Enlightened Conflict

giving yourself away … an unselfish view

February 22nd, 2015

saving someone drowning


“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”


Dr. Seuss








It occurred to me when rereading a January post “giving yourself away” < http://brucemctague.com/giving-yourself-away > that I had, with the best of intentions, shared a selfish perspective on giving yourself away. And that there is an unselfish perspective.






There is unselfish giving yourself away. These are the people who simply help people, giving pieces of themselves away, because … well … that is what they do and who they are.



These people, the few, have a gift.


girl saving fire


I know of one for sure … probably a couple.


The gift is that they always seek to give a piece of themselves away if they see someone in pain, burdened by something, or just see a person needing to know that there is someone in the world who cares.



They do this regardless of the other person being friend or foe … known or unknown. They simply seek to … well … metaphorically … give a piece of themselves away to insure the other person has something good to hold on to when things look or feel bad.



What this means is … without trying to be the world to one person … they often end up being just that.



This is a gift.



It is a gift in that these people have an unending capacity to give themselves away.



I think in biology it is called regeneration. The body’s ability to give a piece away and have it regrow on the body. That is a gift these people have.


It is a gift because they never get exhausted giving themselves away piece by piece. It is a gift because they never lose enough of themselves to not have more pieces to give away.



“You will leave a little piece of yourself with everyone you imagine,” he said.

“You will get exhausted trying to give yourself away.”

noble infinite bits



Giving yourself away and never getting exhausted.

I think I will call this unselfish capacity.



It can be called unselfish because of something called “needs.”


We all have needs.


Needs, in the harshest light, pretty much stand in the spotlight of selfishness.

And, yet, the people with the gift I am speaking of seem to have such a huge unselfish capacity that their own needs seemed to get squeezed out of the selfish spotlight and are willing to stand to the side in the shadows.


That is a gift these people have.



There is another aspect of the unselfish capacity.



I will call it the ‘saving someone’ aspect.



My perspective on this one is mainly a business perspective.


When I managed groups and departments of people I loved picking up other managers ‘discards.’ The staff that they had given up on as too flawed or unmanageable. At that time, in my mind, no one wasn’t manageable. I believed as a manager I could ‘save anyone & everyone.’


But when I began managing companies and larger organizations I found I didn’t have the capacity to ‘save everyone.’ I became a harsher judge and jury with regard to staff.



I mention this because not too long ago I told a co-worker who was evaluating a potential hire, with some glaringly obvious cultural fit challenges, that ‘you can’t save everyone.’

He looked at me and said “I know … but why not try?”


The only answer I could give is that ‘if you give too much of yourself away in doing so you end up exhausted … or a shell of your former self having given too much of yourself away.’
Silly me.




I forgot that I am not everyone.


I had forgotten there are people with a gift … an unselfish capacity of which I do not have.



These people not only believe they can ‘save everyone’ but have the capacity to actually try to do so. That, my friends, is a gift.







The ‘giving yourself away unselfishly’ people.



The world needs these people.


We needed them in the past. We need them in the present. We will need them in the future.



dreams holow places empty peopleI imagine I owe an apology to these few gifted people for what I wrote in my original giving yourself away post.



Instead of apologizing I offer this post and the words you just read.




Giving yourself away is tricky.


And not everyone has the same capacity, or gift, to do it … and do it sincerely with no emotional baggage attached to the giving.



Appreciate the few who can.

giving yourself away … a selfish view

January 25th, 2015

not good enough trying

“You will leave a little piece of yourself with everyone you imagine,” he said.

“You will get exhausted trying to give yourself away.”


“I wonder how much of what weighs me down is not mine to carry.”




“I ruined myself for a lot of people that weren’t even worth it.”









I like every single one of the quotes I began with because they’re not blaming anyone else for their problems.


That said.


While this topic is mostly about ‘self’ … let me be clear … keeping yourself whole is one of the most difficult challenges in Life.


trying fucked it up







We all have a tendency to give little pieces of ourselves away … with good intentions <most of the time>.
And then there will be times you have a piece taken away.







If you are not careful not only do you get tired … but you have nothing left to give.





And at exactly the same time you run the risk of accepting some shit from other people and end up having to carry it around <along with your own shit>. This shit is not only their problems or issues … but more dangerously … their perceptions and attitudes.


Uhm. The ‘what they believe’ type shit.



I will note here that other people’s thoughts, perceptions & attitudes can be the heaviest burden you can ever assume. So while you give yourself away piece by piece you are inevitably gathering up pieces of other people.


When things get completely out of balance this means you can actually be carrying around more of other people <and their wacky opinions> then your own.



Scary, huh?  Kind of makes you hesitate to give yourself away.





Maybe this means I am talking about being selfish.


And actually finding a positive aspect of selfish.



Because, yes, there is a twinge of selfishness in deciding to not give yourself away.


I say that because there are always people wanting a piece of you.



Especially if you are worth a shit.



But even if you are not worth a shit … other people are always in need of something more than what they have … and will always seek to get what they need.


Sometimes this is meant with good intentions.


thinking trying to
Sometimes it clearly is with bad intentions.


Intentions or not … at all times … if you ‘play’ … you give yourself away.





What this means is that if you are not very very <very> careful … you can ruin yourself by giving yourself away. I say ‘very careful’ because it can happen piece by piece.



So ‘being careful’ brings me back to the selfish thought.




You have a right to set respectful boundaries.



You have a right to decide when to give something away, of yourself, and when not to.
You have a right to tell the world “I have nothing left to give.”



trying getting started


“It’s okay to care about yourself the most.

It’s okay to do what’s healthy for YOU. When someone hits you, it’s okay to hit back and then ask them what the hell they expected.

It’s okay.

You are not obligated to sit there and smile and swallow every bit of shit everyone heaps on you.

You are more than furniture, you’re more than window dressing, you’re not their shiny toy.

You’re human, and you have the right to say “That was shitty of you”.

You have a right to say “Let me feed that back to you; tell me, how does it taste?”

You have a right to protest your own mistreatment and set boundaries for respectful interactions.

The rest of the world doesn’t realize you have this right, and they will act offended and appalled when you exercise it, but it is yours.”






And maybe that is what not giving yourself comes down to.



The right to set your own boundaries … and rules for interaction.





This will confuse the world on occasion.





“The rest of the world doesn’t realize you have this right, and they will act offended and appalled when you exercise it, but it is yours.”



But you gotta do it or … well … you give yourself away.



Giving yourself away can be exhausting.



Giving yourself away does not always translate into ‘getting back something of equal value.’


Giving yourself away can ruin you.






In the end.



I am certainly not suggesting lack of compassion or not embracing a giving nature or even a belief that giving yourself away doesn’t have returns <actualization, esteem, gratification, etc.>.



However.trying human being



I am suggesting that if you give yourself way piece by piece to anyone and everyone who asks … well … you run the risk of no longer being whole. The essential parts that make up the whole have been given away.




I am suggesting that it is okay to be a little selfish, maybe self serving, when it comes to giving yourself away.

how you fall matters (RIP Scott Stuart)

January 4th, 2015

die trying gaping void

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer.

You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”


Scott Stuart


— From Lion in the Winter —

<thinking they hear Henry approach the dungeon>

Prince Richard:

He’s here.

He’ll get no satisfaction out of me.

He isn’t going to see me beg.

Prince Geoffrey:

My… you chivalric fool… as if the way one fell down mattered.

Prince Richard:

When the fall is all there is, it matters.


“The Lion in the Winter”







I will begin with the thought that it is incredibly easy to flinch from your destiny.




holding universe together matters
How you die matters.



When the fall is all there is … it matters.



It matters a lot as a matter of fact.


I thought about this when I heard Scott Stuart of ESPN died of cancer at the age of 49 this morning.



I wasn’t a huge fan of his as an ESPN announcer but I was a huge fan of his as a man and human being.



Death teaches you a lot about character.




Because it matters how you fall if that is all there is.





I am not going to be politically correct with regard to the thought I am going to share.



Pretty much everyone focuses on ‘living life to its fullest’ and making every moment count.






There are situations where things get a little reversed. In some cases some people actually see the Life finish line.




We all know it is there but for most of us it creeps up on us from somewhere beyond the horizon … unseen but we know it is there somewhere.


For others … Life shows it to them. It says “here it is.”



It may be somewhere down the road but it is absolutely not over the horizon and it is a clear destination which you are traveling toward.


unseen life

To me … this is when how you die matters.



I am not suggesting you shouldn’t fight for what you believe is right up until the end. I am not suggesting you don’t fight for every moment.



I am suggesting that when the fall is all there is … that the way you fall really matters.



I sometimes think people ignore ‘the fall’ because they want to focus on Life.



Ignoring the fall as an undesirable event which should be ignored as if it will not happen.





I guess that’s not bad. And … people need to do what is right for them.



But not all ‘falls’ are equal.



In your own mind and certainly not in the mind of others.


Will King Henry care if the prince is disgraced … or chooses to die with grace and honor?




He may look at the prince differently.


Let me point out … may.


Will it matter to the prince … Richard?





It makes a statement of who he is as a person.




Scott Stuart decided how you die matters.


He realized the fall would not only matter to him … but to others.



I guess my point is that one way of looking at ‘the fall’ is to treat it simply as an adverb in the middle of a long sentence.


Simply a word with the intent of getting to the period.




Like Richard the Lionhearted, or Scott Stuart, you can treat it like it is the end of a sentence.

A period.



periods at the end

Or an exclamation point.


Or a question mark.



Or anything definitive or declarative.



A way to put a piece of punctuation at the end of this particular sentence.



Richard states that it matters to him and he is going to control how his fall is defined. Scott Stuart did the same.


This isn’t about being right or wrong.


This is about character.



I guess we sometimes worry so much about ‘maximizing Life’ we forget how we fall says something about who we are as a person.


We do not choose when we will die … but some people are chosen to die.
That is what cancer <certain types> does.



It touches you and says “tag, you are it.” Your horizon becomes less expansive and your destiny is better defined.


You didn’t choose this destiny but by being chosen you have to choose.




“Just remember, if you flinch from your destiny, you’ll never achieve your true greatness — you didn’t choose to be chosen, but being chosen means you have to choose.”

Charlie Jane Anders



And maybe that is what Start Scott truly reminded me.

leading young direction


You have to choose when chosen.



Choose to flinch from your destiny or not. A destiny you did not choose.




He did not.



He said something at one point about “fight until you are too tired to fight … and then it is okay to stop, rest, and die.”




So, remember, the fall does matter.



Don’t flinch from your fall.





I may have this all wrong <except the fact that Scott Stuart did not flinch from his destiny>.




If I do have it right.


I can only hope I do not flinch when faced with my fall.




RIP Scott.

You didn’t know me … but I wish I had known you.

you can only see as far as you think (and women)

July 31st, 2014

 women change the world stump


“What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible. Who you are is limited only by who you think you are.”

Egyptian Book of the Dead


thinking multiple thoughts

“We’re all in the same game, just different levels. Dealing with the same hell, just different devils.”










I could write for days with regard to how little we actually see because of the way we think.



But instead I am going to begin by sharing a TV commercial focused on changing the way we see things <and how we should think>.



And, oh my, what a fabulous message … what a fabulous visual <that could have been miserably produced if not done carefully> … what a fabulous commercial:


women mans world

Break the Box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2GIu5ZpnTM


<note: this may be one of the best commercials I have seen in a while … and yet … I would give it a D- grade for meeting its objective … but give it an A+ for inadvertently delivering a better message>





Here’s the deal.



To me this commercial isn’t so powerful because it is against sexual violence … I think it reaches a higher level … and that is good.



I think it elevates to the bigger idea … that one person thinking differently … and acting upon it … can make a difference.



A HUGE difference.


I sometimes think we forget one person can make a difference as we get all caught up n the rhetoric with regard to what we are acting upon.


Words get in the way.


We want to label everything.



And as soon as we label something … it is like heuristics .. that simple label creates an image, and a thought, and a perception … and sparks an attitude.



We see and think one thing.



And that one thing can stop the one act that can make a difference.



“Sometimes, all it takes to save people from a terrible fate is one person willing to do something about it.”

Veronica Roth



Speaking of taking action.



The commercial you watched.




To give credit where credit is due … the commercial is from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault <TAASA> who launched a statewide education campaign about two Texas sexual violence directed state laws.



The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is a group committed to ending sexual violence in Texas through education, prevention and advocacy.

They support survivors on their paths to hope, healing and justice. They are a unifying force bringing together parties involved in and affected by sexual assault as a catalyst for change.

TAASA aims to achieve their mission and reach their vision through educating our communities about sexual violence, advocating for public policy change that confronts sexual violence, and finally, addressing and eradicating the myriad root causes of sexual violence.

The campaign can be found at www.HopeLaws.org.


woman when i grow up





That is good stuff.



And with sexual violence in mind I will focus on women, how society <and men> look at women … and some of the ‘labels’ that affect women … and how society kind of sees women because of these labels <perceptions> … and therefore thinks about them … and then inevitably how we behave with regard to women.



And I also imagine I am gonna have to mention that godawful word ‘feminist.’



This ‘label’ may be one of the most polarizing … and detrimental discussions … revolving around women and issues.



I don’t have to be a feminist to believe in gender equality.



Nor do you have to be a feminist to discuss women in society and the workplace.



I am going to use it in the following frame of reference <just to be clear on how I think about it>:



“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”

G.D Anderson




The word feminist creates a variety of absurd images which make many people only see so far.



Unfortunately the word, the label, I think also impacts women … how women think about themselves and how they think about each other.



And that is a shame.


It is more than unfortunate.



Women can be bludgeoned to a point where they maybe lose sight of making a difference as an individual.



But … one person can truly make a difference.


And <maybe tritely suggested> that one person almost always is you.


The individual.


And where they can make the biggest difference is actually with themselves.


Therefore if someone has the opportunity to ignore society they then have the opportunity to not ignore how you think about yourself.




“Why do you put your self esteem in the hands of complete strangers?

Helena Bonham Carter



women rebellion Jett



By the way … this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek support or look for some affirmation with regard to how you think.



But it does suggest that some of the simplistic labels may have to be ignored in defining your own esteem or how you define yourself.







I do not hesitate to tell anyone that I love the way women tend to think about things … and at times I believe the world would be better off if we had more female leaders <countries & businesses>. It may simply have been my management style … but the women in my groups and companies tended to outperform the men.



But suffice it to say that, at minimum, I believe we would be a better world if there were a better balance in the women to men leader ratio.






How does a woman find support in a society which often bludgeons them with words, labels and images suggesting they are disadvantaged in some form or fashion <beyond a state law like Texas>?








Women speaking out for women is tough.


That may sound weird but hear me out.




Older women speaking out sound … well … old.








Even if they are not really any of those things.


<we see only as far as we think>



Most celebrities don’t sound credible.
<we see only as far as we think>




And the most credible rarely get heard.


They aren’t famous and they don’t get the microphone that often.
<we see only as far as we think>




The young sound … well … young.



And maybe a little naïve on occasion.


Sometimes their lack of Life experience makes it difficult for them to articulate thoughts in a way that makes them relevant to a larger audience <they just sound young & inexperienced>.
<we see only as far as we think>


Therefore … when a youngish articulate female rolls around with the articulation skills to make people listen … and listen closely … I think feminists <or whatever you want to call someone who wants women to have a fair shake in the world> should be shoving them out into the public as often as possible.


<note: I have said this before and until proven otherwise I think Katy Perry, Jennifer Lawrence and Selena Gomez … and maybe Maria Sharapova fit the bill>







I hate the words we use around discussing women … disadvantaged, unequal, strong women … well … add something to the list … women are … well … other humans … other individuals.



I tend to believe they mostly are ‘disadvantaged’ by nothing more <albeit it is a big nothing> than how people think.



They may be disadvantaged by heuristics … the labels and words and silly soundbites we want to use in today’s society to summarize more complex ideas and thoughts.


We should be thinking broader.



We should be thinking beyond some labels.


For example:



“Screw writing “strong” women.

Write interesting women.

Write well-rounded women.

see with your heartWrite complicated women.

Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner.

Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband.

Write a woman who doesn’t need a man.

Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks.

THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN.

Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people.

So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong.

Write characters who are people.”



I like this because I don’t like comparisons between men and women.


I tend to believe we should address all people issues equally.




And I think this way because I tend to believe many of the issues which are often deemed ‘gender specific’ would be alleviated <or lessened> if we thought this way.



I do think it is kind of crazy <as a man> that there is any discussion about ‘well … why are we so focused on women … men have issues too.’




It’s crazy because something like nine out of 10 eating disorders are suffered by women



It’s crazy because something like 95% of cosmetic surgeries occur with women.




It’s crazy because while men are more likely to experience violence on the streets than women … can a man really suggest that they understand the feeling that there is no point that a woman doesn’t think about security when alone on a street.



It’s crazy because while men may be physically stronger than a woman <in some cases> that doesn’t mean men are in any way mentally stronger than women <and we men seemed to get this shit confused a lot>.






Seeing as far as you think.




Back to that thought.



Oddly … I find the labels surrounding gender equality create debates which end up being very inward-looking <men to men & women to women>, hostile and relentlessly futile and extremely off putting.



What about simply being … well … a humanist.



Because … simplistically … limits on what anyone can be should not be defined by anyone other than yourself … and certainly not by society.



“Why do you, or they, or anyone get to determine my limits?”

Veronica Roth



This puts all onus on the individual … you alone … with no one to blame if it doesn’t turn out the way it ‘is supposed to.’


I know.


I know.



Society doesn’t make this easy.




A society which sees only as far as it thinks.powerful beyond measure 2


And to conclude … that is why I like what Sarah Silverman says:


“Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. Not because they can’t, but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t.”

Sarah Silverman




stars and shrinking

July 1st, 2014

stars and shrinking human


“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day.”

Calvin and Hobbes



We seem to focus so much on what we do every day … the ‘doing’ in Life.

And while Life doesn’t force us to do so it certainly encourages us to do so.


Life does this by throwing obstacles and things to do and responsibility in front of us seemingly as we take each step into the day.

Because Life does this … it is seemingly impossible to do anything BUT think what we do all day as the most important thing.
And I am not here to suggest what we do each day isn’t important.





Maybe I am just thinking about it.

Thinking about it in a way to make sure we aren’t doing so because we are … well … shrinking.


Shrinking before the immensity of Life.immesnity of life norman-mailer




Immensity of life.


Let’s face it … it is easy to shrink before it.


Day to day, surprisingly, is actually easier for us to face. Not suggesting it is less difficult … just easier. It is represented in … well … things.


Things to do.


Things to say.


Things to check off on a list.


Things to put on a list.


There is never a shortage of ‘things.’

Life is … well … immense.


Immense in its intangible and vagueness.


I imagine I am suggesting we don’t <or at least make the attempt> shrink from purpose in Life simply using ‘what we do in daily life’ as an excuse.

shrinking focus on

But it is hard <really hard>.


Because ‘purpose’ is vague.


It is ‘doing good’.



But … does that mean doing good for whomever is in front of you at the expense of someone else? … or doing a greater good for the planet at the expense of someone in front of you?


Yikes <again> … yes … those choices are real.


Simplistically we try to believe it is simply ‘doing the right thing.’


But sometimes the right thing for you, or from your perspective, is the wrong thing from someone else.


It is ‘having a good heart’ <meaning well>.


But does that absolve you from meaning well but still causing harm because meaning well sometimes means not making the hard decision.

Or sometimes it does.



Purpose, to be meaningful, is a combination of intangible higher order type stuff … with some tangible daily <or weekly> decisions and choices.


And it is not easy.


And it is not easy on top of what you do in your daily lives.


I do believe most of us realize there are an infinite amount of ‘bigger things’ to be done.


I do believe most of us realize there are more important things than what people do all day.


And I do believe most of us shrink before the immensity of Life.



And I do not mean that as a criticism … just as something that is normal human behavior <or reaction to what is in Life>.
I don’t have answers here.
Just questions.


As in questioning whether I pay enough attention to things beyond what people, and I, do all day.



“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
E.E. Cummings

——–stars and thinking boy


I imagine I believe that while I do not have the answer today if I keep asking the questions maybe I will get closer to an answer tomorrow … or in some day after that.



I kind of think that is what looking at the stars reminds us of.


Enlightened Conflict