, look a little deeper and find the elusive “And”.

Side Note… The NASA website ( has a gallery of photos each with a short explanation.  The following was taken directly from that site as I thought it was appropriate for this blog entry.  The image is titled “Earthrise” and the caption reads:


Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts–Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders–held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back here on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis”.

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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Uncategorized


Prepare for the Unexpected – An Airplane Adventure

When I was an active private pilot,  I believe some of our employees would cast lots to see who would be “required” to go on the next business trip with me.  I loved to share my enthusiasm for aviation, and looking back on those years, I realize that I really must have caused some fear and trepidation to some of my staff.

One of those times was a trip to Arizona to see some key accounts.  I was getting checked out in a twin Aztec, which was not a sleek airplane by any means, but was more like a pregnant guppy.  I was pilot in command with my trainer in the right seat, and Jon Kovach and Bret Guthrie in the back seat.  The air was very bumpy, and the passengers were on the verge of nausea.  We just had to make one stop for fuel in Farmington, New Mexico.  I only had a few hours logged in this type of airplane, so I was very busy setting up for the perfect landing.  All on board had headsets on and I had the intercom switch ‘on’ for all to hear each other and tower communications.  Coming into the Farmington airport, which is on a bluff with a shear drop off on the approach end, can cause one to be a little ‘high and hot’ on approach.   The approach was flawless (I thought), and then just a few feet off the ground, as I “mushed” into ground effect, things got crazy.  As I pulled back on the yoke, I had not bled off enough speed, and instead of settling to the runway for a perfect landing, the airplane ballooned upward.  Imagine the airplane in a 45 degree pitch upward while landing and hearing the pilot scream over the headset “Ohhhhhh Sh__  __”.  I am sorry to disappoint you, but I learned that phrase of extreme fearful emotion growing up, and it sometimes resurfaces unexpectedly.  At that moment, the co-pilot instructor took the controls and said “My airplane”  as he goosed both engines (goosing in an Aztec is like putting the pedal to the metal in a Pinto), and we went around for a second attempt and perfect landing.

After the dust cleared and we exited the airplane for re-fueling, my instructor pulled me aside.  He was very kind as he said “Steve, when your passengers are live on the intercom, they never want to hear the pilot scream “Ohhhhhh Sh__ __”.

Moral of the story?  1)Be very grateful for team members who can assume control in critical times; 2) Be willing to relinquish control for a better plan; 3) Keep training!!; and  4) Be very careful what you say (sometimes its better to keep that thought to yourself)!

This story is best told by Jon and Bret, and it actually gets better in time.  I got out of the aviation business a couple of years ago, (an answer to many staff members prayers I’m sure) thankful to have enjoyed several hundred hours of safe adventures, some of which I will share again from time to time.

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Posted by on February 3, 2009 in Uncategorized