Enlightened Conflict

questionable civil discourse, calm the rhetoric … and leading

June 14th, 2017

obama sad thoughtful tough

 

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“We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

 

—-

Barack Obama on January 12th 2011

 

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

 

On a day which we are faced with someone who decided to take a gun and shoot words rememberpoliticians … and appear to target politicians … I am reminded of several things.

 

The first thing is the rhetoric.

The rhetoric of the citizenry but mostly the rhetoric of our elected leaders. I say that because words have repercussions.

 

Yes.

 

I do believe in personal responsibility and choices are made by individuals.

 

But I also believe leaders lead with words <because most of us cannot view their actions>.

 

And if our elected leaders treat their words as if we will not remember them forever.

 

And if our elected leaders treat each other as if they are truly enemies <and even use that word on occasion>.

 

And if our elected leaders treat each other as if the opposite’s behavior is unfathomable behavior for sane, moral people.

 

And if our elected officials treat each other with verbal hyperbole as the standard rhetoric discourse … and the highest of the elected leaders, the president, tosses out the word ‘unity’ on occasion but 99% of the time does nothing verbally or behavior wise to unite … well … the electors will be tempted to do as leaders do.

 

We need to calm our rhetoric. We need to remind ourselves what we teach our children … that you don’t always get what you want and that most progress sis made in mutual effort.

 

We all need to be speaking more calmly and acting more civilly but we should be demanding our elected leaders do so. I get angry with how they act and what they say because it suggests to people that is behavior we should all embrace — and it is not.  Stop, and stop it now.

 

speechless

 

The second thing I am reminded of is one of the best speeches President Obama ever made.

 

To share my thoughts I will borrow <steal> liberally from a NY Times article written by Helene Cooper and Jeff Zelenyjan. The article was Obama Calls for a New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics and it shares the speech Obama gave on January 12th 2011 in Tucson after the shooting of a US Congresswoman and the deaths of 6 other people.

 

Apparently Obama wrote much of the speech himself the day before.

 

I suggest everyone read the speech but today I will share highlights because it is a nice reminder on a day on which we need some reminders.

 

 

President Obama offered the nation’s condolences on Wednesday to the victims of the shootings here, calling on Americans to draw a lesson from the lives of the fallen and the actions of the heroes, and to usher in a new era of civility in their honor.

 

The president directly confronted the political debate that erupted after the rampage, urging people of all beliefs not to use the tragedy to turn on one another. He did not cast blame on Republicans or Democrats, but asked people to “sharpen our instincts for empathy.”

 

It was one of the more powerful addresses that Mr. Obama has delivered as president, harnessing the emotion generated by the shock and loss from Saturday’s shootings to urge Americans “to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully” and to “remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

 

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do,” he said, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

 

The president led an overflow crowd at the evening service at the University of Arizona in eulogizing the six people who died on Saturday and asking for prayers for the wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who the authorities said was the target of an assassination attempt.

 

He warned against “simple explanations” and spoke of the unknowability of the thoughts that “lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.”

He suggested that the events should force individuals to look inward, but also that they should prompt a collective response against reflexive ideological and social conflict.

 

While the tone and content were distinctly nonpolitical, there were clear political ramifications to the speech, giving Mr. Obama a chance, for an evening at least, to try to occupy a space outside of partisanship or agenda.

 

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost,” Mr. Obama said. “Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”

 

suicide losing care“If, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse,” Mr. Obama said, let us remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.”

 

In the end.

No, I do not believe we will learn anything from today’s event <or the other shooting events that cost people’s lives today> but maybe, just maybe, we can start talking to each other like we don’t want to shoot the other person if given an opportunity. That is a good start.

the fraying of organizational communication

May 8th, 2017

fraying communications

 

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“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

 

—–

Benjamin Franklin

 

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Ok.

 

It seems like in today’s world leaders are getting the shit kicked out of them if they communicate in a precise fashion, in a measured way and in what appears bland magic in the headto be calculated communicating.

They are called unauthentic, bland and blamed for being ‘less than truthful.’

 

This is creating a sense that semi-impetuous blurbs of ‘here is what I think’ communication is deemed of higher value from our leaders.

 

Well.

 

It is a sad state of affairs if we value the latter in a leader more than the former.

But let me point out the flaws in the impetuous less-than-thought-out thought communicating.

 

I call it the fraying of organizational communication.

 

You learn fairly quickly once you begin leading a larger group of people, and desire them to grow beyond simply being order takers, that precise communications matters.

 

You learn you cannot be everywhere at once, you cannot be in every meeting and you cannot have people simply parrot your own words because … well … they are your words and not theirs <and for them to grow they need to figure out how to articulate things on their own>. Therefore, you learn that you need to precisely communicate an idea so that they can offer up their own words to share that idea.

 

You learn this because impreciseness means people start having to answer not only unnecessary questions … but are also being demanded to explain ‘what you meant.’

 

This is a dangerous slippery slope.good and bad thoughts words

 

People work for you for a reason <you most likely have more experience and have some skills they do not have>.

People have different titles for a reason <they most likely have different or less experience and have yet to learn some skills they do not have>.

 

This means that farther out your words & thoughts have to be explained the more likely the explanation is not going to be exactly right.

Oh.

 

And let’s ad in ‘the stress factor.’

 

This is where ‘fraying’ becomes obvious.

 

The less precise a leader is the more likely the communication fabric is going to be tugged at the edges. The edges being where many of your least experienced people reside. The less precise a leader is the more the pressure at the farthest point of communication.

 

This is where the ‘fraying’ becomes most obvious. As more and more questions are piled upon the person on the edge with regard to the “whys” and “whats” the communication becomes more and more stressed … and mistakes are made.

 

wrong faultThings are said that just may not be exactly right.

 

Something is said in exasperation.

 

Something is communicated as a ‘well, could be’ scenario to offer some space.

 

This is not the fault of the person on the edge … the responsibility lies with the person at the center.

 

Anyway.

 

As a leader, the people closest to you most likely don’t need the precision, calculation and measured words … but you give it to them anyway. You do so because those closest to you will find their own words to say what you said … without losing its meaning.

 

A flawed message at the top doesn’t lose its flaws as it expands … its flaws become increased.

 

Some people call it ‘getting your talking points in line’ … I do not. I simply call it “clarity & precision from the top.” I do that because while it may seem bland and it may seem calculated … it avoids the more difficult problems and criticisms.

 

ato normal center abnormal societyA leader must hold the center verbally. It can sometimes be held with vision and soaring rhetoric but more often it is captures in the calculated pragmatic words which are easily carried by those on the edges out beyond the organization.

 

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‘Things fall apart, the center cannot hold….

The best lack all conviction,

While the worst are full of passionate intensity

 

—–

William Butler Yeats < The Second Coming>

 

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As a leader there may be nothing worse than confidently saying the wrong thing. For when you do the rest of your organization feels compelled to support your confidence … uhm … and the wrong thing.

 

And if the ‘wrongness’ is compounded with any sense of vagueness in meaning ‘wrong’ becomes his multidimensional blob of slime which mucks up the entire organizational engine.

 

I am fairly sure mom & pop businesses don’t learn this lesson <or maybe not as well>. They have no real need to do so. Most words are in the domain of the ‘mom & pop’ and any family members or close knit employees will most likely simply regurgitate whatever the mom & pop say with earnestness … but no real understanding. There is no need to understand … it just is.

 

And maybe that is where leaders, who are precise and calculated in wording, understand what truth about success within an organization is — that understanding matters.

 

People cannot defend what they do not completely understand and, well, you know as a leader you cannot always be there to defend and you need to depend on others to do so … not by interpreting what you said but through understanding what you said.

 

In the end.

 

We may beat the crap out of ‘bland colorless calculated’ communication from leaders but we should all recognize that it isn’t necessarily done out of fear of saying the wrong thing or political correctness but rather done because … well … good leaders know they hold the center. They know that understanding limits spotlight seat lead follow center alonefraying at the edges of the organization.

They know they have a responsibility, boring as it may be on occasion, to pragmatically say what needs to be said in a way that doesn’t encourage guessing or questioning.

 

Clarity really does matter.

And ‘bland’ can be underrated.

But fraying communications farther from the center is a reflection of a leader not assuming responsibility for holding a strong center.  A good leader knows that while they may have a dozen things they really want to say 11 of those things will most likely make the people on the edges edgy and miserable.

A good leader knows that an organization is not just about what the one wants to say <the leader themselves> but rather organizational effectiveness resides in ‘out of many, one.’

 

I imagine what I am saying is that if you see some people on-the-ground who are part of an organization and you start hearing verbal mistakes … 99% of the time it is a reflection of the fact the leader was vague, imprecise and didn’t hold the communication center <that would make them a bad leader>.

 

value ourselves as more than just an image

March 2nd, 2017

 

a-better-reality-false-hope

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“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Are you a good friend? A kind companion?

How do you treat others?

 

Those are the things that are a better definition of beauty.’

 

—-

Sara Ramirez

 

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I imagine all of us want to be seen by everyone as ‘something.’

 

they must be giants fake lies right lifeTo me … this ‘something’ isn’t famous or with some high falutin’ title or rich … but rather be recognized characteristically as something.

And not something shallow … but something a little deeper that defines you.

 

I say that but reality is that the driving ‘something’ for us is far too often fairly innocuous … and, yeah, it will vary from person to person … but a shitload of us want to be seen as smart, or well rounded, or beautiful, or funny, or … well … pick your personal poison.

I could suggest that is kind of a shallow something.

Okay.

I will.

That is a shallow ‘something.’

 

And what makes that shallow worse is that by making that a fairly significant portion of how we choose to define ourselves we spend an inordinate amount of time & energy planning for ‘someday’ when that ‘something’ is played back to us as our defining characteristic.

uhm what did you say really

Uhm.

 

Well.

 

If you are not careful … someday stealthily sneaks up on you as ‘today … and then yesterday … and then day by day it just becomes your Life.

 

Unfortunately Life is not just an image.

Unfortunately Life is ultimately not that shallow.

 

Unfortunately you have to leave the shallow end of the pool at some point and venture into the deep end in order to find … well … value.

 

Despite what marketing & advertising & branding folk may suggest … image is not everything and image does not equal any meaningful value.

 

Image without substance is simply a façade … a mask.

And I can unequivocally state that the number of people who can maintain an entire life behind a mask is minuscule.it is extremely difficult to maintain that façade for an entire Life. It is like trying to play out an act … forever. Someone can do it for a while and fewer can figure out how to build the trappings which can hold the act together … but to hold all of that together for a Lifetime takes some luck, some clever skills, some bravado to appease the cynics & skeptics and, ultimately, some ability to keep the lack of substance out of the spotlight & questioning.

Suffice it to say … it takes a lot of work to wear a mask an entire Life.

 

intent help flaws self bestAnd maybe that is my larger point.

 

We all want to eventually be seen as ‘something.’

 

And we all would prefer that something be of value to those who recognize it and of value to our self-worth.

 

That means.

If you are not careful you can spend a significant portion of your Life chasing some definition … some ‘something’ you are recognized by … that has little or no real value to oneself.

 

By the way. I am not suggesting this is easy. Society encourages shallowness. It can do so in a variety of ways but the main way is simple – measurement.

The shallowest ‘somethings’ are easy to see, easy to assess and easy to measure versus either society standards or versus others.

 

The deepest ‘somethings’ … good, soul, character, integrity … shit like that … are difficult to measure and, frankly, the definition is earned over time and with consistent behavior. You cannot expect instant gratification … at least external gratification … if you pursue a ‘deeper something.’

 

Sigh.

 

Well.

 

Here is what I know:

 

“At the end of the day, we have to value ourselves as more than just an image.

 An image is just an image.

If you want more, look deeper within.

 

Image is just an image.

 

How about this.

 

Image is like masturbation.

 

A deeper something is like making love.hard to planyou are more

 

I tend to believe we all want more.

 

We all want that kind of self-value that is deeper.

We all want more than just an image.

 

It is a Life truth that Image is seductive.

 

The good news?

It is a Life truth that if you want more than image, and look deeper within for that ‘something’, you will find a better definition of yourself.

In this time, at this place, I will be defined

February 17th, 2017

 stand for what is right i will be defined now

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“I endure.”

 

Lockhart

 

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“What we do in life will echo in eternity.”

 

Maximus (in Gladiator)

 

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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

 

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“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

 

Howard Zinn

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So.

 

This topic has been on my mind for a while but I hadn’t figured out how to talk future-universe-view-space-open-thinkingabout it without being apocalyptic or overly dramatic.

 

I know it has been on my mind since Trump entered into our lives <when is the last time you had a conversation where he wasn’t mentioned?> and lately I have found myself placing tags on my posts like “enlightened reading” or “enlightened thinking” or “enlightened politics” or … well … I guess I have been thinking about enlightened a lot. But this doesn’t feel like an ‘enlightened issue.’

 

And then I had lunch with a good friend the other day and out of the blue he says “this feels like one of those times when years from now people will be asking you what you were doing … or not doing.”

 

Yeah.

 

It does.

 

This does feel like “a moment in the tide in the affairs of man.”

 

This does feel like a moment in which people will define themselves.

 

 

It does certainly feel like a time of angst. An ‘apocalypse’?  Certainly not.

 

Unrest and uneasiness and uncertainty? Absolutely yes.

take a stand america define

And, frankly, in times like these it is tempting to sit back … maybe, to be harsh, be lazy and fall back on our opinions and “what we believe” and mumble to ourselves, maybe bitch with our friends or just remain silent.

 

But this seems to be more a time … uhm … no … this is “a time” more than ever to … well … be defined.

 

Look around if you don’t believe me.

 

You can see it if you look hard enough that a shitload of people feel the same thing. You may get confused in thinking it is “whining democrats because they lost” or “establishment people afraid of losing their gravy train” or even simply “people afraid of change.”

 

It’s more than, and less than, that.

 

It’s the tide in the affairs of man.

 

And, yes, we can blame Trump for this defining moment time. But he is less relevant in this tide than you may think. He is simply riding the tide … and we are the many drops of water within the tide … the ebbs and flows and crests and furrows are ours to build and destroy.

 

Take note of what is happening.

People feel this is a defining moment.

 

I don’t care if it is Hannity who has attached himself to Trump to rise and fall with the man himself <and not an ideology>. He is all in.

 

never be silent stand up i will be definedI don’t care if it is Jake Tapper on CNN who appears to be attaching himself to truth & facts. He is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is Meryl Streep who has attached herself to celebrity moral authority. She is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is the millions who walked in a women’s march without any real reason other than it felt like they should. They want to be all in <on something>.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who fills out petitions and sends $5 to whatever organization possible. That person is all in on something.

 

I don’t care if it is a white nationalist who now attaches their feelings to real words said in public or statement clothing. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who has their senators on speed dial and calls them every morning during their commute to just leave a message with whatever is on their mind. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone who attaches themselves to ‘deplorable’ without really knowing what embracing deplorable really means other than it permits them to make a statement. That person is all in.

 

I don’t care if it is someone like me … someone who hasn’t given a rat’s ass about politics up until now … who now writes pieces, posts almost every day and emails writings & thoughts to different people … from Mark Cuban to John Lewis to John Kasich … The National Review to The Guardian to CNN … hoping that someone somewhere will affect this tide of affairs of man.

 

I tend to believe we all feel the tide of affairs shifting.

And as we feel it a range of emotions surges … some excited riding the tide and many many others desperately, and helplessly, feeling like they are fighting a tide they don’t like or do not understand <and this where we see some angry people … as they feel helpless struggling in this tide of affairs>.

 

This is a defining moment.

 

And I think we all know that this moment is different.  In the past, maybe without truly consciously thinking about it, we recognize most moments actually create their definition … because, for the most part, they are all about creating something from nothing.

 

That is different than this moment.

 

In this moment, in this time and place, something is happening of which we have to create nothing … but rather shape it. 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.

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

 

 

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“Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances; sometimes it’s now or never.”

Alan Bennett

 

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In the general tide of affairs of men there often seems to be unending line of second chances standing outside your door.

And then in the tide there comes a time when … well … you look outside one morning and all those second chances are gone to Starbucks.

 

Just gone.

 

And you are alone.

 

And you can’t play the next time card or ask the next second chance to come on in. or say … uhm … can you wait a minute? <until one of the second chances comes back from the bathroom>

 

Nope.

 

It’s now or never.

 

Life is looking right at people … right at you & me … and saying … ‘okay, what’s your call?’

speak the truth i will be defined stand up

And this is actually your judgment call and no one else’s.

 

This is your defining moment and your decision.

 

Life is not going to help you out on this one … Life isn’t going to lean in and whisper in your ear … “hey, just so you know, this is one of those no time out, no second chance, no next time moments.”

 

That is my job today.

 

My job today is to tell you what I believe is the truth … that while Life is typically extremely generous in giving time outs and second chances … this feels like a ‘now or never moment’.

 

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“attack everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.”

 

Douglas Adams

 

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This is a daunting feeling.

 

Because while you may actually have done a gazillion things in your Life to prepare yourself for this ‘now or never moment’ … I seriously doubt anyone feels competent for this moment. It is slightly daunting to think this is a ‘now or never’ moment which will live with us for years to come.

 

Yeah.

It certainly feels slightly daunting to think that what you do will define you … for eternity.good people defined losses victories

 

Yeah.

 

On top of uncertainty or excitement or helplessness or a feeling of freedom to do & say what you have always wanted to do & say you are being asked to choose how you want to be defined.

 

The kind of thought that makes us think about choices and what we elect to do … because … well .., what we do echoes in eternity.

 

The Gladiator quote was perfect … it suggests that the way we live … and what we choose to do … not only affects our present … but also determines our eternity.

He suggests what we do in the present will affect not who we are and what will happen but also our future … beyond death.

 

He suggests that you … well … matter.

 

That your thoughts matter.

That your choices matter.

That your actions matter.

 

And not only within this moment.

But in the moments which end up in eternity.

 

Your life matters. What you do is up to you, but your life matters to the degree that you choose it to matter. Life means something … especially if you defiantly define who and what you are.

defy word defiance

Defiance is not easy.

 

It is much much easier to not push back, to not push yourself forward, but go along for the ride … wishing it were better than it seems to be.

 

 

Defiance is a choice.

 

And, I would remind everyone, that choice defines destiny … not chance.

 

If you are defiant, and push back, you are more likely to control the destiny of … well … your definition and how you will be defined.

 

And that is what today’s world feel like. a moment to be defined. A moment to be defiant with regard to who you are, what you believe and what you stand for.

It feels like you cannot be silent … and you have to choose.

 

Now.

I purposefully have tied “I will be defined” with an attitude … one of defiance.

I do so because of … well … Trump.

He has far too often been called a ‘disruptor.’ In businesses a disruptor is not one who creates & encourages chaos but rather one who ‘overturns conventional wisdom’ to take what exists and reshape it into a new way of doing things. A true disruptor envisions what can be <let’s call this ‘a plan’> and dismantles only that which encumbers in the here & now to enable the “what will be.” In the business world Trump is more often called ‘an agent of chaos.’ He is one of those managers who cannot tell the difference between chaos & doing — they are of equal in his mind. He holds up doing as proof of his value. A true disruptor holds up ‘what can be’ as proof of value.   Calling him a disruptor is an insult to the true disruptors.

 

This means, even more than ever, those who choose to stand in this time & place and define themselves will have to be defiant.

 

Defiance is standing still, standing strong, speaking out … amidst chaos.

This will not be about the one, or ones, who speak the loudest but the ones who speak the smartest and steadfastly. This will be about the ones who defiantly stand in the face of chaos and stubbornly defend what they believe and what is right.

And, in doing so, the country will be defined by who and what we coalesce around. The fragments <which are what some people will call “divisions”> will cluster until the cluster of that which is the country itself has spoken and defined itself. As a country … it is false to suggest we are divided … we are fragmented. There is a huge difference between those two thoughts. And it is actually within that difference in which Hope for something better resides.

 

Yes.

In this time, at this place, I do believe this country will be defined. And it will be defined by those who not just endure the moment, the tide of affairs of man, but rather the ones who stand up and say “this is how we will endure.”

 

You may be angry, you may feel helpless, you may feel excited … but whatever you feel it is because you are caught up in a unique tide in the affairs of man … i will be defined stand up speak outand you will be defined not because you endured but rather by how you endured.

 

My friend was right. This is a “moment.”

 

We will look back in time at this ‘moment’ and you will be defined by what you did do … or didn’t do.

 

Me? I have made my decision. In this time, at this place, I will be defined.

 

we do not deal well with emptiness

January 8th, 2017

bad-empty-chair-in-room

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“As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness.

Any empty space must be filled.

 

Immediately.

The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place. A single moment with that empty spot causes excruciating pain. That’s why we run from distraction to distraction – and from attachment to attachment.”

 

—-

Yasmin Mogahed

 

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Emptiness.

 

I am fairly sure people have never, as in “since the dawn of time”, dealt well with emptiness in their lives.

fill-emptiness-empty-with-various-thingsEmptiness is … well … empty … less than … not full.

 

We put incredible energy into putting a person into an empty space left by the last person.

 

We put incredible energy overthinking shit if we find that we may be empty of some thought, i.e, we are ‘not thinking about something … anything for god’s sake is better than nothing!’.

 

We put incredible energy trying to figure out what to do, and sometimes actually doing it, when we find some empty time.

 

Regardless.

 

I would guess that in todays “if you are not doing a lot of something, you are a lazy, worthless slug” mentality world … emptiness has taken on a more miserable aspect. It is miserable because we are almost expected to not only be miserable if we have some ’empty’ <i.e., only losers have empty> but we are expected to figure out how to not be empty for any extended period of time.

 

What this translates into is … well … suffice it to say … more often than not we create our own emptiness with how we choose to live our Life and think our thoughts.

 

Boy oh boy.

There is a double whammy.

 

We do not deal well with emptiness and, yet, we almost always create our own emptiness.

 

Ok.

 

So what happens if you decide to not accept the societal bullshit about empty?

 

Uhm.

 

You will be seen as an outcast.

That I can almost guarantee.

 

It is a societal thing.society blame responsibility

 

If society demands empty to be unacceptable then … well … dammit, we gonna hate them because they aren’t living Life they way they are supposed to live life <even if it looks fucking awesome to do if we actually did it>.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.

 

The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

 

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

—-

Rick Warren

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I only bring up society not to suggest society is bullshit or that society is the root of all evil <and your personal problems> but to state that with regard to ‘empty’ there are two layers to our inability to deal well with ‘empty’ – ourselves and society.

 

Doesn’t mean you can’t establish your own rules & standards with ‘empty’ in your own Life … but it is tricky to do it in a way that doesn’t … well … make you crazy.

 

In the end you gotta look at your Life, what is empty & what is full, why things may be empty and why things may be full … and think about what the value is of the life we have decided to cling to.

 

 

=========

ما قيمة هذه الدنيا التي تتعلقون بها ؟ ..

 

“What is the value of this world that you cling to?

 

(via idle-handss)

==========

 

And I say ‘cling to’ because it is our choice.

the choice is yours life

Emptiness is our choice.

 

Fullness is our choice.

 

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It gives you room. It gives you space. And, yes, it gives you uncertainty.

 

But what it does do is it gives you certainty in freedom to move & do & explore the area between “I can’t” and “I can” … as well as … “what is” and “what could be.”

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

 

“I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy.

I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

—-

Kristin Armstrong

 

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

 

 

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

I once wrote Emptiness is a weight … heavier than you could ever imagine empty should ever be.

Emptiness is a burden if you fill it with the wrong things <hence the reason I tend to believe we rush to fill it with other things>.

 

——–

 

“How can emptiness be so heavy?”

 

=

Six Word Story

———holes kids and thinking

 

It can become a hole filled with the remnants of everything left behind.

Let’s just say … all things gone but not forgotten.

This could include regrets, memories; past decisions … even people no longer there … as well as whatever else your thinking may fill it up with.

 

Ok. Let’s just say anything that has touched our lives will reside in this emptiness and their, oddly, the absence of what used to touch us carries a gravitas which becomes a relentless burden.

 

Here is what I know about empty.

 

It is not nothing. Empty is something. It is possible it could be a blank piece of paper waiting for you, or someone, to wrote something on it but I don’t like that metaphor.

I do not see empty as blank or blankness. I believe empty is a map … a map we just cannot puzzle out yet. It is something you do want to carry around with you all your Life and it is something you want to deal well with.

 

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

 

“I don’t want to be just a nothing, a sick blank, withdrawal into myself forever. I just want something, beside the emptiness I’ve carried around in me all my life.”

 

Allen Ginsberg

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

 

For if you accept empty as what I just suggested it can lead you to unknown places and meet as yet unknown faces and … well … its darkness is not empty of ran-my-fingers-on-edge-of-empty-within-selflight … it is a darkness awaiting light.

 

And maybe that is my point about empty.

 

Instead of trying to fill ‘empty’ with shit, with people, with doing … why don’t you stop for a second and trying filling it with … well … light.

 

Maybe if you do that you will see the map I believe that is there a little better and instead of filling the empty you travel someplace where your empty doesn’t feel as empty.

 

=========

 

My heart yearns to fill its hollows with unknown places and unknown faces. It desires to be tainted by the warm rays of welcoming faces. It longs to feel nostalgic of the unknown places that reside within its darkness out of wanderlust.

 

Sandeep Sidhu

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

 

 

communication malpractice

October 24th, 2016

group-communication-skills-listen-hear-align-mess

 ====

 

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

 

James Humes

 

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

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

 

George Bernard Shaw

 

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

 

say out loud oopsWe have all said stupid things.

 

We have all said the wrong thing.

 

We have all said, despite having searched for the right words to say, a poor choice of words.

 

That said.

 

In the business world many of us have a responsibility to communicate by planning, preparing and managing the words we say.

 

No.

 

We still do not always get it right … but we still practice the best practices of effectively good communication.  Well. I imagine I could say … many of us use best communication practices and treat communication as a privilege and not something we are entitled to.

 

Outside of those who respect communication … a healthy dose of communication malpractice occurs day in and day out. Suffice it to say I see communication malpractice all the time and everywhere in almost every business scenario.

 

And I have a prime example for today.

 

As everyone knows … I have a variety of gripes with Trump but the one that most likely cuts me to the professional core the deepest is his communication malpractice <although his business philosophy of ‘winning is all that matters … not how you win” is fairly close>.

 

And while he is certainly not alone on this issue … he is clearly the poster child for communication malpractice.

 

I admit.

 

It is quite possible I penalize Trump more because of the position he is interviewing for but I tend to judge people like him, who have attained that success and that responsibility, more harshly & critically <just as I judge myself harshly with regard to effective communication>.

 

We should demand better things from certain people because of their roles & responsibilities.

 

Sorry.

That is a Life truth.

 

But let’s talk about communication malpractice.

 

If you can ignore some of Trump’s heinous ideas you could quiet easily be critical of his communication ‘split personality’ flow … and his narrative juggling … and his lack of logic construct … as well as the overall maddening needlessly complicated structure of his overall communication.

Overall he leaves more unanswered then answered and by the conclusion you will find you haven’t been able to even find your way back to where he started.

 

That is a broad overview of communication malpractice.

 

Look.

 

I have my own communication problems.

 

I lose sight of my pronouns.

Sometimes I lose sight of my pronouns … say an “I” when I mean a “we” … or a weeping angel“you” instead of an “us” … crap like that.

Anyone in the communication business knows that this kind of stuff can not only confuse the listeners <on occasion> but more often it can create an impression of ‘me’ being more important <or egoist> than the greater good.

 

It is a bad thing to do <even when not intended> and it creates more issues than it is worth.

 

 

I can interrupt.

Sometimes I interrupt someone <although in my head it is “interjecting a thought”>. Mine is most typically not to stop or course correct but rather to accelerate. Accelerate the thought being said and accelerate to a conclusion or accelerate to … well … you get the thought.

 

Still.

No excuse. It can be aggravating.

 

But.

 

I prepare.

 

intentional-beI map out thoughts.

 

I plan an overall narrative.

 

I pay attention to construct <box in thoughts and triangulate logic> within a narrative.

 

I think about individual words.

 

I am intentional.

 

Trump does not appear to do any of those things. Well. He may with regard to teleprompter speeches but in non teleprompter speeches and speaking moments he does not appear to do any of those things.

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands the serious consequences, the dangers, of taking a lax approach to communication.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands the practices of effectively managing the words that come from their lips.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands that words do matter and a solid rational approach is at the core of any good communication.

 

Every leader, worth half a shit, understands that even if everyone wants change that actual change management is best led by a calm hand, some steady logic and more than some vague “eliminate bad” without suggesting what the actual “good” would be that replaces it.

 

This would suggest that Trump is not worth half a shit with regard to communication but is constantly full of shit as a common practicioner of communication malpractice.

 

But all those things are simply lazy aspects of communication malpractice.

 

lost brainIt is on my next point in which he belongs being sent to communication purgatory as the poster child for communication malpractice.

 

He wastes a good idea and thought.

Absolutely wastes them.

 

Hidden within his absolutely horrible speeches and debate monologues and interviews he actually offers a number of viable ideas & valid points … all scattered randomly within whatever he says.

 

Look.

 

He doesn’t even have to do a “3 take-aways” that the media & public could conclude <and share> — because if something is worth a shit people will inevitably talk about it – but for god’s sake could you stay on the issues you do want discussed?

 

Time & time again he fails even within the first 15 minutes to effectively communicate the important shit which makes anything worth a shit that comes afterwards almost irrelevant <and certainly not discussed>.

 

It makes me question whether he knows how to close a deal.

 

And here is maybe the craziest thing.

 

He commits communication malpractice whether he is prepared or unprepared.

Consistently he shows a lack of understanding for the complexity of the job and he certainly shows a lack of understanding with regard to communicating the complexity of what need to be done.

 

That is communication malpractice.

 

And to make my point I will even show some good communication practices highlighting how he could coalesce the random logical bits of his thinking into some semblance of a real thought.

 

Triangulating: so people can see the space within where they would benefit.

 

As I have noted before … imagine if he said: when asked about how to keep jobs in America, he said: I would lower business taxes to make it more lucrative to stay, I would reduce regulations to make it easier to stay and raise import taxes on those who do elect to leave to make it less appealing to leave.”

 

 

Boxing: so people can see the space in which they, and their idea of a country, would prosper.

 

Imagine if he said … in a globalized world it is imperative America embrace its greatness because the number one thing America exports is not just its products, services, ideas and ingenuity but rather the heart & soul of freedoms. Our country needs to secure its borders not just for security but to energize who and what we are.

Decrease illegal immigration and increase legal citizenry to maximize current American citizenry.

Decrease wealth at the top 1% and increase wealth in the middle class.really look say what

And within the borders we will not bring back jobs but instead create a new economy which will be the future state for the rest of the world.

Everyone wins, everyone has opportunities and everyone is part of what makes America great.

As it was, as it is and as it will be.

Our country needs to nurture the spark of what exists within our borders … the people, the opportunities, the infrastructure and the jobs in order to burn brightly as a beacon of what should be globally but also to light the way for opportunity globally. That is why we need to secure borders, have legal citizens, increased.

 

<note: he is too stupid to notice but if he did this the likelihood of terrorism decreases and security increases as prosperity stretches into a larger legal citizenry>

 

 

More from less: so people can see efficiency supporting effectiveness.

 

Imagine if he said … “have a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce that workforce through attrition, exempting jobs in the military, public safety and public health … and require that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated … and institute a five-year ban on White House and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service … and have a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government … and have a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.”

 

Oh. That last one.

He did say that.

But we missed it all because he committed communication malpractice with regard to focus.

 

Lastly.

 

The other communication malpractice he consistently exhibits which eliminates the necessary link between words & listeners.

 

This would be his ignorance with regard to the context of the communication.

 

Yeah.

 

Where you are matters in communication. Some people suggest this is pandering to the audience … I would suggest it is, at worst, “pandering to the moment” and at its communication best practice concept … it is “understanding context for your words.”

 

For example … if I were speaking at Gettysburg I would industriously avoid self-reference. The location and the context of what happened there demands nothing about “I” and instead demands reflection of “we-type sacrifices” for freedoms, for country … and for the costs of getting it ‘right’ as well as getting it ‘wrong.’

 

Would I be willing to center a communication around “restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington?”  Yes.

For Gettysburg is a dark example of what happens when Washington gets it wrong.

 

Would I be willing to discuss “rigged”? No.

Because that is a distorted view of what the Confederacy could have argued and I would rather focus on ‘together better’ than ‘house divided.’

 

That is communication best practice.

 

Anything other than that is communication malpractice.

 

Here is the thing <of which I assume is my larger point with regard to grow-your-box-inside-up-out-ideas-lifecommunication and why malpractice is expensive>.

 

 

He has splinters of valuable things to communicate and if he put them together he could build a fairly attractive house.

 

Communication is, and will always be, about conceiving a message, sending it, insuring it is received properly and confirming the messages have been received.

Any failure at any point in this logic flow equals ineffective communication.

 

In general I believe Trump does not respect words <I am not sure he respects anything other than … well … his image>.

 

Sigh.

 

And, yet, as I write about communication malpractice I find some solace in … well … words – literary words.

 

In a world, and an election, where everyone is shouting at the top of their lungs telling everyone what is wrong with the world and offering platitude hollow “there is no other right way to do this” solutions let me share some words of thought:

 

  1. Caution when hearing the solution prophets:

 

Do not fear ashes, do not fear curses,

Do not fear brimstone and fire.

But fear like the plague the man with the rage

To tell you, “I know what is required!”

Who tells you, “fall in and follow me

If heaven on earth’s your desire.”

 

<an unsourced Russian ballad>

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

 

I know. I know.

 

We have all seen and heard thoughts like this and I believe we all know in our heart of hearts that we agree <although we may not discriminate as well as we could & should>. But I liked this because it had a slightly different twist.

 

The twist?

Do not fear passion. I liked it because … well … there are a bunch of smart people out there who know that something needs to be fixed or “tuned up” with regard to America <and they love America while knowing it>.

These people may not be able to offer specific solutions and they acknowledge so. Yet, with some brimstone, fire and curses they make people take note of the issues at hand. They practice the best of communication practices with good intentions.

And that is their role in the situation.

 

It is those who speak with the rage of solution certainty we should fear … or at least with jaded eye.

 

These types of speakers are appealing because in today’s world we seem to be seeking the infamous ‘plan to make America great again.’

Well … folks … I got news for you. We can certainly have a plan … and I can Frustrated redhead woman asking whereguarantee you that both parties have a plan <just as both are concerned with debt & unemployment & all the important issues just as equally> but everyone seems to lose sight that part of solutions is ‘adaptability.’

 

Great organizations, businesses, succeed because of a well articulated vision <which both Republicans and Democrats share – just not the tactics to attain the vision> and the ability to adapt to the situation as it occurs <because, trust me, if anyone believes solving any country’s issues is a straight line solution than they belong in a loony bin>.

 

I believe it is communication malpractice to unequivocally state “I know what is required.”

 

Communication best practices suggest you have to effectively communicate a plan that has the ability to adapt to the challenges they will inevitably face.

 

  1. Caution with the silence and inaction of the majority <masses>

 

===

 

“The mouse dreams dreams that would terrify a cat.

 

Armenian proverb

 

===

 

“Insurrection is a machine that makes no noise.”

 

Trotsky

===

 

 

Metaphorically the bulk of a population, or employee base, are the mice. Sorry. I know that doesn’t sound good but you get the point. I hesitate to call it the 99% <because the 99% is not all the same> but suffice it to say the 1 to 5% who lead and guide, and misguide, are the cats.

 

And they pretty much all look the same because, well, they are cats.

 

Beyond that silly notion is a non silly thought. We mice dream of things the cats cannot envision … despite the fact I keep on hearing that they think they do.

 

These politicians, and many business leaders, often live in La-La land.

 

They have the best intentions and I do believe they have some specific solutions which will help us and the country.

 

But they have no frickin’ clue what keeps most of us awake at night every frickin’ night we go to sleep. They have no frickin’ idea what we are thinking as we slog our way through the day.

 

And they are absolutely clueless as to what we feel as we sit at the dinner table opening up our pay stub on one side and all the bills we have to pay on the left side.

 

They say it … and I think they believe it … but … they have:

 

No.

 

Frickin’.

 

Clue.

 

 

And that leads me to the second quote from Trotsky.

 

As the leaders tell everyone what they are dreaming and stand there talking and talking … and well … talking … the possibility of insurrection is occurring with little or no noise … uhm … okay … it is <I actually wrote the ‘little or no noise’ back in 2012 … one of the few futurist thoughts I kind of got right>.

 

The point is that insurrection tends to gain momentum without warning.

 

Now.

 

I am not using insurrection as Trotsky actually did, and was involved in, but the point is the point.

 

When people <the mice> get fed up <or fired up>. When they stop being angry strategy thinker plansatisfied with simply dreaming dreams <which would terrify the cats> they do something.

And that is called ‘insurrection.’

 

All that scary stuff said … I typed all of that because while I do think it matters who wins the US election … what really matters to our newest president is that the mice are pissed at the cats.

 

And we need someone who doesn’t commit communication malpractice because when mice are pissed logic & words truly matter.

 

Partisan politics doesn’t need to cease but there has to be a compromise. Or, in the end, there will truly be some type of insurrection. Because, in the end, that is what democracy is about … people <the mice> … and what they want.

While elections bring out the best, and worst, of the everyday people’s opinions in the end all they really want is something to be done.

Ok.

Things done that are well crafted and not compromised into ineffectiveness through partisan politicking.

 

Insurrection is a quiet machine. And it demands leaders who choose their words wisely and respectfully and logically … and … uhm … honestly.

 

I do not care if we are talking about a country or a business … communication malpractice is a blatant unacceptable irresponsible act at any time … and a grievous act in times of angst and need.

 

People will argue with me on this last point <and they have> but where communication malpractice rears is ugliest head is in vision.

 

I can choose fear or I can choose hope. Simplistically those are the two paths a leader navigates in communication. And, yes, these are the two choices … not hope versus pragmatism.

 

Hope wins out over pragmatism because the reality, which a certain % of the American population will realize, is that whatever “plan” is presented will be torn up and have to adapt to a changing environment anyway.

 

A leader always recognizes that more needs to be done but they also do not diminish the fact that things have been done.

 

I like hope and I always believe it should be linked to the building blocks that help us attain the hope.

 

disprate-points-facts-grow-build-communicationAw.

Let me correct that. I love hope <and the building blocks>.

 

And I think any leader who discards hope as part of their communication is performing an aspect of communication malpractice.

 

I want a president, or a leader, to communicate to us the light at the end of the tunnel for god’s sake.

 

Anyway.

 

I used Trump to discuss communication malpractice because he is an expert practioner of malpractice. And while, on occasion, I worry a little that his malpractice has larger repercussions for the country and while I believe he implements communication malpractice on a daily basis and while I believe he is oblivious to the larger unintended consequences of his irresponsible communication behavior I do believe in one very important thing.

 

Free speech.

 

 

 

Amendment I.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

 

 

He lives within the same constitution you and I do.

 

Therefore, if this asshat wants to speak whatever venom toward our democracy during the election as well as after the election … well … he has that right.

 

And, you know what? … he should speak loud and long.

 

Because the 1st amendment is part of a larger document <some call it the Constitution> which suggests that the whole is stronger than the parts and that empowering the parts inevitably makes the whole stronger.

 

And maybe that is my larger point.

 

Great organizations outlast individuals who perform communication malpractice.

Sure.

It can create angst and it can create conflict and it can create friction … all of which inevitably creates the spark from which the greater good, the whole of an organization, rises up to become a beacon for something better.

 

Do I believe Trump is creating damage? Yes.

 

Do I believe it is mortal damage? No.

 

America is bigger than one person. And the constitution provides clear boundaries for what we shall accept <even if we don’t like it> and what we shall do moving forward.

 

In the end.

 

It is communication malpractice to not acknowledge effort, and doing, and think before you speak listdreaming and what we can do together.

 

It is communication malpractice to not offer logic.

 

It is communication malpractice to not offer ideas in a cogent fashion.

 

And it is absolute communication malpractice to waste good ideas in poor communication.

 

Trump has taught us a lot in this election. Some good and some bad.

 

Ok.

Lots bad.

 

But he has reminded us of a lot of things … in this case … communication malpractice. Communication takes work. You have to be diligent with regard to the words you use and how you protect, and project, your ideas.

 

after the events have occurred

June 16th, 2016

TOY STORY OF TERROR - ABC has set an airdate for Disney•Pixar's first special for television, "Toy Story OF TERROR!," a spooky new tale featuring all of your favorite characters from the "Toy Story" films, airing WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET). What starts out as a fun road trip for the "Toy Story" gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate in this "Toy Story OF TERROR!" (Disney/Pixar 2013) JESSIE, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, WOODY

 

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

 

“Things are seen plainer after the events have occurred.”

 

Ulysses S. Grant

====

 

“If opposition movements are to do more than burn bright and then burn out, they will need a comprehensive vision for what should emerge in the place of our failing system, as well as serious political strategies for how to achieve those goals.”

 

—-

 

Naomi Klein

 

====

 

Whew.

 

weird al-bonnaroo-2013If there is one thing I believe every one of us has faced it is a “20/20 hindsight” discussion.

 

Especially in business.

 

 

Why?

 

Well.

Because it is easy.

 

Nothing makes you seem smarter, look smarter and … well … is easier to look brighter, shinier and valuable to senior leadership than to represent an ’opposition movement’ to past events.

 

 

What’s another easy thing?

 

Opposing what is being done now.

 

Nothing makes you seem smarter, look smarter and … well … is easier to look brighter, shinier and valuable to senior leadership than to represents an ‘opposition movement’ to what currently exists.

 

But looking smarter and actually BEING smarter are two very very different things.

 

Ah … being smarter.

 

You need a comprehensive vision for what should emerge in the place of our failing system <or the current system>.

 

You need ‘serious strategies for how to achieve those goals.’

 

Note.

 

Not serious tactics … serious strategies which can accommodate smart tactics.

 

That is hard shit.legacy great shit notice

 

That is difficult shit.

 

That is the kind of shit not many people can do.

 

This is the kind of shit of leaders and visionaries and the ones who are willing to put their as on the line <versus the ones who discuss past events or offer ‘only ‘opposition movements.’

 

It is both easier and more difficult to be that type of visionary in today’s world than it has been in the past.

 

Today’s business world has become significantly more forgiving to visionaries … well … okay … a certain type of visionary.

 

In the good old days <when there used to be typewriters on people’s desks> a visionary placed a big thumbtack on some wall chart to say “here is where we need to go” and a business gathered up all their shit and started heading out for that thumbtack. It was kind of like building the transcontinental railroad … you just blasted your way thru whatever may be impeding your progress. Not exactly the most efficient method but as long as you kept heading toward that thumbtack on the map … by golly, by gee … you were attaining your vision.

 

That type of visionary isn’t so successful these days.

 

In the good ole new days <where there is lots of data and you can track things in real time> a visionary can place a big post-it note on some wall chart and say “here is where I think the people will want to go” and a business starts simultaneously building shit and adapting it as the people start moving westward <watching if they avoid insurmountable mountains and flow naturally like water does as it is poured>.

 

Today’s successful visionary is more adaptable, less adamant in a specific destination and more responsive to feedback.

 

The business world will always, let me repeat … always … have a huge population of people who are quite happy discussing the ‘plain things after the event has occurred.’

 

maybe we have no ideaIt is a crowded room.

 

It is a noisy room.

 

And it is most often a room with things being discussed that are … well … useless.

Ok. Maybe less than useful.

 

After events occur I want, shit, we want someone who can offer a comprehensive vision for what to do next and where to go next.

 

We may like to listen to someone who talks about past events because … well … it is easy. It is always easier to edit than to create. And it is always easier to listen about the past than something yet to be <because it is less tangible>.

 

I will suggest that many 50something & 60something leaders struggle in today’s business world because business looks more amorphous and more amoeba-like than anything they have ever experienced in their ‘past event’ experience.

It can be, feel, appear more uncomfortable & risky than their experience suggests business should be. And their natural instinct is to do what is easiest <hindsight crap> because the alternative isn’t just harder … it is harder to NOT put a big thumbtack on some map and still tell people you know where you are going.

 

I am NOT suggesting that younger people are better visionaries simply that start over suess get goingthey are often better at accepting more amorphous visions.

Most younger people’s vision, because they are based on less experience, are a little less well thought out and a little less ‘market ready’ from a practical standpoint.

 

But there is a happy medium. There is a happy place in business. it is when you combine the two. As a 50something myself I cannot envision anything more powerful in today’s business than to have a viable vision and empowering younger people to “go get it” without dictating the specific paths they need to trod.

I am no visionary. But that business vision seems fucking powerful.

cover the universe with drawings we have lived

May 20th, 2016

 

 

 

=====

 

Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. idea art creative draw life imagine

 

Thoreau said that he had a map of his fields engraved in his soul.

 

And Jean Wahl once wrote … [“] The frothing of the hedges / I keep deep inside me [“] … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived.”

 

 

Gaston Bachelard

====

 

 

“You have to live a life to understand it.

Tourists just pass through.”

 

 

Prince

====

 

 

Well.

 

Let me give you a reason not only for living … but experiencing Life. And I don’t means “savoring Life” type trite bullshit. I mean experiencing what is going on around you and being aware, to participate in Life … and actually experience the realities of the here & now <and not divert your attention toward some imaginative “boy, I imagined something completely different than what is occurring”>.

 

Nor am I going to hijack any of that nutjob Eckhardt Tolle’s “live in the now” nonsense.

 

All I will suggest is that each experience, especially when you pay some attention to it, etches something in us.

 

Think of it like acquiring a tattoo.

And if you do accept the tattoo metaphor <or is that an analogy?> it seems to me you should take some care with what gets engraved upon you.

 

dance color cloud skirtWhy care?

 

While the fact Life is in constant movement and that can become incredibly tiring trying to dance with it  all day long … your dance partner, named either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ typically arrives without invitation. I would suggest more of us would be slightly more content if we didn’t focus on the fact our dance partner made us smile <lets assume that is “good”> or is a complete asshole <lets call that dance partner “bad”> but instead focus on the dance itself.

 

That, my friends, is experiencing Life.

 

The steps, the movement, that path and arc of the dance and the fields upon which our feet are placed in their movement.

 

 

Thoreau tells us ‘ he had the map of his fields engraved in his soul.’ That is … well … because he not only walked them but he saw and felt the steps as he placed them.

 

This is all about recognizing the value of being aware. And it is this perceptive appreciation of the time & place, past & present, permits us a healthy balance of reality and memory.

 

Even better?

 

This awareness actually permits us to embed the moments better in our heads.

This isn’t to say we will remember it correctly <because psychologically we suck at correctly & accurately remembering things> but rather the moments themselves are engraved upon us.

 

To be clear.

 

This ‘thing’ we embed is actually a reflection of the natural gap in our minds between the complexity of reality and our ability to experience the complexity.

What I mean by that is we tend to view reality heuristically. Therefore we don’t truly see reality but rather a simplified translation. Unfortunately … this simplified version naturally builds in some blind spots.

 

Now.

 

There is a whole bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo about ‘dimensions of recognition’ and ‘symbolic complementariness of the person’s first-hand life events/involvements’ but it is much easier for everyday schmucks like you and I to think of it in a linear fashion … any initial connective personal involvement in a moment begets some reflection <how it may relate to other moments> which inevitably creates some ongoing narrative in our head.

 

Aw.

Forget all the psychological stuff.

 

Simplistically … the map of our Life is engraved upon our minds if not our soul … assuming we actually are aware enough to experience the map as we traverse it. Our universe deserves to be covered with our drawings.

 

I am fairly sure a lot of people will read this and be shaking their heads going “I have great memories … I could cover my universe with drawings” … you aren’t telling me anything of value.

 

And you may be right. Absolutely. You may be.

 

But I would suggest that most people would actually end up papering their universe with someone else’s drawings of their experience … like taping postcards on the wall of everywhere you have been. That is not covering your universe with drawings of what you have lived.cage bird tattoo

 

Those are simply superficial surface expressions of real actual experience.

 

Let me go back to my tattoo metaphor.

 

If I were to get a tattoo on my soul I imagine, at least me, I would not choose a tattoo of a postcard but rather I would prefer choosing an expression of what I felt when I placed my feet where that postcard was. Don’t be a tourist with Life … live it.

 

That’s all I’m sayin’.

Enlightened Conflict