Enlightened Conflict

questionable civil discourse, calm the rhetoric … and leading

June 14th, 2017

obama sad thoughtful tough

 

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“We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

 

—-

Barack Obama on January 12th 2011

 

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On a day which we are faced with someone who decided to take a gun and shoot words rememberpoliticians … and appear to target politicians … I am reminded of several things.

 

The first thing is the rhetoric.

The rhetoric of the citizenry but mostly the rhetoric of our elected leaders. I say that because words have repercussions.

 

Yes.

 

I do believe in personal responsibility and choices are made by individuals.

 

But I also believe leaders lead with words <because most of us cannot view their actions>.

 

And if our elected leaders treat their words as if we will not remember them forever.

 

And if our elected leaders treat each other as if they are truly enemies <and even use that word on occasion>.

 

And if our elected leaders treat each other as if the opposite’s behavior is unfathomable behavior for sane, moral people.

 

And if our elected officials treat each other with verbal hyperbole as the standard rhetoric discourse … and the highest of the elected leaders, the president, tosses out the word ‘unity’ on occasion but 99% of the time does nothing verbally or behavior wise to unite … well … the electors will be tempted to do as leaders do.

 

We need to calm our rhetoric. We need to remind ourselves what we teach our children … that you don’t always get what you want and that most progress sis made in mutual effort.

 

We all need to be speaking more calmly and acting more civilly but we should be demanding our elected leaders do so. I get angry with how they act and what they say because it suggests to people that is behavior we should all embrace — and it is not.  Stop, and stop it now.

 

speechless

 

The second thing I am reminded of is one of the best speeches President Obama ever made.

 

To share my thoughts I will borrow <steal> liberally from a NY Times article written by Helene Cooper and Jeff Zelenyjan. The article was Obama Calls for a New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics and it shares the speech Obama gave on January 12th 2011 in Tucson after the shooting of a US Congresswoman and the deaths of 6 other people.

 

Apparently Obama wrote much of the speech himself the day before.

 

I suggest everyone read the speech but today I will share highlights because it is a nice reminder on a day on which we need some reminders.

 

 

President Obama offered the nation’s condolences on Wednesday to the victims of the shootings here, calling on Americans to draw a lesson from the lives of the fallen and the actions of the heroes, and to usher in a new era of civility in their honor.

 

The president directly confronted the political debate that erupted after the rampage, urging people of all beliefs not to use the tragedy to turn on one another. He did not cast blame on Republicans or Democrats, but asked people to “sharpen our instincts for empathy.”

 

It was one of the more powerful addresses that Mr. Obama has delivered as president, harnessing the emotion generated by the shock and loss from Saturday’s shootings to urge Americans “to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully” and to “remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

 

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do,” he said, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

 

The president led an overflow crowd at the evening service at the University of Arizona in eulogizing the six people who died on Saturday and asking for prayers for the wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who the authorities said was the target of an assassination attempt.

 

He warned against “simple explanations” and spoke of the unknowability of the thoughts that “lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.”

He suggested that the events should force individuals to look inward, but also that they should prompt a collective response against reflexive ideological and social conflict.

 

While the tone and content were distinctly nonpolitical, there were clear political ramifications to the speech, giving Mr. Obama a chance, for an evening at least, to try to occupy a space outside of partisanship or agenda.

 

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost,” Mr. Obama said. “Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”

 

suicide losing care“If, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse,” Mr. Obama said, let us remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.”

 

In the end.

No, I do not believe we will learn anything from today’s event <or the other shooting events that cost people’s lives today> but maybe, just maybe, we can start talking to each other like we don’t want to shoot the other person if given an opportunity. That is a good start.

an ironic view of building a wall

January 25th, 2017

 

symbolism construction growth progress business trump

 

Well.

 

The United States Commander in Symbolism Chief is at it again.

Except on this day he not only seems to be establishing the upcoming war for the soul of America but also the war over our tax revenue.

 

 

feel the irony wall trump hate

………………. The Wall …………………….

I have no doubt that President Trump will be doing some hacking to existing government programs and planned spending to free up funds to pay for all the shit he is suggesting we are gonna do … but as it appears to date … he seems to feel the pocket book <most likely be prefers a wallet> is open and bottomless.

 

 

Here is the irony.

 

This all costs money to do.

And this money comes from one of two places … business tax revenue or citizen tax revenue.

 

We already know that larger businesses do not pay shit for taxes <and will apparently be paying even less than shit when President Trump slices their tax rates>.

 

We already know that the bulk of tax revenues come from the citizens <which includes self owned small businesses>.

trump and taxes 1

Therefore … the tax money he is using to fund many of his symbolic gestures to a greater America … is yours & mine … uhm … and none of his.

 

We have no proof he has paid any taxes for years <decades>  and … well … he sure ain’t gonna start paying now.

 

 

I may like spending money on infrastructure <I do>

 

 

I may like expanded Medicare because it helps people <I do>.trump and taxes 2

 

 

I may like cutting corporate tax rates <I do … although it tends to feed the business bottom line more than it does feed employee salaries>.

 

I may like building a border wall <I do not … stupid use of a finite budget>.

 

I may like a less expensive approach toward immigration like hiring more border security & enforce existing laws <I do>.

 

I may like investing in military & security upgrading <I kind of do>.

 

I may like contributing to all these things with my tax dollars <I am okay with it>.

 

But … unless proven otherwise … my President is contributing zilch.

Zero. Nada. Nothing. No money.

 

I find it slightly ironic that I am helping make America great and he is contributing nothing to help <and has not been for quite some time>.

 

irony could not recognize enemy no friends people lifeI find it slightly ironic that a multi millionaire, who is playing president, is actually making money on a business he still owns <but is technically not running> and not paying taxes on that increasing self wealth and my minuscule tax dollars are funding a wall <or some semblance of one>.

 

And, lastly, I find it slightly ironic that no one in our congress … who we voted for to battle for what is good and right for the citizens … is saying how stupid the wall is to the President of Symbolic Actions … and the past Mexican President actually tweets what they should be saying:

Vicente Fox Quesada

✔ @VicenteFoxQue

Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall

3:55 PM – 25 Jan 2017

—–

 

Sigh.

Basically … we want to build a wall to keep out someone who is smarter and more courageous than many of the people who will be inside the fucking wall.

 

A sadly ironic day.

important to know when something has reached its end

November 11th, 2016

 

period just stop here

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“It is always important to know when something has reached its end.

 

Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”

 

 

Paulo Coelho

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“When you start to suck, stop.”

 

 –

 

Kristen Hersh

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So.

 

This is mostly about business <although, I imagine, some aspects bleed into Life>.

 

stopIn business … we create false endings all the time. And I mean ALL the time.

Milestones, quarterly objectives, standards, etc.

 

We do this not just because people have a tendency to work better aiming at something but also because we suck at knowing when something has naturally reached its end.

 

Now.

 

I have written about stopping, or closing down, when you start sucking and how difficult that is.

 

Back in 2012 I said “sucking is like quicksand.  The harder you work to stop sucking the further you get sucked down into suckedness.”   A fun idea to write about but that is different than recognizing an ‘end’ … that is simply not recognizing you have given all you can and it is all downhill from there.

 

I have written about ‘periods’, the stop punctuation, and the art of knowing when to stop. A fun idea to write about but that is different than recognizing an ‘end’ … that is simply about not recognizing when you should shut up.

 

This post is about knowing … and I mean really knowing when something has reached its end.

Knowing that it is time to close, close up … and move on.

 

Uhm.

 

This is hard. Really hard.

And, speaking for myself and how I think philosophically, I know I make it even harder. I once wrote about running through the end of project … I called it “riding to the buzzer.”

Riding through things you are working on makes it a little more difficult to recognize whether you ran through a milestone or through its natural end.

 

I say that because here is where a natural end truly becomes sneaky … 99% of knowing when to stopthe time it doesn’t appear as some brick wall or solid stop.

Sure.

‘The end’ most likely does have a stop sign around if you pay attention … but more often than not the sign is most likely covered up by some overgrown bushes which have never been trimmed.

 

It seems a little strange because one would think we business people would be better at seeing ends and when to close up on something and move on.

I mean what the hell … business is strewn with milestones, objectives, deadlines and a slew of ‘people created’ ending points. And, yet, most business people suck at the really important ability to know when something has reached its end.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to a company <uhm … companies actually do have life spans>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to employee initiatives <once in place we have a nasty habit of thinking it should be an ongoing ‘organizational culture tool’ which enables consistent behavior>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to existing products & services <what happens when there is actually something better to be offered?>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to sales objectives <what happens when our stated audience is … uh oh … sated?>.

 

 

In fact.

 

What we are particularly good at is getting whatever it is that we want done starting over poohinto a “doing” mode and then developing a whole slew of ways to nudge it down the road. I imagine if I stick with that metaphor I could suggest we suck at not seeing any stop signs because we are too focused on nudging and tweaking the engine and replacing shoes so people can keep walking down that road.

 

But ‘being over’?

 

Whew.

 

We hold on way beyond the sell date. Everyone does <me included>. It is natural.

 

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Letting go. Everyone talks about it like it’s the easiest thing. Unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open. But my hand has been clenched into a fist for three years now; it’s frozen shut.

All of me is frozen shut. And about to shut down completely.

 

—–

Gayle Forman

 

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It is natural because of the dreaded “what’s next?”

few whats next

Yeah.

 

In order to acknowledge an end … to close up shop and move on … well … you have to know what’s next. And not only that … you kind of have to already have a plan in place or at least a road to bus everyone over to where they can get off and start walking.

 

And maybe that is where we business folk suck the most. It’s not that we don’t know when to stop we just don’t know how to start again.

Start anew.

 

About the only time we are actually good at it is within a ‘forced end.’

 

As in … we have no choice.

 

As I typed that I thought about … well … a different kind of business … the business of having a band and the arrival of the Foo Fighters after the death of Kurt Cobain:

 

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“There were people that really resented me for starting this band. ‘How dare you start another band?’

 

They asked me ‘Why did you decide to carry on and make music that sounds like Nirvana?’ and I said well, wait a minute – like, loud rock guitars, and melodies, and cymbals crashing and big-ass drums?

‘Cause that’s what I do.

What do you want me to do? Make a reggae record?”

 

Dave Grohl

<Foo Fighters>

 

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When viewing the music industry and bands and individual artist you can find a lot of examples of forced ‘doing what needs to be done and moving on’ as well as ‘well, it is time to move on’ type endings <we business people should think about that a little>.

 

When forced … talented business people do what needs to be done.

Unfortunately … most of business doesn’t really create this kind of ‘forced decision.’ Most times we simply try and squeeze whatever we can out of whatever we have. And we squeeze until there is nothing left <way beyond the ‘end’>.

 

Ok. What to do.

 

This is solvable.

And relatively easy in the scheme of things.

 

It is a version of ‘planned obsoletion’ <which I have always been a HUGE fan of in business> … but your senior management team needs to sit down on occasion and not do ‘blue sky thinking’ but hunker down like a military plan of action and say “we won this ground and what ground do we attack next.” This includes an attitude which says we will aggressively pursue that plan <so it is not just a plan but a plan of action>.

 

Far too often we look at the ground we have won and seek to consolidate it … and … well … consolidate it.

Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.

And, on occasion, we fool ourselves into thinking we are truly exploring ‘what’s next’ by saying ‘let’s take that hill just outside of the area we currently occupy.’

And we make it sound like some massive effort that will refresh us. Instead we are investing significant resources on a less than significant objective. I am certainly not suggesting that incrementalism does not have a role in business strategy but rather we far too often use incrementalism to ignore the stop sign we just walked past.

 

I am not a big SWOT analysis guy nor am I a big ‘white space’ business guy. I am more a pragmatic “this is who I am and this is what I am good at and I don’t care who I may compete against or what they may be currently doing I believe ‘these x’ people will like what I have to offer and I am going to go get it” business guy.

 

In a growth situation <which, by the way, I tend to believe any healthy organization should always be in> you should be seeking to grow. To expand. To think of ‘saturation’ as a swear word. To always be thinking about how to shake-the-etch-a-sketch so that stagnancy <in sales, attitude, behavior, thinking> never sets in.

 

To be clear.

Sure.

 

I believe you should always talk with your innovations/new product pipeline people because they may have some new widget up their sleeve you can go and expand your business with but, more often, you will be successful by looking at what you have now and finding new ground to attack with that. I have found starting over i amyour new widgets just have a tendency to cement the ground you have already won more often than not.

 

Keeping with the military analogy I often tell businesses to think of their business modeling with an ‘occupation force’ team with a separate “attacking army” team mindset. Especially if you are in a growing category you almost have to have a “win this ground and move on” attitude or you can get stuck in a grind-it-out business war.

 

Regardless.

 

It is important to know when something has reached an end. If only because it permits us business folk to close it off, leave it behind, not invest more energy squeezing something that has really ended <even though we do not want to admit it> and move on to the next chapter of our business life.

 

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“Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost.”

Sue Monk Kidd

Enlightened Conflict