Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

The close friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams started when they worked together on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, and in 1784. Jefferson was the runner-up in the presidential election of 1796, he became Adams’s vice president. They turned political rivals, when Adams ran for a second term in 1800 and two major political parties had emerged: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Jefferson became president.

They wrote numerous letters to each other for more than a dozen years after both had left the presidency. Jefferson’s estate in Monticello notes,

After fifteen years of resumed friendship, on July 4, 1826, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other. Their deaths occurred—perhaps appropriately—on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that his friend had died hours earlier, Adams’s family later recalled that his last spoken words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

The written words of Jefferson and Adams, however, survive to this day, preserving the rich legacy of their friendship, thoughts, and ideas.

Make the Positive Things Bloom

From Helen Tworkov’s interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in the Summer 1995 issue of Tricycle,

I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. They do not touch enough on what is not wrong—it’s the same as some psychotherapists. Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and to see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?

Waking up in the morning, you can recognize “I’m alive” and that there are twenty-four hours for me to live, to learn how to look at living beings with the eyes of compassion. If you are aware that you are alive, that you have twenty-four hours to create new joy, this would be enough to make yourself happy and the people around you happy. This is a practice of happiness.

Trusting in Love

Jack Kornfield in The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace (2002,)

Lovingkindness offers care and well-wishing to another without expectation or demand.

There is no distance between their well-being and our own.

True love is trustworthy. Our love for others is an expression of our trust in love itself. No matter what happens, we can still love.

Leading in a Crisis: Embrace the Uncertainty

Jack McGuinness of the leadership-consulting firm Relationship Impact writes,

The challenge that leaders face in a crisis is that their organizations aren’t typically set up to operate with such uncertainty. Leaders create visions, plans and metrics to attempt to control their environments and minimize uncertainty as best they can. In a crisis many leaders default to what they know how to do in order to reduce frustration and quell their own and others’ fears. This default mode is simply not productive and rather than reduce uncertainty and anxiety it increases both.

Let it Be

Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield writes in A Path with Heart: a Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life (1993):

Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.

Tourism Trashed Venice

Christopher de Bellaigue in The Guardian about how overcrowded cities and rubbish-strewn tourist attractions are getting a reprive in the pandemic:

Were it not for tourism, much of Venice’s Gothic fabric would have crumbled or been redeveloped years ago. But while the tourism industry provided much of the economic rationale for the preservation of the city’s architecture, power was handed to investors in hotels, restaurants and boats, many of them outsiders for whom Venice was simply a business opportunity. On 15 July 1989, the global music industry commandeered the city for a free concert, the memory of which vexes Venetians even now. As many as 200,000 people from all over Europe converged that day on the Piazza San Marco, the city’s spiritual and aesthetic core, some of them packed on to boats offshore, to see Pink Floyd on the final leg of their world tour.

Panicky city councillors argued almost until the opening note of Shine on You Crazy Diamond about whether the concert should go ahead. In the end, the band agreed to lower the decibels and shorten their playlist to fit global TV schedules (Italian national broadcaster Rai did very nicely,) while shopkeepers around the square sold warm beer at triple the price to fans who discovered too late that the authorities hadn’t laid on a single toilet. The following morning, the famous old flagstones were covered by cans, cigarette butts and puddles of urine.

Public Welfare Isn’t America’s Raison d’Etre

The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor Daniel Henninger comments on President Biden’s visit with the Group of Seven leaders in Europe:

Public Welfare has never been America’s reason for being, notwithstanding our substantial spending on social support programs. Despite the entitlement creations of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, the U.S., unlike Europe, has remained a nation driven and led by capitalist initiative.

Europe became famous for its perpetual-motion tax machine, which suppressed the continent’s entrepreneurial instincts. Besides income taxes, Europe relies heavily on the collection of notoriously high value-added taxes (one reason luxury-goods-buying Europeans tour the U.S..)

How Toyota Uses Poka-Yoke

Poka-Yoke (poh-kah yoh-keh) is a process designed to avoid mistakes either before assembly or immediately after for effortless correction:

Japanese manufacturing guru Shigeo Shingo once told Toyota assembly line workers about his clever techniques to make production processes “idiot-proof.” One of the plant’s employees burst into tears. “I am not an idiot!” she cried. A stricken Shingo quickly recanted. He scrapped “idiot-proof” in favor of declaring his initiatives essential to making assembly lines “mistake-proof.”

Shingo’s trans-idiotic design insight was poka-yoke—Japanese for “avoid mistakes.” In effect, Shingo looked for the simplest, cheapest, and surest way to eliminate foreseeable process errors. To make sure an assembler uses three screws, for example, package the screws in groups of three. The package is a poka-yoke device.

Warren Buffett on Selling Stock Positions

Warren Buffett speaks about (transcript) selling stock positions at the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting,

When we sell something, very often it’s going to be our entire stake. I mean we don’t trim positions. That’s just not the way we approach it any more than if we buy a hundred percent of a business, we’re going to sell it down to 90% or 80%.

Any Progress You Make on a Daily Basis is Fantastic

“Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner’s reassuring life advice for struggling artists:

The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant. I spent so much time trying to write, but was paralyzed by how behind I felt. Many years later I realized that if I had written only a couple of pages a day, I would’ve written 500 pages at the end of a year (and that’s not even working weekends.) Any contribution you make on a daily basis is fantastic. I still happen to write almost everything at once, but I now cut myself slack on all of the thinking and procrastination time I use. I know that it’s all part of my creative process.