Enlightened Conflict

that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

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

==========

 

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

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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So.

 

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

 

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

 

Ah.

 

That word “compromise.”

 

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

 

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

death of compromise

Why?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Now.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

People … all who are angry.

 

Within all of this situation & anger … it seems like no one is civil to one another. And maybe worse is the fact there is this ‘digging in’ aspect where we refuse to see any merit in other people’s opinions.

 

Sadly, I can only conclude that we have lost the ability to converse, discuss, debate and have a dialogue with one another.

 

It seems obvious <at least to me> but if we could figure out how to come together and compromise, that we could go a long way toward not only creating a better version of society in general … but it may give me, and all of us, at least a fighting chance with regard to where we make our own personal stand … and where we compromise … and how we attain the future that we contain.

 

As long as people cling to unbending attitudes & beliefs, the divides between us will not deepen … but will remain an unbridgeable divide.

 

I tend to believe most of us want better that that.

I tend to believe most of us would be willing to work to make this a better and more civil world to live in.

 

And if you do not embrace this thinking?

 

I would remind everyone that America is representative of a great compromise. The U.S. Constitution is possibly the greatest Compromise ever negotiated <it created a nation>.

 

 

But as a first step to bettering this entire situation we need to figure out how to better define Compromise.

 

compromise not an act weaknessFar too many loudmouthed people have ripped the meaning out of the word,  twisted the value of the word making it seem valueless, and ultimately created an environment in which  we demonize the entire process of trying to reach compromise.

Compromise no longer means understanding your differences and working together toward a common goal but now it seems to represent weakness, losing and not being strong enough to get what you want.

 

This unwillingness to work together has wrought havoc to society where the unwavering stance seems to be “don’t compromise, stick to your guns, don’t give in to the other side”.

 

Sigh.

 

Look.

 

I find it hard to believe that the majority of America is really that selfish and that stubborn.

 

Sure. I know the people most passionate about any issue tend to be the ones less willing to compromise on them.

And, yeah, I would guess most of us are fairly passionate about ourselves – what we decide to stand for … as well as what we will decide to sacrifice within compromise to attain some progress.

 

But within this wacky world where no one seems to want to compromise anything on anything … well … shit … some of us are trying to think a little bit about what you may want to stubbornly stand for and demand of Life … and what you may decide to compromise with Life to insure you have something … some progress to show at the end.

 

It seems like the situation we are in has arisen because we have permitted the stubborn voices of the radical marginalized <real and perceived> to drown out the pragmatic voices of realistic positive compromise.

 

If we want society to start working again we need to embrace compromise — and let it retain the positive definition which has served it well through time.

 

To end this I will go back to the beginning.

 

The “I” aspect.

 

I tend to believe all of us, with the intent of finding the best version of ourselves from which our ultimate legacy will be defined, will seek to find the balance of being stubborn and demand that Life bend to us and our principles and compromise where we make a grand bargain with Life in order to continue progressing.

 

Uhm.

 

If we believe this … then why wouldn’t we want this in Life and in business and in politics and in … well … everything.

 

There was a book that discussed this. In The Spirit of Compromise <Amy Gutsman and Dennis Thomson> they note that Americans support general compromise as an idea and like the idea of ‘other people’ working together to get stuff done <statistics support this in a variety of studies & polls>.

 

Oh shit.

 

However.

 

The authors then note that support for compromise breaks down when it addresses specific issues <Americans are much less likely to support a compromise life good want you theycompromise on a specific issue>. As with most things in Life we enthusiastically embrace the conceptual behavior and balk at the actual behavior.

 

Compromise is complex … and simple.

 

What I do know is that we contain our own future and building that future demands that we will have to make some compromises.  That is simple.

Making the specific choices is complex.

And while I am mostly interested in my own future and making my own compromise choices … I tend to believe we would all find the better version of ourself contained within … if the society as a whole were more willing to refind the value in compromise.

 

pushing thru it

September 15th, 2016

pushing-thru-it-exercise

 

 

“It just wasn’t a big deal to me.

 

This was an ailment that many people just power through and that’s what I thought I would do as well. I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want to quit campaigning, I certainly didn’t want to miss the 9/11 memorial.

 

It didn’t work out so well.

 

So I got the antibiotics up and going, got the rest that I needed, and we’re going on from there.”

 

Hillary Clinton and her pneumonia

 

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

 

I admit.

 

push-through-bad-daysI am slightly baffled by the huge kerfuffle over Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia.

 

Isn’t what she did … well … basically what you & I and every working person in the world does? We push thru whatever is ailing us until what ails us forces us to stop <or it goes away magically which is what most of us hope for>.

 

Now.

 

Clinton, or how any of us act, <disregarding doctor advice & pushing thru it> must be maddening to doctors.

 

In fact … the numbers I found suggest doctors must live a life of constant frustration.

 

Patient noncompliance is an epidemic, estimated to affect 20% to 30% of short-term therapies, 50% to 60% of long-term medication and 70% to 80% of advice about lifestyle changes. Over 50% of the 3.8 billion prescriptions written annually in the United States are taken incorrectly or not at all.

 

 

I imagine with all the online “doctors” it seems like we have all become given the massive accessibility to medical information online – much of it complex, sometimes contradictory <due to medical nuances> and often downright wrong – many people believe they can diagnose and treat all on our own.

flowers-pushing-through-the-process

And given the absurd online medical conspiracy blathering over Clinton’s health I tend to believe 90% of people somehow believe they are qualified medical professionals due to their online research <despite much of it looks a lot like ‘quackery’>.

 

And while research shows that “pushing thru” or ignoring real advice has serious repercussions – Consumer Reports showed that noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations is the top complaint that primary care physicians have about patients and most believe it affects their ability to provide optimal care, and one in three says it does so a lot – the reality is that this is just what we people do.

 

Hillary Clinton included.

 

Frankly, we shouldn’t be surprised she didn’t tell anyone nor should we be surprised she failed to follow her doctor’s advice … because we all have done it.

And we all certainly have done it when under the pressure of some deadline we knew we were working against <a big meeting, a project deadline, a promise to a client, an election>.

 

So … that said … the whole kerfuffle baffles me.

 

It makes me scratch my head.

 

Do I believe there is some sexism riddled through this entire absurd dialogue?

Yeah. Maybe a thread.

 

Clinton has always been dogged by ‘ambitious professional versus homemaker’ questions combined with a subtle push back that a woman cannot do this particular man’s job <whatever that job may be>.

And I could argue almost every professional woman is nodding their head in agreement with what I just said as they think about their own situation.

 

But I actually believe it hits at the core of America’s gestalt.

america just do it

Our “just do it” attitude.

 

Our “we are not quitters” attitude.

 

Why do you think Americans take less vacation days and work sick more than any country? An aspect of our behavior is our attitude that we are expected to not succumb to ‘what everyday people do’ and push thru to some aspect of exceptional.

 

Is pushing thru sickness exceptional?

Well. Maybe not.

But it seems like the basic bar for who and what we are culturally.

 

And the bar gets raised even higher for workaholics and people who like what they do.

 

Anyway.

 

She’s had pneumonia, she campaigned and had a security meeting and … well … a bunch of shit before she actually went to the doctor <similar to what we all do> … she kept going despite doctor advice until it floored her <similar to what we all do> and then gets up less than a week later and starts going back to work <similar to what we all do>.

 

I could suggest that this is the sort of determination which sounds fairly presidential to me but instead I will point out that this is what 90% of Americans do when they get sick.

 

And, actually, it sounds like every mother I know … except most mothers don’t get a whole 4 days off when they’re sick.push-thru-can-will-do

 

Most women I know amaze me with their stamina and their general “no quit” attitude when getting shit done.

 

It seems to me that Hillary Clinton just represented what women do day in and day out pretty well. She wasn’t just representative of what we may desire in a presidential candidate but also representative of almost every working mother out there as well as maybe 90% of all the ‘anyones’, male or female, who goes to work every day.

.

capacity

December 29th, 2015

capacity threshold2

—-

“Circumstances don’t define you, they reveal you.”

=

Epictetus

—-

 

 

So.

 

The holiday season often seems to challenge our capacity … time, energy, emotional and physical. Let’s just call it the ‘personal capacity challenge.”

 

Personal capacity is a tricky topic.

 

 

Tricky in that there is no standard measure of ‘capacity’ from which to measure oneself against.

 

 

capacity survive In addition … capacity expands and contracts depending on who and what is filling the capacity space … in addition … you can add in the variable of the circumstances with which capacity is dealing with which affects whatever space capacity maintains in oneself.

 

Oh.

 

 

And I am speaking of emotional capacity to “deal.” As in deal with life … not only the mind numbing blows life can deliver but also the everyday stuff life stabbing you day in and day out.

 

 

And then there are the times when Life gives you any and all at the same time.

 

Regardless.

 

 

Life demands that each and everyone of us maintain some sense of capacity.

 

 

Well.

 

I imagine this is what I am writing about.
Because we all have capacity. And we all have capacity enough to handle and manage the typical everyday shit.

 

However.

 

 

It is ‘those times’ I am speaking of … when you look at someone and look at the crappy cards Life has dealt them during some finite period of time.

success burden pixshark

This finite time represents a small space in which you feel no one should have to bear that much of a burden. And despite the fact I wish I were referring to some theoretical aspect of Life … I am not.

Unfortunately Life has a habit of asking some people to carry some fairly burdensome burdens within finite period as of time.

 

 

 

It is … well … one of the inherent duties of Life.

 

 

“Life is not theory.

It is reality, with inherent duties to everything and everyone.”

=

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka

 

Now.

 

 

Despite the fact each of us assumes this duty differently … every one of us has a different emotional capacity.

It’s kind of like walking into the Container Store with aisle after aisle of different shaped, different sized and different ‘strength’ material in its makeup.

 

 

 

I say that because I believe we often judge others by either:

 

(a)

ourselves, or

(b)

what we believe someone’s capacity should be

<which is driven by culture, media, societal expectations>.

 

 

 

Uhm.

 

We shouldn’t.

 

 

And, frankly, we really cannot judge … unless you can place yourself in someone else’s shoes.

 

 

Why?

 

Capacity is multidimensional.

 

It is driven by experience and … well … just your own make up.

 

 

Some people just deal with all the various stuff well … and some don’t … and some get better as time goes on <although I would actually argue that everyone gets better at ‘dealing’ the more practice they get> … and some just have no, or little, capacity.

capacity 1

 

And Life tests personal capacity all the time.

 

 

We currently live in a Life culture, personal & work, that places ever more stress on the individual to achieve and to do more with less, to work longer hours, to make a greater change to the world <and to themselves>, people often find themselves pushed beyond the limits of what they can endure.

 

And that is just the common everyday stuff.

 

 

The ‘unexpected’ Life test isn’t even included.

 

 

Inevitably this all leads to personal stress … which is actually a physical response to situations.

 

 

It’s your body trying to find a way through a challenging time. Obviously … ongoing stress actually has an effect on the way you think.

 

 

But here is the deal with capacity.

 

Conceptually it is infinite <although we know it is finite>.

 

 

This concept versus reality issue comes crashing to Life only when we get to the point that we can’t cope with … well … the fact we know we can’t cope anymore.

 

 

It’s not hard to see in many cases of a meltdown what you’re looking at is someone who maxed out on their capacity … they got so far in the hole … that there was no way of getting out.

 

 

 

Now.

 

capacity expand-personal-capacity

This doesn’t mean you cannot program yourself <or cultivate> to better utilize your capacity.

 

This means acknowledging and/or containing emotional levels <anger, fear, despair> that are too high or too low <apathy, low motivation> as well as emotional things that interfere with effective change <hostility, anxiety, excessive anger, avoidance>.

 

 

“Sometimes we don’t know our own strength.

It can be hard to tell just how much weight you can safely bear, or how much will crush you.

I’d like to think you can shoulder as big a burden as you believe you can, that it’s all a matter of will.

Certainly a comforting thought.

Other times it’s hard to remember you had any strength at all.

Then you can only hope to have someone to remind you … you were once fierce and able.”

=

Everwood

 

 

There has been some well done research studies on his topic.

 

 

===

In the 1980s, Howard Gardner outlined the presence of seven domains of intelligence; two of them were interpersonal and intrapersonal – these combined were the forerunner of what we now know as emotional intelligence.

The term was first coined by Peter Salovey, professor and psychologist at Yale University, and John Mayer, professor and psychologist at the University of New Hampshire.

In 1995 Daniel Goleman, the leading expert in this field, reported “IQ is only a minor predictor of success in life, while emotional and social skills are far better predictors of success and well-being than academic intelligence.”

Daniel Goleman’s research on social and emotional competencies in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, brought this concept into a much needed focus.

Goleman’s work teaches us that children’s emotional and social skills can be cultivated, so that the child will accrue both short-term and long-term advantages in regard to well-being, performance and success in life.

He outlines crucial emotional competencies basic to social and emotional learning:

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–        Self and other awareness:

Understanding and identifying feelings; knowing when one’s feelings shift; understanding the difference between thinking, feeling and acting; and understanding that one’s actions have consequences in terms of others’ feelings.

=

–       Mood management:

handling and managing difficult feelings; controlling impulses; and handling anger constructively

=

–       Self-motivation:

Being able to set goals and persevere towards them with optimism and hope, even in the face of setbacks

=

–         Empathy:

Being able to put yourself “in someone else’s shoes” both cognitively and affectively; being able to take someone’s perspective; being able to show that you care

=

– Management of relationships:

Making friends, handling friendships; resolving conflicts; cooperating; collaborative learning and other social skills

===

 

dignity uncertainty conflict empathy

 

Mastering, or managing, these things results in something called ‘enhanced emotional intelligence.’

 

 

 

And, once again, emotional intelligence directly affects your emotional capacity.

 

===

Emotional Capacity is the facility of our personality and feelings and how they engage with our mental processes and the reality of the world around us.

The various aspects of our emotional capacity is the level of emotional stress we can endure, our ability to monitor our emotions and our skill at modifying our emotions – meaning our ability to eradicate emotions that are dangerous, counter-productive or illogical to have and our ability to foster positive emotions and joy when it is logical or appropriate to do so.

And a person’s emotional capacity is actually a function of their emotional intelligence.

===

 

 

 

I say all this because many people are quite content to feel what they feel … and perhaps as an afterthought to think about what they had felt.

 

<whew … I had to reread that a couple of times>

 

 

Let me try to say it this way.

 

 

Few people consciously cultivate their emotional capacity … consciously developing the power of their rational mind on what is appropriate to feel and at what intensity.

 

 

Honestly I can see why people don’t.

i do not know list
You don’t know what you don’t know.

 

=

A soldier doesn’t know how he/she will act & perform in battle.

A mother doesn’t know how she will feel if her child dies.

A pet owner doesn’t know how he/she will feel when their long time companion dies.

=

 

 

It is the actual experience that tests the boundary of capacity.

 

 

That said … all this personal experience means that you can control your capacity …. as long as you can control … well … ‘self’ … and I imagine that begins with understanding ‘self.’ What I mean by that is something called ‘understanding your emotional triggers’ … or by increasing your awareness of them.

 

 

 

An emotional trigger is an experience that draws us back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to arise.

 

<For example, an ice cream sandwich may remind you of your childhood summer vacations, or gossiping coworkers could bring back images of high school cliques.>

 

 

 

Some triggers are situational and some are social.

 

 

Some people smoke more when they are out for drinks with friends.

Most people tend to eat more at holiday or family gatherings.

 

 

And then there are internal triggers.

 

 

Anyway. Bottom line?

 

Just recognize the fact that we all have triggers.

 

 

And triggers are individual <often>.

I added this because we tend to try and help people we care for based on our own experiences. That leads to using our own ‘triggers’ as guide posts for what we say, suggest and support our beliefs with.

 

 

That can be a mistake.

 

 

People can react differently to the exact same stimulus.

 

Taking such variety into account improves communications and relationships.

 

 

I share all of this because if you recognize your emotional triggers you are better able to manage <or at least know> your capacity … but not necessarily others.

 

 

It helps if you learn to proceed thru life at your own pace. Life is not a sprint … it is really more of a marathon.

 

 

Lastly.

 

Help.

 

 

No matter how strong someone is … how resilient … how whatever … sometimes capacity is stretched to a bursting point. Or at least close to your capacity’s … well … capacity.

 

 

First.

 

 

Therapy is not a swear word.

Nor is it any sign of weakness. It is simply a sign that you want to get to a better place … by any and all means necessary.

The right professional help may make a big difference.

 

 

 

Second.

 

A strong support network.

Close family and friends are absolutely vital to feeling validated and nurtured.

When you’re dealing with stubborn issues, it’s always a comfort to know that you have people who care about you and want to help you.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

All that research and professional thinking aside.

 

 

As noted earlier … capacity is multi-dimensional. There is capacity within a moment … and capacity within the accumulation of moments.

 

And your personal capacity can often be defined <managed> by pushing through and not dwelling.

 

 

 

Sure.

 

 

Someone could suggest pushing through <or not dwelling> is simply a defense mechanism … a way of not dealing … a process of ignoring.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

But not dwelling is not the same as not reflecting. Not dwelling simply suggests not lingering too long in that ‘capacity moment.’

 

 

Therefore I simply suggest that it is all about pushing through the moment.

 

 

And you know why you push through these moments and choices?

 

 

Because while certain choices define the future direction of your life … choices do not end then & there.

 

 

Choices beget choices.

 

 

You will then get even more choices … maybe littler ones … but little nudge choices to course correct or make sure the original choice gets aligned optimally for whatever you really decided.

 

 

But that is part of capacity.

 

 

Despite all this ‘pushing thru’ … all these choices and decisions stored away in your head. And sometimes that doesn’t leave a lot of room for other stuff … grief … happiness … sadness … whatever … it is just all tangled up.

 

 

And all his choosing shit I am talking about inevitably creates stress … stress on the system <you overall> and stress mentally.

 

 

And stress does funny things to us <and our capacity>.

 

 

But so do circumstances beyond our control <which I imagine is linked to stress in some way>.

 

 

We all have a limit as to how far events can push us before something within us pushes back.

But.

The thing is … most of us never know that limit until we reach it.

 

—-

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”

=

Vernon Sanders Law

—-

 

 

This Life capacity test is a hard and brutal teacher.

 

 

life place and time

I imagine anyone’s capacity would be challenged if you spent too much time trying to untangle all the stuff stored in your head. But I honestly am not sure it is worth the energy to try and untangle shit. You should maybe just look at the highlights, maybe invest some energy untangling any knots that are truly restrictive, and move on.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

There are certainly moments in time when Life truly tests your capacity – grief, sadness, unhappiness in combination with typical Life demands – and it fills you up to overflowing if not exploding.

 

 

 

I have seen people deal in moments like this and frankly, I am often in awe. I am not sure I would have the capacity. But what I do know is that I see these people take on the capacity tests … and those who succeed <not fail the tests> just don’t dwell too long <and too long is defined person by person> and just push through before the burdens of the moment become so heavy they cannot move to push through.

 

 

 

Moving from those moments shifts you as a person.

 

 

Call it ‘a passage in life.’

 

 

You see the world and yourself differently after you’ve gone through the events and emotional states that define each passage … these passages are emotionally and cognitively intense … as a result you fundamentally change as a person.

 

I am not saying better or worse … you just change.

 

 

All that said.

 

 

Maybe that is what I should have said upfront … personal capacity is often defined by dwelling versus pushing through.

 

 

Because in the end, if you dwell, you get squeezed.

 

 

In America’s ‘just do it’ mentality we tend to squeeze our capacity almost irresponsibly <despite the fact we believe we are being quite responsible & selfless with our capacity>. I recognize irresponsible is a tough word … but … for a group of people who like planning, milestones and objectives … we seem to leave no space for the unforeseen.

 

 

We just fill it all up to capacity.

 

 

Fill up everything … this includes time, emotion and mental space.

 

 

This creates emotional capacity challenges <because trying to do everything on our physical list also puts demands on our mental capacity … it is sometimes called ‘stress’>.

 

 

And by emotional capacity challenges I mean things like grief & unhappiness … the sudden demands that Life puts on you mentally that create capacity challenges. These individual things stress an already ‘filled to the brim’ capacity creating chaos <by overloading the already 24/7 planned and mentally filled> life>.

 

 

What this means is that you either “don’t have time” to deal or have to “make time’ to deal … all of which exponentially stretches an already maxed out capacity <or what you assume is maxed out>. All of this happening at a time when some focus would most likely help diffuse or diminish the challenges.

 

 

I mention all that to say we are often our own worst enemy with regard to capacity. We have immense capacity. More often than not more than what we believe.

 

 

However.

 

 

That doesn’t mean it is limitless. It is finite. Why test the limits?

 

 

In the end?

 

 

“Lacking even paper

I write on my heartdemons inside

turned inside out.

That is why it squeaks

at night like the earth’s axis

that turns me face to face

with the impossible.” –

=

Regina Derieva

—-

 

 

Our world squeaks as it constantly turns us toward being face to face with the impossible.

 

And, yet, face it we do.

 

And in doing so we constantly embrace our capacity.

 

 

Just don’t enjoy the embrace too much.

 

 

Because personal capacity is often defined by dwelling versus pushing through.

 

And dwelling is bad.

personal responsibility personal acceptance

December 1st, 2015

 

accountable point

===

“You’ll have to help yourself.”

Lemony Snicket

===

“It may be the wrong decision, but f*ck it, it’s mine.”

Mark Z. Danielewski

======

“More than anything, to me, he was dad. And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves.

—-

Justin Trudeau at his father’s funeral

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

 

 

Personal responsibility is hard.

 

 

Much much harder than conceptually it sounds like it should be.

accountability actions consequences

 

I do not have any research today to show how people who have a strong sense of personal responsibility attained that character trait <although if you google it there are gobs of people with an opinion on it>.

 

 

 

For everyone who had great parents who taught them I can give you a dozen examples of people with crappy parents who have a strong sense of personal responsibility.

 

For every victim mentality person I can show different contextual situations that got them into that state of mind and, just as well, the path to a strong sense of personal responsibility is numerous and rarely a straight path.

 

 

But, even without research I will suggest a couple of things:

 

 

1. Personal acceptance.

 

letters to myself post it

To have personal responsibility you almost have to have a strong foundation of personal acceptance.

I imagine I could suggest that if it doesn’t than you are simply ‘posing’ in an attempt to look like you are responsible <and that rarely can stand the test of time>.

 

Regardless.

 

Somehow, someway people with a strong sense of personal responsibility have developed a strong sense of self. Not necessarily confidence … just self. They recognize ‘they is what they is’ and accept the flaws <and try to improve in some way> and accept their strengths <but never take them for granted>.

 

In their personal acceptance we, around them, see ‘solid.’ We love these people on our business teams and friend teams … as peers or as leaders … because regardless of their IQ or leadership skills or professional skills … they are lighthouse people in their own right.

 

These people can also be baffling to the perfectionists in the world because part of ‘personal acceptance’ is understanding, if not embracing, imperfections.

 

 

 

2. Lucky to be here but many others are just as deserving.

 

 

Let me suggest that people with an incredibly strong sense of personal fate waiters luckresponsibility will also most likely be the people who suggest they had a little luck along the way – lucky in life situations, lucky with mentors, lucky in opportunities – and even though they had worked hard they had done nothing to actually deserve the luck.

As a corollary to this thinking they would also believe, as part of the luck aspect, that there are many others just as deserving. This attitude creates a sense of responsibility for actions, behavior and attitudes. Mistakes are owned and successes are shared.

 

Some people may suggest that personal responsibility and accountability is a reflection of integrity or humility.

Well.

It may be.

But I rather believe it is more a sense of understanding that successes are more often than not a reflection of just hard work but also circumstances.

And, to that point, inherently someone with a strong sense of accountability balances success with the understanding that a portion of success is luck – luck of circumstance & luck of being the one where many were just as deserving if provided the opportunity.

 

 

 

Like I said in the beginning.

 

 

This is not based on research and you can toss this into your ‘Bruce bullshit bin’ if you want.

 

 

But I do not need research to state that personal responsibility and personal acceptance takes work. Lots of work. And lots of fortitude.

 

It is the kind of thing you spend your entire life working hard to not only ‘be’ but to live up to the character standard you have set for yourself. A standard which you will never measure others against because … well … it is personal.

 

You are accountable to your own standard and responsible to meet it. And everyone not only has the ability to set their own but they also have an unequivocal right to do so without anyone else telling them “how to be accountable.”

 

 

————

“It was instead something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.”

==

Spike Leeself unpronounceable

————-

 

 

 

 

Personal responsibility is actually one of Life’s lightest burdens if you choose to accept it. That is why I am so often surprised by how many people actually do not accept this burden.

 

But, in the end, personal responsibility is a personal choice. No one can convince you to do it or be that way. You have to help yourself on this one because no one else can.

corralling chaos (a management lesson)

August 17th, 2014

chaos control leadership

—–

“True freedom is where an individual’s thoughts and actions are in alignment with that which is true, correct, and of honor – no matter the personal price.”

=

Bryant H. McGill

——-

 

So.

 

 

I recently wrote about my college job, fake security guy with a company called Contemporary Security Company <CSC>, and it made me think about another good business lesson I learned.
I call it corralling chaos.

 

 

chaos team alignment

Maybe it is more simply managing people.

 

 

Whoa.

 

Comparing chaos to managing people?

 

 

Yup.

 

 

Look.

 

 

Unless you want to hire a bunch of clones or do some mind meld trick upon hiring someone … you are going to inevitably have a wide variety of specific skilled people, a mosaic of personalities and characters … and … well … humans being human within your purview.

 

 

I learned this very quickly as a youngster at CSC.

 

 

And, by the way, I didn’t learn this because I was some brilliant leader or insightful organizational behavior person at the age of 18 … I learned it out of simple survival.

 

 

Once I became a supervisor I definitely had a ‘Bruce team.’ A small group of guys who I always selected <or they selected me> to be surrounded by to manage and utilize.

 

 

In hindsight I was a little different than some of the other supervisors.
I liked using the same guys even though the assignment was different.

 

I liked tweaking each guy’s ‘comfort zone’ to show them how to adapt.

 

 

I think I subconsciously recognized that it probably helped me out under a variety of assignments in that these guys … and these guys were wired differently … wouldn’t take a cookie cutter approach to how they handled things.

 

 

Not only did they see that things could be done differently <than maybe what their first instinct was> but also they became comfortable with some things out of their comfort zone.

 

 

The best example I have is two guys who were with me whenever possible.

 

 

They were book end personalities.

 

CSC 4

 

Lamont.

 

 

African American. Sharp & smart. Took life seriously. Scowled a lot. Maybe 6’ 1” and 280 pounds of hair triggered whirlwind of aggression.
You only walked up to Lamont from behind very carefully.

 

 

I vividly remember walking up behind him and tapping him on the shoulder … and he spun around with a semi graceful martial arts form <… c’mon … how graceful can a 280 pound guy be> … crouched and coiled to part my head from my shoulders.

I also vividly remember his eyes were laser-like and seemingly completely clear of anything but ‘destroy.’ Without relaxing … he said ‘little buddy … you shouldn’t sneak up on me like that’ … and then he uncoiled.

 

 

 

Dave.

 

White suburban kid. Maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer. 6’ 2” and chiseled 220 pounds or so. Played defensive end at Orange Coast junior college.

Easy going … smiled a lot. The first time I met him on the job I saw him wade into a drunken brawl of maybe 6 guys and singlehandedly blow it up with maybe only one punch thrown by him <which admittedly put that guy out of commission>.

 

These two guys became the bookends that held most of my teams together.

 

 

Lamont was like an assassin.

 

Dave was like a bull.

 

 

Lamont I restrained.

 

Dave I released.

 

 

Both could intimidate in their own way … but their instinct was always to act with power of action … and not words.

 

 

My bosses struggled to understand why I always wanted them … no matter the assignment.
Lamont was often seen as uncontrollable <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in more ‘delicate diplomatic’ situations>.

 

Dave was often seen as ‘not too smart’ <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in situations where he may have to think on his feet>.

 

 

Beyond the fact I saw how these guys could be used effectively … I probably more recognized that situations my bosses ‘foresaw’ within an assignment more often became unforeseen actions & consequences.

 

 

chaos and safety

Security at some event with zillions of people wandering around <many drinking> all with an attitude that ‘hey … I paid to be here … so I can do pretty much whatever I want’ is inevitably one of much randomness.

 

Interestingly … that describes the business world fairly well <without the drinking>.

 

Managing people isn’t really about plans & planning … or even having a plan … it is more often about how to deal with what happens when the plan breaks apart.

 

 

Look.
Plans and planning … and all the things under those headings <business plans, contingency plans, succession plans> … are all good things … uhm … until they aren’t.

 

 

All the plans that once bring order, continuity, and control often become rigid obstacles to progress and adaptation.

 

 

Lamont, Dave … shit … whatever personality I was supervising … I found that most people are trying to do what they believe is in the best interest of the organization.

 

 

I also found the trouble was often they may not have the same point of view on what that is.

 

 

And, yes, that leads to some version of chaos.

chaos corral outcome and understanding

 

You can have two people conducting themselves with the best of intentions and trying to do the right thing.

 

Both options are valid.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

 

But the conclusions they reach end up in direct conflict with each other.  This creates confusion <with each other as well as those around them seeking cues on what to do>.

 

 

A lot of the supervisors around me did two things.

 

 

 

One.

 

Bitched & moaned about ‘the guys they managed’ and said ‘they just don’t get it.’

 

 

Two.

 

Picked guys for their team that they could ‘control.’

 

 

Me?

 

 

I guess I decided to take responsibility for getting out of the chaos.

 

 

I assumed from day one that it was me responsible for allowing chaos.

 

 

 

 

I also assumed I couldn’t control anyone … certainly not someone like Lamont or a number of other highly wired individuals I liked to have on my team … but I did assume I could point them in the right direction <with regard to attitudes & actions>.
I picked guys for my teams who could get shit done. And get shit done within some principled behavior guidelines.

 

chaos control game

I kind of assumed my role was to ‘be still amidst the chaos and active in repose’ <Indira Ghandi>.

 

 

Be a compass as it were.

 

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

I certainly didn’t understand all the real thinking behind good management and leadership at that age.

 

 

 

What I do know now for sure – good leaders provide a compass.

 

 

A good leader helps others think through implications that can impact the broader team’s goals and objectives.

 

 

Once people have orienting values and principles, their ability to think and operate independently accelerates.

 

 

 

Good leaders hold people, themselves included, accountable to a set of values and principles.

 

And leading is often measured by how you deal with the times which inevitably occur when the leader needs to confront a difficult decision that puts principles to the test.

 

 

Corralling chaos is all about getting comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable.

 

 

My guys recognized that always sticking to the plan without fail provided a false sense of security.

 

 

They knew from experience that there needed to be some flexibility with “how” the “what” is implemented.

 

 

 

They embraced the purposeful discomfort and I rewarded the purposeful discomfort.

 

 

I left room for serendipity.

 

 

I left room for what is called “interaction with an unintended outcome” <Scott Doorley, Stanford>.

 

 

Some smart guy, Atul Gawande, states there will always be people who excel and thrive in complex and chaotic environments.

 

 

People who “have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.”

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

 

I agree with that and I don’t agree with that.

 

 

 

I agree that some people are better than others at the ability to quickly assess situations and take decisive action based on their experience and instinct.

 

 

 

I don’t agree that anyone and everyone can become better and hone this ability. In fact … part being a good leader is trying to figure out how to maximize this ability within employees <because it enhances autonomy which increases organizational efficiency>.

women leadership

 

I have no clue if I am particularly strong with the ‘capacity to prepare for unintended consequences.’

 

 

 

What I do have a clue on is that no matter how strong I may be … I can’t prepare for everything and can’t solve everything and I can’t be everywhere at all times.

 

 

I liked having a variety of skilled people available … no matter how difficult they were to manage.

 

 

 

Why?

 

 

It increased the likelihood the team could handle any ‘unintended consequences’ as they arose.

 

CSC taught me a shitload.

 

 

It taught me very quickly that when supervisors complained that people are working against each other, that they are not aligned, that they don’t seem to ‘get it’ … that they are full of shit.

 

It taught me first & foremost that a supervisor needs to look in the mirror.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Is chaos a bad word to use when discussing people management?
Aw.

 

Probably.

 

inspire leadership

But here is what I do know.

 

 

I would rather corral chaos than ‘light a fire under someone’s ass.’

 

 

Is that a management style?

 

Sure.

 

 

I imagine so.

 

 

I imagine it is actually a management or leadership choice.
And when I look in the mirror with regard to management style I am okay with what I see.

 

And I thank my CSC job for helping me be okay with it.

 

—-

CSC becks

If interested, after you read this post, you can visit his past CSC ‘learnings’ posts:

<learning to say no>

http://brucemctague.com/big-fred

=

<practicing actually means more relaxed>

http://brucemctague.com/the-wall

=

<action has its time>

http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1

=

<gaining perspective>

http://brucemctague.com/what-you-do-not-see-at-a-concert

 

 

what you do not see at a concert

August 2nd, 2014

music points of view shakespeare

 

 

 

Ok.

 

 

 

This is about music … and my job in college as a ‘fake’ security guy <for a company called Contemporary Security> walking around in a cool yellow tshirt that said “SECURITY” on it … telling people what to do at concerts and sporting events and trying to only get into altercations I knew I could win.

 

 

To be clear.

 

I loved this job and loved the guys I worked for and with.

Good organization and, in general, good culture and fellow employees.

 

In addition.

 

On a professional “acquiring skills for later” level … I learned a lot at this job … some basics that if I had not paid attention to would have represented missed opportunities for learning. I learned shit i have applied in business to this day.

 

 

If interested, after you read this post, you can visit his past CSC ‘learnings’ posts:

<learning to say no>
http://brucemctague.com/big-fred

=

<practicing actually means more relaxed>
http://brucemctague.com/the-wall

=

<action has its time>
http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1

=

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

I hadn’t thought about this job in quite some time.

 

 

And then I saw that Steve Perry <ex-lead singer Journey> performed in NYC for the first time in a long time. it reminded me of one of the best moments that you don’t see at a concert.

 

In the good ole days there were things called stadium concerts. These were day long concerts where a full lineup of great bands would queue up and play one after another … and the best of the best would end the day.

 

 

Ok.

 

They still have these. But now they are events <like Bonnarroo or Glastonbury> when before pretty much every big stadium in America schooled these things.

 

 

 

The one I remember was in the Los Angeles Coliseum and Journey headlined <I think there was also The Babys – with John Waite and Johnathon Cain … who had not joined Journey yet, Aerosmith, The Motels and a couple other bands I cannot remember at the moment>.

 

Roadies old

 

Because I didn’t have anything else to do that day I volunteered to work the sound check the day before the concert as they set up the stadium <yes … they set up things the day before so that as the gates opened up on show day at some ungodly early hour the bands only needed to have their ‘set up’ put in place as they entered stage>.

 

 

On that day each of the bands just strolled in and did what they do to warm up and make sure the sound system was set up the way they liked it. And each band does it their own way.

 

 

That day I was standing at the sound system which was set up maybe a third of the way back in the stadium directly in the center of the field in front of the stage. A mass of confusing boards and little blinking lights and knobs and such all managed by maybe two guys chugging black coffee like they had been in a desert for three days and who looked like they should be in a homeless shelter.

 

 

Random people walked around the stadium and my job was to make sure any of the random people who did not actually belong near the million dollar valued sound system didn’t accidentally come by and twist a knob or something.

 

 

It was Journey’s turn to tune up and do sound check.music mr magoo 1956

 

 

Please remember.

 

I am old.

 

This was before they had wireless mikes so everyone was wired up and was limited by how far a cord could go and their ability to not get tangled up in their cord.

 

 

Neil Schon and the drummer just kind of got things started.

 

 

music point of views smellsAnd if you haven’t seen musicians playing nothing, and everything at the same time, you haven’t seen and heard music at its best.

It just this rambling incohesive brilliant musicianship.

 

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And then Steve Perry wanders on stage in jeans and a tshirt holding a mike just watching the other guys play.

 

perry and schon

 

And without saying anything all of a sudden the band eases into a song almost one by one … but all together … and Steve eases in with vocals in his distinctive clear voice.

 

It’s the kind of thing that is so stunningly easily beautiful that you just have to stop whatever it is you are doing and stare.

 

Time kinds of stops.

You are in the middle of a stadium and while people are still moving and there are the regular noises of people doing what hey need to do … and yet … there is nothing else but the music.

 

 

To be clear.

 

 

Even people who are used to this recognize special moments.

 

 

People around me stopped.

 

Even the sound guys, who you knew had heard his dozens of time, stood still for a moment as it all synced up on stage.

 

 

The moment passed but the band seemed to shift seamlessly from one song to another and on occasion stopping to tune something or just talk amongst each other.

 

 

They had been doing this for a while and me being me … had stopped paying attention and was kind of mindlessly listening.

 

 

And all of a sudden something felt different about the music and I started paying attention. The music sounded different.

 

 

I turned around and Steve Perry was standing maybe 10 feet away from me facing the stage … singing. perry singing

 

 

Now remember … this was before wireless microphones. He had been wired up to walk all the way from the stage, maybe a 1/3rd of the way into the stadium, with his microphone to the sound system and hear what it sounded like.

 

 

I don’t remember the song. I wish I did.

 

 

I do remember a nonchalant Steve Perry, his voice crystal clear, pitch perfect, watching as the rest of the band clustered on stage watching each other work their way thru the song … I remember Steve Perry stopping and watching as Neil Schon effortlessly worked his way thru a solo … and seamless picking back up with vocals as Neil slid out of the solo and back into the song.

 

 

I remember Steve Perry looking over at me <ok … maybe he was looking at the guys in front of all the knobs and boards> and smiling, as he sung, and give a thumbs up because he lied what he was hearing.

 

 

Hey.

 

 

With my CSC security job I saw a lot of shit that most people do not see at a concert … but this was a special moment.

 

 

I am sure warming up and sound checks created great moments that most people never see all the time.

 

 

But this was my little glimpse into what makes great bands and great musicians great.

 

<and, please, Journey was a great band with one of the greatest rock … ok … any genre … lead singers of all time>

 

 

 

So.

 

 

 

Professional learning? Beyond the obvious practice & rehearsal <for the musicians and the ‘support for the presenters’… perspective.

 

Yup.

 

 

Perspective.

 

How often in business do we fall into our own little groove and fall into sync with the people around us and … well … we think all is good. We think it is good because it feels good.

 

Perry stepped out of the onstage groove and got perspective. He wanted o see what the people saw … he wanted to hear what the sound guys heard.

comfort zone

 

Oh.

 

And he took himself out of what I would perceive is a good comfort zone. All by himself … away from the others he is most likely in subconscious sync with on stage … he sings … they play. He … well … disconnected from the comfort zone in a way.

 

That, my friends, is stepping out of the comfort zone for perspective.

 

I stored that learning away in my ‘futre professional thoughts to to remember’ in my pea like brain.

 

I still use it today.

 

Even when things are going right … and they feel right … and maybe even because they are feeling right … I like to figure out a way to gain some perspective.

 

And, frankly, we all need perspective.

 

 

Anyway.

To end this.

 

I wanted to share a clip of what this behind the scenes looks and sounds like from the good ole Journey days but I couldn’t find one.

<nuts>

 

 

But.

 

I thought I would share this fabulous clip of Stevie Ray Vaughn during a sound check. I was fortunate enough to see Stevie play maybe three times before he passed away.

 

 

Regardless.

 

This is a reminder of how good these musicians really are.

 Those were the days … a roadie in the 70s.

—–

 

 

“Stevie just waking up then warming up. Insane how good can you really be that tired? This was filmed Jan 1986 by Greg Savage of Savage Guitar Design.

How can that guy just walk up, plug in and play like he’s been playing all day long? The man was a natural.”

=

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Sound Check:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grBmQwLSlDw

=

——–

Hope you enjoyed.

Enlightened Conflict