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Ralph Bruksos' Blog



After doing “this work” for over sixty-years, many feel I should retire, close-up shop, go home, close the drapes and wait for it to get late. I can do it and possibly live comfortably with my wife.

The tone of some of this message may communicate that I am “feeling superior” to those who retire. No, not at all, everyone should retire when they want; it is none of my business what the other person does.

I have had an incredible life, while still working, become a 12 handicap golfer; good skeet shooter 25 of 25, OK trap shooter, good big bore shooter, reloaded big bore and shotgun, climbed mountains, completed marathons, 3 triathlons, ran a sport boat for years, U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain of a charter boat. Served on countless boards and president of organizations. Taught one class per quarter at the University of Washington, lectured at Seattle University, went parachuting, (not sky diving), helped start a halfway house that now does over $80 million per year, Cub Master and on and on.

So, I have had a rich 60 plus years.

Now, about continuing to help others.

Because I have continued to study, teach, consult, run a consulting practice, served on non-profits and many abilities that taught and strengthened me as a man. As a teacher and a leader, consultant, I have 22 more years of learning, teaching and experience to pass on to individuals emerging in their life and career.

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There is a wonderful song on the Barbra Streisand CD, “People who need people are the luckiest people, in the world.” I was listening to her rendition recently and then realized I am one of those people, and I know it.

I worked out at a club near my office daily.

I was 42 when I realized it was time to be more active in exercise. I had played handball, squash and racquetball but there were many mornings my playing partner would sleep in and I was without anyone to play with.

I made a decision to learn to run, for weight control and cardio.

I went up to the indoor track where I work out and shuffled around for 2 laps, 20 laps is a mile.

Another friend showed up, then another.

Within a couple of months there were 5-6 regular runners, it kept increasing.

After a few months, two men went outside, then two more, and again after two more months, and finally I was running outside, alone. First time, I missed a curb, mid-block and went down hard.

After a few months outside, one-by-one they increased the distance and started running marathons.

I was the last of the group, to run a marathon, and then ran a total of 55 marathons, the last one at 80 years old.

Learned how to swim and completed 3 triathlons, not an Iron Man tho.

The runners group still meets at Christmas, they come from California and cities in between to enjoy the bond, the fellowship.

Most of us are so aware of the fact that it was the sense of belonging that made it all possible. I lost over 40 lbs. and pretty much kept it off!

The energy, the power, the accountability and the inspiration is what I really received, plus one more; they filled my need for wonderful people in my life.

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Was going to the gym, before work, early as is my practice, five days per week.

As I got up to cruising speed on Hwy 509, I realized I should look at the speedometer, I saw I was going exactly 60 mph. Surprise! No need to reduce or increase the speed.

I was going exactly 60 mph. A warm feeling came over me, without trying I was at exactly the speed limit.

We hear conversations that we can get by, sometimes, 67-68 mph in a 60 mph zone. Not always.

At 60 mph in a 60 mph zone, I am in control. At 67-68 mph in a 60 mph I am under the control of the state patrol, county deputy sheriff, city police and then the prosecutor and finally a judge. I have abdicated, someone could take over control.

Same with the IRS, if I follow the rules, 100%, I am in control, when “I paint with a wide brush”, “I have turned over control to some IRS employee”.

On the job, when I follow the rules and I do what I am paid to do, am warm, thoughtful to my peers and “the boss”, I influence the relationship. I have a strong voice in my continuing to work there. Again, if I am a marginal worker, my boss or someone else has a strong voice in whether I continue to work there.

Same with a spouse, if I am caring, loving, considerate, I have increased the odds of staying in the relationship. I realize; there is always the element of chance. When one is the negative, controlling person, angry, short tempered, to the other partner has a strong voice in who stays or leaves.

If I choose to become in control of my weight, I become the control person, to decide to go 60 mph in a 60 mph zone, decide to ingest less sugar, carbs, control 60 mph or 160 lb weight.

Is now the time to affirm, “I become what I think about?” I believe I could control this aspect of my life. The whole objective for some involved in meditation and mindfulness is to become present here and now.

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We had a fascinating speaker at our Executive Roundtable II this week, Chuck Nelson, currently serving as the CEO of the Washington Athletic Club.

In our decades of meeting monthly, we have had countless speakers, both women and men, and Chuck was one of the best. Chuck has had a blessed life, his opinion, shared by those present.

All American place kicker at the University of Washington, professional NFL kicker, pioneer in the Boeing Classic Golf Tournament, which has raised millions of dollars by hosting a tournament featuring some of the greatest golfers in the world, successful broadcaster and now CEO of one of the best City Athletic Clubs in the world.

One of the questions we asked Chuck, “Yes, you were All American at the University of Washington which means you were the best Collegiate kicker in America that year, and you were a place kicker for three different NFL teams, there were 28 teams then, which meant you were close to or one of the 28 best place kickers in the world.”

“Assuming you were, or nearly the best at what you did, how did you deal with the nerves, or the stress of going out plying your skill in front of a million or more viewers with the outcome of the game, dependent on your success at times?”

He smiled and said, “When they call for “place kicker” and you go out and do what you have done for years.” He added, “You are so focused on what you are going to do, that there is no room for stress.” I added, “What if we all could stay focused to that extent with our spouse, our job, our career and remain present in our work, golf, children and just be present, here and now, how wonderful.” He trained himself to be present, successfully.

It changed our thinking for so many who heard him that day.

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I was involved with a man recently, and after a brief discussion, as I walked away, I was so aware of how pleasant, how grateful I was that we had a couple of moments together.

How aware I am, how some people make an effort to enrich your life, with a smile, a greeting or how well they are doing at that moment.

In contrast, as the old cliché goes, “He brightens up a room, when he leaves it.”

I think of an old and dear friend I was on a board with. I hadn’t seen him in years when I bumped into him, he wanted to share his inner most feeling of that particular group.

We had not talked at all for years, when we had a brief encounter, he lit into me. I didn’t respond, I smiled and said, “I haven’t seen you in a year and a half and you chastised and criticized me for ten minutes about the organization and how they treated an employee.”

I explained that I was no longer on their board, but, I was familiar with that experience with that particular employee.

I explained that I had no opinion on whether the supervisor was justified in correcting that employee or not.

The episode was over, in the past, why chastise a friend of 45 years because he was available, even though he was no longer involved.

What a reminder to treat others with love and dignity. If I must connect with someone, in my mind, make certain I have the authority, responsibility or if it fits into my job description. If not, best to let it go.

This need to catch a speaker, a clerk, a public figure doing something wrong; is best left unspoken! Rather than be a whiny, little rascal, it would be better to realize it is not against the law to have an unspoken thought.

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Not sure where I first read about the “Happiest Man in the World”? I wondered how the researchers chose or identified him?

His name is Matthieu Ricard, and he is the happiest man in the world according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The 66 year old Tibetan, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, produces a level of gamma waves, those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory never before reported in neuroscience.

He says, “To be truly happy we have to get rid of mental toxins such as hatred, obsession, arrogance, greed and pride.

I have said for years, if there is something wrong in my life, it is caused by my ego. When I retire my ego, all of the mental toxins will leave, I believe. It is a work in progress.

If I could rid myself of those toxins and cultivate positive qualities such as altruism and become a giver rather than a taker, I would be working towards the answer for me.

During meditation, I have chosen The Serenity Prayer as my mantra, “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Ricard says among countless other things, yes, he is very happy because he never concerns himself with anything which he can’t do anything about. I thought, that is the Serenity Prayer at work.

He scoffs at the title of happiest person in the world, but yes, he is happy, but, with billions of people untested, “who is to say who is the happiest?”

Whenever I read the paper, I realize much is written to create negative emotion, the news value is absent or sketchy. When I feel myself responding with negative emotion, I close that portion of the paper, if I can’t do something about it.

Becoming free and happy is a grand work in progress.

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I have come to believe that I should be careful as to how I talk to and treat others, especially those in a subordinate relationship.

Those who made a wrong decision, or chronic bad decisions, or were rude to a customer or peer.

The “old way” of management, it was necessary to show the other person who was the boss: maybe “sharpen ones sights” although the transgression or mistake didn’t warrant it.

A manager, smiling, said, “If I am going to be in charge, I must remind the team member who is the boss.

My insight on the subject of control was expanded recently. The freeway traffic was light, I had been on cruise control and it was on the exact marker of 60 mph, not 66 which seems to be OK, 60 means 60 not 67 or 68.

Now, it becomes a control issue. A man confessed, “I am a control freak”, when the speed line is 60 mph I am going 60. I am in control. When I am going 67 I have abdicated control. The trooper now has control. As the friend said, “I am going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone, I am in control.

A man said being a control freak in a marriage can be so rewarding. If one treats their mate with love, kindness, gentleness, integrity, etc., they have a strong voice on the subject of staying married. If one is preoccupied with self, mean, selfish, prone to gossip, they have abdicated their role in the marriage, they passed control to their mate.

If they are virtuous and putting their mate first, they have a strong position in the marriage being a success.

Of course, some fall out of love based on personal reasons, but those who want to stay married can increase the odds of success.

One said, “Never more trust than with our children, I tried the autocratic, controlling way, they quietly scoffed. When changing to more love, thoughtfulness and listening, they too changed and my success increased.

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Like many of my peers, I am at a loss to form an opinion of the hundreds; some say thousands, of homeless people in our city.

I spend a lot of time with owners and managers of small companies in and around our city. When the question arises, “What is your number one problem in business today?” There is one answer, “finding enough people to do the work we are asked to do for our customers.”

“Too much work, not enough people to do the work.”

An interesting comment, “We have more work than workers sometimes.”

In the gym, where I work out, they have attendants and other men and women, a high percentage are Filipino. The starting pay is about $15 per hour, with paid vacation, sick pay, health care, 401-k and free lunches.

I ask, making conversation, any plan for the weekend? “No, I am working at my other job.” “Where is that?” “Johnson’s Restaurant” or “City Hospital” or “I drive Uber.” Amazing how many have one and a half, some, two jobs.

Some have a child in private school; one a janitor older man from China had two enrolled in a local University. Both graduated.

Another man; has for years, one and a half full-time jobs, finished his own degree and a daughter graduating from nurses school. Had her in a private school from age 5.

When I was fishing, my fishing buddy also hunted with his favorite partner, when they arrived made camp, after dinner he would go outside and sleep, even though they had two bunks in the VW Van.

When we were running, met many men who would sleep outside rather than on a mat with a hundred others in a public facility. Some just plain liked to be out of doors.

One woman, from Africa, supporting her mother and assisting with a younger brother works two full time jobs.

Seems the one common denominator was the amount of time and effort devoted to work.

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"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"

When I get to my locker in the club where I work out every weekday, I open my locker, and first thing, I take out a 3x5 card and write the five things I am grateful for that morning.

When I finish the fifth thing, I draw two lines and then I write, “And today I will be non-judgmental.”

One day I saw a sports figure displaying his socks on International TV depicting our police as pigs, complete with a picture of a pig wearing a police cap.

A famous sports apparel company, made him one of their spokesmen, because the age and political views of most of their customers are in sync with their new ad campaign.

Many persons took offence at their making him a spokesman for their line. When I was reminded to stop being judgmental. We are not included in their market. Even if we were, they have the right to determine their campaign.

Based on the incredible worldwide success of the company I would conclude that they know more, about reaching their market than I will ever know. It is none of my business.

I love that song, my title for this piece, from the show South Pacific. “You’ve got to be carefully taught before it is too late. You’ve got to be carefully taught before you are 6, or 7, or 8. You’ve got to be carefully taught to hate all the people your relatives hate. Whose eyes are oddly made, it’s not born in you, people whose skin is a different shade.”

If that is not enough, the news will give us a strong, daily boost in who to hate.

I have a choice, just for today, to hate the police officer who died last night, protecting the dance hall patrons in another senseless massacre in California - wear the socks, or honor and revere his memory, my choice.

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Once you decide to do something, chances are that there is someone, usually near you, that will help you.

Once I decided to do a marathon, experienced runners came forward to help with suggestions.

I was 42 years old, fifty pounds overweight, started smoking at age 10, was thinking of quitting smoking again. I did it for good.

Someone suggested a training manual published by the track coach at Seattle Pacific University. I ordered the manual.

I started running in earnest indoors on a twenty revolution per mile track. I could barely make one full, once around, one twentieth of a mile.

There was a small group of men, usually about six. One by one they started running outside. When I was the last one running alone on the beautiful composition track, banked, I decided to go outside.

The first time I tried it, I stepped off a curb, mid-block that I didn’t see, fell and scraped my knees and hands and regretted running outside.

After a few days, I was outside again.

Had been running outside for months when I realized how nice it was.

One week, Sunday to Sunday, 8 days, I ran 100 miles in training. It was a grand experience.

It was almost a year to the day from when I started training. The marathon was “here”, 38 degrees, 20 knot winds, raining. The newspaper opened with “The Worst Weather in Seattle Marathon History.”

Many had varying levels of hypothermia.

Did it in 4 hours and 5 minutes. The next 54 marathons and three triathlons were easier.

I ran my last marathon to celebrate my 80th birthday. That was enough for me.

I realized, for me, get a training schedule, follow it. A winner is the person who does what they say they will do. I lost 50 pounds. The best part, now that I finished, was that “I did what I said I would do.”

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