Enlightened Conflict

you believe that you are unworthy of care

September 18th, 2017

attention nobody cares gift message relevant

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“As a therapist, let me just say: almost every trauma survivor I’ve ever had has at some point said, ‘But I didn’t have it as bad as some people,’ and then talked about how other types of trauma are worse. Even my most-traumatized, most-abused, most psychologically-injured clients say this.

 

The ones who were cheated on, abandoned, and neglected say this.

The ones who were in dangerous accidents/disasters say this.

 The ones who were horrifyingly sexually abused say this.

The ones who were brutally beaten say this.

The ones who were psychologically tortured for decades say this.

 

What does that tell you?

 

That one of the typical side-effects of trauma is to make you believe that you are unworthy of care. Don’t buy into it, because it’s nonsense. It doesn’t matter if someone else had it ‘worse.’

 

Every person who experiences a trauma deserves to get the attention and care they need to heal from it.”

 

hobbitsaarebas

 

===================

 

“It’s true, I suffer a great deal–but do I suffer well? That is the question.”

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

===

 

“… victimization is a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.”

 

—-

sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning

 

============

 

 

Whew.

 

still talk about it you care about it trump reporting on oneselfBelieving you are unworthy of care.

I call this “victimhood backlash.”

 

Now.

 

This is different than feeling unworthy of love, respect or … well … unworthy of something or any of that type of thing.

 

In fact.

 

This is actually the exact opposite of a victim mentality.

 

This is when something truly bad has happened to you <you are a real victim of something> and you look around and say “whew, they are the real victims.” In a real sense this person then constructs an extremely viable narrative to suggest that while they are in a shithole … their shithole is nothing compared to some other people’s shithole.

 

This is not self deprecation … it is a sincere feeling that what you did or experienced was closer to ordinary rather than extraordinary.

But.

I say this unequivocally  … even if someone is shrugging off help or maybe even adamantly opposing the help … a hole is a hole and you need help getting out of holes.

 

Someone may not think they are worthy of care, or asking for help … but they need it.

 

Anyway.

 

I have two thoughts on this ‘believing unworthy of care’.

 

First.

 

A hole is a hole.

If you are in a hole, it is a hole.down in a hole layne alice in chains

 

I have written this before … a shithole is a shithole. We are not in the shithole comparison business. All shitholes are dark, deep and often don’t have a visible ladder to get out of the shithole.

 

To me?

 

Horrible is horrible.

A black hole is a black hole.

And while maybe not all holes and abysses are created equal … all seem equally deep, dark & shitty when in one.

This may not be literally true … but figuratively I tend to believe that is how we view it when encountering some shit Life gives us which places us into some dark hole.

 

Second.

 

I do not believe that victimhood is some cultural crisis <the sociologists I highlight upfront do suggest that>.

 

Yeah.

 

The things for which we can publicly accept the fact we were a victim of has certainly increased. This doesn’t mean more shit, and shitholes, have occurred … it is just that it is now more acceptable to admit them and address them.

 

Can this get out of whack? Sure.

 

But a long as someone isn’t creating a shithole and claiming being a victim then .. well … a shithoe is a shithole.

 

I would suggest that we want people who feel like they are n some shithole because they were a victim of something to speak out regardless of whether an falling down the rabbit holeeveryday schmuck like me may look at them and say “c’mon, be real, that’s Life” and maybe we should be focusing on how to better address them when they speak out.

 

We need less pandering and more reality management.  We need less judgement and more dialogue.

 

We need to grow a dialogue culture. Rather than responding to comments or behaviors with less condemnation or judgement and more engagement to engage rather than repel <without increasing victim mentality but rather managing it>.

 

But we do not want anyone at anytime to believe that they are unworthy of care.

 

Anyway.

 

I can almost guarantee almost everyone will either slip into a hole or go crashing into a hole at some point in their Life.

And that person <which means, uhm, everyone> will need help getting out of it.

 

For if you permit someone to linger too long in the hole … well … the abyss will gaze into them. And inevitably find some dark corner in the mind that they will find a place to live, eat and breathe for years and years to come.

 

Just accept what I just said without shrugging or thinking “that’s some bad shit.”

 

<Most> Holes are fine in Life.

 

They are part of Life.stay in the hole

 

Regardless of whether the shithole is incredibly shitty or just basic shit they have the same intended conclusion — you just have to make sure you know how to get out of them.

 

Ah.

Which leads me back to the opening quote.

Someone who believes that they are unworthy of care.

 

I say that because you can spend a lot of time looking around at other shitholes thinking about how to get other people out of their shitholes … all the while ignoring your own shithole, avoiding finding a way out of our own shithole and, maybe the worst, if you gaze long enough into an abyss … anyone’s abyss … it will gaze into you.

 

============

“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

 

<Beyond Good and Evil> Friedrich Nietzsche

==============

 

Look.

 

I have had this debate a zillion times … the one where you discuss who has it worse.

 

Who is going through tougher times.

Who has actually gone through a tougher time.

Maybe even discussing a bad moment in life as horrible, but always discussing ‘horrible’ relative to other horribleness.

 

pick a hole in the sky and we will all be n troubleAnd while it is most likely true that, regardless of your situation, someone somewhere has it worse than you do … that thought only seems to offer some false comfort nor does it really offer any solutions.

 

To me … comparing bad situations is not only not very helpful but it also tends to suggest the wrong thing to me – “my suffering isn’t equal to your suffering.” Which tends to lead to “I don’t believe I am worthy of care.”

 

Bad. Wrong.

 

I do not believe we should be in the shithole comparison business.

A shit hole is a shithole and anyone in a shithole is just as worth of care as anyone else in a shithole.

 

 

outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

===========

 

“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.

 

Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.

 

Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.

 

Everything has to do with everything else.

 

Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”

 

—–

Arturo Perez Revarte

 

==============

 

 

Vague sucks.

 

outline vague certain uncertaintyAnd, yet, I would argue the majority of people only really have some vague outline of how the world works, or how effective or ineffective a leader is, or even only have a vague outline of any specific relationship between cause & affect.

 

This vaguery exists because it takes a lot of work to parse the details, and the appropriate details, and the ‘right’ details to make the outlines less vague and more tangible.

 

Is this work valuable ? Sure.

 

Is this work necessary to increase some certainty in Life? Sure.

 

But the majority of people have shit to do <other than this type of work>. That is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

What this means is that in this ‘vague outline’ people inevitably create a vague/semi solid outline belief. From there they look around on occasion and question that outline. The questions raised either support the vague outline or raise doubts and … well … more questions.

 

All the while this is happening more information barrages the vague outline. In this barrage is a confusing mix of real, fake and quasi truths. All these confusing things do in the people’s minds is, contrary to belief, not confuse but rather make the person more dismissive of the incoming confusion and steadier in whatever vague outline they may have constructed.

 

Once again.

This is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

Ah.

 

But at some point the questions gain some gravitas. This can happen several ways but let me point out two:

 

  • The questions themselves coalesce into some easy to understand ‘blob’ from which people who have a vague outline decide … my vague outline is wrong <or sucks>. Let’s say that this is the point at which the doubts and questions begin to outweigh the beliefs that created the vague outline.

 

 

  • Someone weaves a narrative using the doubts & questions into a relatively succinct, believable and non-hyperbolic driven framing of an outline which people look at, scratch their heads, go “hmmmmmmmmm …” and decide this new vague outline will replace the one they had in place. Oh. To be clear. This narrative must not only use the doubts & questions to dissolve the current vague outline but must also offer an alternative vague outline <outlines need to be replaced not simply destroyed>.

 

 

The first never happens fast enough to people who just cannot understand how and why some people have decided to live with some vague outline <that just seems ‘not really a smart outline’ to them>.

 

The second is not as easy as it appears. It isn’t as easy because problems are rarely as clear as we would like them to be and a narrative never lives without the context of all the barrage of real, fake and quasi truths impacting and denting and solidifying a vague outline that already exists. Or someone weaves a  great narrative to destroy but forgets to offer an alternative.

 

In other words … everything has to do with everything else.

 

I imagine I have two points today.

 

 

First.big-decisions-stress-uncertainty

 

We humans have come to accept a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to our lives and our decisions. This uncertainty is also built into the vague outlines we tend to construct for ourselves. What this means is that the construct of our beliefs and thoughts and ideas may be certain to us and, yet, its silhouette accommodates some uncertainty.

 

I began today by unequivocally stating that vague sucks. And I believe 99% of people would agree that it sucks. but in today’s world the majority of people have enough shit to do that they slot their thinking thoughts time. in one slot they place unequivocal certainty type thoughts. In another slot they place the “I will always be uncertain about this shit and thank God there is someone else at some higher pay grade than I who can be certain about it.” and, lastly, we slot all the shit in which we have formed some vague outline which accommodates a certain degree of uncertainty.

 

My point here is we tend to make this a binary discussion where the reality lies in a more complex mix of vagueness & clarity, certainty & uncertainty.

 

Second.

 

uncertainty-principle-here-thereCertainty, in and of itself, has degrees … it is not a simple black or white binary.

 

People can have vague outlines AND have questions with regard to their outlines … and not want to ditch the outline. “How can you still believe that?” may be one of the most misguided and unenlightened questions that has ever existed.  It completely misses the point in that it assumes ignorance, stupidity or some negative trait in order to hold on to some vague outline regardless of doubts.

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

We question choices all the time and, yet, remain with the original choice despite some fairly extensive doubts.

I say this because that said … it is silly to point out doubts and questions as a reason to ditch a vague outline. My easiest example is President Trump. His followers have a vague outline of what they like and believe about him. We scrutinize them for doubts and questions and when they share them we immediately pounce and suggest “then how can you still believe in your vague outline!?!” <usually said with a slight overall disbelief & wonder>.

Within their lives of doing shit that is important to them they created a vague outline of who and what Trump is, or isn’t, and … well … uncertainty was built into their certainty. The moment they will begin to disbelieve their vague outline is when the uncertainty overpowers the certainty. Until then … we should stop acting confused that someone believes what they believe.

 

Anyway.

 

I love the quote I opened with even though I hate vague. The truth is that we all live with some vague outlines albeit your vague outline may actually be one of my non-vague outlines, and vice versa. And when they are in conflict then … restless spirit fly vaguewell … there is conflict.

 

All that said … while vague sucks there is a reason we do it … and this reason is not stupid, nor unenlightened nor ignorant.

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.

 

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting.

 

 

Life is restless.

Our vague outlines need to accommodate some of its restlessness. Not recognizing that is either naive or foolish.

 

pardons and the trump equivalency trick

August 28th, 2017

laws dilbert

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“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

 

—–

Aristotle

 

=====================

 

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

 

——

Ronald Reagan

 

==================

 

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing the Trump administration does well, really well <great just because you can Trump should notagain even> … is to find some scrap of equivalency to suggest what they have done or said is “normal.”

 

In addition, they gird their normalizing arguments with “because he can” simplistic tripe.

 

This is the Trump business mantra applied to the presidency … ‘it is technically legal & norms are irrelevant’.

 

This is the lesson that Trump appears to have ignored, the one where parents teach every child “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Look.

 

Presidents can pardon whoever they want convicted of a federal crime … not a state crime. Technically Trump was within his ‘technical rights’ to pardon Sherriff Joe Arpaio and, literally, he wins because “the left” and Republicans’ with any sense of norms will go ballistic.

But I would suggest society actually loses on this one <as does the American legal system>.

 

In a normal world this pardon may appear in the overall scheme of things as small potatoes … but it is not. With this president it edges onto the slippery slope of a new normal <which is not normal nor desired normal>. It edges into an undermining of the justice system.

 

Hear me out.

 

2 things make me say this.dear mr president letter trump

 

How Trump gave the pardon verbally.

 

He suggested in his words that the Sheriff was just doing his job well. In other words … the laws were either wrong or the law of the land restricts people from doing their jobs. Uhm. And that the president is the judge of whether the laws are right or wrong, constricting or supportive.

The words matter just as much as the pardon itself. The words send a message with regard to how people should view laws and the legal system.

By the way … the words are as much Trump as anything we have ever seen … only he knows what laws are truly worthy and he rules his business that way. In his mind Trump is the sole arbiter of right versus wrong & legal versus ‘useless law.’

 

 

How Trump came to the pardon.

 

He offered the pardon without his Dept. of Justice. In other words … the DOJ and what they thought <or knew> was irrelevant. Process and legal minds are irrelevant … he is the law <a shiver went down my spine as I typed that>. It should be disconcerting to any and all that Trump appears to come to a conclusion about something, particularly what is legal and what isn’t, without seeking the legal process to back it up.

 

But.

 

justice statue sword fight for libertyAt the root of the issue is that a “law & order” president just pardoned a ‘law & order employee’ who … well … not only flaunted the law but broke the law of rights. The fact is he is not a law abiding sheriff if he’s disobeying a court order <let us remind ourselves that this charming fellow was a convicted sheriff, who ran sweltering, punishing jails where inmates died and was accused of targeting Latino residents … AND … during the litigation that led to his conviction for criminal contempt, he hired a private detective to investigate the wife of a federal judge hearing a case against his office >.

 

And at the root of the Trump issue <as if there is just one rotten root> is, as USA Today points out, Arpaio didn’t meet the Justice Department guidelines for a pardon. His conviction wasn’t five years old, he hadn’t expressed remorse and he hadn’t even applied to the Office of Pardon Attorney.

The day before, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president would follow a “thorough and standard process” in considering the pardon.

That process usually requires seven layers of review and an FBI background check.

 

 

That did not happen.

 

Past Bush ethics Chief counsel Richard Painter said:

 

—————–

 

Well, I don’t see how this would have made it through any normal process.

This sheriff has been known for lawless acts for many years. I don’t think he would have lasted one week as a sheriff in my home state of Minnesota. We trump soul behavior tweet revealare a law and order state. Many places are. We favor law and order in the United States.

 

When a judge tells a sheriff to do something, the sheriff does it. That’s what law and order is all about. And if you’re in contempt of court and you’re a law enforcement official, you’re abusing your power. You should not be pardoned by the President of the United States.

 

And the message here is very clear: the President likes sheriff Joe because he likes going after immigrants. He was going after minorities. And that’s the clear message here. And I think it’s really reprehensible and I wish that something could be done about it. We gotta think seriously about whether Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States.

 

I’ve been a Republican for thirty years and we’ve got a lot of great people in the Republican Party. Who can serve honorably in this United States government and can serve this President of the United States.

 

This is just one more stick in the eye to the minority community and to those victimized by the very few people in law enforcement like sheriff Joe who choose to use their power abusively. And choose to ignore the orders of the judiciary. And that is lawlessness. And that should not be tolerated in the United States.

————————-

 

Sigh.

 

The legal system is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do what he wants to do which, in the end, undermines the utility of the legal system overall.

 

But watch.

 

All the Trump surrogates will be flocking to the TV shows to start shaking their fists and defiantly spouting out some false equivalence to justify this non-little trump pouting tweetingnormal presidential behavior.

 

They will use scraps of truth and facts to weave a story that suggest Trump is normal, thought normally and even acted normally.

 

This is not normal and there are few fair equivalences.

 

In the most harsh view … with the pardoning of Joe Arpaio … Trump has established his place in history alongside those who exercised the same executive and dictatorial rights such as Stalin of Russia, Mussolini of Italy and Hitler <as well as Erdogan, Putin and Duterte>. That does not mean he IS them just that he is utilizing some of the same tactics.

 

To be clear.

 

While I fear that Trump and Arpaio are bigots and nationalists and authoritarians … that doesn’t make them Nazis <so I wish some people would tone down some of the rhetoric>.

It just makes them bigoted, nationalistic authoritarians. That’s bad enough and I see little value in bringing up Nazis.

 

That is a false equivalency.

 

I have said this before and I will say it until I die … the Trump presidency nor normal daysthe Trump behavior is normal and we need to stop suggesting it is normal. We should be seeking to explain and justify his uniqueness in behavior <and if we cannot then he should be penalized> but no one … and I mean no one … should be using scraps of normalcy to create a false equivalency of a larger whole normalcy to a non-normal president.

 

This is NOT normal in how we should be viewing our legal system and legal decisions.

 

Trump is certainly no Reagan but maybe we, all of us, should heed Reagan’s words in the age of Trump … we must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.

 

old white men and hollowness of behavior

August 16th, 2017

 

it is going very badly good disaster

==============================

 

“At any other time it’s better.

You can do the things you feel you should; you’re an expert at going through the motions. Your handshakes with strangers are firm and your gaze never wavers; you think of steel and diamonds when you stare. In monotone you repeat the legendary words of long-dead lovers to those you claim to love; you take them into bed with you, and you mimic the rhythmic motions you’ve read of in manuals.

When protocol demands it you dutifully drop to your knees and pray to a god who no longer exists. But in this hour you must admit to yourself that this is not enough, that you are not good enough.

And when you knock your fist against your chest you hear a hollow ringing echo, and all your thoughts are accompanied by the ticks of clockwork spinning behind your eyes, and everything you eat and drink has the aftertaste of rust.”

 

Dexter Palmer

 

===================

 

Well.

 

I am surprised at how often Trump and the Trump administration make me go business old white guysback again and again to the post I wrote on November 13th 2016: The Last Stand of the Old White Men.

 

 

It was within that post in which I posed the ultimate judgement we should apply to the new Trump administration …“the potential redemption of a generation.

 

At that time I shared thoughts with regard to how a Trump presidency and his speculated band of merry old white men, his “band of brothers” <his cabinet and advisors>, would guide America to the next level of greatness despite the fact they had built their own personal empires on a variety of greater business acumen & business culture hollow attitudes & achievements.

 

Hollow?

It is my belief that, as a generalization because there are exceptions, old white men have hollowed out the business world in their quest for “winning at any cost” and “maximize win-to-cash” ratio.

 

Everyone should note that Trump is the poster child of this hollowness <and I will aggravatingly point it out over and over again> and I have pointed it out on the following topics already:

 

 

Capitalism.

Branding.

Profit.

Wealth dispersion.

Communication.

want to be like you hollow man trump

 

 

They hollowed them all out.

 

 

But this weekend I was reminded of another … a much simpler pragmatic crime than lack of morality … hollowness of behavior.

 

Now.

 

I hesitated to call this “the hollowing out of morality” mostly because that sounded a little harsh and I tend to believe the reality within this particular hollowness is more pragmatic. That said … it doesn’t make it any better just that I didn’t really want to get into a morality & ethical finger pointing game.

 

 

Behavior

 

Leadership is a complex mix of personal, professional and pragmatic.

When wielded well it is a beautiful tapestry of effectiveness, however, beauty is often in the eyes of the beholder when actual effectiveness becomes the measuring stick. As a reminder, old white men leadership grew up in a business of dictatorship leadership behavior or, at its best, benevolent dictatorship.

Old white men grew up in the hallowed halls of hollowed leadership management. This means that their ‘management twitch muscles’ inevitably provide reflexive business decision making based on this.

The easiest way to point this out is that businesses have developed a myriad of cultural initiatives and, yet, old white men leadership tends to simply treat them as “feel good politically correct” initiatives. They view them as “society dictated” thinking and not “business dictated” thinking. Therefore a hollowness was inherent in the organization between how the old white men leaders attitudinally approached the business, how they viewed behavior and how the organization actually behaved.

Old white men began talking longingly of straight talk, when people knew their place in business and ‘carrot & sticks.’  Old white men started looking at businesses in disdain as vehicles of political correctness and not stark effectiveness. The truth is that many of the old white men simply didn’t buy in to a better way of doing business and, therefore, when put in a corner & challenged revert back to the hollow management style of “do what I tell you to do and shut up.”

To be fair, old white men did not create this hollowness … they simply propagate it.

 

That is Trump in a nutshell.

 

work bad idea panda angry

Anyway.

 

 

To be clear, simplistically, old white business men behavior falls into one of two camps:

 

  • Those who do something because they were shown something and thought “hmmmmmmmmm, this makes sense to do.”

 

  • Those who do something because … well … they think they have to <but still believe it is stupid and that ‘the old way’ was better>.

 

The problem is that the latter group is incredibly good at pointing out how they are technically ‘hiring more women, promoting more women, giving opportunities to minorities, discouraging sexist and racist behavior in the office’ and everything else they would throw into the “mamby pamby politically correct business bullshit” bucket … all the while chafing under the true spirit of behavior.

 

I say all this because if you strip away all the horrible racist and incorrect moral equivalency rhetoric you will find an old white man who’s “make great again” is grounded in a pragmatically hollow view of behavior. There is no subtext nor is there any higher ground it is a simple black & white behavior analysis in which everyone’s behavior is viewed as a commodity and the only differentiation is ‘effectiveness’ or outcomes.

 

I say all this because while I pointed out the old white men have a chance at redemption we saw, in the spotlight and podium, one old white man not seeking any redemption nor showcasing any redemptive characteristics. I worry that this one man is beyond redemption.

 

And as I say that I remind everyone that the old white man Donald J Trump is surrounded by a crusty bunch of curmudgeonly old white men who we would hope we could find some level of pragmatic redemption.

 

thoughts people stand up i will be defined

I say that to point out the other piece I authored which continuously pops up as a reread – at this time, at this place, I will be defined.

 

 

I wrote it February 17th 2017. In it I said:

 

In this moment, in this time and place, something is happening of which we really have to create nothing … but, instead, rather shape something. And, in doing this shaping, we are actually building something within the moments we elect to stand up and define ourselves … well … building “us” … okay … maybe it is building “me or I.”

This moment is different because it demands that we take a whole bunch of seemingly meaningless little moments … almost unrecognizable … that have got us to where we are attitudinally, intellectually and physically … and stop and speak out in some way that will be meaningful to us for the rest of our lives.

And.

In this moment … I would suggest that this is not the time to define yourself by standing against something but rather standing up & for something. This is not the moment to be “anti” something but rather “pro” something.  ‘Anti’ suggests you can turn, or stem, the tide of affairs when the reality of ‘affairs of men’ would most likely suggest a tide is a tide and affairs will be affairs and by being ‘pro’ it may be possible to show which harbor the tide should enter. Don’t define by what you are against … define by what you are for.

That said.

I could suggest that for many of us this is a “now or never” time.

 

 

Look.

black white gray

I can point out all the issues with old white men and all their flaws which could potentially impact, negatively, the united states of America until I am blue in the face.

 

And I will continue to do so.

 

But inherent in pointing out hollowness is the unequivocal truth that hollowness begs to be filled with something. And in today’s world, in this time and in this place, it will inevitably filled by the decisions of each of us, one by one, on how we will choose to be defined.

 

Each of us will do this. That I believe. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But at the end of this wretched situation we find ourselves in I believe everyone will have chosen where to stand and how to be defined.

 

=================

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

 

Shakespeare

================

 

balanced versus proportional

June 7th, 2017

balance proportion life business things

 

===============

 

“You cannot live without establishing an equilibrium between the inner and outer.”

 

—–

Paul Auster

 

=========

 

“I used to think of you that way, you know. Like the sun. My own personal sun. You balanced out the clouds nicely for me.”

 

He sighed.

“The clouds I can handle. But I can’t fight with an eclipse.”

 

 

Jacob

=======

 

“The idea that talent is directly proportional to your trophy cabinet is one I oppose.”

 

—-

Alex Turner

 

==================

 

Ok.

 

balance elephantI have been extremely consistent over the years with regard to my belief that I think balance is the key to almost any successful endeavor – in life & in business.

 

Suffice it to say … I am a big balance person.

 

And, yet, the other day during a business discussion it occurred to me that I may not be using the right word or even have the concept correct.

 

I may actually be a ‘proportional’ advocate.

 

Business, more often than not, is about assessing the correct proportional value of a topic, fact or idea and assigning the correct proportional response to that value.

 

Sure.

 

That may inevitably arrive at something we could call “a balanced response” but to get to the so-called balance we need to think about proportions.

 

I imagine, in my head, this means I need to stop viewing things as a zero sum balance but rather as proportional to the situation in hand.

balance and proportion graph

 

I did some research and back in 1975 a guy named Piaget described the essential characteristic of proportional reasoning as it must involve a “relationship between two relationships.”

 

Now.

 

I am not really sure what that means but I am guessing it means that proportional assumes some dimensional aspects while balance is simply a relationship between two more concrete things.

 

He also suggested that proportional involves something called “additive reasoning” which, to me, explained my misrepresentation of balance.

 

Balance suggests an either/or trade off … something like teetering on a balance beam … proportional suggests a more spatial trade off … or maybe ratio based trade off. What I mean by that is I can add one thing as part of a compromise and its true value is a zillion and give up one thing as part of the same compromise and its true value is 1/10th of a zillion.

 

I balanced my response but gained a proportional advantage.

 

There is even something called ‘the constant of proportionality’ but that becomes too complicated for my pea like brain so I will let you google it and see if you can explain it.

 

balance wheel of life proportionateI imagine my real point is that most of us, most likely, are proportional thinkers and not balance thinkers <although we say we are balanced>.

 

More often than not we invariably assess things through assimilation and the synthesis of multiple things <numbers, ratios, tangible, intangible, and … yes … even missing information & components>. Our decisions are a messy mix of analyzing a series of unequal and equal things shaping them into the proper proportions to make a … well … proportional response.

 

All that said.

 

Here was the bigger epiphany to me.

 

While balanced may be the improper term the more I focus on it the higher the likelihood I would actually end up doing the wrong things.

Huh?

If you focus on balance you will inevitably try and force equality in all things. That may sound good but it ain’t really reality. Simplistically it means you are focused on the wrong outcome & objective.

 

Instead, if you focus on the best proportional response to every situation, you may not end up with a one-to-one balanced relationship on any one comparison you review <which creates issues in its own right> but you will end up with a balanced relationship on any given series of comparisons.

 

That last paragraph may actually showcase why most people focus on balance. In a simplistic measurement business world we are almost always demanded to show one-to-one or linear explanations.

 

Balance does that.

 

Proportion does not.

 

This means to embrace being proportional means you will have to accept the burden of explaining the more difficult to explain, to showcase asymmetrical as actually being simple and dimensional can actually reflect symmetry.

 

Nothing in what I just shared in that last paragraph is easy. Particularly in thoughtful rabbit idea quick slowtoday’s business world.

 

All I really know is that whether I like it or not I am actually a proportion person and not a balance person.

 

It only took me over 25 years in business to figure that out <no one has ever suggested I am a quick learner>.

 

Think about it. You may actually be a proportional person too.

the science, and the lost art, of ROI

May 24th, 2017

choices-path-shopping-direction-decisions

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“… businesses want answers right away and many times high statistical reliability is not worth the cost it takes to achieve it.

 

Insights that point decision-makers to go “left” or “right” is innately good enough. Leaders are oftentimes not willing to pay for “turn left at a 30 degree angle” or “turn right at an 115 degree angle” because it may cost too much money and takes far too long to obtain those precise next steps through drawn-out methodologies.”

 

—–

Kuhn

 

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“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

 

=

John Dewey

 

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“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.”

 

—–

Rene Descartes

 

============

 

Well.

 

fire water contradiction ideas thinkThis is about how ROI gets abused in decision making and I am writing about that because the Trump administration issued their “national budget proposal” <which I fully acknowledge is simple a guideline of the administration’s desires> and immediately started ponying up all their “we made cuts where there was no evidence of appropriate results” justifications.

 

Some of those justifications are terrifying.

Some of their choices are terrifying.

 

As for the budget plan?  As one writer put it … “the math is terrifying.”

 

Cutting Medicaid would be devastating for all low-income Americans, but particularly for women and mothers: 45 percent of childbirths in the U.S. were funded by Medicaid in 2010, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Trump’s budget also cuts funding for after-school programs for children and support for domestic violence victims.

 

I am going to let other people tear apart the incredibly short sighted Trump budget plan <which, yes, has scraps of good ideas> and I will focus on the criteria it appears they focused on <excepting the parental leave initiative which was like placing a half-eaten M&M on top of a turd> — budget by ROI.

 

Budgeting by ROI.

 

Whew.

 

 

This provides me with another excuse to blast my generation of business leaders and how their misguided thinking has screwed up not only how business is conducted, in general, but how we think about business. Specifically about ROI … these hollow men hollowed out business of any of the ‘art’ and color which is associated with thriving businesses which contribute to society & cultural norms leaving at an empty husk of dollars & cents and black & white ROI decisions.

 

Look.

 

roi einstein

I am all for analysis and love quantitatively judging tactics and initiatives. But I also understand that <1>  numbers often do not always tell the entire story and <2> we far too often judge ROI on one specific outcome without assessing some value on some ‘ripple effect’ outcomes.

 

But, first, the numbers and ROI.

 

I wrote back in February that numbers have lost their mojo  … yeah … well … I still believe that … just in a different context.

 

In this case we are dealing with a generation of business people who have completely bastardized the use of numbers – stripping them of anything but the false veneer of what they call “simplistic stark truth.”

Now. ‘Simplistic stark truth’ sounds good … and it sounds really good in the business world.

 

And, yet, in this starkness there is found falseness. The falseness can be found in its lack of imagination, its lack of depth and its lack of seeing anything but ‘what can be measured.’

 

This stupid view of numbers wreaks havoc when viewing ROI analysis.

 

Now … back on November 13th 2016 I wrote about the Trump administration as the last stand of the old white men  <the business generation I continuously skewer> and discussed hollowness. And while I outlined a number of ‘hollow’ things which can be blamed on this generation in that piece I neglected to point one out — the hollowing of ROI.

 

————–

 

ROI.

 

ROI <return on investment> is a fabulous tool. It offers us every day unimaginative pragmatic schmucks an almost heuristic way to judge some fairly complex and complicated things in business.

 

But old white men hollowed ROI of anything intangible and along the way scraped away some of the most meaningful things associated with investment in their desire for simplistic “this led to that.” Certainly some investments have linear outcomes and results. But not all. And these hollow men in their black & white pursuit of profit, efficiency and outcomes became color blind.  Old white men started looking at people as equal to numbers & dollars and not organic organisms of less than linear productivity <in terms of Life actualization as well as business actualization>. These hollow men fell in love with numbers and began diminishing the value of humanity.

 

That is Trump in a nutshell.

 

—————-

.......... hollow men making hollow decisions ......

………. hollow men making hollow decisions ……

Well.

 

I could argue this all happened because ROI analysis permitted a shortcut for business people — a thinking & decision making shortcut.

It permitted, and encouraged, an entire generation to not have to really think but rather fallback on “that’s what the analysis said.”

 

That is plain and simple lazy fucking business … not smart solid business.

 

I will not argue that a good ROI analysis can offer a quick spontaneous glimpse of truth viable snapshot … in fact … it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who stated that the growth of intellect is spontaneous.

 

Of course, he hadn’t been bludgeoned with measurement, ROI and data driven decisions.

 

Of course, he was also on the one who stated … what is the hardest task in the world? To think. And. We are all wise. The difference between create destroy pencilpersons is not in wisdom but in art.

 

And that is where Trump and his merry band of old white men doing this whole budget thing are most aggravating.

 

It is not that they cannot envision the art of decision making but rather they purposefully abstain from the art of decision making <and focus solely on ROI>.

 

It is not that they are incapable of holding two conflicting ideas at the same time but rather they purposefully choose to ignore one idea or thought for the one most supported by the science of ROI.

 

 

It is not that they are oblivious to the qualitative nature & benefits of budgetary decision but rather they avoid the more difficult defense of the qualitative to utilize the more easy, and lazy, rationale of the quantitative.

 

I don’t blame them specifically <although it is their budget blueprint> but it is the unfortunate legacy of that entire generation to do those things.

 

All that said.

 

While ROI seems a straightforward way to analyze … ROI, when evaluated properly, can be devilishly tricky … but when done well it can inform some great insightful decisions and ideas.

 

ROI, when evaluated properly, can be devilishly painful … like having the devil screaming at you type painful … and even when done well tends to dull <not sharpen> the good ideas.

 

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

 

—-

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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But ROI, measurement … practical rewards & output … that is what we ‘do’ these days.

This seem o be our “how we conduct business handbook” these days.

philosophical-discovering-gravity

We seem to have forgotten the value of unsought discovery and the value of … well … the benefit of the benefit <I spent money which created ‘x’ outcome … which enabled this other ‘x’ outcome>.

 

We seem to have culturally decided consciously to … “inevitably we will show a failure of imagination.”

 

What do I mean ? Let me use a quote from Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:

 

 

 

“…in the hands of politicians grand designs achieve nothing but new forms of the old misery…”

 

 

 

In our failure of imagination in our analysis of existing programs and initiatives we come up with grand designs begetting new forms of old misery. But what makes today and this budget worse? These are supposed to be fucking business people and not politicians in place making these ‘grand designs’ <isn’t that what some people voted for with Trump?>.

 

I admit.

 

I am wary of how ‘we the people’ will move forward with regard to budgeting tough-choices-shopping-decisions-lifeand programs and policies and deciding what we should do to better America..

 

I am wary because I see little moving forward, no ‘trying to do what it takes to get there’ other than bludgeoning people with simplistic harsh solutions and no imagination to overcome the cries of ‘why waste money on something like this!”

 

I am wary because I see men of a generation who bastardized ROI analysis applying their own bastardized version of ROI thinking to people’s lives <under the guise of “applying it to people’s money/taxes” — no, they are not the same>.

 

I am a business guy.

 

I cannot envision running a business, or a government, without solid measurement, ROI & budgeting rigor.

 

But I also know from running a business with hundreds of employees that the greatness of an organization does not reside solely in some number … or some ROI analysis.

 

==========

 

“The true greatness of a nation is not measured by the vastness of its territory, or by the multitude of its people, or by the profusion of its exports and imports; but by the extent to which it has contributed to the life and thought and progress of the world.

 

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I tend to believe most of us every day schmucks recognize that ROI is part of doing business and insuring our hard earned money/taxes is used effectively.

But I also believe that most of us every day schmucks also realize that some things just cannot be measured solely by numbers.

 

 

I worry that this Trump administration is reflective of the lost art of ROI family choices tough decisions aheadanalysis and the value of discovery

 

In their love of money as ‘winning’ they have lost sight of the value of seeking what is beyond the horizon. They have devalued imagination to such a point that they most likely define imagination as measurable in an ROI analysis. In other words they take ideas and thoughts, even ones with no history, and embrace them not by saying “what if” and “what could be” but rather by grinding it through some veg-o-matic ROI machine to assess its true value.

 

And that, my friends, is how they came up with their “blueprint for a national budget.”

 

And that, my friends, is how they plan on running this country and making their decisions.

 

And that, my friends, is not how America does business … because it shows a failure of imagination and it is imagination, not ROI analysis, which drives real change and progress.

 

—————–

 

“Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization.

Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities.

 

So I believe that dreams–daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing–are likely to lead to the betterment of the world.

 

The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.”

=

 

Baum

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Enlightened Conflict