Enlightened Conflict

that tempt you to believe your critics

April 30th, 2017

criticized no matter

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“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.

There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.

 

Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

 

—–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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So.

 

Several people have asked if I will ever lighten up on President Trump.

 

oh my god cover mouth silence do not speakWell.

 

Here’s the deal.

 

Yes. I am a harsh critic of Donald J Trump.

 

However … almost all my criticism & critique is done from a business perspective and not a personal perspective.

 

I do not know the man so commenting on him personally would seem silly.

 

But I do know business.

 

I do know some of the better senior business people.

I do know what good leadership and leading looks like.

 

I also know what business principles would be transferable to attempting to be a president <in a political system versus a “CEO” business system> and I know that I do not know shit about politics <but from afar I can see the maddening aspects and have no desire to work within the system>.

 

I do know that I am a harsh critic of myself … I am self-proclaimed perpetually dissatisfied business person.

 

I do know I am not a big self-promoter, tend to dislike extreme self-promoters and I value confidence … but quite confidence.

 

And that leads to my criticisms of Trump.

critical blame responsibility asshats credit

First and foremost Trump falls squarely in my criticism cross hairs. As the graph to the right indicates when someone is in the asshat space I will be harshly critical.

 

I would note that I assume everyone makes mistakes so if you view this chart as “emphasis of my criticism depending on where you fall on this chart” my level of criticism will naturally dial up based upon the behavior of the participant and not their actual actions <this can translate into some minor criticism even if something is done right and harsh criticism when a mistake is made>.

 

Now.

 

My second basis of criticism falls on progressive scale. The higher the responsibility the higher the expectations <of what you should know, how you should behave and what you actually do> and, ultimately, the higher the volume of criticism for less-than-appropriate behavior. Correspondingly, the lower the responsibility, the lower the expectation and … well … yeah … you get it … my level of criticism diminishes.

 

What does all of that mean?

 

I think we are all much more forgiving of someone who shows some humility and accepts responsibility and admits mistakes and is confident without being overbearing. And the more someone doesn’t show those characteristics the more likely our pendulum of criticism will swing toward … well … highly critical.

 

Ok.

 

I heard someone say “Trump could enact a miracle and some people will criticize him.”

That is not true.

It approaches Trump criticism from the wrong perspective in that it ignores the context that HE creates. I would be happy to not criticize him and I even have edged into giving him some credit on occasion.

But I do so hesitantly.

And I think many others are hesitant for the same reason.

 

Just as he has a tendency to exaggerate … well … everything … he makes it say out loud oopsdifficult to compliment him. There is no counterbalance and our fear , at least mine, is that giving credit seems to take on an exponentially exaggerated level with him. And I seriously doubt that giving him credit will be thanked by offering up some humility or admitting some past mistakes.

Therefore, just as it is with the guy in your office who wants to take credit for shit he has never done and believes that people don’t give him enough credit in general or don’t recognize how smart/talented he is … they absorb credit and compliments as “it is about time” or “what took you so long to see what I have been telling you” rather than “thanks.”

 

These kinds of people are hard to give credit to. And, in fact, these kinds of people almost make us NOT want to give them credit for anything <and , if we do, it tends to be muted>.

 

Does that mean my criticism is too harsh? Shit. I don’t know.

 

I don’t think so.

Harsh, in my eyes, would be if he was actually a business guy who was implementing solid business principles and I ignored that and simply was harshly criticizing some of the ‘art’ aspects of business <and not the ‘science’ part>.

 

But Trump is implementing none of the ‘science.’ In addition, he is the Dolph Lundgren of the artistic portion of business. He has no ‘feel’ for business just one speed and one style and one way of doing things.

 

And that is the basis for my constant Trump critiques — he is failing to meet what I would consider the basic business leadership standards of … well … even a higher middle manager type leader in a larger organization.

 

To be clear.

I am careful about how I criticize anyone in any position. While Trump is most likely not familiar with Plato, Plato offers us some guidelines with regard to how to evaluate a business person beyond simple evaluation of what they do:

 

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“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

 

 

Plato

 

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Behavior, business included, flows from these three things. It isn’t ‘good business instincts’ or ‘deal making skills’ or … well … any of the things Trump head-in-cloud-glasses-thinkflippantly tosses around with regard to what he believes <and he constantly suggests we all know this about him> is his incredible business skill.

 

And while I could take a stab at critiquing Donald J Trump on what his desire is <psychologically and tangibly> and I may be able to take a stab at what his emotional drivers are … I most typically do not. My critical evaluation mostly resides on ‘knowledge.’

 

His business knowledge and how he uses it.

 

All that said.

 

Yeah.

Sometimes I use some harsh words.

 

I have called him batshit crazy <hyperbole>.

 

I have called him a clown <he does portray some circus performer aspects on occasion>.

 

I have called him an idiot <misuse of a word to highlight what is actually ‘oblivious behavior’>.

 

Does that make my criticism too harsh? No. But what it may do is add unnecessary color to what should be a black & white issue.

 

Black & white?

grays black and white

As one article summarized it perfectly — Trump is simply a profoundly mediocre person tragically unfit for the presidency.

 

Criticizing chaos, or less than competent leadership behavior, or even less-than-principled foundational business acumen is simply pointing out unnecessary turmoil – or a situation which is at war with itself.

Maybe one should view my writings and critiques as the writings of a wartime journalist recording the battles, generals and strategies.

 

Maybe I should think of myself that way with Trump. Why? I want peace. I don’t want this turmoil. It is tiring and mostly unnecessary. And any viable sane business person who has ever held any significant responsibility knows that this is mostly unnecessary turmoil.

 

 

That said. I will continue with criticism … as harsh as is necessary … because I seek peace <because I believe America deserves it and not this shit>.

 

Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them

 

I opened with the Emerson quote, purposefully, for two reasons.

 

The first was what I just pointed out. I am a business guy and I recognize that not only is chaos & turmoil bad in business it is, more often than not, unnecessary and a reflection of poor leadership. While I may be a small voice in the grander scheme of things I will continue to use my voice to criticize with an objective of ‘peace’ instead of what we currently face.

 

My second reason resides in listening to the critics. Emerson is absolutely correct in that if you listen to critics and criticism too much you can very easily lose sight of what is truly important. Someone will always tell you what you have done wrong and what you are doing wrong. However. Not even listening to critics, simply ignoring their thoughts as irrelevant is the path of fools. Good leaders sift through the criticism for the valuable grains of truth. And while Trump clearly listens, obsessively I may add, he does not ‘hear.’ And, yes, there is a difference between listening and hearing <by the way … I wish media would impostor syndrome what i know doubtpoint that out to Trump surrogate who incessantly claim Trump is a good listener>. Trump listens to criticism and finds ways to ignore the truths in any way he can.

 

That said … the conclusion to that thought isn’t “you are wasting your time criticizing” but rather ‘ongoing criticism enable enablers to corral bad behavior.’ Ignoring incompetence or poor decision making or even misguided organizational development steps is not an option.

 

Criticism offers opportunities for course correction.

 

What that means is I will continue to criticize, harshly when appropriate, until the country is on a course … any course <because , in business, you learn that there is no one course just a choice among courses>. And I will criticize until he actually starts acting like all the other CEOs I have ever met, because, once again, this is not how good CEOs behave.

 

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Author’s note:

 

I continue to suggest everyone who desires to know how professional foreign affairs and intelligence people and military assess the Trump administration and Trump behavior should visit www.warontherocks.com . My favorite author just delivered a blistering commentary, criticism, of Trump called “The Incompetence Doctrine” … a must read for everyone.

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that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

 look-to-the-future-principles-telescope-view-past-older

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“Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.”

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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“It’s the one thing we never quite get over: that we contain our own future.”

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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So.

 

Thinking about what legacy you want to leave behind can make you start thinking a little bit about what you may want to stubbornly stand for and demand of Life … and what you may decide to compromise with Life to insure you have something … some progress to show at the end.

 

A significant part of this grand bargain we negotiate with Life is how we decide to compromise with those around us and those who affect the arc of our lives.

 

Ah.

 

That word “compromise.”

 

Therein lies maybe one of the most difficult topics of the current generation.

 

The topic is that the concept of compromise … meeting someone half way … is now a nebulous concept.

death of compromise

Why?

 

Because I am not sure I know where the hell half way is.

 

And I tend to believe a shitload of people are standing with me, on one side or the other, not really sure where the hell half way is.

 

And if you cannot even see the middle ground how the hell can you figure out how to make a stand on it?

 

Now.

 

This gets compounded by a massive online communal world in which we all live side by side where even the marginalized people <real or perceived> who now have a place to gather into likeminded groups, share as much a space as mainstream views.

For good, or for bad, online any group of people can organize & mobilize & challenge the status quo … or pick & choose which status quo fits their view.

 

The internet amplifies discourses critical of … well … any status quo you can think of.  And, as anyone could expect, all the critical discourse triggers a corresponding equal backlash from those who fear an uprooting of their beliefs the nature of compromise miserable<and the self identities that are inevitably attached to these beliefs>.

 

It just becomes one huge mosh pit of criticism and cocooning of likeminded people.

 

People … all who are angry.

 

Within all of this situation & anger … it seems like no one is civil to one another. And maybe worse is the fact there is this ‘digging in’ aspect where we refuse to see any merit in other people’s opinions.

 

Sadly, I can only conclude that we have lost the ability to converse, discuss, debate and have a dialogue with one another.

 

It seems obvious <at least to me> but if we could figure out how to come together and compromise, that we could go a long way toward not only creating a better version of society in general … but it may give me, and all of us, at least a fighting chance with regard to where we make our own personal stand … and where we compromise … and how we attain the future that we contain.

 

As long as people cling to unbending attitudes & beliefs, the divides between us will not deepen … but will remain an unbridgeable divide.

 

I tend to believe most of us want better that that.

I tend to believe most of us would be willing to work to make this a better and more civil world to live in.

 

And if you do not embrace this thinking?

 

I would remind everyone that America is representative of a great compromise. The U.S. Constitution is possibly the greatest Compromise ever negotiated <it created a nation>.

 

 

But as a first step to bettering this entire situation we need to figure out how to better define Compromise.

 

compromise not an act weaknessFar too many loudmouthed people have ripped the meaning out of the word,  twisted the value of the word making it seem valueless, and ultimately created an environment in which  we demonize the entire process of trying to reach compromise.

Compromise no longer means understanding your differences and working together toward a common goal but now it seems to represent weakness, losing and not being strong enough to get what you want.

 

This unwillingness to work together has wrought havoc to society where the unwavering stance seems to be “don’t compromise, stick to your guns, don’t give in to the other side”.

 

Sigh.

 

Look.

 

I find it hard to believe that the majority of America is really that selfish and that stubborn.

 

Sure. I know the people most passionate about any issue tend to be the ones less willing to compromise on them.

And, yeah, I would guess most of us are fairly passionate about ourselves – what we decide to stand for … as well as what we will decide to sacrifice within compromise to attain some progress.

 

But within this wacky world where no one seems to want to compromise anything on anything … well … shit … some of us are trying to think a little bit about what you may want to stubbornly stand for and demand of Life … and what you may decide to compromise with Life to insure you have something … some progress to show at the end.

 

It seems like the situation we are in has arisen because we have permitted the stubborn voices of the radical marginalized <real and perceived> to drown out the pragmatic voices of realistic positive compromise.

 

If we want society to start working again we need to embrace compromise — and let it retain the positive definition which has served it well through time.

 

To end this I will go back to the beginning.

 

The “I” aspect.

 

I tend to believe all of us, with the intent of finding the best version of ourselves from which our ultimate legacy will be defined, will seek to find the balance of being stubborn and demand that Life bend to us and our principles and compromise where we make a grand bargain with Life in order to continue progressing.

 

Uhm.

 

If we believe this … then why wouldn’t we want this in Life and in business and in politics and in … well … everything.

 

There was a book that discussed this. In The Spirit of Compromise <Amy Gutsman and Dennis Thomson> they note that Americans support general compromise as an idea and like the idea of ‘other people’ working together to get stuff done <statistics support this in a variety of studies & polls>.

 

Oh shit.

 

However.

 

The authors then note that support for compromise breaks down when it addresses specific issues <Americans are much less likely to support a compromise life good want you theycompromise on a specific issue>. As with most things in Life we enthusiastically embrace the conceptual behavior and balk at the actual behavior.

 

Compromise is complex … and simple.

 

What I do know is that we contain our own future and building that future demands that we will have to make some compromises.  That is simple.

Making the specific choices is complex.

And while I am mostly interested in my own future and making my own compromise choices … I tend to believe we would all find the better version of ourself contained within … if the society as a whole were more willing to refind the value in compromise.

 

Enlightened Conflict