Enlightened Conflict

that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

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

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

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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So.

 

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

 

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

 

Ah.

 

That word “compromise.”

 

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

 

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

death of compromise

Why?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Now.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

People … all who are angry.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

And if you do not embrace this thinking?

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Sigh.

 

Look.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

To end this I will go back to the beginning.

 

The “I” aspect.

 

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

 

Uhm.

 

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

 

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

 

Oh shit.

 

However.

 

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

 

Compromise is complex … and simple.

 

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

Making the specific choices is complex.

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

 

toil and risk are the price

February 21st, 2017

 disturb-the-universe-dare

 

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“Toil and risk are the price of glory, but it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame.”

 

—-

Alexander the Great

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“The time is always right to do what is right.”

 

—-

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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“I would rather die right then live wrong.”

 

—–

Me

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Well.

 

I believe Alexander’s full quote was:

 

 

It is a lovely thing to live with great courage and to die leaving an everlasting fame,

Macedonians!… Why do you retreat?!… Do you want to live forever?!

In the name of Zeus!… ATTACK!

pooh test thought

 

I tend to call this “selective thoughtful recklessness.”

 

Yeah.

 

I am not really sure something exactly like that exists … but whether it has a name or not … it is a characteristic of winners and ‘everlasting fame’ … as well as a characteristic of everyday schmucks like me who want to do the right thing, desire some everlasting fame as in ‘known for doing good shit the right way’ and am willing to work hard for it <that is the ‘toil’ part>.

 

It may sound odd but I do believe if you are dedicated to doing the right thing and doing good shit you have to be comfortable assuming some risk.

 

Now.

 

I get some shit for my ‘comfort with assuming risk’ , my attitude with reagrd to risk … as well as my general disdain for people who have the absurd principle of ‘making a decision instinctually.’

 

Therefore.

 

I came up with my own phrase – selective thoughtful recklessness.

 

This combination seems to me to be better than simply being rash or foolhardy in behavior. It is better because I have a full respect for consequences and hold consequences in high regard.

choice consequence

And there is never any absence of forethought <which is where I typically find ‘instinct’ fails miserably>.

 

And I certainly have extreme care and concern with respect to not only other people’s welfare … but my own.

 

And, yes, there may be a bit of daredevil in the attitude … but without the flair and debonair style associated with a daredevil.

 

What is there is … is a certain defiance to odds once a decision has been made and a complete “In for a penny n for a pound” attitude. <Cambridge Dictionary: something you say that means that since you have started something or are involved in it, you should complete the work although it has become more difficult or complicated than you had expected >.

 

My epitaph will absolutely be “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” but my mantra seems to be captured in what I said upfront … “I would rather die right then live wrong.”

 

That is not courage … nor is it an attitude … it is a choice that simply requires some mental resilience. You feel doubt, resistances to choice and even outright disagreement … but someone who embraces the selective thoughtful recklessness remains mentally resilient towards anything that attempts to stop you from doing what you believe, and maybe even know, is right.

 

And maybe that is where the thoughtful daredevilishness steps in.

In order to find glory <in this case I believe glory is ‘doing what is right’ and not some fame or accolades> you have to first & foremost reframe the story of what is … and what is possible. I am not suggesting some alternative universe nor am I suggesting fooling yourself into believing something truly impossible is possible.

This is more along the lines of the traditional disruptor definition … seeing the conventional in unconventional ways. By reframing the story the boundaries & limits in the original story become new & different boundaries & limits. Rarely do they align with the old ones and it is within these differences that the ‘thoughtful reckless’ wander.

life whispers listen sign

But this also demands one other thing.

 

Let’s call it ‘intense listening without attachment.’

 

What I mean by this is you have to be aware of everything going on around you but you do not necessarily get attached to what is being said. It’s like recognizing the clutter around you and rummaging thru it for the useful and avoiding the useless.

 

Lastly.

 

Here is maybe the most controversial thought I will share on finding glory.

 

Be small.

 

Yeah.

 

I just said ‘be small.’

I don’t mean live a small Life but I do mean if you want to find the kind of glory I am discussing, and you want to be selectively thoughtfully reckless, and you want to die right rather than live wrong … you think about being an energy for ‘doing’ like an atom, or a pebble in a pond, where you make yourself as solidly, strongly and distinctly rightly small … and choose your path.

And maybe that is why I balk at ‘daredevil’ so much. It sounds big & flamboyant. I find that being defiantly, and successfully, right in your choice is more often found in the ‘toil’ … in the small stuff and avoiding the small stuff at the same time.

It is more about being solidly small in your solidly rightness.

 

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“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

 

 

Jim Rohn

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And, yes, maybe it is about a small quiet courage found in the everyday.

 

Do I think I am courageous? Certainly not.

 

Resilient? Absolutely yes.

 

But this kind of resilience seems to contain a version of courage that is easy to miss.

 

It is a small resilient courage.

 

courage tattoo reckless risk tryIt is the small courage you hold on to … to stay when it is easier to leave.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to keep doing when everything says ‘quit.’

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to respect difference when we would much rather judge.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to accept some vulnerability when building a wall feels much safer.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to recognize your own agenda needs to be revised to accommodate another’s better idea.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … everyday <even though it takes some ‘toil’ to create it>.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … to not only become who we really are … but which enables the better version of who we are.

 

It is the small courage you hold on to … in a world that often doesn’t seem to encourage courageous everyday acts.

 

 

Anyway.choose courage or comfort reckless try do

 

Life isn’t easy. Business isn’t easy.

And navigating both shouldn’t be easy because of that … and it isn’t.

All I can suggest is some selective thoughtful recklessness can you help you out on occasion.

And it surely, when done well and with ‘good as an intent’ gives you a shot at glory.

 

Just remember.

 

it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame

 

I would rather die right then live wrong

 

contextual contextual contextual

May 10th, 2015

——

we are mosaics

“Most men are individuals no longer so far as their business, its activities, or its moralities are concerned.

They are not units but fractions.”

=

Woodrow Wilson

——

 

 

Well.

 

 

In business and in Life …  people like consistency.

 

We actually like rules.

 

 

And we really <really> like some guidelines for how to do things, what to say and when things should be done.

 

Oh.

 

 

And … we love, yes, LOVE to look to the past for answers or the ‘formula for what to do or how to act.”

 

 

Ah.

 

 

That sneaky ‘learn from the past or be doomed to repeat mistakes’ advice.

 

 

True … but not true.

 

 

What makes it not true?true not true

 

 

 

Context.

 

 

 

Future truths, or solutions, only partially reside in the past. The other part lives in the present … and what is swirling around that moment.

 

 

Which brings me back to the opening quote.

 

 

We like to see things as units and yet they are simply fractions.

 

 

Some people stand on fractions and act like they are whole solid foundations.

 

Be wary of those people.

 

 

 

They are not really seeking truth … just answers … okay … well … maybe just an answer.

 

 

——-

 

 

“Fear not the path of Truth for the lack of People walking on it.”

 

 

=

 

Robert F. Kennedy

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I admit … the trouble we constantly run into is … well … context.

 

We are always contextual … mosaics of the moment … and this is troubling for those seeking simple answers.

 

And, frankly, most of us would love a simple answer now & then <if not all the time>.

 

But some people thrive on simplicity and black & white.

 

 

Please do not read into what I just wrote that these people live a colorless life.

 

Everyone has color and everyone certainly has pieces of light within and without.

 

 

==

 

“We are mosaics.

 

 

Pieces of light, love, history, stars … glued together with magic and music and words. “

 

Anita Krizzan

 

==

 

 

 

All I am suggesting is that magic, or the contextual aspects, in Life creates a certain intangible aspect to everyday situations. And while this intangible thing is a nagging aspect in common everyday life & business … at critical points, let’s call them ‘semi-critical moments or junctures’, the contextual intangible aspect is nerve wracking.

 

Nerve wracking because we want a simple solution in semi-critical moments.

 

And context demands some complexity. It demands looking at fractions and not the whole.

 

 

This means we constantly struggle with the fact <the Truth as it were> we, as individuals, businesses, countries and societies, are simply fractions and not the unit.

 

 

I would also suggest decisions, business & in life, are simply fractions and not a self-sustaining unit.

 

 

And, yet, we try and make most of our decisions as if everything is aligned and unmoving … kind of like taking a snapshot and taking action.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

 

wide open spaces far to goThis means, contextually, whatever action or decision you take or make will be relevant to what was … not what is.

 

———-

 

 

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.

 

That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

 

 

Milton Friedman

 

————-

 

 

In closing out this thought I would like to point out that this thought, while it seems like a stronger Life thought, is maybe even more importantly a business thought.

 

 

Far far too often in business we ignore the fact each decision is contextual seeking comfort in “let’s look to the past for the answer.”

 

 

I admit I find it slightly odd because in today’s business world every single mistake or hiccup/interruption in the status quo is labeled a crisis … and crises tend to produce real change.

 

 

On the other hand … maybe that is my explanation to the oddity.

 

 

Because they really aren’t true crisis we tend to depend on the ideas lying around.

 

 

And the most typical ideas lying around are “what can we learn from the past.”

 

 

If you ever wonder why great decision makers should be paid some inordinate amount of money … reread this. Great decision makers see the past, the present & the future and envision the mosaic better than most of us <certainly I>.

 

 

They understand the situation is simply a fraction of what is.

 

 

see what we look for

 

This should also help explain why so many people make incredibly bad decisions.

 

 

 

Every moment, every situation, every success and every failure … is contextual.

 

 

In fact … contextual exists in almost every situation in such a wide vivid mosaic perspective that … well … ‘learning from the past’ almost seems like an inordinate waste of time.

the communication blizzard

November 1st, 2013

 

So.blizzard of work

 

While I was using some Toffler wisdom and words <see Armageddon post:

http://brucemctague.com/madness-in-the-world-armageddon-and-a-dose-of-reality > I noted there was an interesting snippet in one of his books on communication overload … he called it <because this was 1980> “the paper blizzard.”

 

I imagine I am using this as a ‘perspective’ post or observation.

 

We are always complaining about communication overload between texts and emails and phone and carrier pigeons.

Here is the funny thing … okay … the interesting thing … well … we have always bitched and moaned about it.

 

I brought up good ole Toffler from 1980 because he gives us some historical perspective on communications as well as some real numbers.

In addition … he also points out that this ‘blizzard of communications’ actually provides a common structure throughout global cultures.

 

Say what? All this paperwork <electronic communications> and overwhelming no-time to look at all stuff is cultural? Yup.

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All human groups, from primitive times to today, depend on face-to-face, person-to-person communication. But systems were needed for sending messages across time and space as well. The ancient Persians are said to have set up towers or “call posts,” placing men with shrill, loud voices atop them to relay messages by shouting from one tower to the next. The Romans  operated an extensive messenger service called the cursus publicus. Between 1305 and the early 1800’s, the House of Taxis ran a form of pony express service all over Europe. By 1628 it employed twenty thousand men. Its couriers, clad in blue and silver uniforms, crisscrossed the continent carrying messages between princes and generals, merchants and money lenders.

 

During First Wave civilization all these channels were reserved for the rich and powerful only. Ordinary people had no access to them. As the historian Laurin Zilliacus states, even “attempts to send letters by other means were looked upon with suspicion or . . . forbidden” by the authorities. In short, while face-to-face information exchange was open  to all, the newer systems used for carrying information beyond the confines of a family or a village were essentially closed and used for purposes of social or political control. They were, in effect, weapons of the elite.

 

Global localThe Second Wave, as it moved across country after country, smashed this communications monopoly. This occurred not because the rich and powerful grew suddenly altruistic but because Second Wave technology and factory mass production required “massive” movements of information that the old channels simply could no longer handle.

 

The information needed for economic production in primitive and First Wave societies is comparatively simple and usually available from someone near at hand. It is mostly oral or gestural hi form. Second

Wave economies, by contrast, required the tight coordination of work done at many locations. Not only raw materials but great amounts of information had to be produced and carefully distributed.

For this reason, as the Second Wave gained momentum every country raced to build a postal service. The post office was an invention quite as imaginative and socially useful as the cotton gin or the spinning jenny and, to an extent forgotten today, it elicited rhapsodic enthusiasm. The American orator Edward Everett declared: “I am compelled to regard the Post office, next to Christianity, as the right arm of our modern civilization.” For the post office provided the first wide open channel for industrial-era communications. By 1837 the British Post Office was carrying not merely messages for an elite but some 88 million pieces of mail a year …an avalanche of communications by the standards of the day.

 

By 1960 the third wave the industrial era peaked and the Third Wave began its surge, that number had already climbed to 10 billion. That same year the U.S. Post Office was distributing 355 pieces of domestic mail for every man, woman, and child in the nation. The surge in postal messages that accompanied the industrial revolution merely hints, however, at the real volume of information that began to flow in the wake of the Second Wave.

 

An even greater number of messages poured through what might be called “micro-postal systems” within large organizations. Memos are letters that never reach the public communications channels. In 1955, as the Second Wave crested in the United States, the Hoover Commission peeked inside the files of three major corporations. It discovered, respectively, 34 thousand, 56 thousand, and 64 thousand documents and memos on file for each employee on the payroll!

 

Nor could the mushrooming informational needs of industrial societies be met in writing alone. Thus the telephone and telegraph were invented hi the nineteenth century to carry then: share of the ever swelling communications load.

By 1960 Americans were placing some 256 million phone calls per day — over 93 billion a year – and even the most advanced telephone systems and networks in the world were often over loaded. All these were essentially systems for delivering messages from one sender to one receiver at a time.

 

What was next? A society developing mass production and mass consumption needed ways to send mass messages and communications from one sender to many receivers simultaneously. Unlike the preindustrial employer, who could personally visit each of his handful of employees in their own homes if need be, the industrial employer could not communicate with his thousands of workers on a one-by-one basis. Still less could the mass merchandiser or distributor communicate with his customers one by one. Second Wave society needed and not surprisingly invented powerful means for sending the same message to many people at once, cheaply, rapidly, and reliably.

 

This gap came to be filled by the mass media.  In the mass media, from newspapers and radio to movies and television, we find once again an embodiment of the basic principle of the factory. All of them stamp identical messages into millions of brains, just as the factory stamps out identical products for use in millions of homes. This meant standardized, mass manufactured “facts,” counterparts of standardized mass manufactured products, flow from a few concentrated image factories out to millions of consumers.

 

Without this vast, powerful system for channeling information, industrial civilization could not have taken form or functioned reliably. Thus there sprang up in all industrial societies, capitalist and socialist alike, an elaborate info-sphere — communication channels through which individual and mass messages could be distributed as efficiently as goods or raw materials. This info-sphere intertwined with and serviced the techno-sphere and the socio-sphere, helping to integrate economic production with private behavior.

 

Each of these spheres performed a key function in the larger system, and could not have existed without the others. The techno-sphere produced and allocated wealth; the socio-sphere, with its thousands of interrelated organizations, allocated roles to individuals in the system. And the info-sphere  allocated the information necessary to make the entire system work. Together they formed the basic architecture of society. We see here in outline, therefore, the common structures of all nations — regardless of their cultural or climatic differences, regardless of their ethnic and religious heritage, regardless of whether they call themselves capitalist or communist.

 

<source: Alvin Toffler 1980>

 

———

 

Well.

Here is my point.

 

overcommunication too many wordsEver since the ‘white collar job’ was created we have been stressed out by over communication. Or maybe better said … we have always been bombarded with an overwhelming amount of communication.

 

Whether it was the stacks of paper <memos, point of views, letters, reports, presentations, phone messages to be returned, etc.> in the good ole days or today’s hundreds of emails appearing in your inbox … our time has always been stretched with regard to communications.

 

We have always lived in a blizzard of communications.

 

And we kind of like it … and it is addictive <no matter how much we bitch & moan>.

Whoa. Like and addictive?

Remember … I wrote this in my time post http://brucemctague.com/noli-timere-business-and-life :

 

–          Chemicals <within us>. Every time we feel our mobile phone vibrate or ring or ding … we get a small dopamine injection in our brains. Over time this serves almost like an addiction … which results in us wanting this distraction more and more. So when we aren’t being interrupted we go and seek interruptions <check our twitter accounts, Facebook, pinterest, emails> in order to re-inject the ‘doing chemical’ into our brains <and we feel good within the moments>. Oops. The trouble with this? Every time we are interrupted we need to refocus ourselves afterwards … which takes time and energy.

——

 

Now.

In the good old days communication may have been less often but I would like to point out that it was more often with increased depth <think 5 sentence email versus 5 page point of view>. Basically … more words, more thoughts and more thinking required.

 

All this said … I go back to my original thought on making employees successful … focus.

 

I could argue that the deeper you have to intensify your focus <the deeper the interruption> the more energy and time it takes to re-focus on something new.

 

Therefore … the communication blizzard is consistent … simply with different dynamics over time.

 

Which is worse <or more difficult>?

 

Hah.

 

Pick your poison.

 

My real point?

 

Geez.

Lets all quit bitching about technology distractions and how the world is so much more difficult today in managing all the random messages we receive and whatever we want to call the blizzard of communications we live in.

 

Today.

Yesterday.

20 years ago.

Heck.

40 years ago.

 

blah pageSitting at your desk at work has always been overwhelming in terms of communications.

 

Are the distractions different today then they were in the past? Sure.

 

Are these distractions any more … well … distracting then they were in the past? No … not really.

 

Not all distractions are created equal. But we certainly have an equal amount of distractions.

 

We should all just admit we live in this blizzard … and … well … deal with it.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict