Monday, January 5, 2009


I'm ready to go home. We have been traveling since November 22nd: Vienna/Bratislava-Provence-Andalucia-Paris-Bratislava/Vienna. Our flights are on Wednesday, 1/7/09, and we are ready. We have had fantastic experiences and will have wonderful memories and conversations for years to come as we have spent our time with friends and family and some on our own.

We had talked about taking a one or two-day trip to Budapest or Salzburg, as we've done in the past, but CA has been sick most of the last three weeks starting our last full day in Spain, so that has totally slowed us down. He soldiered-on during our week in Paris, resting in the afternoons, and he even had a couple of almost-well days in Bratislava before Christmas. He is now as near pneumonia as can be and even after seeing a Slovak doctor he is miserable. He has an appointment Thursday morning with our family doctor and that is what is keeping him going...

I haven't been overly sympathetic--he gets these 3-month-long coughs a couple of times every year and has a history of tolerating and ignoring rather than seeking medical help. We have had many conversations over the years. His whole career he put his teaching and coaching ahead of his health--almost never missing a day. And, just try listening to someone with body-wracking coughing fits for three months and see if it doesn't try your patience, too.

This time he did try to take care of himself early on, but this time is uglier than ever. He has medication and he uses it and rests, but this is a violent cold/virus/infection. I'm hoping Dr. McD is very pro-active about this episode and will give CA some suggestions and directions for how to handle these colds and when to seek medical intervention.

I am feeling guilty about my tendency to insensitivity with this particular repetitive illness. He is really, really sick and the trip home is going to be a physical challenge. Our flight times are very favorable and we have a bit over three hours for our layover in London, which is ideal. We will have time to change terminals and stretch our legs without feeling rushed. More than three hours would be too much, and less is a bit nerve-wracking if our Vienna flight is delayed for any reason.

Last spring I got a three-day stay in London due to airline cancelations/delays/baggage mis-handling. This time we need everything to go like clockwork. The trip alone will sap every bit of energy CA can muster. Hopefully, he will get a bit of a boost just knowing he is headed home. No one likes to be sick away from home.

Stay tuned... I think we are going to drive just over the border to Hainburg in Austria to see a doctor tonight. I have never seen/heard him this sick.

Update: CA has acute bronchitis, not pneumonia. The antbiotic the Slovak doctor prescribed is a good one, and now he has cough medicine with codeine from the Austrian doctor. I asked if they could prescribe a gallon for us!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

TEAMS - Rah, Rah or Bah-Humbug?

Mary Engelbreitt

Teams are highly over-rated and mostly dysfunctional, at least from my experience in the academic and work world. Unlike friendships which are tried and true--you audition friends and keep the ones who fit--teams are cobbled together sometimes for an express purpose and sometimes because managing by teams has been trendy in the work world for a decade or so.

The only teams that work have:
  • a clear vision
  • defined goals
  • commitment to the vision and goals
  • concrete and doable deadlines
  • a leader who can effectively articulate and successfully communicate the above to the team members.

There also needs to be coaching, accountability, and recognition of contributions. Team members have to respect their leader and each other, and be willing to confront and be confronted when misunderstandings or negligence occurs.

Is it possible to get all of this together in the workplace today? Probably not. While there are more leadership manuals and seminars available than ever, leadership egos are large and we all know what happens when someone gets a taste for power and renown.

It's been clear to me for some time that the reason our work worlds are so dysfunctional is that the world is dysfunctional--our homes and families, relationships, churches... How can a workplace be functional when it is populated by people carrying all that baggage?

While the term dysfunctional was popularized in the 1980s, it is true that we had it even before we had the language to describe it. Yet, I believe that as our culture has become more aware of being politically correct our dysfunction has increased. No one takes responsibility. We are quick to blame and to sue and to excuse and accuse. And, as the media has learned to prey upon mis-spoken words and to hype empty-headed attention seekers [SUPER-star, SUPER-model, ROCK-star, etc.], we have come to value fame and celebrity over intelligence, humanity, honor, grace, wisdom, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, courtesy, and civility.