Enlightened Conflict

thought viruses & future librarians

October 19th, 2017

 

thoughts people stand up i will be defined

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“I call it a thought virus, because really what they want to do is they just want to replicate their way of thinking to other people.”

 

—-

Len Pozner

 

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Definition of a thought virus:

 

 “majority illusion, where many people appear to believe something ….which makes that thing more credible.”

 

—–

Clayton A. Davis at Indiana University

 

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“Nature has planted in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.”

 

 Cicero

 

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    “Book store owners and record store owners used to be oracles, in that way; you’d go in this dusty old place and they might point you toward something that would change your life.

All that’s gone.”

 

———-

Tom Waits

 

===========

 

trust learn unlearn information literacy thoughts librariansBoy oh boy.

 

If there is one insatiable desire the entire 7 billion people on this earth of ours shares, it would be for truth.

 

Let’s just say … from that point on it is all downhill for truth.

 

Let me tell you what I am going to tell you.

 

There is an enemy in this story — the thought virus.

 

There is an unexpected doctor in this story — the future librarian.

 

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

 

“This is the look of the truth: layered and elusive.”

—-

Anne Carson

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

 

That said.

 

I have written dozens of times about the challenges Truth faces in today’s world.

 

I have also written several times, in rebuttal to the overall dismay & despair & hand wringing of the older generations, that I believe the younger generations will solve this. They will solve it because they will find a lack of truth certainty untenable and … well … do what generations do – innovate a solution to an existing issue.

 

The issue, to me, is fairly simple to articulate <and I don’t think I am the sharpest knife in the drawer>. To articulate it I go to the 80/20 rule.

 

truth certainty doubt past present

 

 

In the past we were presented with a fact, or a truth <which is most typically a coalescing of facts> and we accepted it was most likely 80% true … and that was good enough. We figured the 20% wouldn’t change the core truth. That 20% also permitted us some space for unlearning or some adaptability to absorb an additional fact to course correct our thinking. But that factoid, because it was mentally residing in the 20%, needed some gravitas to shift the 80%. That 20% also gave some room for the doubters and conspiracy theorists and misguided contrarians to dabble.

 

In today’s world truth has flipped … we are presented with a fact, or a truth <which is most typically a coalescing of facts> and we accept it is most likely 20% true … and then we rummage around in the 80% <if we are curious> to coalesce some additional things <some facts and some conjecture>.

But, suffice it to say, a shitload of people wander around on a daily basis having beliefs grounded in a 20% fact foundation. This means they either quadruple down on their 20% <to create the 80% in their heads> or they are constantly unsure of what is truth and hat is not being buffeted about by the winds of whatever information is in the air that day.

 

This shift damns truth to a wretched game of truth or consequences because truth demands a certain amount of certainty – which we have ceded in today’s world.

 

Regardless.

 

Let me offer two words to everyone – information literacy.

 

I believe it is a commonly used term within the hallowed halls of librarianism <in other words … librarians use the term a lot>.

 

information literacy components library

 

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

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a crucial skill in the pursuit of knowledge.  It involves recognizing when information is needed and being able to efficiently locate, accurately evaluate, effectively use, and clearly communicate information in various formats.  It refers to the ability to navigate the rapidly growing information environment, which encompasses an increasing number of information suppliers as well as the amount supplied, and includes bodies of professional literature, popular media, libraries, the Internet, and much more.  Increasingly, information is available in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability.  This abundance of information is of little help to those who have not learned how to use it effectively.

To become lifelong learners, we need to know not just how to learn, but how to teach ourselves.  We must acquire the skills necessary to be independent, self-directed learners.

 

———–

Derived from the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

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

 

Information literacy is the superweapon to permit truth to battle on the field of doubts, lies and conspiracies.

I also believe we will create a new career in our battle over truth – information literacists. Let’s call them our future librarian superheroes <information literacists>.

 

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“We don’t become better because we acquire new information. We become better because we acquire better loves. We don’t become what we know. Education is a process of love formation. When you go to a school, it should offer you new things to love. “

 

David Brooks

 

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Look.

 

the day the librarians disappeared

We talk a lot about how bookstores have suffered and libraries have suffered but they are just places of learning and, in my eyes, we should be focused on deliverers of knowledge <which enables the learning>.

 

I would love future librarians to be ‘book slingers’ but I think their future specialness resides in information literacy <”truth” as it were>.

 

And that, my friends, is the future librarian.

 

The one who steps into the library and offers us the rediscovery of specialness.

 

Specialness?

 

I believe libraries should be less about the books and more about a place for the mind. My gut tells me they will need to wrestle that mantle away from the perceived ‘place of the mind’ – the internet. This shouldn’t be that difficult. The internet does NOT have a monopoly on knowledge … it has a monopoly on information. Some good information, some bad information, some false information and some true information. In today’s world there is no “judge.”

And while I would shift the character f the library to more of a place of congregation combining coffee shop, book exchange, art gallery, museum and … well … enlightened conflict <human exchange of ideas> I think the library of the future needs “information therapists” who engage in mind therapy.

 

Superheroes of the mind lording over information libraries.

 

I see libraries as havens of truth self-improvement.

I see libraries as islands of shared intellectual heritage.

I see libraries as raucous spaces of learning reverence.

I see libraries as arenas where all are victors in the battle for truth.

 

Libraries need to find a new reason for existing, a new role and a new way of working and I believe the librarian is the catalyst for the makeover.

 

hero-time-isFrankly, we do need superheroes and less “community gathering places.”

 

I am not opposed to community but … geez … truth desperately needs bold superheroes and not revered spaces of whispered knowledge among few.

 

I feel strongly about this because … well … 3 things.

 

  • My sister is an ‘information literacist.’ I have seen the power of librarians up close & personal. For years we have seen them as quiet servants of books behind some desk and now they should be encouraged to step forward and champion not just books, and literature, but knowledge. In fact … I would begin recruiting those who DO want to actively engage.

If not them, then who?

 

 

  • Society, led by some fairly vocal ‘truth benders’, are leading the charge against truth by standing up and basically saying nothing we say means anything, we’ll do what we want to do and tell you what truth is afterwards. I say that because books, and knowledge, cannot fight unless someone holds them forth as the torch is held forth on the statue of liberty. Truth, whether we like it or not, demands hand-to-hand combat. I believe we need superheroes on the side of truth.

 

 

  • Truth, more often than not, is complex. Philosophically, truth is simply the idea that ‘facts’, viewed from a human perspective, end up being nuanced and create a complex multidimensional slightly flawed diamond. Not everyone can handle truth … it most likely demands superheroes.

 

To be clear.

 

I don’t believe we should be sending these new superhero librarians out without some allies and tools.

 

Personally I believe we <including me>, who care about communicating truth and having truth reestablished, need to go back to the drawing board with regard to ‘learning’ and unlearning and … well … reintroducing truth to society.

 

I also believe Google should be stepping up to the plate.

 

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

<about Google> This is the equivalent of going into a library and asking a librarian about Judaism and being handed 10 books of hate

 

—–

Danny Sullivan

 

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

 

Google needs to get their ‘truth compass’ heads out of their asses and start librarian original search enginethinking about some technology voodoo they can create, and implement, that assists in filtering out ‘the fake.’

 

Ah.

 

Fake.

 

‘Fake news’ is nothing more than purposeful disinformation using some actual fake-information – this is a thought virus.

 

Fake news is NOT opinions.

Fake news, or disinformation, is often information disseminated as ‘whole fact’ and, yet, it is a splinter <at best> of a fact.

Fake news is deliberately false and misleading information published in social media and elsewhere online.

 

But fake news … at its core … is about lies and lying.

 

But fake news … at its core … resides in some alternative universe where what you & I know <and is basic corroborated truth> does not exist. It doesn’t even have a heartbeat in that universe.

 

In that universe its citizens discard the usual rules of evidence flippantly dismissing actual eyewitness testimony as lies, actual confessions of someone who was guilty are waved away as ‘they said what they had to say’ and documented information  is scoffed at as flawed, paid for by some elite cabal, some academia gibberish … or a simple forgery.

 

In this alternative universe real information, truth as it were, is simply what someone believes <sometimes under the guise of common sense> … and they conflate “believe” with “know.”

 

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

 

“Of course, disinformation,” Quinn said. “I can do that.

I’ll leave out critical events, then I’ll put in false information and twist everything that has happened around into a vague, shadowy history that obscures what really took place.”

 

Terry Goodkind

 

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

 

This alternative universe ends up being created from some complex inconvenient truth reassuring lie complexcombination of lies & truth which are undermining the very idea of facts, history and truth. In fact, they turn truth and facts on their heads therefore making any evidence of the actual truth & reality bogus <in this alternative universe> … uhm … which means nothing can be proven and truth becomes … uhm … “thoughtful opinions.” Ultimately this creates that 80% doubt which swallows up the facts & truth like quicksand.  In that quicksand facts become a conspiracy, a legend, a hoax, or some active effort to circumvent truth.

 

In other words … In this bizarre world truth becomes lies and lies become truth.

 

While this seems bizarre, it is dangerous:

 

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

 

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

 

——

Hannah Arendt

 

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I say all of this long thought piece to state – this is a problem which demands a superhero.

 

I say all this long thought piece to state that these new librarian superheroes, our doctors against thought viruses, needs to be a defined career. It needs a career path, training and … well … I guess certifications or degrees or some shit like that.

 

Why?

 

It is suprising tricky to debunk and compete against “fake.” It is surprisingly <and disturbingly> incredibly difficult to debate with a liar. You would think that you could simply point out what is a lie … but it is not easy when dealing with a good liar. Yeah. There are ‘good liars.’

They justify what they say by saying “but its true” and defending the fraction of the whole they used against the more truthful ‘whole story.’ They thrive in the 80% doubt & uncertainty space in the information literacy world.

 

By the way … this 80% ‘uncertain truth world’ has been in the works for a while <it has just found some influential enablers of ate>:

 

————————-

This has been a long time coming. Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm and my previous employer, issues an annual study into the state of trust around the world. Over the past few years that study has pointed to a clear trend: the erosion of trust in authority figures and the rise of trust in “people like me.” We called that the inversion of the pyramid of influence. It means that your neighbor is just as much a source of insightful analysis on the nuances of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran as regional scholars, arms control experts, or journalists covering the State Department.

————————

 

And maybe that is my point on the librarian superheroes and thought viruses … the inversion of the pyramid of influence. If that is true <and I believe it to be so> the battle for truth almost demands a new type of expert that people can actually trust. We need truth to be championed by someone other than “Joe my neighbor,”

 

Anyway.

 

Like any good <bad> virus … it is here to stay and a motherfucker to kill.axis truth direction compass tattoo

 

Truth is too important to let the current battle be fought without some superheroes on its side. The truth is the axis munid, the dead center of the earth … when it’s out of place nothing is right; everyone is in the wrong place.

 

Society, and our future, demands librarians to venture out from behind the desk and becoe information literacy superheroes.

 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s just what I think.

 

But I have to tell you a truth … truth is getting the living shit kicked out of it in today’s world and we better come up with a solution soon , therefore, my idea is as good as anything out there yet.

 

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

 

“The person who pretends to not see the truth is committing something much worse than a mortal sin, which can only ruin one’s soul – but instead committing us all to lifetimes of pain.

The truth is not just something we bring to light to amuse ourselves; the truth is the axis munid, the dead center of the earth. When it’s out of place nothing is right; everyone is in the wrong place; no light can penetrate. Happiness evades us and we spread pain and misery wherever we go. Each person, above all others, has an obligation to recognize the truth and stand by it.”

———-

Jacque Silette.

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“I prefer nothing, unless it is true.”

Socrates

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just please act like a grownup

September 15th, 2017

pretending to be a functioning adult exhausting

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

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

 

=

John Connolly

 

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“Refusing to grow up may be a form of rebellion. But really growing up could be a revolution.”

 

Susan Neiman

 

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

 

Well.

 

organizational exhaustion batteryTrump is exhausting. Not his presidency, not his administration, not his lack of policies or lack of any intellectual thought … just Trump.

Trump is exhausting.

 

I have decided he is exhausting because while I have continuously woken up every day hoping that today would be the day he would actually act like a president … okay … maybe just like a business leader … okay … I actually just want to wake up and see him act like an grownup … a grown up.

 

Today, just another day, he wakes up and starts tweeting about London terrorism <which the UK prime minister and Scotland Yard have to respond “not very helpful”>, about an ESPN anchor, about his stupid wall, about … well … too numerous to count. And it isn’t just his lack-of-any-real-thought 140 character tweeting it is also his tween tone, teen sensitivity and teen words/grammar/punctuation.

 

He is not even the junior class president … he is just the gossip girl between classes.

 

Think about it.trump sophmoric dennis

 

Everything is unfair.

He is sad.

Girls confuse him.

I told you so.

I wish everyone would pay attention to me.

Create drama <to Armageddon-like levels when possible>.

 

 

<sigh>

 

 

You would think I would have been smart enough to know that this is the new normal for us but the same normal for Donald J Trump.

 

I mean, what the hell, I wrote the following in March 2016 <yeah … 18 months ago … seems like a lifetime in Trump squirrel years>:

 

—————

 

And then, after my first response, I laughed. I laughed because I sudden realized that every teen in America must be celebrating in the halls of their high school.

 

Trump is one of them.

 

<and imagine the kitchen table conversations now taking place where parents are counseling their children only to hear “you are being so unfair !!! … I was just retweeting what was on the internet … c’mon Mom … Donald Trump does it … you are being unfair …!!!”>

 

Look.

 

stop tweeting trump batmanSit around a bunch of older folk and pretty soon the conversation will ease its way into how the younger generation is addicted to their phones, they cannot think for themselves, twitter is the universe of the mindless illiterate generation, twitter is the death of grammar & punctuation and they believe everything they see on the internet.

 

Suffice it to say, older folk have a tendency to believe handheld technology is destroying young people’s minds <the implication is that ‘sensible grownups would never do the things that immature, selfish, entitled young people would do.’

 

<please note … I do not agree and that when I am involved in this discussion it is typically around that lat comment that my head explodes>

 

Anyway.

 

Trump is what older folk actually fear & believe.

Trump embodies teen twitterology.

 

He cannot stop retweeting and cannot stop from commenting on anything and he tweets before thinking … and retweets anything that comes across his phone that looks interesting to retweet <regardless of whether he has actually checked that it is real or not> .

 

He can summarize his policies, with detail, in maybe 2 tweets issued as he sips his coffee in the morning.

 

After the coffee kicks in it will take about 6 tweets to change the previous 2.

And later in the day he gets to go on air and discuss how the world is unfair <only to him>.

 

This is Trump’s doom loop of consistent inconsistencies whereby the next tweet update absolves responsibility for the less than thoughtful tweets up to that point.

And, of course, it would be unfair to judge him on his 25th tweet when he is already on his 1250th tweet.

 

Wow.

 

 

Dear weakDonald, have you thought about enrolling in high school again so you can troll the hallways as a bully and be the most important boy in the sophomore class?

 

His immaturity almost makes teens look mature in contrast.

 

<source: teens celebrate trump as new leader (‘cause he is just like us) March 25th 2016>

————————

 

Trump’s tweening behavior is tiring.trump tweet mouth loser

 

Exhausting.

 

I just want him to act like a grownup.

 

That’s it.

 

Yeah.

 

The bar is that low.

 

Is that too much to ask?

 

I ask this because I know that being a grownup & “grownuphood” <a little different than adulthood> is all about becoming someone and something … and unbecoming someone and something.

 

The truth about growing up is that we are constantly developing and un-developing and we continue to survive the missteps and step backs and figure out where & how to excel with momentary glimpses of what ‘could be’ … and that is what grownuphood is all about.

 

And that is the ‘growing up’ I fear Donald J Trump is not doing <nor has ever done>.

 

 

If I could talk to Donald J <most likely using lots of pictures> I would tell him that grownuphood is much much better than okay. It is really good. It is much better because while some call it the burden of responsibility I call it “the freedom to enable my destiny.”

 

Yeah.

Destiny kind of demands some grownupness <sorry about that Donald J>.

 

But the prize of grownuphood?

 

You do with your destiny what you want … you can  get angry if it doesn’t happen the way you want but suffice it to say … grownuphood is great because it is YOUR time to make it happen.

 

And I wish grownups would reclaim grownuphood and let the youth have their youth.

And I wish Trump would claim some grownuphood and let the youth have their youth.

 

trump lower tweetBut … this is Trumpville.

 

A place where little makes sense.

 

That is where we seem to live today.

 

Look.

 

He can be an idiot of he wants.

He can be incompetent <because he is>.

He can be an empty intellectual vessel <he is>.

 

But for god’s sake … just please start acting like a grown up.

 

the oversimplification crisis

September 11th, 2017

 

occam economy choice simplify

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

We miss out on the value of the message itself as a vehicle for driving virality.”

 

Jonah Berger

 

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

 

“Say something meaningful in an interesting way.”

 

Bruce McTague

<author of “the shortest business book ever written”>

 

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

 

 

So.

 

 

oversimplification wrongThis is about how we have a simplification crisis.

 

 

Ok.

This is about how we have an oversimplification crisis.

 

This crisis is making us … well … stupid.

 

 

Ok.

This crisis is making us stupider.

 

 

Look.

 

What I mean is that in a world in which we know that everything is complex, and more often than not, more complex than our own pea like brains can handle, we unerringly swerve toward simplistic headline conclusions and oversimplifications and absurd bullet point conclusions.

 

This surface skating intellectualism just makes us stupider.

 

Now.oversimplify assumption risk life business

 

We may convince ourselves we do this simply as a mental survival technique but I would argue, and I do, that it actually is the opposite of a survival technique … it is destructive behavior. It is destructive in that it destroys the overall thinking of what is actually a population quite capable of being intelligent, if not intellectual.

Yeah.

It makes us stupider.

 

I thought about this the other day because I have conversations with some incredibly smart and talented people who know a shitload more about more things than I could ever imagine and this topic came up. I note the smartness of these people to highlight how unusual it is that I can say something that actually can make a group of these people stop, be silent and then go “hmmmmmmmmmm.”

It is a rare thing.

 

And, yet, it happened the other day.

 

After some extensive conversation on North Korea, global trade challenges, Trump <of course> & foreign policy we opened the discussion to “what is the biggest challenge facing us …”

 

My thought drew some <thoughtful> silence.

 

I said “oversimplification.”

 

To me … oversimplification misleads and creates bad decisions and, worse, creates bad thinking <which leads to bad opinions, attitudes and thoughts>.

 

And I offered a couple reasons why I believe this is happening <I did this because if you can identify the issues you can find solutions>:

 

 

We have convinced ourselves we do not have time for complex

 

 

big fat waste of my time business show for itGoing back to the ‘destructive behavior’ thought I shared earlier …  oversimplification is anything but efficient. It actually demands more time in a variety of ways. The two simplest ways it does so is <1> the time we over invest attempting to isolate the simplest version of what is anything but simple and <2> the amount of time & energy we have to invest explain everything beyond the simplistic tripe initially offered, to thwart misguided behavior & reactions to the oversimplified offering & to redefine the oversimplification into bifurcated parts of the oversimplified whole.

 

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves that we all have shorter, and shortened, attention spans.

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves that people best retain “one thing.”

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves in our perceived “never enough time” world we have to topline everything <to fit everything in>.

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves that in a blizzard of nonstop things constantly vying for our attention the only way to capture someone’s attention is in some pithy soundbite.

 

Basically we have convinced ourselves that hollowing out an idea and a thought actually benefits not only the idea and the thought … but us!

 

This is fucking nuts. Absolutely crazy.

 

Unfortunately, and truthfully, some things are just too complex to communicate in a sound bite or in 3 seconds or less.

 

No matter how brief and simple you want to make it … well … it is neither brief nor simple. It is complex and sometimes the opposite of brief.

 

It isn’t just about telling a story.

 

Nor is it just about finding influencers to broker the story.

 

Nor is it just about practical value.

 

Nor is it just about emotion.

 

Unfortunately it is a combination of those things. Yeah. Effective communication is … uhm … complex.

 

 

We have convinced ourselves that simple & simplicity is reflective of common sense.

 

 

time to do it right do it overI admit.

 

I have never been shy about calling bullshit on the simplistic tripe being spewed under the guise of ‘expert advice’ or ‘common sense.’

 

That said.

I will suggest no topic has  been tortured more by common sense than simplicity.

 

 

Common sense suggests the simplest thing is the best.

 

Common sense suggests it is easier for a person to remember one thing and one word.

 

Common sense suggests in a complex world we humans crave simplicity.

 

Common sense suggests in a busy world we only have time for simplicity.

 

Common sense suggests a lot of nonsensical bullshit.

 

I will not argue that making something as simple as it can be is good but … well … simplistically … oversimplification is misleading and ultimately creates bad less-than-informed decision making AND thinking.

 

We have used this common sense simplicity bullshit for one simple reason — it serves us well in challenging the most established legitimate rule of Life & things. And that rule is “the world is complex.”

 

We embrace simplistic solution after simplistic solution, all labeled as ‘common sense ideas’, which are often counter to what an expert would suggest <which is often deemed “too complex”>…  only to find 90% of the time common sense was not only just simply wrong but also made us stupider.

 

I have written about simplicity and the complexity of finding the simplest way to communicate the complex many times and as I do so today I would remind everyone of what Jonah Berger offered us for a nifty sound bite compilation of sound bites to create a sound bite philosophy:

 

Here are his STEPPS for making anything go viral:

 

–          Social Currency: We share things that make us look good (even if that means pictures of our cat).

 

–          Triggers: Easily memorable information means its top of mind and tip of the tongue.

 

–          Emotion: When we care, we share.

 

–          Public: Built to show, built to grow.

 

–          Practical Value: News people can use.

 

–          Stories: People are inherent storytellers, and all great brands also learn to tell stories. Information travels under the guise of idle chatter.

 

And while this is about “making things go viral” it is actually about finding the simplest way to communicate complex shit in a way that it is actually retained in a cognitive way.

 

I would also note that this dos not reflect “one simple thing”, sometimes your total obliviousness blows my mindit does reflect the complexity of reality and the mind and it reflects how to … well … help make us less stupider.

 

Ah.

Cognitive way.

As in “we actually understand what it is we heard, saw or read.”

 

That is an important thing to ponder because over simplification cheats cognitive value as well as the value of whatever it is you have to offer people. Simplicity may be “memorable” but it doesn’t really lodge itself in anyone’s mind & memory in any meaningful way.

 

In fact.

 

The less depth you offer in your oversimplification the more you are at the mercy of the mind that decides to remember you. What I mean by that is if you don’t provide the depth the mind will create some perceptions around whatever it lodges in the pea like brain.

 

Uhm.

 

This means the pea like brain lodges only what is actually the brain’s perceptions of what to remember and not what you <a> know to be true, <b> think it may be important for that mind to know or <c> want the brain to store away in its mind.

 

faulty reasoning oversimplification overlookI imagine what I am talking about is some wacky version of awareness versus engagement but that shit is bullshit too.

 

It’s all bullshit because we should be turning away from simplification and engagement and connection and simply focus on “say what you need to say to persuade someone to think or do what you want them to think or do.”

 

All the other bullshit just confuses things.

 

If I tell someone that ‘being noticed ‘ is the most important thing, than some asshat is gonna come up with some zany oversimplified shit that gets noticed but doesn’t effectively communicate one thing <let alone all the things you may have deemed truly important in the beginning>.

 

I admit … I balk at a lot of the bullshit offered online about simplification <and the importance thereof> because … well … it is an oversimplification which diminishes the importance of ‘communicating depth’ and increases the importance of ‘being noticed.’

I do not like that equation.

 

Effective communication is not a binary choice.

 

Effective communication, as with almost everything, is a complex challenge in communicating a complex thing well – because if you can communicate a couple things well it actually increases the perceived value <which then inevitably creates a stronger “memory stamp” … with value attached!>.

 

Which brings me back to our oversimplification crisis.

 

I could clearly argue that in today’s fragmented messaging world where information multiplies at light speed and a day still remains 24 hours that we humans are constantly honing our “incoming thoughts” filtering mechanisms.

 

I could also argue that our filtering system, as it exists today, sucks.

 

We have dumbed down our communication and thinking behavior to such a hollowed out status the majority of time we skate along the superficial irrelevant surface of reality.

 

If we are lucky, the ice doesn’t crack.

 

But the truth is that oversimplification only offers the thinnest of ice to skate on and inevitably we fall thru the ice … over and over and over again.

 

Uhm.

 

And in the business world falling through the ice is bad. It is, metaphorically, making a bad decision based on shallow thinking and paying for it.

 

Yeah.

I did say the biggest issue we face is oversimplification.

I said that because if I can solve this, if I can have smarter people communicating complex things more smartly and I can have more everyday schmucks understanding that simple solutions are more often like trying to place a square peg in a round hole … well … I think it unravels a shitload of other problems we face in today’s world.

 

I imagine I am arguing that if more people are less stupid and more aware of the reality of things the more effective & efficient we will be in addressing the difficulties reality tends to place in front of us.

 

period end-of-story_design

 

In the end I will go back to where i began … “say something meaningful in an interesting way.”

 

There are no rules nor boundaries in this statement.

 

You use as many words, or as few, as you need to say … to say something meaningful in an interesting way with the intent for it to be understood … and, ultimately, persuade someone to think something.

 

Period.

getting squeezed

August 30th, 2017

 

 

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

 big_squeeze

“Paranoid?

Probably.

But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”

 

Jim Butcher

 

===

 

“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”

 

Evelyn Waugh

 

===

 

“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.”

 

William S. Burroughs

 

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

 

Ok.

 

This is about life as a business leader.

 

but i am the best leader i told you soOk.

I do not care how good you are … you will get squeezed.

If you suck, you get squeezed often. If you are good, you only get squeezed on occasion.

 

But good or bad … all business leaders get squeezed at some point.

 

What do I mean by squeezed?

 

In general, the responsibility world as viewed by a manager is a fairly vast place because it rarely is defined solely by direct reports or even full departments you manage but rather all dimensions emanating outwards from every decision you, or your employees, may make.

 

The good news about this is that within all that vastness there is a lot of room to let some of the more horrible or horribly mundane crap just slip by.

 

The bad news occurs when all of a sudden the world shrinks and you feel squeezed and evaluated by the what you had considered fairly mundane up until that moment.

 

And this can happen a lot easier than one may think.

 

Between politics in the office, relentless evaluation from outside the employee believe non believe business lead manageorganization as well as inside the organization and the normal ebbs & flows of everyday business which seem to almost simultaneously uncover grains of truth and cover grains of truth the vastness of what you actually do can become small pretty quickly under all this scrutiny.

 

And if you are not careful … you get squeezed into … well … not nothingness but certainly “lessness.”

 

I would suggest any manager worth a shit will almost always fight back <or respond>. It is almost a survival instinct but it can also be an ego instinct.

 

Regardless.

 

You gotta sharpen your elbows and create some space for yourself in between what all the scrutiny is suggesting <which often feels a lot like demanding> and what your current role is outlining as the right way to think and behave.

 

But here is the hard part.

 

And it is kind of surprisingly hard.

 

It is fairly easy to sharpen your elbows and fight back … but without some thought you are simply fighting — fighting with no purpose other than it feels good to fight <or you are fighting simply out of thoughtless, or less than thoughtful, survival>.

 

transformational leader 1And while fighting back in and of itself is somewhat satisfying because you feel like you should … it is less than satisfying because it has no real focus or purpose. It doesn’t have any ‘long game’ aspects involved <and if you have any desire to be a good leader/manager you have to be able to view beyond the present moment>.

 

I would argue this is where ‘knowing what you want and knowing who you are rears its ugly head.

 

Suffice it to say when you get squeezed you are gonna respond in some way.

You have to.

Because if you are a manager managing the shit in the present it is a fairly small window in which to work. That small window gets even … well … smaller if you are getting squeezed by the past and future challenges. This is what you will inevitably see as some response options:

 

 

  • Tripling down on what you believe makes you look good <this is image … putting on a good face … “talking the talk”>.

 

The risk on this one is that … well … you may be trying to look good on something you may not actually look good doing. In addition. If you are a crappy actor people ll see what you are trying to do.

 

  • Doubling down on what you are actually good at <usually with words and sometime directing people to do shit>.

 

The risk on this one is that what you are good at may not actually be what is needed to get out of the squeeze. You are definitely, and defiantly, playing to your strengths but it just may not be what it takes to penetrate the weakness in the squeeze.

 

  • Flee <absolve of responsibility>.

 

The risk in this is … well … you are a leader & a manager and you have absolved yourself of responsibility. If you cannot make the responsibility stick with someone else I can guarantee that the responsibility will stick with you like your shadow wherever you flee.

 

  • Find a different enemy so that the squeeze decides to go elsewhere.

 

The risk in this is being “anti” something is pretty easy but standing for something is really hard <and most people know that>. I could actually suggest in some ways being anti is lazy.

 

So.

 

All of that leads me to the best way to get out of a squeeze.

 

  • Stand for something.

 

The risk in this is … well … not really a shitload of risk unless you elect to stand for something stupid, bad or idiotic. But if you do this right … convince yourself that what you are standing for is something worthwhile but also mentally accept it may not perfectly align with your group norms as well as societal norms … but still be the right thing to stand for.

 

All that said.only the paranoid survive complacency

Unfortunately getting squeezed can also encourage another outcome & response – paranoia.

 

In fact … I almost called this paranoia (enemies everywhere).

 

I almost did that because paranoia is possibly the worst reflective response to being squeezed. What I mean is that once you have been squeezed a portion of you may start worrying that there is some hidden cabal or agenda ‘out to get you.’

But I did not call it that because paranoia is only one possible response to getting squeezed.

 

I would suggest that paranoid carries a fairly negative connotation. The reality is having a slight thread of paranoia <lets say “proportionate to your depth of confidence”> can often keep your head out of your own ass and more on a swivel watching what is going on around you.

 

Some would suggest it keeps you aware of your “what if” muscle. I would suggest it can keep your “if it can go wrong, it will” muscle.

 

Paranoia, when living in a healthy state, often helps your view of all the potential outcomes and solutions, with a thought of “proactiveness” to head off shit before I even exists.

 

Obviously, if paranoia is your only response to being squeezed and is your constant state of mind, that is neither healthy for you or the organization.

 

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

 

 

“Paranoia is just the bastard child of fear and good sense.” (Charlie)

“Poor thing. Let’s adopt it, give it a last name and raise it right.” (Jace)

“You want to get it a puppy, too?”

“Sure. We’ll call it Panic. It and little Paranoia can play together at the park and scare the hell out of all the other kids.”

 

 

D.D. Barant

 

===========

 

In the end … all managers and leaders get squeezed at some point. I would also suggest that how you navigate ‘the squeeze’ early in your management career will set you on a certain type of path with regard to how you manage being squeezed. And, just like with any pattern, the more often something works the next big thing lots of small thingsmore likely you will be to continue doing it.

 

Yes.

 

I will agree that sometimes a new challenge later on in Life will force someone to reflect and ‘rise to the occasion’ and shed some of the lesser aspects of who and what they may have been up to that point … but most people just stick with what they believe got them to where they are.

 

All I can say is that being squeezed has a tendency to squeeze out whatever character you may have within – some will be disappointed by what is squeezed out and some will be pleased. Just know that whatever is squeezed out can be seen by everyone.

 

the deplorables defined

August 30th, 2017

trump voters deserve not waste of space

 

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

 

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

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

 

“So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush when I say that you were warned about this man—and you ignored our warnings.

We were right; you were wrong.

 

The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses.

Sometimes the people who actually pay close attention to politics know more than the disgruntled populists and nationalists who are willing to gamble on the future of this great republic—and on the reputation of a conservative philosophy that goes from Aristotle to Burke to Buckley—in order to boost a reality show host.

You elected your guy, and look where it got us.”

 

Matt Lewis <Republican Conservative>

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

I probably get in more heated debates over Trump voters than almost any other deplorable Trump votertopics discussed these days – with both Trump voters and non-Trump voters.

 

I even know why it happens … we generalize and we label.

 

And in generalizing we force a Trump voter to defend other Trump voters, who most likely voted for Trump for some other reason than the one they are defending, and the non Trump voter paints all Trump voters with the worst of the worst attributes <the truly deplorable aspects>.

 

This is crazy.

No.

This is stupid.

 

The majority of Americans don’t have a label attached to them other than “get up and go to work and get shit done” people.

People rarely self-identify as a CNN watcher or Fox watcher or MSNBC watcher … or a republican or democrat … or any fringe group when you meet them.

 

We apply the label on them … we generalize for them.

 

But most people are labeled by … well … community, family and what they do to earn a living every day.

Sure … elections force most of us to take some stand but most of us embrace that stand with some unease. We would rather be defined by what happens in our day and lives than by whom we elected to vote for.

Most of us have our own imperfections and flaws without having to explain, or be defined, by some imperfections and flaws of someone who we voted for.

 

Most of all the label stuff is crap.

 

And maybe what is worst about labels are they suggest most Americans have to be “x” or they are “y.” That is complete and utter bullshit.voters people america speak out

 

I can be tough on immigration and still be compassionate.

 

I can have government les involved in healthcare and still make sure a safety net is available for all people.

 

I can increase my military budget without being some “hawk” who wants to drop bombs on everyone.

 

I guess my real point is that most Americans want it all and chafe when it is suggested they have to choose one thing or another. While TV pundits went out of their way to suggest this last election was a ‘binary choice’ the truth of the matter was that the decision on who to vote for was more likely a complex more-than-binary choice.

 

Which leads me to the Trump voters.

 

Up until now I have leaned heavily on the fabulous CBS News Nation Tracker Poll <CFM Strategic Communications panel survey> which outlined that the nation’s view of Donald Trump as President breaks down into four categories – Believers (22%), Conditionals (22%), Curious (21%) and Resisters (35%).

 

The first category are true believers who think Trump is on the right track. Conditionals generally support Trump, but may not approve of everything he does or says. The Curious are opponents, but could be swayed depending on Trump actions. Resisters see no hope in Trump and oppose him across the board.

 

But now there is a new piece of research out which breaks Trump voters into 5 groups which I will use to make my point again.

 

To summarize it I offer these 5 numbers to keep in mind:

 

American Preservationists (20%): 12 million people

  • These are the core ‘always-Trumpers’ … this is also the group who think anti-white discrimination is a much more prevalent problem than is discrimination against any minority group <which is, realistically, false>

 

 

Staunch Conservatives (31%): 19 million people

  • These are the core Republicans who would most likely vote for any Republican even if it was an alien

 

i have a voice opinion vote participate

Anti-Elites (19%): 11 million people

 

  • These have relatively cooler feelings toward Donald Trump and nearly half had favorable opinions of Clinton in 2012. This group shifted most dramatically, however, against Clinton by November 2016.

 

 

Free Marketeers (25%): 15 million people

  • Small government fiscal conservatives, free traders, with moderate to liberal positions on immigration and race.

 

 

the Disengaged (5%): 3 million people

  • This group does not know much about politics, but what they do know is they feel detached from institutions and elites and are skeptical of immigration.

 

 

USA population: 326.5 million people

USA adult 18+ population: est. 250 million people

 

<note: I used 60 million Trump votes to simplify my math and come up with people numbers>

 

The other thing I always keep in mind is that nowhere along the way, primary & general elections, has Trump ever won the popular vote. In the primaries Republicans voted in significant numbers for anyone but Trump <almost 2/3rd of primary votes did not vote for Trump>. My point in all these numbers is that Trump voters are not just an American minority/splinter of the whole but a relatively small <but loud> group.

 

Regardless.

 

Here is the topline good news … I would estimate we have less than 20 million, idiots Trump voters smart people stupid fucks breakdown of populationmy guess is maybe 15 million, truly deplorable people in the USA … say maybe 6% of adults. Here is the bad news … we tend to suggest those 6% are representative of all Trump voters <as well as all that is ignorant, deplorable and bad about USA>.

 

Anyway.

 

We screw up numbers in generalizations all the time.

Not all Trump voters voted for the same reason nor do they have similar issues.

 

It’s just like discussing “the 99%.”

 

The 99% are a mix of the wretched of the earth, the everyday schmucks who want to do the right thing and a fairly large group of upper middle class <doctors, university teachers, journalists, senior management, politicians>. It is the mixed bag of people who, without them, the 1% would cease to exist.

Lumping them all together in the 99% is almost suggesting that is America’s middle class which then suggests opportunity is equal to all <and the 1% should be everyone’s objective>.

 

Trump’s voters were a mixed bag of people with some good reasons to pull he lever for Trump and some bad reasons for pulling the lever for Trump.

 

Anyway.

 

I purposefully called this piece today “deplorables defined” to make a point. Of course not everyone who voted for Trump is deplorable … and Hillary never suggested such a thing. But … gosh … maybe we should have listened to her a little more closely … and maybe we should have listened to the entire speech … and maybe, just maybe, it is possible she was right:

 

——————

 

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

 

—————-

sigh charlie

Sigh.

 

Of course, none of us really did pay attention to it all <even the mainstream media which was supposedly all in her camp> and paid the price of not doing so by missing her statement about empathizing and working for better lives for those Trump supporters who aren’t scum-of-the-earth deplorable dumpster fire pieces of shit.

 

Would I have used the word “deplorable?”

 

No. probably not.

She probably should have been more specific and named them out, as the Alt-right, misogynists, white supremacist, KKK, and Nazis. But you know what? We are dancing on the head of a pin. ‘Some’ deplorables voted for Trump, ‘some’ deplorables still support trump and ‘some’ deplorables are irredeemable.

 

Ok.

 

Let me spend a moment more on ‘deplorable’.

While I, personally, would have not used the term with regard to some Trump voters I believe the only true mistake Clinton made was apologizing. She should have tripled down with clarifying & defining … and suggesting <in some way> we all have a deplorable ‘voice’ inside us whispering fears and untruths and … well … the bad shit we think about people who do not look like us.  And point out that Trump whispers, in a bombastic way, to our deplorable inside … and we shouldn’t permit him that victory <because Americans are better than that>.

 

By the way … I do believe that. And while there certainly are some truly deplorable people in the USA I would like to think 99% are redeemable not because they need to be redeemed but rather they need to understand they can ignore that voice inside and still get ahead and ‘win.’

 

In the end I offer two numbers.

 

15 and 30.

 

If you scour some of the more random assessment of the population and their views with regard to Trump you will find these two numbers <or close to them> constantly bubbling up.

 

15 percent Trump15%.

 

This would be the % of people who would follow Trump like lemmings over the cliff. He could bomb Alabama and they would find a good reason he did it <note: these are not all deplorable people but deplorable people reside within this number>.

 

 

30 Percent Trump30%.

This would be the % of people who wouldn’t follow Trump if you told them you would win the lottery. He could apologize every day until the day he died and they would still find a reason to suggest he pissed on Mother Theresa’s grave.

 

Anyway.

 

I don’t know Trump nor do I wish to ever meet the man but if I could whisper these numbers into his head … I would. They reflect the precarious nature of his presidency <or his reelection>.

I am under no illusion that Trump truly has any desire to unite the country but the numbers reflect the fact America is not deplorable by nature and the bigger message opportunity, to inspire people, is to remind them of that.

 

 

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

===

 

 

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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

 

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

=======

 

Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict