Enlightened Conflict

patriotism & enforcing conformity

October 13th, 2017

constitution american-flag-all-rights-reserved-by-jade-leyva

 

Today I discuss mandating standing for the national anthem <as President Donald J Trump appears to be advocating>.

 

While I will share my views and while I doubt Mr. Trump has ever looked at the Constitution or googled “Supreme Court decisions with regard to enforcing patriotic compulsory routines” I will share what the US Supreme Court HAS said about this:

 

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“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.”

 

——

US Supreme Court 1943

 

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To be clear.

 

normalizing america bad behavior values phoenixI stand for the national anthem.

 

I don’t burn flags.

 

I believe people should do the former and the latter.

 

That said.

 

I could give a shit if people stand, place their hand on their heart or sing along. It’s a ridiculous empty faux act of patriotism to simply do something because <a> you have to or <b> you do it because everyone else is doing it.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try not acting like an asshole to those who have served.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try conducting yourself in ways that make this country look like it’s less full of shitheads and more like a country whose military teaches dignity, honor & integrity.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try and act like we are not at war or our freedom is under attack from some outside enemy and recognize that the only attack we are under are from dickheads like Trump who claim to value freedom and independence but espouse conformity & hollow patriotism.

 

Beyond all of that, and whatever constitutional freedom of speech stuff you want to attach to this discussion, there is an additional fairly basic business management aspect – building an organizational culture is never about enforced conformity.

 

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“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”america-red-white-and-blue

 

John F. Kennedy

 

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“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.”

 

Rollo May

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Yeah.

 

I admit.

 

I hate codes of conduct <in general>.

 

I have never been a fan of conformity in general … and absolutely hate forced conformity.

 

I hate dress codes.

 

I hate office rules.

 

I hate meeting rules.

 

Yeah.

 

all-of-you-aligned-self-normal-accountableI say that tied to the thought of how some people are discussing creating laws, or establishing rules, for standing for the national anthem.

 

I say that because this entire discussion isn’t just about being patriotic, and being a ‘patriot’… but enforcing conformity or specific behavior.

 

We try and do that shit in business all the time.

 

Well.

 

Leaders who do not understand how to build a strong self-sustaining organizational culture try this shit all the time.

 

To be clear.

90% of the time, enforced behavior, fails miserably.

 

What do I mean>?

 

90% of the time the desired behavior, which you have always forced & enforced, stops when you stop looking and stop enforcing.

 

At the core of ‘enforced’ is that it isn’t something people want to do, or maybe it isn’t something they naturally inherently do, and they do it because they have to do it.

 

At the core of ‘enforced’ is failure. People, in general, don’t like to be told to be honest, do things certain way and how to think. Trying to enforce organizational attitudes & behaviors works just as well as forced changes of behavior in personal Life <diets, quitting smoking, chewing on your fingernails, etc> — it does not work

 

By the way.

Here is the other weird thing about ‘enforced conformity.’

 

Failure even happens with the shit that <a> people really don’t mind doing and <b> people kind of know is the right thing to do.

 

It’s just that people do not like to be forced to do things … even things they kind of want to do anyway.

 

—————————-america fix myself

Seek to impose your will, and more men will kneel (if they’re permitted), and when they rise, it will be with resentment in their hearts.

Embrace liberty, and more men will rise, and they’ll do so with joy.

I want those players to stand.

I want to see their hands over their hearts.

But I want to see that happen out of love, not fear, and so long as the fear remains, a decision to stand means nothing but an empty victory in a culture war that will tear this nation apart.
———————————

 

Look.

 

We would love it in business if everyone did what you wanted them to do.

We would love it if everyone in a society did things the way they were supposed to do.

 

But you cannot enforce conformity and, in fact, just as the Supreme Court suggested with the national anthem in 1943 … you really do not want to force behavior. You want behavior to come from within the individual and not enforced from ‘without.’

 

Oh.

This is where the role of “social norms” can come into play.

Different from enforcement, that promotes top-down direction, administration and monitoring, encouraging social norms can spur, and inspire … uhm … conformity.

 

It is conformity by choice.

It is having the freedom to conform … and choosing to do so.

 

This is a powerful conformity.

 

Anyway.

 

The Supreme Court got it right back in 1943 when a small group of Jehovah’s Witnesses declined to salute the flag. They were patriots but their beliefs wouldn’t allow them to demonstrate reverence for a flag <a symbol>. The Supreme Court rendered its verdict — with words that should be etched into the minds of anyone who truly cares about who and what America is:

 

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Those are the most famous words of Supreme Court case West Virginia v. Barnette, but it is these words which any true patriot, or leader, should ponder:

 

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Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.

——————-

 

In other words, the power of the symbolism & patriotism lies with the choice to honor & dignify the symbolism of a fag & an anthem.

 

In other words, compelled patriotism … the effort to force a person to say or do what they do not believe … doesn’t touch upon the true spirit of what the country stands for.

 

In other words, if I have to compel someone to be patriotic, or do acts which imply patriotism, the American Idea isn’t working.

 

In other words, mandatory patriotism isn’t patriotism at all.

 

In other words, the government cannot force someone to violate their conscience and they shouldn’t bully private businesses into doing what a government cannot legally dictate.

 

I will say this over and over and over again until the day I die — the cure for bad speech is better speech, the cure for bad behavior is better behavior and the cure for dealing with any ‘the American ideal (and idea)’ doubts is not bad enforced conformity.

 

We should inform, educate, and recommend policies, ideas & behavior that improve America but allow its citizens their freedom of choice.

 

For the best compliance, don’t just enforce the rules, establish the norms.

 

Yeah.

 

compromise life good want you theyI am sure some NFL owners will attempt some behavior-shaping constraints <fines, suspensions, etc.>. And they have that right as a business owner managing their own business & culture.

 

But I will tell them a secret <and I am hoping President Trump, who has never managed a business which demanded building a culture, is listening in> … that will not shape behavior but it will certainly shape attitudes <unfortunately, most likely not the attitudes truly desired>.

 

Forcing functional behavior is not always the best approach to shaping behavior.

 

Here is what any business leader who has ever run a business knows:

 

It takes your own to govern your own.

Not rules of conduct.

Not enforced conformity.

 

Lastly.

Just to conclude this piece.

 

Trump the asshat.

He has no fucking clue how to build a company culture. To him culture is having all the women wear their hair the same way, everyone wear a certain type of clothes that appeal to him and wear name tags with the Trump brand on it.

 

How do I know he has no clue how to build a culture without ‘enforcing conformity’?

 

The one people skill he has exhibited to date – it seems like Trump has this unique capability of bringing out the worst of people on actually the best of things.

 

Huh?

 

By using patriotism and pride in country <good> he encourages … well … wrong thinking, wrong thoughts and wrong behavior.

 

What he has done is bring out the worst in people who actually believe in a good thing.

 

What an asshat.

 

I would remind President Asshat what every god business leader knows about their employees and their culture … both good and evil lies within the hearts of most men (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) .

Most of us have the capacity to do great and good things … uhm … do very bad and evil things.

good bad person trust reliable

Leaders have a choice.

 

Either bring the best of the good out of people or bring the worst of the bad out of people.

 

You cannot bring out ‘good’ from within through some type of enforcement nor should you be seeking to try to ‘conform’ good.

 

Good has to be encouraged, not enforced <someone should print that off and put it on Trump’s mirror so he can see it every morning>.

believing in something is powerful enough

July 7th, 2017

 

ideas dream make fly people think believe imagine educate

 

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“We are tossed about by external causes in many ways, and like waves driven by contrary winds, we waver and are unconscious of the issue and our fate.’

 

We think we are most ourselves when we are most passionate, whereas it is then we are most passive, caught in some ancestral torrent of impulse or feeling, and swept on to a precipitate reaction which meets only part of the situation because without thought only part of a situation can be perceived.”

 

Will Durant

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“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.

Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

 

—-

Golda Meir

 

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So.

 

good bad idea battle for path businessIt would be an understatement to say that the number of ways a leader can lead are so numerous it would most likely take a book to explain them all <and people have certainly tried>. Trying to simplistically suggest “this is the way to lead” is … well … simplistic tripe.

 

It would be an understatement to say that the number of ways a leader can articulate an idea for people to rally around and follow are so numerous it would most likely take a book to explain them all <and people have certainly tried>. Trying to simplistically suggest “this is the way to share ideas in a meaningful way” is … well … simplistic tripe.

 

That said.

 

Today I will talk about leaders and ideas and articulating ideas … let’s call it “the business idea” leadership challenge.

 

For those of us who have had the fortune, or misfortune, of walking the halls of management in business we have all crossed paths with all the scary tactics and rhetoric associated with leaders who cannot articulate an idea if they actually tried <and most do try>.

 

These are the leaders who do not really have the ability to articulate an idea well enough for the idea to gain traction and be implemented.

 

it exists truth example life ideas business

……………….. the idea ………………….

I sometimes believe what makes a good leader is the ability to articulate an idea so that <a> people can grasp it, <b> people can envision it as “something” tangible enough to want to hold it and <c> people can attach some emotional connection to it <ranging from ‘I believe’ to ‘passion’>. But many leaders just struggle with idea articulation and use a variety of tricks to present an idea in a way that encourages people to … well … believe in the idea.

 

To be clear.

This is more a discussion of the psychology of managing employees … let’s call it “believing management” more so than motivating employees.

 

This is more about unlocking employees – unlocking potential. I mention potential because that is what ideas do … they are like a powerful chip inserted into people which energizes, focuses and drives individuals <and inevitably the organization itself>.

 

And because of all of what I just said there are a variety of ways to create some energy behind ‘believing’ in an idea.

 

Us versus them.

War analogies wherein those who don’t believe in our idea are ‘enemies.’

The narrative behind the idea always seems to have a “good versus evil” aspect.

 

 

Two thoughts on that.

 

  1. Selective tactical ‘good versus evil’ leadership is appropriate. Sometimes you need to give an organization some “oomph” <a technical organizational behavior term> and this is an easy way to create some energy around the idea.

 

 

  1. Being reliant on “us versus them” narrative is lazy leadership. Yes. Counterpoints always provide some contrast which permits some clarity, however, an idea should be able to stand on a blank page in a blinding spotlight and create enough ‘belief’ in that idea that people will want to fill the blank white space simply because they want to … they choose to … not because they ‘have to.’

 

 

people crowd ideas together friends waitbutwhyBad leaders misunderstand leading with an idea.

 

They always feel like they have to have an enemy which the idea has to slay. Or they feel like they have to divide so that their idea looks bigger.

They have it wrong. And dangerously wrong.

 

Good ideas power up on their own. Good ideas have a size to stand up to … well … any size idea out there.

 

Good ideas encourage people to go out and evangelize not destroy or kill or attack. The belief in the idea, in and of itself, is enough to make people go out … sometimes attack bad ideas, more often defend the idea and all the time presents the idea as some desirable thing that anyone in their right mind should want.

 

I have always believed that if you have a good idea, and you have people who believe in that good idea, you shouldn’t worry about competition or naysayers & doubters but rather focus all your energy on … well … showcasing the energy of the idea.

 

Now.

To be sure.

 

If you talk with enough people who have managed groups & companies and you will notice that at some point someone will bring up “I have to be a psychologist.”

 

To be clear.

 

Do business managers have to be psychologists to be effective? No. not really.

But playing the psychologist role on occasion certainly doesn’t hurt.

 

I am chuckling. I am fairly sure what I am discussing has some high falutin’ organizational behavior ‘management principles’ published and formal white papers with long esoteric discussions on employee personality types and some personality testing voodoo and lots of ‘how to energize organizations’ crap.

 

Anyway.

 

Most good managers clearly understand that different people are motivated by different things and that different things can inhibit the potential of each employee.

 

Suffice it to say, in my mind, once you move past trying to motivate a specific individual one-on-one it really all comes down to one basic management principle: the idea.

intangibe idea yet to be future business

 

 

Simplistically every leader’s objective is always to free your employee to be their best and do their best. But sometimes this means stripping something away … and sometimes this means adding something … and it always means giving them something to believe in <not just do or ‘fight’>.

 

More often than not while you are leading your organization you invest gobs of energy focused on the pragmatic ‘here is what you need to do’ underpinnings crap which keeps everybody focused on the shit that keeps the doors open in the business every day.

 

But, at some point, you have to energize the attitude.

And that is where “idea” comes in. This isn’t really a vision … this is the idea of who and what the company is and the ‘belief’ which is kind of the unseen glue which makes “one, out of many.”

 

This idea is a heuristic management tool because while leading people certainly can contain some aspects of ‘enthusiasm management’ one of the most basic leader self-survival techniques you learn <or you will die> is how to manage without too much investment of self. Therefore I have always viewed “the idea” strategy think anger angry business ideas filteras the compass AND engine for the true potential of the organization.

 

Yeah.

 

As a manager you always hunker down on the pragmatic aspects of what needs to be done first.

 

Always.

 

It is kind of your heuristic trick to assess any attitudinal challenges to getting the frickin’ pragmatic aspect done.

 

But you always keep an eye, and an ear, open during the pragmatic ‘whether the shit will actually get done … and done as well as it can be done’ for the employee’s, and organization’s, idea ‘belief factor.’

 

And while Belief can come in all shapes & sizes & behaviors one thing remains constant … make the idea tangible and anyone can see it <rather than have it be some nebulous thing they have to define in their own heads>.

 

And it can get even tricky.

 

Tricky because the same employee who was bursting with blind belief one day will be the same employee sitting in front of you the next day discussing a completely different project or task … semi-frozen in ‘belief doubt’ or ‘belief confusion.’

 

Look.

 

The fundamentals of effective management are pretty much the same everywhere.

 

But, ‘idea belief management’ can, unfortunately, sometimes take a fine subtle touch … and most of us everyday leader schmucks aren’t always subtle.

Therefore, we tend to lean on “us versus them” and “we are at war” to create some sense of “we must defend this idea” rather than instilling the idea, of the idea itself, as thoughtful rabbit idea quick slowhaving value even in times of ‘non-war.’

 

Ok.

 

I imagine I wrote this not to offer any “how to” guide to anyone. I wrote it because I just saw someone aggressively and darkly outline a world in which the business idea was under attack and attempted to drive belief in the idea through ‘threat’ rather than ‘inner belief.’

 

And as I watched I thought “this person has no idea how to articulate an idea in a way that the idea itself exudes energy in and of itself.”

 

As I watched I thought “this person doesn’t understand that ideas don’t need enemies to be meaningful and powerful … believing in something is power in and of itself.”

 

Look.

 

I have different expectations for different levels of leaders and I certainly understand that when presenting or communicating things you gotta deal with what is in front of you and get shit done and get the best out of your employees. And sometimes you do whatever it takes in the context of the situation.

 

But.

And this is a big but.

 

A business cannot always be at war in order to justify, and formalize, the idea it idea think explode expandbelieves in. The idea, in and of itself, should be good enough … and articulated well enough … to be powerful enough for people to just believe in it.

 

I am not suggesting this is easy … but that is what separates a good leader from a crappy leader …the ability to make the most of an idea by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

 

I imagine my real point is we should all be wary of the leader who can only articulate an idea through an ‘us versus them narrative’ or a divisive tone.

Why?

 

Because they are either lazy or they don’t know their shit.

 

Enlightened Conflict