Freemason Tim Bryce.

Loud and Clear

My father has been gone for six years now. We worked together for nearly thirty years and in that time, he taught me the ins and outs of the information systems industry and the corporate world. What I particularly miss about him is the arguments we would get into. I don’t mean vicious discourse but rather serious debates on a variety of topics. He had a good logical mind and we would often spar if for no other reason than to clarify an idea or concept. My dad was old school though who was of Scottish stock and came up the hard way. If you screwed up, he would let you know about it loud and clear. There was no sugarcoating a mistake with him. Over time I came to learn the reason he jumped down your throat was that he didn’t want you to commit the same mistake twice, and to his credit, you wouldn’t.

Some people were offended by his candor, others thrived on it as they understood the intellectual dynamics involved. Even customers would call my father to pick a friendly fight with him and, in the process, would learn a lot. I knew of other men of his generation who were also not exactly politically correct and not afraid to give it to you loud and clear. However, I think we now live in a time when such discourse is frowned upon and you don’t see too much of it anymore.

People are hesitant to be critical in the work place, school, or just about everywhere. I think this is bred into people at an early age whereby everybody has to be a winner, and nobody should suffer the stigma of being labeled a loser. Consequently we become hesitant to tell someone when he is wrong in that it might hurt his feelings. The only problem here though is if everyone tells you nothing is wrong and that everything is great, you’ll never get to the bottom of what is wrong. Every once and awhile you need the naked truth, and you can only get this through honest criticism.

Sugarcoating a problem only delays its resolution thereby costing more money to correct or allowing someone to commit a mistake repetitively. If you give it to them loud and clear, they may not like how you said it, but they will most assuredly comprehend what you meant and will not forget it. One point to make in this regard, when you are criticizing or arguing with someone, simple “yes” and “no’s” are not sufficient. It is vital you explain your rationale, otherwise they will remain skeptical and learn nothing.

Perhaps the biggest problem with honest criticism is to learn not to take it personally. The “loud and clear” person is trying to teach you something and obviously thinks it is important for you to learn it properly which is why you are getting it loud and clear. I realize we are supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of others, but we must understand that conducting business does not involve participating in a personality contest. Sometimes, to get the necessary results, a manager needs to get into a worker’s face and talk to him heart to heart. We would make little progress if we had to constantly hold the hands of our workers. At some point, the training wheels have to come off and they have to drive the bicycle themselves.

Years ago, when I first volunteered to be a Little League umpire, I had to attend a clinic to learn the duties and responsibilities of the job. At the time I was only signing up to umpire eight year old girls softball which I didn’t exactly consider a heavy duty assignment. The instructors of the clinic taught us a lot of things, but one thing they emphasized was to make your calls “loud and clear” regardless of the age of the kids or sex. A watered-down call or one without authority will challenge your credibility not only with the coaches, but with the players as well. Basically, they were saying, “If you’re going to do something, do it right.” As I was quick to learn, this was perhaps the best advice I could have received. Consequently, I rendered my calls as umpire “loud and clear.” Interestingly, I discovered even the youngest kid on the team seemed to instinctively understand what I was doing and respected the call. In all the years I umpired, not once was a tear shed.

For those of you who believe loud and clear is “not cool” in the workplace, you have to remember we live in a fast paced world and managers do not always have the time or luxury to patiently offer tender and sympathetic advice. Honest criticism is a fact of life and a necessity for us to grow and evolve, and we should certainly not be embarrassed to receive it “loud and clear.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Count your Blessings

count your blessings

It’s difficult to maintain a positive perspective in these troubling economic times.

People are frustrated, despondent, even angry. But I have learned over the years, that no matter what disaster I may be faced with, there is always someone in worse shape than I am, such as a starving, uneducated third-world child who doesn’t have a roof over his head, or his father who earns pennies a day to support his family. So, we should actually count the blessings we have got as opposed to banging our heads against the wall.

If you’ve got a job, thank your lucky stars you do, and renew your effort to make your company as successful as possible. Now is the time for cooperation as opposed to petty competition, teamwork as opposed to individualism. And by all means, take nothing for granted. Otherwise you might be the next one in the unemployment line.

If you are unemployed, be grateful we have unemployment programs to lend you a helping hand. But remember, there is no honor in becoming a ward of the state. Sharpen your skills, change with the times, and hustle for the next job.

If you are married, be thankful you are not going through a costly divorce now (which is horrible timing for doing so). Perhaps it is time to renew your devotion to your spouse and improve your family relationships.

If you have any savings, remind yourself there are many others out there without a safety net. Now is the time to wisely invest your money. It’s hard to say who to trust in this regard, but perhaps a loan to a family member or neighbor who needs a helping hand is in order.

If you have a good credit record, consider the millions who do not. Try to keep your record as clean as possible, you will undoubtedly need it some day.

If you have some free time to participate in nonprofit organizations, consider yourself lucky, but remember, such groups will probably need more support as people’s obligations are shifting and their participation declining.

If your Masonic Lodge building is structurally sound and in good condition, be grateful you are not looking at a major repair bill, such as a new roof or replacing the heating and air conditioning system. Consider there are Lodges out there that are in need of major repairs or, even worse, are closing their doors. It might be wise to start tucking a few dollars away for a rainy day so your Lodge doesn’t end up in the same condition.

If you have people wanting to join your Lodge, make sure they are welcomed warmly and made to feel an important part of the Craft. There are some Lodges desperate for new members and are dying on the vine. Encourage the young Masons and challenge them to participate; the effect of a young man’s enthusiasm can be contagious and a powerful agent for future growth.

If the administrative processes of your Lodge are performed like clockwork, thank your officers for making this a natural part of the Lodge’s culture. There are some Lodges operating in organizational disarray, where paperwork and finances can be easily misplaced. This creates distrust and suspicion between the officers and the Craft.

If you have harmony in the Lodge, be grateful you are among men where their word is their bond, who believe in teamwork and cooperation as opposed to personal glory and political maneuvering. We have all seen enough of this in the outside world. Let us be men and let us rejoice in the spirit of Brotherhood.

If there is a silver lining in our current economic recession, I believe it is we will emerge from this mess stronger, more resilient, and hopefully smarter. Now is the time to stop whining and start believing in ourselves. The government is not going to solve all of our problems, nor is it their job to do so. To paraphrase Bro. Winston Churchill,

Nothing can save us if we will not save ourselves. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.

I admonish you not to despair; but to stay positive instead, to stay connected, to stay tuned in to what is going on, and become more proactive as opposed to reactive in our future. Just remember, the glass is half full, not half empty. Positive thinking is just as contagious as negative thinking, maybe more so. As we said back in the 1970’s, “Keep on truckin’.”

Keep the Faith!

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS, MMBBFMN
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body.

As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and Freemason Information

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Copyright 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.