Enlightened Conflict

the false comparison trap

May 30th, 2017

compare-iridescent-person-colorful-special

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“As with events, so it is with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water.”

 

—–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“The sphinx must solve her own riddle.

If the whole of history is in one man, it is all explained from individual experience.”

 

——

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things.”

 

—-

Bruce McTague

 

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So.

 

life explained tat awkward moment birth deathWe LOVE using the past to try and explain shit. Past people, past events, past words and past … well … everything.

When we are faced with something new, or someone new, we immediately start sifting through the scrap heap of the past to start creating some semblance of a jig saw puzzle to explain what we are facing.

 

There are a number of problems with doing this.

 

The biggest is that scraps are scraps. Oh. And the scraps used to reside in a completely different context <which is impossible to recreate>.

 

And, yet, we continue to try.

The problem is that in doing so we elect to not judge the present on the merits of the present. We decline to judge a person as they are, the circumstances as they are and the decisions on the merits of what it is. We do this with everyone and everything … how money is spent, decisions we need to make, new people we have met and even leaders. We do it all partially well intended <we want to make sure we make a fair assessment of hat we are seeing & hearing> and partially because simply examining something and stating “this is good” or “this is bad” <or acceptable or unacceptable> seems … well … flimsy.

 

Comparisons tend to make things look more solid.  And, yet, we tend to absolutely suck at creating the proper comparisons.

 

And, that happens for a variety of reasons – also some well-intended and some not so well intended.

 

I will start with the well intended.

 

As Emerson once wrote: “our being is descending into us from know not whence.” And we struggle with that truth. It makes us uncomfortable … uhm … no … REALLY uncomfortable.

If we don’t know where things descend from then we begin to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find comparisons to do so. this all comes at the expense of judging what is, the beings and such, on the merits of what exists. And this is where the shit hits the fan. We either dip into our own memories or a slew of people start telling us what memories to take a look at <the latter is part of the not so well intended>.

 

Well.

 

Here is an unfortunate fact … our memories, which is how we tend to judge and create mental comparisons, are constructive and reconstructive

 

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“Many people believe that memory works like a recording device.

pico memory key thumb drive

…….. our memory chip ……..

You just record the information, then you call it up and play it back when you want to answer questions or identify images. But decades of work in psychology has shown that this just isn’t true.

Our memories are constructive.

They’re reconstructive.

Memory works a little bit more like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people. “

 

Elizabeth Loftus

 

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“You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it.”

 

——

(via 1112pm)

 

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We desperately want to define things through comparison and continuously ask the universe for signs to show us what we want.

 

We desperately do so because in the absence of some comparison we would then have to judge what is on the merits of what exists — the good, the bad and the indifferent .

 

That doesn’t mean a shitload of people around you aren’t gonna try and affect how you will build your comparisons and encourage you to compare in some fairly creative <sometimes absurd> ways.

 

What do I mean?

 

I go back to the psychologist Ebbinghaus who studied memory construction <his published essay Über das Gedächtness in 1885> where he realized that memory and recall of continuous passages of prose or verse would be affected differentially by people’s experiences and prior knowledge.

Memory is a snare, pure and simple; it alters, it subtly rearranges the past to fit the present.

 

Mario Vargas Llosa

 

 

What that actually means is that the memory you tap into to create the my-worst-enemy-is-my-memory-projectcomparisons you seek are slightly mangled by yourself <in how you remember it> and can be manipulated by devious not so well intended people around you.

 

The Constructive and reconstructive nature of memory:

 

  • Memories are distributed; not unitary

 

  • “remembering” involves retrieving and reassembling

 

  • memories can be revised over time

 

  • Reconstruction is filling in “missing details” on the basis of logic, assumptions, what “must have been the case”

 

  • More common reasons for forgetting: Lack appropriate retrieval cue = something you attach to a memory, can use to recover it>

 

  • Reliable retrieval cues are key to access <and multiple retrieval cues are best>

 

  • Existence of older memories blocks access to newer ones

 

Ah.

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our own eyes.

But, not surprisingly, this is the exact same issue new ideas, “white space” theories, fresh thinking, true <not made up> disruptive people & things face.

 

All tat said. I will point out that something doesn’t have to be truly new to face false comparison challenges … it can simply be a new person in an existing role or a common problem or question just in a different time.

 

Suffice it to say anything new, or any change, is being asked to be defined by the past. And there will never be a lack of people stepping up and suggesting they can define something through a variety of comparisons <many of which you spend more time trying to fend off than is worth the time>.

explain with rational mind

This is a mistake. This is a fundamental error we make. It assumes what is can somehow be extrapolated by something by what was <the past>. In reality, as I have noted numerous times, I cannot exactly extrapolate the past because I cannot exactly replicate the past … which means <in harsh terms> there is nothing there and nothing from nothing is … uhm … nothing.

Yeah.

Most comparisons end up meaning nothing <although they look like something>.

Yeah.

This means most comparisons we create are just plain and simple false comparisons.

 

Without trying to be flippant with regard to what I believe is a fairly standard operating procedure for people … we need to stop. Stop false comparisons.

It is a trap.

And a dangerous trap.

 

Comparisons normalize that which should not be normalized … just as comparisons can de-normalize that which should be normalized.

False comparisons wielded by the devious can construct almost any “normal” you could desire <even if it is hollow & not really normal>.

 

Anyway.

 

In today’s world there does seem like there is a lot of crazy shit happening. And in our desire to veer away from the “crazy shit” feeling we seek some comparisons to normalize the situation <thereby calming the ‘crazy shit feeling>.

 

Just a couple of notes of warning on that.

 

<a> Finding comparisons, if done well, you can actually be convinced there really isn’t crazy shit happening even though there is truly some crazy shit easter crazy kidshappening.

 

As a corollary to <a>,

 

<b> if there is truly some crazy shit happening there will be no shortage of people ponying up false comparisons trying to convince you that there is no crazy shit happening <and some of them will be quite effective>.

 

The only reason I point out the warning is that there really is some crazy shit happening and we need to stop finding comparisons to make today, and some people, look a little less crazy than it really is.

 

There you go.

 

I will end where I began … “Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things <and people>.”

We should invest the energy judging what is, people, ideas and things, based on their present merits not some false comparisons from the past.

 

not being owned

April 17th, 2016

world of my own

 

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“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”

 

 

Pippi Longstocking

 

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i would fight myself if i could

(letthechipsfallwheretheymay)

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So.

 

Not being owned sounds like a simple thing.

 

Yet.

 

Over and over <and over> again we permit something … or someones … to own void swallows self strength own you lifea part of you.

It can be direct or it can be indirect.

It can be consciously or subconsciously.

 

 

To be clear.

 

This is not a society thing <albeit society is a nasty twit on occasion> … this is a self thing.

 

And this is not a corruption thing <albeit money is a nasty twit on occasion> … this is a self thing.

 

So what do I mean by a self thing?

 

One of the very very few things you can actually control in life is “self ownership.”

 

Owning who you are as a person. Owning your integrity. Owning your character, dignity and moral compass. And, I imagine, owning your behavior & attitudes.

 

 

Now.

 

This ownership isn’t easy. It isn’t because … well … what you own a shitload of people and things are constantly seeking ways to steal it.

 

And owning a good security system will not do shit for you.

You need to learn self-defense.

 

And by self defense I actually mean defending against your self <and not someone or something else>.

 

You have to choose to fight yourself.

 

Fight against some nasty instincts <which more often than not head you in the wrong direction>.

Fight against temptation <of which the world has an endless array it constantly parades in front of you>.

Fight against some internal mind games <think doubt, fear, acceptance, etc.>.

 

 

Regardless.

 

Many of us flippantly state “I am my own person and nothing owns me” and, yet, under the glaring spotlight of truth & reality we will find that more of us is owned by someone or something than we would like.

 

Many of us shrug our shoulders when faced with this harsh truth and say “those are not the important things” or “that’s just Life.”

created my own world

Well.

 

It is not ‘just Life’ and they are not just ‘little unimportant things.’

 

More of us should stop, take a moment, and think about whether we want to react to external ownership efforts or proactively “fight myself” over the right to own myself.

 

Each of us is the sea and no one owns a sea.

 

Do not be owned.

 

 

lesser of two evils

August 9th, 2015

———–opinions fight myself

“… but there is a certain point where trying to choose between the lesser of two evils is just an exercise in futility.

It doesn’t matter what you choose … both are so bad you struggle to discern which would be worse.

Therefore, I refuse to choose.”

=

Alex Verus

———–

 

 

 

So.

 

 

I just finished reading a book where this character says the quote above.

 

 

We have all been in a situation where all the choices look bad, or not so good … but definitely not good.

 

 

This is the choice of the lesser of two evils:

 

choice plans doors question

The lesser of two evils principle (or lesser evil principle) is the principle that when faced with selecting from two unpleasant options, the one which is least harmful should be chosen.

 
Let’s just say … well … it sucks.

 

 

And it sucks even worse when we stop and fruitlessly seek some silver lining in what is , frankly, no good choice.

This is not one of those choices where someone says “sometimes the wrong choice puts you in the right place.” The only place this choice puts you is in a bad place … maybe less bad than somewhere else … but bad.

 

 

 

In game theory it is typically known as the no-win situation – an unavoidable decision with unavoidable an outcome which encompasses the losses of whatever value resides within the choice.

 

 

And, yet, the character decided to not choose.

 

At some point it becomes an exercise in futility.

 

 

 

If there was ever an example of ‘no choice actually being a choice’ this may be it.

 

 

But in this case it may actually be ‘the win’ choice.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

It seems like when faced with a lesser of two evils far too often we look at harm associated with the choice itself … and not the harm to ourselves.character dignity glory worth

 

 

 

This may sound crazy … but … survival is not always the desired outcome.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

Well … if survival means sacrificing all that you find valuable & important to your self … well … you better be damn sure it is worth the evil you are choosing.

 

 

And that is what the character in the book is saying.

 

 

“I choose neither of the evils because if I did … I live … but I may not be able to live with myself.”

 

 

Well.

 

 

I probably think about this ‘live with myself’ with regard to my decisions more than most people … and possibly more than is productive or healthy for me.

 

 

But.

 

 

I have seen success … and I have seen failure.

 

I have had rewards … and suffered penalties.

 

I have risen toward the top … and scrambled to get free of the bottom.

 

 

Through it all the only one, the only thing consistent, is me.

 

 

Just saying ‘I survived’ <and this can be in business, life or situational> is not enough for me. Possibly because I have seen the wounds inflicted upon character, esteem and integrity with basic ‘I survived’ choices.

 

 

Personally, I don’t want to survive if I have to sacrifice … well … me <the character portion … not the physical portion>.

 

 

This personal decision comes with a cost. But it is a cost I am willing to bear because it only costs me material rewards & society-based successes. It doesn’t cost me any of what resides within me.

 

 

 

Look.lovers quarrel choice

 

 

Choosing between the lesser of two evils is almost always actually choosing between three evils … the two choices and what evil it inflicts upon yourself.

 

 

I cannot tell anyone what to do when faced with a ‘no win’ scenario. That is for each person to face on their own and decide what is best for them.

 
But I can tell everyone you should think about it.

 

 

It can be a ‘no win’ choice just make sure you, yourself, also doesn’t win.

 

 

Because losing yourself in addition to having to choose between a lesser of two evils means … well … evil has won.

contextual contextual contextual

May 10th, 2015

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we are mosaics

“Most men are individuals no longer so far as their business, its activities, or its moralities are concerned.

They are not units but fractions.”

=

Woodrow Wilson

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Well.

 

 

In business and in Life …  people like consistency.

 

We actually like rules.

 

 

And we really <really> like some guidelines for how to do things, what to say and when things should be done.

 

Oh.

 

 

And … we love, yes, LOVE to look to the past for answers or the ‘formula for what to do or how to act.”

 

 

Ah.

 

 

That sneaky ‘learn from the past or be doomed to repeat mistakes’ advice.

 

 

True … but not true.

 

 

What makes it not true?true not true

 

 

 

Context.

 

 

 

Future truths, or solutions, only partially reside in the past. The other part lives in the present … and what is swirling around that moment.

 

 

Which brings me back to the opening quote.

 

 

We like to see things as units and yet they are simply fractions.

 

 

Some people stand on fractions and act like they are whole solid foundations.

 

Be wary of those people.

 

 

 

They are not really seeking truth … just answers … okay … well … maybe just an answer.

 

 

——-

 

 

“Fear not the path of Truth for the lack of People walking on it.”

 

 

=

 

Robert F. Kennedy

——-

 

 

 

I admit … the trouble we constantly run into is … well … context.

 

We are always contextual … mosaics of the moment … and this is troubling for those seeking simple answers.

 

And, frankly, most of us would love a simple answer now & then <if not all the time>.

 

But some people thrive on simplicity and black & white.

 

 

Please do not read into what I just wrote that these people live a colorless life.

 

Everyone has color and everyone certainly has pieces of light within and without.

 

 

==

 

“We are mosaics.

 

 

Pieces of light, love, history, stars … glued together with magic and music and words. “

 

Anita Krizzan

 

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All I am suggesting is that magic, or the contextual aspects, in Life creates a certain intangible aspect to everyday situations. And while this intangible thing is a nagging aspect in common everyday life & business … at critical points, let’s call them ‘semi-critical moments or junctures’, the contextual intangible aspect is nerve wracking.

 

Nerve wracking because we want a simple solution in semi-critical moments.

 

And context demands some complexity. It demands looking at fractions and not the whole.

 

 

This means we constantly struggle with the fact <the Truth as it were> we, as individuals, businesses, countries and societies, are simply fractions and not the unit.

 

 

I would also suggest decisions, business & in life, are simply fractions and not a self-sustaining unit.

 

 

And, yet, we try and make most of our decisions as if everything is aligned and unmoving … kind of like taking a snapshot and taking action.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

 

wide open spaces far to goThis means, contextually, whatever action or decision you take or make will be relevant to what was … not what is.

 

———-

 

 

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.

 

That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

 

 

Milton Friedman

 

————-

 

 

In closing out this thought I would like to point out that this thought, while it seems like a stronger Life thought, is maybe even more importantly a business thought.

 

 

Far far too often in business we ignore the fact each decision is contextual seeking comfort in “let’s look to the past for the answer.”

 

 

I admit I find it slightly odd because in today’s business world every single mistake or hiccup/interruption in the status quo is labeled a crisis … and crises tend to produce real change.

 

 

On the other hand … maybe that is my explanation to the oddity.

 

 

Because they really aren’t true crisis we tend to depend on the ideas lying around.

 

 

And the most typical ideas lying around are “what can we learn from the past.”

 

 

If you ever wonder why great decision makers should be paid some inordinate amount of money … reread this. Great decision makers see the past, the present & the future and envision the mosaic better than most of us <certainly I>.

 

 

They understand the situation is simply a fraction of what is.

 

 

see what we look for

 

This should also help explain why so many people make incredibly bad decisions.

 

 

 

Every moment, every situation, every success and every failure … is contextual.

 

 

In fact … contextual exists in almost every situation in such a wide vivid mosaic perspective that … well … ‘learning from the past’ almost seems like an inordinate waste of time.

Enlightened Conflict