Thunder and Lightning

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I had just finished my chores when I heard the first rumbling. Long and low like the earth clearing its throat. A storm was coming.

The front of our house faced Bays Mountain in the distance. Sometimes, storms would go south of the mountain and we could just see the tops of them. But when the storms came north of the mountain then we were in for a show.

I went into my Mom and Dad’s room and got a quilt one of my grandmother’s had made and went out on the front porch. I sat in one of rocking chairs there and covered myself with the quilt.

The storm had cleared the lower hills and was coming north. When I would see the lightning bolts I would count. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Then, a gentle boom.

Another bolt of lightning. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Then another boom. A little louder.

I would lose myself in the storms and count down the time difference between the lightning and the thunder.

Lighting strike. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Then a nice big round boom of sound. A few raindrops began to fall. I could hear them on the leaves in the woods before I could see them.

Two strokes of lightning. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Then boom … boom. One clap of thunder right after the other.

Then the lightning would be so close there was no need to count. The rain came hard. Huge fat drops of rain that splashed on the concrete of the front porch and mist that blew onto my face.

Lightning would strike and simultaneously there would be a huge crash of thunder. I was in the center of the storm. The trees whipped and thrashed as if trying to flee the violence.

The sunlight was all but gone. Lightning lit up the countryside and there were flashes of light and crashes of sound so close together they couldn’t be distinguished one from the other.

I pulled the quilt around me more tightly. I breathed in the misty air. I leaned into the storm.

My mother came to the screen door.

“Here he is,” I heard he announce to my father. “He’s watching the storm on the front porch.”

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “Just watching the storm.”

Then it was over. Weak light returned to the hill. Rain dripped from the leaves of the trees in the front yard.

I went back inside and put the quilt back on Mom and Dad’s bed. I always loved those storms.

Unsolicited Advice: Backstabbers, Naysayers, Blame shifters

Whether you think you can Ford graphic

Having been a business and political consultant for 30 years means I’ve learned a few things about the kind of people you should have around you in your campaign. I’ve also learned a few things about the kinds of people you don’t want to have around you. If you have a team that includes a backstabber, a naysayer or a blame shifter on it then do yourself a favor and get rid of them now.

There is almost nothing worse on a campaign or a team than people who, through words or deeds, won’t accept responsibility or who are negative. Get rid of them.

Just this last year we consulted on a winning campaign where the power of positive thinking helped us time and time again. Early on, some people left the campaign after clashing with the leadership a few times on strategy and tactics. Of course, it might have also been because our first poll had us behind by 55-15. It felt bad at the time but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A positive, committed team turned that into a 54-46 victory in just six months. There were disagreements along the way but we had a forward-leaning posture, great team chemistry and strong leadership. That’s a winning combination in politics, in business and in life.