Enlightened Conflict

sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

April 15th, 2017

 American Workers sweat hard hats

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‘In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream …’ It’s a ‘death trap,’ a ‘suicide rap.’

‘I want to guard your dreams and visions.’ ”

 

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

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“This man said that you can move to Greece, live in Greece, but you can’t become a Greek. You can move to Japan, live there, but you can’t become Japanese; or France and become a Frenchman; or German—or become a—all of these things.

But he said, everybody or anybody from any corner of the world can come to America and become an American.”

 

—————–

Ronald Reagan

 

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Ok.

 

I have a piece coming up on globalization but today it is about the American work flintstoneswork ethos and American workers and, I imagine, a view on any version of isolationism <extreme to practical>.

 

I admit.

I find very little appealing in an isolationist concept <any aspect of it> … even the common rhetoric of the day.

 

Simplistically I feel like it suggests we, America, cannot compete globally. In my pea like brain I view it like sports … sports in which almost every home team retains an advantage … despite the same rules, same number of players, same dimensions of the court & field. Mainly it comes down to coaching, ability and , I imagine, pride of home field … uhm … but I still get on a bus and go play away games.

 

I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone.”

 

Which reminds me of how much during American presidential campaign, and even now somewhat, I found it extremely aggravating how we had a bunch of people talking about American workers and American businesses.

work sheep wolf

They all seemed to forget that our ethos is “just do it.”

 

When set free to do the voodoo it does … American business is dynamic, energetic, innovative, can-do and actually gets out there and makes & sells shit.

 

We shouldn’t be impatient because the success is coming fast enough and in our impatience “change the rules” or “hide within our borders” but instead we should use our impatience to invite competition, sweat it out and beat the crap out of them.

 

My impatience? I sometimes get a bit impatient when I hear people moaning about the state of the world and the inevitable “the sky is falling” or “the world is unfair” <pick your poison>.

 

Given an opportunity every generation believes it is tougher for them and will create their own prognostications of doom & gloom and, yet, we are still here and still have the world’s largest economy <and best on a variety of measures>.

 

I am not suggesting there aren’t real business issues and I am not suggesting from a regulatory standpoint there are some tweaks to the system which would enable businesses to improve themselves to compete better <please notice I didn’t say “to constrict the competition” but rather to have us improve to compete>.

 

Isolation goes against every bone in our “just do it” American body & soul.

 

Nike trademarked it but the pilgrims brought it to America. From day one immigrants, with the help of Native Americans, went to work building America … stone by stone … seed by seed … idea by idea … sweat drop by sweat drop.

 

labor american workerAmerica First should never be America Alone.

 

America has never been an individual competition it has always been about a team competition.

 

America First should be earned on the playing field competing against the best of the best and winning <by the way … that defines ‘exceptionalism’>.

 

America should be about building a better engine, building a better race car and running a better race.

 

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”It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes.”

 

——–

Ronald Reagan

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It is aggravating to hear “close the borders” combined with “the world is going to shit” … which all leads to ‘disengage from the world <competition>.’

 

Really?

 

REALLY?

 

What kind of shit response is that?

What kind of “winner” doesn’t want to compete and compete against the best?

 

It seems like we should be investing not in building advantages for ourselves but rather in building a better team. That is where money and energy should be spent.

 

Hire better coaches.

Offer better training programs.

Buy better equipment.

Study better strategies.

Create better plan of attacks.

no substitute for hard work sweat edison

 

 

I wasn’t a huge Ronald Reagan fan but he got it … he hated changing the rules of the business game <tariffs & regulations> and only did so situationally, tactically and for short term ‘balancing out’ … as he says …  given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.

 

But … he understood the importance of the attitude of the American worker above all else … check out these words he said to Harley Davidson:

 

… you gave some folks in Washington an important lesson about how we go about buying and selling with other nations. You see, we’ve shaken hands on an agreement with most of the other nations of the world, an agreement that sets the rules for international trade. We have problems, of course, with some of those nations—the ones that don’t let us sell to their people as freely as they sell to ours. But the agreement, called the GATT agreement—that’s the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — gives us ways of dealing with those problems, and it also gives us ways of giving industries the kind of breathing room we gave you.

 

And if they’re as serious as you were about shaping up—now we’re about to begin worldwide talks on how to make this agreement even stronger.

 

Because of the GATT agreement, when you were ready to sell more bikes around the world, no one stopped you.

But now there are some in Congress who say, in effect, that the United States should break its word with the other countries.

They say American workers need to run and hide from foreign competition, even if that means other countries will strike back by not letting you sell your bikes to their people. Well, Harley-Davidson has shown how wrong that is and what the truth is. American workers don’t need to hide from anyone. America does best when America sticks by its word. And American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No one is better than you are.

 

You may have heard that my temperature’s up about some trade legislation that’s before the Congress right now. On TV the other night, it was called one of the toughest trade bills of this century. I remember the last time we had a so-called tough trade bill. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and they said it would protect American jobs. Instead, after other nations were through retaliating, it helped us—or it helped give us, or at least deepened, the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m probably the only one here that’s old enough to remember that. I was looking for a job then. [Laughter] Twenty-five percent were unemployed, including me.

 

The Harley-Davidson example makes a very strong statement about how government, through the judicious application of our trade laws, can help the best and the brightest in American management and labor come together in ways that will create new jobs, new growth, and new prosperity. Government’s role, particularly on the trade front, should be one of creating the conditions where fair trade will flourish, and this is precisely what has been done here. Our trade laws should work to foster growth and trade, not shut it off. And that’s what’s at the heart of our fair trade policy: opening foreign markets, not closing ours. Where U.S. firms have suffered from temporary surges in foreign competition, we haven’t been shy about using our import laws to produce temporary relief. Now, there are those in Congress who say our trade policies haven’t worked, but you here at Harley-Davidson are living proof that our laws are working. The idea of going to mandatory retaliation and shutting down on Presidential discretion in enforcing our trade laws is moving toward a policy that invites, even encourages, trade wars. It’s time to work to expand the world market, not restrict it.

 

Today, as many as 10 million American jobs are tied to international trade, including many jobs right here at Harley. For more than a century, when America’s trade with the world has grown, America has created more jobs. When trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. So, when it comes to making new jobs, free and fair international trade is America’s big machine. It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes. Your chairman, Vaughn Beals, summed it up when he said, and I will quote him: “We’re sending a very strong message to our competitors and to the international industrial community that U.S. workers, given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.”

 

The best way to meet foreign competition is also the right way: by sticking to our agreements with other countries and not breaking our promises, by making sure other countries also stick to their agreements with us, and by being the best. As America prepares for the 21st century, you’ve shown us how to be the best. You’ve been leaders in new technology. You’ve stuck by the basic American values of hard work and fair play.

 

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A danger we are currently meandering our way toward is one of attitude.

 

attitude foreign life adventureWe currently have a president who doesn’t foster attitude and belief in self but rather believes success is found solely in removing disadvantages, real or not, and removing “unfairness” <even if the other team were simply playing the game better or had better players>.

 

He is wrong in his approach.

 

Business is often more about attitude and fortitude then it is about whether “the pitch was mowed at 1 inch instead of an inch & a ½.”

 

It is a false narrative, and a dangerous narrative, to suggest success is based on ‘fairness’. Why? Because … well … more often than not we will always find that the world was unfair in some form or fashion … and you know what?

You still gotta compete, you still gotta play the game and you still gotta figure out a way to win.

 

America is at its best just doing it … sweating it out on the streets seeking the runaway American dream.

 

America is at its best when it ignores all the reason why we cannot do something and just go do it anyway.

 

America is at its best when we have a leader standing up in front of us not making excuses, not whining about unfairness and all the reasons why we haven’t been successful … but one who is instead saying “here is what we are gonna do and lets go do it.”

 

It was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904, who said:

“We, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint, and of fair dealing between man and man.”

But he also reminded everyone of the importance of work ethic.

“They stood for the life of effort, not the life of ease.”

Freedom, Roosevelt warned, had to be earned by the exercise of restraint, and its bounty could only be harvested by diligent labor.

 

Anyway.

 

I am not an isolationist mostly because of all I have written today. I am a compete flower bloombusiness guy and as a business guy I want to compete … and I believe I can compete well and win often enough if I put in the smart thinking and the diligent labor.

 

While I may proudly wrap myself in an American flag I also proudly wrap myself in an attitude … ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone” … and I am an American worker.

 

We should never underestimate the American worker and American business ingenuity.

We shouldn’t hide from the world … we should be building the best team and sending them to the far corners of the world, wherever they may have an opportunity to compete, and win through hard work and fair play.

 

Isolation is the wrong path. It’s not American. We compete, work hard, play by the rules … and win more often than we lose.

 

American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

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.

 

we do not deal well with emptiness

January 8th, 2017

bad-empty-chair-in-room

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“As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness.

Any empty space must be filled.

 

Immediately.

The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place. A single moment with that empty spot causes excruciating pain. That’s why we run from distraction to distraction – and from attachment to attachment.”

 

—-

Yasmin Mogahed

 

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Emptiness.

 

I am fairly sure people have never, as in “since the dawn of time”, dealt well with emptiness in their lives.

fill-emptiness-empty-with-various-thingsEmptiness is … well … empty … less than … not full.

 

We put incredible energy into putting a person into an empty space left by the last person.

 

We put incredible energy overthinking shit if we find that we may be empty of some thought, i.e, we are ‘not thinking about something … anything for god’s sake is better than nothing!’.

 

We put incredible energy trying to figure out what to do, and sometimes actually doing it, when we find some empty time.

 

Regardless.

 

I would guess that in todays “if you are not doing a lot of something, you are a lazy, worthless slug” mentality world … emptiness has taken on a more miserable aspect. It is miserable because we are almost expected to not only be miserable if we have some ’empty’ <i.e., only losers have empty> but we are expected to figure out how to not be empty for any extended period of time.

 

What this translates into is … well … suffice it to say … more often than not we create our own emptiness with how we choose to live our Life and think our thoughts.

 

Boy oh boy.

There is a double whammy.

 

We do not deal well with emptiness and, yet, we almost always create our own emptiness.

 

Ok.

 

So what happens if you decide to not accept the societal bullshit about empty?

 

Uhm.

 

You will be seen as an outcast.

That I can almost guarantee.

 

It is a societal thing.society blame responsibility

 

If society demands empty to be unacceptable then … well … dammit, we gonna hate them because they aren’t living Life they way they are supposed to live life <even if it looks fucking awesome to do if we actually did it>.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.

 

The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

 

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

—-

Rick Warren

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I only bring up society not to suggest society is bullshit or that society is the root of all evil <and your personal problems> but to state that with regard to ‘empty’ there are two layers to our inability to deal well with ‘empty’ – ourselves and society.

 

Doesn’t mean you can’t establish your own rules & standards with ‘empty’ in your own Life … but it is tricky to do it in a way that doesn’t … well … make you crazy.

 

In the end you gotta look at your Life, what is empty & what is full, why things may be empty and why things may be full … and think about what the value is of the life we have decided to cling to.

 

 

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ما قيمة هذه الدنيا التي تتعلقون بها ؟ ..

 

“What is the value of this world that you cling to?

 

(via idle-handss)

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And I say ‘cling to’ because it is our choice.

the choice is yours life

Emptiness is our choice.

 

Fullness is our choice.

 

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It gives you room. It gives you space. And, yes, it gives you uncertainty.

 

But what it does do is it gives you certainty in freedom to move & do & explore the area between “I can’t” and “I can” … as well as … “what is” and “what could be.”

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

 

“I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy.

I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

—-

Kristin Armstrong

 

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

 

 

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

I once wrote Emptiness is a weight … heavier than you could ever imagine empty should ever be.

Emptiness is a burden if you fill it with the wrong things <hence the reason I tend to believe we rush to fill it with other things>.

 

——–

 

“How can emptiness be so heavy?”

 

=

Six Word Story

———holes kids and thinking

 

It can become a hole filled with the remnants of everything left behind.

Let’s just say … all things gone but not forgotten.

This could include regrets, memories; past decisions … even people no longer there … as well as whatever else your thinking may fill it up with.

 

Ok. Let’s just say anything that has touched our lives will reside in this emptiness and their, oddly, the absence of what used to touch us carries a gravitas which becomes a relentless burden.

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It is not nothing. Empty is something. It is possible it could be a blank piece of paper waiting for you, or someone, to wrote something on it but I don’t like that metaphor.

I do not see empty as blank or blankness. I believe empty is a map … a map we just cannot puzzle out yet. It is something you do want to carry around with you all your Life and it is something you want to deal well with.

 

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

 

“I don’t want to be just a nothing, a sick blank, withdrawal into myself forever. I just want something, beside the emptiness I’ve carried around in me all my life.”

 

Allen Ginsberg

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For if you accept empty as what I just suggested it can lead you to unknown places and meet as yet unknown faces and … well … its darkness is not empty of ran-my-fingers-on-edge-of-empty-within-selflight … it is a darkness awaiting light.

 

And maybe that is my point about empty.

 

Instead of trying to fill ‘empty’ with shit, with people, with doing … why don’t you stop for a second and trying filling it with … well … light.

 

Maybe if you do that you will see the map I believe that is there a little better and instead of filling the empty you travel someplace where your empty doesn’t feel as empty.

 

=========

 

My heart yearns to fill its hollows with unknown places and unknown faces. It desires to be tainted by the warm rays of welcoming faces. It longs to feel nostalgic of the unknown places that reside within its darkness out of wanderlust.

 

Sandeep Sidhu

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friends and enemies and interests

August 29th, 2016

friends goofy unintended together

 

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“We have no permanent friends.

We have no permanent enemies.

We just have permanent interests.”

 

—-

Benjamin Disraeli

 

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Well.

 

I admit.

murderers among enemy

I have always had a slightly contrarian view on relationships with competitors in the business environment.

 

I always met with them.

 

I always encouraged my people to meet, and interact, with them.

 

I always debated and discussed with them.

 

I have always had some friends at competitors … and certainly had some enemies at competitors.

 

Oh.

And I have always been quite willing to put them out of business if, competitively, I felt like my business was better than theirs.

 

Yeah.

I just said that. In fact. I said two things.

 

First.

 

Put them out of business. This doesn’t mean doing anything evil nor does it mean going behind anyone’s back in some slimy undercutting way. This is about confidently putting yourself alongside the enemy and beating the living daylights out of them. And doing so over and over again until you suffocate their business or they just quit.

 

Second.

 

Please note ‘my business was better than theirs.’

 

Well.

 

Yeah.company culture die trying

 

Sometimes you are actually not the best and sometimes you are actually not different in any real significant way.

Sometimes you are just a different alternative.

Sometimes you don’t compete exactly directly.

And sometimes your enemy actually is a better fit for someone then you are.

 

But.

 

If you are better, then beat them.

 

Now.

 

Beyond beating the crap out of some competitor … 90% of the time I find the ‘enemy’ quite the delight to rub elbows with.

This doesn’t mean I was flippant with regard to confidential information it is just that I believe ‘unique’ or ‘proprietary’ are more often than not … well … not. I also believe that my ‘enemy’ was simply a business competitor who had the same interests that I did <selling more shit at the highest price possible>.

 

But I have never understood some absurd ‘never talk with the competitor.” And I think it is absurd for a variety of reasons but let’s go through why business relationships are always tricky But no reason to not interact openly with a competitor>.

 

Your best employee may become the best employee at your competitor at some point.

 

Your favorite boss may leave and start a new company … competing against a portion of your offering.

 

You may leave, leaving behind a boatload of people you like & respect, to take a promotion at some competitor and … well … compete against those same people you like & respect who happen to be at a company you still like & respect.

 

And the trickiest?

 

Sometimes you actually decide to partner with a sometimes enemy because of mutual interest <and money of course>.

 

What business teaches you … well … what it should teach you is that there are no permanent allies, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies and, really, only permanent interests.

 

This shouldn’t be construed in any way as morally hollow or ethically challenged.

just keep trying flourish grow

It is a simple business truth that it is in the interest of a person and business to maximize behavior in a given situation. That means you give your best, you offer your best and be your best regardless of who is in the room or whomever you may be competing with.

 

I imagine the net translation on that thought is that through individual behavior the interests of a business are being best served and ultimately it is the interest of the business itself that is the only thing that truly remains constant.

 

The corollary?

 

Friends and enemies may keep changing depending on what suits the business interest best.

 

Sure.

 

There are potential costs … as well as potential benefits to rubbing elbows and being friendly, or at least conversationally cordial, to your competitors.

 

But that should not mean ignoring competition nor should it mean not maintaining some dialogue with them.

 

Some people will not agree with this.

 

What I have on my side is diplomatic history. The concept of ‘continuous dialogue’ originated in the 17th century with the French and Cardinal Richelieu.

It is a “belief in the utility of diplomatic representation and communication even between states that have reached a hostile relationship short of war.”

And you do so not to be friends, nor to seek to be allies, but to maintain the respect of two entities with different interests, but a similar interest to succeed, as a way to reduce the chances of war.

 

But let me point to what I believe is the truest of benefits.

 

People.

 

As long as your business is well defined, as long as your business has a strong culture, as long as your business fosters the attitude of ‘being the best’ without arrogance … I would suggest that nothing strengthens your people than interacting with the people of friends, enemies and those with different interests. Your people, through interaction with others who may be seeking things on their own self best interest, are the surest arbiters of what is right, wrong, true, false, lawful or ethically hollow.

 

And while I do not think this is solely an American trait it was Alexis de Tocqueville who said this about Americans in 1831:

 

[T]hey hold that public opinion is the surest arbiter of what is lawful or forbidden, true or false. … They hold that every man is born in possession of the right of self-government, and that no one has the right of constraining his fellow-creatures to be happy. They have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man; they are of opinion that the effects of the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous, and the consequences of ignorance fatal; they all consider society as a body in a state of improvement, humanity as a changing scene, in which nothing is, or ought to be, permanent.

 

 

ignorance is their powerIt is the people who are the surest arbiter of true & false … therefore if you ever want someone to truly believe in your business that you must mentally believe “the consequences of ignorance fatal.”

 

And embrace that an industry, which is often a society within itself, is a body in a state of improvement.

Keeping yourself, or your employees, cocooned within just who and what you are endangers the livelihood of the business itself in that you miss the opportunity for potential change and run the danger of ‘permanent’ <or stagnant>.

 

I personally find nothing wrong with positioning yourself as close to your competitors as you possibly can. The benefits outweigh the possible negatives.

 

On a separate note.

 

I tend to believe this idea works just as well in non-business life.

 

I have friends & acquaintances who clearly have different political points of view, different views on religion as well as significantly different views on a spectrum of different things. I watch news programs and listen to news programs which clearly do not appeal to my sense of what is true or right.

enlightened conflict think

It doesn’t harden my point of view but it certainly makes me more self-aware with regard to how others think and why they do the things they do.

 

And it certainly reminds me that no matter how much I may disagree with someone the majority of the time they have the same interests that I do – a better country and a better way of doing things.

 

I don’t think this makes me any better than others but it may make me a little more enlightened and aware.

And I have to believe that isn’t a bad thing.

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

====

 

 

“You have to live a life to understand it.

Tourists just pass through.”

 

 

Prince

====

 

 

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’.

Enlightened Conflict