Enlightened Conflict

toil and risk are the price

February 21st, 2017





“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



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



Martin Luther King, Jr.




“I would rather die right then live wrong.”








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.”




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.




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.’




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.




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


Be small.




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.




“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



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


business and principiis obsta

April 30th, 2016


control confront what you can



“Any attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell.”




Karl Popper




principiis obsta


Latin meaning “resist the beginnings” to avoid an unpleasant end.







This is about control and lack of control. This is about doing and not doing. This is about ignorance and confidence. This is maybe also about our quest to control going to hellthings with the intent to create perfection … or maybe our attempt to create heaven within our purview.


And, ultimately, this is about the wretched in-between all of that in which businesses thrive, survive … or die. Let’s call it the inevitable hell of reality if you pursue things believing you can control what will be.



One of the hardest things to learn as you gain more and more responsibility in your career is that while you gain more responsibility you lose more and more control.

This is a really hard lesson because … well … face it. You most likely were initially anointed for promotions and more responsibility because you had show you could control. in fact. your incredibly unattractive anal perfectionist attitude & skills were most likely what made you professionally attractive <and successful>. Your continued success actually encourages you to believe everything will be better <at least for you and to you> if you maintain control.

Some business people never learn to loosen the control attitude and … well … either flame out or become one of those horrendous managers no one wants to work for.


Some get it … that you lose control … and that is when you learn to “manage.”



Let me be clear.


What makes this really hard is that control is insidious. The more we pursue it the less we seem to have of it.


The more we pursue it the more it seems to poison our attitudes and behavior.

What I mean by that is our personal attitude with control affects our attitude with regard to those around us. Inevitably it can create an overall sense of paranoia not only with tangible doings but in the intangible, and even more insidious, lack of trust in those around us.


Think about it.

The Roman emperors killed advisor after advisor and even close relatives to prevent them from taking their power … from taking away their ability to control.


The sacrificing of other’s is fruitless because … well … the pursuit of control as the end goal is futile. Having control of anything is an illusion or at best a coincidence. You can never quite get there.


To be clear, I am making a distinction between control and influence. Control, especially of people, is not possible. You can exert influence, but there is no guarantee that your influence will actually produce the results you intend.

That is the distinction … you can exert influence … but you cannot control actual results.

bad influence on self



To let go of an unhealthy grasp of control you in turn need to embrace the maddening ambiguity of life and business. This mean embracing change, adapting and the inevitably aggravations that come with unintended consequences and foreseen activity.


This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to influence the outcomes of actions but it does mean you may have to accept that demanding that things always go the way you believe they should go will not happen.


Bottom line.

If we are too focused on trying to control everything with the intent to create heaven … we will create hell.


And the hell is internal and external.


Based on our lack of control … internally we can become cynical as our attitude becomes dominated by the “futility of it all.” Externally people are frustrated and micromanaged and so much time gets wasted on attempting to ‘control’ that actual ‘doing type stuff’ becomes less than efficient and runs the overall risk of being ineffective.


<note: we all know managers like this …>


From this point forward most of our actions fall into one of two places:


  • Do nothing <most of the time … just be reactive>

asshole bad manager

  • Do something <most of the time … act upon any and all beginnings we recognize>



Both are bad but the second is most typical of those who seek to control and are frustrated by lack of control.


They just cannot resist beginning something. They almost do not care what … just something.




“When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.”



Lord Falkland





The flip side of control is usually about doing … like ‘controlling actions with a goal in mind’ type stuff.


The quote above speaks that what we know often protects us from trying things needlessly.

And, yet, the quote also points out that not making a decision is difficult. Many of us … our natural instinct is to make a decision or to do something.


In fact, sometimes we seem to have some absurd confidence that if we try hard enough … success can be achieved. This same confidence makes us ignore the beginnings and step forward confident we can do something if we just keep searching for answers.


Inevitably, by not resisting the beginnings, we cannot avoid unpleasant ends.




And this is all done under the auspices of a desire for control.




Ignoring your control instincts is difficult.


But, if you do, you learn and grow … sometimes by rebuilding that which was either built wrong or just should be rebuilt to meet a new environment.

And answers appear less in pursuit but in awareness of the changing situation <giving ‘answers’ space to appear>.



It is natural to try and control mostly because the alternative seems to be lack of control.


The reality is somewhere in between.

And that in between can be an uncomfortable place to reside.


But that uncomfortable place is called Life. It is not heaven nor is it hell. It is just Life.


I don’t have advice but I can say what I do.



I don’t believe in “control what you can.” That suggests simply because you can that you should. Similar to when a situation dictates you make no decision and it then becomes necessary to actually NOT make a decision … when you can control a moment or a situation it becomes necessary to decide if you SHOULD control it or not.

This makes Life infinitely more difficult in the choice & control aspect but most often infinitely more enjoyable, efficient & effective.




I accept most control is situational and within a very specific defined time frame. This makes my version of control infinitely easier for me. I know I have the power to control for a window of time and then let it go when the window closes.


By the way … I am not suggesting recognizing the window is easy. I have had my fingers smashed many times when the window closed and I was still trying to control.

management what growing-global-executive-talent

Both of these thoughts suggest control is both an art & a science.


Far too often in business people do not think of control as either an art or a science but rather either a responsibility or a right.




Ultimately someone needs to be in control or there is just sheer chaos.



Control, implemented improperly, may create something worse than chaos … it creates hell.

criticism & judgment & self regulation

December 9th, 2015

recognizing real people define judge


“To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.

Every man is entitled to be valued by his best moment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


“I do not judge men by anything they can do.

Their greatest deed is the impression they make on me.”

Henry David Thoreau




Sometimes … okay … oftentimes … I think we lose perspective.

perspective is everything

And in that lost perspective we judge poorly and criticize unfairly.



I sometimes think because we lack connection to the larger perspective and therefore end up in this cocoon of ‘what the hell is happening right now’ that … well … we criticize or judge in frustration.


What I mean by that is we stop just ‘feeling’ what is going on around us. We don’t really think about shit and instead we focus on what we don’t feel … which ultimately means we rely almost solely on just what we see.

And then we judge and criticize.


Here is the crazy part.


Despite the fact we aren’t truly sensing what is going on before we act and what we see isn’t framed by any thinking … our judgement/criticism crisis is driven but by emotion.








Now … almost everyone will scoff at this and say “if my fault is losing larger perspective than my strength lies in common sense reaction to tangible results … and that isn’t emotional … that is a rational based response.’



Well … no … everyone is mostly wrong. You are simply using the tangible as an excuse for being too lazy, or declining to, pause and think of the larger perspective. And you couch that decision in emotion.



By the way … I believe this happens in business and in everyday life.






Everyone has an excuse.self regulate commit


They simply haven’t strengthened their self regulation skills.


Psychologically speaking I think this lack of perspective is based in something called ‘a lack of self regulation.’



Self regulation is actually about emotions … and our emotions are driven by biological impulses.

To be clear … biological impulses are beyond our control … but the resulting emotions are not. Emotions, of any depth, are impossible to ignore … and, yet, they can certainly be managed. This self management is called self-regulation and it is a characteristic of emotional intelligence. This is the characteristic that frees us from running around chasing our impulses <I am chuckling as a very funny image pops into my head thinking about that>.



Interestingly studies have been conducted which show characteristics of people who have a well defined self regulation:



– an inclination towards reflection and thoughtfulness


– acceptance of uncertainty and change


– Integrity, specifically, the ability to say no to impulsive urges.



In today’s world self-regulation is a pretty underrated skill. For example … if you have great self regulation people will most likely see you as dispassionate or maybe aloof – not particularly the qualities desired to build connections with people. .


In addition … we have a tendency to glorify the passionate ‘authentic’ leader.


Sometimes this authentic passion is mistaken for ‘characteristic of brilliance.’



Anyone who says that is … well … nuts.


Just batty.



self regulation motivation
At no time in business history have we needed less unrestrained passion from our leaders and more self regulation.


Under the guise of ‘being authentic’ and ‘showing your human side’ we have permitted leaders to be less leaderly and more like us every day schmucks.







If I wanted an everyday passionate schmuck to lead I would raise my hand and say “I will lead.’


But I want … well … a leader.



I want someone who will criticize and judge fairly.



I want reasonable people making reasonable decisions and … well … being reasonable as they do so. I want someone who can self-regulate well because as they have the ability to maintain control over their own emotions I have a tendency to believe they will be more likely to maintain control over the natural ebbs & flows of the organizational emotions.


I want environments low on drama and high in productivity.


Frankly … if a leader can create that environment the best of the best employees have a tendency to flock to those organizations and prosper <and not leave>.



Self-regulation actually has a ripple effect. It creates stability at the core of the work environment. It also sets an example for organizational behavior and organizational attitude and organizational expectations.


The even handed nature of a self-regulated leader in combination with the measured positive attitudes <that have a tendency to be intertwined in that type of environment> tends to translate into a more positively measured-in-its-actions organization.



Even better?who dares strong possible


Self-regulation leads to a more measured criticism and measured judgment.







What a great word.


And what an undervalued characteristic.





Because it has tinges of ‘not spontaneous’ and ‘not instinctual’ and ‘lack of passion.’ And when all those tinges come together it becomes the hue of ‘slow & unsure.’



What crap.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be judged by their best moments and not their worst.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be criticized with measured self-regulated responses and not by some spontaneous feeling.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be led by someone who can self-regulate.



Let me end with one thought.



It is easy to be a crappy leader.


Really easy.


And very easy to judge your own success solely on outcomes and objectives reached and sales and ignore a lack of emotional intelligence along the way.


It would also be easy to suggest this self-regulation is ‘maturity.’

It is not. inside out leadership

A lack of emotional intelligence and lack of self regulation early on … and then that person is promoted … has been rewarded.

No increase in maturity will suddenly suggest to the crappy self-regulated business person that they should act differently.



It is hard to be a good leader. It takes a … well … measured self-regulated approach to provide the stability which empowers employees to be the best they can be.



I wish we would praise self-regulation more often … we may have more happy & productive business environments <without having to bribe employees to do the right things> if we did.

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







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.





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






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








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





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.

Enlightened Conflict