Enlightened Conflict

idealism and realism (possibilities and pragmatism)

September 15th, 2017

idealism pragmatist doing shit

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“It has generally been assumed that of two opposing systems of philosophy, e.g., realism and idealism, one only can be true and one must be false; and so philosophers have been hopelessly divided on the question, which is the true one.”

 

——–

Morris Raphael Cohen

 

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“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.”

 

——

Herbert Hoover

 

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“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

 

———–

John Galsworthy

 

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Ok.

 

I am a pragmatic hope guy. I clearly love instilling hope as part of any business, suicide hope againstor Life, vison but don’t believe in any aspect of false hope. As I have written before while false hope is maybe slightly better than no hope at all    … hope should be treated carefully.

 

That said.

 

All hope to me should be grounded in some sense of pragmatic and reality.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both idealism and realism.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you shouldn’t have aspects of both hope & pragmatism, possibilities and pragmatism and idealism & realism.

 

We should want both AND demand both.

 

It is reaching for the stars and reaching realistically.

It is keeping your feet in the clouds and, yet, head on the ground.

 

But that’s how I think.

 

I thought of this as I noted Hillary has an entire chapter in her new book called pragmatc-hillary-won-some-lost-someidealism and realism where she criticizes some aspects of Bernie Sanders.

I would suggest everyone not read it as criticism of Bernie but rather a tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.

 

I will not defend Mrs. Clinton. It’s not my job.

 

<nor will i buy the book>

 

But I will defend we hope believers who also believe in pragmatism.

 

I will defend that I can offer a sense of a difficult path without creating a larger sense of ‘doom or Armageddon’ to create the sense of urgency which we often deem necessary in order to inspire real action.

 

And, inevitably, that is what this is all about.

 

How do inspire people not just to inspire but to take action?

 

How do I inspire larger ideas and larger actions?

 

I imagine all politicians, who are a version of leaders, have to figure out how to balance this. It is a tightrope all of us who have led walk.

 

The difficulty on this tight rope is that there will always be people debating, and futurist non linearcriticizing, while you walk on this tight rope. They will argue we need more radical change. They will argue we need less radical change. Shit. They will argue we need no change moving forward but rather reverse some of the changes made.

 

And you know what?

 

Some of that, in all of that, is right.

 

Some of the past is awful and some of the decisions we will make for the future, and in the future, will be awful.

 

Conversely, some of all of that will … well … not be awful.

 

To suggest that there are easy answers or that the steps forward are clear and simple is … well … stupid. Stupid & foolish.

 

Hillary is, and will always be, a lightning rod.

 

We may scratch our heads with regard to some of the things she says … or we may instead sit back and ponder the good debate to be found in the lightning rod discussions.

 

For in her “Idealism and Realism” can be found the constructive decision which any leader tries to find their own course in leading.

 

We debate all of this shit in our own heads … and then we debate it in conference rooms and boardrooms every week.

 

deal with uncertainty repeat embrace life do

We are responsible for past decisions and, yet, try to unburden ourselves so that we can move forward.

 

Simplistically, just because I <maybe> made an awful decision in the past doesn’t mean I will make an awful decision in the future.

 

Simplistically, just because I maybe offer a hopeful idealistic decision for the future doesn’t mean it is a realistic decision for now.

 

Simplistically, just because I try and slow everybody down on some idealistic discussion shouldn’t suggest I am any more ‘canny or wise’ than everybody else let alone the person who offers the idealistic hope that people may gravitate toward … it just suggests that maybe I am trying to balance … well … reality.

And maybe incorporate the fact that, pragmatically, I would like to incorporate some possibilities for people today & tomorrow.

 

I will suggest, no, I will tell you the harsh truth … getting good shit done is hard.

 

pragmatic hope people balanceGetting shit done means balancing overreach and under reach.

 

Balancing possibilities and pragmatism.

 

Balancing idealism and realism.

 

Balancing the practical and the hope.

 

Balancing what people think they want and what they need.

 

Balancing the majority and the minority. Balancing what is good for one and good for all.

 

Anything less than that is oversimplification.

 

Oh.

 

Shit.

 

And then there is context.

One can never lose sight of context.

 

You have to balance the idea, the hopefulness of ‘what could be’, against pragmatically where you have been <what has happened if not what has just happened> as well as where you are.

 

It is incredibly simplistic to suggest an Obama decision when he took office should be compared to a decision a Clinton or a Trump would make when they took office. Just as it would be incredibly simplistic to judge a business leader if they were to take over a large company which was truly heading into a shithole versus a company which had some problems but was, in general, businesswise healthy.

 

Every transition has its own singular issues. And, let’s be clear, every situation has problems.

 

We should all recognize that in the overall life cycle of Life problems and opportunities, practical and possibilities, hope & despair, heroes & villains, will appear in different forms.

 

This is not cynical … this is … uhm … reality

 

Yaeh.

 

Whoever became the new president of the United States was going to deal with some problems.

compromise life good want you they

Harping on whatever those problems doesn’t really get you anywhere.

They are what they are.

 

I could also argue that … well … arguing over idealistic ideas and vision without admitting some pragmatism and practicality doesn’t really get you anywhere.

 

We all hate cynicism and because we do we confuse it with pragmatism and practicality.

We all get tired of pragmatism because … well … it sounds small.

 

But I would point out that we all not only get tired, but absolutely unequivocally hate, false hope and unrealized idealism. “Large” unrealized equals zero, nothing, nada. People don’t like a zero, nothing, nada no matter how large the zero, nothing, nada is.

 

And you know what?

 

A good leader knows all of this. And they do their best to walk the tight rope. They may not always get it right and they may not always get done whatever is needed to get done to alleviate the problems, or all the problems, that exist in the here and now. But I would point out that, realistically, you can never alleviate all problems and that problems exist, contextually, no matter if an idealist or a realist, a pragmatist or a ‘possibilities driven’ leader, a hope or a practical leader steps in. the only constant that any leader faces is that problems existed to be addressed, exist to address and will exist to address … all to eventually be solved.

 

Not accepting that as a Life truth is foolish.

 

I thought of this today as I envision Hillary Clinton will face another day of criticism from not only all sides but all dimensions. I am sure she will deserve some but the sheer amount is crazy. Yeah. It is most likely an easy buck for a shitload of people but it is lazy.

 

Lazy rhetoric and lazy thinking.

 

 

Maybe, just maybe, we should be sitting back and thinking I would suggest everyone maybe think about this as a grander tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.combine contradict idealism realism possibilities

 

I tend to believe this would not only be helpful, but a necessary, discussion because … well … we deserve both idealism & realism, possibilities & pragmatism and hope & individual significance.

 

Once again, I am not in the business of defending Hillary Clinton, however, maybe … just maybe … we should stop criticizing what happened and start discussing what happens now.

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

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

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“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

 

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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.

 

leadership, resentment and impact on delegation

September 8th, 2017

resentment definition

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“I eventually came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that had hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them.”

 

Isabel Lopez

 

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“Beware of those who are bitter, for they will never allow you to enjoy your fruit.”

 

Suzy Kassem

 

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Well.

 

Spite and resentment is one of the least discussed business ailments in the resentment fear angerbusiness leadership and organization world.

 

What I mean is that businesses around the world <including the good ole USofA> are strewn with middle management and upper management who carry a full backpack of resentment. This backpack has a nifty well designed logo on it — victim.

 

I would imagine <this is a guess> that this significant sprinkling of people in the business world carrying around the resentment of being victimized in some form or fashion do not hold the most senior spots but rather they hold the responsibilities most dangerous to the overall health of an organization – middle management.

 

They are most likely not at the top because those people got the positions they deserve <mostly>.

 

The ones who carry resentment are the ones who have been promoted “too slowly” or maybe haven’t been “recognized for the talents they offer” or maybe have been passed over by “someone who doesn’t know half the shit I know” … and then … to their satisfaction … they have FINALLY been promoted.

 

They take the step up but before they do … stop at the bottom of the stairs to pick up their backpack of resentment … and then accept the step up.

 

I often think of this as the ugly underbelly of ‘entitled’ or “finally getting what one deserves.” This is … uhm … in other words … resentment. And resentment carries a nasty quiver of grievance arrows to shoot when given the opportunity.

And grievances have a nasty habit of being one of those things that like to be addressed and not ignored.

 

Now.

 

Some people confuse this with “carrying a chip on their shoulder” which is what got them to where they are today.

 

Uhm. That’s bullshit.

 

People mistakenly conflate “carrying a chip on their shoulder” with ambition.

resent chip on shoulder

 

It’s not as simple as that. In fact … that simplistic ‘go about business like they have a chip on their shoulder’ is actually just a lazy attitude toward motivation.

 

It is more often than not some self-created ‘boogieman’ someone has created in their mind in order to go out and be your best. That’s bullshit. If that’s all you have for motivation … well … that’s just not good <for you and the people you work with>.

 

Yes.

In small doses a ‘chip on your shoulder’ can give you some well needed nudges to “I will show them” attitude at some key moments.

 

No.

Large doses, or constant, “conducting myself with a chip on my shoulder” attitude simply makes you … well … an asshole.

 

You become an asshole because this 100% chip on shoulder attitude actually makes hate, in some form or fashion, the energy to drive everything – it creates an outsized sense of grievance which you bring with you wherever you go.

This grievance not only seems to pour from every pore in this person but also seems to appear every time this person makes a decision <if not in the words they say>.

 

Yeah.

 

The resentment people can be crafty.

 

resentment are wsps in memoryCrafty in that they justify their behavior not just based on their outsized chip but more often that they are standing up for all who have been overlooked and begrudged of what they were entitled to by some unfair system or ‘cadre of assholes driven to let mediocrity thrive.’

 

It’s another version of us versus them but with a total selfish foundation.

 

In addition.

If they are good at masking their resentment, each decision, taken as mutually exclusive of all other decisions, can maybe be explained as a ‘personal issue being addressed’ or sometimes even simply an impulsive instinctual decision.

 

That’s bullshit too.

 

I am not suggesting all employees burdened by an unhealthy weight of resentment are actually bad managers and business people <in a pragmatic competent sense> but they do have a nasty tendency to have built this façade of some “personal brand” which they have honed over time as they have been ignored & overlooked so much so that all decisions and choices get instinctually filtered through this personal brand filter.

 

Nothing is impulsive, nothing is “resentment driven” and nothing is “addressing a grievance” … it is all simply driven by the personal brand.

 

What makes this behavior confusing to people <in terms of trying to discern motivations and the sense that there is an unhealthy amount of resentment incorporated into the management style> is that there is no long term strategy … it just assumes that all transactions meet the brand therefore, in the long run, it is good.

 

Exceeding expectations is defined in a transaction by transaction basis and secret ingredient is resentmentweapons used to meet expectations <responsibilities> are justified a means to an end. In other words these managers can screw anyone they want professionally but if within that specific project, assignment or transaction the greater organizational expectations are met or exceeded … well … this manager has “won.”

 

Oddly … this behavior creates an odd sense of consistency … & inconsistency. It can often appear inconsistent in that the actions, behavior & decisions are not particularly driven by any business philosophy or ideology … or even based on what is right or wrong.  This drives the appearance of inconsistency.

The consistency is grounded on vindictiveness. This doesn’t mean any and all actions are vindictive just that if the opportunity arises to address some self-defined grievance and the window of opportunity to be vindictive opens … well … this person will jump through that window.

 

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“I must fight with my weapons. Not his. Not selfishness and brutality and shame and resentment.”

 

John Fowles

 

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waste time on resentment an blame energy businessHere is the problem with all that I have shared today.

 

Resentment is part of the devilish trinity of bad shit in a business environment – fear, anger, resentment.

All the yesterdays make this person angry and humiliated and, frankly, they feel like they have been taken advantage of.

 

It creates a negative emotional foundation from which all behavior and actions are leveraged from.

 

I could argue that this is a cultural thing. Something like a “culture of entitlement” in which people feel like they are promised promotions & money simply because they work hard.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Individuals are responsible and complicit in this attitude and behavior – culture does not force them to do anything and think anything on this issue.

 

I could argue that this is some version of culture encouraging a larger sense of victimhood.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

It is not victimhood if you shoulder your own responsibilities and are ‘punished’ if the chips do not fall your way.

 

I could argue that thus is some warped version of culture encouraging unrealistic expectations.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Expectations are defined personally … society and culture doesn’t tell you what to expect … you craft that expectation all by your lonesome. And, I have news for everyone, while Life & business can be pretty cruel and unfair, in general, those who have ability and work hard do not typically get overlooked or left behind. Hate to tell the “resentful managers” but … well … I feel pretty confident suggesting that as a basic business truth.

 

never remember the cost of resentment

The only thing I will argue is that someone who has a big backpack of resentment should never be a leader.

 

Why?

 

Anger today.

 

Resentment of yesterday.

 

Fear of tomorrow.

 

That is the trio of partners in crime in this sad story. I have to tell you. I am fairly sure no business wants those three sitting in any one office every day in their business.  And I am absolutely sure these are not qualifications one seeks in a new employee.

 

getting squeezed

August 30th, 2017

 

 

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 big_squeeze

“Paranoid?

Probably.

But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”

 

Jim Butcher

 

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“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”

 

Evelyn Waugh

 

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“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.”

 

William S. Burroughs

 

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Ok.

 

This is about life as a business leader.

 

but i am the best leader i told you soOk.

I do not care how good you are … you will get squeezed.

If you suck, you get squeezed often. If you are good, you only get squeezed on occasion.

 

But good or bad … all business leaders get squeezed at some point.

 

What do I mean by squeezed?

 

In general, the responsibility world as viewed by a manager is a fairly vast place because it rarely is defined solely by direct reports or even full departments you manage but rather all dimensions emanating outwards from every decision you, or your employees, may make.

 

The good news about this is that within all that vastness there is a lot of room to let some of the more horrible or horribly mundane crap just slip by.

 

The bad news occurs when all of a sudden the world shrinks and you feel squeezed and evaluated by the what you had considered fairly mundane up until that moment.

 

And this can happen a lot easier than one may think.

 

Between politics in the office, relentless evaluation from outside the employee believe non believe business lead manageorganization as well as inside the organization and the normal ebbs & flows of everyday business which seem to almost simultaneously uncover grains of truth and cover grains of truth the vastness of what you actually do can become small pretty quickly under all this scrutiny.

 

And if you are not careful … you get squeezed into … well … not nothingness but certainly “lessness.”

 

I would suggest any manager worth a shit will almost always fight back <or respond>. It is almost a survival instinct but it can also be an ego instinct.

 

Regardless.

 

You gotta sharpen your elbows and create some space for yourself in between what all the scrutiny is suggesting <which often feels a lot like demanding> and what your current role is outlining as the right way to think and behave.

 

But here is the hard part.

 

And it is kind of surprisingly hard.

 

It is fairly easy to sharpen your elbows and fight back … but without some thought you are simply fighting — fighting with no purpose other than it feels good to fight <or you are fighting simply out of thoughtless, or less than thoughtful, survival>.

 

transformational leader 1And while fighting back in and of itself is somewhat satisfying because you feel like you should … it is less than satisfying because it has no real focus or purpose. It doesn’t have any ‘long game’ aspects involved <and if you have any desire to be a good leader/manager you have to be able to view beyond the present moment>.

 

I would argue this is where ‘knowing what you want and knowing who you are rears its ugly head.

 

Suffice it to say when you get squeezed you are gonna respond in some way.

You have to.

Because if you are a manager managing the shit in the present it is a fairly small window in which to work. That small window gets even … well … smaller if you are getting squeezed by the past and future challenges. This is what you will inevitably see as some response options:

 

 

  • Tripling down on what you believe makes you look good <this is image … putting on a good face … “talking the talk”>.

 

The risk on this one is that … well … you may be trying to look good on something you may not actually look good doing. In addition. If you are a crappy actor people ll see what you are trying to do.

 

  • Doubling down on what you are actually good at <usually with words and sometime directing people to do shit>.

 

The risk on this one is that what you are good at may not actually be what is needed to get out of the squeeze. You are definitely, and defiantly, playing to your strengths but it just may not be what it takes to penetrate the weakness in the squeeze.

 

  • Flee <absolve of responsibility>.

 

The risk in this is … well … you are a leader & a manager and you have absolved yourself of responsibility. If you cannot make the responsibility stick with someone else I can guarantee that the responsibility will stick with you like your shadow wherever you flee.

 

  • Find a different enemy so that the squeeze decides to go elsewhere.

 

The risk in this is being “anti” something is pretty easy but standing for something is really hard <and most people know that>. I could actually suggest in some ways being anti is lazy.

 

So.

 

All of that leads me to the best way to get out of a squeeze.

 

  • Stand for something.

 

The risk in this is … well … not really a shitload of risk unless you elect to stand for something stupid, bad or idiotic. But if you do this right … convince yourself that what you are standing for is something worthwhile but also mentally accept it may not perfectly align with your group norms as well as societal norms … but still be the right thing to stand for.

 

All that said.only the paranoid survive complacency

Unfortunately getting squeezed can also encourage another outcome & response – paranoia.

 

In fact … I almost called this paranoia (enemies everywhere).

 

I almost did that because paranoia is possibly the worst reflective response to being squeezed. What I mean is that once you have been squeezed a portion of you may start worrying that there is some hidden cabal or agenda ‘out to get you.’

But I did not call it that because paranoia is only one possible response to getting squeezed.

 

I would suggest that paranoid carries a fairly negative connotation. The reality is having a slight thread of paranoia <lets say “proportionate to your depth of confidence”> can often keep your head out of your own ass and more on a swivel watching what is going on around you.

 

Some would suggest it keeps you aware of your “what if” muscle. I would suggest it can keep your “if it can go wrong, it will” muscle.

 

Paranoia, when living in a healthy state, often helps your view of all the potential outcomes and solutions, with a thought of “proactiveness” to head off shit before I even exists.

 

Obviously, if paranoia is your only response to being squeezed and is your constant state of mind, that is neither healthy for you or the organization.

 

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

 

 

“Paranoia is just the bastard child of fear and good sense.” (Charlie)

“Poor thing. Let’s adopt it, give it a last name and raise it right.” (Jace)

“You want to get it a puppy, too?”

“Sure. We’ll call it Panic. It and little Paranoia can play together at the park and scare the hell out of all the other kids.”

 

 

D.D. Barant

 

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In the end … all managers and leaders get squeezed at some point. I would also suggest that how you navigate ‘the squeeze’ early in your management career will set you on a certain type of path with regard to how you manage being squeezed. And, just like with any pattern, the more often something works the next big thing lots of small thingsmore likely you will be to continue doing it.

 

Yes.

 

I will agree that sometimes a new challenge later on in Life will force someone to reflect and ‘rise to the occasion’ and shed some of the lesser aspects of who and what they may have been up to that point … but most people just stick with what they believe got them to where they are.

 

All I can say is that being squeezed has a tendency to squeeze out whatever character you may have within – some will be disappointed by what is squeezed out and some will be pleased. Just know that whatever is squeezed out can be seen by everyone.

 

a change has come over the affairs of mankind (as it always does)

August 28th, 2017

 

generation think attitudes collective individual share

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“… my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age in which we live. No nation can now shut itself from the surrounding world and trot around the same old path of its fathers. A change has come over the affairs of mankind.  … intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

 

——

Frederick Douglas 1850

 

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“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

 

Gaylord Nelson

 

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Ok.

 

Because of the business I am in <marketing advertising & business strategic unique abilityconsulting> I am constantly inundated with the hyperbole associated with “new and unique.”

So, I admit, I am always skeptical of “worst ever”, “best ever” and “whatever superlative you want to toss out” ever.

 

That’s why I almost always step up to the plate when I hear someone suggest how the world is changing like it has never changed before.

 

Or that our situation has never been worse.

Or something is better than it has ever been before.

 

I admit.

 

I kind of chuckle when I hear all this.

 

I often seem to create a maelstrom of conversational misery when I state things like “change is the constant companion of every generation” … or say something like “it isn’t any more difficult for this generation … it is just different.”

Or even when I pull out the quotes I used to open this piece.

 

Frankly.

crazy changes the world

Most people my age think I am nuts when I say it.

 

Shit.

 

Most people any age.

 

Or think I am out of touch with what is happening around us.

 

Ok.

 

If I were sensitive, I would care.

 

Or more likely I would care if I didn’t find quotes like this.

 

“… my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age in which we live. No nation can now shut itself from the surrounding world and trot around the same old path of its fathers. A change has come over the affairs of mankind.  … intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

 

Sure sounds like something you may have heard recently from some pundit on TV.

 

But.

 

This is mid 1800’s in a speech in NYC.

 

It is a fact that each generation has faced some radical change and thought process and attitude shift.

 

Yup.

 

I could argue <and I have> that the more things change the more they stay the same.

 

ideas crazy light

They stay the same because … well … we move on, we progress, we improve upon what is. Inevitably, as that happens, each generation gets “left behind” as another races toward what will be.

Think of it as tectonic plates in which friction occurs as the new plate slowly <and sometimes quickly> surges over the older plate.

 

Yeah.

The older tectonic plate.

 

The one that is supposed to be smarter.

 

The one that is supposed to know the best.

 

The one that “got us to where we are today.”

 

The one that suggests “why throw away what appears to be good.” 

 

Well.

 

The one has someone scraps of truth in what they are thinking.

 

Pieces or parts smarter and know the best?

Yes. Sure.

 

On the whole?

Nope.

 

Why?

 

You don’t know what you don’t know … and if you hunker down on only what you do know … well … that is called “stagnant.”

 

Ok.

 

To be fair.

change-people-technology

A minority of those being left behind actually enjoy the change an the friction and the conflict. These are the ones who empower the youth. Fuel it. Guide it. Not restrict it. Those few get to enjoy the ride toward “what will be.”

 

But they are a minority.

 

On the whole the majority of any older generation holds on for dear life to what they know and makes them comfortable. And it would possibly be okay of they did that and remained silent … but instead they complain and gripe about what is lost within the following generations and, ultimately, go to some fairly absurd lengths to try and slow change.

 

It is too bad.

 

For by focusing on what is lost they neglect to have the amazing opportunity to see what is gained.

 

But.

 

Regardless.

 

In the end.

 

Change comes upon us whether we want it or not.  As Frederick Douglas said in 1850 … ‘you cannot ignore the intellect of the world.’ Change is our constant companion <and mostly a friend> … at all times we face “a change has come over the affairs of mankind.’

 

True in 1850.

 

True in 2017.

 

True in 2150.

 

This doesn’t mean that we are not slow to change … because we are. Change in mankind is like turning a full tanker ship.

Part of this slow change is actually a reflection of mankind’s survival DNA.

 

And if you want to debate the ‘slow change’ than maybe accept thinking of it more like Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction. The small rise up disrupting and destroying the status quo and that of ‘the big’ … and through their destruction <eating away at the status quo> they begin recreating what is into what could be and what will be.

 

Now.

 

I am not suggesting all past experience should be ignored. But it is a fact, a change self getting better and worse same timetruth, that the older generation needs to be able to let go of some ‘beliefs’ in order to free the change that is inevitable in the affairs of mankind.

 

I say that recognizing this is not a truth because they were wrong in the past but rather because they are wrong ‘now.’

 

Effective change demands a healthy dialogue and relationship between the past perspective and a new perspective.

And this is where the current affairs of mankind tend to fall short … they lose perspective as time goes on because they have cocooned themselves within their successful behavior.

 

Regardless.

 

This post all comes down to several overarching thoughts.

 

Each generation faces radical adversity.

 

Each generation facilitates extraordinary change <typically beneficial as a whole>.

 

Each older generation is extraordinarily reluctant to release that which is comfortable to them <and what they “know” … or believe to know>.

 

And, lastly.

 

We older folk, manager types, should reflect upon this.

 

Why?

 

Because we are managers.

And we are managers of those who will foster the abilities of those who will beget what will be better than what we have done or created.  That doesn’t diminish what we have done. And we should embrace the fact we have created an environment for others to go farther than we were able to go.

 

We wonder why managing young people <call them millennials if you would like> is so difficult?

 

Well.

 

It is because we are holding them back <in general>. It’s like trying to tame mustangs in the Wild West. Except we, unlike the savvy old cowboys, don’t change me twitterreflect on the beauty of the wildness of the mustang as we try and tame them. We simply see the wild untamedness and believe it is a shame they are so wild.

 

Older managers, to be successful, need to admire the beauty of the untamed.  And not seek to break the mustangs but rather guide their energy to enable them to take the herd to the heights it deserves.

And maybe even more important … older managers need to remember they are not the mustang’s mothers & fathers but rather we are savvy cowboys seeking to guide energy.

 

Anyway.

Is this poetic metaphor a bad one? Maybe.

 

But certainly something worth thinking about.

 

A change has come over the affairs of mankind … uhm … the more things change the more they stay the same. This is not anything unique … this is called “progress.”

 

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

 

“Those who stand for different causes during different generations often experience the same oppositions and the same difficulties as those of the previous and the next generations. That is the basis of history repeating itself.”

 

Criss Jami

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

 

 

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

===

 

 

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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

 

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

=======

 

Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

businesses running hard

August 18th, 2017

company culture die trying

===========

 

“To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.”

 

Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth

 

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

 

“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away.

Not ever.

The only way out, is in.”

 

Junot Diaz

 

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

 

Well.

 

Almost every business I have ever crossed paths with has claimed they were flee run awayrunning hard. Shit. I have never met a business that said “well, we don’t believe in running hard … we are walkers.”

 

Trust me when I say most businesses do not really run hard.

 

I know that because once you have <a> seen and experienced a company that runs hard everything else will look slow and <b> we have all ‘run hard’ in selected moments in our business career but 99% of those companies also say “it is not sustainable” and 99% of the time run at a lower gear.

 

That said.

When a company is running hard there is a slightly odd dynamic that almost always occurs … wondering whether it is worth it.

 

Yeah.

 

When a company is running hard, working hard and doing hard things daily it can be easy to wonder whether it is worth it. Wonder if you are reaching objectives fast enough, doing the right things and whether you are actually getting closer to where you want to be.

 

By the way … this wondering is often exacerbated by poor managers and management who constantly create a false sense of urgency and manage deadlines like a caffeinated rabbit.

 

Regardless.

 

I feel relatively confident most managers fuck up how they address the wondering.

 

This happens because we inherently want to show people they reached something … a goal, a milestone or some ‘finish destination’ when , in reality, progress is the value you should be showing them to show a causal relationship to the energy they are expending. They are running hard, you are asking the company to run hard … you want to show them a often as you can that they are actually making some progress.

 

We fuck it up because we just aren’t taught that it is okay to let them know … “well … we are lagging behind on some sales objectives, but this doesn’t mean someone is doing something wrong, or you aren’t working hard enough or 19 speak the truththat some competitor is doing some magical thing better than we are.”

 

We fuck it up because most of us do not know how to deliver that message well.  most of us make it sound like we are chasing some unrealistic goal, or maybe we throw in some false sense of optimism or maybe we actually create some ‘midway milestone’ which actually encourages people to maybe invest a little less hard, a little less running and a lot more ‘maybe that is enough.’

 

When your people are running hard you don’t want to tell them that it is … well … going to be hard and that is why you are actually running hard.

But you have to tell them.

 

Well.

You have to if you want them to keep running hard.

 

Tell them: You are asking people to change – and change is hard.

 

Most businesses aren’t just selling shit <something> they are asking a potential buyer to change – change current product, supplier or behavior. While change change self getting better and worse same timereally is hard … we get better at explaining how this change we are asking them to do … is easier than they may perceive every day. Sometimes we have to weave our way through objections and sometimes we have to hammer our way through objections … but everyone, every sales person, service person, management, support staff and anyone who interacts with current and potential customers are doing their part today and doing even better the day after.

 

And while asking someone to change is hard actually implementing the change is harder. I sometimes believe most businesses are in the change management business more than anything else.

You have to tell them you know that no one is better at explaining why that change is good and how that change can occur.

The truth is when you are running hard, and not running simply for running sake, people get better at this every day.

 

The truth is we are not where we want to be but getting there … and getting better at getting there.

 

Next.

 

Tell them: You are asking people to believe what you already know – and educating is hard.

 

Even if your company is good, really good, and even if your company is the best, the leader, every company does have competition. People just don’t believe you just because you are the best or the leader – and most of your people know that <no matter how frustrating it is>. In today’s skeptical world people just don’t say “oh, okay.” And, frankly,  we don’t want someone to say “oh, okay” when one of our competitors makes a claim.  We shouldn’t, and don’t, expect our customers and potential customers to simply believe everything we say. This means we need to educate and consistently address each question and request as if each answer is THE one which will make them a partner of our company.

 

The truth is we are not where we want to be but getting there … and getting better at getting there.

 

blanace greater good matters do

——

“If in a company you change nothing, you are sure to fail.

 

If you change everything you are sure to fail as well.

 

So the art of winning resides in your capacity to draw the fine line between what should be changed and what should not.

 

=

Jean Marie-Dru

——

 

Look.

 

Running hard is not the same as running fast. But businesses are impatient, in general, and absolutely over-the-top impatient if they feel like they are running hard.

 

This means you have to tell them some truth about themselves and the company.

 

I doubt you will ever get to where you want to be as fast as you would want. I imagine every leader in every industry is always perpetually dissatisfied in this way. I imagine every adventurer, every explorer and every innovator is always perpetually dissatisfied in this way. I imagine this is partially what makes an average company great – you understand that tomorrow’s company will be a little bit better than the company today.

Our sales will come. They will never come as fast as you want but our company doesn’t just work hard, you work smart and success is ours whether it arrives in small steps or great leaps.

 

 

Anyway.

 

I have away said this — part of what makes a company great is that feeling of dissatisfaction.

 

A great company wants to be more agile, move faster, and retain that perpetual feeling that they can always do more and be better.kitchen-table-great-idea-concept-lead

 

A great company has a spirit that drives them and gives everyone the sense that tomorrow is another opportunity to be better than today.

 

A great company, typically, does run hard but, maybe most importantly, has a leader who can breathe constant oxygen into the runners in a way that is neither false nor insincere.

 

Not everyone who says they are running hard are really running hard but if you are in a company who is … I can almost guarantee the organization will explode without good leadership and will be an Olympian marathoner with good leadership.

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

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

 

Enlightened Conflict