The middle game IS the game

As a couple committed to that which is True, Good and Beautiful (add Noble specially for me), it is fair to say that my Beloved and I have not chosen an easy path. M wrote this on his FB and I got compelled to share it here because it is probably the most succinct way to express the depths of M.

When, like M,  you have a brilliant mind working in perfect harmony with an equally amazing heart, and have the patience of a baobab tree, you are destined to achieve amazing things. It is  fascinating for me to live by the man's side, surrounded by his wisdom. My hot temper makes me sometimes lose sight of the goal, especially when the middle game is so complex and takes forever, but a glance at him and I am back on track. I then hold his hand tighter, and together we make our moves.

So here is what my Beloved posted on his status:

"When I was in high school I played pick-up chess at the public library in Aspen. At one point, a chess junkie who used to be Spassky's tennis partner on the tours played me several games with me and then told me, "You've got an amazing middle game. Your opening game is mediocre and your end game is terrible. But I can train you how to do those. The middle game is the hardest part to train - it requires a deep intuition." I chose not to train with him because I didn't want to give my life over to a game, but ever since I've identified as a middle game player. In a sense, I feel like I'm always playing middle game, trying to intuit how to get where I'm going, but never having the satisfaction of playing the decisive moves of the end game."

To which, one of his friends asked him to discuss further. He then replied:

In order to explain I must first explain the nature of the "opponent" with which I struggle. Coming out of St. John's, I wanted to pursue the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. One of the most obvious forces opposing the Good seemed to me to be free market economists, who advocated for a system that rewarded greedy business people for stoking the flames of materialism and consumerism. As someone in love with the Greek ideal of a virtue culture, this seemed self-evidently evil. So I went to the University of Chicago to examine the Chicago economists from the inside to discover the moral and intellectual errors that led them to promote such an evil system. I discovered that I had not really understood economics. There is nothing intrinsic to free markets or economics that necessarily rewards greed nor that necessarily rewards stoking the flames of materialism. I worked within Gary Becker's framework to create a theoretical structure within which markets would reward virtue, primarily though education. At the same time on the practical side I began providing Socratic teacher trainings through Mortimer Adler's Paideia Program in order to inculcate virtues in public school classrooms. As I shifted to the development of a framework for virtue development that was consistent with economics, I discovered the fury that mainstream academia has for those apostates who work within a market-oriented framework. Despite the fact that my goals as an educator were intellectual and moral goals that most professors would enthusiastically support, because I was now identified with "Chicago economics" I was attacked, ostracized, or ignored. I then spent fifteen years actually creating schools, and again found that because I no longer believed in government schools, even though I was doing work that Enlightenment liberals should love, I was still attacked, ostracized, or ignored. I then began working with John Mackey to promote entrepreneurial solutions to world problems. Again although the substance of each entrepreneurial solution I proposed was largely aligned with the goals of Enlightenment liberals, the same reaction from the academic establishment. Finally, in my work with Startup Cities, the same thing. Thus I feel as if my most tenacious opponent for the last several decades has been the anti-capitalist bigotry of academic intellectuals. Where ever I go, their deep, irrational tribal loyalties prevent me from making progress that is as deep and wide-ranging as it should be. On my part I've been trying to establish such unimpeachable "goods" associated with improving the lives of the poor (in terms of much of my work in FLOW and Startup Cities) and developing intellectually engaged, cognitively sophisticated learners with a moral sensibility (in my education work) that intellectually honest academics would begin to concede position. But it has been a very long, difficult struggle. I had thought our side was making progress in the early decades of this millennium, but then GW Bush's hypocritical use of market rhetoric set us back, and then the 2008 crisis set us back much further. It feels like a chess board where we are fighting for the moral and intellectual high ground, and we are struggling to get the advantage of a pawn or two so that when we move to the end game we will have the advantage needed to win. Their position is intrinsically weaker, but because they've got almost all of academia, the mainstream media, and the K-12 system on their side, our side faces a very tough struggle. Worse yet, untutored human nature is naturally anti-capitalist, as Hayek pointed out, so a corrupt Krugman can pander to the natural economic ignorance of humanities scholars and ordinary people and thereby have immense influence. Thus the only way to win this battle is for the most intellectually influential individuals to acknowledge the power of the best arguments on behalf of entrepreneurship and markets. As you well know, we are still in the middle game on this issue. But at some point we will enter the end game, and if our positional advantage is strong enough, we will win decisively. I expect that you and I are young enough that within our lifetimes the anti-capitalist bigotry of 20th century intellectuals (now extending into the 21st) will exercise a morbid fascination for thoughtful, intelligent minds looking back at the damage for which such people are responsible."

Thank You for the Letter

   

 

 

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I spent the last part of Wednesday and the first part of yesterday mad as hell, and even lost.

 

My team and I had worked really hard on a project that resulted in a pure fiasco, for various reasons. At the end of the day, I take full blame for it and I also know that it is the name of the game.
In any case, the bottom line is that I have been in struggle mode, feeling depressed and like a loser because something we did everything for it to come out perfectly did not.

Just now, I saw this email letter. Let's just say that communications like this one bring life and love to my heart. And I thank its author from the depths of my heart for bringing me such "put you back on the saddle" words of encouragements at a moment it's so needed. Thank You!

 

"Dear Ms. Wade,

My name is V. M and I am the Director of Operations for XXX. Part of my job is to transcribe S.H interviews. I felt impelled to tell you that it has been a privilege to transcribe your interview, which I'm only about half-way through. Not only is your story absolutely fascinating, but you are one of the rare gems in the world that I refer to as "people who make me happy just knowing that they exist." I've even directed my teenage daughters to your website sot that they could read your principles ("mes principes").

I apologize for jumping the professional line--I have never personally contacted an interviewee without being properly introduced through S.H (out of respect for my boss, who is also a dear friend). But, one of my personal principles is that when you find someone you can look to as an example of what human potential can attain, you let them know how much you appreciate them.

So, thank you. (And, Happy Thanksgiving!)

Sincerely,

V.M"

 

Friends, Cats & Tigers

Today is my birthday. I have received many well wishes that came in all forms (cards, letters, VM, SMS, songs,...)
This is an attempt to express what they mean to me.
Thank you so very much for this most amazing gift that is your letter.
It resonates and makes my whole being vibrate, so in tune with the meaning of your words. I am about to collapse, literally!! I sincerely have no idea what is going on, but I can feel such a rebirth.
The past few days have been really scary on so many fronts. I have been on panic mode, but Michael, equal to himself is the one who keeps on pushing forward for the two of us, and I listen to his calm directions. He is the only reason why I am not trying to jump out of the racing car right now. You know that urge one has to just turn their back and run the opposite direction when faced with a dangerous wild animal? Your first instinct is to do that, but doing that is a sure death sentence because that is the last thing to do when faced with a danger like that. So Michael is the voice that has been telling me to stand in front of the animal, lift up my hands in the air, make noise and jump so to make myself more imposing and scare him into running away (while God knows I am dying with fear inside).
That is how it feels. But I must say that Hope is taking its place back, thanks especially to all the voices I heard from today. Michael has been joined by countless others today, including you. And your combined voices are forming a real beat that I now find myself in trance with, a trance that makes me feel invincible.
It is all so powerful, I can feel the Beast now being the one scared, wise in its belief that this collective is a force not be messed with.
I am so very glad that I called for help. And even more grateful that you all heard it and came to the rescue.
It is true what they say, that at the end of the day, all we have is one another. Thank You! A most grateful Magatte

The Witch's advice for happy customers & employees

"Customers and employees live in the same world: reality is nothing but a series of electrical stimuli to the brain. What we think we 'see' is a pulse of energy to a completely dark part of the brain. However, if we get on the same wavelength as other people, we can try to change that reality. In some way that I don't understand joy is infectious, as enthusiasm and love. Or indeed sadness, depression, or hatred - things that can be picked up 'intuitively' by customers and other employees. In order to improve performance, we have to create mechanisms that keep these positive stimuli alive."  The Witch of Portobello

Love cures headaches

This morning, I woke with a terrible headache. M and I have been sick for the past couple of days. That happens when we do not manage to get enough sleep for an extended amount of time, which was the case with our latest travels.

So my Beloved, as he does every morning, prepared us breakfast as I went to the living room to lounge on the couch trying to calm my headache.

But I could not relax because of the many things I have to do and take care of. I felt so overwhelmed that my headache got worse. And from my to-do list, I started thinking about all the things I want to accomplish in my life and how this stupid headache is taking seconds, minutes and hours of productivity away from me, and ultimately away from my dreams. The frustration amplified the pain even more. And then I started thinking about my three little kids in Senegal (not mine but I love them as such), for whom I cannot wait to start the most wonderful schools ever, inspiration behind Tiossano's "The Purpose of  Our Profits" mission. And from there, I went on thinking of all the children of Senegal that Tiossano will be able to give fresh opportunities to as well as all the adults that we will be able to provide jobs to. How the whole country could change  if only our model could inspire others to jump in.  It was all thoughts of "I am not going fast enough, I am not doing enough! Everything is being delayed. My little namesake is already 2 years old and I would have liked to have his school started already!".  Then I went on thinking about how many more young men were planning trips to Europe in little fishermen's boats and would not make it. I was thinking of how every single minute, the best aspects of my indigenous culture were at risk of being corrupt by the nastiest sides of western civilization through TV and the Internet, mainly . Which all brought me back to "I need to move faster, better, there are problems there that are getting worse by the minute!!!". Needless to say that at this point, I was simply a pure mess of emotion with a head that was about to explode.

In moments like this, I turn to Michael for wisdom. He is one of the most determined and patient people I know in this world. His goal and purpose, he knows very well and never looses sight of. He has also accepted that anything worth anything in this life takes time to build. Anything else is smokescreen. I know that, but I still do not have the required discipline in life to exercise those virtues all of the time.

But in moments like this, I also often turn to my Sufi guide who lives in Senegal. So I called him, and we talked for an hour. He reminded me of how far I have come. I asked him again if it was all my vanity and ego urging me to do more and more, all the time. He replied that everything in me longs to make other people's lives better of. That all I ever talk about are the jobs I want to create, the schools for a new breed of citizen, and giving my culture the spotlight it deserves in this world.

He reminded me to avoid comparing myself to others. Their paths are theirs, whatever they do with it, and that mine is mine. He reminded me that I have everything I could possibly hope for in this world: a husband that would give his life for me, people who, like him, respect and admire me so much he named his little boy after me, and that I have people rooting for me out there. Some I will never know, but they are there. He said that for some people I am doing and being what they always wished to do and be. Some will love me for it, but some will hate me for it. But he reminded me not to care. He reminded me that no one owns my life or destiny except for God. And that even Him will only help me if I prove that I am worthy of it by waking up everyday and working hard at what I want.

He said it was okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes, but he also reminded me that it is the best time to express gratitude for all that I am and all that I have and those who care about me, even if it is only one person (and as he said I can at least count two such people in my life for sure :)).

Then we talked about the children, he told me that my little namesake is all about soccer these days and the first thing he does when he rolls out of bed is go get his ball and say "Papa, do you want to play soccer with me?" or anyone else he comes across as a matter of fact. He told me that everyone is fine, the children are fine, talk of and ask for us often.

He reminded me that all is good and to keep on pushing ahead. He reminded me that he is rooting for me, and that he knew that Michael was too, and that people like him and Michael don't do that for everyone.

The whole conversation, as usual put such balm on my heart and my headache vanished. At that point, I became very clear again about who I am, what my purpose is and that focused hard work is the only way forward.

So I got up, went to shower, and while the tasty meal I concocted for M and I is cooking on the stove, I am sitting here, writing this blog post, before charging forward with what I have to do. I now have a big, bright smile on my face, and the confidence in my heart that I will create those jobs, build those schools and turn Dakar and Senegal into a hot cultural leader around the world.

Sufi Love

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKAylJYBNb4] Youssou Ndour is a friend, fellow countryman, and one of the best ambassadors of Senegal, at least on the artistic front.  One of the things that it is important to understand about my country is that we are a deeply religious country, committed to our Sufism, which has allowed us to be one of only two African nations never to have experienced a coup or civil war since Independence.

What do I love so much about the man? He is serious about Peace, real Peace, Love, real Love, and a Better World For Women. I love the fact he decided to stay home, in Senegal and prove that it is definitely possible to be a gigantic international star, straight from Africa! Most of us in Senegal feel that we are blessed with a "gene" of Peace, Tolerance and Love, that preserved us throughout times.

This is one my favorite songs from him, and you guessed it, it is all about  LOVE. Part of the song goes like this:

"Love is so good

Trust Us

I love you, and no one can extinguish that fire

Love, Love, O Love

Love is the making of God

Love comes out of a heart and goes into another heart

Love: no one can sell it and no one can buy at the market

Any two people you see, love binds them and God puts its blessing on it

Love has no religion

Love has no color for in the world of Love, there is no black person, and no white person"

We Senegalese Sufis are consumed with Peace, Tolerance and Love, when it is all said and done.

.