Cup of tea: Lessons from overseas

I spent my last semester of college at the University of Wales and lived in a loft with British students who, incidentally, offered me a cup of tea at every turn. At first, I refused. But over time, they won me over. In fact, to this day, I take a cup of green tea with mint every morning. Why?

I drink tea because it focuses my mind, wakes me up, and starts my day calmly.

But what does this have to do with our country? At this point in history, it has everything to do with our nation. Emotionally charged minds can’t think straight, clearly, or rationally. And consequently, make poor decisions. At the singular level, this is a personal issue. At the national level, it’s an epidemic. If we want to not only maintain but grow our nation’s human power, economic stability, and defense strength, we must bring our people together. Whether we “drink tea” – in reality or metaphorically – I frankly don’t care.

We must find a way for our people to calmly discuss issues and more importantly, create solutions.

There’s a reason why we tell people to ‘sleep on it’, ‘take a deep breath’, ‘walk away until you calm down.’ All these phrases do the same thing, they help the stress chemicals reduce and consequently, we calm down, think more clearly, and make better decisions. Now how do we do this at scale?

Couple of considerations:

  1. Start our days with tea, or breathing, or praying, or meditating, or watching the rain. Do whatever centers your mind for five minutes daily and that one commitment alone would change our society. I know it seems like hooey – but science doesn’t lie. When people start their day thinking clearly, they do everything better.
  2. Follow the basic rules we learned in Kindergarten: Use your inside voice (avoid yelling), If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (quiet!), walk away (end arguments, don’t start them).
  3. Compliment others – No kidding, when you are focused on finding a positive in others, you find them in yourself and let go of the negatives, or at least reduce them.

This isn’t about being nicer to one another – though it would be a more pleasant society if we did get along better. But in reality, I’m talking at the national strategic level – this is about helping our nation with productivity, education, health, and creating improved security for our nation through increased revenue and displaying a united front to the world.

Happiness at scale is the foundation of an optimized nation!  U S A All the Way!

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Dreams and Fears

I was shopping for a card for my mom when I saw one that showed a picture of a girl standing at the edge of a cliff. The caption read, “All my friends jumped off a cliff today.” And on the inside, it read, “But I didn’t. Thanks for the advice, Mom!” I bought the card….but then changed it to read the opposite: “None of my friends jumped off a cliff today. BUT I DID! Thanks, Mom!”

Where others hold their parachutes, I stow my wings…

When we allow fear to control us, we question everything. We hold ourselves back, we hide from challenging moments, we step back when we should step forward. In short, we stop living. And if we aren’t living, then why are we here? Why are we on this great Earth? What is our purpose? I have been thinking a lot about the people who have been killed by senseless violence and asking myself – if they could speak to us, those angel warriors, what would they say?

I believe they would tell us to dream, and dream big.

And our military personnel, who risk life and limb for our citizens, why do they do it? What would our fallen tell us if they could? I don’t believe the Americans we’ve lost would tell any of us to merely stay alive so we can count our days.

I believe they defend our nation so that we can have the opportunity to have the courage to live out our dreams.

This nation was imagined in the dreams of our founding fathers and carried through history by the most daring of our people – like a relay team passing the baton. We cannot allow acts of terrorism and senseless violence to strip us of our willingness to live, and to do so boldly. For if we do, we have already given them everything; we’ve already lost. Our angels deserve better. They expect better from us. We owe them this honor and our respect.

“The nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis, Former Director of the U.S. Office of War Information


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National Vision

The world of tomorrow will be an interdependent web of allied nations where the use of computers to aid human capabilities will abound. Many nations will be fully automated allowing smaller nations to compete globally in unprecedented ways. Countries that embrace the processing speed, data analytics, and decision recommendations provided by computers will out-think larger countries and they will do so faster and at a lower cost.  In short, the world will favor adaptability, efficiency, and cognitive agility over nation size, infrastructure, and financial wealth.

To sustain our world leadership status, we must evolve into a leaner, more efficient, more resilient nation.

We must become a nation that embraces progress, encourages innovation, and inspires our people to achieve their optimized selves. We must become a unified nation that appreciates a multi-national allied force who works together to ensure a safe, secure, and sustained world. Maintaining our thought leadership status will require an educational foundation that both maximizes the capabilities of all our people as well as identifies, promotes, and supports our most skilled individuals – across all areas of study and ability. Our economic leadership status will depend on our ability to identify and maximize our unique assets. And our defensive leadership will depend on our willingness to embrace and appreciate the resources, advances, and capabilities of our allied nations as well as our openness to create and maximize industry-government partnerships.

Diversity and creativity will be our greatest strengths.

In the past, our natural, physical, financial, and technological resources provided us an elevated position compared to the rest of the world. However, the future competition space will rely more on our human resources, our ability to optimize the benefits of diversity of thought, background, beliefs, skills, and attributes as well as our willingness to promote and cultivate creativity of thought, action, and interactions. We remain the best equipped nation to lead in the future but how we maximize the use of our assets will be monumentally important.

Therefore, we must evolve and propel our country forward in order to meet these new challenges of automation, human-computer interaction, and the battlespaces of tomorrow. Planning will be the great divider between those nations that survive and those that thrive. Thus, we must transform our government from being reactive to being one with a proactive focus. We must support the education of all our people, elevate our financial stronghold, and ensure our defense program has the resources (financial, human, and technological) that it needs to secure our country.


Building a Ready Nation will require the entirety of our population to embrace forward thinking, life-long learning, fiscal responsibility for our future, and support our military with not only a mindset of appreciation but also with social respect, emotional resilience, and personal optimization.

A Ready Nation will be fearless, educated, self-sufficient, and secure because the nation that displays resilience will survive over time but the nation that embraces progressive evolution will thrive!

Mind Racers: Defining Clarity in Chaos

What is a Mind Racer and why does it matter to our country? A Mind Racer is someone who has an overactive mind. This isn’t just someone who is intelligent or who has studied a lot of material. It’s not just someone who has lived through a lot of tough experiences. Those are smart or tough or resilient people. We need them for sure but a Mind Racer is a different animal. This type of person has a hyperactive processing speed and the ability to connect ideas, thoughts, experiences, and information across time, space, depth, and topic into a highly sophisticated mental model. This model becomes so expansive and inclusive that eventually it incorporates every possible event, concept, or piece of information that could ever be conceived or found. It would be like having an infinite, highly organized, library where every book that comes in has an already open space and that when put in its place elevates the worth of the total library in an optimal way.

A Mind Racer is like a hyperactive child – when forced to conform can be frustrating but when unleashed on the sports field thrives.

Being a Mind Racer can be a very difficult existence. People don’t understand them and consequently feel stress when in their presence. Quite frankly, Mind Racers are exhausting. They never stop thinking and oftentimes don’t make sense as they appear to be disorganized in thought – frequently speaking rapidly and seemingly randomly about a variety of topics all at once. In reality, their mind is taking in so much information simultaneously that the connections can’t be articulated fast enough – information is being put away in the metaphorical library at lighting speed. In an effort to “help” most well-meaning people will try to encourage them to conform to what they believe will help. “Why don’t you just relax?” “Why don’t you do less?” “Stop thinking and come rest.” “Why do you need to talk to yet another person?” “Why do you keep asking the same questions over and over again?”

A Mind Racer is most relaxed in a highly cognitively challenging problem space where the complexity of the issues are beyond typical comprehension.

To feel centered, Mind Racers require constant cognitive stimulation. They require friends whose minds run as fast as theirs and will oftentimes interact with them at a pace, depth, and frequency that seems abnormal and worse, consuming, to others. Mind Racers learn early to hide their thoughts lest people call them weird or overthinkers. But I like to say…

Brilliance is Beautiful.

I believe the word brilliance has many meanings and so I don’t focus solely on intellect but rather, on how a person shines – whether that be through a smile and happy disposition or through exceptional artistic emotional expression – “brilliance” has many meanings and I am drawn to those that “run on all cylinders” or operate at their highest functioning, best self.

The reason Mind Racers matter to the country is two-fold. The country needs people whose minds are able to connect our people in a way no one has conceptualized to date. We need people who can translate those sophisticated mental models covering education, economics, human development, and defense strategy into a vision for the future of our nation. These racers are the ones with the super-human ability to progress us forward. The second reason we need them is to elevate and progress our defense strategy as we launch into a battlespace that will favor intellectual agility over physical prowess. Mind Racers will be the warriors of the future and we need to understand how to identify and cultivate these needed defenders of our nation.

The nation that displays resilience will survive over time but the nation that embraces progressive evolution will thrive!


Photo credits: Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Unsplash Photo by Mario Calvo on Unsplash Photo by Erik Eastman on Unsplash

Rules, Freedom, and American Acceptance

Why do we have rules? They serve to ensure clarity. However, ultimately, they are in place to create a sense of safety. We place boundaries on children so they know where the metaphorical bowling bumpers in life lie. But why do humans need bumpers? In short: cognitive load.

Cognitive load is a psychological theory that states that the mind can only handle so much information at one time. When it is overloaded, we feel stressed and we, by necessity, will focus on what we know, who we know, or where we know. In other words, we try to make our world clearer by using bumpers and creating rules so that we feel safe.

This has been effective to maintain clarity for the masses for thousands of years. The problem arises when outliers surface. These are the ones that disrupt the system. In the movie Divergent – we saw this clearly. The main character questions the system, the rules, the way decisions are made and in doing so disrupts the status quo. For some people, this is liberating. For others, it is scary.

We are seeing this play out at the national level. There are those in our country who prefer the bumpers, the clarity, the rules and there are those who feel stifled, controlled, and depressed by them.

Which way is right? Neither. Both.

I think most people would be surprised to know that which one you prefer is largely based on your body chemistry – your personal differences in how much load or how much chaos feels comfortable to you. This is not chosen or developed but instead is generally set at birth. We push ourselves for various reasons and this comfortable zone can be altered through experience but the root is still the same. Neurophysiology drives us to prefer, generally, rule clarity or not.

So there is no right way – there are only personal preferences. I respect both positions and I wish for our people that others could do the same – to see one person’s preference not as a threat to your way of living but simply just a different way.

When we can see others for who they really are and accept them as they prefer to live – with, or without, rigid clarity in their lives – we can press forward as a nation and achieve so much more than we’ve ever dreamed. When all people live as their true selves, the country can run like a well-oiled machine – use all cylinders – function as a true society.

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