“It is perchance without reason that we attribute to simple-mindedness and ignorance to the readiness to believe and to be convinced.
For it seems to me that I once learned the belief was, as it were, an impression that was made on our minds, and that, the softer and less resistant the mind, the easier it was to imprint something on it.
As the scale of the balance must necessarily sink when weights are placed upon it, so the mind must yield to clear proof. The more empty and without counterpoise the mind is, the more easily the scale sinks under the weight of the first argument.”
Michel de Montaigne
Murphy’s Third Law
Nothing is ever so simple as it first seems
Ok. As we near what I hope is end of a one term presidency I still cannot believe we are discussing whether Trump is actually a competent president. He is a stupid, narcissistic, incompetent person. Period. I know junior business people smarter and better managers than he is. Now. I will not begrudge the people who can rummage around among the things that have happened within hist presidency for things they like or thought were good, but, I would point out they happened despite him – not because of him.
While I have always known Trump was a crappy business person with crappy instincts <he only has one gear & cannot adapt>, let me tell you how I got to where I am thinking now and some things you should know.
Yes. There are times I listen to something Donald J Trump says and I am torn between laughing so hard my sides hurt and banging my head on the table. The recurring ‘somethings’ we keep hearing are his statements that “no one knew it was this complicated” or the other version … “its not that easy.” I remain mystified on how he can so consistently sound like he is actually learning something for the first time <even though a high school sophomore knows it>.
Look. I am not the president and I cannot even fathom the sheer weight of responsibility & decision-making. But in my fairly common career I have seen the inner workings of the complex healthcare industry, the inner workings of what it takes to make a global organization set standards & meet standards, the inner workings of a complex energy grid industry delivering electricity across the country, the inner workings of complex manufacturing, the inner workings of a successful complex customer service initiative in a global hospitality brand … shit … even a small business is complex and, well, almost every industry between sales, service, production, financial management, operations, regulatory, multi-channel distribution and management is complex with complications keeping it from running as smoothly, and as well, as it should on a daily basis.
Suffice it to say there is never ‘one part’ you can focus on. There are always lots of moving parts — some in your control and some not in your control, therefore, there is never simplicity.
So when he gives us a smug look of concern and says “whew, this shit is complicated” … I say … well … no shit Sherlock <and think of Scooby responding to something Shaggy said>.
99% of business leaders know everything is complex … nothing is simple.
80% of people, everyday schmucks like me, are fairly sure everything is more complex than it often appears to be <and how we talk about it>.
But apparently our 1 president is convinced that everything is straightforward, simpler than others were making it out to be and he is not only the “only one who could solve it” but also the only one who has the smarts to simply snip the Gordian Knot of complications associated with, well, running a country.
What a stupidfuck thing to say … and think.
As I noted in my “last stand of the old white men’ piece, I know we have had most of the intelligence & critical thinking in us scraped out by the ”simplicity is everything” knife, but you would think that the creators of this ‘hollow communications initiative’, the 60 & 70somethings, would not really believe the shit they’ve been selling us for years. You would think that they wouldn’t really believe that everything can be communicated in an elevator speech or three bullet point or some PowerPoint slide.
Maybe most do know that, but Trump seems to have missed the message.
He is an immature idiot.
Effective communication has been, and always will be, complex and complicated … and a good thing for society. Effective communication inevitably feeds into the minds and enlightenment of the listeners. If you dumb down communication inevitably you dumb down the listeners.
Old white men hollowed out communication. I imagine as they hollowed out everything else they found it inherently more productive to gain their objectives by hollowing out communication. Everything became soundbites, powerpoint bullet points and ‘elevator speeches.’ Effectively communicating complexity took on less importance than puncturing the mind with a quick sharp stab <and then walking away>. Old white men mastered the art of emptying communication to a point where businesses end up walking on the slippery surface of irrelevance <cloaked in a beautiful robe called “what is important for you to know.”>
That is Trump in a nutshell.
Anyway. I don’t need my president to be a Mensa member. Shit. They don’t even have to know big words or have a good brain or even be a stable genius. But I do need them to be intellectually curious, interested in learning and have at least a passing interest in history <or historical precedent>.
If I were generous toward Trump I could suggest much of what we are watching, in painful real time, is that he simply didn’t know what the hell he was talking about <the facts of the issue> and now he does.
** note: (after 3+ years) who the fuck am I kidding
If I were less than generous, I would hearken back to the Montaigne thought I shared upfront the softer and less resistant the mind, the easier it was to imprint something on it. The more empty and without counterpoise the mind is, the more easily the scale sinks under the weight of the first argument. I offer that thought because one could quite easily be convinced someone who publicly states “no one knew it was this complicated” <when pretty much everyone already knew> would be someone who had a ‘more empty and without counterpoise mind.’
If I had lost all my generosity I would be tempted to suggest that Trump is a double whammy <a> a blank slate mentally and <b> only sees round holes where he looks.
Huh? Simple minds see problems as simple ‘holes’ to be filled by jamming in whatever peg is at hand.
I am sure Trump has no real policies <let alone an ideology>, just a bunch of pegs he has had in hand for the past 40 years <yes, the same pegs> to jam into holes. But it gets worse. The pegs are so poorly constructed and so weakly held that, literally, one would assume the final decision filter is really the only thing he holds dear – his ego, his ‘brand’, his wallet.
People should ponder that last thought as they discuss a scary, possibly misguided, belief that Trump’s tendency is to take up the position of the last person he spoke with on any given issue – because that is too simplistic.
His dazzling combination of little knowledge, no practical organizational management experience, a lack of ideological commitment to anything and an ongoing puzzlement that things just aren’t as simple as he believed <or he believed anyone believed> suggests America is in for a rough ride <short term and long term>.
Why? Because the empty mind will sink against the weight of <a> the first argument which <b> meets his ego/brand.
“No one knew it was this complicated.”
I am at a loss for words … so … the more empty and without counterpoise the mind is, the more easily the scale sinks under the weight of the first argument. <Michel de Montaigne>
I used to try to not call Donald J Trump an idiot out of business respect <you assume anyone who has run a business knows something you don’t know> but, whew, he made it more & more difficult every day so I stopped trying and now just call him an idiot.
Here is what I know <and I am not the president>.
The world is a complex place and all Trump does, and has done, has made it a complicated place. Ponder that as you vote this year.