Enlightened Conflict

the ethics of addressing ‘what you deserve’ promises

June 22nd, 2016


what you get what you deserve



“… it’s time for me to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s time for you to be 100% honest with yourself.

You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals.

I’m looking at your profile and you’re not even close to where you need to be, much less where you want to be.

It’s time you fix your broken plan, bring in Mr. Trump’s top instructors and certified millionaire mentors and allow us to put you and keep you on the right track. Your plan is BROKEN and WE WILL help you fix it.

Remember you have to be 100% honest with yourself!”




Trump University Playbook




“It is never hopeless.

But sometimes I cannot hope. I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot. “



Ernest Hemingway




“Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? … Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts?

Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.”




Trump University Playbook




I deserveOk.


Let’s address the elephant in the room … we all, all of us, believe we deserve some things.






Opportunity in Life. Keep what we have. Earnings for work … and more earnings if we believe we are producing ‘harder work.’ Happiness.


All of those things … plus … whatever you may want to add.


I state that as a Life truth so I can talk about the responsibility of a ‘promiser of things’ to us. Because if what i have outlined in the ‘deserve column’ is a Life truth, an accepted attitudinal thread in society, then someone seeking to tap into that thread bears a responsibility.


So let me talk about this responsibility.



An empty promise may be the worst promise someone can ever offer you.

I turn your back true-falsesometimes call it “false hope.”


And let me be clear … lots of people, myself included, find any promise of hope so attractive that it is incredibly easy to not look behind the promise to see if it is full or empty.


Inevitably the people who accept this empty promise are the ones most likely to feel a need. And when I say “feel” it can very easily edge into the personal “what I deserve” mental space.


This is also a very common space for a lot of people … we see the promise and look around us and … well … say things like:


“I am smart enough.”


“I am capable of this.”




“I deserve this” … well … as much as anyone else … particular the ones I am looking at who have it.


In the marketing and behavior world this is called “managing the need perception.” Conceptually … the higher someone drives up someone’s “I need” attitudes … the more likely they are see ‘something’ instead of ‘empty’ in the promise.


At its core … this is not about risk in choices <the downside to my choice>. T

his is more about embracing hope <the upside of my choice>.


And that is where ethics and morality come into play for the ‘promiser.’


I feel qualified discussing this because the majority of my business career has been all about ‘offering promises and hope for something.’


You learn very very quickly that as a promiser you can sometimes become blinded to the potential emptiness aspects of what you will offer and there is a natural allure to focusing solely on potential of the ‘better or best’ aspects of what you will offer.


I imagine the decision on what to do with your promise is a combination of integrity and true business. Because, yeah, I want people to buy my shit … to see the promise that resides within what I have to offer. And, yet, experience shows you thru customer feedback and the retail clerks dealing with past buyers and online forums that not everyone you sold your promise to actually had their hopes met.


Those weigh on you.





They weigh on you … if you have any ethical compass.


The ones who have no, or little, compass are the ones who adamantly state one of two things :thoughts are dangerous


  • Some people are not happy with anything <”they are being unrealistic”> – i.e., “ignore the bitching”



  • Look at how many people are not saying anything bad – i.e., “the sales justifies my behavior





I am not suggesting this is as easy as I just pointed out.


As someone who has sat in boardrooms and looked at increasing sales and complaints and reviews … it is incredibly easy to justify your own beliefs in your own products, services or company.


It is inherent in your business acumen if you are even worth a half a shit … because part of what most likely makes you successful in business is belief in yourself, your business and your idea.


That said.


The best of the best business people constantly weigh how they manage what people think and what they are going to be asking someone to do when they make their personal commitment to your business, product & idea.


The majority of us business schmucks wander somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong <in the balance> but inevitably our pendulum swings mostly in the middle of fairness, honesty and ethical.


The worst of the worst, the snake oil salespeople, never weigh what they are asking people to do and solely focus on ‘promise fulfilled’ … and damn the ones who didn’t, or couldn’t, attain the promise of what could be.


I admired the first group. They had figured out how to be steadfastly ethical and successful in business. Kind of the no compromise, in a good way, candidate.


I struggled to deal with the last group. They believed a sale was a sale, any profit was good and the burden of responsibility resided solely on the buyer.


All that said.


Trump is a snake oil salesman.

Just as a reminder, during the depression when times were hard people bought snake oil as a hopeful salve for whatever was troubling them.


They were con men dedicated to an unethical targeting of a slightly naïve, hard working, mostly struggling but good hearted people who desired some easy salve for some of their ills.


And, yeah, someone could argue “buyer beware.” But that is at its core … well … bullshit.

Sellers actually have, and should have, more responsibility than the buyer.


A seller, more often than not, knows what someone can afford and what they cannot afford … as well as whether their hopes are even in the realm of possibility.


This means … if as a promiser you see that they have little or no chance and that a bad decision on the buyer’s part would have a high likelihood of not only not delivering upon their hopes but actually could tangibly negatively affect their lives … the promiser has a responsibility, no, an obligation to do what is right.


Using Trump as the example I could suggest he is only really guilty of unethical opportunism.


However … I would actually suggest he is guilty of 2 things:


<1> assuming his life objective should be the life objective of everyone <winning is all that matters>, and


<2> moral relativism – which he disguises within what he calls ‘not political correctness.’


But opportunism, at its soul, is directly related to what we people believe we deserve.


We people inherently build blocks on which we stand of things we believe we deserve.


The basics … food, health, education, place to live.


But it gets a little trickier once we actually get, and have, something.

We believe we deserve what we work for … and once we attain something that ‘level’ is the new normal for ‘I deserve.’


That is something psychologists call “hedonistic adaptation.”


And this happens at all income levels because anyone at any level can feel stretched or challenged economically <while still actually being rich beyond deserve want fair more than that lifebelief in terms of what is available to all of us 24 hours a day>.  All people are seemingly continuously seduced by the urge to acquire … and acquire more … and indulge <when the opportunity arises>. All people attach the thought of ‘deserve’ once they have acquired some level, some things or some status. You earned it <in your mind> therefore it is yours.


I don’t have anything against it. And I certainly understand the psychology of ‘once you have something not only do you not want to not have it anymore … but you want more’ <or the next step up>.


Money leads to lifestyle upgrades. But, once again, that is fraught with conflict. Once you achieve the income you desired … well … you go back to desiring more. And imagine if you become stagnant? Yikes. Our natural ‘adaptation’ anger kicks in.


But this also means that people inherently overreach … because we try and reach out for ‘more than what I have.’


We inherently believe we are smart enough and capable enough to be better than what we are today.



If only we had the opportunity.


This belief, oddly enough, is exacerbated by failure <sometimes>. The more we fail when attempting to reach something we believe we inherently deserve … well … we will overreach even more to compensate for the time we didn’t have what we deserved <psychology research shows this>.


And this is where the true slippery slope of unethical opportunism rears its ugliest head.


What this means is that unethical opportunism is most often driven by digging into what we believe we maybe not deserve … but what we would naturally attain if given the opportunity <this is a sly version of ‘deserve’>.


Most of us simply feel we deserve a chance. Deserve a chance for something better. The ‘degrees’ of what someone feels they will deserve will vary by person.

And suffice it to say there will always be a group of people who believe they deserve significantly more than what they have and because of it will roll the dice <although they will not see it as much of a gamble as someone else>

But the bottom line is that 99% of us feel we deserve something better.


everybody needs what i am selling deserve lifeThe Trump ‘promise’ sounds big and luxurious and exclusive … but it fails the majority and rewards the minority.



In a country in which maybe our most impending problem is massive inequality between the haves and the have nots … well … that kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster.


At minimum … it is guaranteeing false promises to the majority.


And Trump gets a little worse in this scenario than the typical ‘empty promise’ seller. A president cannot simply promise people wealth, opportunity for growth if they invest in him, cash their check as they cash in on the ‘promise’ and then ignore their ultimate result <success or failure> while moving on to the next scheme or promise.


Well. He could. Shit. He has <in business>.


But that is not what presidents or good leaders do.


And it certainly is not what America deserves.


In the end.


When you feel like you are getting screwed or that the system is rigged in some way against you … your sense of ‘I deserve more & better’ is heightened.


We all do it.

It is difficult to fight that feeling.


And, you know what? Sometimes we will not be successful fighting the “I deserve” monsters in our heads.

And maybe that is my biggest point.


A good leader knows we will not be successful fighting them off all the time and will not take advantage of our weakness.


Trump, all his career, has fed off the carcasses of weakness. I don’t mean weak people … just the natural weak moments in human nature.


He is a taker.


The world will always have takers and the world will always fall for takers. That doesn’t make being a taker good.


Nor does being a taker mean you would be a good leader.




“I believe the world is divided in three groups: givers, takers and the few that can balance both impulses. If you are a giver, it is wise to define your boundaries because takers will take what you allow them to; all givers must learn to protect that about themselves or eventually, there is nothing left to give.”



Tiffany Madison






Here is the biggest problem with trying to sell empty promises.compromise give away


It builds cynicism and erodes hope.

While I could certainly highlight ‘lost lives’ I will instead highlight ‘killing hope.’


That is the biggest price we pay for buying empty promises.


And, I have to tell you, that is why I hate, abhor and despise people who purposefully, and knowingly, sell empty promises and false hope.


We all deserve opportunities. And we all deserve receiving something as a result of hard work.


We do not deserve empty promises.  And we certainly do not deserve someone who suggests a future in which the majority will most likely sit back in their worn chairs and think … ‘sometimes I cannot hope. I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot.’

an obsession for learning

May 9th, 2016

obsessed 1


“Sureness will always elude you.

The detective will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole. We do not go on despite this.

We go on because of it.”



Claire DeWitt




“All extremes of feeling are allied with madness.”obsessed 2



Virginia Woolf







I had not really thought much about obsession until I came across this Harry Potter gif.


He has a point.


A really good point.

planning my day learning

Far too often we seem to judge obsession in absolutes … as in absolutely unhealthy, bad or creepy.


Obsession is clearly one of those words which seems to be made up of a lot of bad perceptions.


But what if you have an obsession with learning … or reading … or some specific topic like science, math or woodworking … or any ‘increased knowledge-based’ aspect of Life.


That kind of seems like a good worthwhile obsession.

Well. At least it offers some sense of ‘reason’ that you can bolt on to the everyday survival aspect of Life.


But let’s take a moment on obsession with learning.


Life, and learning, and even curiosity in general … means most of us are trapped in an endless chase.


The real scam people try and sell you is that some milestone or some objective represents some end point. I imagine another part of the scam is something I tried to debunk back in 2010 … the whole concept of “well rounded” learning and people.


What we are taught about learning — how to learn, what to learn & what learning is important – is very different than what most of us feel & perceive when we encounter learning.

And the rules look even more out of whack if you are one of the ones who is obsessive about learning something.


Those of us who have encountered, and embraced, obsession recognize that the game is rigged. We know there is no perfection. We know there is actually no end. We know that our obsession is a means to an end and more often a favorite piece of clothing we will inevitably store away on the closet to be replaced by some other piece of clothing we will wear endlessly … until we become obsessed with another.


What this means is that anyone with a relatively healthy obsession will endlessly circle around whatever they want more of … and do so willingly because it was what he/she wants.


We visit the extremes seeking the extreme edge of something that is infinite and, yet, we find solace in the extremeness and not an unhealthy pursuit of something that will never actually be sated.

obsessed uninterested switch

A good obsession may actually mean you have the high unrealistic expectations and yet are able to mix and match them with the curiosity exploration of the day.


I was a young obsessive-topic  reader <which concerned my parents on a number of levels> … and to this day have aspects of obsessiveness in all learning and exploring opinions, truths and belief.


I tend to believe obsessive learning is effective for a variety of reasons.


It is self imposed.


It is defined by a chosen environment & topic rather than a dictated one.


Measurement is … well … unmeasurable in traditional terms where the measurement objective is an unquantifiable “enough when it is enough” <we dictate the ‘satedness’>.



At its root level obsession is all about “wanting more.” And with regard to learning … the ‘more’ is not some well-rounded evenly shaped smooth journey. And therein lies obsession biggest challenge in life. Unevenness makes people feel uncomfortable. They seek ‘well rounded’ and ‘planned exploration’ in terms of what is right. Therefore if you are obsessive on one topic or one task you are not … well … doing it right.


And that kind of seems silly to me.

I am sure that someone will point out that there truly is a ‘righter way’ to learn but in my pea like brain learning driven from the inside of someone is significantly more powerful than learning dictated by someone outside of me.




I tend to believe part of youth is learning about obsessions and constantly being obsessed with something and some things.

Unfortunately, adults confuse exploration with youth obsession.

Sure. Sometimes the exploration can verge on some unhealthiness but more often than not it is a pursuit of ‘more’ within something liked or desired. The pursuit itself becomes a means to a different end in that exploration means one encounters new things … which can encourage a diverting path and a new obsession.


That is partially what youth is.


It was in my day and it remains so today <although reading things online suggests many adults seem to think the young are more obsessive than ever – note: no research proving that>.


For some this obsession learning path provides a focus for adulthood.


For some this obsession becomes an unhealthy adult pattern.


For some this obsession becomes a healthy relentless pursuit of something ‘more’ in adulthood.



I would never suggest that an obsession with learning is easy mostly because … well … anything extreme runs the risk of edging a little toward madness <or at least maddening to the people around>. But I will suggest that an obsession with learning is one of those youth obsessions which translates fairly well into adulthood. I could even suggest that an obsession with learning, as long as you don’t get too full of yourself, means you maintain a certain youthfulness toward Life.







To be honest, I haven’t completely figured out how to resolve obsession I simply manage it and think I am always working on it.obsessions people


What I do know is that those of us who are obsessed with learning will always be dissatisfied with what we do not know.



I assume anyone who struggles with some obsession and even manages it has figured out a way of managing the overall dissatisfaction versus “satisfaction I have actually made some inroads with regard to my ‘more’ desire.”


But I have learned that the pursuit of your obsession has to have meaning in order for it to be a healthy obsession.


And meaning can take form in a variety of ways … but it cannot be a simple milestone or objective but rather an embodiment of some growth or ‘moreness’ <not actual attainment of something>.




At least that is how I figured it out.





Enlightened Conflict