Enlightened Conflict

liminal spaces

September 12th, 2017

transition liminal space change idea experience

 

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fearlessly-fiona:

 

“I’m an adult” I whisper as I try not to panic while I’m filling in all those forms that I don’t understand.

 

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“Liminal” means “relating to a transitional stage” or “occupying a position at both sides of a boundary.”

 

 

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Ok.

 

First.

 

liminal space hallway metroLiminal spaces are real spaces.

 

Liminal spaces are throughways from one space to the next. Places like rest stops, stairwells, trains, parking lots, waiting rooms, airports feel weird when you’re in them because their existence is not about themselves, but the things before and after them. They have no definitive place outside of their relationship to the spaces you are coming from and going to. Reality feels altered here because we’re not really supposed to be in them for a long time for think about them as their own entities, and when we do they seem odd and out of place.

 

 

Second.

 

 

I plan on discussing liminal spaces as intangible mental spaces.

 

 

Liminal Space inbetween threshold

If you feel that you are anxiously floating in the inbetween perhaps you are in The Liminal Space. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limens, which means, “threshold.”

“… it is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.

 

 

Okay.

 

Mentally … this in-between is a space in which we have lost context … and … oops … our brains love context <and hate lack of context>. This ‘hate’ translates into discomfort, maybe some anxiety and absolutely an innate mental desire to get the hell out of that space and into some space where we can reengage some context.

 

Rationally we know these spaces are … well … irrational and we can mentally stifle the anxiety … for a while. Because no matter how good we are at stifling it there will always be an underlying sense of uneasiness. In business you either figure out how to manage the anxiety or you are never gonna make it in the business world.

 

Why? Because a career is riddled with these moments and spaces.

 

All that said.

 

I think we, as people, enter liminal spaces in our heads all the time. I don’t mean every minute I just mean on a fairly consistent basis we lose some context and enter into some wretched mental in-between space where … well … we feel uncomfortable. We feel uncomfortable because we are mentally in some transition space from which we cannot envision what will be there <outside this wretched space> when we actually find the exit we can leave the space by.

 

Yeah.

 

transitional liminal path grow poetential change

Unfortunately, while we seek an exit to get out of the liminal space … we also feel uncomfortable because <insert a ‘shit’ here mentally> the next step may actually place us into a tangible “unknown” place.

 

Not only does that suck but … well … we do not like it.

 

It is a weird combination of tangible and intangible … and  shitload of unknown.

 

It feels tangible as in you walk in some blank-ish vanilla type room and actually exit by some door which appear at some point. That part we may not like but we can semi-understand.

 

And, yet, at the same time this space is truly 100% intangible <lacking context> which creates a sense of instability and warped perception space. I imagine a lot of people flail about a bit in this space trying to transitional leap risk think challenge businessnot only find context or something tangible to hold onto but also a frickin’ door to get out of this wretched liminal space.

 

All the while we flail about in a space naturally encourages some confusion and a lot of “things seem off” feelings.

 

Worse?

 

It not only feels wrong but feels like something is going to go wrong. You cannot really put your finger on it <although most of us try desperately to try to put a finger on something> and it increases anxiety.

 

Sometimes that anxiety is high and sometimes it is just a bothersome niggling in the head … but anxiety it is <and it is uncomfortable>.

 

The anxiety occurs because reality is not really being altered but it appears slightly warped. It is kind of like looking through an imperfect piece of glass – where things can look a little fuzzy or odd. Its kind of like time has warped a little and you are coming and going at the exact same time where in the blur of the transition your brain is suggesting “this is not good … this is not normal” and you desperately want to move n … but cannot find that frickin’ exit.

 

All that sounds horrible.

 

Oh.

 

And it sounds particularly horrible if we are talking about the business world.

 

The fact is that business people are more often than not judged on how well, and how quickly, they can navigate the mental liminal space.  We in business don’t really talk about it much but a lot of the shit we do is transitioning from the known to some version of known/unknown. That’s kind of what managers and leaders do. And it is certainly a main component of shifting from a young less-responsible employee to an older more experienced responsible employee/manager.

 

Along the way the stepping stones are actually lily pads with differing expanses & depths of water in between. You either navigate the transitions or drown in the liminal space.

 

Oh.

 

And, yet, liminal spaces are also throughways to places of the imagination – kind of the construction sites of “what will be.”

 

We like that kind of shit.

 

That’s ‘future’ and ‘hope of something better’ type stuff.change every step liminal transitional grow imagine

 

That thought helps us out a little.

 

It helps because this isn’t the kind of stuff that gives any tangible context but it does give us some fortitude to get through this space.

 

Anyway.

 

I admit.

 

I love the whole concept of a liminal space and I do believe if more people not only learned to manage the anxiety & angst of a liminal space AND embraced the fact it was a valuable transitional space … well … we would be much more efficient & effective in business and in Life in gaining the more valuable “what could be’s” — which are what we all live for anyway.

 

 

Order and Chaos

February 3rd, 2017

order chaos consistent hugh

 

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“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe … in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons.

 

But human life is almost pure chaos.

Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.”

 

—-

Katherine Anne Porter

 

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Well.

 

What an interesting thought this quote offers.

historic thinkerSuggesting that it isn’t Life that is random and chaotic … but rather us.

 

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 

This suggests that Life, if left alone, would be quiet, orderly and consistent.

That is something quite contrary to what I have written and what I believe most of us tend to think about.

 

I know I tend to think of Life as indifferent to us and , in fact, tends to care only about itself and its humorous existence by randomly pulling the strings of our Life on occasion just to make sure we are paying attention.

 

What if I have been thinking about it all wrong?

 

What if it is really just us crazy humans and not Life itself that creates the sometimes quirky zigs & zags in Life?

 

Wow.

 

If it is us then … well … we all better get our shit together.

 

This would mean that not only do we need to stop thinking about how we adapt to the quirks of everyday life but that we need to become better fighters of better human behavior <and attitudes I would imagine>.

 

Why?met the enemy and it is us pogo

 

Well.

 

Because this means the enemy is us.

 

This would suggest that there is, and will always … always, be something good we will need to be fighting for.

 

This would also suggest that what we see as true individual autonomy, which we most often associate with a sense of freedom, is a false narrative.

 

It is false because our self-interest and autonomy is not unfettered by rules or obligations to others but rather constricted, or fettered, by other people.

 

I would imagine we could view this on maybe several levels … our own self interest, imposed self interest <rules and guidelines set up by some larger entity> and the other persons’ self interest.

 

We then see the world as an orderly place if, and only of, all those things are aligned and all have the same interest at the same time for some meaningful amount of time from which we can get some sense of orderliness.

This would also then suggest that any adversity is not Life imposed but self imposed <if not by you but by someone else>.

 

But there is another aspect. I need to go back to the interest trinity of own self interest, imposed self interest <rules and guidelines set up by some larger entity> and the other persons’ self interest.

opinions fight myself

For if we only seek obedience to the ‘imposed interest’ we are doomed for failure.

Simplistically this is why authoritarianism and totalitarianism and autocracies fail.

They try to impose self interest which, more likely than not, does not actually align with real self interest and this generates a feeling of adversity … and chaos.

Which is slightly odd in that we are generating chaos from order.

All this does is point out that imposed order is more likely to create chaos than not.

 

There is a phrase called ‘obedient autonomy’ and I am purposefully misusing it to make a point.

 

Individualistic autonomy is a false narrative. Yes. we can make individual choices but unless we are on some island, alone, … we inevitably interact with other people and are connected culturally in a variety of ways.

 

We must have some self-imposed order to enable the greater whole to have a greater good.

Our self imposed order limits chaos created by people … not created by Life.

 

And … if we get our self imposed order wrong? Whew. It only creates more adversity, more angst, more friction and more inefficient cultural and societal behavior.

 

All that philosophical mumbo jumbo aside … here is my point.

 

We sometimes confuse what appears to be a disorderly and uncertain world with what is actually just disorderly and uncertain people.

 

Therefore, maybe we confuse chaos or randomness with what is actually unpredictability due to our lack of understanding or information <or maybe a thread of ignorance>.

next generation of thinkers

I believe we all know that there has to be some kind of standard, some kind of mutual agreement and that ‘some’ means it should be captured in some laws, rules and guidelines. That is not really ‘imposed interest’ but rather ‘interest captured in guidelines.’

This shouldn’t be that hard to grasp because, similarly, we all know there are clearly some scientific laws that govern the universe.

These are the things that help make some aspects of life predictable and orderly.

 

I read somewhere … there isn’t really much variation from stone to stone, or from lion to lion, or from cloud to cloud to us people. Therefore, you would have to say that without people the universe is extremely orderly with the occasional exception that actually proves the rule rather than disprove this rule of thinking.

 

Therefore, if we see randomness or we see chaos, it is not ‘the world’ nor is it some ‘universe thing’ … but rather people and personalities creating what we “see”.

 

 

thinker thumbtackWhy does that matter?

 

Because what people make … people can unmake.

Just ponder that when you think about a universe and world and Life which seems uncertain and out of control.

 

It is people creating that feeling of chaos & uncertainty and those people’s behaviors can always be constrained and contained by other peoples who are in the right and seek some orderliness.

raincoats

December 29th, 2016

 autumn-rain-fall

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“Because of the way this garment <Mackintosh raincoat> is made.

There is no stitching involved, it’s completely bonded/glued, in order to keep the garment completely waterproof. I owned a vintage Mac that I wore for years in my early twenties until someone stole it at a party.

Even after literally doing everything to wear it out, that coat always looked immaculate.”

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Ok.

 

Today is the 250th birthday of the guy who invented the Mackintosh raincoat <a Glasgow Scot named Charles Macintosh>.

 

 

 

raincoat-charles-macintosh-google-doodle

 

I used to own a Mac. It was hot when wearing … but that sonuvabitch kept you dry as a bone.

 

Alas.

 

I believe it was a victim of one of the dozens of moves I have made as part of some garage sale or some Goodwill donation as I was purging things <that I only ended up rebuying again at some point>.

 

Charles Macintosh was a Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabric.

 

Why am I writing about raincoats today <other than the fact I rue ditching my fabulous Mac>?

 

It is a reminder that inventions don’t have to be glamorous and that inventing is rarely glamorous.

 

It is a reminder that even with all the apps being ‘invented’ almost 95% of them are wasted energy and wasted money.

 

It is a reminder that most of the inventions that truly matter to us are the fruits of labor and not complete ingenuity but rather a practical ‘what the hell can I do with this’ attitude.

 

For example.

 

Macintosh had a nothing-wasted mind-set.

 

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His discovery of the long-sought solvent for rubber came out of his search for uses of some of the nastiest by-products of the nineteenth century progress,” Barnett writes. “Gas lamps were becoming popular in the cities of Europe, lighting up the wealthier streets and private homes. But the tar sludge left behind in the manufacture of coal gas was a public menace … Macintosh saw practical uses in the sludge and wastewater, which include valuable ammonia.

In 1819, Glasgow Gas Works was only too happy to sign a contract to sell him all the waste it produced.”

 

According to Today in Science, the sludge led to Macintosh’s famed invention:

In June 1823, Macintosh patented his process using a solution of india-rubber in naphtha soaked between two layers of cloth forming a sandwich that was pressed together. The rubber interior provided a layer impermeable to water, though still flexible.

His patent, No. 4,804, described how to “manufacture for rendering the texture of hemp, flax, wool, cotton, silk, and also leather, paper and other substances impervious to water and air.”

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From the nasty by products of civilization, which were thrown out as useless by the majority, one guy developed the rainproof fabric.

 

lamp bulb tulips isolated on white with clipping path

My point is that great ideas rarely arise from nothing … they arise from something. And they arise from someone who sees something in what others deem as useless or unimportant or some version of waste of time.

 

My point is that even disruption is defined by “discovering an unconventional way to do conventional things.’

 

My point is that the most meaningful inventions, the ones which impact the way we live, are not glitzy or glamorous or ‘seeking to be a global brand’ but rather pragmatic, practical and part of a way of living Life.

 

My point is that the best raincoat in the world was made from human excrement and industrial waste.

 

My point is that everything is useful.

 

young people smarter egg context

My point is that it is fairly likely that the next great idea is not going to be found by some branding guru or within some big high falutin’ brand but from someone we don’t know working in some garage using all the shit, some ideas and probably some random by-products … that all the ‘smart people’ have thrown away.

 

a non formula business world

March 23rd, 2016

 escape the ordinary business order non formula

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“You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own.

And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.”

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Audre Lorde

 

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“There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

 

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H. L. Mencken

 

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Well.

 

This could be about either business or Life … but let me stick with business for today.

 

I have worked within so many industries and seen so many different businesses I can’t really keep them all straight.

formula confused none

And maybe because of that breadth of experience I have realized that there is no formula for success that is easily transferable.

What this means in a practical sense is that I don’t have a formula to offer when I walk into a new business <because I would have to have dozens and my brain doesn’t work that way>.

 

Yet, everyone, every business, seeks a formula for success. This can be frustrating <for the business and for me>.

 

And they do this despite the fact they know in their heart of hearts that most business situations are contextual and dipping into some past developed formula more likely than not is simply not going to replicate whatever had happened in the past that made the formula look so appealing.

 

And, yet, again and again … businesses seek some elusive formula to apply to their business – to start it, to make it more efficient or even on how to plan tactics.

 

Here is what I know from having walked through hundreds of business front doors.

 

Business seems to demand order from its thinkers, doers and leaders.

 

Think about it.

 

Inevitably no matter what conversation you are having … innovation, ideation, process, production or even organizational culture you will find yourself mired in some aspect of ‘order.’

 

And we wonder why there is so much angst and conflict in business? That is your explanation. The world is not a naturally orderly place and yet we constantly seek to put it in order.

 

Day in and day out almost everything a business does is about finding some order in a world that demands non order like thinking.

order chaos consistent hugh

This is a crazy, sometimes stupefying, discussion of a desire for a winning formula … and a refusal to follow a formula at exactly the same time.

 

I cannot tell you how many times I have been pressed by a business to show proof that an idea, or something, has worked in the past … only to have another past ‘formula’ be rejected as ‘not relevant for us.’

 

Frankly, the inconsistency with regard to using something in the past is maybe the most consistent discussion I have in business.

 

 

Look.

 

There are certainly some guiding principles that can help insure, or limit, your stupidity moving forward … but formulas don’t exist.

 

And what constantly still catches me a little off guard when formulas are being requested <or some derivative of a formula> is that we all know each business, each business situation and each organization is at minimum slightly unique.

Every relatively smart & experienced business person knows this.

 

Therefore a past formula runs the risk of trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

 

Oh.

 

But then we inevitably slide into the infamous discussion of “let’s just use the parts that apply to us & our situation.”

 

This is another ‘formula but not-formula’ head scratcher.

 

Most past successes are a confluence of factors intertwined into some uniquely messy tangled ball of string. It looks messy <albeit far too many business consultants portray it as simple, or linear, or anything but tangled as they

entanglement of nuances

straighten the string out to show a flawed construct> and it is … well … messy.

 

Therefore trying to pull it apart and using one aspect as a “successful foundation for our future success” <see: “formula”> is flawed logic.

 

There are rarely, very rarely, neat & plausible solutions to what a business faces in the here & now. If you are shown a ‘formula for success’ and it looks neat and it seem plausible … it is most likely wrong.

 

What I am now going to say is going to sound painfully inefficient.

 

A business has to create its own way of doing things. It has to create its own formula.

It can certainly contain some aspects of things that have been done in the past but those are simply ingredients from which you will build your own formula.

 

And, to be clear, if you start bolting together different formulas to create a successful business … you are simply creating a Frankenstein which the village people are going to end up killing with simple pitchforks & torches.

 

Your business formula for success will have to be yours.

 

And, yes, you do need some type of formula. Business does demand some order.

Without it there is only chaos.

Now.

 

‘Borrowing’ order <see: “formulas”> seems like a nifty short cut to minimizing risk as well as creating a foundation on which to build upon.

 

Unfortunately, it is often not that simple for a couple of reasons.

 

<1> Rigidity. Using someone else’s formula is like inserting an immovable part. It is a rigid component inflexible to any organizational adaptations … or external adaptations. Customize the formula and you run the likely risk that it fails <because a successful formula is a formula for a specific need>. Leave the formula rigid and you run the likely risk the organization loses some flexibility to respond to external circumstances.

 

<2> External adaptations. Because the business environment in which a business competes in is a fairly unorderly world and order constantly chafes with disorder. Formulas in today’s business world look significantly different than formulas of the past in that the past had more rigid aspects and the present has more fluidity.

 

Anyway.

 

I would like to note that last point as possibly the biggest struggle a business leader has in managing a business – getting comfortable with the constant chafing and recognizing when it is no longer simple chafing and instead a real open wound.

 

 

In the end.

 

Let me end where I began … you cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.

 

Most businesses have their successful formula already in hand. More often than not they don’t need to look elsewhere for a formula. They just cannot see it yet … they cannot see they have their own fire.formula success steps

 

That’s what I do.

Painfully, but what I do. Make them see their fire and believe in it.

 

It comes down to assessing the ingredients that reside in the business owner’s mind, in the business culture and what the organization itself is capable of … and building that fire.

 

And even then … rarely is there some simple formula which becomes their elixir for success. It becomes almost like the core molecule on which additional molecules can be attached or removed as the business organism interacts with that wacky disorderly business environment.

 

Success in business is never easy. It only looks easy when looking at someone else from afar or looking to the past.

 

While businesses demand order the business environment conducts itself in a less than orderly fashion. That sentence right there explains why there is no formula for success and that we have a non-formula world.

Enlightened Conflict