On September 11, 2019 we observed the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center, the pentagon and the thwarted attack resulting in an aircraft crash in Shanksville Pennsylvania. Around that time, I had my first phone interview about my experiences from that day with Mike Ramsey, news director of KFMO Radio. You may hear the interview here,
I have been thinking a lot this year about that day especially in the light of all the divisiveness and outright deliberate misinformation being spread by politicians. Possibly more than usual, I have been pondering what lessons we should take away from the events of September 11, 2001: lessons we seem not to have learned or at least lessons we are not putting into practice. I speak often about the takeaway lessons from 18 years ago, and I want to share some of my thoughts with you.
Lesson 1, Teamwork.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Let’s get the problem child out of the way first. If we are going to talk about teamwork, think of how 19 subhuman evil terrorists worked together as a team to stop the world for a bit. One cannot deny this fact. Even creatures like those who perpetrated the attacks can get lucky once or twice, but…
With that in mind think of all the teamwork that went into the search and rescue efforts by the amazing first responders in New York, Washington and even in Pennsylvania. So many worked together to help show us the way to recover from the horror of the attacks. Thousands of people, men and women selflessly worked together to lead our rebuilding programs both in a physical way as well as a reorientation of our shocked mental psyche.
Because so many people worked together supporting all of us we were able to move on. As a country and mostly as humans we felt a sense of unity and comradery rarely experienced. I think there was a spirit in this country somewhat like what people must have felt during World War II when everyone here was committed to do all they could to support our troops overseas and each other.
Earlier this week I wrote an article in which I discussed the changing world in which we live from the standpoint of terror and uncertainty. I suggested that one of the things that each of us can do is to relax and go within ourselves to overcome fear and terror. I realize that this is easy to say and many will feel that it is hard to accomplish. Continue reading →
When I am contacted by meeting planners, corporations, and members of Associations about speaking at their events I am most often asked if I can speak about teamwork and team building.As a keynote speaker I can tell you that this is indeed a subject which seems to be on the minds of company executives, workers, and to some degree most of us.We all seem to value highly the idea of working together.During companywide and executive retreats often times there will be some sort of “team building exercise.”Management constantly talks to staff about “the Team.” Many books have been written on the subject. Continue reading →
As I sit here at my desk feeling the anticipation and joy at the prospects of the New Year – 2009, I cannot help but wonder what the history books will say about this past year that just ended – 2008.It was a year of great strides in medicine, advancements in technology and space exploration, and it was the year in which the United States elected its first African-American president, with the one of the highest recorded turnouts in American voting history.Continue reading →
As a blind person living and working in this wonderful country I have come to the conclusion that the Internet has quickly become one of the greatest tools I have the fortune to use. It gives me access to many things previously only available to those who can see. With the Internet I can conduct extensive research, go shopping independently, communicate with friends and colleagues, and even take the occasional survey in order to inform some unnamed and mysterious pollster about my opinions on this or that.
Earlier today I decided to put a little adventure in my life and answer an invitation to take an online survey. In this case I knew the source of the survey and was expecting it. In the course of answering the numerous questions on a wide variety of subjects I was asked my employment status. Continue reading →
Well here we are day 8, the final day of in-home training. Time sure flies! It’s a sad day, and it’s a happy day. It’s a sad time because it will be the end of our time together with Todd. Todd lived up to his reputation of being the best. As I said before I have never trained with Todd although he was the one who trained Roselle. I could not have asked for a better person to help Africa and I begin our journey together.
On the other hand, it is a happy day because of all that Todd has done to prepare Africa and because of all the work that Todd, Africa, and I have had the pleasure of accomplishing together over the past 8 days. Todd has helped lay a great foundation which will allow Africa and me to have many great adventures and wonderful travel experiences for many years to come. Continue reading →
Thus far my work and bonding with Africa have been progressing well. Already we have had many adventures. Yesterday Todd informed me that today our first route was to be the infamous “independent route”. It is a route that is considered “independent” because the trainer does not walk with the student and dog. Usually, the student is told their starting location and then, when dropped off, they are asked to make their way to the Guide Dog lounge.
The route is not overly challenging to anyone who has good mobility skills. In a training center where blind people are learning to walk as blind people they will travel many independent routes including some where no instructor is observing them. These are true independent routes where blind people are expected to gain confidence in their own ability to travel from place to place. Continue reading →
Today was one of the most extremely informative, if not most fun, times during the training and formation of a guide dog team. Today we did traffic checks.
One of the most important jobs a guide dog must perform is watching for traffic whether it is moving, standing still waiting for a light to change, or whether an individual car might be blocking our path. Any pedestrian should always be alert to the traffic around them. For those of us who choose to use a guide dog the dog can help us a great deal to address the issues regarding traffic. Here are a few scenarios. Continue reading →
Today was another gorgeous day around the bay at San Francisco. I haven’t mentioned the weather we have experienced during our training. In a word, the weather has been great! California has been experiencing drought conditions for some time. I hope that we will move beyond them this winter. However, for late November and needing to be outside training with a guide dog I must admit I can’t complain about the warm sunny time we are experiencing. The temperature has been in the 70s and 80s during the day. We’ve had little cloud cover but rather lots of sun. Southern California has been facing many severe wildfires which we hope will soon be under control and out. All of us in California fear the severity of fires during the dry conditions we are experiencing. I hope we get no more fires this year. All I ask is three more days of sunny weather and then let the clouds open and the rain poured down. Continue reading →
Today was the fourth day of training for Africa and me. In a regular class environment training occurs Monday through Saturday. There are a few exceptions. Students arrive for class on Monday. The actual training process begins on Tuesday. First-time students come for four weeks graduating on the fourth Saturday of class. Retrain students come for two, three, and sometimes even the entire four weeks of class depending on their needs and desires. Continue reading →
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