Enlightened Conflict

testing norms and what is legal

May 15th, 2017

never too good at following rules

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

 

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me.

If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

 

Robert A. Heinlein

 

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“Rules are for children.

This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

 

Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

hoist the black flag rulesWe have a shitload of regulations, laws and rules to abide by every day.

 

We set out explicit rules and guidelines and sometimes these appear as laws. They are meant to showcase a red line for behavior.

 

That said, boy oh boy … we sure do bitch about how many laws we have and how many regulations are in place and how many rules we face that curb our success. The government is most likely the main villain in this story.

Most of us act like government sits around coming up with rules and laws and regulations simply to stifle freedom in our lives – personal and business.

 

It may behoove us to think a little more about why those rules, regulations and laws came about and how we still have some room to navigate which is a playing field called “norms.”

 

It may behoove us to think a little more about the fact we suck at self-regulation. In fact, when left to regulate ourselves, within a capitalist environment, the arc of behavior bends toward some fairly heinous behavior.

 

What happens is that some start pushing out beyond what most people would integrity has no need of rulestend to believe is ‘integrity driven behavior’ and with each push what is acceptable becomes broader and broader.

 

So what we have done in the past is to step in, slap the wrist of those who have bent the arc toward what is not really the best for all and then set up some regulations to insure our self-regulation has some fences to corral us.

 

That said.

 

We do have some norms.

Some ‘accepted beliefs’ for some specific roles and responsibilities.

 

It’s like we assume if you become a CEO of a business that you will not instigate any illegal behavior and you will tell the truth with regard to what you are selling & offering.

Yes there are laws and regulations but, in general, a business sets its own behavioral compass – within which there will be things unwritten but accepted.

 

 

It’s like we assume if you decided to accept the responsibility of a public servant you will share your tax returns to show how you have earned your money in the past, you assume that you will cut ties with your business to insure no conflicts of interest and you assume you don’t fire people because you don’t like them.

 

All of those things may be legal to actually do but norms suggest they are not the right things to do.

 

Norms, in my pea like brain, reside outside a buffer zone just prior to reaching one of these red lines. They are usually unstated and they are usually simply expected for those who uphold some integrity and they are usually just done by the people who truly matter.

 

Ah.

breaking rules HagyBut let’s remember … most times norms reside within what is a larger legally acceptable behavior.

Why does that happen?

Because most people who set up rules and regulations and laws desire to give people some freedom to act and make their own decisions.

 

That said … to be clear … you can do a shitload of legal things in life, business & government which when viewed honestly can look and smell really bad.

 

I have worked several times with people who have constantly suggested “but it is legal.” And 90% of the time I have felt uneasy about what we were about to do. Not that it was illegal but rather it <a> tested what I would consider a norm and <b> it was clearly in that buffer zone that got too close to the red line.

 

There will always be people who will dance on the icy brink of the red line and these same people will dance while singing “it is legal.”

 

It is a hollow song to sing and it always sounds slightly out of tune.

 

Anyway.

 

Let’s just say there are two basic types of people:

 

  • Those who see norms, and normative behavior, and see it as guidelines for right or wrong <an subsequently check laws, rules and regulations to be sure all is good & legal>. In other words behavior doesn’t have to be dictated by some rule or law but more often than not “what seem like the right thig to do.”

 

 

  • Those who see “anything that could be deemed legal”, or, conversely, “if it is not expressly forbidden than it is permissible. These people don’t ever ponder “what seems like the right thing to do” because, to them, if it is legal it is right.

 

 

People have a lot of leeway to do non-criminal bad actions.

rules do not why not

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

 

“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break ’em.”

 

Terry Pratchett

 

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

 

 

And I tend to believe most times rules & laws are not rewritten is because people break them <because they have done their job>, It is when people start ignoring norms where rules & laws get rewritten.

As soon as enough people, or prominent people, start doing things that the norm had suggested up to that point was ‘not the right thing to do’ people sit back, shake their heads a little sadly … and say “well, I guess we need to set up some rules.”

 

I admit.

I am both a norms guy and a law/rules guy.

 

If you give me the rules & the laws I believe I can win within them. And win even without bending their interpretation.

 

If norms are established and the norms reflect ‘good’ and not ‘bad behavior’ I tend to place them right beside all the rules/laws you gave me and say exactly the same thing … I believe I can win within them.

 

following the rulesBut not everyone thinks that way.

 

Some people don’t care about ‘good behavior’ all they care about is ‘legal behavior’ <what is technically legal>. It is these people who actually create the need for rules, regulations and laws.

 

So maybe when we start bitching about all the rules, regulations and laws we have that seem to restrict some things we tend think are kind of okay to do … we shouldn’t blame the institutions which created them … we should be blaming the people who forced their creation.

They are the ones who absolutely suck at self-regulation … actually worse than most of the rest of us … and we pay the price for their behavior.

the fraying of organizational communication

May 8th, 2017

fraying communications

 

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

 

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

 

—–

Benjamin Franklin

 

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

 

Ok.

 

It seems like in today’s world leaders are getting the shit kicked out of them if they communicate in a precise fashion, in a measured way and in what appears bland magic in the headto be calculated communicating.

They are called unauthentic, bland and blamed for being ‘less than truthful.’

 

This is creating a sense that semi-impetuous blurbs of ‘here is what I think’ communication is deemed of higher value from our leaders.

 

Well.

 

It is a sad state of affairs if we value the latter in a leader more than the former.

But let me point out the flaws in the impetuous less-than-thought-out thought communicating.

 

I call it the fraying of organizational communication.

 

You learn fairly quickly once you begin leading a larger group of people, and desire them to grow beyond simply being order takers, that precise communications matters.

 

You learn you cannot be everywhere at once, you cannot be in every meeting and you cannot have people simply parrot your own words because … well … they are your words and not theirs <and for them to grow they need to figure out how to articulate things on their own>. Therefore, you learn that you need to precisely communicate an idea so that they can offer up their own words to share that idea.

 

You learn this because impreciseness means people start having to answer not only unnecessary questions … but are also being demanded to explain ‘what you meant.’

 

This is a dangerous slippery slope.good and bad thoughts words

 

People work for you for a reason <you most likely have more experience and have some skills they do not have>.

People have different titles for a reason <they most likely have different or less experience and have yet to learn some skills they do not have>.

 

This means that farther out your words & thoughts have to be explained the more likely the explanation is not going to be exactly right.

Oh.

 

And let’s ad in ‘the stress factor.’

 

This is where ‘fraying’ becomes obvious.

 

The less precise a leader is the more likely the communication fabric is going to be tugged at the edges. The edges being where many of your least experienced people reside. The less precise a leader is the more the pressure at the farthest point of communication.

 

This is where the ‘fraying’ becomes most obvious. As more and more questions are piled upon the person on the edge with regard to the “whys” and “whats” the communication becomes more and more stressed … and mistakes are made.

 

wrong faultThings are said that just may not be exactly right.

 

Something is said in exasperation.

 

Something is communicated as a ‘well, could be’ scenario to offer some space.

 

This is not the fault of the person on the edge … the responsibility lies with the person at the center.

 

Anyway.

 

As a leader, the people closest to you most likely don’t need the precision, calculation and measured words … but you give it to them anyway. You do so because those closest to you will find their own words to say what you said … without losing its meaning.

 

A flawed message at the top doesn’t lose its flaws as it expands … its flaws become increased.

 

Some people call it ‘getting your talking points in line’ … I do not. I simply call it “clarity & precision from the top.” I do that because while it may seem bland and it may seem calculated … it avoids the more difficult problems and criticisms.

 

ato normal center abnormal societyA leader must hold the center verbally. It can sometimes be held with vision and soaring rhetoric but more often it is captures in the calculated pragmatic words which are easily carried by those on the edges out beyond the organization.

 

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

‘Things fall apart, the center cannot hold….

The best lack all conviction,

While the worst are full of passionate intensity

 

—–

William Butler Yeats < The Second Coming>

 

==========

 

As a leader there may be nothing worse than confidently saying the wrong thing. For when you do the rest of your organization feels compelled to support your confidence … uhm … and the wrong thing.

 

And if the ‘wrongness’ is compounded with any sense of vagueness in meaning ‘wrong’ becomes his multidimensional blob of slime which mucks up the entire organizational engine.

 

I am fairly sure mom & pop businesses don’t learn this lesson <or maybe not as well>. They have no real need to do so. Most words are in the domain of the ‘mom & pop’ and any family members or close knit employees will most likely simply regurgitate whatever the mom & pop say with earnestness … but no real understanding. There is no need to understand … it just is.

 

And maybe that is where leaders, who are precise and calculated in wording, understand what truth about success within an organization is — that understanding matters.

 

People cannot defend what they do not completely understand and, well, you know as a leader you cannot always be there to defend and you need to depend on others to do so … not by interpreting what you said but through understanding what you said.

 

In the end.

 

We may beat the crap out of ‘bland colorless calculated’ communication from leaders but we should all recognize that it isn’t necessarily done out of fear of saying the wrong thing or political correctness but rather done because … well … good leaders know they hold the center. They know that understanding limits spotlight seat lead follow center alonefraying at the edges of the organization.

They know they have a responsibility, boring as it may be on occasion, to pragmatically say what needs to be said in a way that doesn’t encourage guessing or questioning.

 

Clarity really does matter.

And ‘bland’ can be underrated.

But fraying communications farther from the center is a reflection of a leader not assuming responsibility for holding a strong center.  A good leader knows that while they may have a dozen things they really want to say 11 of those things will most likely make the people on the edges edgy and miserable.

A good leader knows that an organization is not just about what the one wants to say <the leader themselves> but rather organizational effectiveness resides in ‘out of many, one.’

 

I imagine what I am saying is that if you see some people on-the-ground who are part of an organization and you start hearing verbal mistakes … 99% of the time it is a reflection of the fact the leader was vague, imprecise and didn’t hold the communication center <that would make them a bad leader>.

 

wonder how the same thing can be both

February 7th, 2017

good bad best worst think do life be

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“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.

I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

 

————–

Death

<in “The Book Thief”>

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So.

 

This quote is said by Death.

 

Yeah.

Death is suggesting he considers humans beautiful … as well as everything else that we are … all the while resting comfortably in his chair awaiting the opportunity to end it all.

 

We all know we're going to die, but it's one of the few human experiences we don't like talking about. How can we change that?

I admit.

 

The thought seems slightly counter-intuitive, but I like thinking the thought that Death is a lot more complicated than we may think.

 

I like thinking that Death sees us … and assesses us … and maybe even judges us a little … as not one-dimensional things to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

 

I like thinking of death as not some grim reaper but rather a thoughtful person who has a job to do. One who contemplates the fact that some days will be good and some days just won’t be so fun.

 

I like thinking of Death One who can see the best and worst … acknowledging that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people.

 

And, I imagine, I like thinking of Death as … well … intelligent and not simply some mindless executioner wandering about seeking his next victim.

 

For sure this quote reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote about intelligence:

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

 

 

I believe it was Keats who called this ‘negative capability.’

 

best worst faces life people good badAs he explained <or tried to > “it is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

 

In other words … you understand, or least come to grips with, that there is a shitload of inconsistency and uncertainty in Life and, yet, you deal with it and do what you need to do.

 

<that’s my translation>

 

The truth in Life is that we really don’t have to be one thing because you’re not another thing – or not be something if you are something <you get it>.

 

It may seem impossible to appear to be a contradiction and, yet, be quite a successful, happy, productive bundle of contradictions.

 

Not only do you not have to be one thing forever but you can actually be a couple of things now … at the same time … in this time & place.

 

I sometime believe individual happiness is found more often than not in our ‘negative capability’ intelligence. In other words … how smartly we can navigate the contradictions in Life as well as the contradiction of what is within who & what we are. If we don’t learn negative capability then we must seem to inevitably seek to isolate being one thing and one thing only as a judge of whether we are living Life well, productively and with focus.

 

And maybe that is why I believe Death was, and is, intelligent — it has mastered negative capability. Death has embraced the contradiction of being one thing and yet living another seemingly contradictory idea.

If Death can see beauty in that which it will inevitably have to end with its own hand surely we can see good in bad … as well as be both bad & good ourselves.

 

Regardless.

 

It seems like there is a lesson in here for all of us. And maybe the lesson is, unfortunately, not that simple.

 

Death looks, on the surface, as one thing … and yet … is most likely another.

 

Death does one thing … and yet … most likely thinks many other things.

 

We view Death as one thing and avoid him … and yet … should we meet him on the street on his way to meet someone other than us … he may greet us with a smile.

 

While Death’s perception challenge  is actually called “affective fallacy” <confusion between what it is and what it does> this is a challenge we all face in Life.

 

I imagine, in the end, the lesson is a simple one … sometimes Life just isn’t that simple.

 

Ok.

 

Ditch the ‘sometimes.’best worst good bad life complicated

 

Life is never that simple.

 

We are more than one thing … we are a sum of all our parts … we are part of everyone we have met <and will meet> … and we are, at our core, a reflection of a multi-faceted character containing aspects of all which we desire to be as well as some aspects which we view slightly glumly as ‘the aspects I do not desire to be … but am.’

 

We either embrace the contradictions or … well … we will most likely suck at dealing with Life and living Life.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know is that I wish someone taught “negative capabilities 101” because we should all sign up for that class. It would be a better world if we were all competent in negative capabilities.

 

 

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

 

“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

 

Neil Gaiman

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fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

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“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

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“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

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Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

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Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

communication malpractice

October 24th, 2016

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

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

 

James Humes

 

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

 

George Bernard Shaw

 

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say out loud oopsWe have all said stupid things.

 

We have all said the wrong thing.

 

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

 

That said.

 

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

 

No.

 

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

 

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

 

And I have a prime example for today.

 

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

 

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

 

I admit.

 

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

 

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

 

Sorry.

That is a Life truth.

 

But let’s talk about communication malpractice.

 

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

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

 

That is a broad overview of communication malpractice.

 

Look.

 

I have my own communication problems.

 

I lose sight of my pronouns.

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

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

 

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

 

 

I can interrupt.

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

 

Still.

No excuse. It can be aggravating.

 

But.

 

I prepare.

 

intentional-beI map out thoughts.

 

I plan an overall narrative.

 

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

 

I think about individual words.

 

I am intentional.

 

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

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He wastes a good idea and thought.

Absolutely wastes them.

 

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

 

Look.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And here is maybe the craziest thing.

 

He commits communication malpractice whether he is prepared or unprepared.

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

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Oh. That last one.

He did say that.

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

 

Lastly.

 

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

 

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

 

Yeah.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

That is communication best practice.

 

Anything other than that is communication malpractice.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Sigh.

 

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

 

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

 

  1. Caution when hearing the solution prophets:

 

Do not fear ashes, do not fear curses,

Do not fear brimstone and fire.

But fear like the plague the man with the rage

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

Who tells you, “fall in and follow me

If heaven on earth’s your desire.”

 

<an unsourced Russian ballad>

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

 

I know. I know.

 

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

 

The twist?

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

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

And that is their role in the situation.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

===

 

“The mouse dreams dreams that would terrify a cat.

 

Armenian proverb

 

===

 

“Insurrection is a machine that makes no noise.”

 

Trotsky

===

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

No.

 

Frickin’.

 

Clue.

 

 

And that leads me to the second quote from Trotsky.

 

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

 

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

 

Now.

 

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

 

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

And that is called ‘insurrection.’

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Ok.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Anyway.

 

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

 

Free speech.

 

 

 

Amendment I.

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

 

 

He lives within the same constitution you and I do.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And maybe that is my larger point.

 

Great organizations outlast individuals who perform communication malpractice.

Sure.

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

 

Do I believe Trump is creating damage? Yes.

 

Do I believe it is mortal damage? No.

 

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

 

In the end.

 

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

 

It is communication malpractice to not offer logic.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ok.

Lots bad.

 

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

 

first class ticket through life

April 6th, 2016

=== leading yourself first

 

“There are very few products which do not benefit from being given a first class ticket through life.”

 

 

David Ogilvy

 

 

====

“When one loves, one does not calculate.”

 

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

 

===

 

 

 

One of the most consistent business discussions I seem to have with marketing people is tone of messaging … or how to frame the product or service or scraps of ocean stonesbusiness in the marketplace.

 

With all the books & processes cramming differentiation down every marketer’s throat most businesses invest gobs of energy identifying either what makes them distinct or different.

 

At the end of that road they are tired … and then have to figure out how to tell everyone.

 

This is where we start calculating the ones we love.

 

The ‘one’ being the business, product and/or service. We have lovingly crafted everything about it and now we begin calculating how to communicate it.

 

The calculation simplistically drives most people to gravitate to one of two places – humor or humorless.

 

Now.

 

To be honest.

 

I am not a big ‘use humor in communications’ person. More often than not humor is either misused <someone has decided ‘breaking thru the clutter’ matters more than actual substance> or it is off-putting <crass humor to make a point> or it is simply forced.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, and have not, use humor in communications and marketing … but it tends to be ‘smart humor’ and not slapstick or silly.

 

And there is a reason for that beyond the overall humor ‘misused’ thought.

 

I believe people deserve a first class ticket in Life.

 

And, frankly, I believe most businesses offer products & services that deserve a first class ticket through Life.

 

First and foremost I believe a business should treat their own product & service, and business, with respect and dignity and … well … at least an aspect of seriousness as a reflection of the seriousness the business itself put forth in coming up with the idea.

 

Most businesses are neither flippant nor not thought out. This doesn’t mean you cannot laugh at yourself nor offer who and what you are with some character and humility … but rarely do I want to suggest I didn’t do some first class thinking in building what I hope is a first class offering.

 

In the parallel world … the one in which the people reside who will actually buy or use this product or service … well … these people want to be treated with respect, respect for them, their heads, their hearts & their wallets.

 

All of this sounds practical. All of this most likely resonates with business people … then why does it all go out the window with some slapstick wacky creative structure in communicating the message?

 

 

Look.

 

No.serious nonsense change anything

 

As a business I don’t want to take myself too seriously.

 

But I need to weigh the fact that I have a serious business offering developed thru some serious thoughtful business acumen.

 

 

The problem mostly lies in the fact that after beating the crap out of your business positioning to uncover the strong core to offer … a business fears it isn’t interesting enough or distinct enough.

 

Then they fall prey to the ‘to break thru you need to do something different’ advice.

 

I have this discussion so many times with businesses I have honed the discussion platform into two basic starting points:

 

 

  • Try and view it all with a fresh eye

 

I typically suggest that a business always try and look at the world with new eyes … view the things they have maybe looked at a zillion times … so many times that the things are just things. I suggest that because people want to see a world through new eyes.

 

Some people call this the sea of sameness. I do not. I believe there is a lot of good shit and good things out there … but we have seen them … and derivatives of them day in and day out <and this includes “breakthroughs & NEW”> that our eyes, ears and hearts view without viewing.

 

Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more impactful to someone than seeing something they have seen a zillion times in a new way. It taps into a sense of wonder … I wonder why I never saw that before, wonder what I was doing in the past that made me not see that and … well … I wonder if I will ever view this thing the same ever again in the future.

 

 

  • Think vivid

 

vivid element close first class jwtWhen I was at J. Walter Thompson years ago the basic premise behind crafting recognizable and relevant ideas was about “vivid”  – vivid metaphors or vivid demonstrations in communicating the product idea.

Some businesses have something that makes them uniquely demonstrable. Superiority is best communicated, and most simply communicated, through communicating performance. Sound dull? Only if you don’t truly offer superiority and the demonstration isn’t vivid.

Some businesses rely on a vivid metaphor where an actual demonstration fails to be either distinctive or effective. Great literature bursts with metaphors … for commonplace things we often take for granted.

 

Love: “my love is like a red rose.”

 

The sun: “the sun rose like thunder”

 

Night: “the dark curtain of night.”

 

 

The metaphor can make the commonplace exceptional and interesting.

 

Regardless of which vivid path a business pursues it should evoke something – surprise, synergy, sympathy, simplicity or shivers.

 

Day in and day out I stick to my guns and this point of view with regard to positioning businesses in the marketplace. Maintain the high road <because people like to get better than maybe what they expect> and think ‘vivid.’

If you pursue this kind of thinking as you frame your business, product or service … well … you actually limit your risk <that is also part of pursuing a ‘first class ticket’ philosophy>.

 

I found it interesting when I googled “first class life” and I found that First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Definition: First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Description: First class life comes under low risk category of life insurance and thus is charged normal premium charges. An individual identified as first class life is subject to normal premium rates for an insurance policy.

 

All business contains risk … it is inherent in everything you do.

 

Therefore in building your business you should be seeking to mitigate risks <so you can take the ‘smart risks’>.

 

Tone in communications shouldn’t be about risk.

But. love hate hugh

Let me be clear on this … a business should always seek to craft a message so that it is loved by some and disliked by others <that shows you have made some choices> but that message should always <always> be framed in a way that makes the people who love you feel like they just got a first class ticket through Life <and even the ones who hate you will most likely respect you in some way>.

 

You know … reading back over what I just wrote … this seems simple. If you are running a business and you have lovingly crafted some product or service you really believe in … well … why wouldn’t you buy it a first class ticket into the marketplace?

 

I call it “selling up.” I don’t want to undersell my idea, my business, my people … or my potential customers. I want them to feel like they part of something that brings Life ‘up’ … and not down. Seems like everyone would want to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict