How Wise Leaders Inspire

The opening presentation at the 2010 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit set the tone for everything that followed. Bill Hybels talked about the investment we must make in ourselves to develop our leadership skills to successfully cast a vision to move those we lead “from here to there”. That is, after all, what leaders do, they transform what is, by moving others from a current reality to a brighter future. The difficulty encountered is that most people resist change. We humans are creatures of habit, and the unknown can be a threatening place for us to go. Without wise leaders challenging us to reach further and accomplish more, we would never achieve our full potential. A wise leader’s first objective is not only to prepare people for change, but to make them passionately desire it. I really connected with the example of this that Bill used.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent many years getting his followers ready for “the big day”. Speech after speech focused on everything that was wrong with the way people of color had been treated. He raised their level of discontent to the point that all agreed the status quo was absolutely not acceptable, and then he cast a vision with those timeless words, “I have a dream!” Had he started his movement with his most famous words, people would have seen it as a pipe dream with no hope of completion. So when wise leaders begin to cast a vision, they must begin by making “where we are now” an unacceptable place to remain.

The journey now becomes perilous, and wise leaders must continue to inspire hope. There is a point where the vision is obscured by the challenges along the way. This is nothing new. Even the children of Israel were ready to go back to slavery in Egypt, when faced with the uncertainty of life in the desert. The vision of a promised land filled with milk and honey seemed so far out of reach and unattainable that they lost hope. In a popular song by Indigo Girls, the lyricist talks about that hesitation when facing the unknown saying, “The devil I know is starting to look mighty kind, but the new road is an old friend…Fill it up again.” That is the role of the wise leader, to keep the vision fresh and alive, so the focus is off of the uncertainties.

Celebrating the milestones along the way is a great morale booster, and keeps focus on the vision and purpose for the journey. Celebrations acknowledge the accomplishments that have been attained and encourage us to keep moving forward. What keeps people on the journey is the sense of hope that they will get there some day!

Finally, wise leaders do not rely solely on their own understanding, but continue to seek fresh wisdom. This is key to their ability to inspire others to take risks, move out in faith, and be the bearers of positive change for the transformation of the world. For Christian leaders, listening for the prompting of the Spirit and allowing God to guide their steps is a priority and a daily discipline. We can all benefit from their example and hone our leadership skills, by taking time out to seek divine guidance as part of our daily routine.

Blessings & Adventure

Seniors and Elders, Make It Colorful and Enjoyable: New Ways to Get Help Moving Up, Out, Beyond

Making the decision to move to Los Angeles from her lifelong home in Minneapolis was not easy for my 89 year old mom, but once she did, she moved forward with her typical commitment to a project.

Granted, this is not my usual kind of subject but I wanted to touch on it anyway. After all… it’s this type of life change that make you reflect on future development and how it’s a quite a mystery that we can only “plan” for to a relatively limited extent.

The reason I wanted to bring this up is that she had a lot of help from a friend and “moving-on-professional.” I don’t know what we would have done without Laure Green, a Minneapolis real estate professional who also helps elders with exactly this type of transition. From identifying attachments and being able to “let go” of them–right down to the last minute managing the movers. My mom-and we, her family- were so lucky to have Laure’s help.

Emotion Rules… for better or worse!

Fortunately there are similar helpers nationwide who can take the stress out of the moving experience by helping to minimize the emotions involved in just about every aspect of the process–from evaluating the actual items that might be needed to dealing with the sentiments and experiences attached to each piece.

My good friend, Beth, describes it like this: “It’s all about emotion. Downsizing and de-cluttering means making decisions. Rather than making them, we have spent years stashing stuff higher and deeper. We save too much and get emotionally bogged down in life’s leftovers that we will never use and have tenuous reasons for keeping.”

Between the two of them, Laure and Beth have a world of experience. Laure, from the Real Estate side–and Beth, who having moved her own full household eighteen times before coming to Cape Cod nearly 12 years ago-has an unusual depth of experiences to combine with her organized, focused approach to everything she does. Beth has settled five estates and worked for an antique/collectibles dealer. Recently, she was the program director for a Cape Cod continuing care retirement community.

Both women have this guiding principle

Make the transition one that is joyous, radiant and full of positive energy!

The color connection

Along with all the necessary details to attend to in the moving process, there is one other point that many people might overlook: I call it “The Color Connection.” A few tips:

  1. Change a gray, depressing and overwhelmed feeling and experience to one that is brightly glowing with yellows, oranges, and luminous blues!
  2. As we age, our color needs change. Kids can see more clearly than adults! Our color vision changes as we age, and we start to see everything with a “yellow cast” that only increases as time goes forward.
  3. As always, environmental color is, in itself, an absorbing and expansive subject. It’s not unusual for designers of elder housing to create spaces with only the family members in mind.
  4. Who is the Most important? it’s the people who live there who count the most!
  5. Here are just a few the reasons to give color the serious consideration that people deserve
    • Emotional comfort
    • Physical comfort
    • Wayfinding
    • Safety in the home

Even if there is not a move planned at this time, you can always revive a current home to make it more appropriate for elder residents.

Now, for some details

I offer a few considerations, and tips for selecting colors as we age

  1. Hue: Many hues can work, but consider that we see more yellow as we age.
  2. Pattern: larger patterns are sometimes easier to “read” but don’t overwhelm the viewer with visual information
  3. Contrast: regardless of our age, higher contrast makes important items more identifiable
  4. Sheen: high sheen creates reflection and can add confusion
  5. Intensity: use colors that are moderate but not boring. Consider contrast, intensity, sheen.
  6. Lighting: a critical piece! Consider lighting closer to daylight, rather than yellow-based lighting color. Consult an experienced lighting designer for this all-important part of the environment you want to create
  7. In all cases, the balance between these elements is key. Too subtly neutral is “boring” and can create anxiety, and too much color and pattern can create confusion when not used judiciously.

I look forward to addressing these details more specifically in a future article.

The Overrated Imortance Of Color For Bass Lures

The longer I fish the more I’m convinced color is our least important consideration. Long-time Barkley and Kentucky lakes guide, Malcolm Lane, and I discuss this often. I guided for years, but Malcolm has been at it for over three decades, and he admits that the main reason he doesn’t care to guide bass fishermen is they often drive him crazy by constantly switching baits and asking what color he thinks they should try.

We agree wholeheartedly: The action of a lure is most important. Some of this is built into a lure, but much of it is controlled by the way the fishermen manipulates the bait and is loosely referred to as presentation. Often the difference between catching a bunch of fish and none is a very small variance in presentation.

This is why one guy in a boat might be catching fish after fish, while another in the boat, using exactly the same lure, catches little or nothing. I’ve seen this happen often. Most of the time, the guy not catching fish is simply fishing too fast, especially with soft-plastic baits for bass, but also with most crappie lures.

I’ve seen it happen just as often with spinner baits and crank baits. With these lures, much of the presentation is built into the bait. Most people think all you have to do is throw them out and crank them back, but the speed at which they are retrieved can make a big difference. Imparting pauses or twitches add many presentation elements as well. Always try to pay close attention to exactly what you were doing and how fast you were reeling when a fish hits.

Sometimes fish mess them up. If they become bent or somehow slightly out of tune, their presentation qualities can be altered drastically. We may get the impression that the fish “just quit biting,” when in fact they just quit biting what we were throwing because it stopped displacing water or wobbling or flashing in a way that invited bass to eat it.

The vast majority of the time, the difference is simply in the speed of the retrieve, which is influenced by the equipment as well as the guy cranking it. When I was guiding crappie fishermen, I always carried a couple of extra rods with very slow reels, and I tried to get clients to use them instead of the fast and fancy models they usually brought. It was much easier to slow them down with equipment than to get them to crank slower.

Nine times out of 10, I’ve noticed that the guy not catching fish is fishing just a little too fast, but the opposite can occasionally be true.

One fall a couple of clients and I were throwing Rattle Traps to schooling fish. We were all fishing the same model, color and size and ripping them back as fast as we could. John and I were catching fish on nearly every cast, but Jim wasn’t catching any, even though he was cranking just as fast. This seemed strange, so I tried to determine why. First I closely examined the lures, then the lines. I considered the difference in rods briefly, and then looked at the reels.

John and I were using fast reels with 6-to-1 retrieval rates. Jim’s reel was 5.1-to-1. John had another outfit with a fast feel, and we both insisted that Jim try it. He was into a fish on the first cast and began matching us fish for fish.

Next in importance, I believe, is size and general shape. I’m convinced that a lure that resembles the general dimensions and outline of a food form fish are most accustomed to eating will get many more strikes than one that is too large. It doesn’t hurt sometimes to go a little smaller, but bigger seldom is better. The more abundant a particular forage, and the more accustomed bass become to feeding on them, the more selective they become to size and shape.

That’s why I harp so much about the pervasive “big bait, big fish” attitude that I believe has misguided so many of today’s bass fishermen. Size and shape are more important than color. I’ve often seen two guys fishing the same size of a particular bait, but ones with radically different color schemes, with no appreciable difference in the catch rates.

A lot of fishermen think color makes a big difference, and they can site examples, but that’s because color is the only thing they ever consider. The difference of color scheme between one guy who is catching and one who is not may be most obvious to the human eye, but presentation is probably what the fish sees. The general size and shape, and especially the body language, or action, of the bait is what trips his predatory trigger.

These, and many other instances, have lead me to believe that color is of least importance. Color catches fishermen, that’s why manufacturers are always coming out with new combinations and dazzling paint jobs. It makes very little difference to the fish beyond visibility.

Fishermen pick out various colors of lures because they think particular hues look lifelike, but by far more fish are caught on various lures that have a bright, sometimes fluorescent, shade of chartreuse. There is absolutely nothing in the aquatic environment that is chartreuse. Chartreuse, however, is very visible at various depths and in waters of various clarity.

Chartreuse is not popular or very effective with slower baits, such as jigs and worms, indicating that the slower a bit is presented, the more important color becomes. That may be true. The consistently productive colors of jigs and worms are of the darker or more natural hues. This may, however, have something to do with the increased depth at which jigs and worms are fished, and the muting effect of low light penetration upon the various colors. Black is black at any depth, and blue doesn’t change much either, while red, which is most visible to fish at full light, fades quickly in relation to light penetration.

I don’t mean to imply that color is of no importance whatsoever. My point is that the average bass fisherman pays so much attention to it that he almost totally ignores the much greater importance of presentation, size and body shape, and he’s certainly not examining the subtle differences in presentation that really separate the top fisherman from the average.

Before changing colors, try changing the speed or cadence of the retrieve. Try retrieving you lures and baits deeper or shallower. Try a different type of structure. Try using a smaller version of your favorite lure. If you still feel you must change, try changing to a completely different style of bait with completely different presentation qualities, not just another color variation of the same thing.
During years of guiding, I noticed that the guys who always had the most trouble catching fish were the ones who spent a lot of time fishing in their tackle boxes instead of the water. Invariably, they were always searching for the perfect color. Like Malcolm, it kind of drove me crazy, too.

But you don’t have to take the word of a couple of old, worn out guides. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to back it up our assumptions.

In the first place, it probably is a mistake to judge a bass’ vision by our own, because bass see everything a bit differently than humans, not just because they live in a totally different environment, but because their eyes function much differently than ours.

For one thing, their eyes are placed on the sides of their heads, affording them monocular vision, which means they can see well on both sides of their heads at the same time. Each eye has the ability to see over a 180 degree range, so their only blind spot is a narrow area directly behind them where the bass’ own body obstructs vision. We, on the other hand have binocular vision, which restricts our field of view to the front, but also allows us great depth-of-field perception.

Like some of us, they are nearsighted, which means that unless a lure makes noise, it needs to be cast closely to the fish to be detected. They also have limited binocular vision similar to ours in a narrow band directly in front of them. Their binocular vision, however, is really just an overlapping of their monocular vision, so although they can see things at a little greater distance, these objects are blurred and depth perception is impaired, sort of the way we see if we cross our eyes slightly.

This is why you will most often see a bass make a little swoop to the side at the last second before they strike a lure they have been following from behind. This little side-step at the last second allows them to see the bait most clearly the instant before they take it. Short strikes, or complete misses, could mean they saw something distasteful upon close inspection. Under their clearest vision, during that last-second swoop, they sometimes changed their minds like a batter’s half-swing.

Scientists believe that bass receive about five times more light through their eyes than humans. This, of course, gives them better vision in deep or dark areas, but it doesn’t mean that they can see five time better than humans. It means, simply put, that they are five time more sensitive to light. They have a fixed lense and the cornea is of uniform thickness. They don’t have eye lids or pupils to dilate and compensate, so they make up for this by seeking shade or moving deeper.

They need this extra sensitivity because water absorbs light quickly. The deeper the water, or the more turbid the water, the less light there is to reflect off objects. Plus, when the surface is broken by ripples, some of the light is refracted, so the diffusion of light is rapid. Often just a few feet or the shade of a fallen tree are enough.

The most confusing aspect of their sight is the fact they have two types of receptor cells in the retina. Their “cone” cells perceive color and are used mostly during the day. Their “rod” cells see only in black and white and are used at night. These receptor cells reverse themselves every 24-hour period, so bass are actually color blind about half the time. Consider that the next time you’re trying to pick out the perfect color.

Sometime before sunset a bass’ internal senses trigger the advance of black-and-white vision in preparation for darkness. Completion of this process takes hours, so it is believed they have a sort of color fade as the rod cells advance. Then, just before daylight, the cone cells begin to advance, causing a gradual recognition of colors. For most of the morning, and for most of the evening, their ability to distinguish different hues of the color spectrum is limited. Ironically, that is usually when we do best with our lures of many colors.

We often think that the color of a lure was why a bass hits this or that model, when in fact, most of the bass we catch are fooled during times when they can’t actually distinguish between colors very well. If what you’re using is catching them well during the middle of the day, color might be the key. Early and late in the day, however, they may be hitting that “latest and greatest” model not because of the fancy finish that caught your eye and emptied your pocket, but in spite of it.
Again, I will say, presentation is all important.