Browsing the archives for the books tag.


Pirsig, zen & all that jazz…. (metaphysics of quality)

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I like it when the universe throws me a pattern… you know, like when the same thing or general topic suddenly seems to appear more frequently and yet randomly than ever before.  Lately, I’ve been reminded of Pirsig’s Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which just happens to be a personal favorite.  It’s come up a lot lately…

For this particular situation, it’s Pirsig’s perspective on quality that interests me and I’m reminded of it primarily because of a recent LinkedIn ASQ discussion asking how we define quality.   In the past, I’ve noted the inability to define quality as a primary misconception in the industry and I’ve reached out to others on the Pro QC team to inquiring how they perceive it as well.  No one puts it quite as eloquently and romantic as Pirsig though…

“Quality,” or “value,” as described by Pirsig, cannot be defined because it empirically precedes any intellectual construction of it, namely due to the fact that quality (as Pirsig explicitly defines it) exists always as a perceptual experience before it is ever thought of descriptively or academically. Quality is the “knife-edge” of experience, found only in the present, known or at least potentially accessible to us all. (Plato’s Phaedrus, 258d). Equating it with the Tao, Pirsig postulates that Quality is the fundamental force in the universe stimulating everything from atoms to animals to evolve and incorporate ever greater levels of Quality. According to the MOQ, everything (including ideas, and matter) is a product and a result of Quality.”

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To being mindful…

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“The practice of mindfulness will increase the quality of our learning & also improve the quality of our life.”

Amazon recently recommended a book that I couldn’t resist… Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children.  Plum Village looks like an amazing place… amazing!

I’ve made it through most of the book and find it to be one of those books that you savor and go back to.  The first page sums it up best:

“May this book help you plant the seeds of mindfulness in the garden of your own life & in the lives of the children you nurture. And may you, your family, your school and your community reap a rich harvest of peace, contentment & togetherness.”

I’m not drinking any Kool-Aid or singing Kumbaya or anything, but if you really think about those words, it’s quite tempting.  In all seriousness, the book is great and offers some realistic things (tools, activities, etc.) you can do for yourself and others to really focus and connect with things around you… And, I translate that into success. For me, I find being mindful fuels my drive for whatever it is I’m doing.  And, it inspires me and gives me the kick in the butt I sometimes need to make changes and continuously improve.

Being mindful (aware of the moment) seems very easy, I know.  But, I assure you it’s one of the most difficult things to actually do.  For some, it comes naturally.  For the rest of us, it’s about being too busy or otherwise distracted from truly being in (and appreciating) the moment.

“You cannot transmit wisdom & insight to another person.  The seed is already there.  A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Spring semester at HCC starts tonight, and I’m excited as always.  I’ll be teaching Intro to Business, Principles of Marketing & Principles of Management again… each one of them, good times!  My most significant suggestion for doing well in my class is to always be engaged and know what’s going on.  Rather than focusing on the long-term objective of scoring the credit hours, enjoy the moments in class when there’s an opportunity to learn new things.  Here’s to a great semester!

Sidenote: Another great book targeted to kids but great for all ages is Thinking Tools for Kids.  From fishbone diagrams to affinity exercises, this book simplifies key quality and decision making tools with fun examples and useful templates.  

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Fueling Creativity… Actual Books…

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I’ve recently discovered three books that inspire creativity and force you to break out a pen (or other writing object).  Checking these out on your iPad simply won’t work.

I found the books through a magazine of which the name I no longer recall.  But, I ordered them as a way to get my six year-old interested in writing.  In reality, I ended up keeping them for myself and find them to be an effective way to get going when I’m staring at a blinking cursor.

And, they’re just fun… Full of stupid little activities that get your gears going… And, sometimes you learn something about yourself in the process.

Here they are:

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Political Solutions… I <3 Tom Robbins.

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“Sissy: You really don’t believe in political solutions do you?

The Chink: I believe in political solutions to political problems. But man’s primary problems aren’t political; they’re philosophical. Until humans can solve their philosophical problems, they’re condemned to solve their political problems over and over and over again. It’s a cruel, repetitious bore.

Sissy: Well, then, what are the philosophical solutions?

The Chink: Ha ha ho ho and hee hee. That’s for you to find out. I’ll say this much and no more: there’s got to be poetry. And magic. At every level. If civilization is ever going to be anything but a grandiose pratfall, anything more than a can of deodorizer in the shithouse of existence, then statesmen are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. Bankers are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. Time magazine is going to have to write about magic and poetry. Factory workers and housewives are going to have to get their lives entangled in magic and poetry.

Sissy: Do you think such a thing can ever happen?

The Chink: If you understood poetry and magic, you’d know that it doesn’t matter.”

 

–Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues)

**Note that my 1st edition Tom Robbins books are actually listed in my will along with only one or two other items that I deem valuable.  Aside from Vonnegut, I’ve failed to find another fiction writer that can tickle my fancy like Robbins does… One peruse through Still Life With Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs & All or Half Asleep in Pajamas and it’s hard to deny.

More Tom Robbins quotes

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