Enlightened Conflict

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.

 

surprise with an apple

September 23rd, 2015

—————

attitude all in the

“With an apple I will astonish Paris.”

=

Paul Cezanne

———–

 

 

I saw this quote in a book last night and immediately wrote it on a piece of paper.

 

 

i'd rather be an apple

Could you ever imagine a business person suggesting something like this? … suggesting surprising the world with one of the most ordinary common things in Life?

 

 

Everyone would think you were fucking crazy.

 

 

Everyone would start shouting …

 

 

“We need something new!!”

 

 

“We need to be unique!!”

 

 

Well.

 

 

Let’s face it.

 

 

 

Most new things suck.

 

 

Most new ideas are just bad.

 

 

And most new shit just stinks.

 

 

 

“With an apple I will astonish the world.”

 

 

 

I wish more businesses would think this way.

 

 

Within the ordinary always resides a small mundane thing. And it is easy to focus on the mundane as common, useless or even pedantic.

 

 

joy in the ordinary

Yet each ‘ordinary thing’ also has the capacity, if we are open to it, to usher us into an experience of something extraordinary … usher us into some new way of looking at the ordinary … usher us into some new way of experiencing the ordinary.

 

 

Even the ordinary contains infinite possibilities <if we would only seek it there>.

 

 

Within finite often resides the infinite.

 

 

Within each of us ordinary people resides something extraordinary.

 

 

I mention that last point about us ordinary everyday schmucks <people> because we need to remind ourselves something experts have been trying to tell us for quite some time … “ no one is born a genius … genius takes time and opportunity to develop.”

 

 

David Shenk <The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ> described genius as a process, not something someone has or is borne with, but rather something that someone does.

 

 

 

We all have some genius within us.

 

 

We all have the ability to take something ordinary and surprise the world with something extraordinary.

 

 

This belief, this understanding of self, far too often is trampled in the rush to get things done and the search for ‘something new.’

 

As we rush up & down the hallways of our businesses we tend to overlook the opportunities in the ordinary.

 

sigh charlie

<sigh>

 

 

 

 

Surprise the world with an apple.

 

 

 

What a fucking awesome thought.

ragged claws across the universe

December 31st, 2013

 

“I should have been a pair of ragged clawsragged claws brains

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” – TS Eliot

 

 

“Do I dare disturb the universe?” – TS Eliot

 

 

Well.

Both lines above come from TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

 

In the 130 line poem Eliot explores Life from the depths of the ocean floor where one scrabbles out a living on ragged claws to the heights of the universe … and the immensity of Life that resides in between.

Uhm.

Okay.

At least that is what I see and think when I read it.

 

And unfortunately <or fortunately> I am no literary expert and therefore do not have the ability to tear his writing apart evaluating what they call ‘literary allusion’ <… pulling from Donne, Dante, Shakespeare and Marvel to Chaucer, Hesiod and the Bible. A reader has to take these allusions on board to get the most out of his poems, though on the surface they are fairly accessible>.

 

Therefore.

I can only tell you what I think after I read it. That must mean ‘what is on the surface’ is what I imagine the experts would suggest I am doing.

So take what I share with a grain of salt <but read the poem>.

 

Ok.

I admit that TS Eliot poems tend to make me think … stark language steeped with cynicism and a hint of urgency driven by desperation but always with an introspective look at Life.

 

ragged claws sense of ourselvesThis poem is about a person’s desperation that time in Life is running out and he hasn’t made his mark on the world.

 

I believe most of us have an ongoing thread of ‘am I being meaningful’ in Life. It is ongoing from the time we begin wondering what we will do in Life through the moment we step out of school and into the real world and continues as we do what we need to do day in and day out to survive and be the best we can within the circumstances we exist in.

But.

I do tend to believe with age … we begin to obsess a little more over the whole idea of ‘being meaningful.’

That is what the poem makes me think about.

A man looking back on his Life, and at his life, and desperately assessing what could have been.

 

in my pea like brain the whole idea centers on adequacy.

Ah.

Adequacy.

Equal to what is required ior expected but not exceeding it by much. Adequate is suitable to the case or occasion. Nothing to rave about but meets what is needed.

 

I purposefully chose adequate to share my thoughts because it suggests we have what it takes to do what we need to do in Life … yet … is adequate enough?

 

Most of us muddle through Life with small glimpses of something bigger. Maybe it is slightly beyond our grasp for some reason we cannot truly understand … but the glimpse remains etched in our minds in such a way we tend to come back to it again and again in our thoughts.

 

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

 

Ah.

Is this what we fear as we ponder our lives?

 

That Death mocks us as it awaits our arrival?ragged claws someone to tell

The arrival could be years away … but it can be seen mocking even from afar.

 

I imagine the thought behind the mocking is found within us … in that I was afraid I was not good enough, did enough … or been enough of what I could have been.

 

I wasn’t adequate to be anything more than what I was.

 

There is a self-consciousness with constant introspection and anxiety about mortality and fragility of ‘doing something’ in life.

 

The poem digs deep into a self reflected desperation … which I don’t see as all consuming … but rather a moment of deep thought. A thought so deep that Life begins to become overcome with feelings of self-consciousness and regret and echoes of a hundred indecisions and a hundred visions and revisions.

The hundreds bombarding you in that one moment.

 

Luckily we tend to shed these moments well … and move on.

When we don’t we tend to be haunted.

 

Are we haunted by the Life led?

Or by the Life which we never led?

 

Regardless we are haunted.

 

This kind of soul searching for meaning is often simply seeking a richer association with Life than simply scrabbling with ragged claws.

 

And in that search and introspection of adequacy we often seem to dare to peek at unimaginable heights. The heights which we are uncertain we are adequate enough to not only explore but to survive and prosper.

 

Which leads to my favorite part of the poem.

 

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate,

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

 

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

 

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

 

ragged claws thinker doerAh.

Do I dare?

Do I dare to walk among the disdain I expect from the people who talk of Michelangelo?

 

Am I good enough to accept that I will have my time just as you have yours?

 

Am I only adequate to use ragged claws to survive the day to day depths of life?

 

Am I adequate enough to actually dare to do, and be, more?

To actually disturb the universe?

 

And then there is the immensity of Life that resides somewhere in between.

 

I tend to believe while we do not dwell on these types of questions … most of us ask them of ourselves at one time or another.

 

Ok. I will admit.

It is poems like this … at times of the year like this … that one ponders whether they have made a mark in the world.

Have they done something meaningful or maybe more importantly … ‘am I meaningful.’ And I don’t mean to people <because someone always cares about you> … I mean meaningful to something bigger … Life.

 

It is only the arrogant who say ‘yes I have.’

 

The majority of us just wonder.

 

And there is a discomfort in not knowing.

Not knowing if you have not only been adequate or whether you would have been adequate doing more.

Discomfort in not really knowing how ‘big’ we could be.

Discomfort in the belief that our ‘adequate’ made us little.

 

Discomfort in not really knowing if you could have been better … done better … and made a better difference.

 

In the end.

I gotta tell ya.

 

Having a tombstone read “he dared disturb the universe” would be quite a legacy.things doing wooden

 

Anyway.

To close.

A thought from Marianne Williamson which seems to tie well with the poem.

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

 

 

Have a great 2014.

Dare to disturb the universe.

 

ragged claws——–

 

To read the entire poem.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot:    http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/eliot02.html

 

we happy few

December 29th, 2013

“From this day to the ending of the world,few people understand

But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother …” – Shakespeare’s Henry V

 

 

So.

‘We happy few.’

 

In about 1801 aboard some ship it seems Admiral Horatio Nelson, quoting his favorite Shakespeare play, toasted a small group of his best friends and the leading captains/admirals in the Royal Navy as “we happy few.”

 

Oh.

Let us remember that this small group helped a small island’s navy kick the crap out of every nation in the world.

 

That said.

When I began thinking about this and decided to write … it was focused solely on business. And it will remain so, however, as always … I seem to find that personal Life mirrors business life in many ways. Particularly if you define your Life <or let’s say that your Life is often defined by> what you do professionally.

 

Regardless.

I think we are all seeking our own “happy few.” People we can surround ourselves with that don’t comfort us … they just make us better.

 

I thought of this because I recently saw someone I worked with after almost 15 years. I had worked well with her. And after almost 15 years apart … we still worked well together. Ok. Not just well … but really well.

 

We were still part of ‘we happy few.’

 

This ‘happy few.’

The group in which we can not only be ourselves … but actually prosper.

These can be friends, coworkers or whomever.

Some symbiotic relationship seems to exist … even within some hierarchical relationship … that makes things better.

And maybe more importantly … make you better.

 

This ‘happy few’.

 

The people you go to battle with in life or in business.

The people who know what you are thinking before you even think it … and even when they don’t … when you surprise them … they don’t reject … but rather … well … think. Not out of respect but rather because they assume there has to be some thread of usefulness pragmatism or hope that can be used.

 

I have written several times about how great businesses are often somewhat based in some fashion of serendipity … having the right people at the right place at exactly the right time. < http://brucemctague.com/right-people-right-place-right-time >

 

I still am a firm believer in that.

 

Maybe even more so now.

 

Because after 15 years I have been reminded that in the seamless inner workings of a great business relationship of ‘we happy few’ … I know in my heart of hearts … if I could gather ‘we happy few’ in one place … at the right time … we would kick ass. And, in my case, having worked in a number of places … I believe I could gather the happy few from all places … put them together … and while they would all laugh at the common ‘me things’ which make me … well … me … in the end … the ‘we happy few’ would work well together as a ‘we.’

 

This happy few.

 

The few are defined by time … as well as a natural connection.

Time teaches the nuances. The timing of actions tied to intent. The ability to ‘see’ inside what is being thought in all dimensions … without all the explanation. And the comfort to stop and ask and explore and debate the unsaid before it is even said.

 

And then the natural connection.

In we happy few the leaps of logic are no longer leaps but simply common sense.

There is a tendency to not really imagine what is possible … because the happy few just see through some personal filter of what is possible.few thinking and feeling

There is no gap between thinking and feeling. It’s all connected among the happy few.  Discovery is messy but within a small interconnected group there always appears some form of tidiness.

 

What I just described is a natural thing … maybe honed by time … but the metal upon which is placed on the whetstone of time is already there.

 

Now <part 1>.

I am not suggesting the sea is always smooth. Nor am I suggesting the sailing is always seamless. In fact I tend to believe what makes a true ‘happy few’ is the conflict … and the resolution. The ability to fight and make up … without thinking it was a fight … nor that you are actually ‘making up.’

It just is.

The conflict is natural and positive … the resolution is natural and positive.

For some intangible reason the ‘what’s next’ portion of we happy few is attainable and possible and happens without any barnacles on the side of the ships to slow you down.

 

Now <part 2>.

This is all frustrating to those outside this small band of brothers.

Frustrating in that they need and want the words & explanations.

Frustrating because they want to separate <and often debate> the thinking and the feeling.

Frustrating because they can only imagine the finite and need comforting to step into the infinite.

Frustrating in that they only see the impossible and begin demanding the few whats nextpossible.

Frustrating because all they see is the mess in discovery and not the tidiness in the what is discovered.

 

Well.

This is ultimately all frustrating to the happy few because they are already thinking of ‘what’s next.’

 

This happy few.

 

It’s different than  family. It is certainly a professional thing.

Family can make you blind because its … well … blood. With family you can go through walls for someone … often for all the wrong reasons because of the one right reason … its family.

 

In the professional world?

This small band goes through walls for only one reason … the right reason. It is never <if but rarely> blind … but based on respect & trust & a sense of completion of something good based on something more than feeling <which family sometimes leans on>.

 

I feel sorry for those who professionally have not had the ‘we happy few.’ I would guess if you haven’t experienced it … you have been a little less successful. And I will not have to guess by saying you just haven’t received the full benefit of professional life.

You may attain a different success … but you haven’t attained the success of the camaraderie and trust and … well … the real opportunity to be open and be yourself in the professional world.

 

And maybe it’s that last thought that is the most important.

 

Because having been a leader <even in a smaller sense of the word and world> one of the most difficult things is to be … well … yourself. Open yourself up to exposing the flaws and mistakes and the sometimes stupidity that comes as the façade to what comes before something not stupid. And with ‘we happy few’ you have that small window of opportunity to open up. You don’t forfeit all the things that come with being a leader or having to lead … you just gain because you actually get to grow as a person.

 

And that is what we happy few is all about.

be yourself but judged

We got better.

They made me better.

And in doing so I got to lead and be a leader <through some luck of the draw>.

 

We happy few means being one of the luckiest people in the professional world.

 

And I believe Admiral Nelson knew that.

He was good at what he did. He was smart and intuitive and courageous. But I think in his heart of hearts … he knew he was lucky in that he was part of ‘we happy few’ which enabled him to be the best he could be.

His “we happy few” permitted him the luxury to rely on simple strategies rather than complicated complex plans. The interconnectedness of the small band made not only him, but all of them, certain in the knowledge everyone would support one another in striving toward the bigger objective … and yet be confident enough to use their own initiative when required. While the thinking was complex and sometimes leaned on a good dose of imagination in the end the thoughts were easily communicated in simple written instructions reinforced verbally when possible or necessary.

His captains were intelligent, experienced officers … they needed no more.

 

And that is what we happy few is in the professional world.

 

They need no more than each other to be happy.

 

 

 

 

———: historical note.

 

About Nelson’s “we happy few.”wellington nelson and dow

Nelson’s happy few were the Royal Navy captains who served under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson.  Several of which infamously served as his flag captain at different times. He originally used the term only for his captains at the Battle of the Nile but in correspondence it was deemd a broader perspective in Nelson’s eyes.

 

The ‘band of brothers’ comprised, in order of seniority, James de Saumarez, Thomas Troubridge, Henry d’Esterre Darby (1764?–1823), Thomas Louis, John Peyton (1760?–1809), Alexander Ball, Samuel Hood, Davidge Gould (1758–1847), Thomas Foley, George Westcott (who died of a wound sustained during the battle), Benjamin Hallowell, Ralph Miller, Thomas Thompson, Edward Berry, and Thomas Hardy. Those whom the naval historian Sir John Laughton considered worthy of an entry in the original Dictionary of National Biography were, with one exception, outstanding officers. Saumarez, Troubridge, Louis, Foley, Hood, Hallowell, and Hardy would hold important commands as admirals. Ball was the first governor of Malta, although he died before reaching flag rank. Thompson ran the Navy Board for a decade. Hardy topped them all: he became first sea lord in 1830 and helped erect Nelson’s Column. By contrast to the others, Edward Berry was prone to serious errors of judgement at sea and in combat. <source Andrew Lambert – Oxford University Press>

 

The one left off the list was most likely Nelson’s best friend and most respected companion … his second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar Cuthbert Collingwood. I have used Cuthbert in a post before: http://brucemctague.com/moment-to-do-the-extraordinary

understanding how to make people understand (its about codes)

November 6th, 2013

 

” … should remind us that when we seek to bring something new to a culture, one must adapt the idea to the culture.

It doesn’t work the other way.” – Me & Clotaire Rapaille

 

Ok.culture code chin

 

If you haven’t read The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille pick up a copy.  It’s kind of an odd but interesting way to look at how different cultures <mostly Europe versus U.S. in the book> see things differently.

 

A quick example: British luxury is about detachment whereas U.S. luxury is about rank.

 

Anyway.

This is going to be a long post and will focus more on America and Americans but will hopefully inspire some overall thinking about not just ‘codes’ but why when we have an idea in our head and we articulate it <and we are proud of how well we articulated it> the listeners simply shake their head and even reject the idea.

Because that is what codes and this type of thinking is all about.

 

Anyway.

 

The reason to read the book and think about it is because it can actually help you avoid situations where the communication direction appears obvious, yet, that choice may be “against code” and therefore not generate the response you desire.

 

This thought is actually fairly practical to not only businesses and marketers … but also for those of us in ever day life.

 

I often use some of this in high school classes and use ‘boy to girl’ dialogue as examples.

In their words … I tell boys … that f you are oblivious to the ‘codes’ you will end up saying something that sounds good in your head … and be said with the communication she-wants1proper intent … and yet the receiver <the girl> will hear something either completely different or worse, hear nothing … because it was ‘against code.’

 

 

Simplistically the culture code concept is that extremely strong imprints are placed in people’s subconscious at an early age determined by the culture in which they are raised.

For example an American child’s most active period of learning happens in an American context. Mental structures/imprints formed in an American environment fill the subconscious. The child therefore grows up an American <with all our “codes”>.

 

Apply this thought to every child globally and you can easily see this is why people from different cultures have such different reactions to the same things.

 

So the Culture Code is about a cultural subconscious and every culture has its own mind-set.

 

That said.

I pulled out some parts to share. I will mainly use Clotairre’s own words and thoughts but on occasion I intersperse some of my own words and thoughts.

 

 

And I will begin by sharing his thoughts on Americans and the American Culture Code.culture code book

 

 

–          Teenager country

 

Let’s begin by saying as a culture America is one of an adolescent. And this metaphor extends beyond our relative age as a culture into the way we act and react.

 

Think about it this way.

We never killed our king because we never actually had one. We rebelled against the only king who ever tried to rule us.

Our rebellious period has never ended.

 

Looking at our culture through this set of glasses explains why we are so successful around the world selling the trappings of adolescence: Coca-Cola, Nike shoes, fast food, blue jeans, and loud, violent movies.

Oh.

And the people we love, celebrities, and what fascinates us so much is their resistance to growing up. They are forever young at heart, crazy, up and down, one day invincible, one day totally rejected, and they always come back. They are the “eternal adolescents” all Americans would love to be.

At the same time they are a victory for nonconformity. In America, you can be eternally ‘young’, a non conformist and successful.

 

In addition the American culture exhibits many of the traits consistent with adolescence: intense focus on the “now,” dramatic mood swings, a constant need for exploration and challenge to authority, a fascination with extremes, openness to change and reinvention, and a strong belief that mistakes warrant second chances. Underlying this adolescence attitude is a free spirited work ethic foundation.

 

How can this be?

One can look at our culture <or any culture as a matter of fact> as a survival kit passed down from one generation to the next.

The American culture evolved as it did because the pioneers, and later the waves of immigrants who came to our shores, needed to evolve that way if they were to survive the conditions of this vast country. Traits such as Puritanism, a strong work ethic, the belief that people deserve a second chance, and putting a premium on success all helped us to survive in this new world.

 

On the other hand, the Swiss culture evolved the way it did, forging multiple cultures into one very strong one, in response to regular threats to Switzerland’s survival as a sovereign state.

 

 

In fact.

Lets move on to work.

 

 

–          work and working

 

 

Using the words of Nike one can boil the American agenda down to three simple words: “Just do it.” Our champions are athletes, entrepreneurs, police officers, firefighters, and soldiers – all people who take action. We may respect thinkers, but we don’t celebrate them nearly as much as we do our action figures.

 

When our forefathers came to America and discovered a huge undeveloped land, their first thought wasn’t “Let’s have some tea.”

 

It was “Let’s get to work.”

 

There was a New World to create, and it wasn’t going to create itself.

 

Americans celebrate work and turn successful businesspeople into celebrities. Donald Trump and Bill Gates are pop stars. Stephen T. Covey, Jack Welch, and Lee Iacocca are mega-selling authors.

Instead of Bonjour Paresse, our best-sellers include The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Good to Great.

 

Work put you in a position to get to know people, excite children, keep family going, or plan your future.

 

Work could make you feel that you were on the map, that you had arrived, or that it was all you did.

 

The American Culture Code for work is WHO YOU ARE.

 

We seek so much meaning in our jobs. If our job feels meaningless, then “who we are” is meaningless as well.  If we feel inspired, if we believe that our jobs have genuine value to the company we work for <even if that “company” is ourselves> and that we are doing something worthwhile in our work, that belief bolsters our sense of identity.  This is perhaps the most fundamental reason why it is so important for employers to keep their employees content and motivated. A company operated by people with a negative sense of identity can’t possibly run well.

 

Our work ethic is so strong because at the unconscious level, we equate work with who we are and we believe that if we work hard and improve our professional standing, we become better people.

Those who fail to act, who accept the limitations of their work with barely a grumble, are likely to feel miserable about their lives.

The hopelessness of their jobs has done critical damage to their identities.

 

We love the story of Bill Gates laboring away in his garage, coming up with a great idea, and becoming the richest person in the world. Why? Because it reinforces the notion that “who we are” has endless room for growth. The self-made millionaire is an inspirational symbol for us because it proves that all of us can work hard, find the thing that we do superbly, and forge and extraordinary identity.

Even if someone like Gates is an extreme exception to the rule <most people don’t make that leap with their ideas> we like the belief we could be an exception.

 

We like the concept you never have to be stuck in what you do. Self-reinvention is definitely on Code. If your work no longer provides you with the sense of the ‘who you are’ that you desire, it is not only acceptable but also preferable to seek something new. Americans champion entrepreneurs because they are our most aggressive identity-seekers. They don’t wait for someone to tell them what to be, but rather take significant risks to become what they believe they should be.

 

Americans all want to believe that we are headed somewhere in our work, that we aren’t going to stay in the same place for the rest of our lives <this is definitely not the same in European work cultures or Asian work cultures>.

where lots of workMost of us have an ideal job in mind, and it usually involves movement. None of us want to feel that we are “done”. We often feel the need to keep working in order to feel that we still exist.

 

Involving staff in the direction of the company gives them an elevated sense of identity, the feeling that they are integral to the company’s success.

Similarly, helping employees understand their career paths is on the Code.

The team should be regarded as a support group that allows individuals to become champions.

 

 

Next.

 

 

–          Money.

 

People around the world perceive us as being concerned only with money. This huge misconception is one of the reasons so many of them fail to see what really does motivate us.  At the same time, though, Americans themselves perceive this preoccupation with money and think it suggests that we are greedy at heart or that we prize material goods over enhancement of the spirit. This also is a misconception, one that gives us much less credit than we deserve.

 

The notion that we “come from nothing” pervades America. In a sense, we have the poorest rich people in the world, because even those who accumulate huge sums of money think like poor people.  They continue to work hard, they continue to focus on cash flow and expenses, and they continue to struggle to earn more.

 

Clearly, money signifies more to Americans than the means to buy things. It shows us how we’re doing, tells us how far we’ve come from impoverished poor roots. Money reminds you that your “business is a good one,” that you’ve worked hard to get something, that you can carry your burdens, that you are appreciated, and that you are moving up to the next level.  Not having money makes you feel as if you are “in a hole” … you may even feel that “it’s gonna kill me.”

 

The American culture has no titles of nobility to show us who the big winners are. Without them, we need something that performs a similar function. Participants tell us through their third-hour stories that that thing is money.

 

The American Culture Code for money is PROOF.spend money behavior

 

Money isn’t a goal in and of itself for most Americans. We rely on it to show us that we are good, that we have true value in the world. We can prove what we’ve accomplished only by making as much money as possible.

Money is our barometer for success. Most Americans find it impossible to feel successful if they feel they are underpaid. Money is a scorecard. If someone is doing a job similar to yours and making more money, you unconsciously believe that he or she is doing a better job.  Being paid for a job imbues it with instant credibility.

 

A publishing contract changes one’s attitude about their accomplishments instantly. Suddenly the previous two years of “unpaid work,” gain validity. The money the publisher paid is proof.

Because we believe money is proof, we see a very strong connection between money and work.  Money earned via hard work is admirable, proof that you are a good person.

This means that ‘on-code’ firms portray themselves as facilitators who provide their clients with tools for generating more money.

 

Many European cultures have a different view of money and its functions. At a certain point many Europeans simply settle back on the estate, leaving the world of commerce behind.

 

For example. Money in France isn’t a form of proof, but unpleasant fact.

 

We truly believe there is a link between goodness and monetary success and that those who cheat and lie their way to the top ultimately meet their comeuppance on both the spiritual and financial planes. Consistent with this mind-set is the American attitude towards charitable donations.

 

Americans are the most charitable people in the world. Americans expect their most fortunate to share what they’ve earned, and we have an entire system of laws in place for giving one’s money away.

 

It is off Code, for example, to preach profitability to one’s employees. Money is the proof of goodness not in itself the goal. Instead, a company’s management do your best boymust inspire employees to be the best they can possibly be. This is on Code for both work and money and, if done effectively, leads to profitability.

Money alone is the worst reward for an American employee.

 

The most on-Code approach is to use money as a global positioning system that shows the employee where he is on his career path.

 

At every promotion, the employee should be shown a visual representation of the income curve that he or she is on. The angle at which one’s salary is climbing is a powerful symbol of growth.  It is visual proof.

Work is an essential part of who we are we just want a chance to prove ourselves and receive tangible evidence that we have succeeded.

 

 

Which leads me to “quality.”

 

–          quality

 

 

So.

Interestingly.

The Culture Code for quality in America is IT WORKS.

Conversely.

The Culture Code for perfection in America is DEATH.

 

We don’t want people telling us what to do and holding us to their standards. We want to discover things and learn how to do things our own way.

We had to learn everything ourselves, and we did it the only way we could – through trial and error.  Learning from our mistakes not only allowed us to survive, but also helped us to grow into a powerful and hugely successful country.  We were rewarded for our ability to pick ourselves up off the ground and do things better the second and third times. Trying, failing, learning from our mistakes, and coming back stronger than ever is an essential part of the American archetype.

 

The Japanese needed to make most of their land, efficiency is critical.

Mistakes are costlier. Quality is a necessity. Perfection is premium. Their Code for quality?  PERFECTION.

 

Interestingly Americans find perfection boring.

Think about it.perfection is shit

None of our products needs to perform brilliantly (our cars don’t need to be masterpieces of engineering, our cell phones don’t need to provide sonic perfection), but they absolutely need to perform.

 

The most important message is that Americans put a premium on functionality. We are not a bells-and-whistles culture. We would rather have a cell phone that always operates when we’re in the middle of a call than one that takes pictures, plays music, and allows us to download television clips.

A car that reliably gets us to work, the supermarket, or soccer practice is much more valuable to us than one that corners masterfully or has rain-sensing windshield wipers.

 

We expect our products to break down.

However, because our Code for quality is IT WORKS, we expect problems to be resolved quickly and with a minimum of disruption.

 

Americans are far more responsive to good service than they are to perfection (which they don’t believe in anyway). This means that crisis is a great opportunity to create loyalty. If a customer comes to you with a problem with a product or service and you solve that problem quickly and minimize the customer’s inconvenience, you will likely earn that customer’s dedication. You have proven yourself to the customer.

 

The bottom line is that great service is more important to Americans than great quality.

 

Ok.

 

 

–          america’s beginnings and home codes

 

 

You can trace many of the American traits to our humble beginnings. Though we are the richest country in the world, as we discussed earlier, at the reptilian level we consider ourselves poor. We start out with nothing and we labor to achieve wealth, and even though we may succeed, the hand-to-mouth attitude remains.

So.

Let’s look at Home in America.

 

Home is a place where you can do things repeatedly and have a good sense of the outcome – unlike the outside world, where everything can be so unpredictable. Home is a place where doing things again gives them added meaning.

 

And the kitchen is the heart of the American home because an essential ritual takes place there: the preparation of the evening meal. This is a ritual filled with repetition and reconnection that leads to replenishment. Making dinner is on Code for home in America <which also means that NOT making dinner creates guilt and angst and a sense of loss … which people cannot really put a finger on but the Code offers a reason why>.

 

Food is secondary.

In China, dinner is all about the food. Food is cooked in multiple locations (the kitchen, the fireplace, outside, even the bathroom) and it has a hugely prominent place in any Chinese home. Food is hanging, drying, and curing everywhere. While the Chinese are eating dinner, they rarely speak with one another. Instead they focus entirely on the food. This is true even at business dinners. One may be in the midst of a spirited conversation about an important deal; when the food comes, all conversation ceases and everyone feasts.

 

The response of poor people to food is consistent throughout the world: they eat as much as they can when they can, because they don’t know whether they will have the opportunity to eat the next day.

 

And Americans?

The average American spends six minutes eating dinner.

The American Culture Code for food is FUEL.

perfection looking at htings differently

While in Japan, food is a means to approach perfection.

 

Ok.

Let’s move to shopping.

 

 

–          shopping and us

 

 

The American Culture Code for shopping is RECONNECTING WITH LIFE.

Shopping is a social experience, a way for us to encounter a wide variety of people and learn what’s new in the world.

 

The Code taps into the adolescent component of our culture. We all want to “go out and play.”  We aren’t going to learn anything sitting alone at home. Only when we go out into the world do we discover anything new about life.

Buying is about carrying out a specific mission. It’s a task.  Shopping is a wondrous experience filled with discovery.

 

Consumers like the synergy between the buying they can do online and the shopping they can do at a retail outlet.

Buying signals the end of shopping, the point at which you sever your connection with the world and go back home.

Returns offer the consumer an alibi for returning to the store. Nordstrom has based part of its reputation on its willingness to take items back with no questions asked.

They’ve turned shopping into an open-ended experience.

 

For another perspective let’s look at France.

The French Culture Code for shopping is LEARNING YOUR CULTURE.  They consider their shopping an educational experience.

 

So, in America, from a business perspective, one is on Code whenever one underscores shopping as a joyful, life-affirming experience. Making shoppers feel that they can browse without pressure to make a buying decision is a very good thing, as is creating a space for them to linger (many bookstores have done this by adding cafés). Establishing a store as a place where people can gather and reconnect.

With the exception of convenience stores, emphasizing the efficiency with which the consumer can make purchases is off Code.

 

While telling people they can get in and out of your store quickly seems to make sense at the cortical level.

It flies directly in the face of the Code.

Telling shoppers they can have a fast shopping experience in your store is a little bit like trying to sell a thirty-second massage or half a piece of chocolate <grocery stores should take note of this>.

 

 

Ok.

Let’s talk about how we look at each other (country to country and culture to culture).

 

 

–          comparing country codes <explaining America>

 

 

Participants in France talked about the confusion that stemmed from their belief that they were supposed to illuminate the world with their ideas but that the Americans were actually doing it.

global citizen globeThe Code for America in France is SPACE TRAVELERS.

Germans see themselves as superior in education.

The Code for America in Germany is JOHN WAYNE.

 

The English Code for America is UNASHAMEDLY ABUNDANT.

The English expect us to seek abundance in everything. They expect us to be extreme and to try to win at any cost.

 

The French Code for France is IDEA.

Raised on stories of great French philosophers and thinkers French children imprint the value of ideas as paramount and refinement of the mind as the higher goal.

The French Code for England is CLASS.

Culture Code for Germany is ORDER.

 

 

Ok.

That was fun <at least for me>.

 

Before I finish I want to end with some code thoughts on leaders and leadership.

 

 

So let’s talk leaders.

 

–          leaders & leadership

 

Business leaders or political leaders.

Any and all people who lead in America.

 

Like all adolescents, we have little patience for father figures. However, we are happy to follow a rebel as he leads the charge.

 

Our leader is the person who leads the rebellion. This is essential in a culture where health means movement. We are always changing, always moving forward, always reinventing, and we want a president who can direct this process. The president needs to understand what is broken, have a strong idea about how to fix it, and then “rebel” against the problem.

 

We don’t want our presidents to think too much.

 

We don’t want a father figure. We want a biblical figure.

 

The Culture Code for the American presidency is MOSES.

 

Strip away the religious components of the story of Moses and you’ll see that he represents the Code for the American presidency aptly: a rebellious leader of his people with a strong vision and the will to get them out of trouble.

 

The French, on the other hand, rally behind leaders who challenge the system with new ideas <remember, the French code for France is IDEA>. Napoleon and de Gaulle are considered models of French leadership because they faced down the existing system and changed it to better serve the people.

 

American’s don’t want father figures who tell them what to do, but they do want men <and someday, maybe even soon, women> with a plan they can understand and follow.

 

So how do Americans see America?

Certainly, we see ourselves as “new.”

We also see ourselves as occupants of vast amounts of space.

 

Just as the Japanese are the masters of micro-culture because they must fit a huge number of people into a small space, Americans are the masters of macro–culture.

 

The American Culture Code for America is DREAM.

 

And we want our leaders to fulfill this dream code.

 

Even our cultural adolescence is a dream: we want to believe we are forever young and that we never truly have to grow up (and this is truly embodied with our fascination with health clubs and plastic surgery and things like that).

It is entirely on Code for people to change careers, locales, or living situations as long as they genuinely believe that doing so gives them a chance to grow <and attain their DREAM>.

 

I included this because all leaders, business or political or in school, need to remember this.

 

Anyway.

 

 

With the fun facts out of the way here are some Clotaire thoughts as we do the voodoo we do <i.e., living lives here at our own workplace and in Life>:

 

 

  1. The stronger the emotion, the more clearly an experience is learned.
  2. The only effective way to understand what people truly mean is to ignore what they say and watch what they do.
  3. People typically give answers they believe the questioner wants to hear. (and, yet, they believe they are telling the truth).

 

I say all of this because in the end people give alibis for their actions.

 

These alibis give “rational” reasons for doing the things they do.

 

But we are, in general, irrational people. Well. Not really if you buy into this Culture Code idea. To be effective we need to consider the alibis while addressing the Code.

 

While you can’t believe what people say, it would be a mistake not to listen to it and incorporate it into your message … whether that message be in face to face communication, business communication or … well … any frickin’ communication I imagine.

 

But think about whether people will truly “do what they say.”

 

So.

Why did I decide to share this?

Well.

Despite some interesting thoughts on how to market to consumers it also should remind us that when we seek to bring something new to a culture, one must adapt the idea to the culture.

It doesn’t work the other way.

 

It is about understanding people and their cultural underpinnings and behavior driven by attitudes.key to life

 

The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss studied kinship, saying that he was not interested in people but in the relationships between them – the “space between the people.”

 

Anyway.

 

We should care about things like the Culture Code idea because we are constantly discussing ideas … and trying to communicate ideas with people … in business and in Life.

 

In other words we are in the business of finding the kinship between ideas and things  and people.

Now … there is a thought to put up on your wall.

Enlightened Conflict