Enlightened Conflict

value ourselves as more than just an image

March 2nd, 2017

 

a-better-reality-false-hope

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“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Are you a good friend? A kind companion?

How do you treat others?

 

Those are the things that are a better definition of beauty.’

 

—-

Sara Ramirez

 

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I imagine all of us want to be seen by everyone as ‘something.’

 

they must be giants fake lies right lifeTo me … this ‘something’ isn’t famous or with some high falutin’ title or rich … but rather be recognized characteristically as something.

And not something shallow … but something a little deeper that defines you.

 

I say that but reality is that the driving ‘something’ for us is far too often fairly innocuous … and, yeah, it will vary from person to person … but a shitload of us want to be seen as smart, or well rounded, or beautiful, or funny, or … well … pick your personal poison.

I could suggest that is kind of a shallow something.

Okay.

I will.

That is a shallow ‘something.’

 

And what makes that shallow worse is that by making that a fairly significant portion of how we choose to define ourselves we spend an inordinate amount of time & energy planning for ‘someday’ when that ‘something’ is played back to us as our defining characteristic.

uhm what did you say really

Uhm.

 

Well.

 

If you are not careful … someday stealthily sneaks up on you as ‘today … and then yesterday … and then day by day it just becomes your Life.

 

Unfortunately Life is not just an image.

Unfortunately Life is ultimately not that shallow.

 

Unfortunately you have to leave the shallow end of the pool at some point and venture into the deep end in order to find … well … value.

 

Despite what marketing & advertising & branding folk may suggest … image is not everything and image does not equal any meaningful value.

 

Image without substance is simply a façade … a mask.

And I can unequivocally state that the number of people who can maintain an entire life behind a mask is minuscule.it is extremely difficult to maintain that façade for an entire Life. It is like trying to play out an act … forever. Someone can do it for a while and fewer can figure out how to build the trappings which can hold the act together … but to hold all of that together for a Lifetime takes some luck, some clever skills, some bravado to appease the cynics & skeptics and, ultimately, some ability to keep the lack of substance out of the spotlight & questioning.

Suffice it to say … it takes a lot of work to wear a mask an entire Life.

 

intent help flaws self bestAnd maybe that is my larger point.

 

We all want to eventually be seen as ‘something.’

 

And we all would prefer that something be of value to those who recognize it and of value to our self-worth.

 

That means.

If you are not careful you can spend a significant portion of your Life chasing some definition … some ‘something’ you are recognized by … that has little or no real value to oneself.

 

By the way. I am not suggesting this is easy. Society encourages shallowness. It can do so in a variety of ways but the main way is simple – measurement.

The shallowest ‘somethings’ are easy to see, easy to assess and easy to measure versus either society standards or versus others.

 

The deepest ‘somethings’ … good, soul, character, integrity … shit like that … are difficult to measure and, frankly, the definition is earned over time and with consistent behavior. You cannot expect instant gratification … at least external gratification … if you pursue a ‘deeper something.’

 

Sigh.

 

Well.

 

Here is what I know:

 

“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Image is just an image.

 

How about this.

 

Image is like masturbation.

 

A deeper something is like making love.hard to planyou are more

 

I tend to believe we all want more.

 

We all want that kind of self-value that is deeper.

We all want more than just an image.

 

It is a Life truth that Image is seductive.

 

The good news?

It is a Life truth that if you want more than image, and look deeper within for that ‘something’, you will find a better definition of yourself.

In this time, at this place, I will be defined

February 17th, 2017

 stand for what is right i will be defined now

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“I endure.”

 

Lockhart

 

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“What we do in life will echo in eternity.”

 

Maximus (in Gladiator)

 

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There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

 

Shakespeare

 

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“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

 

Howard Zinn

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So.

 

This topic has been on my mind for a while but I hadn’t figured out how to talk future-universe-view-space-open-thinkingabout it without being apocalyptic or overly dramatic.

 

I know it has been on my mind since Trump entered into our lives <when is the last time you had a conversation where he wasn’t mentioned?> and lately I have found myself placing tags on my posts like “enlightened reading” or “enlightened thinking” or “enlightened politics” or … well … I guess I have been thinking about enlightened a lot. But this doesn’t feel like an ‘enlightened issue.’

 

And then I had lunch with a good friend the other day and out of the blue he says “this feels like one of those times when years from now people will be asking you what you were doing … or not doing.”

 

Yeah.

 

It does.

 

This does feel like “a moment in the tide in the affairs of man.”

 

This does feel like a moment in which people will define themselves.

 

 

It does certainly feel like a time of angst. An ‘apocalypse’?  Certainly not.

 

Unrest and uneasiness and uncertainty? Absolutely yes.

take a stand america define

And, frankly, in times like these it is tempting to sit back … maybe, to be harsh, be lazy and fall back on our opinions and “what we believe” and mumble to ourselves, maybe bitch with our friends or just remain silent.

 

But this seems to be more a time … uhm … no … this is “a time” more than ever to … well … be defined.

 

Look around if you don’t believe me.

 

You can see it if you look hard enough that a shitload of people feel the same thing. You may get confused in thinking it is “whining democrats because they lost” or “establishment people afraid of losing their gravy train” or even simply “people afraid of change.”

 

It’s more than, and less than, that.

 

It’s the tide in the affairs of man.

 

And, yes, we can blame Trump for this defining moment time. But he is less relevant in this tide than you may think. He is simply riding the tide … and we are the many drops of water within the tide … the ebbs and flows and crests and furrows are ours to build and destroy.

 

Take note of what is happening.

People feel this is a defining moment.

 

I don’t care if it is Hannity who has attached himself to Trump to rise and fall with the man himself <and not an ideology>. He is all in.

 

never be silent stand up i will be definedI don’t care if it is Jake Tapper on CNN who appears to be attaching himself to truth & facts. He is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is Meryl Streep who has attached herself to celebrity moral authority. She is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is the millions who walked in a women’s march without any real reason other than it felt like they should. They want to be all in <on something>.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who fills out petitions and sends $5 to whatever organization possible. That person is all in on something.

 

I don’t care if it is a white nationalist who now attaches their feelings to real words said in public or statement clothing. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who has their senators on speed dial and calls them every morning during their commute to just leave a message with whatever is on their mind. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who attaches themselves to ‘deplorable’ without really knowing what embracing deplorable really means other than it permits them to make a statement. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone like me … someone who hasn’t given a rat’s ass about politics up until now … who now writes pieces, posts almost every day and emails writings & thoughts to different people … from Mark Cuban to John Lewis to John Kasich … The National Review to The Guardian to CNN … hoping that someone somewhere will affect this tide of affairs of man.

 

I tend to believe we all feel the tide of affairs shifting.

And as we feel it a range of emotions surges … some excited riding the tide and many many others desperately, and helplessly, feeling like they are fighting a tide they don’t like or do not understand <and this where we see some angry people … as they feel helpless struggling in this tide of affairs>.

 

This is a defining moment.

 

And I think we all know that this moment is different.  In the past, maybe without truly consciously thinking about it, we recognize most moments actually create their definition … because, for the most part, they are all about creating something from nothing.

 

That is different than this moment.

 

In this moment, in this time and place, something is happening of which we have to create nothing … but rather shape it. And, in doing this shaping, we are actually building something within the moments we elect to stand up and define ourselves … well … building “us” … okay … maybe it is building “me or I.”

 

This moment is different because it demands that we take a whole bunch of seemingly meaningless little moments … almost unrecognizable … that have got us to where we are attitudinally, intellectually and physically … and stop and speak out in some way that will be meaningful to us for the rest of our lives.

 

And.

In this moment … I would suggest that this is not the time to define yourself by standing against something but rather standing up & for something. This is not the moment to be “anti” something but rather “pro” something.  ‘Anti’ suggests you can turn, or stem, the tide of affairs when the reality of ‘affairs of men’ would most likely suggest a tide is a tide and affairs will be affairs and by being ‘pro’ it may be possible to show which harbor the tide should enter. Don’t define by what you are against … define by what you are for.

 

That said.

now or_never_web_design_grandeI could suggest that for many of us this is a “now or never” time.

 

 

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“Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances; sometimes it’s now or never.”

Alan Bennett

 

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In the general tide of affairs of men there often seems to be unending line of second chances standing outside your door.

And then in the tide there comes a time when … well … you look outside one morning and all those second chances are gone to Starbucks.

 

Just gone.

 

And you are alone.

 

And you can’t play the next time card or ask the next second chance to come on in. or say … uhm … can you wait a minute? <until one of the second chances comes back from the bathroom>

 

Nope.

 

It’s now or never.

 

Life is looking right at people … right at you & me … and saying … ‘okay, what’s your call?’

speak the truth i will be defined stand up

And this is actually your judgment call and no one else’s.

 

This is your defining moment and your decision.

 

Life is not going to help you out on this one … Life isn’t going to lean in and whisper in your ear … “hey, just so you know, this is one of those no time out, no second chance, no next time moments.”

 

That is my job today.

 

My job today is to tell you what I believe is the truth … that while Life is typically extremely generous in giving time outs and second chances … this feels like a ‘now or never moment’.

 

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“attack everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.”

 

Douglas Adams

 

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This is a daunting feeling.

 

Because while you may actually have done a gazillion things in your Life to prepare yourself for this ‘now or never moment’ … I seriously doubt anyone feels competent for this moment. It is slightly daunting to think this is a ‘now or never’ moment which will live with us for years to come.

 

Yeah.

It certainly feels slightly daunting to think that what you do will define you … for eternity.good people defined losses victories

 

Yeah.

 

On top of uncertainty or excitement or helplessness or a feeling of freedom to do & say what you have always wanted to do & say you are being asked to choose how you want to be defined.

 

The kind of thought that makes us think about choices and what we elect to do … because … well .., what we do echoes in eternity.

 

The Gladiator quote was perfect … it suggests that the way we live … and what we choose to do … not only affects our present … but also determines our eternity.

He suggests what we do in the present will affect not who we are and what will happen but also our future … beyond death.

 

He suggests that you … well … matter.

 

That your thoughts matter.

That your choices matter.

That your actions matter.

 

And not only within this moment.

But in the moments which end up in eternity.

 

Your life matters. What you do is up to you, but your life matters to the degree that you choose it to matter. Life means something … especially if you defiantly define who and what you are.

defy word defiance

Defiance is not easy.

 

It is much much easier to not push back, to not push yourself forward, but go along for the ride … wishing it were better than it seems to be.

 

 

Defiance is a choice.

 

And, I would remind everyone, that choice defines destiny … not chance.

 

If you are defiant, and push back, you are more likely to control the destiny of … well … your definition and how you will be defined.

 

And that is what today’s world feel like. a moment to be defined. A moment to be defiant with regard to who you are, what you believe and what you stand for.

It feels like you cannot be silent … and you have to choose.

 

Now.

I purposefully have tied “I will be defined” with an attitude … one of defiance.

I do so because of … well … Trump.

He has far too often been called a ‘disruptor.’ In businesses a disruptor is not one who creates & encourages chaos but rather one who ‘overturns conventional wisdom’ to take what exists and reshape it into a new way of doing things. A true disruptor envisions what can be <let’s call this ‘a plan’> and dismantles only that which encumbers in the here & now to enable the “what will be.” In the business world Trump is more often called ‘an agent of chaos.’ He is one of those managers who cannot tell the difference between chaos & doing — they are of equal in his mind. He holds up doing as proof of his value. A true disruptor holds up ‘what can be’ as proof of value.   Calling him a disruptor is an insult to the true disruptors.

 

This means, even more than ever, those who choose to stand in this time & place and define themselves will have to be defiant.

 

Defiance is standing still, standing strong, speaking out … amidst chaos.

This will not be about the one, or ones, who speak the loudest but the ones who speak the smartest and steadfastly. This will be about the ones who defiantly stand in the face of chaos and stubbornly defend what they believe and what is right.

And, in doing so, the country will be defined by who and what we coalesce around. The fragments <which are what some people will call “divisions”> will cluster until the cluster of that which is the country itself has spoken and defined itself. As a country … it is false to suggest we are divided … we are fragmented. There is a huge difference between those two thoughts. And it is actually within that difference in which Hope for something better resides.

 

Yes.

In this time, at this place, I do believe this country will be defined. And it will be defined by those who not just endure the moment, the tide of affairs of man, but rather the ones who stand up and say “this is how we will endure.”

 

You may be angry, you may feel helpless, you may feel excited … but whatever you feel it is because you are caught up in a unique tide in the affairs of man … i will be defined stand up speak outand you will be defined not because you endured but rather by how you endured.

 

My friend was right. This is a “moment.”

 

We will look back in time at this ‘moment’ and you will be defined by what you did do … or didn’t do.

 

Me? I have made my decision. In this time, at this place, I will be defined.

 

purposeful ignorance & purposeful lack of listening

January 5th, 2017

 

genius calvin

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Calvin & Hobbes:

“Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?”

 

=================

 

Mrs. Wormwood:

“What state do you live in?”

 

Calvin:

“Denial.”

 

=======================

 

Calvin & Hobbes:

 

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.”

 

================

 

Well.

 

I am not sure there is anything worse a person can do in my eyes than to ignorance closed mindembrace purposeful ignorance. I may actually believe it is worse than lying.

 

Technically, purposeful ignorance occurs when a person knows the truth but chooses to ignore it, or the person refuses to abandon false beliefs and pursue the development of further knowledge.

 

According to the Urban Dictionary willful ignorance is: the practice or act of intentional and blatant avoidance, disregard or disagreement with facts, empirical evidence and well-founded arguments because they oppose or contradict your own existing personal beliefs.”

 

But, to me, there are three levels of purposeful ignorance:

 

  • accepted ignorance: I have an attitude, perception or belief and I go about my life doing nothing to engage my thinking and expand what I know <unlearning avoidance is what I call this>

 

 

  • confirmed ignorance: with the intent to show everyone that I am not ignorant I actually proactively engage in news & opinion offerors … uhm … but I only do so with those who have the same attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that I do <learning how to better articulate what I already think is what I call this>.

 

 

  • ignorant ignorance: I actively engage with people who have different views and maybe even have some discussions and give the impression I am open minded … but even while nodding my head sagely I am simply building additional walls around what I already believe and think <listening without listening is what I call this>

 

The last of those three is the most heinous type of ignorance. You actually have the opportunity to learn and you choose to not learn diddleysquat.

 

It is heinous to me because there are gobs of well-intended people who are smart but just don’t actively engage in learning new shit because … well … they got shit to do.

 

Do I like that they are unengaged in learning & unlearning? No.

 

Can I see how it could happen? Yes.

 

In addition … almost every single one of us have moments of purposeful shortcuts not thereignorance.

 

At its worst it is a conscious choice to be ignorant rather than challenge themselves and acknowledge a truth about reality.

At its best we have simply bucketed some things in our minds as ‘decided’ in order to short cut some things and invest energy in others <and we all do the this>.

 

To be clear on this issue.

 

The reason I think people who do the third type of purposeful ignorance should be strapped to some pole and whipped is because they are consciously & actively being ignorant while most of us accept our ignorance because we admittedly like to think we understand things and we certainly understand that challenging what we already believe is difficult.

 

For most of us challenging what we believe is difficult because it means admitting that beliefs are subject to change and some could actually be wrong … and … well … we feel much more comfortable thinking that some things are just etched in stone.

 

This is not denial this is simply avoidance.

And we all do it on occasion.

 

But we also do not go through the motions of publicly showcasing that we are actively listening to try and challenge our beliefs.

We accept them and observe them and articulate them.

 

That’s it.

 

unlearn business tired old ideasAnd maybe this is simple laziness in not wanting to have to do the work to rethink opinions & beliefs and unlearning shit we thought we knew and then having to explain why we change dour minds and … well … you get it.

 

Our closemindedness is mostly driven by avoidance <purposeful or not>.

 

And I even give some people a break on this topic.

 

Psychological research tells us that some people are cognitively complex while others prefer cognitive simplicity, in other words, some people are open to experience while other are closed minded.

Some people are cognitively flexible while others are cognitively rigid.

 

I could suggest that those who are cognitively simple, closed minded and/or rigid are much more likely to engage in the ‘accepted ignorance’ level of purposeful ignorance that I noted earlier.

 

These are not stupid people by any stretch of the imagination and they most certainly have the ability to be ‘smart’ <or broader in thinking> … they are simply people who would rather be comfortably ignorant rather than ‘intellectually smart’.

 

In addition … Urban Dictionary suggests that some people are “cognitive misers“, i.e., they do not to examine things intellectually if they don’t feel they have to.

 

And another valid reason is … well … conformity. While this sounds ‘sheeplike’ it obvious sheep hughis not always. We all engage in some aspects of conformity because it helps us not only fit in but provide us with some daily stability which permits us to engage our energy elsewhere. That is why a shitload of people tend to believe what those around them believe because questioning those beliefs would lead to conflict, possibly rejection and … well … energy investment.

 

And, look, there are some nice benefits to conforming.

 

Conformists have the greater potential to find a mate, or mates, to climb the social ladder of “success,” to have others speak well of them and to enjoy the benefits of a social support system.

 

And, with all that said, you know what? I can live with that.

 

As much as a curious, always seeking truth, person like me finds purposeful ignorance to be an egregious & utter lack of responsibility to living Life to its fullest and being engaged in Life … in general … I accept that there are some acceptable versions of purposeful ignorance <and, yet, I will do anything I can to break thru to these people and engage in some thoughtful thinking>.

 

I absolutely believe that learning and unlearning, is a lifelong process and ultimately leads to a fuller, richer Life. I will participate in learning/unlearning through my own discussions and I will engage with anyone, anywhere, on any topic, at any time.

 

I understand that deeply ingrained purposeful ignorance is incredibly difficult to change but I also never, ever, underestimate people’s capacity for change.

 

I will continue to be interested in the views of others, even where I disagree with them, and I will always be interested in understanding why others act and think in the way that they do.

 

I believe the importance of this type of relevant knowledge mainly resides in the ultimate negotiation of ‘what will be.’ in other words … how we, as people, achieve the best possible outcomes.

 

And that is why I will end here.

 

My third level of purposeful ignorance, “Ignorant ignorance”, is evil.

hunter bad boss assholeAnd it takes an evil person to consciously commit it.

 

I cannot even attempt to understand how someone could fuck with learning & unlearning in such a purposeful manner. Faking learning, or an interest in learning … or faking sincere curiosity … is maybe the most heinous act one could commit.

 

They are jerks. And, unfortunately, we have no scientific research for a cure for jerks.

 

 

 

a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me

September 6th, 2016

 

 fear bird fly fall never do life

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“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

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There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”

 

 

Andre Gide

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Ok.

liar fear

 

 

There is no such thing as fearless and a fearless person is a … well … lie.

 

Oh.

 

Maybe there is with those badass guys who do special forces and know mental voodoo which enables to kick the shit out of people and not die.

 

 

But for most of us schmucks?

 

We all have some fear about something. And we are lying if we do not admit that. Now. It is quite possible we hesitate to embrace this thought because … uhm … it implies we have some coward within us.

 

Wow.

 

That sounds shitty.

 

Who the hell wants to ever say that about themselves? <answer: no one>

 

But maybe what helps us get over that cowardly angst is the recognition that it is actually fear of fear which probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself.

 

That said.

 

I am not suggesting that makes it any easier in practicality just that maybe recognizing a monster is half the battle to killing a monster.

 

 

Anyway.

 

brainsnacks 5 fears we all have

………… brainsnacks 5 fears we all have ………..

 

Some smart psychologist at Brainsnacks suggests there are 5 basic fears that everyone has:

 

 

Fear of failure? Read it as fear of ego-death.

Fear of rejection? That’s fear of separation, and probably also fear of ego-death.

The terror many people have at the idea of having to speak in public is basically fear of ego-death.

Fear of intimacy, or “fear of commitment,” is basically fear of losing one’s autonomy.

Shame and guilt express the fear of—or the actual condition of—separation and even ego-death. The same is true for embarrassment and humiliation.

 

 

I thought that was interesting but most of us think about fear in our own ways, read books on how to deal with it and we either figure it out or we don’t.

And honestly … some do and some don’t.

 

I will suggest that facing fear is probably the biggest impediment to success <even beyond poverty, existing circumstances, etc.>.

 

We often give our fears far too much power by believing they are bigger than they really are.

 

Look.

 

I am not suggesting that fear doesn’t exist I am simply suggesting we often permit fear to take on superhuman powers and intergalactic sizes in our minds.

 

If you agree with that thought then it appears seeking to be successful may mean not actually eliminating fear … but simply making it into bite sized portions more easily swallowed.

 

 

Or maybe … would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me.

 

Regardless.

 

Choose however you elect to deal with fear. But choose.

 

Because you don’t choose at your own peril <what I fear is quietly killing me >.

 

fear of suffering worseHere’s the deal.

 

All people fear failure.

 

Everyone.

 

And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

 

There is no such thing as a fearless person.

 

It’s just that some people set it aside and go forth striving to seek something that lies somewhere beyond the fear.

 

Across the chasm as it were.

 

The French call this  “l’appel du vide” in French< compulsion to jump from high places or “the call of the void”>. But the truth is that ‘some’ does not equal ‘most.’ Not many people are truly tempted to jump from the edge into a void.

Most of us just talk about it <and we like talking about it>. But most do not do it. Not because they aren’t tempted by the challenge but rather because they fear what comes from stepping out into the void.

 

Do most people mind being challenged <attempting to do that which they have not done>?

 

Absolutely not.

 

The majority of people do like meeting challenges and that satisfaction which comes from meeting the challenge. I believe it is because you have not only ‘bested’ the challenge but you have also ‘bested’ the fear you couldn’t meet the challenge <even if it was only an inkling of fear>.

 

So there is certainly a level of personal satisfaction of ‘dealing with fear” … or maybe better said ‘facing the unknown’ that all people like.

 

However.

 

What about that ‘good fear.’

That big fear.

Stepping into the unknown fear?

 

Ok.

 

Remember.

 

Fear is defined as the emotional response to an actual or perceived threat of immediate or imminent danger or pain <or some derivative of the five I listed above>.

The capacity to experience fear is part of human nature that has been hard-wired into us.

 

Hardwired or not … the ‘big fear’ <whatever our personal fear monster may be> is debilitating to most people. It is a fact that a large number of people suffer the often debilitating impacts of fear and anxiety. They suffer a sense of being overwhelmed and helplessness leading to an inability to take action or make changes.

 

Interestingly I believe we tend to tie bravery and courage with being able to overcome that helplessness brought on by fear.

 

Well.

I don’t think that’s right.

 

In most cases it is more about having the ability to see <or conceptualize> what is somewhere across the chasm and using that as the focal point to step toward.

More often it is the ability to see the fear as … well … fear of fear and nothing more than that.

fearless controlling fear

 

Regardless.

 

That’s not courage … that is simply focusing on what is important. Or, let’s say, an ability to focus.

 

I guess I find some support in my belief in that most individuals we look to as brave or courageous people openly admit that they were not free of fear when they faced the unknown <death or simply stepping into the unknown>.

 

They simply kept going with their plan of action, in spite of feeling scared, because they were generally resolute in their decisions, knew the risks attached to what they were doing and in many cases believed that their actions served a larger cause for a greater good.

 

People like that don’t lessen the fear … they simply accept it.

 

Patton once said this about equating bravery with a lack of fear:

 

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man.  All men are frightened.  The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.”

 

Anyway.

 

Fear is a real issue. As real as poverty, lack of education or some disease.

 

It is a real issue because, simplistically, the inability to overcome fear translates into a lower quality of life.

 

No shit.

 

Quality of life <and, me being me, I have some proof to back this up>.

 

Someone called fear the “…nameless, unjustified, unreasoning terror which paralyzes needed effort.”

 

And according to a psychologist quoted in a 2009 Psychology Today … “the inaction that stems from excessive, irrational fears or fear-based thinking often shows up as a decision to live life from a “safe” position and not take risks, even if that means forsaking opportunities that might provide greater joy and expansiveness to one’s life.”

 

No shit.

 

I tend to believe we lla sense that fear holds us back but also have a tendency to shrug our shoulders and say “if it were meant to be I would have done that something” as a justification for not facing our fear.

 

Well.

 

Maybe think about that choice a little harder next time.

 

The cost is high if you decide to not face your fear.

 

So.

 

Circling back to the beginning … people who have overcome fear have learned to focus on what is truly important … they have either faced their monsters or decided that they were less important then what they really wanted.

 

And I actually believe most successful people have done exactly this … these have faced their inner demons, monsters, and have asked them to come along for the ride instead of hiding from them <or being safe>.

 

Or.

 

They have had a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is BurningBridgescoward in me, and found what is lost in me.

 

 

We all have fears. Accept it. Do what you have to do. Do what almost all of us do. Push on.

 

And know this:

 

85% of what we worry about ends up having a positive or neutral outcome. <research>

 

hatred of boredom

June 26th, 2016

 hatred of boredom f scott quote

—————-

 

“I’m a slave to my hatred of boredom.”

 

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

——————-

 

 

 

So.

 

Far too often I think we confuse a lack of attention, attention spans, or attention in general, with a hatred of boredom.

 

I imagine I could say that this is simply about discussing two sides of the same coin.

 

look bored blink

One side is boredom.

 

One side is attention span.

 

 

Regardless of my imaginary coin … attention spans, in general, are certainly one of the main “topic du jours” a shitload of people, and ‘experts’, pontificate on espousing on “a generation borne of short attention spans” <the infamous … “we have attention spans of a goldfish” — note: we do not>.

 

I have always said we do not have significantly shorter attention spans today than we have had in the past and that technology isn’t make us a society with an attention deficit.

 

And I have a post coming up soon discussing the important, and responsibility, of getting someone’s attention.

 

But why doesn’t anyone ever discuss WHY our attention wavers?

 

Sure.

 

Many people, I included, have discussed relevance matters in gaining attention and maintaining attention  and many people, I included, have discussed how interest and attention are inextricably linked … but why don’t we just simply talk about boredom?

 

Because if I am bored I will not pay attention.boredom structure boredom

 

Shit.

 

 

If a goldfish is bored they will not pay attention.

 

Shit.

 

If you are bored enough <as the chart “structure of boredom” suggests you attain “demonic boredom” – this is the type of boredom which can make you say stupid things out loud>

 

 

Anyway.

 

Here is the flipside of the coin.

 

If you can keep me from being bored? You have my attention.

 

Personally … I hate being bored.

 

Some people confuse this with a lack of ability to pay attention. They are wrong.

 

People have my undivided attention and focus … if I am not bored with what is being said or shown.

 

I don’t think I am particularly unique n this.

 

I do know because of my hatred of boredom that I have quasi-mastered the art of ‘surface attention.’

 

Surface attention?

 

What this is … is … well … let’s say you are in a meeting. And some bonehead is engenders boredom speaking too muchdemanding you sit through a 75 page PowerPoint presentation.

I can guarantee you that I am gonna feel some hate <some boredom> within those 75 pages <and the 75+ words that must be said accompanying every page>.

But that hate will not keep me from perking up on … well … say … page 51 where … well … you aren’t boring me.

 

And I have to admit. It is good that I have mastered this particular skill because F. Scott and I have something in common … I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.

 

Because outside of a meeting or some environment constricting my ability to flee my boredom … not only do I not pay attention but I move on. I actually will get away, if not actually flee, from boredom.

I hate being bored so much I have been chastised for being rude <and sometimes it can also mistakenly be construed as some version of ‘self superiority’>.

 

I am neither rude nor do I believe I am smarter, or superior or better in any way … I am simply a slave to my hatred of boredom. In fact … as a parallel point … I will actively search out ‘non-boring.’ So … its not like I don’t want to hear what people have to say and i actually highly value other’s opinions, especially of they are contrarian views., but just as i am active n my pursuit for non-boredom i am also quite active in avoiding, and fleeing, actual boredom.

 

Maybe I don’t handle it as well as many other people but, once again, I just don’t think I am that unique.  Given the opportunity I believe most of us schmucks would haul ass when bored by someone or something.

 

In most cases it isn’t rooted in any thought that someone is ‘dumb’ or ‘an asshole/asshat’ … we are just fucking bored.

 

I imagine my real point <and this would be great advice to professional marketers> is … well … if you want my attention don’t bore me.

 

Now.

 

This doesn’t mean ‘entertain me’ or ‘make me laugh’ or … well … any simplistic tripe many experts spout. Don’t overthink it. There is no formula. And there is no ‘one thing’ to do.

 

Just don’t bore me.

 

I don’t care how you do it.

engage me bore interest listen

You can engage me intellectually.

 

You can engage me by … well … being engaging.

 

You can engage me by making me smile.

 

You can engage me by tapping into my inner altruism.

 

You can engage me by tapping into my sense of responsibility.

 

The list of how to engage someone is relatively infinite.

 

But one thing circumvents the infinite list of possibilities … boredom.

 

I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.

 

And while I may hate boredom a little more than the average everyday schmuck … in general … I tend to believe most everyone hates being bored.

 

Well.boredom dog bored attention

 

 

There is some professional advice.

 

Don’t be boring and don’t bore people you have an interest in communicating with.

cover the universe with drawings we have lived

May 20th, 2016

 

 

 

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Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. idea art creative draw life imagine

 

Thoreau said that he had a map of his fields engraved in his soul.

 

And Jean Wahl once wrote … [“] The frothing of the hedges / I keep deep inside me [“] … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived.”

 

 

Gaston Bachelard

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“You have to live a life to understand it.

Tourists just pass through.”

 

 

Prince

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Well.

 

Let me give you a reason not only for living … but experiencing Life. And I don’t means “savoring Life” type trite bullshit. I mean experiencing what is going on around you and being aware, to participate in Life … and actually experience the realities of the here & now <and not divert your attention toward some imaginative “boy, I imagined something completely different than what is occurring”>.

 

Nor am I going to hijack any of that nutjob Eckhardt Tolle’s “live in the now” nonsense.

 

All I will suggest is that each experience, especially when you pay some attention to it, etches something in us.

 

Think of it like acquiring a tattoo.

And if you do accept the tattoo metaphor <or is that an analogy?> it seems to me you should take some care with what gets engraved upon you.

 

dance color cloud skirtWhy care?

 

While the fact Life is in constant movement and that can become incredibly tiring trying to dance with it  all day long … your dance partner, named either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ typically arrives without invitation. I would suggest more of us would be slightly more content if we didn’t focus on the fact our dance partner made us smile <lets assume that is “good”> or is a complete asshole <lets call that dance partner “bad”> but instead focus on the dance itself.

 

That, my friends, is experiencing Life.

 

The steps, the movement, that path and arc of the dance and the fields upon which our feet are placed in their movement.

 

 

Thoreau tells us ‘ he had the map of his fields engraved in his soul.’ That is … well … because he not only walked them but he saw and felt the steps as he placed them.

 

This is all about recognizing the value of being aware. And it is this perceptive appreciation of the time & place, past & present, permits us a healthy balance of reality and memory.

 

Even better?

 

This awareness actually permits us to embed the moments better in our heads.

This isn’t to say we will remember it correctly <because psychologically we suck at correctly & accurately remembering things> but rather the moments themselves are engraved upon us.

 

To be clear.

 

This ‘thing’ we embed is actually a reflection of the natural gap in our minds between the complexity of reality and our ability to experience the complexity.

What I mean by that is we tend to view reality heuristically. Therefore we don’t truly see reality but rather a simplified translation. Unfortunately … this simplified version naturally builds in some blind spots.

 

Now.

 

There is a whole bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo about ‘dimensions of recognition’ and ‘symbolic complementariness of the person’s first-hand life events/involvements’ but it is much easier for everyday schmucks like you and I to think of it in a linear fashion … any initial connective personal involvement in a moment begets some reflection <how it may relate to other moments> which inevitably creates some ongoing narrative in our head.

 

Aw.

Forget all the psychological stuff.

 

Simplistically … the map of our Life is engraved upon our minds if not our soul … assuming we actually are aware enough to experience the map as we traverse it. Our universe deserves to be covered with our drawings.

 

I am fairly sure a lot of people will read this and be shaking their heads going “I have great memories … I could cover my universe with drawings” … you aren’t telling me anything of value.

 

And you may be right. Absolutely. You may be.

 

But I would suggest that most people would actually end up papering their universe with someone else’s drawings of their experience … like taping postcards on the wall of everywhere you have been. That is not covering your universe with drawings of what you have lived.cage bird tattoo

 

Those are simply superficial surface expressions of real actual experience.

 

Let me go back to my tattoo metaphor.

 

If I were to get a tattoo on my soul I imagine, at least me, I would not choose a tattoo of a postcard but rather I would prefer choosing an expression of what I felt when I placed my feet where that postcard was. Don’t be a tourist with Life … live it.

 

That’s all I’m sayin’.

Speeches and speech writing

March 17th, 2016

 speechless

 

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“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word.

The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.”

 

 

Joseph Conrad

 

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“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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Well.

 

With an election going on all you have to do is turn on the television or go to any news website and you will see someone giving a speech. Great oration is a skill … almost an art. Some people are naturals. More people are not.

 

But.

 

process presentationHaving given some presentations in my lifetime, as well as provided some training, let me share one of the biggest secrets to presenting … if you have a great speech it is easy to present it.

 

 

In business we spend so much time trying to train someone on ‘how to present comfortably’ and ‘tricks’ to connect with an audience that it masks what presenting & speeches have in common with social media – content is the key.

 

Give me the best speech in the world and the worst presenter can give it.

Conversely … even the best presenter will stumble over the worst speech.

 

I thought of this as I watched several presidential candidates give a post mortem speech after the Tuesday elections.

 

I watched Rubio <sadly, yet defiantly, dropping out of the race>, Kasich <touched by a win in his own state>, Clinton <stepping up to the bigger beast in the room – Trump> and … well … the beast himself.

 

I won’t go into specifics of the four speeches but let me say that Rubio & Clinton must have great speech writers. Poetry and prose mixed with aspirations & hope & pragmatic expectations.

 

By the way … that is incredibly tough to do in a speech.

Very very few people can write that stuff.

 

Kasich speeches are easy to write because he has some common themes that come from his core beliefs & values. But suffice it to say that all three of those speeches were about ‘we the people’, what ‘we’ can do together, the spirit at the core of a country, hope for something better … and a dose of caution to not be enticed by the easier road of frustration, fear & hate.

 

Oh.

 

And then there was Trump.

 

He has no speech writer. He is the speechwriter and you can tell.

 

There was no ‘we’ it was all ‘me.’

My poll numbers. My popularity. My smartness. My success. My creating voter turnout.dumb ass me

 

And the only “we” incorporated in were the stupid people who were losers or the enemy peering over the gates like China, Islam & Mexico <who he is gonna punch>.

 

It was all about his polls, his numbers, and him.

 

The contrast between speeches is stunning.

 

Everyone else talks about the people and attitude and spirit … he talks about how popular he is and … well … how stupid everyone is because we are losing too much.

 

The difference between the words, tone and attitude of the speeches was … well … truly stunning.

 

Anybody in business who writes presentations and gives speeches knows the Trump speech path is ultimately a dead end. People like to hear confidence & strong leadership but they want to feel participation and connection.

Solutions are always preferred to problems.

Implying people together is always preferred to tearing people apart.

 

Suffice it to say that without a grander purpose, something beyond an “outcome” objective <like a ‘win’> a speech only leads everyone down a dead end path.

 

A speech should attempt to find that sweet spot of prose, real facts, anecdote and the commitment to a greater purpose. People deserve to hear the good and it shouldn’t be overwhelmed by any bad.

do souls need to be hugh

Trump offers speeches carved on … well … tombstones and not hearts.

 

===

 

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.

 

A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

 

 

Shannon L. Alder

 

===

 

 

I love words and I love hearing a great speaker give a great speech. While Trump may be one of the most comfortable people I have ever seen behind a podium and a microphone he also may be one of the worst speech writers I have ever heard.

Simplistically … he delivers bad words, bad thoughts & bad rhetoric … but he does it well.

 

I admit.

 

Give me the good, the hopeful, the commitment to a higher purpose any day of the week. And I honestly believe most people want to hear that.

Great speeches, given well, lift people up off of the easy angry, resentful, blame-paved path and let us fly when we don’t even realize we can fly.

 

Anyway.

 

I can write an okay speech <I have two posts coming up – one on writing a presentation and one on giving a presentation … as if there aren’t enough “how to” garbage already available online>.

But I am honest enough to know that even on my best day and in my best speech writing moment I may only get a glimpse of what a great speech writer can accomplish.

 

As I share that thought I remember a nice little scene from West Wing where Toby <the chief communications director> comments on Presidential State of the Union speeches and who can write them. He suggests there are maybe 6 or so in the country that can do so. I will not haggle over the number but suffice it to say he is correct … great speechwriters are few and far between.

This also means the everyday schmuck <think … “you & I”> writes a generally crappy speech <even though we all think it is great>.

 

I believe I am in the minority in this thinking.

I think many people <more than can actually do it> believe they write great speeches.

 

Maybe worse for the business world is that I think many businesses believe too many of their own people should, and can, write speeches.

 

Look.

 

As a word guy I want to teach & coach everyone to use words well & wisely.

But, in business, it is … well … business.

This is not a popular thought in the current business world view of collaboration & empowerment but I believe businesses should identify their great speechwriters and empower them to write the business speeches.

 

What this means is that some people end up delivering speeches written by other people.

This freaks a shitload of people out.

 

I actually believe they get freaked out for two main reasons:

 

<1> conceptually it fights the internal “I am best at delivering shit in my own words … words I would use”. The key here is ‘conceptually’. Good words are good words and good thoughts are good thoughts. The kind of words you would actually use shouldn’t change the meaning of a great speech or presentation. But we freak out nonetheless … even before we even see the speech

what want need give

<2> pragmatically most business presentations and speeches are written by crappy writers therefore I do end up freaked out just by looking at what I am being asked to speak. This is beyond the ‘corporate speak’ stench that emanates from every hallway in every business. That is just business crap. a great speech has order and ebbs & flows and seamlessly slides from point to point. Most businesses do not have a shitload of people who can do that.

 

 

In business … you almost cannot pay a great speechwriter or great presentation writer enough money. If you have one in your organization you should treat them like gold.

 

 

Anyway.

 

Within a great speech there is often a paragraph or a line that you know is great even as it slips across your lips:

 

 

  • Clinton’s line about Trump … “it doesn’t make him strong … it makes him wrong.”

 

  • Kasich’s indirect jab at Trump … “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.”

 

 

But the greatest of the great speeches cross over into some unseen universe of euphoria. As a listener you listen, hear … and may not remember specifics but you remember how it made you feel.

 

Nowhere has this been showcased better than on the old television show West Wing.

 

For example … after a pipe bomb explodes at a university killing 44 people, including three swimmers, the president gives a speech that includes the following:

 

 

“… More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours words big brevityago at Kennison State University; three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition; when after having heard the explosion from their practice facility they ran into the fire to help get people out … ran ‘into’ the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

 

 

Or.

 

 

The explanation that the director of communications gives when discussing free trade:

 

Toby Ziegler:

 

You want to know the benefits of free trade? Food is cheaper.

Food is cheaper! Clothes are cheaper. Steel is cheaper. Cars are cheaper. Phone service is cheaper. You feel me building a rhythm here? That’s because I’m a speech writer – I know how to make a point.

It lowers prices, it raises income. You see what I did with ‘lowers’ and ‘raises’ there?

It’s called the science of listener attention. We did repetition, we did floating opposites, and now you end with the one that’s not like the others. Ready? Free trade stops wars. Heh, and that’s it. Free trade stops wars! And we figure out a way to fix the rest.

 

 

Words really do matter and, possibly even more important, words delivered well really matter. The wrong words and speech can kill the best idea. Back in 2012 I wrote about elections and words used well and made this point.

Hugh something to believe in

 

Regardless.

 

Speeches are not like stories. Just as presentations are not really stories.

Speeches are all about using words well to lift people from one place to another.

 

Yes, lift.

 

Speeches are not meant to lower themselves into the ordinary uncomfortable truths of what we feel. Speeches are meant to recognize the uncomfortable truths and then lift us above it so we can see a horizon where things are better … the comfortable truth that what is will not always be and what will be is better for you, me & everyone – that no one gets left behind.

 

Bottom line.

 

A great speech lets us see what will be and not what is. Anyone who writes a speech … and gives a speech … would do well to remember the wise words of Hugh McLeod … “the market for something to believe in is infinite.”

Enlightened Conflict