Enlightened Conflict

that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

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

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

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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So.

 

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

 

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

 

Ah.

 

That word “compromise.”

 

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

 

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

death of compromise

Why?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Now.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

All who are angry.

 

Within all of this 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, 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?

 

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 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 we have demonized 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>.

 

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.

 

shifting gears professionally

March 8th, 2017

 

gears working elite blue collar people experience

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“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.

Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

 

Denis Waitley

 

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“You are always a student, never a master.

You have to keep moving forward. “

 

Conrad Hall

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So.

 

This is about shifting gears professionally.

watch-your-step

What made me think about this?

 

I recently watched a professional acquaintance who shifted gears.

 

Oh.

 

To be clear.

He shifted up.

 

He had a good business, good business model and a good business sense. In my eyes he was cruising along in maybe 2nd or 3rd gear <good … not bad … and not great> … and then … well … he found another gear.

 

To be clear.

 

When I first saw his business he was maybe in 2nd gear … not really rocking the boat or rocking the world but steady consistent and moving forward and solid business.

 

Looking from the outside in I never saw spectacular but I saw steady. I saw … well … 2nd gear.

 

He didn’t know it but, behind the scenes, I would never hesitate to recommend him, maybe not typically for those who needed to shake the etch a sketch,  but 100% for those who just needed a good engine tune up. Over the years he steadily shifted up to maybe 3rd gear … always steady and solid <good, maybe very good, just not that extra little great>.

 

But then that changed.

formula success steps

One day I saw his business newsletter and … well … I sat up a little straighter and read it a little closer.

 

And read it again.

 

It felt like he had shifted gears.

It now felt like 5th gear stuff.

 

I got the next newsletter.

Definitely 5th gear.

 

He had shifted gears professionally.

 

I tend to believe this happens a lot as you get older.

 

We shift gears.

We reach a point professionally where you have it pretty good, you have some good experiences which have taught you a shitload of different things … and you sit back and scan it all <comparing it to what you have done>.

 

This is where the shift occurs.

 

Some decide to downshift.

 

Some decide to shift up.

 

shift up or downNow.

 

To be clear.

 

There is a huge swath of people in the business world who simply go in to earn a paycheck, their only gear is the one that does their job <mostly well or well enough> and their career progresses in that one and only gear.

I would note, just for the record, day to day business relies on these essential people and their steady gear attitude <so stop giving them shit or look down on them in any way>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is about the business people who want more. They want to use another gear then other employees … and for the most part throughout their career … they do.

 

Inevitably these people reach a point, maybe some success, maybe a title, maybe it is just some more good experience where they … well … decide to shift gears.

 

up or down shift gearsAnd, yes, this is where some shift down.

 

These ‘shift downers’ have decided they have been working hard and they see the other relatively happy one gear people and say “I am going to slow down.”

 

Some people call it selling out.

Younger people look at these older people as ‘wasted space.’

 

I just call them people who believe they deserve to down shift <so stop giving them shit or look down on them and look to maximize their experience>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is more about the business people who wanted more … and then see that maybe they could actually “be more.”

 

These are the business people who shift up.

 

And you know what? Shifting gear seems like the appropriate metaphor here because ‘the analogy of ‘shifting gears’ is used to identify and explain the key factors (agents) involved in driving career formation, and describe the level of interconnectedness between these drivers.’

 

To shift up … in order to respond to the pressure … the gears have to be in sync, work simultaneously and coordinate the rest of the body around them.

 

And that is what happens. You have accumulated a lot of knowledge, expertise and experiences <practical functional stuff> and then you decide to incorporate some personal clarity to the horsepower.

 

It is almost like you find some clarity … in yourself professionally which permits you to better identify the largest and most influential parts in the gear box.

And then … you shift gears.

 

I feel qualified to write about this because I did it. I shifted gears up.

And I have seen others in my generation shift up … and down.

 

expectations outcome disappointment 1I will admit that it has taken me awhile to not have disdain for people who down shift … mostly because it is so far out of my DNA I, frankly, couldn’t understand it.

 

But I do now.

I certainly see the value of ‘down shifters’ and believe any organization would benefit from having a mix of good, qualified, experienced, downshifters.

 

As for shifting gears up?

 

Whew.

Seeing someone in my business generation do it is … well … a joy.

Mostly because, in general, the shift is tied to a decision that our generation may have not always been the best for the business world and possibly injected some flawed thinking with regard to business acumen & principles. This means that most ‘shifting up’ is tied to trying to address those ‘wrongs’ or at least try and inject some ‘righter thinking.’

 

I get some shit from people because I am hard on my entire business generation … everyone.

 

Look.follow heart brain tupac

 

I think more of us should be.

To be clear.

 

I don’t expect everyone in my generation to decide to shift gears up but I would like more of my generation to at least understand some of the consequences of our behaviors & principles.

 

And for those who decide to shift gears upwards? I hope they get a chance to implement their new horsepower because today’s business world can make it pretty difficult for people in my generation, who truly have something to offer and are willing to not be attached to the old ways of doing things to actually get to do what they truly offer.

 

all sins are attempts to fill voids

February 26th, 2017

dog bacon thoughts desires

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“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end.”

 

—-

Sylvia Plath

 

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“All sins are attempts to fill voids.”

 

—-

Simone Weil

 

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Well.

stop trying to convince

 

We all know at least one person who is always trying too hard.

Or maybe they always seem to be overcompensating for something.

Or even that they know they are ‘not as good as’ and spend far too much time trying to convince everyone they are at least better than maybe we know they are at something.

 

We like these people because we like the overall sense that someone is dissatisfied with the present person and seeking a better person.

 

We don’t like these people because we don’t like the overall sense of desperation and the trappings that often come with it.

 

We look at these people and … well … we think about ourselves and the crazy shit we do.

 

Let’s face it … Life makes us do a lot of crazy shit.

 

Okay.

 

It doesn’t actually “make” us … just full-throatedly encourages us to do some crazy shit.

 

It does so because it makes us desire  a shitload of things that can chip away at the better version of ourselves. And by better version I don’t mean external stuff but internal stuff … soul, integrity & character. But life has a nasty habit of encouraging us to think more about external stuff than internal stuff.

 

The size of your bank account.braver he who overcomes own desire achievment soul how winning victory

 

How you look and what you wear and whether you sport Gap or Brooks Brothers.

 

The size of your house and whether you have gold drapes or Pier1 window hangings.

 

This kind of crap can screw you up let alone destroy you.

You can get so caught up in what Life is whispering in your ear as what is important … well … over time that is all you can hear and see.

 

Life becomes almost a parody of itself.

 

‘Less is more’ becomes the mantra of everything but you personally where ‘more’ just seems to look less & less. Life can twist you into a pretzel trying to match up with all the external trappings of what it suggests you should desire.

And as you get twisted all it really does is squeeze out character & integrity & principles drop by drop as Life twists harder and harder.

 

And as you get this squeezed out of you … you will naturally get thirsty. Therein lies the big Life choice … what do you drink?

 

What do I mean?

 

Remember that kid you knew growing up who was always the bully, always the exaggerator, always the one trying so hard to show everyone how great they were … at some point they realize that they are thirsty.

Either thirsty for more or thirsty for what is getting squeezed out of them.

And don’t think Life is standing by silently.  All the while Life will whisper sweet nothings in that kid’s ear telling them what to drink to stay on their path to a ‘better person’ <and it is most likely the sweetest, least healthy alternative>.

 

Look.

 

At some point we all get thirsty … even that young bully … and your Life gets energized by what you drink <and I could suggest you get addicted to what you drink at a fairly early age>.

 

 

always more and more life desireThat said.

 

What I do know is that almost all of us end up being constantly nudged to believe we neither have enough nor are we enough.

 

And it is within those ‘not enough’ spaces, the voids if you wish to call them, in which we commit our sins.

 

We commit our sins most often as we overreach.

 

Okay.

We are tempted to overreach … in our words, our resumes, our successes, even our recaps of our ‘what we did today’ lists.

 

Some overreach more than others. But we all get tempted. And, just as I noted above, it is explainable and understandable. When Life is trying to constantly tell you ‘not enough’ you will constantly be trying to showcase ‘more than enough.’

That is a natural response.

 

And this is where people separate themselves into two basic generalized groups … those who define how they matter <enough> by an internal balance sheet versus those who define how they matter <enough> by an external balance sheet.

I am not suggesting it has to be 100%, internal or external, because most of us figure out how to commit a few ‘sins’ as possible and try and manage what they desire in a way they don’t ultimately get destroyed by their desires. Most of us figure out our ‘best version’ is pretty good … maybe less than some but more than others.

 

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“And so we all matter – maybe less than a lot, but always more than some.”

—–

John Green

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not good enough trying

But some people truly do end up in the 100% column.

 

It is quite possible someone like the Pope is close to the internal 100% judgement … but I imagine a lot of people actually slide close to this Life self-framing. It comes with some external expenses but a shitload of people are willing to sacrifice those things because they know the gold curtains fade, the money can be lost and the houses can burn down. External trappings can only provide so much comfort.

 

On the end of the spectrum are the … well … hollow people. They look glitzy. They sound confident <if not arrogant or blowhards>. They have all the trappings of success. But their sacrifice is whatever internal compass that can guide goodness or true fairness as well as empathy & compassion.

They have sacrificed counting internal cues … because external cues are all that count.  All the while they are trying too hard, seem to be overcompensating for something and … well … spending a shitload of time trying to convince everyone they are at least better than maybe we know they are at something.

 

All that said.

 

We all know at least one person who is always trying too hard.

 

This is the person who desires the things which will destroy me in the end.trying human being

This is the person whose sins are attempts to fill voids.

 

This is the person we know … wish we could change … but is quite possibly the most unchangeable person we know.

 

We all have voids.

We just need to be very very careful that what we fill that void with doesn’t destroy us in the end.

executive coaching and solving obliviousness

February 24th, 2017

 

either madness or brilliance

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“… life coaching is quickly becoming one of the leading tools that successful people use to live extraordinary lives.”

 

some Life coach

 

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“WTF.”

 

Bruce

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Well.

 

Back in 2013 I asked the question ‘what did we do before life coaching’ … used life coachthe quotes above … and basically stated I thought Life coaching was a bullshit profession.

 

And while I received a great comment, which highlighted some good points on what coaching should & should not be, basically scolding me with regard to what I said … any ‘coaching’ isn’t really about telling someone what to do but rather providing an outside perspective attempting to show insights to help someone get to where they want to go.

To me it seems to me that all Life, and Executive, coaching does is to assist in steps to insure … well … accountability … personal & managerial. And it seems to me that all this coaching does is make an attempt to better control one’s destiny <which I imagine is anyone’s real objective not just some executive>.

 

I know I could never be a coach mostly because I don’t think I am that positive nor can I use the words these coaches seem to love “world wants to give you everything you desire” … “your uniqueness is a pleasant gift you can give to the world” ….  “takes courage to follow the path you believe in”“positive energy always attracts positive outcomes”.

I know I could never be a coach because I do believe there are limits to someone’s ability … in other words … everyone has a ceiling. That doesn’t mean you cannot improve sideways or build some depth to improve or fill in some cracks in your ability … just that we do have a reality ‘stop sign’ with regard to our abilities.

 

Regardless.

 

I am just not that motivational.

It just seems like bullshit to me and all I want to do is to “talk about getting shit done the way you want to get it done using a good moral compass to guide it all.”

 

That would be my coaching selling point.

Kinda “blah.”

Kinda no bullshit.

 

And, you know what?

I talk with dozens of CEO’s and business owners on a random basis and they don’t need coaching … they just need some new perspectives to get them out of where they are mentally and step out for a fresh view on a topic, issue or problem. And they mostly don’t need any motivational bullshit, or any bullshit for that matter, or buzzword crap.

 

I still believe Life coaching <and I do toss ‘executive coaching’ in that segment … although most I have crossed paths with are less ‘faux psychologists’ and more ‘pragmatic measuring milestones’ advisors> as mostly bullshit.

 

But.

And this is a big but.

 

If I could ever point to a case in which I believe executive coaching, or Life coaching, may actually be useful … it would be with Donald J. Trump. I am fairly sure I have never seen a business leader with worse organizational leadership instincts and as poor inspirational, vision and communications leader skills.

 

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“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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obvious oblivious confuse blind lead

I am fairly sure we would have less than zero chance of convincing good ole Donald J to accept some coaching because I think he is oblivious to the fact he is not loved by all, he is not respected by all, he is not followed by all <because he attained the title> or that he is not perceived as a great business person by all.

 

He seems oblivious to the fact he actually has to ‘win over’ the skeptics <which every newly promoted leader knows you have to do> and that he actually has to ‘win over’ basic approval <which he is sorely lagging in>.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

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“There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions.

That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious.”

 

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

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While people can debate his appropriate approval ratings <most agree it is dismal> a new CBS study broke down the range of President Trump’s potential support by showing people separated, by themselves, into four groups:

 

  • The Believers. the strongest of Trump backers those backing him but waiting for him to deliver. Believers (22%)] are the president’s strongest backers, who like what he’s doing and how he’s doing it; defend him against his critics, and see him as defending the country against threats.

CBS oblivious Trump skeptics view organization

 

  • The Conditionals. Those quai-supporting him for now but waiting to see some results. Conditionals (22%)] will remove their support if he doesn’t ‘fix the economy’ for them. They’re also concerned about safety, but aren’t as all-in with everything Mr. Trump does, especially in terms of style. A quarter don’t like the tweets.

 

 

  • The Curious. The curious (21%) oppose Mr. Trump at the moment but ‘would reconsider’ supporting him if he does a good job. They’re looking for more than just results, though – they want Mr. Trump to reach out to them, and they want respect.

 

 

  • The Resistors. those who seem immovably, firmly opposed: The Resistors (35%). They want the Democrats to oppose Mr. Trump on many more things, rather than try to work with him; demographically, they are much more likely to be either African-American or Hispanic and young.

 

 

I would assume this is the specific type of information a leader, seeking to lead, would love to have. And if he/she <Donald J> chose to be oblivious to it … I would assume this is the specific type of information an Executive coach would love to have.

 

To ignore this type of information would not only be leadership malpractice but poor organizational awareness.

 

I wrote back in January that being aware that ‘converting Skepticals is always the key to organizationally unity‘.  No … it is not breeding excitement among the fewer believers nor is it attempting to placate the non-believers … getting an organization going is almost always about ‘the skeptical.’

 

Skepticals reside in the Promised Land for a leader. One foot in hopeful promise and one foot in practical promise.

I say that because 43% of America <Conditionals & Curious> are the Skepticals to Trump.

 

comfort talk face in the eye

……………… coaching Donald J. …………………

If I were coaching Donald J I would be focusing on that 43% day in and day out because … well … while I could argue it is the potential pathway to alignment … they actually reflect ‘effectiveness.’

 

If I were coaching Donald J I would tell him to be very concerned with the “resistors’ because … well … 35% is a ‘yuge’ number … as in massive. It is the kind of number that would keep any sane CEO awake at night.

 

If I were coaching Donald J I would also point out that if he would solve the Skeptical group they will inevitably drag a good % of the Resistors out of steadfast resistant into a ‘reluctant cooperator’ status <which is okay>.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

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“I wasn’t sure what was worse: being oblivious or living within reality.”

 

Shannon A. Thompson

 

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I admit.

It seems crazy to me to have to be writing this shit.

 

Like I said earlier … I speak with dozens of CEO types and know even more personally.  Not one … zero … would need this type of advice.

And why I can say that is simple.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their 1st manager position … 200 of them will make rookie mistakes. They will not have ‘coaches’ but they will have mentors & bosses and they will do some shit by trial & error and figure it out.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their senior level manager position … 200 of them will make some mistake … but only about 20 of them will make a mistake that reflects some obliviousness to what reality is.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their CEO/business owner position … 198 of them will make some mistakes … but the mistakes they make will not be organizational type crap but rather “what to do first & how to do things” type missteps … and maybe 2 of them will remain oblivious to reality.

 

I am sure Executive Coaches can help out on the “what to do first & how to do things” type missteps and that is why that profession exists … but what the hell do you do with the 2?

<which I am tempted to suggest Donald J fits into>

 

Anyway.

 

Lastly.

 

I would coach Donald J. on the “yuge” difference between confidence & optimism.

Trump oblivious curious organizationI could view the numbers I showed earlier as well as some other attitudinal polls and get a nice sense that a larger group of my organization had a strong thread of optimism for a variety of meaningful things.

If I were the CEO, I would like that.

 

I could also view the numbers I showed earlier as well as some other attitudinal polls and get an uncomfortable sense that a larger group of my organization wasn’t exactly confident — with regard to me & my behavior as well as attaining the desired results.

 

To be honest. The situation could be worse. If I were that CEO I wouldn’t be euphoric but on the other hand I would recognize that, if managed wisely, I could close the gap between optimism & confidence and make it a ‘yuge’ win for the organization.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

Sigh.oblivious do not want to hear

 

I honestly do not know what you do with regard to coaching a CEO who is either oblivious to the reality of his or her organization … or worse … believes it is irrelevant.

 

But maybe that is why I am not an Executive Coach. I wouldn’t know what to do to coach him.

 

What I do know is that because of Trump … I am actually rethinking my views on the value of Life coaching and Executive coaching.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict