Enlightened Conflict

get caught trying

August 25th, 2016

 caught trying do not be afraid life do

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“History doesn’t choose individual people.

History chooses everyone.

 

Every day.

 

The only question is: How long will you ignore the call?”

 

Brad Meltzer

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“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

Jonathan Safran Foer

 

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How to succeed: Try hard enough.

How to fail: Try too hard.

 

Malcolm Forbes

 

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what are you going to do i do not know

 

Some people choose to not just be bystanders.

 

Some people choose to be tryers.

 

Some people treat personal liberty with incredible care and responsibility.

 

 

Some people love the depth & breadth of the imagination and, yet, retain a healthy skepticism toward what they love & dream about.

 

 

Some people embrace personal freedom and, yet, permit limits and responsibilities to steward the freedom.

 

 

Some people can become captivated with the beauty of Life and dreams and following passions and, yet, understand the demands of reality are more pressing than anything that is simply captivating.

 

 

Some people are brave … and bold … and, yet, refuse to be stupid about it.

 

Some people seek the extraordinary and, yet, understand they are simply being asked to take advantage of the ordinary found available to any and all.

 

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“And while I’d like to lay claim to some extraordinary act of originality, truth is I’m only taking advantage of capabilities inherent in everyone.”

 

——–

Mark Z Danielewski

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Some people not only hear the call of history … they also answer the call.

 

Some people think about doing … and some people actually do.

 

 

Some people understand that we all have multiple lives within us and, yet, decide to live one life well.

 

 

Well.

 

At some point you need to decide what type of person you want to be.choice is yours arrows direction

 

Some of that type of person or some of the other type of person.

 

To be a bystander or be a tryer.

 

All I can really suggest is … well … get caught trying to be a type of person.

the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be

June 29th, 2016

 

 

memories pictures life sky dreams wishes stars

 

Ok.

 

So when I saw this picture I thought of … well … stars.

 

 

What if each picture hanging was a star?

 

What if each picture was representative of some wish, or dream, that came true?

 

What if each star above us represents some ‘moment’ in Life glittering above us to remind us?

 

What a nice thought.

 

What if the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be and wishes redeemed?

 

Boy.

 

If that was ever a reason to take a minute and look at the stars on occasion that should compel us all to look upwards on occasion.

 

Back in 2012 I wrote something that began ‘stars are special things.’

 

In that post I mentioned the power of star gazing.

 

In this post maybe I am suggesting you can actually build your own starry night sky

 

I mean … what the hell … most of us are not astronomers and most of us do not have telescopes and I imagine an even fewer of us actually count all the stars in the sky.

 

So how do we know that each time we take a mental picture of a moment that another star isn’t added to our night sky?

 

Practically speaking I imagine that sounds silly.

 

But from an empowering Life perspective? Shit. It sounds anything but silly.

 

It sounds … well … fucking good.

 

It sounds … well … like I own a part of the night sky.

 

It sounds … well … like every night I can look up and my life makes up part of the beauty of that which is a starry night sky.

stars and thinking boy

I like the thought.

 

I like the thought that every moment we take a mental picture we hang a new star in the night sky and that each night, if we choose to look up, we can see our moments flickering and sparkling above us to wish for more, to simply admire what is there and hope that someone somewhere is wishing on one of our memorable moments for themselves.

 

And you know what I may like the most?

 

I could pick a room and hang picture after picture from the ceiling and make believe they are the stars I have built in my own Life sky.

 

 

Speeches and speech writing

March 17th, 2016

 speechless

 

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

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

 

 

Joseph Conrad

 

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

 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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Well.

 

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

 

But.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Very very few people can write that stuff.

 

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

 

Oh.

 

And then there was Trump.

 

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

 

There was no ‘we’ it was all ‘me.’

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

 

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

 

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

 

The contrast between speeches is stunning.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Solutions are always preferred to problems.

Implying people together is always preferred to tearing people apart.

 

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

 

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

do souls need to be hugh

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

 

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“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.

 

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

 

 

Shannon L. Alder

 

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

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

 

I admit.

 

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

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

 

Anyway.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

I believe I am in the minority in this thinking.

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

 

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

 

Look.

 

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

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

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

 

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

This freaks a shitload of people out.

 

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

 

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

what want need give

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

 

 

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

 

 

Anyway.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Or.

 

 

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

 

Toby Ziegler:

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Hugh something to believe in

 

Regardless.

 

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

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

 

Yes, lift.

 

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

 

Bottom line.

 

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

All I know is what’s on the internet

March 17th, 2016

 stupidity handicap napoleon trump

 

 

Here is the quote of the day.

 

 

From aspiring president candidate Donald Trump:

 

 

 

“What do I know?” Trump replied. “All I know is what’s on the internet.”

 

 

trump generation of idiots

Well.

 

This actually explains a lot.

 

Credible sources track Trump comments/claims he makes running at about 75% false.

 

Now we know why. He clicks on Wikipedia or urban dictionary or instagram <scanning an image with some quote or factoid> and then tweets it out or parrots it in on-air interviews.

 

 

He has no credible sources … he just makes shit up or maybe even worse … he doesn’t truly think about what he believes.

 

 

I know many of my readers do not live in USA … but for those who do … please think about that before you vote.

 

 

Ok.

 

Now ponder this Trump wisdom.

 

 

 

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. My primary consultant is myself and I have – you know, I have a good instinct for this stuff.”

 

 

Well, Donald, that sounds quite reasonable. It’s not as if the world, let alone the Middle East, Ukraine, the South China Sea, is particularly complex or that there are nuanced delicate diplomatic situations or even that it is important to get it right.

 

I imagine just going on instinct makes sense. Or maybe go on the internet because there you will surely find all the answers you will need.

 

 

<note some heavy sarcasm there>

 

 

When I read what he said I thought of a Samuel Adams quote:

 

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“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

 

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Samuel Adams

 

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With Trump we are facing a vain man, maybe the vainest of vain, and an ego amigoaspiring man – one who aspires with no rules, no boundaries, seemingly no moral imperative, or … well … any trivial nuisance that could get in the way of a win.

 

He appears, alarmingly so, to be free of any actual solutions.

 

He appears to be free, alarmingly so, of any real policy <beyond his ‘good instincts for this stuff.”

 

He appears to be free,  alarmingly so, to offer frighteningly hollow rhetoric.

 

He is the ruin … not of the country <we will still be standing despite him> … but he is the ruin of what makes the country great <which is not simply ‘winning’ as he suggests it is>.

 

 

In my little corner of the world I will do everything in my power to convince everyone of the sham Trump is and what he offers.

 

Why?

 

I will refer to Samuel Adams again <and let everyone who has not spoken out yet think about these words>:

 

 

“… the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.” It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.”

 

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Samuel Adams in The Boston Gazette 14 October 1771

 

online megaphone listen speak

 

Speak out now.

 

For what we say, and do, today has an impact … an impact that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.

 

We seek to circumvent the miserableness for the millions yet unborn.

 

 

 

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Toby Ziegler <West Wing>:

 

“We don’t know what the next president is going to face. If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas, who’s connected to other people’s lives and cares about making them better; if we choose someone to inspire us then we’ll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things we can’t imagine yet.”

 

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the contradictory feelings of Life

March 13th, 2016

life is contradiction squeeze

 

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“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.”

 

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Charles Baudelaire

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It is amazing how things in Life seemingly swing to & fro between horror and ecstasy.

 

It begins in childhood as the simplistic joys of youth crash into the inevitable of simplistic horrors <think … the ecstasy of first pedaling of a bike and the horror or the first crash>.

 

compromise balance beamSome of us master the contradictory feeling … okay … we don’t master it we simply learn to manage it. We face horror and ecstasy with an equal sense it will not last … horror with hope attached and ecstasy with a little disappointment attached. I guess we just figure out a way of balancing the contradictory feelings.

 

In simplistic adult terms we often call it the inevitable ‘highs & lows” in Life.

 

Neither last forever.

 

Neither is the norm.

 

 

It doesn’t really matter what labels we put on it all … Life is a mixed bag of contradictory events, outcomes and feelings. More often than not horror is not indicative of Armageddon and ecstasy is not indicative of future ongoing bliss. More often than not we encounter moments and envision the moment as something bigger than it is.

 

Than we have another moment.

 

And another.

And, well, another. Until we don’t.

 

 

And in the end we most likely look back at the Life balance sheet of horror & ecstasy and see it is fairly balanced. And if we are lucky and did things the best we could whenever we could we most likely see that we have more ecstasy in our asset column than horror in the liability column.

 

I sometimes believe this is a lesson learned of experience.

 

Youth looks on with horror at horror thinking it represents the yawning sinkhole of eternal despair and alternatively looks on with the addict-like yearnings at ecstasy thinking it represents what Life should solely be.

Through experience we not only recognize we ultimately have to face this ongoing Life contradiction but also how, in some ways, to avoid horror and, on occasion, encounter ecstasy.

compromise balancing act

That said.

 

I sometimes wonder if by avoiding what may appear to be horror that, on occasion, we are also eliminating some possible ecstasy.

Because maybe Life was built as a system in which to be used to its fullest we were meant to bounce off of horror … and ecstasy.

 

What I don’t have to wonder about is the truth that most of us older folk reach a point where we will sacrifice ecstasy for contentment … with the intent to avoid horror. I am not suggesting that is ‘settling’ because it is actually Life management.

 

But.

Many of the young look on and ask us “is that really the trade you want to make with your Life?”

 

All most of us old folk can do is shrug our shoulders and say “it is a choice you need to make on your own.”

 

And I imagine that is my point in today’s philosophical ramblings.

 

Life is consistent in its contradiction of horror & ecstasy.

choices happend to be jungIt is what it is.

 

Therefore, it is your choice to make what it is for you.

 

There is no formula.

There is no one right way to choose to live Life.

 

In general … each person can choose the amount of horror and the amount of ecstasy … and the amount of whatever resides in between … to make up their Life.

In general … as you weave your way thru the contradiction of horror and ecstasy you will find that … well … you will choose what to become as a person.

 

 

 

a wrong turn

February 6th, 2016

field of sun flowers===

 

“A wrong turn lead me to a field of flowers and suddenly I’m second guessing every wrong turn in my life.”

 

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Source: a thousand words tumblr

 

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Well.

 

 

I have never analyzed nor have I seen any research with regard to how much time we use to plan out the ‘right moves’ to make in our careers and lives. I planned what happenedimagine, if a study were done, between consciously planning and the ‘in the moment analysis’ planning … those two ‘life plannings’ would represent some inordinately absurd amount of our time.

 

 

When I saw this thought on athousandwords I began thinking about how often most of us attach ‘bad’ to wrong turns and how less often we attach ‘good’ to wrong turns.

 

 

Simplistically we attach wrong to bad.

 

 

Wrong turn = Bad choice/decision

 

 

Sure.

 

Sometimes that is true.

 

 

But I think I could argue that a wrong turn simply puts you in some place you hadn’t planned on <and you assume the plan was a good plan because … well … you had planned it>. Therefore the unplanned place is a bad place because it … well … was an unplanned place <some circular logic which seems kind of doomed to conclude bad even if it may actually be good>.

 

 

Setting aside the whole planning thing … turns are part of life.

leading one way

Life is not one huge straight boulevard you place your car on and start driving.

 

Life is more often like seemingly random patchwork of inner city streets with dead ends, one ways and no left hand turns which seemingly are only placed at only the intersections which you had planned to make a left hand turn.
Whether you plan the shit out of your life or not we all make a shitload of turns in Life.

 

Some are planned.

 

Some are unplanned.

 

Some you have the time to invest a lot of time thinking about.

 

Some you cannot invest a lot of time thinking about.

 

Some end up in a good place.

 

Some end up in a bad place.

 

 

I imagine my only point is that sometimes, maybe more often than you think, a wrong turn puts you in a different better more interesting place. A wrong turn exposes you to something you maybe never imagined you would ever see, ever face or ever think about. And that is the ultimate value of a wrong turn.

 

 

It exposes you to something beyond the plan you ever envisioned.

 

I don’t propose building a Life around a disproportionate amount of purposeful wrong turning. field dirt road sunset

 

That kind of seems a little chaotic and absolutely suggests a shitload of wasted time & energy.

 

 

However.

 

Maybe we think about Life more as a shitload of turns … just a blanket ‘shitload’ … instead of categorizing them simply as right turns & wrong turns.

Turns are turns and more often than not they don’t lead you some place you can never leave they simply lead you to some place.

Enlightened Conflict