Enlightened Conflict

that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

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

==========

 

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

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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

 

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

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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

 

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.

 

toil and risk are the price

February 21st, 2017

 disturb-the-universe-dare

 

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

 

“Toil and risk are the price of glory, but it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame.”

 

—-

Alexander the Great

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

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

 

—-

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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

 

“I would rather die right then live wrong.”

 

—–

Me

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

 

Well.

 

I believe Alexander’s full quote was:

 

 

It is a lovely thing to live with great courage and to die leaving an everlasting fame,

Macedonians!… Why do you retreat?!… Do you want to live forever?!

In the name of Zeus!… ATTACK!

pooh test thought

 

I tend to call this “selective thoughtful recklessness.”

 

Yeah.

 

I am not really sure something exactly like that exists … but whether it has a name or not … it is a characteristic of winners and ‘everlasting fame’ … as well as a characteristic of everyday schmucks like me who want to do the right thing, desire some everlasting fame as in ‘known for doing good shit the right way’ and am willing to work hard for it <that is the ‘toil’ part>.

 

It may sound odd but I do believe if you are dedicated to doing the right thing and doing good shit you have to be comfortable assuming some risk.

 

Now.

 

I get some shit for my ‘comfort with assuming risk’ , my attitude with reagrd to risk … as well as my general disdain for people who have the absurd principle of ‘making a decision instinctually.’

 

Therefore.

 

I came up with my own phrase – selective thoughtful recklessness.

 

This combination seems to me to be better than simply being rash or foolhardy in behavior. It is better because I have a full respect for consequences and hold consequences in high regard.

choice consequence

And there is never any absence of forethought <which is where I typically find ‘instinct’ fails miserably>.

 

And I certainly have extreme care and concern with respect to not only other people’s welfare … but my own.

 

And, yes, there may be a bit of daredevil in the attitude … but without the flair and debonair style associated with a daredevil.

 

What is there is … is a certain defiance to odds once a decision has been made and a complete “In for a penny n for a pound” attitude. <Cambridge Dictionary: something you say that means that since you have started something or are involved in it, you should complete the work although it has become more difficult or complicated than you had expected >.

 

My epitaph will absolutely be “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” but my mantra seems to be captured in what I said upfront … “I would rather die right then live wrong.”

 

That is not courage … nor is it an attitude … it is a choice that simply requires some mental resilience. You feel doubt, resistances to choice and even outright disagreement … but someone who embraces the selective thoughtful recklessness remains mentally resilient towards anything that attempts to stop you from doing what you believe, and maybe even know, is right.

 

And maybe that is where the thoughtful daredevilishness steps in.

In order to find glory <in this case I believe glory is ‘doing what is right’ and not some fame or accolades> you have to first & foremost reframe the story of what is … and what is possible. I am not suggesting some alternative universe nor am I suggesting fooling yourself into believing something truly impossible is possible.

This is more along the lines of the traditional disruptor definition … seeing the conventional in unconventional ways. By reframing the story the boundaries & limits in the original story become new & different boundaries & limits. Rarely do they align with the old ones and it is within these differences that the ‘thoughtful reckless’ wander.

life whispers listen sign

But this also demands one other thing.

 

Let’s call it ‘intense listening without attachment.’

 

What I mean by this is you have to be aware of everything going on around you but you do not necessarily get attached to what is being said. It’s like recognizing the clutter around you and rummaging thru it for the useful and avoiding the useless.

 

Lastly.

 

Here is maybe the most controversial thought I will share on finding glory.

 

Be small.

 

Yeah.

 

I just said ‘be small.’

I don’t mean live a small Life but I do mean if you want to find the kind of glory I am discussing, and you want to be selectively thoughtfully reckless, and you want to die right rather than live wrong … you think about being an energy for ‘doing’ like an atom, or a pebble in a pond, where you make yourself as solidly, strongly and distinctly rightly small … and choose your path.

And maybe that is why I balk at ‘daredevil’ so much. It sounds big & flamboyant. I find that being defiantly, and successfully, right in your choice is more often found in the ‘toil’ … in the small stuff and avoiding the small stuff at the same time.

It is more about being solidly small in your solidly rightness.

 

========

 

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

 

 

Jim Rohn

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

 

And, yes, maybe it is about a small quiet courage found in the everyday.

 

Do I think I am courageous? Certainly not.

 

Resilient? Absolutely yes.

 

But this kind of resilience seems to contain a version of courage that is easy to miss.

 

It is a small resilient courage.

 

courage tattoo reckless risk tryIt is the small courage you hold on to … to stay when it is easier to leave.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to keep doing when everything says ‘quit.’

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to respect difference when we would much rather judge.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to accept some vulnerability when building a wall feels much safer.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to recognize your own agenda needs to be revised to accommodate another’s better idea.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … everyday <even though it takes some ‘toil’ to create it>.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to not only become who we really are … but which enables the better version of who we are.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … in a world that often doesn’t seem to encourage courageous everyday acts.

 

 

Anyway.choose courage or comfort reckless try do

 

Life isn’t easy. Business isn’t easy.

And navigating both shouldn’t be easy because of that … and it isn’t.

All I can suggest is some selective thoughtful recklessness can you help you out on occasion.

And it surely, when done well and with ‘good as an intent’ gives you a shot at glory.

 

Just remember.

 

it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame

 

I would rather die right then live wrong

 

responsible for what you tame

January 25th, 2017

responsible for what you tame leadership people employees

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

 

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”

 

—–

The Little Prince

 

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

 

 

I cannot play with you,” the fox replies. “I am not tamed.”

 

“What does that mean – to tame?”

 

It means to establish ties. To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…please, tame me!”

 

I want to, very much,” the Little Prince replied, “but I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”

 

“One only understands the things that one tames,” the fox said.

 

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

 

Leadership.

 

afraid to grow into your heights life loseLeaders have a tough job.

 

We call it managing but in reality it is taming. You tame the independent wildness and tame the ability & potential so you can understand it, and it can understand itself, so that eventually there is a mutual progress to play the game as well as it can be played.

Please note that nowhere in there have I suggested “blind obedience.” Taming, in this view, is reaching true understanding so that real personal growth occurs.

 

That said … in that metaphorical expression of leadership … you own what you tame.

 

I say that because far too often we leaders & managers view management as something we do for the benefit of the organization and, hopefully, the benefit of the people … but we ‘own’ no responsibility for the individual in terms of actions or who they become — and certainly not ‘forever.’

 

Some of us view ourselves as shapers in some form or fashion but lean back against the belief we only dent the surface of who and what the person is and will become.

 

We view what we do as possibly taming but within the purview of just a chapter in their lives … not an entire story.

 

In some ways we do this simply as an act of self-survival.

 

The truth is that investing too much personally into your business; the organization and the employees can … well … kill you.

 

Okay.

Maybe not literally kill you … but figuratively it can become a daily strain on your psychological health.

 

Many of us, out of pragmatism, eye our relationship with employees as a story with a finite end – be it positive, sad, joyful, disappointing or ambiguous – but it is, in reality, just the end of a chapter.

 

The story keeps going.

Ours and theirs.

business inclusiveness

And while we may represent only a chapter in a larger narrative … well … we own what we tame. This is an inclusive way of leading & managing.

 

You include yourself in someone’s Life and … well … you own what part you tame.

 

Uhm.

 

Of course … this can also swing to the opposite more dangerous side – an exclusive leadership side.

 

This is ‘ownership’, not owning, of what you tame.

 

You don’t become part of them you simply offer a voice to them – I sometimes call this ‘pack mentality leadership’.

 

These are the leaders who say “on my team <or in other words “mine”> forever.”

 

Leave and my wrath is upon you.

 

Not want to be tamed by me? you are “un” whatever it is I stand for.

 

And this is where exclusive leadership truly rears its ugly head.

 

There is little vision, there is a lot of ‘features’ in the offering <more money, more jobs, more titles, more wins, more whatever> and therefore the incentives do the work and not any persuasive direction or vision. The ‘pack attitude’ is a means to an end and a vision in and of itself.

 

—-

 

“Managers tend to use compensation as a crutch.

After all, it is far easier to design an incentive system that will do management’s work than it is to articulate a direction persuasively, develop agreement about goals and problems, and confront difficulties when they arise.”


Michael Beer, Harvard professor of business administration

—–

 

chaos team alignmentThe features, the actions & behavior of those who belong on this team, are how they speak of unity and teamwork, i.e., “everyone should act this way … but we are the ones who do.”

 

Or how about this?

 

“The only important thing is the unification of the people – because the other people don’t mean anything.” <Trump used these words once awhile back>

 

In other words … the only people who truly count are the ones who are in this leader’s team.

 

Even worse?

They use the ‘us versus them’ polarization as a means to suggest “team personality & character” all the while these types of leaders actually do it to create their own power structure.

 

They don’t desire to include anyone else nor do they tend to reach out to others <albeit they make some inclusive noises on occasion> they desire to build a construct where people ask to join <because they should, of course, have to ask> and are not asked to join.

 

Excluding leaders love the ‘us versus them’ aspect. They love being derided and they love opposition. All these things do is solidify the team’s belief they are different & better & know more than the others.

 

The team becomes what represents what is real & right and the leader controls what is real & right. The leader’s people are truly the only people that count and the leader hasn’t tamed ability but rather attitude.

 

And here is where the ownership of what you tamed hits a dangerous spot.asshole bad manager

 

The leader has tamed an attitude but feels little ownership of the people themselves. Therefore should the leader decide to move on or get tired of whatever it is they are doing at the moment they feel no remorse in leaving people behind <who still harbor the attitude he/she tamed>.

 

The pack remains, the pack mentality still seethes, but the pack leader is no longer there.

 

Anyway.

 

Let me close with some thoughts.

 

I think it is a healthy thought for every manager & leader to ponder ‘you own what you tame.’

 

Leadership and leading is never easy and I have the scars to show to prove it.

 

Bad we help thatI found it naturally tempting to build a quasi-pack mentality in my groups as a younger leader & manager.

I was, and have always been, a more aggressive business person – I am not fond of status quo and not particularly fond of ‘the safe road.’

 

I can absolutely state that as a manager you can feed off of the ‘pack mentality’ attitude. It is exhilarating and almost like a drug … and maybe more dangerous … it can feed into a self-belief aspect that can edge upon arrogance and obliviousness to the greater good.

 

I don’t think I ever fell off the cliff on this but I certainly got a glimpse of the edge.

 

As I gained more experience I saw the danger in doing so <to my team member, to my organization & to myself> and sought to find some balance.

 

You can tame your people’s ability & attitude and they, and you, will benefit at the time and in the future <whether you are still working together or not>.

 

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

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

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

 

“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”

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

 

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

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

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

 

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

=======

 

 

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.

feet in the clouds & head on the ground

October 5th, 2016

 dreams walking

 

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

 

They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground

My sole intention is keeping my head in the clouds

They say that I can’t last a day in the real world

I say you wouldn’t survive one night in mine

 

Asking Alexandria

 

===

 

Suffice it to say that 99% of the best businesses have figured out how to successfully keep their feet in the clouds and their head on the ground.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it looks like I got it twisted around … but I did not.

 

Good businesses are always walking with the future in mind.now what next hugh

 

Always traveling toward possibilities. Always seeking ‘what’s next.’

 

Good businesses are always closely listening to the drumbeat of the feet of what is happening around them. Ear to the ground insuring everyone in the business is keeping their head in the game today.

 

I have called it mastering pragmatism & possibilities.

 

But, in reality, it is the ability to have your feet in the clouds and head on the ground.

 

I tend to believe if more people thought about it this way businesses would have more hope … and more achievable possibilities than they could ever imagine.

 

You have to admit … the current definition – feet on the ground & head in the clouds – just ain’t working that well these days.

 

Businesses seem to be more woefully stagnant <albeit ‘talking’ change> and have more despair and lack of hope with regard to their possibilities than ever.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

I am sure I could invest dozens of page sharing thoughts on why but instead I will focus on what I would consider the intellectual aspects … what is going on in with our attitudes that affect our heads, how we think and how we approach these things.

 

  • Issue one. over-simplification

 

Suffice it to say we have devolved into a society of sound bites. This is true in business even moreso.

 

In business it seems to be all about simplicity.

 

In everyday Life it is ‘summarize it for me’ or ‘oh, it’s simple <insert some explanation here>.’

 

In the end I can’t figure out if should be pointing the finger at us or them.

 

Them <management & leadership> because they think we are not capable of understanding some form of complexity and therefore they only offer up simplified versions of what needs to be communicated.

 

Or us <the employees> because we either:

 

<a> demand a sound bite under the guise of ‘we only have time for the headline’

or

 

<b> we only latch on to the fragment of the whole which we believe summarizes the whole.

 

Therefore I will point the finger at all of us and them.

 

Here is a Truth.

 

business simplicity complex woekMost things are just not that simple.

 

An effect can have multiple causes and a cause can have multiple effects. I say this despite the fact, naturally, we would like all the dominoes to line up one after another and when one falls the next naturally is impacted and falls.

 

Well.

 

Things don’t really work that way. Especially in a business environment. Maybe in a controlled test environment but, in business, events are typically bombarded from a variety of directions and while not all causes are created equal <some can impact more than others> most things are too complex to be simplified into ‘one thing.’ And, yet, we oversimplify again and again and again.

 

Over simplifying simply means ignoring complexities.

 

Over simplifying simply means being consciously ignorant.

 

Over simplifying … well … just doesn’t work in the long run.

 

It eases you through the moment only to have to doubly <or exponentially> invest energy later on.

 

Simply? Over simplification just doesn’t work.

 

Instead of dumbing things down to some simplistic sound bite we need to raise the level of general understanding & knowledge to the level of complexity of the ideas & systems in which a business works.

 

Factually … seconds of involvement <sound bites> versus minutes of involvement <deeper complex discussion> leads to degrees of real knowledge.  i.e., seconds leads to shallow knowledge or let’s call it ‘less knowledgeable.’

 

 

Over simplification will not demystify uncertainty and cannot help us do what we really need to do … reconcepting & rethinking that which is.

 

What I am suggesting is difficult and uncertain work.

 

But certainly more satisfying and inspiring when we solve and recreate and it certainly is a more effective way to keep your feet in the clouds and head on the cloud-feet-hold-high-business-ideaground..

 

I can unequivocally state that the fate of possibilities for a business, any business, lies in balance if we don’t invest in the hard work of ‘non over simplification.

And worse?

We won’t solve any of the problems we face if we do not address this.

 

 

This leads me to …

 

 

  • Issue two. being intellectually insightful is about hard work.

 

Let me begin by suggesting that good ideas cannot be decided by number of tweet votes in favor of.

 

Business ideas do not compete on American idol nor, frankly, should they compete in any larger group.

 

We are not all judges <and probably shouldn’t be on American idol either>.

 

Why?

 

Good ideas are rarely popular; therefore, I don’t really want a business idea to win some meaningless popularity contest

 

If we really want to do what needs to be done to maximize both the pragmatism & the possibilities in business we have to hunker down and work hard … work hard in that we need to use what we have to rethink things … use all aspects including economic thought and philosophy and the past … all of which means dealing with ambiguity and contradiction.

 

And, yes, that is hard work.

 

That is the kind of work that hones the intellectual insightfulness necessary to keep your feet in the clouds and your feet on the ground and … well … make progress. Smart progress.

 

Instead of dumbing things down we need to be raising the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us.

 

And while you may balk at something like ‘intellectual insightfulness’ as too far reaching or ‘elitist’ … suffice it to say we just need to be smarter … less ignorant … more enlightened <open to additional thoughts> and more involved in the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconcepting ideas and systems in which we live in and … well … just plain rethinking shit.

 

Suffice it to say that there is nothing simple when talking about world-changing ideas … because talking will not simply make the world change.

 

I read somewhere recently that ‘if you remove this boundary … the only be wrong stand in your wrongness divideboundary left is our imagination.’

 

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

 

Imagination is important but even imagination is complicated and difficult and tends to not offer tidy solutions.

 

Especially if you don’t invest in the hard work.

 

We need to be doing more of ‘using your imagination within the box of what exists.’

We don’t need to be wandering aimlessly ‘outside the box’ but rather using our imagination insightfully and creatively WITHIN the box … and expand the boundaries.

 

It is all hard work … but hard work will work. And in this case I mean hard thinking work.

 

Simply ‘doing’ aint gonna cut it.

 

We need to be smarter. And whether you think about thinking this way or not … it ain’t about staring off into space doing nothing … thinking is a blue collar job.

Thinking is all about work.

 

Hmmmmmm … it is quite possible that what I just wrote defines “head on the ground” better than anything I have ever written before.

 

Anyway.

As a corollary to issue number two …

 

 

  • Issue three. innovation is not <just> technology.

 

What makes oversimplification even more challenging is that for some reason we seem to be associating innovation with technology … and just technology.

We can’t … and shouldn’t.big picture thinking

 

This type of thinking leads us to possibly believe technology innovations will eventually solve all problems and maximize everyone’s Life as some point.

 

That is a very dangerous idea.

 

It is dangerous because in reality if we focus just on technology as the solution we are actually preventing the real change we need.

 

It’s a very dangerous idea because it completely removes the human aspect.

 

Minds need to innovate too.

 

Thinking and attitudes need to evolve and innovate.

 

New thought systems, economic systems and systems in which people live eat and breath all need to evolve … and that happens through innovation <whether technology is involved or not>.

 

Technology is simply a path that runs parallel to culture <or society> basically amplifying everything that is happening on the parallel path <the corollary to that is … with nothing to amplify the technology remains silent>.

 

Technology and culture and business are entangled.

 

Technologies may enable new ways of doing things … not just doing but thinking. This effects culture … so culturally we need to innovate to structure how those technologies will be involved in our lives <so that we can dictate a little how they are incorporated> and we need to innovate our thinking and culture so that we can actually impact how technology evolves <so that we can dictate how what technology is innovated in some form or fashion>.

 

At the moment it seems like we respond to technology rather than proactively drive technology.

 

Technology has certainly dramatically improved the overall quality of business.

 

The paradox is that the system we have now may make amazing new technology possible, but at same time is creating such cultural conflict that maximizing technology ‘what could be’ seems impossible.

 

We need to innovate the systems in which technology exists.

 

Economically, culturally and philosophically.

All systems need to see innovation.

 

<that’s it for my issues>

 

Look.

 

Hope and possibilities grounded with enlightened pragmatism abound in today’s business world if you look hard enough <and have your feet in the clouds an head to the ground>.

 

But none of it comes easy … these types of things are rarely just given … they need to be earned … mostly thru hard work.

 

I don’t believe simplicity is bad.

 

I don’t believe being optimistic or having a positive attitude is bad.

 

I don’t believe technology is bad.

 

I don’t believe hard work, smartly done, is bad.

head-in-cloud-glasses-think

 

But we seem trapped in the old paradigm of “head in the clouds & feet on the ground.” This old paradigm kind of separates work & thinking <vision> in a non useful way. And I … well … I admit I sometimes think this paradigm encourages a slightly warped version of some lazy thinking.

 

And we cannot be lazy moving forward.

 

And we certainly cannot afford to be lazy thinkers.

 

For in this type of laziness lurks ignorance and it is ignorance we should fear.

Not any ideological argument or technological innovation which inserts itself into our daily lives but ignorance.

 

 

Avoid lazy thinking.

 

Maybe have everyone hearken to Emerson’s words …

 

“Consent yourself to be an organ of your highest thought, and lo! suddenly you put all men in your debt, and are the fountain of an energy that goes pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society, to the circumference of things.”

 

 

My thought for businesses today?

 

sigh-thought-bubbleConsent yourself to be of your highest thought.

And how do you do that?

 

Sigh.

 

Keep your feet in the clouds and your head on the ground.

 

Don’t give me sob stories

September 3rd, 2016

 

this is business sob story

—————–

 

“Don’t give me sob stories,” she ordered me with sudden vehemence, striking the key words for emphasis.

 

“Every day people appeal to my emotions.

You can’t govern that way.

It simply isn’t fair.”

 

=====

Margaret Thatcher to John Le Carre

 

—————–

 

 

want need sign hard easyRunning a country is hard. Very hard.

 

Running a business is hard. Very hard.

 

It doesn’t mean you don’t have good days and it doesn’t mean that all the ‘hard’ doesn’t reap some benefits and joy but … well … hard is hard.

 

And maybe, just possibly, the hardest part is managing the emotional appeals you are faced with on an almost daily basis.

 

And I say that while ignoring the inevitable larger events & stories which compound the emotional aspects of leader decision making.

 

Leading is mostly about the day in and day out responsibility to the greater good and the greater whole. This certainly doesn’t mean you don’t look at the parts and how the parts & pieces are affected but you can’t get too close to individual aspects for fear of … well … a couple of reasons:

 

First is the functional responsibility a leader has.

The greater responsibility is to the whole and insuring the whole is fair, respected and healthy. There is certainly a responsibility to parts, the germs & healthy cells roaming the lifeblood of the whole, but sometimes I let a germ live because it has lesser consequences to the health of the whole than if I invest in something that makes the already healthier cells even more healthy.

 

Second is basic perspective.

Research studies clearly show that emotional decisions are often quite irrational and often quite … well … bad <or maybe better said … less than optimal>. A leader has the difficult responsibility to maintain perspective … even in the face of a crescendo of criticisms demanding ‘this situation is unique.” The optics of a good leader often looks bad.

 

Aloof. Disconnected. Unempathetic.

 

The greater responsibility is to the whole perspective and insuring what is fair and respectful to the whole.

 

This is going to sound bad … really bad in fact.

 

<… I am taking a deep breath here>

this too shall pass tough time choices decisions

 

But good leaders have a sense for “this too will pass” and simply pass on engaging with the individual engagement demand of the moment.

Yes. You acknowledge it and then ignore it.

 

To be clear. You don’t always make the right call and you don’t always get it right but the intent is 99% of the time purposefully not engaging to maintain perspective.

 

 

All that said.

 

Disconnecting from the emotional sob story, while still remaining connected to empathetic reasoning, may be one of the most difficult aspects of leading.

 

I don’t care if its 350 million people, 350 people or 35 people this tug of war between caring but not caring too much is constant and challenging. In addition it is a constant battle for self survival.

 

When thinking about this … inevitably what I believe most of us every day schmucks struggle to understand is the perspective.

 

Most people view things “I” up … and a leader has to look “we” down.

 

In other words … “I” has specific needs and I am willing to think about insuring other “I’s” have the same needs met. There is nothing wrong with this and it certainly can insure some healthy altruistic attitudes & behavior. But it does not reflect good leadership thinking.

 

In other words … “we” have larger needs and I am willing to sacrifice some of what some “I’s” want <and even, unfortunately, need in some cases> to insure the “we” needs are met. There is nothing wrong with this and, when done well, the greater whole prospers and is, in general, happy.

 

But it isn’t easy.

It is really hard.

 

And suffice it to say “ruling” by ignoring emotional appeals is more fair but it is still emotionally draining to a good leader.

 

Whether the 350 million, 350 or the 35 recognize it … there are many days when the 1, the leader, leaves the office with a heavy heart. And it is not heavy because 349,999,900 people, 341 people or 34 people went to sleep that day feeling pretty good about their day and their needs & wants & hopes … but because the few with a true sob story went to sleep that day sobbing.

 

You govern and lead by what is fair to the whole.

 

That’s just the way it is.

 

And just as Margaret Thatcher did … I would vehemently emphasize this business truth to anyone.

 

But.just do your best

That doesn’t mean I don’t think she went home some nights with the weight of someone’s emotional appeal on her mind.

 

That’s what I thought about today after I read this quote from Margaret Thatcher.

 

Oh.

 

And I also thought about whether I was fair and maintained the balance as a leader. I am not sure. I take some solace in the belief that almost every leader wonders the same thing.

 

believing and non-believing management

July 18th, 2016

 

people management psychology believe do business

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

 

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

 

e.e. cummings

 

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

 

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.

Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

 

Golda Meir

 

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

 

Today I am rambling about the psychology of managing employees … specifically an aspect of managing that I would call “believe and non-believing management.”

 

No.

This is not about motivating employees.

 

free employees of themselves believeThis is more about unlocking employees – unlocking potential.

 

This is more about that seemingly nonstop discussion you have with employees where you curb the overreaching confidence in some … and instill some confidence in others. In my mind … this is the ongoing discussion you have with your employees with the intent to set the best version of themselves free.

 

To be sure.

 

If you talk with enough people who have managed groups & companies and you will notice that at some point someone will bring up “I have to be a psychologist.”

 

To be clear.

 

Do business managers have to be psychologists to be effective? No. not really.

But being a psychologist on occasion certainly doesn’t hurt.

 

I am fairly sure what I am discussing has some high falutin’ organizational behavior ‘management principles’ published and formal white papers with long esoteric discussions on employee personality types and some personality testing voodoo.

 

I am also fairly sure, okay … certain, it is possible to be a competent if not good leader without understanding all that personality crap. in fact … I could argue, and I have argued, that personality tests trap individuals into some defined box in which if any of their behaviors don’t fit that box from that point on they will be mismanaged because … well … they aren’t doing what the box said they would do.

 

Anyway.

 

Most good managers clearly understand that different people are motivated by different things and that different things can inhibit the potential of each employee.

 

Suffice it to say, in my mind, it really all comes down to one basic management principle: possibilities & pragmatism management. Unlocking each employee’s potential is almost always a balance of pragmatic doing and getting them to employee believe non believe business lead manageenvision what they are possible of.

 

Simplistically your objective is always to free your employee to be their best and do their best. But in order to achieve that … well … sometimes this means stripping something away … and sometimes this means adding something.

 

And that is where my whole ‘believing & nonbelieving management’ comes into the discussion.

 

More often than not while you are teaching & coaching skills and pragmatic ‘here is what you need to do’ crap you will find yourself facing an employee who is either bursting with belief in themselves and their abilities or semi-frozen in an ‘unsure of what to do and if I can do it’ attitude.

 

Both need some attitudinal adjustments.

 

The ‘belief’ employees run the gamut from the young employee who is sure they are smarter and better than you <or others around them> to a senior sales guy who hasn’t met a sale he couldn’t make <doing it his way if only the company would get out of the way>.

 

The ‘nonbelievers’ also run the gamut from young & inexperienced to older doing it for the first time or even mid level employees dealing with something completely unrelated that has pricked their confidence bubble in some way.

 

And, no, I certainly do not consider any of this ‘cheerleader engagement.’ In fact … I would suggest that any manager who does needs to rethink their thinking.

 

Managing people certainly can contain some aspects of ‘enthusiasm management’ but one of the most basic manager self-survival techniques you learn <or die> is how to manage without too much investment of self. Therefore I have always viewed this aspect of employee management as simply assessing work together believe employee talk leadtheir ‘believe level’ and adjusting appropriately to enable the true potential to be there when it counts.

 

As a manager you always hunker down on the pragmatic aspects of what needs to be done first.

Always.

 

It is kind of your heuristic trick to assess any attitudinal challenges to getting the frickin’ pragmatic aspect done.

 

But you always keep an eye, and an ear, open during the pragmatic assessing the ‘possibilities of whether the shit will actually get done … and done as well as it can be done.’

This is the place where you look at the employee and assess the ‘belief factor.’

 

Some are easy to read. Some are a little more difficult. And, no, I cannot offer some trite generalism here.

 

Exuding belief believers can come in all shapes & sizes & behaviors.

Nonbelievers can come in all shapes & sizes & attitudes.

 

And it can get even trickier.

 

Tricky because the same employee who was bursting with blind belief one day will be the same employee sitting in front of you the next day discussing a completely different project or task … semi-frozen in non-belief.

 

Look.

 

The fundamentals of effective management are pretty much the same everywhere.

But this ‘possibilities & pragmatism management’ thing I am discussing takes some commitment. It doesn’t take being a psychologist … you just have to be committed to managing the individual ‘believe’ gauge. And this means being committed to both stripping away some unnecessary <or risky> belief and bolting on some belief where needed.

 

Unfortunately this can sometimes take a fine subtle touch … and most of us everyday manager schmucks aren’t always subtle. Nor are we particularly talented at balancing both possibilities & pragmatism.

 

I imagine I wrote this not to offer any “how to” guide to anyone. I wrote it because I just faced it and thought about it.

 

In one day I had to ponder the talented more senior sales person almost blinded with belief charging ahead <not particularly aligned with what the company thought was best practice> and an extremely talented younger person threaded with the burden of nonbelief.

 

In one day I had to ponder how to deftly encourage a little less blind belief and thrust some belief upon another.

 

And that is most likely a typical day for a manager.

 

I didn’t care about personality type.

 

I didn’t confer with any HR people.

 

I didn’t go online searching for ‘communications techniques.’

 

I didn’t do so not because I didn’t want to … but because managers mostly don’t one on one employee believe business managehave time for that shit.

 

You gotta deal with what is in front of you and get shit done and get the best out of your employees.

 

Believing and non believing management.

 

Possibilities and pragmatism management.

 

Kind of two sides of the same management coin.

Enlightened Conflict