Enlightened Conflict

sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

April 15th, 2017

 American Workers sweat hard hats

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‘In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream …’ It’s a ‘death trap,’ a ‘suicide rap.’

‘I want to guard your dreams and visions.’ ”

 

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

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“This man said that you can move to Greece, live in Greece, but you can’t become a Greek. You can move to Japan, live there, but you can’t become Japanese; or France and become a Frenchman; or German—or become a—all of these things.

But he said, everybody or anybody from any corner of the world can come to America and become an American.”

 

—————–

Ronald Reagan

 

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Ok.

 

I have a piece coming up on globalization but today it is about the American work flintstoneswork ethos and American workers and, I imagine, a view on any version of isolationism <extreme to practical>.

 

I admit.

I find very little appealing in an isolationist concept <any aspect of it> … even the common rhetoric of the day.

 

Simplistically I feel like it suggests we, America, cannot compete globally. In my pea like brain I view it like sports … sports in which almost every home team retains an advantage … despite the same rules, same number of players, same dimensions of the court & field. Mainly it comes down to coaching, ability and , I imagine, pride of home field … uhm … but I still get on a bus and go play away games.

 

I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone.”

 

Which reminds me of how much during American presidential campaign, and even now somewhat, I found it extremely aggravating how we had a bunch of people talking about American workers and American businesses.

work sheep wolf

They all seemed to forget that our ethos is “just do it.”

 

When set free to do the voodoo it does … American business is dynamic, energetic, innovative, can-do and actually gets out there and makes & sells shit.

 

We shouldn’t be impatient because the success is coming fast enough and in our impatience “change the rules” or “hide within our borders” but instead we should use our impatience to invite competition, sweat it out and beat the crap out of them.

 

My impatience? I sometimes get a bit impatient when I hear people moaning about the state of the world and the inevitable “the sky is falling” or “the world is unfair” <pick your poison>.

 

Given an opportunity every generation believes it is tougher for them and will create their own prognostications of doom & gloom and, yet, we are still here and still have the world’s largest economy <and best on a variety of measures>.

 

I am not suggesting there aren’t real business issues and I am not suggesting from a regulatory standpoint there are some tweaks to the system which would enable businesses to improve themselves to compete better <please notice I didn’t say “to constrict the competition” but rather to have us improve to compete>.

 

Isolation goes against every bone in our “just do it” American body & soul.

 

Nike trademarked it but the pilgrims brought it to America. From day one immigrants, with the help of Native Americans, went to work building America … stone by stone … seed by seed … idea by idea … sweat drop by sweat drop.

 

labor american workerAmerica First should never be America Alone.

 

America has never been an individual competition it has always been about a team competition.

 

America First should be earned on the playing field competing against the best of the best and winning <by the way … that defines ‘exceptionalism’>.

 

America should be about building a better engine, building a better race car and running a better race.

 

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

”It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes.”

 

——–

Ronald Reagan

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It is aggravating to hear “close the borders” combined with “the world is going to shit” … which all leads to ‘disengage from the world <competition>.’

 

Really?

 

REALLY?

 

What kind of shit response is that?

What kind of “winner” doesn’t want to compete and compete against the best?

 

It seems like we should be investing not in building advantages for ourselves but rather in building a better team. That is where money and energy should be spent.

 

Hire better coaches.

Offer better training programs.

Buy better equipment.

Study better strategies.

Create better plan of attacks.

no substitute for hard work sweat edison

 

 

I wasn’t a huge Ronald Reagan fan but he got it … he hated changing the rules of the business game <tariffs & regulations> and only did so situationally, tactically and for short term ‘balancing out’ … as he says …  given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.

 

But … he understood the importance of the attitude of the American worker above all else … check out these words he said to Harley Davidson:

 

… you gave some folks in Washington an important lesson about how we go about buying and selling with other nations. You see, we’ve shaken hands on an agreement with most of the other nations of the world, an agreement that sets the rules for international trade. We have problems, of course, with some of those nations—the ones that don’t let us sell to their people as freely as they sell to ours. But the agreement, called the GATT agreement—that’s the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — gives us ways of dealing with those problems, and it also gives us ways of giving industries the kind of breathing room we gave you.

 

And if they’re as serious as you were about shaping up—now we’re about to begin worldwide talks on how to make this agreement even stronger.

 

Because of the GATT agreement, when you were ready to sell more bikes around the world, no one stopped you.

But now there are some in Congress who say, in effect, that the United States should break its word with the other countries.

They say American workers need to run and hide from foreign competition, even if that means other countries will strike back by not letting you sell your bikes to their people. Well, Harley-Davidson has shown how wrong that is and what the truth is. American workers don’t need to hide from anyone. America does best when America sticks by its word. And American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No one is better than you are.

 

You may have heard that my temperature’s up about some trade legislation that’s before the Congress right now. On TV the other night, it was called one of the toughest trade bills of this century. I remember the last time we had a so-called tough trade bill. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and they said it would protect American jobs. Instead, after other nations were through retaliating, it helped us—or it helped give us, or at least deepened, the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m probably the only one here that’s old enough to remember that. I was looking for a job then. [Laughter] Twenty-five percent were unemployed, including me.

 

The Harley-Davidson example makes a very strong statement about how government, through the judicious application of our trade laws, can help the best and the brightest in American management and labor come together in ways that will create new jobs, new growth, and new prosperity. Government’s role, particularly on the trade front, should be one of creating the conditions where fair trade will flourish, and this is precisely what has been done here. Our trade laws should work to foster growth and trade, not shut it off. And that’s what’s at the heart of our fair trade policy: opening foreign markets, not closing ours. Where U.S. firms have suffered from temporary surges in foreign competition, we haven’t been shy about using our import laws to produce temporary relief. Now, there are those in Congress who say our trade policies haven’t worked, but you here at Harley-Davidson are living proof that our laws are working. The idea of going to mandatory retaliation and shutting down on Presidential discretion in enforcing our trade laws is moving toward a policy that invites, even encourages, trade wars. It’s time to work to expand the world market, not restrict it.

 

Today, as many as 10 million American jobs are tied to international trade, including many jobs right here at Harley. For more than a century, when America’s trade with the world has grown, America has created more jobs. When trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. So, when it comes to making new jobs, free and fair international trade is America’s big machine. It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes. Your chairman, Vaughn Beals, summed it up when he said, and I will quote him: “We’re sending a very strong message to our competitors and to the international industrial community that U.S. workers, given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.”

 

The best way to meet foreign competition is also the right way: by sticking to our agreements with other countries and not breaking our promises, by making sure other countries also stick to their agreements with us, and by being the best. As America prepares for the 21st century, you’ve shown us how to be the best. You’ve been leaders in new technology. You’ve stuck by the basic American values of hard work and fair play.

 

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A danger we are currently meandering our way toward is one of attitude.

 

attitude foreign life adventureWe currently have a president who doesn’t foster attitude and belief in self but rather believes success is found solely in removing disadvantages, real or not, and removing “unfairness” <even if the other team were simply playing the game better or had better players>.

 

He is wrong in his approach.

 

Business is often more about attitude and fortitude then it is about whether “the pitch was mowed at 1 inch instead of an inch & a ½.”

 

It is a false narrative, and a dangerous narrative, to suggest success is based on ‘fairness’. Why? Because … well … more often than not we will always find that the world was unfair in some form or fashion … and you know what?

You still gotta compete, you still gotta play the game and you still gotta figure out a way to win.

 

America is at its best just doing it … sweating it out on the streets seeking the runaway American dream.

 

America is at its best when it ignores all the reason why we cannot do something and just go do it anyway.

 

America is at its best when we have a leader standing up in front of us not making excuses, not whining about unfairness and all the reasons why we haven’t been successful … but one who is instead saying “here is what we are gonna do and lets go do it.”

 

It was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904, who said:

“We, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint, and of fair dealing between man and man.”

But he also reminded everyone of the importance of work ethic.

“They stood for the life of effort, not the life of ease.”

Freedom, Roosevelt warned, had to be earned by the exercise of restraint, and its bounty could only be harvested by diligent labor.

 

Anyway.

 

I am not an isolationist mostly because of all I have written today. I am a compete flower bloombusiness guy and as a business guy I want to compete … and I believe I can compete well and win often enough if I put in the smart thinking and the diligent labor.

 

While I may proudly wrap myself in an American flag I also proudly wrap myself in an attitude … ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone” … and I am an American worker.

 

We should never underestimate the American worker and American business ingenuity.

We shouldn’t hide from the world … we should be building the best team and sending them to the far corners of the world, wherever they may have an opportunity to compete, and win through hard work and fair play.

 

Isolation is the wrong path. It’s not American. We compete, work hard, play by the rules … and win more often than we lose.

 

American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

the importance of fairy tales

April 13th, 2017

 book fairy

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“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

 

Neil Gaiman

 

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So.

 

Turn on TV these days and you can see a variety of fairy tales being mangled by special effects, simmering adult romance and almost every form of bastardization of the moralistic aspects of fairy tales imaginable.

 

What a shame.

 

This may sound a little silly, particularly with some of the wacky things happening in the world today, but I think people <adults in particular> need fairy tales more than ever … the original ones and not the bastardized Hollywood versions. I think now, maybe more than in a long time, we need to be reminded we can actually beat dragons.

 

 

No.

I don’t want people to live some fairy tale Life.

 

Yes.

I do want people to believe in the underlying messages of fairy tales themselves.

 

intelligence fairy talesThe truth is that, metaphorically, fairy tales tend to depict the most difficult, complex challenges we face.

 

Even better?

 

99% of us know these fairy tales.

 

Yeah.

The truth is that almost every adult knows these fairy tales … which should creates a common understanding of what we need most… that we have an inner strength and a belief if we do our best and what is right we can overcome the worst monsters imaginable.

 

Sigh.

 

But this only works if we adults actually believe a fairy tale offers something useful to us in our adult Life.

 

Here is a truth.

Fairy tales, when at their best, simplify the most complex dilemmas <which seem to keep many of us awake at night as adults> into a less complex, mostly resolved environment, in which danger is met … and while the moment carries a burden of huge significance to the main character … reaches a resolution.

 

I could argue that it is adults who most to need fairy tales and we could actually use them to start believing in some important shit we need to believe in order to deal with reality.

 

Some analysis somewhere online suggested that the power of a fairy tale to an adult is that the fairy tale has its roots in a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping” combined with specific harsh challenges and specific ways out or through the challenge.

fate master of

I could argue that fairy tales showcase that the fate of our destiny resides within our own heads, hearts & hard work … not anyone else nor even at the hands of any monster standing in our way.

 

I could argue that fairy tales remind us that the world is unpredictably hostile to us and often quite destructive to our desires, if not to our survival, and, yet, it is also unpredictably full of resources if we are smart enough to look around enough … and hard enough.

 

I could argue we need more people to believe in fairy tales and certainly a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping”. It doesn’t mean they are nuts or out of touch with reality … I mean, what the hell, people need to find hope & answers however they can.

 

Some people will find hope in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone have any say in where a person may look for that hope?

 

Some people will find answers in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone care where a person may look for answers to Life?

 

Look.

 

All people want to be happy.  Different people just get there in different ways.

All people want to figure out roadblocks to our happiness. Different people just get there in different ways.

 

Who’s to say the ones who read fairy tales aren’t the smart ones these days.

 

All my own thoughts aside.

 

Let me share Psychology Today’s point of view <so you can see what an expert may suggest>:

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Yet it seems very important to me, perhaps even more important today, that these ancient stories should be repeated again and again. The violence within them is always contained within a fate and beginningssatisfying structure with a reversal, and the requisite happy ending.

Here good and evil are so conveniently and completely separate. There are no grey areas in the fairy tale. The appearance of the villain allows the child to freely project his own violent feelings onto these separate and satisfyingly wicked beings. Unable to express anger or hatred directly toward those adults on whom the child depends, he/she can displace this natural aggression and give free reign to it personified by the villain: the step-mother, the wicked wolf or the witch.

 

At the same time, having split good and evil so completely and satisfyingly the child can identify with the good hero or heroine.

He/she can beat his way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue sleeping beauty or magically acquire the carriage, grand dress and glass slippers to enchant the prince. The child can identify with the small, the weak or the downtrodden (little Cinderella, sweeping the hearth, for example) who, in a gratifying reversal, is able to overcome the odds and triumph, marrying the prince.

These tales thus permit both the expression of natural violence and at the same time preserve that essential part of life without which the child cannot prosper: hope.

 

Psychology Today

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And maybe that is where a fairy tale is most powerful for an adult who deigns to reads a fairy tale … there are no grey areas in the fairy tale.

 

Maybe someone who reads fairy tales somehow feels safer and more capable to face the unpredictable world because it clears the mind from the ambiguities, which many seem man-made, and permits us to see the truth — most challenges can be beaten.

 

Maybe fairy tales help someone beat their way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue their dream or magically acquire what they need to enchant Destiny <and their fate>.

 

I can honestly say that I hope the rest of the world doesn’t try to beat the fairy tale reading out of the people willing to reread them and talk about them … because it would be a shame.

 

Look.

 

It’s a hard time for anyone who believes in fairy tales these days. And it doesn’t help that reality suggests some fairy tale crap of its own.

 

Oddly enough … we seem to think endlessly of an end goal or an outcome as success in Life <which is a fairy tale> … and a dream or fairy tale as some unrealistic ‘thing’ consisting of rainbows, unicorns and unrealistic endings <yet the tale itself offers us a lesson for reality>.

 

Uhm.

 

I have news for everyone … the real fairy tale is a belief that everything in our lives would instantly be perfect if only we could have ABC … or do XYZ.attitude dream think

 

And reality may actually be more like the fairy tale story where unpredictable challenges are beaten by finding unpredictable resources within ourselves without any moral ambiguity.

 

How backwards is that?

 

Anyway.

 

We should all read more fairy tales.

They will remind us that we can do more than we believe and overcome more than we sometimes believe … and that fairy tale endings aren’t fantastical and not indicative of reality but rather just happy.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, you are reminded  you can resolve the unpredictable challenge and get past it.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, they remind us we can beat dragons.

 

Sure does seem like we could partially find both of those learnings quite useful these days. But. That’s me.

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“The unicorn is a lonely, solitary creature that symbolizes hope.”

 

Ally McBeal

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shifting gears professionally

March 8th, 2017

 

gears working elite blue collar people experience

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“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.

Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

 

Denis Waitley

 

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“You are always a student, never a master.

You have to keep moving forward. “

 

Conrad Hall

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So.

 

This is about shifting gears professionally.

watch-your-step

What made me think about this?

 

I recently watched a professional acquaintance who shifted gears.

 

Oh.

 

To be clear.

He shifted up.

 

He had a good business, good business model and a good business sense. In my eyes he was cruising along in maybe 2nd or 3rd gear <good … not bad … and not great> … and then … well … he found another gear.

 

To be clear.

 

When I first saw his business he was maybe in 2nd gear … not really rocking the boat or rocking the world but steady consistent and moving forward and solid business.

 

Looking from the outside in I never saw spectacular but I saw steady. I saw … well … 2nd gear.

 

He didn’t know it but, behind the scenes, I would never hesitate to recommend him, maybe not typically for those who needed to shake the etch a sketch,  but 100% for those who just needed a good engine tune up. Over the years he steadily shifted up to maybe 3rd gear … always steady and solid <good, maybe very good, just not that extra little great>.

 

But then that changed.

formula success steps

One day I saw his business newsletter and … well … I sat up a little straighter and read it a little closer.

 

And read it again.

 

It felt like he had shifted gears.

It now felt like 5th gear stuff.

 

I got the next newsletter.

Definitely 5th gear.

 

He had shifted gears professionally.

 

I tend to believe this happens a lot as you get older.

 

We shift gears.

We reach a point professionally where you have it pretty good, you have some good experiences which have taught you a shitload of different things … and you sit back and scan it all <comparing it to what you have done>.

 

This is where the shift occurs.

 

Some decide to downshift.

 

Some decide to shift up.

 

shift up or downNow.

 

To be clear.

 

There is a huge swath of people in the business world who simply go in to earn a paycheck, their only gear is the one that does their job <mostly well or well enough> and their career progresses in that one and only gear.

I would note, just for the record, day to day business relies on these essential people and their steady gear attitude <so stop giving them shit or look down on them in any way>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is about the business people who want more. They want to use another gear then other employees … and for the most part throughout their career … they do.

 

Inevitably these people reach a point, maybe some success, maybe a title, maybe it is just some more good experience where they … well … decide to shift gears.

 

up or down shift gearsAnd, yes, this is where some shift down.

 

These ‘shift downers’ have decided they have been working hard and they see the other relatively happy one gear people and say “I am going to slow down.”

 

Some people call it selling out.

Younger people look at these older people as ‘wasted space.’

 

I just call them people who believe they deserve to down shift <so stop giving them shit or look down on them and look to maximize their experience>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is more about the business people who wanted more … and then see that maybe they could actually “be more.”

 

These are the business people who shift up.

 

And you know what? Shifting gear seems like the appropriate metaphor here because ‘the analogy of ‘shifting gears’ is used to identify and explain the key factors (agents) involved in driving career formation, and describe the level of interconnectedness between these drivers.’

 

To shift up … in order to respond to the pressure … the gears have to be in sync, work simultaneously and coordinate the rest of the body around them.

 

And that is what happens. You have accumulated a lot of knowledge, expertise and experiences <practical functional stuff> and then you decide to incorporate some personal clarity to the horsepower.

 

It is almost like you find some clarity … in yourself professionally which permits you to better identify the largest and most influential parts in the gear box.

And then … you shift gears.

 

I feel qualified to write about this because I did it. I shifted gears up.

And I have seen others in my generation shift up … and down.

 

expectations outcome disappointment 1I will admit that it has taken me awhile to not have disdain for people who down shift … mostly because it is so far out of my DNA I, frankly, couldn’t understand it.

 

But I do now.

I certainly see the value of ‘down shifters’ and believe any organization would benefit from having a mix of good, qualified, experienced, downshifters.

 

As for shifting gears up?

 

Whew.

Seeing someone in my business generation do it is … well … a joy.

Mostly because, in general, the shift is tied to a decision that our generation may have not always been the best for the business world and possibly injected some flawed thinking with regard to business acumen & principles. This means that most ‘shifting up’ is tied to trying to address those ‘wrongs’ or at least try and inject some ‘righter thinking.’

 

I get some shit from people because I am hard on my entire business generation … everyone.

 

Look.follow heart brain tupac

 

I think more of us should be.

To be clear.

 

I don’t expect everyone in my generation to decide to shift gears up but I would like more of my generation to at least understand some of the consequences of our behaviors & principles.

 

And for those who decide to shift gears upwards? I hope they get a chance to implement their new horsepower because today’s business world can make it pretty difficult for people in my generation, who truly have something to offer and are willing to not be attached to the old ways of doing things to actually get to do what they truly offer.

 

Enlightened Conflict