Enlightened Conflict

but it might just work

July 10th, 2015


smart risk may work just

“A million to one chance but it might just work.”


Terry Pratchett






Taking chances.



We all do.







smart risk taking may workWe all convince ourselves we do.



Some of us are willing to take chances when it is a 90% likelihood <or we feel like it is a 90% likelihood>.

That’s not really truly taking a chance.




Some of us are willing to take a chance when it is somewhere above a 50% likelihood.

That has chance involved.



Some of us look at the likelihood & probabilities and even though say it may look like a million to one odds … well … we say ‘it just may work’.



Suffice it to say … how you take chances … and how often … says a lot about who you are as a person.





How about it sends a message out to everyone surrounding you and they look at you as some type of person?


Someone who constantly thrives on million to one chances scare the shit out of people.




Someone who constantly thrives on almost certainty chances bores the shit out of people <which is a poor leadership quality>.



The gap between those two things is massive. And it is a black hole of chance and choices so deep it can eat you up if you are not careful.



More careers have disappeared in this black hole than can be counted. And because so many have disappeared the majority of people lean toward ‘certainty’ in actions and behavior. This obviously leads to mediocrity. And mediocrity leads to self-disgust <in some form or fashion>. Disgust may be a harsh word but it is the unfortunate shadow of self-disappointment.


Where ongoing disappointments stands … disgust is never far away.




impatient think question look

“… do you ever get so disgusted with yourself, like you can not believe how stupid and thoughtless you are and it’s so frustrating because you keep telling yourself that you’ll do better next time but then next time rolls around and the same thing keeps happening and you end up in this pattern of mediocrity.”


(via anawkwardbreed)




I am certainly not suggesting seeing “it just may work” as standard operating procedure.




I always remind people … you don’t know what you don’t know and once the marbles start rolling it is difficult to predict where they will go. In other words … how well, or poorly, you adapt and react can change the odds moment by moment. What may look like a million to one in moment one may look more like a 50/50 chance moments later.



“It just might just work” has some optimism. The ‘just’ & ‘may’ suggests no false optimism but rather an acceptance that there is huge risk, the odds are against you, but you are willing t play the game and see how it ends.



This is not only a personal thing but also a generational, age, thing.



Older business people have created this wacky attitude of a false security of behavior predict Brainpredictability. And they take refuge in this attitude tending to be excessively cautious under the guise of ‘it will not work’ <based on my worldly wisdom> rather than viewing things as ‘it just may work.’



Security ranks higher than risk taking.



Unfortunately, this means that many of these same people, and their businesses, lose out as they lack the courage to make changes or adapt to a changing environment <which actually impacts the odds >.



False security of predictability often leads to missing experiences that bring necessary change.



Risk taking is usually considered a characteristic of youth. Young people seemingly never hesitate to try new activities, to move to new places, to change routines & to challenge the status quo.



I believe it is not based on immaturity or lack of experience but rather they can often view a situation or scenario with a different eye … and therefore derives different ‘chance’ to the potential outcomes.





I love when young people in business do this and I encourage them to articulate their thinking as well as possible. My objective is to view it as they see it through their eyes. And once I have achieved that … I then assess ‘chance’ based on that view <rather than the initial view I may have had>.



2 things come of this:




1.    Invariably I find the odds are truly different after listening. They see things we don’t see and it creates a different path of possibility. It may not shift it from million to one to certainty … all I am suggesting is that the chance ratio changes.

2.    I can actually convince them that it truly is a million to one chance and that it ‘just may not work’ without sounding like an old curmudgeon who doesn’t listen or doesn’t want to explore new ways of doing things.






“It just may work.”




Far too often older managers in business refuse to say this let alone even think it. And thinking it is half the battle.


Brain activity, thinking muscles, increases with challenges … new activities and new experiences challenge established ways of thinking about life & business.



You know what?


“It just may work” isn’t really about risk taking or being risk adverse … it is about thinking and thinking about possibilities.



Too often older people associate possibilities with risk taking. And while predictability brings a sense of security it also means you lose out on the rich experiences of thinking, curiosity & exploring. And maybe that is why young people get so cranky with older business people.



It’s not that they don’t see older managers take risks … it is that they see older managers aren’t even curious with regard to the possibility that someone may suggest something that creates an ‘it just may work’ moment.



In the end … I like to remind people that success is contextual, situations and environment are constantly changing and ‘it just may work’ chances are also contextual.



No one … not even the most brilliant business person in the world … can always envision every inevitable moment or aspect of a process. Far too often the marblestravel of success is often best viewed as marbles rolling on a flat table … that is being rocked. It just may work then becomes dependent upon how well you can avoid, deflect and direct the marbles.






I would like to note that nothing in that last paragraph suggests predictability.





About the only thing I can predict about 99% of things discussed in business is ‘it just may work.’

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.

Enlightened Conflict