Month: October 2019

They Finished the Fight!

  Washington Nationals! World Series Champions!! Unbelievable!!! What an incredible run through the entire playoffs, ending with four road wins in Houston against the mighty Astros. I’m so happy for the only original National, Ryan Zimmerman. Stephen Strasburg as the World Series MVP is so deserving. Love all the “Los Viejos” (the Old Men)! And love all the kids as well! What a season. If you had asked me on Memorial Day… I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would make the playoffs, much less the World Series. I could not have imagined a kids song, some goofy sunglasses, and a home-run dance party serving as tools to loosen up a perpetually high-strung, under-achieving team and its Type-A personality fan base. I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would be described by one columnist as the only “likeable” team of the four left in the hunt during the League Championship Series. Does he know he’s talking about Washington, D.C., the city the country loves to hate? I could not have imagined …

Connecting to Our Best Selves

The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, who represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District which included his beloved city of Baltimore, passed away on October 17th. His was an especially difficult death for many of us to process, because he regularly and effectively spoke truth to power at a time when that trait is sorely lacking in our civic conversation. Yesterday’s Washington Post had a Cummings op-ed written in July entitled We Are in a Fight for the Soul of Our Democracy. It began, “As I pen these words, we are living through a time in our nation’s history when powerful forces are seeking to divide us one from another; when the legitimacy of our constitutional institutions is under attack; and when factually supported truth itself has come under relentless challenge. I am among those who have not lost confidence in our ability to right the ship of American democratic life, but I also realize that we are in a fight — a fight for the soul of our democracy. As an American of color, I have been …

Should I Wash My Socks Now?

This morning, an interesting question popped up on my wife’s Facebook feed. “Now that the Nationals 8-game winning streak has ended, should I wash my Curly W socks that I’ve worn throughout the streak?” Baseball fever has swept Washington, even if the Nationals will not sweep the Astros in the World Series after last night’s 4-1 loss in Game 3. Superstition is a big part of the game, so the question was a serious one. My answer? Yes! Once a streak is ended, you need to shift to new gear so that the momentum can swing back your way. Luckily, I have enough Nats caps, t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets (at least two of each and more in some instances) to make the change easily. For all things streak related, I first turn to the best baseball movie ever, Bull Durham. There’s a famous scene about “respecting the streak” where Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis makes the point to Susan Sarandon’s Annie Savoy that players have to respect a streak…and should not change whatever they think is causing their …

Saturday Music: Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

Last Monday evening, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas brought their extraordinary musical partnership to Washington for a large and appreciative crowd at the Institute of Musical Traditions. This is the 20th year Fraser and Haas have played together, and the anniversary gave the duo the excuse to return to their back catalog. And it is a masterful body of work, beginning with the album where I first heard them—their inaugural CD Fire & Grace, a project that turned heads worldwide with its exquisite musicianship and clear sense of joy. Steeped in different backgrounds— Alasdair from the roots world of Scottish fiddle and Natalie from the classical halls of Julliard—these amazing musicians responded to each other and to each intricate twist and turn of the music for a delightful two hours. It was art as a life-giving force. And they clearly had fun, recognizing the unique nature of the evening’s setting when they played the “appropriate for Washington” reel Little Donald in the Pigpen. Haas’s percussive use of the cello underpinned the magnificent …

Connecting the Dots

Tunnel vision is defined as the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view. And that’s not always bad. There are certainly instances where a laser-like focus is required to get the job done. But more times than not, getting locked in on a single goal without considering the context, other points of view, or the broader consequences brings trouble. In leading teams both large and small, I often say that one of my key roles is “connecting the dots.” I’m trying to ensure that team members consider the context. It is critical for leaders to ensure that someone is thinking about broader consequences and the big picture. I saw an unfortunate example of tunnel vision play out over the past two weeks. The leaders and their teams did not connect the dots that were right in front of them. This real life lesson began when my wife and I walked the short distance from our house to a nearby intersection on a beautiful Monday morning. There we joined …

Saturday Music: The Busking Starts at the Busk Stop

On a picture perfect fall day, Swingology was cutting loose with some fine gypsy and traditional jazz this morning at the corner Busk Stop at the Silver Spring Farmers Market. They were a great new addition to our lineup of regular buskers, and we’ll look forward to seeing them back at the market in about a month. In the meantime, you can find some of their music online. And always remember lesson #30 from my 60 lessons from 60 years: tip the busker. More to come… DJB

Bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places

When much-maligned Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked how he felt after his ballclub just completed an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), he went back to something his mother told him: “Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.” Then, in light of earning the franchise’s first trip to the World Series, he added, “And this is a beautiful place.” Oh, is it ever! NLCS Most Valuable Player Howie Kendrick—one of 18 resident “Los Viejos” (the Old Men) on the Nats playoff roster over the age of 30—said, “I can truly say this is the best time of my career, the best moment of my career this year.” I can add that in my 55 years of being enthralled by baseball—beginning as a nine-year-old with a 1964 trip to Wrigley Field on a family vacation to see the Cubs play Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals; to following Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants from afar, as a kid growing up in Middle …