Enlightened Conflict

How do you solve a problem when one half absolutely hates the other half?

February 10th, 2017

Polar Opposites conflict

 

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I want people to think about our politics here in America, because I’m telling you guys that I don’t know of a single nation in this history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.

This is the most important country in the world, and people in this body cannot function if people are offending one another.

Marco Rubio

 

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Well.

 

Polarization can create some pretty foul conduct.

 

Polarization can bring out the worst in people.

 

Polarization can create stillness within turmoil when movement within teamwork is needed <and desired>.

And.

 

Polarization within leadership is a virus that infects everyone in the organization … not just in leadership.

marco rubio speech on respectful conflict

I was reminded of this as I watched a completely underreported and under the radar speech Marco Rubio gave on the senate floor after <I believe> Elizabeth Warren had been asked to stop speaking.

Warren gained all the headlines where Rubio actually had the words we should have all been listening to. It is maybe 8 minutes long and worth every second.

 

 

Please note that I believe this message is more important than just one directed toward the Senate … it is a message which all Americans should take note of.

We are fortunate to have the privilege of freedom of speech & thought and we should embrace that freedom as one to permit healthy discussion, debate and disagreements … all of which should enable healthy, positive decisions.

 

Freedom is a tricky thing. In the United States of America we have the unique opportunity to “criticize a president without retribution.” <as past President Obama said to a group of military people at MacDill Air Force base>.

 

But our freedoms are being challenge by Trump and his attitudes & behaviors in ways we haven’t really seen in a very very long time.

 

The Trump Affect ripples way beyond simple executive orders and specific friends unfluencers ripples2actions that will have an impact on the people of the country. The more dangerous ripple effect is one of attitudes & behaviors.

Within this dangerous Trump affect ripple,  the freedom to freely criticize is a little less secure … and the way we criticize, debate & discuss in the Trump era appears to be one of not listening, not respecting and not believing that there could possibly be a way to do something differently than the way “I believe.”

 

Trump and his merry little band of morally corrupt liars suggest that there is no middle ground for “ladies & gentlemen to disagree with ladies & gentlemen” <note: this is a rip off of the Ritz Carlton motto>.

 

The Trump Affect has trickled down into his direct organization … the congress.

 

And within that ripple Republicans either embrace the bully opportunity or simply privately watch in horror as leadership decorum and leadership example <which, by the way, IS important as impressionable children and adult seeking cues on how to be leaders watch closely>.

And within that ripple Democrats screech & gnash their teeth in impotent frustration over not only having no power to shift the tides of change but also because, in their heart of hearts, they know this is not the way business should be conducted.

 

Balance has disappeared.

compromise balancing actWhile people can bitch & moan that decorum, in the past, has only encouraged stagnancy & lack of action they should not confuse with what business is conducted and how business is conducted.

Just as I am more accepting of my high school football coach if we have a losing season but the players play with respect & dignity and go to class and show signs of growing up with a healthy personal responsibility … I am less accepting of the coach who permits poor behavior & lack of respectful competition even if they win more.

You can have all the good in this case. But balance has been lost.

 

In fact.

 

We should face the fact that balance deserted us the day Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.

 

And that is why Rubio’s speech is so important. Without actually saying it he suggests that we shouldn’t let Trump drag us down into some dysfunctional squabbling amorphous blob of indignant jerks.

 

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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 like conflict and I think conflict is healthy.

creative spark light bulb

It is a basic Life truth that conflict is the positive friction that often creates innovations and new thinking and new ideas.

But, as with most things in life, there are degrees of conflict.

 

The kind of conflict we need now, more than ever, is the productive type.

 

We need to better embrace the valuable contradictions in life.

Things like:

 

Smart and funny.

Silent but says a lot.

Liberal conservative.

Cynical optimist.

 

Oh.

 

And enlightened and conflict of course.

 

We need to better embrace the fact that contradictions are powerful.

They create a chemistry ending in positive friction <when done right> and the fire for innovative thinking and thoughts.

 

In general I believe contradiction not only make life & people interesting but they also forge the kind of decisions that become the iron construct for a solid culture, civilization and country.

 

We need to embrace that conflict is part of life and not treat it as only a negative thing.

 

void embrace the unknownHumans are neither passive nor stagnant. We move. We do. We think.

 

Combine that fact with individuals are unique <although they may group together> and inevitably there is some conflict. It can simply be healthy competition or it can be staggeringly evil intended activity <i.e. there will be conflict because your point of view and thoughts shouldn’t exist and I am going to extinguish them>.

 

We need to embrace the fact that conflict can be “managed”.

Maybe call it competitive camaraderie. I call it enlightened conflict. I believe if people know more about stuff <I don’t really believe it needs a technical term> then conflict will be conducted with knowledge.

 

I would suggest that ignorance, and being close minded, guides conflict toward evil interactions … while knowledge guides conflict to responsible interactions.

 

Lastly.

 

We need to embrace that enlightened conflict is really some version of pluralism.

A pluralism in that it encourages, and embraces, freedom to learn and freedom to think different thoughts.

 

In the end I imagine what I really care about are people’s actions. They can remain mute as far as I am concerned as long as their actions respect others opinions and others lives and meets global responsibilities.

 

Look.

 

enlightened conflict ideasIt is silly to think that conflict doesn’t exist as part of our natural behavior <I apologize to all the “why can’t we all get along” groups>.

 

It is silly to think that friction between beliefs and causes is not the spark for something better.

 

It is silly to think conflict and friction is not good.

Good conflict leads to positive friction and ideation and evolution of ideas.

 

But it needs to be conducted with respect. Respectful disagreements & debate lead to two things:

 

  • Positive friction.

 

  • Enlightened conflict.

 

 

The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking.

The second is lack of ignorance plus conflict equals respectful competition.

 

We here in the United States have an incredible privilege … a freedom to say what we want and disagree and criticize whomever we want. We shouldn’t abuse that privilege by not understanding that it creates good conflict which enlightened conflict thinkenables ‘gooder’ ideas.

 

Marco Rubio did something in his speech which I endorse wholeheartedly … he tried to make an impact on his own little corner of the world … encouraging positive friction for enlightened conflict.

 

 

Marco Rubio had a stellar enlightened conflict moment … and more people should see it and listen.

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“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

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communication malpractice

October 24th, 2016

group-communication-skills-listen-hear-align-mess

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“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

 

James Humes

 

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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

 

George Bernard Shaw

 

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say out loud oopsWe have all said stupid things.

 

We have all said the wrong thing.

 

We have all said, despite having searched for the right words to say, a poor choice of words.

 

That said.

 

In the business world many of us have a responsibility to communicate by planning, preparing and managing the words we say.

 

No.

 

We still do not always get it right … but we still practice the best practices of effectively good communication.  Well. I imagine I could say … many of us use best communication practices and treat communication as a privilege and not something we are entitled to.

 

Outside of those who respect communication … a healthy dose of communication malpractice occurs day in and day out. Suffice it to say I see communication malpractice all the time and everywhere in almost every business scenario.

 

And I have a prime example for today.

 

As everyone knows … I have a variety of gripes with Trump but the one that most likely cuts me to the professional core the deepest is his communication malpractice <although his business philosophy of ‘winning is all that matters … not how you win” is fairly close>.

 

And while he is certainly not alone on this issue … he is clearly the poster child for communication malpractice.

 

I admit.

 

It is quite possible I penalize Trump more because of the position he is interviewing for but I tend to judge people like him, who have attained that success and that responsibility, more harshly & critically <just as I judge myself harshly with regard to effective communication>.

 

We should demand better things from certain people because of their roles & responsibilities.

 

Sorry.

That is a Life truth.

 

But let’s talk about communication malpractice.

 

If you can ignore some of Trump’s heinous ideas you could quiet easily be critical of his communication ‘split personality’ flow … and his narrative juggling … and his lack of logic construct … as well as the overall maddening needlessly complicated structure of his overall communication.

Overall he leaves more unanswered then answered and by the conclusion you will find you haven’t been able to even find your way back to where he started.

 

That is a broad overview of communication malpractice.

 

Look.

 

I have my own communication problems.

 

I lose sight of my pronouns.

Sometimes I lose sight of my pronouns … say an “I” when I mean a “we” … or a weeping angel“you” instead of an “us” … crap like that.

Anyone in the communication business knows that this kind of stuff can not only confuse the listeners <on occasion> but more often it can create an impression of ‘me’ being more important <or egoist> than the greater good.

 

It is a bad thing to do <even when not intended> and it creates more issues than it is worth.

 

 

I can interrupt.

Sometimes I interrupt someone <although in my head it is “interjecting a thought”>. Mine is most typically not to stop or course correct but rather to accelerate. Accelerate the thought being said and accelerate to a conclusion or accelerate to … well … you get the thought.

 

Still.

No excuse. It can be aggravating.

 

But.

 

I prepare.

 

intentional-beI map out thoughts.

 

I plan an overall narrative.

 

I pay attention to construct <box in thoughts and triangulate logic> within a narrative.

 

I think about individual words.

 

I am intentional.

 

Trump does not appear to do any of those things. Well. He may with regard to teleprompter speeches but in non teleprompter speeches and speaking moments he does not appear to do any of those things.

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands the serious consequences, the dangers, of taking a lax approach to communication.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands the practices of effectively managing the words that come from their lips.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands that words do matter and a solid rational approach is at the core of any good communication.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands that even if everyone wants change that actual change management is best led by a calm hand, some steady logic and more than some vague “eliminate bad” without suggesting what the actual “good” would be that replaces it.

 

This would suggest that Trump is not worth half a shit with regard to communication but is constantly full of shit as a common practicioner of communication malpractice.

 

But all those things are simply lazy aspects of communication malpractice.

 

lost brainIt is on my next point in which he belongs being sent to communication purgatory as the poster child for communication malpractice.

 

He wastes a good idea and thought.

Absolutely wastes them.

 

Hidden within his absolutely horrible speeches and debate monologues and interviews he actually offers a number of viable ideas & valid points … all scattered randomly within whatever he says.

 

Look.

 

He doesn’t even have to do a “3 take-aways” that the media & public could conclude <and share> — because if something is worth a shit people will inevitably talk about it – but for god’s sake could you stay on the issues you do want discussed?

 

Time & time again he fails even within the first 15 minutes to effectively communicate the important shit which makes anything worth a shit that comes afterwards almost irrelevant <and certainly not discussed>.

 

It makes me question whether he knows how to close a deal.

 

And here is maybe the craziest thing.

 

He commits communication malpractice whether he is prepared or unprepared.

Consistently he shows a lack of understanding for the complexity of the job and he certainly shows a lack of understanding with regard to communicating the complexity of what need to be done.

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

And to make my point I will even show some good communication practices highlighting how he could coalesce the random logical bits of his thinking into some semblance of a real thought.

 

Triangulating: so people can see the space within where they would benefit.

 

As I have noted before … imagine if he said: when asked about how to keep jobs in America, he said: I would lower business taxes to make it more lucrative to stay, I would reduce regulations to make it easier to stay and raise import taxes on those who do elect to leave to make it less appealing to leave.”

 

 

Boxing: so people can see the space in which they, and their idea of a country, would prosper.

 

Imagine if he said … in a globalized world it is imperative America embrace its greatness because the number one thing America exports is not just its products, services, ideas and ingenuity but rather the heart & soul of freedoms. Our country needs to secure its borders not just for security but to energize who and what we are.

Decrease illegal immigration and increase legal citizenry to maximize current American citizenry.

Decrease wealth at the top 1% and increase wealth in the middle class.really look say what

And within the borders we will not bring back jobs but instead create a new economy which will be the future state for the rest of the world.

Everyone wins, everyone has opportunities and everyone is part of what makes America great.

As it was, as it is and as it will be.

Our country needs to nurture the spark of what exists within our borders … the people, the opportunities, the infrastructure and the jobs in order to burn brightly as a beacon of what should be globally but also to light the way for opportunity globally. That is why we need to secure borders, have legal citizens, increased.

 

<note: he is too stupid to notice but if he did this the likelihood of terrorism decreases and security increases as prosperity stretches into a larger legal citizenry>

 

 

More from less: so people can see efficiency supporting effectiveness.

 

Imagine if he said … “have a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce that workforce through attrition, exempting jobs in the military, public safety and public health … and require that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated … and institute a five-year ban on White House and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service … and have a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government … and have a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.”

 

Oh. That last one.

He did say that.

But we missed it all because he committed communication malpractice with regard to focus.

 

Lastly.

 

The other communication malpractice he consistently exhibits which eliminates the necessary link between words & listeners.

 

This would be his ignorance with regard to the context of the communication.

 

Yeah.

 

Where you are matters in communication. Some people suggest this is pandering to the audience … I would suggest it is, at worst, “pandering to the moment” and at its communication best practice concept … it is “understanding context for your words.”

 

For example … if I were speaking at Gettysburg I would industriously avoid self-reference. The location and the context of what happened there demands nothing about “I” and instead demands reflection of “we-type sacrifices” for freedoms, for country … and for the costs of getting it ‘right’ as well as getting it ‘wrong.’

 

Would I be willing to center a communication around “restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington?”  Yes.

For Gettysburg is a dark example of what happens when Washington gets it wrong.

 

Would I be willing to discuss “rigged”? No.

Because that is a distorted view of what the Confederacy could have argued and I would rather focus on ‘together better’ than ‘house divided.’

 

That is communication best practice.

 

Anything other than that is communication malpractice.

 

Here is the thing <of which I assume is my larger point with regard to grow-your-box-inside-up-out-ideas-lifecommunication and why malpractice is expensive>.

 

 

He has splinters of valuable things to communicate and if he put them together he could build a fairly attractive house.

 

Communication is, and will always be, about conceiving a message, sending it, insuring it is received properly and confirming the messages have been received.

Any failure at any point in this logic flow equals ineffective communication.

 

In general I believe Trump does not respect words <I am not sure he respects anything other than … well … his image>.

 

Sigh.

 

And, yet, as I write about communication malpractice I find some solace in … well … words – literary words.

 

In a world, and an election, where everyone is shouting at the top of their lungs telling everyone what is wrong with the world and offering platitude hollow “there is no other right way to do this” solutions let me share some words of thought:

 

  1. Caution when hearing the solution prophets:

 

Do not fear ashes, do not fear curses,

Do not fear brimstone and fire.

But fear like the plague the man with the rage

To tell you, “I know what is required!”

Who tells you, “fall in and follow me

If heaven on earth’s your desire.”

 

<an unsourced Russian ballad>

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I know. I know.

 

We have all seen and heard thoughts like this and I believe we all know in our heart of hearts that we agree <although we may not discriminate as well as we could & should>. But I liked this because it had a slightly different twist.

 

The twist?

Do not fear passion. I liked it because … well … there are a bunch of smart people out there who know that something needs to be fixed or “tuned up” with regard to America <and they love America while knowing it>.

These people may not be able to offer specific solutions and they acknowledge so. Yet, with some brimstone, fire and curses they make people take note of the issues at hand. They practice the best of communication practices with good intentions.

And that is their role in the situation.

 

It is those who speak with the rage of solution certainty we should fear … or at least with jaded eye.

 

These types of speakers are appealing because in today’s world we seem to be seeking the infamous ‘plan to make America great again.’

Well … folks … I got news for you. We can certainly have a plan … and I can Frustrated redhead woman asking whereguarantee you that both parties have a plan <just as both are concerned with debt & unemployment & all the important issues just as equally> but everyone seems to lose sight that part of solutions is ‘adaptability.’

 

Great organizations, businesses, succeed because of a well articulated vision <which both Republicans and Democrats share – just not the tactics to attain the vision> and the ability to adapt to the situation as it occurs <because, trust me, if anyone believes solving any country’s issues is a straight line solution than they belong in a loony bin>.

 

I believe it is communication malpractice to unequivocally state “I know what is required.”

 

Communication best practices suggest you have to effectively communicate a plan that has the ability to adapt to the challenges they will inevitably face.

 

  1. Caution with the silence and inaction of the majority <masses>

 

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“The mouse dreams dreams that would terrify a cat.

 

Armenian proverb

 

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“Insurrection is a machine that makes no noise.”

 

Trotsky

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Metaphorically the bulk of a population, or employee base, are the mice. Sorry. I know that doesn’t sound good but you get the point. I hesitate to call it the 99% <because the 99% is not all the same> but suffice it to say the 1 to 5% who lead and guide, and misguide, are the cats.

 

And they pretty much all look the same because, well, they are cats.

 

Beyond that silly notion is a non silly thought. We mice dream of things the cats cannot envision … despite the fact I keep on hearing that they think they do.

 

These politicians, and many business leaders, often live in La-La land.

 

They have the best intentions and I do believe they have some specific solutions which will help us and the country.

 

But they have no frickin’ clue what keeps most of us awake at night every frickin’ night we go to sleep. They have no frickin’ idea what we are thinking as we slog our way through the day.

 

And they are absolutely clueless as to what we feel as we sit at the dinner table opening up our pay stub on one side and all the bills we have to pay on the left side.

 

They say it … and I think they believe it … but … they have:

 

No.

 

Frickin’.

 

Clue.

 

 

And that leads me to the second quote from Trotsky.

 

As the leaders tell everyone what they are dreaming and stand there talking and talking … and well … talking … the possibility of insurrection is occurring with little or no noise … uhm … okay … it is <I actually wrote the ‘little or no noise’ back in 2012 … one of the few futurist thoughts I kind of got right>.

 

The point is that insurrection tends to gain momentum without warning.

 

Now.

 

I am not using insurrection as Trotsky actually did, and was involved in, but the point is the point.

 

When people <the mice> get fed up <or fired up>. When they stop being angry strategy thinker plansatisfied with simply dreaming dreams <which would terrify the cats> they do something.

And that is called ‘insurrection.’

 

All that scary stuff said … I typed all of that because while I do think it matters who wins the US election … what really matters to our newest president is that the mice are pissed at the cats.

 

And we need someone who doesn’t commit communication malpractice because when mice are pissed logic & words truly matter.

 

Partisan politics doesn’t need to cease but there has to be a compromise. Or, in the end, there will truly be some type of insurrection. Because, in the end, that is what democracy is about … people <the mice> … and what they want.

While elections bring out the best, and worst, of the everyday people’s opinions in the end all they really want is something to be done.

Ok.

Things done that are well crafted and not compromised into ineffectiveness through partisan politicking.

 

Insurrection is a quiet machine. And it demands leaders who choose their words wisely and respectfully and logically … and … uhm … honestly.

 

I do not care if we are talking about a country or a business … communication malpractice is a blatant unacceptable irresponsible act at any time … and a grievous act in times of angst and need.

 

People will argue with me on this last point <and they have> but where communication malpractice rears is ugliest head is in vision.

 

I can choose fear or I can choose hope. Simplistically those are the two paths a leader navigates in communication. And, yes, these are the two choices … not hope versus pragmatism.

 

Hope wins out over pragmatism because the reality, which a certain % of the American population will realize, is that whatever “plan” is presented will be torn up and have to adapt to a changing environment anyway.

 

A leader always recognizes that more needs to be done but they also do not diminish the fact that things have been done.

 

I like hope and I always believe it should be linked to the building blocks that help us attain the hope.

 

disprate-points-facts-grow-build-communicationAw.

Let me correct that. I love hope <and the building blocks>.

 

And I think any leader who discards hope as part of their communication is performing an aspect of communication malpractice.

 

I want a president, or a leader, to communicate to us the light at the end of the tunnel for god’s sake.

 

Anyway.

 

I used Trump to discuss communication malpractice because he is an expert practioner of malpractice. And while, on occasion, I worry a little that his malpractice has larger repercussions for the country and while I believe he implements communication malpractice on a daily basis and while I believe he is oblivious to the larger unintended consequences of his irresponsible communication behavior I do believe in one very important thing.

 

Free speech.

 

 

 

Amendment I.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

 

 

He lives within the same constitution you and I do.

 

Therefore, if this asshat wants to speak whatever venom toward our democracy during the election as well as after the election … well … he has that right.

 

And, you know what? … he should speak loud and long.

 

Because the 1st amendment is part of a larger document <some call it the Constitution> which suggests that the whole is stronger than the parts and that empowering the parts inevitably makes the whole stronger.

 

And maybe that is my larger point.

 

Great organizations outlast individuals who perform communication malpractice.

Sure.

It can create angst and it can create conflict and it can create friction … all of which inevitably creates the spark from which the greater good, the whole of an organization, rises up to become a beacon for something better.

 

Do I believe Trump is creating damage? Yes.

 

Do I believe it is mortal damage? No.

 

America is bigger than one person. And the constitution provides clear boundaries for what we shall accept <even if we don’t like it> and what we shall do moving forward.

 

In the end.

 

It is communication malpractice to not acknowledge effort, and doing, and think before you speak listdreaming and what we can do together.

 

It is communication malpractice to not offer logic.

 

It is communication malpractice to not offer ideas in a cogent fashion.

 

And it is absolute communication malpractice to waste good ideas in poor communication.

 

Trump has taught us a lot in this election. Some good and some bad.

 

Ok.

Lots bad.

 

But he has reminded us of a lot of things … in this case … communication malpractice. Communication takes work. You have to be diligent with regard to the words you use and how you protect, and project, your ideas.

 

first impressions, first words and character assessment

July 31st, 2016

pooh paws truth seek

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“Pooh looked at his two paws.

He knew that one of them was right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was right, then the other one was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.”

 

House at Pooh Corner

 

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So.

 

I opened with this Pooh quote to talk about first words.

first impression trust last

Not first impressions but first words.

 

Sure.

They can be directly related but I firmly believe first impressions are significantly less important than last impressions. What I mean is that 99% of the time I can redirect a first impression more toward the desired last impression.

 

First words are trickier.

 

And, as with most things in Life, not all first words are created equal.

 

There are first words which are just not articulated well. These you can recover from. These are the ones that we all think about afterwards and say “shit, I wish I had said ‘this’ rather than what I said.”

 

And you know what? you can.

 

Ah.

 

But then there are the first words which everyone knows are your true feelings. The ones which put an indelible stamp upon your character. These are … well … almost impossible to recover from.

And, truthfully, you cannot recover from something which is a true reflection of who and what you are. You can stumble, mumble or offer a variety of jumbled words but you is what you is and your first words reflect who you is.

 

And that is why I thought of Pooh on this topic.

 

You receive a question.

You think.

 

And the other person, or people, can actually see you think.

 

 You know that there is a right answer and a … well … left answer. You look at both paws and just aren’t sure which is which.

 

Therefore, you answer from your truest self.

 

It is a character answer.  fixing america define yourself how

 

Simplistically , when I view another person’s first words when trapped in a ‘which paw is which” situation I attempt to bucket it into one of two buckets. Are the words a reflection from an “I” perspective <which tend to defend the “I”> or are the words a reflection from a more global view <which tend to defend what other’s may think>.

 

Why?

 

Because, to me, great character is most often driven by an ability, or desire, to view the world in someone else’s shoes. This doesn’t mean character shouldn’t be a reflection of self and what is important from your own ethical & moral compass but rather it means you are always challenging your sense of self against what matters to other people.

 

I will admit.

 

I am sure a part of me wrote about this today because of another Trump ‘first words’ response which made me not only think he was hollow empathetically but also incredibly incapable of viewing the world through anyone’s eyes, and Life criteria filter, other than his own.

 

His response to Mr. Khan’s emotional but articulate stance on the patriotism of Muslim Americans was so unenlightened, portrayed an absurd lack of empathy let alone showing a depth of obliviousness to the real issue at hand and so defensive … well … suffice it to say that first words matter.

 

I imagine he will send out a variety of tweets trying to explain how his first words were misconstrued.

and, to be clear, lest we get confused here on the issues for Trump’s comments about the Khan’s:

 

  • he assumed a Muslim American <American> woman couldn’t speak because of Islam faith. This is either blatant racism or idiotic ignorance. Pick your poison.

 

  • he made “thousands of jobs” equivalent to “losing a child” <let alone an American soldier in combat child>. In his mind somehow this sacrifice is equivalent. Drink that poison.

 

 

Yeah. First words are first words. And first words matter.

 

First words are a true reflection of character maybe 99% of the time.

 

Look.

 

We have all been asked a question and sat there looking at each paw wondering where to begin.

 

99% of the time … even if we do not get the words exactly right … the words will be in some form or fashion a reflection of how we truly feel.

 

99% of the time … even if we do not get the words exactly right … the words will be in some form or fashion a reflection of our character.

 

paw pooh truth selfI do not sit here today writing to suggest anyone should be more careful with regard to what they say first. I do not because I believe most of us are pretty careful with our first words.

 

I will, however, suggest that everyone should pay attention and think about the first words that they hear. Not to say that someone cannot revise something said at first but rather because … well … not all first words are created equal.

 

And the first words said by someone who cannot remember which paw is right and which is left and isn’t sure where to begin?

Well. Most likely those first words will be a reflection of who and what they truly are.

 

 

the ethics of addressing ‘what you deserve’ promises

June 22nd, 2016

 

what you get what you deserve

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“… it’s time for me to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s time for you to be 100% honest with yourself.

You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals.

I’m looking at your profile and you’re not even close to where you need to be, much less where you want to be.

It’s time you fix your broken plan, bring in Mr. Trump’s top instructors and certified millionaire mentors and allow us to put you and keep you on the right track. Your plan is BROKEN and WE WILL help you fix it.

Remember you have to be 100% honest with yourself!”

 

———–

 

Trump University Playbook

 

=====

 

“It is never hopeless.

But sometimes I cannot hope. I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot. “

 

 

Ernest Hemingway

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

 

 

“Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? … Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts?

Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.”

 

———-

 

Trump University Playbook

=======

 

 

I deserveOk.

 

Let’s address the elephant in the room … we all, all of us, believe we deserve some things.

 

Yeah.

 

Deserve.

 

Opportunity in Life. Keep what we have. Earnings for work … and more earnings if we believe we are producing ‘harder work.’ Happiness.

 

All of those things … plus … whatever you may want to add.

 

I state that as a Life truth so I can talk about the responsibility of a ‘promiser of things’ to us. Because if what i have outlined in the ‘deserve column’ is a Life truth, an accepted attitudinal thread in society, then someone seeking to tap into that thread bears a responsibility.

 

So let me talk about this responsibility.

 

 

An empty promise may be the worst promise someone can ever offer you.

I turn your back true-falsesometimes call it “false hope.”

 

And let me be clear … lots of people, myself included, find any promise of hope so attractive that it is incredibly easy to not look behind the promise to see if it is full or empty.

 

Inevitably the people who accept this empty promise are the ones most likely to feel a need. And when I say “feel” it can very easily edge into the personal “what I deserve” mental space.

 

This is also a very common space for a lot of people … we see the promise and look around us and … well … say things like:

 

“I am smart enough.”

 

“I am capable of this.”

 

And.

 

“I deserve this” … well … as much as anyone else … particular the ones I am looking at who have it.

 

In the marketing and behavior world this is called “managing the need perception.” Conceptually … the higher someone drives up someone’s “I need” attitudes … the more likely they are see ‘something’ instead of ‘empty’ in the promise.

 

At its core … this is not about risk in choices <the downside to my choice>. T

his is more about embracing hope <the upside of my choice>.

 

And that is where ethics and morality come into play for the ‘promiser.’

 

I feel qualified discussing this because the majority of my business career has been all about ‘offering promises and hope for something.’

 

You learn very very quickly that as a promiser you can sometimes become blinded to the potential emptiness aspects of what you will offer and there is a natural allure to focusing solely on potential of the ‘better or best’ aspects of what you will offer.

 

I imagine the decision on what to do with your promise is a combination of integrity and true business. Because, yeah, I want people to buy my shit … to see the promise that resides within what I have to offer. And, yet, experience shows you thru customer feedback and the retail clerks dealing with past buyers and online forums that not everyone you sold your promise to actually had their hopes met.

 

Those weigh on you.

 

 

Well.

 

They weigh on you … if you have any ethical compass.

 

The ones who have no, or little, compass are the ones who adamantly state one of two things :thoughts are dangerous

 

  • Some people are not happy with anything <”they are being unrealistic”> – i.e., “ignore the bitching”

 

 

  • Look at how many people are not saying anything bad – i.e., “the sales justifies my behavior

 

 

Look.

 

I am not suggesting this is as easy as I just pointed out.

 

As someone who has sat in boardrooms and looked at increasing sales and complaints and reviews … it is incredibly easy to justify your own beliefs in your own products, services or company.

 

It is inherent in your business acumen if you are even worth a half a shit … because part of what most likely makes you successful in business is belief in yourself, your business and your idea.

 

That said.

 

The best of the best business people constantly weigh how they manage what people think and what they are going to be asking someone to do when they make their personal commitment to your business, product & idea.

 

The majority of us business schmucks wander somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong <in the balance> but inevitably our pendulum swings mostly in the middle of fairness, honesty and ethical.

 

The worst of the worst, the snake oil salespeople, never weigh what they are asking people to do and solely focus on ‘promise fulfilled’ … and damn the ones who didn’t, or couldn’t, attain the promise of what could be.

 

I admired the first group. They had figured out how to be steadfastly ethical and successful in business. Kind of the no compromise, in a good way, candidate.

 

I struggled to deal with the last group. They believed a sale was a sale, any profit was good and the burden of responsibility resided solely on the buyer.

 

All that said.

 

Trump is a snake oil salesman.

Just as a reminder, during the depression when times were hard people bought snake oil as a hopeful salve for whatever was troubling them.

 

They were con men dedicated to an unethical targeting of a slightly naïve, hard working, mostly struggling but good hearted people who desired some easy salve for some of their ills.

 

And, yeah, someone could argue “buyer beware.” But that is at its core … well … bullshit.

Sellers actually have, and should have, more responsibility than the buyer.

 

A seller, more often than not, knows what someone can afford and what they cannot afford … as well as whether their hopes are even in the realm of possibility.

 

This means … if as a promiser you see that they have little or no chance and that a bad decision on the buyer’s part would have a high likelihood of not only not delivering upon their hopes but actually could tangibly negatively affect their lives … the promiser has a responsibility, no, an obligation to do what is right.

 

Using Trump as the example I could suggest he is only really guilty of unethical opportunism.

 

However … I would actually suggest he is guilty of 2 things:

 

<1> assuming his life objective should be the life objective of everyone <winning is all that matters>, and

 

<2> moral relativism – which he disguises within what he calls ‘not political correctness.’

 

But opportunism, at its soul, is directly related to what we people believe we deserve.

 

We people inherently build blocks on which we stand of things we believe we deserve.

 

The basics … food, health, education, place to live.

 

But it gets a little trickier once we actually get, and have, something.

We believe we deserve what we work for … and once we attain something that ‘level’ is the new normal for ‘I deserve.’

 

That is something psychologists call “hedonistic adaptation.”

 

And this happens at all income levels because anyone at any level can feel stretched or challenged economically <while still actually being rich beyond deserve want fair more than that lifebelief in terms of what is available to all of us 24 hours a day>.  All people are seemingly continuously seduced by the urge to acquire … and acquire more … and indulge <when the opportunity arises>. All people attach the thought of ‘deserve’ once they have acquired some level, some things or some status. You earned it <in your mind> therefore it is yours.

 

I don’t have anything against it. And I certainly understand the psychology of ‘once you have something not only do you not want to not have it anymore … but you want more’ <or the next step up>.

 

Money leads to lifestyle upgrades. But, once again, that is fraught with conflict. Once you achieve the income you desired … well … you go back to desiring more. And imagine if you become stagnant? Yikes. Our natural ‘adaptation’ anger kicks in.

 

But this also means that people inherently overreach … because we try and reach out for ‘more than what I have.’

 

We inherently believe we are smart enough and capable enough to be better than what we are today.

Uhm.

 

If only we had the opportunity.

 

This belief, oddly enough, is exacerbated by failure <sometimes>. The more we fail when attempting to reach something we believe we inherently deserve … well … we will overreach even more to compensate for the time we didn’t have what we deserved <psychology research shows this>.

 

And this is where the true slippery slope of unethical opportunism rears its ugliest head.

 

What this means is that unethical opportunism is most often driven by digging into what we believe we maybe not deserve … but what we would naturally attain if given the opportunity <this is a sly version of ‘deserve’>.

 

Most of us simply feel we deserve a chance. Deserve a chance for something better. The ‘degrees’ of what someone feels they will deserve will vary by person.

And suffice it to say there will always be a group of people who believe they deserve significantly more than what they have and because of it will roll the dice <although they will not see it as much of a gamble as someone else>

But the bottom line is that 99% of us feel we deserve something better.

 

everybody needs what i am selling deserve lifeThe Trump ‘promise’ sounds big and luxurious and exclusive … but it fails the majority and rewards the minority.

 

Frankly.

In a country in which maybe our most impending problem is massive inequality between the haves and the have nots … well … that kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster.

 

At minimum … it is guaranteeing false promises to the majority.

 

And Trump gets a little worse in this scenario than the typical ‘empty promise’ seller. A president cannot simply promise people wealth, opportunity for growth if they invest in him, cash their check as they cash in on the ‘promise’ and then ignore their ultimate result <success or failure> while moving on to the next scheme or promise.

 

Well. He could. Shit. He has <in business>.

 

But that is not what presidents or good leaders do.

 

And it certainly is not what America deserves.

 

In the end.

 

When you feel like you are getting screwed or that the system is rigged in some way against you … your sense of ‘I deserve more & better’ is heightened.

 

We all do it.

It is difficult to fight that feeling.

 

And, you know what? Sometimes we will not be successful fighting the “I deserve” monsters in our heads.

And maybe that is my biggest point.

 

A good leader knows we will not be successful fighting them off all the time and will not take advantage of our weakness.

 

Trump, all his career, has fed off the carcasses of weakness. I don’t mean weak people … just the natural weak moments in human nature.

 

He is a taker.

 

The world will always have takers and the world will always fall for takers. That doesn’t make being a taker good.

 

Nor does being a taker mean you would be a good leader.

 

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

 

“I believe the world is divided in three groups: givers, takers and the few that can balance both impulses. If you are a giver, it is wise to define your boundaries because takers will take what you allow them to; all givers must learn to protect that about themselves or eventually, there is nothing left to give.”

 

 

Tiffany Madison

=========

 

 

Look.

 

Here is the biggest problem with trying to sell empty promises.compromise give away

 

It builds cynicism and erodes hope.

While I could certainly highlight ‘lost lives’ I will instead highlight ‘killing hope.’

 

That is the biggest price we pay for buying empty promises.

 

And, I have to tell you, that is why I hate, abhor and despise people who purposefully, and knowingly, sell empty promises and false hope.

 

We all deserve opportunities. And we all deserve receiving something as a result of hard work.

 

We do not deserve empty promises.  And we certainly do not deserve someone who suggests a future in which the majority will most likely sit back in their worn chairs and think … ‘sometimes I cannot hope. I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot.’

finding a better version of capitalism

May 28th, 2016

 capitalism conspiracy elite

 

======

“The combination of technology and capitalism has given us a world that really feels out of control.”

 

Jonathon Franzen

 

=====

 

 “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.”

 

—–

Martin Luther King 1967

 

====

 

Why am I writing my umpteenth article on capitalism?

 

capitalism kills loveI saw a number from some USA research the other day … something like 50% of people under the age of 30 do not believe in capitalism.

 

Ok.

 

Capitalism is good.

 

Capitalism is not bad.

 

Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

But that does not mean there isn’t always a tension between good and bad in the soul of capitalism. It is an incredible wealth-creating & life bettering mechanism and, yet, left to its own devices can run off the tracks <morally and financially>.

 

Capitalism needs guard rails. Or some smart guy called it “embedded countervailing power.” It needs guard rails because humans will be humans.

 

When business is good, human beings become greedy.

When business is bad, human beings become fearful.

 

And I would like to remind everyone that culture is created by … uhm … human beings.

I say that not to be a smart ass but to suggest there is a real culture war in America, maybe the world, and it is occurring in the business world.

 

I purposefully use ‘culture’ because it has to do with some ethics or moral fortitude, some personal responsibility and some pragmatic hope for the future.

In fact … if we fix how capitalism works <systemic & infrastructure aspects> the net result is addressing income inequality, wage stagnation and overall economic prosperity as well as some individual “self-stuff” <kind of all the big societal issues we tend to discuss>.

 

Anyway.

 

A moment on the role of government.

trust the government society young

It is both a fallacy to believe Government is not the problem nor believe they are the solution.

We have a mixed economy < I stole that term from Foreign Policy magazine>.

 

Capitalism is not a governance system which is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. Effective government curbs greed obejectives & regulates capitalism so that it does the good things it is supposed to do <innovate & bring prosperity to many> and it doesn’t do the bad things <be driven solely by greed>.

 

Let’s be clear.

 

America is not based on an unfettered capitalism nor has it ever been <nor was it ever meant to be by the founding fathers>.

 

It is a managed capitalism system <always has been … I say that to head off any of the ‘government is too involved’ today talking heads>.

 

Government attempts … sometimes better than other times … to put reins on humans within a capitalistic society.  Let’s say it’s something like giving enough range for wild horses to run free … but not to trample the gardens and lawns of the surrounding areas.

 

This ‘fettered’ managed capitalism idea is not perfect. It ebbs and flows and morphs into different shapes as time passes.

But it IS an effective economic and political system.

 

I would suggest that while polarizing … capitalism is balanced … when balanced.

But a better version of capitalism really is not dependent upon governance and laws <and putting banks out of business> but rather personal decisions, choices & responsibility.  Yes. I just suggested <again> that people, not the system, will define the better version of capitalism.

 

Adam Smith suggested the three pillars of a society are: prudence, looking after oneself as best as one is able; justice, keeping the law of the land; and reflection people imperefcetbeneficence, caring for others and society where there is need.

 

Clearly our main issue is not how to survive on true scarcity <that is not a perceived scarcity or a “less than” scarcity> but rather how to live well with plenty.

 

To date we have chased double digit growth and higher GDP all the while seeking higher material happiness <sometimes confused with higher standard of living>.

 

We have become societally insatiable.

 

In other words … we cannot have enough.

 

This funny Maslow chart reflects that as additional personal needs are fulfilled it induces new needs <which we, as humans, constantly improve ourselves in order to further attain these ‘self actualization’ activities>.  Think about this from a non-funny sustenance perspective in growing from poverty to non poverty <but the dimension perspective will always reside in the human mind>.

money puzzle-maslow

 

Yes. Capitalism has certainly vastly improved our lives and our means to live.

 

But it has also fed this insatiability.

 

Some guy named Sandel wrote in “what money can’t buy … the moral limits of markets:”

 

  • the more things money can buy the more the lack of it hurts.

 

  • buying and selling can change the way a good is perceived (he used “giving children money as incentive to read a book may make reading a chore rather than a simple pleasure”).

 

This all leads to an overall attitude that endless <and double digit> growth is essential to maintain and improve our quality of life. While I will not go into the detailed debate … that is simply not true <this is a standard efficiency versus effectiveness argument>.

 

Now. All that said.

 

The issue is really about the attitudes & attributes we are attaching to capitalism.

 

As I share some thoughts to try and address the young’s lack of belief in capitalism I will lead with two things:

 

  • Communism promises to make everyone equally rich and instead makes everyone equally poor.

 

  • Youth thinks it invents the world. Maturity respects the world it finds.

 

Suffice it to say that Capitalism is becoming some evil entity in the minds of many young people. In addition, aspects of other ideologies <communism being one> are being used relatively flippantly as ‘better than’ what is occurring within capitalism.

I actually believe it is a lack of understanding … but it is also quite possible there is a deeper lack of faith with capitalism.

 

If you step back you can see why the young <and the shallow thinkers> feel this way.

 

  • Real unemployment is nearly in double digits. Most Americans think the economy will recover next year, but only 2% think it will make a complete recovery.

 

  • On average, according to Gallup, Americans believe that 50 cents of every dollar the federal government spends is wasted. Democrats, who are supposed to believe in big government, guess that 41 cents of every federal dollar is wasted. Republicans think it is 54 cents, and independents put the number at 55 cents in the dollar.

 

  • A poll found that most Americans would rather their government did less. Some 57% said it was doing too many things that were better left to individuals and businesses. Only 38% thought it should do more.

 

And many people have genuine complaints. Many working-class men have lost their jobs. Those who are still employed have seen their wages stagnate. And overall they don’t trust government not to make it worse.

 

This is a sad state of affairs <for government who CAN make shit happen> because regulations can positively address stagnation & inequality without intervening in entrepreneurial decisions or in the price/profit mechanism.

 

The harsh black & white truth no one wants to say is that regulation is what makes free markets … well … free <free markets cannot sustain themselves>.

 

Anyway.

moral crossraodsI have been thinking about capitalism for a while nudging my mind toward discussing morals and character <society & culture>.

 

I found it interesting to think about Schumpeter when addressing the youth capitalism challenge.

 

  • what Joseph Schumpeter called ‘the cultural contradictions’ of Capitalism

 

One of the cultural contradictions <I believe he outlined 5> was … Rationality.

In that Capitalism encourages rationality in behavior. And that culture creates, and demands, a natural conflict by insisting on some ‘irrational’ behavior.

 

Rationality comes to life as the “maximization” of particular interests of individuals and groups.

This same rationalization then bleeds into both personal lives <family & home> and ultimately becomes embodied in some form or fashion into cultural forms.

 

Children become quasi economic assets <or their rearing incorporates rational ‘maximization’ theory embedded in capitalism>.

 

At its extreme … maximization bleeds into soulless wealth and extreme consumption thereby substituting saving and societal salvation.

 

Oddly, but fairly, he suggests consumption wins against accumulation. This leads to a certain diminishing of the desirability of incomes above a certain level.

 

At the same time, however, when the breaks of certain values associated with ethical or religious tradition fail <called the sophrosyne: Greek philosophical term meaning healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. Roman poet Juvenal later interpreted sophrosyne as “mens sana in corpore sano” – “a healthy mind in a healthy body”> individuals and groups come into natural conflict with capitalism. The basic human instinct is one of core values <in some degree within everyone> and therefore the natural contradiction forces some balance within capitalism.

 

This means that the irrational components of behavior are critical for capitalism to emerge and withstand rational arguments … especially when based on long term considerations.

 

But.

That said.

 

===

 

“This is the genius and the Achilles’ heel of American culture. We … have a strong belief in self-determination and agency, even when our expectations fly in the face of reality,”

 

Katherine Newman, who studies social mobility

 

====

 

Capitalism in America is not functioning efficiently for a variety of reasons … but that doesn’t make it bad.confuxed

 

The issue of Confused capitalism … or being confused by capitalism.

 

No matter how altruistic and non-materialistic you may be … the issue is simple … as we sit perched on a stool at the bar of society where we can scan the room and see the danger of those who have nothing or little … as well as those who have the most <and lots of most>.

 

If the majority of us begin to look like we are either nearing the dangerously ‘nothing people’ or, contrarily, appear to be too distant from those who ‘have the most’ <no matter what your exact status is> we get nervous … if not angry.

 

Materialism, culturally, is therefore naturally cyclical in that it will always seek to balance itself. For we always ‘want’ … but most of us want it to be within the realm of ‘hopeful that we can get more’ … without appearing too greedy. Hence that is fairness.

Give me a chance for something more than I have … and give me more and I won’t be too greedy.

 

While everyone can debate the role of money with regard to people’s happiness … it is true that economic health does make people happier <more secure, more comfortable, more sustenance>.

This actually means that free-market capitalism is not devoted to integrity and a reliance on trust but rather economic growth.

 

And this suggests the people need to be regulated.

 

Why do we balk at regulation?

 

The US has always been a wide-open, free-wheeling country, with a high tolerance for big winners and big losers as the price of equal opportunity in a dynamic society. If the US brand of capitalism has rougher edges than that of other democracies most people inherently believe it is worth the trade-off for growth and mobility.

Buut while we like the free wheeling we also recognize that we are going through some type of crisis. It just becomes a discussion on what type of crisis.

 

Some think it is a crisis of capitalism. <I don’t>

 

Others think the crisis is moral. <I do>

 

====

 

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

 

 

Bertrand Russell

====

 

First there is attitude. What is maybe a disregard for societal fairness versus what could be construed as individual ‘winning’ or ‘what I deserve.’

 

A lot has been written about the effects of globalization during the past generation. Much less has been said about the change in social norms that globalization enabled. Many people, particularly people in power positions, took the vast transformation of the economy as an excuse to rewrite the rules that used to govern their behavior.

 

I say that because while there will always be isolated small groups of lawbreakers in high places what truly destroys morale is a systemic corner-cutting, rule-bending, self interest behavior type of construct.

 

I have thought about how and why this happens.

 

It starts early.

As young children we start off with a healthy core of greatness, but before long it gets covered in layers of doubt, fear and guilt. Often this is caused by people we trust most like parents, teachers and managers who put us down in subtle and less subtle ways. It’s as though people were flicking bits of mud at us until our core of greatness is totally covered. Even worse, we flick mud at ourselves by accepting smaller versions of ourselves through negative self-talk and poor thinking; and we become a tiny fraction of the potential that once existed.

 

Once potential is curbed we seek to find success in other ways … sometimes circumventing “what is right” to make small excusable steps in our behavior to attain ‘small personal successes.”

 

repair faults consumerism

Second is our propensity to consume <and its self perpetuation>.

Our propensity to consume without thought for the planet, the poor or even the person next door is a sign that greed and fear are the motives of the moment.

 

Freedom certainly creates problems (inequalities most notably), but it also solves them.

But the central aspect of freedom advanced by these thinkers was the market, or what Adam Smith had described as the propensity to truck, barter and exchange. In this area, freedom allowed dispersed individuals—disposing of their own resources and choosing for themselves what they want to buy—to generate a level of prosperity that has had no precedent in human history. And the pricing system that emerges from the market—that is, from the push and pull of supply and demand—provides the indispensable knowledge needed to guide the economy.

 

So. All that said.

 

I would tell young people that Capitalism is not the issue.

It is the people within the system <and young people can fix that by entering the system>. The system can work just fine … it is simply being abused at the moment.

 

Capitalism needs to be managed to be more oriented to the long term and socially more responsible.

 

Interestingly … Richard Branson has formed an initiative to do just this … but I found it interesting that initially he sought to have a board of Business Elders … but  there were too few candidates from the business world of sufficiently unimpeachable character to staff it <insert ‘oh my’ here>.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 1>.

 

Since World War II in particular, America has been on a consumption surge/binge. While wages have certainly stagnated family disposable income has grown, life standards have improved, health has improved and overall quality of life has improved <and showed a continuous growth>. Unfortunately, at the same time, while families busily lived their lives they also had access to the finest inventory of toys capitalism could provide. Each generation was doing better than the one before, life was good and standard of living acquired a layer of ‘non essentials’ as part of how the people lived a successful & happy life.

At the same time.

Televisions starting bringing news, influential people talking and capitalism toys into the family living room. Television allowed busy families the opportunity to be exposed to complex issues through professionally crafted sound bites and talking points. People were now becoming more informed from a larger perspective, not just local perspective, and we ushered in the inevitable “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect.

What we face is the natural rising tide of ‘better than before’ facing the ebb and flow of time. The waters being drawn backwards is not appreciated by those standing in a spot washing their feet in the surf. Is it greed for most people? No. it is simply a desire for the status quo – “better is a right not a privilege.” Therein lies the social & cultural task at hand.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 2>.

 

Doing something.Accountability where you stand

 

Me?

 

I write and post on my blog. And speak about it wherever and whenever I can <especially to young people>.

 

It is easy to talk about it because it seems like if we take a moment and reflect on the problems in the world today we might easily come to the conclusion that it is mainly due to deterioration of our morality compass.

It seems like everywhere we see people filled with greed and intent on self-gratification.

It seems like people are always willing to compromise on values/morality to make personal gains.

 

If we start talking about values and create some sort of awakening in the minds of people.

 

Will everyone do it? of course not.

But someone has to go first.

 

Someone has to become the catalyst for change.

 

Why not the youth? We should encourage them to enter the system and build what they desire from the inside out rather than simply breaking the system as unfixable.

quest for a center

December 10th, 2015

eccentric person

=====

“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts.

We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center.

So we lost our center and have to find it again.”

Anaïs Nin

====

 

 

So.

 
I used to think society’s, or civilization’s, journey could be followed left to right … maybe not on a horizontal line and more like a roller coaster … but definitely like a timeline of sorts.

 

 

But I think I was wrong.

atom electrons

 

I actually think the better mapping of society & civilization is viewed like an atom.

 

Different cultures zooming around like electrons circling the nucleus.

 

 

Now.

 

 

Because all these electrons zooming around … because culture, and civilization, is made up of billions of ‘ones’ it may often seem like we lose our ‘center.’

 

We really don’t.

 

Honest.

 

We don’t.

 

 

The center is always there. It is solid. It remains, and will always remain, the compass for that which is right.

 

The nucleus holds it all together.

 

 

However.

 

What circles the center … the billions of ones with different demands and different needs and different likes and dislikes … all the billions of ones which desire different accouterments for happiness depending on their own definition of happiness. noise silence

 

And exactly the same time there are media channels and advertising and movies and magazines all screaming at the top of their lungs trying to distract us from our center with slivers of … well … distractions.

 

Distractions that make us question our center … or maybe what we think is important <which can be very different from our center>.

 

Let’s face it.

The shit that circles our centers can be a noisy sonuvabitch. So noisy that … well … it can be the only thing you hear.

 

And therein lies my point.

 

 

I disagree with Anais.

 

 

Why?

 

 

Because the ‘ones’ … the billions of electrons themselves never lose their center.

 

Because we, the ones … the individuals, don’t lose our center and have to refind it.

 

We just cannot hear it on occasion.

 

Or maybe we just don’t listen to it hard enough.

 

Or … well … maybe it whispers to make it more meaningful for us.

 

I don’t really think it matters.

 

 

We don’t lose our center.

 

The center is always there … it is within us … as individuals and as a whole. It is the 7 billion <give or take given the few raging assholes in the world whose center is in their ass> and it is within the ones … and it is all the same center.

 

 

Call it the moral compass.

 

Call it the good that resides within everyone.

 

Call it ‘knowing what is right & what I wrong.’

 

Call it the soul of humanity.do souls need to be hugh

 

 

But ever suggesting we lose our center?

 

C’mon.

We never LOSE it.

 

We may just not be able to hear it over the cacophony of Life.

 

But we never lose it.

people progress and timeless things

November 6th, 2015

 

===life present future

Standing in this ancient cave I wonder about the people who created the beautiful carvings and markings.

I find this thought extraordinary, that people who lived under these circumstances, in a cave where for but a few hours a day if the opening were situated just so, there would be enough light shining into the cave … otherwise only gloom … created things we marvel at even today.

Like everyone else, I suppose, I thought of cave dwellers as primitive creatures of subnormal intelligence.

But they couldn’t have been.

They must have been able to see beyond the walls of the cave, in their minds at least.

The people who lived in these caves who created the beautiful things we see had brains the same size as ours.

They must surely have loved and cared for their children, and found some way of working together, or we would not have survived as a species.

And if that was true, maybe I would have to rethink my idea of progress, that Darwinian idea, or at least everyone’s interpretation of it, that we were becoming increasingly advanced and civilized.

What, after all, made us more advanced?

Was it technology?

Perhaps we should be judged not just by the fact we had it, but by the purposes to which it was put. Were we increasingly more generous toward our fellow man? I hardly think so.

Were we any less superstitious than the people who lived in this cave? Not if daily horoscopes and such were anything to go by.

===

“It is an error to imagine that evolution signifies a constant tendency to increased perfection.

That process undoubtedly involves a constant remodeling of the organism in adaptation to new conditions; but it depends on the nature of those conditions whether the directions of the modifications effected shall be upward or downward.”

Thomas H. Huxley

===

=

Ok.

progress the world

 

Progress is an interesting discussion … particularly in today’s world.

 

 

Let me state upfront that I am going to suggest that true progress, societal and civilization progress , does not move forward … in fact … true progress is unmoving and timeless.

 

 

Go ahead.

 

 

Scratch your head. I puzzled over this a long time.

 

 

It is natural to think that time and evolution would drive us closer & closer to ‘perfection’ with regard to progressive thinking and enlightenment.

 

And then I saw Huxley’s words and all of a sudden … it kinda hit me that if we are constantly adapting than maybe much of our progress is not really progress but rather simply adapting.

 

 

With that.

 

Let me begin.

 

 

I don’t think if anyone truly thinks about the topic seriously they can’t debate that quality of Life has progressed exponentially.

 

 

Any other point of view is kind of crazy thinking.

 

 

No one will certainly debate that technology has advanced us in terms of efficiency and quality of materialistic life <I would also suggest possibly mental intelligent life but will hold back for the moment>.

 

Uhm.

 

But those are “trappings” type progress things <let me call this a “with-out perspective”>.

 

 

The true question of progress is whether we have become more advanced … more civilized from a ‘within perspective’?

 

 

Ah.

 

 

That is the real progress question.

 

 

Civilization always progresses with innovations and new shit to make our lives easier or more productive or more wealthy.connect future internet words thoughts

 

That is kind of the natural progression of … well … making shit <things>.

 

 

And before someone suggests technology represents social progress let me share a thought from a computer scientist named Kentaro Toyama:

 

 

 

———

… while some of our projects improved lives, most had little long-term impact.

When I looked back at our 40-odd projects, what I saw was that it wasn’t the technology that decided whether the outcomes were good or bad, it was us and our partners. When we were committed and worked with capable partners, our technology augmented their impact. But when we had corrupt or inept collaborators, the technology aggravated the dysfunction.

In other words, technology doesn’t add a fixed benefit.

Instead, it amplifies underlying human forces.

Amplification is a simple idea, but it’s powerful.

It explains a broad range of man-machine interactions.

It explains why the internet boosts free speech in America but stifles dissent in China and spreads misinformation in Russia.

It explains why massive open online courses (Moocs) are completed mostly by well-educated professionals with good habits of adult learning, not jobless high-school dropouts.

And, it explains why a technological golden age in the world’s richest country isn’t enough to end poverty – Americans don’t seem to care enough about it as a nation.

Amplification also means that while technology can lead to some kinds of progress, meaningful social change isn’t up to gadgets.

—–

 

 

Now.

 

 

While I am not particularly a fan of self-reflection … I think cultural, or societal, reflection with regard to progress is interesting especially if you look at it thru the lens of the opening quote I shared..

 

 

It makes you think … how much progress have we made?

And is progress really about gaining things … or just making sure you don’t lose the truly important things?

 

 

And then I thought about this topic even more as I scanned a report from Chatham House – Human Development as Positive Freedom: A World View Since 1870 <author: Leandro Prados de la Escosura>.

 

 

What I found is that we have a slightly odd grasp of what is happening in the world and how we view progress.

 

 

We look in the way back machine and see ‘good ole days’ and good things <yet people were clearly not as well off as we are today> and yet we see today <where people are significantly better off than they were> as “the decline of civilization”.

 

 

I tend to suggest that our view of progress has its behavioral roots in a ‘state of perpetual dissatisfaction.’ Or maybe ‘hedonistic adaptation’ modeling … without the hedonism and simply call it ‘the democratization of survival basics.’

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

The Chatham House report clearly shows that well-being improved significantly and across the board.

 

 

Significant progress in life expectancy and education, and therefore in human development, took place across all regions between 1920 and 1950 <it has flattened somewhat since then>.

 

The interesting thing?

 

 

It appears that economic growth and human development do not always go hand in hand.

 

 

In addition … systemic implementation <ideological driven initiatives like socialism> and individual outcomes are not always linked.

 

 

====

Chatham report:

suicide questionThis points to a development puzzle.

Why are trends in GDP per capita and human development uncorrelated over long periods of time when increases in per capita income would surely contribute to better nutrition, health and education?

Does the explanation lie more with public policy (e.g. public schooling, public health, the rise of the welfare state), or with the fact that medical technology is a public good?

==

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

The report concludes that the choice of economic and social system had a negligible influence in human development across countries.

 

Socialist and capitalist models implied different health and education policies, as well as different economic policies, and yet well being fared no long term differences.

 

 

In other words, despite their initial success as providers of ‘basic needs’, countries that embarked on socialist initiatives failed to sustain momentum and became stagnant and fell behind capitalism countries.

 

 

Social systems are not better than capitalistic ones in lifting human well-being.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

Hold on one second.

 

Before capitalism people start yelling with glee … apparently the report also shows that a capitalistic system is not necessarily better than a socialistic system <if it has no opportunities for easy access to health & education>.

 

 

<note: regulated capitalism appears to enhance, and sustain, human development>

 

 

Ideologies aside … interestingly, stagnant incomes did not affect real human development achievements. The income dimension plays a much lower role than one would believe with regard to human development.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

As Chatham developed its report it noted three different approaches to assessing well being:

 

 

–    welfare economics weights the various non-monetary dimensions of quality of life

 

 

–     Subjective well-being places life satisfaction at its center

 

 

–     Capabilities is well-being dependent on a combination of progress is progress‘functionings’ <what you can do and who you can be> and capabilities <the freedom to choose among alternative bundles of functionings>.

 

 

It is within the “capabilities” discussion where we get a true sense of how progress occurs within civilization.

 

 

Simplistically … it appears that enlarging people’s choices of enjoying a healthy life, acquiring knowledge and achieving a decent standard of living leads to a heightened sense of well being <even if they do not actually improve their status in Life>.

 

Yup.

This means we humans can be quite happy even if we do not move up the social & economic ladder.

 

More importantly.

 

This means providing individuals with freedom to choose, opportunities to succeed and opportunities to ‘live lives they have reason to value’ is at the foundation of progress and well being.

 

 

Let me explain the capabilities thing <as best I can>.progress  people report

 

At its core it is an assessment of the ability to pursue and realize goals beyond ‘basic needs.’

These functionings are tied to whatever life people actually lead <achievements> while capabilities <ability to achieve> are connected with the freedom people have in the choice of life or functionings.

 

 

Therefore achievements <health, access to knowledge> in and of themselves are less value to well being if they are not tied to freedom to choose functionings.

 

 

Overall wellbeing is only attained by balancing human needs <basics> and human development <things that encourage some achievements> and the freedom to pursue any and all aspects of well being.

 

 

Here is the danger in assessing wellbeing.

 

 

It only assesses progress in tangible aspects <education, health, life expectancy> … important shit … but not the shit that morally makes civilization a better place.

 

In fact.

 

I could argue that we could make exponential leaps in ‘well being’ at the expense of moral fortitude.

 

 

Progress is not only challenging to measure but in our pursuit of measurement maybe we look at the wrong things.

 

 

Progress is not easy and never will be.

 

 

We will never be satisfied with our current lot in life always seeking more an better.

 

 

====

immensity of life is hard

“It hasn’t been easy, and it never will be.

After all, every day is also a chance to slide back into the darkness. To live in ourselves and our regrets, instead of this moment. To run away from those that would help us and let self-hatred drive us back into isolation, despair, and destruction.”

—–

Nick Spencer

=====

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Suffice it to say progress is a tricky topic.

 

 

Many people argue we have regressed on some things and progressed on others … only to have someone take an exact opposite view.

 

 

All I know is that some things are timeless. Things like ….

 

 

They must have been able to see beyond the walls of the cave, in their minds at least.

The people who lived in these caves who created the beautiful things we see had brains the same size as ours.

They must surely have loved and cared for their children, and found some way of working together, or we would not have survived as a species.

 

 

 

 

I say all this to suggest that maybe we should assess progress a little differently <on occasion>.

 

 

We have always, then & now, had an innate desire to be needed, included and to cooperate within a social structure. we are not hardwired for selfish out- for –ourselves behavior … we actually have to work to be that way <kind of like working to be an actual asshole>..

 

 

Therefore, progress is defined more by the group, and the feeling of being part of something larger, than it does something based off the individual <individual success, individual wealth, individual anything>.

 

 

Therefore … progress is found in the inherent conflict between restriction and personal liberty and the inherent conflict enjoying pluralism <in the good way> and enjoying individualism.

 

 

By the way … this also suggests entrepreneurship is only positive with regard to progress if it benefits the whole … not just the individual.

 

 

Regardless … the bottom line is that the Chatham House report suggests that freedom has the highest correlation with well being <the totalitarian experiences and their suppression of individual freedom prevented real achievements in human development>.

 

 

We love personal liberty.

 

We love the notion of personal freedom but truly thrive when limits or responsibilities appear.

 

 

Progress is measured not by individual leaps of functions or capabilities but rather by societal well-being.

 

This is not socialism.

 

This is acting responsibly with personal freedom.

 

 

With that … I circle back to where I began:

 

==

 

Like everyone else, I suppose, I thought of cave dwellers as primitive creatures of subnormal intelligence.

But they couldn’t have been.

They must have been able to see beyond the walls of the cave, in their minds at least.

The people who lived in these caves who created the beautiful things we see had brains the same size as ours.

They must surely have loved and cared for their children, and found some way of working together, or we would not have survived as a species.

And if that was true, maybe I would have to rethink my idea of progress, that Darwinian idea, or at least everyone’s interpretation of it, that we were becoming increasingly advanced and civilized.

What, after all, made us more advanced?

Was it technology?

Perhaps we should be judged not just by the fact we had it, but by the purposes to which it was put.

===

 

 

Progress is not measured by things or ideologies or even successes & achievements … progress is actually measured NOT in movement but rather … well … an unmoving consistency. An unmoving consistency of caring & the intangible soul of what makes humans good.

 

 

Progress is solid and timeless.

 

Progress is protecting & forwarding overall wellbeing … of one and all.

the best things

Progress is having & viewing purpose beyond ourselves.

 

Progress is …

 

see beyond the walls of the cave, in their minds at least

 

 

create beautiful things

 

 

love and care for our children <our youth>

 

 

find some way of working together

 

 

Well.

 

 

If we can do these things as well as the cave people … well … that is progress.

deciding what it means to be a successful human being

May 26th, 2015

keys to success

“To paraphrase someone smarter than me, who still knows nothing, the philosophical task of our age is for each of us to decide what it means to be a successful human being.

I don’t know the answer to that, but I would like to find out.

=

Ottmer <the futurist>

—–

trying human being

 

Ok.

 

 

Being a successful human being.

 

 

I don’t know the answer to that and I would like to find out.

 

 

What do I like about this?

 

 

It isn’t necessarily a positive statement … just a hopeful one.

 

With a dash of ‘realistic’.

 

 

Yet.

 

Absolutely aspirational.

 

 

It is about seeking without being overtly motivational.  It is almost acerbic … but truthful and openly honest in its regard to ‘self.’

 

 

This also brings to mind something called ‘mental contrasting. ‘

 

 

Mental contrasting is contrary to positive thinking.

 

 

In fact … the research suggests convincing yourself <… all that positive psychological mumbo jumbo> is suggesting to yourself that life is meant to be easy … uh oh … which just makes it appreciably harder.

 

 

As I have pointed out in past articles … the best way to make personal progress is to balance optimism with some pessimism. Please note … that is different than ‘realism’ in that in the balancing you take some fairly risky steps based on optimism and the pessimism keeps you focused on some practicality. Realism is just some mumbo jumbo for deciding to reside in the wretched hollow of what is in between optimism and pessimism <doing nothing and taking no chances>.

 

 

 

In discussing ‘being a successful human being’ this actually means the whole idea that picturing the future you desire makes it more likely you’ll attain it … is wrong.

 

 

Again and again research has shown that making a fantasy of something you want can make it harder to achieve in reality.

stupid son of a bitch

 

 

Imagine yourself having a productive week … and you’ll accomplish less.

 

 

Imagine receiving a windfall of cash … and you’ll be less motivated to engage in the kinds of activities that might bring you money.

 

 

 

Now.

 

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of positive daydreaming if it makes you feel good as long as you don’t expect anything more than feeling good.

 

 

But the search for the answer of what it takes to be a successful human being is way more complicated than some trite soundbite.

 

 

It’s not passion.

 

It’s not happiness.

 

 

It’s not really any one word known in the human language.

 

 

It’s a feeling.

 

And maybe that’s where I struggle with all the trite ‘self-help’ and motivational and Life coaching stuff.

 

 

Because here is all I really know about becoming a successful human being.

 

 

Sometimes you come to a place where there are no right decisions and all paths lead to bad ends.

 

It sucks.

 

But … there you are.

 

wood path stone steps

And you still must choose your way.

 

 

 

Now.

 

You may not think you know how to make that choice but you do. Often you think you don’t know how because you look at it all in the wrong way.

 

 

The question is rarely “what should I do? … but rather ‘who do you want to be.’

 

 

And , in fact, you do know how to choose because when you think about it a little … really hard <maybe in the harsh light> you recognize you cannot control everything that will result from your actions … you can only control the actions themselves.

 

Therefore you shove all the other crap off to the side and ask maybe the only question you need to ask at this ‘make a choice’ point:

 

 

If you died down one chosen path … how would you want to be remembered?

 

 

 

Now.

 

It is here I offer an odd thought.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

Maybe something not really mainstream type thinking.

 

 

Realistically many times part of choosing a path is ultimately having to walk down a path you have never walked before.

 

 

And hoping the shit you will face … you will face well.

Uhm.

 

But you cannot be sure because … well … you have never faced it before.

 

 

Therefore I bring up a version of dreaming.

 

 

Back to that thing called mental contrasting.

 

 

Mental contrasting actually seems to retain the most useful part of positive fantasizing. Mental contrasting helps you envision and clarify what you want by mentally reminding you how good it can feel to attain something.

 

 

But it also builds upon the motivating power of knowing what you have not yet attained … that you have some serious ground to cover.

 

 

Does this prepare you for the ‘who you want to be’ hard choices? Shit. Nothing truly prepares you for that but at least you have thought about it and hopefully that eliminates some of the more unpleasant surprises.

 

 

Mental contrasting also is a very individualistic dreaming type exercise. Putting you <mentally> in positions and clarifying what you need to do.

 

 

I say that because being a successful human being is an “I” thing … not an external thing.

 

“I don’t need anyone to hold me, I can hold my own.”

=

Ani DiFranco

Anyway.

 

 

In the end.

 

 

Having a discussion on what it means to be a successful person pretty much means we try and find words for something indescribable.

 

 

Yup.

 

Indescribable.

 

 

And there is a Russian word for that:

===

Ничто́

It means … well … nothing, not a thing, (not) anything <pronounced: [neesh-TOH]

===

There are no words to describe a successful human being.

 

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah … we toss around a lot of words but they all seem ‘less than’ they should. Why? Well. Because the concept of deciding what it means to be a successful human being is an indescribable thing.

 

 

We try and put words to it so that people have something to aim for.

 

Some words that at the end of the day they can hold up and point to.

 

 

Aw.

 

 

Nuts.

 

 

 

Yeah … I say ‘nuts’ to that.

 

 

Let’s stop trying to describe what is indescribable.

 

stars and shrinking human

Being a successful human being is defined by you, with no words, because it is made up of choices & character.

And while we would LOVE to label it with a nice simple word … these are the type of things that are bigger than any word you can find in a dictionary.

 

 

And, in the end, you just gotta make the choice … and choices … in your search for that undefinable thing called ‘success as a human being.’

 

 

Do I know the answer to what it takes to be a successful human being?

Shit no.

 

But I surely would like to find out.

Enlightened Conflict