Enlightened Conflict

things people don’t say

March 20th, 2015

easy hard said

“I want to write a novel about Silence,” he said; “the things people don’t say.”


Virginia Woolf


“I don’t broadcast every high & I don’t hide every low.

I’m trying to live.

I’m not trying to convince the world I have life.”




“Her eyes were rimmed with long nights and things she wishes she had said.”


Flowers In Bone Cages


“Humans are easy to read, because what they’re not saying speaks volumes.”


Joel T. McGrath









words know what to say

This is not about things ‘not said’ … that would be about regrets and missed moments and shit like that … this is about selective silence.



When we select, or elect, to be silent … and the choice, and choices, we make with regard to ‘silent.’



In general I think we respect people of few words. We think of them as thoughtful and good listeners.







When I enjoy the company of those who do not say much … I wonder what battle is going on inside their heads.



And, no, not the battle to keep from speaking <those are different type of people>.



This is the battle of thoughts.



The battle that rages between all the words spoken and those not spoken … clashing to create a myriad of thoughts.




This is all about the words you finally debate in your mind on whether they are worth sharing or simply meant to be shelved somewhere in your mind or even discarded as junk.




This is all about the words which scream at the top of their lungs… but are not heard except in the head.




This is all about the words you smother because … well … some words are not meant to be spoken.



“Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”


Erza Taft Benson

 start somewhere words


The mind can be a wonderful, and terrible, place. Within the best minds resides a tug of war where even words themselves stand at each end staring at each other pulling as hard as they can.



Use this word.




Use THIS word.



And while those of us looking on who cannot see the battle inside sit & wait … we often think of the moment as a deliberate use of silent ‘space and time.’


Deliberately using silence to prompt those of us around to go further in thought.



Silly silly us.


Inside the silent resides the war.



I imagine at the essence of what I am discussing is my belief most people are not flippant with regard to how they use their words <I say this despite the fact we watch blathering mouths scattering words like confetti around a room>.



I do tend to believe most people speak with Salvatore Quasimodo in mind:




In my voice

there is at least a sign

of living geometry

the words of life

I have never understood



What make the battle more difficult is … well … the world around us.


It sometimes seems like the world is structurally hostile to nuance.



Subtlety doesn’t seem to be very effective these days.


The internet amplifies and facilitates a sense that we should think the worst of people <even ones we have never met> and to ignore any facts or context that may potentially eliminate the doubt or uncertainty.



Truth always seems just out of reach and yet being called a liar always seems close at hand.



People aren’t, in general, stupid.



Everyone knows how it works.



Refusing to speak means avoiding the fact that as soon as the words are spoken they begin winging their way across social media … where they inevitably seem to end up mutating into something simplistic and inflammatory therefore overshadowing not only anything else you may say … but also what you may have really said <or meant to say>.



words there are noThis all leads to self-censorship and calculated blandness.



This all leads to the ‘should I speak’ battle inside the head raging even longer … where neither side wins. It remains a stalemate … and only silence wins.




“… had their ideology combed over, examined, misinterpreted, rewritten and kicked to death a hundred times.

Talk about breaking a butterfly on a wheel.”


Steven Wells




What happens when people become fearful of saying anything that might be misconstrued is that they … well … remain silent <when they SHOULD say something>.


And while it would be easy for me to say that the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest … I also think most people really know this.



What is more difficult for us to maybe grasp is that the words they <other people> stop themselves from saying are actually the ones that will haunt us the longest.





I feel relatively confident suggesting that in today’s world the battle inside the head for what to say versus what not to say most often ends up in a place where silence wins because … well … that is why there seem to be so many more writers in today’s world.

And I mean writers as in diaries, blogs, tumblr, pinterest, any form of a journal or scribblings or words that capture what you may want to say … just not verbally out loud.


Words can battle on the page.


Words seem quieter on paper.


Words seem like they may go unnoticed <which a part of us actually wants>.




“I am much better on paper.”


Jared M.


right words some day simple





The best minds are very careful in what they say and do not say.



The best minds have some of the greatest battles <we will never see>.



Let’s be sure the best minds don’t let silence win those battles.

accuracy of silence

February 4th, 2015



lie in silence sand 2

“Silence is so accurate. “


Mark Rothko


“Every word has consequences.

Every silence, too. “


Jean Paul Sartre


Why are we embarrassed by silence?

What comfort do we find in all the noise?


Tuesdays with Morrie











There is certainly something good to be said about silence.

Many things in fact.





In particular … being comfortable communicating with silence.



This comfort, if we ever truly find it, is borne from a struggle. I say that because I believe many of us … reflecting upon our spoken output … struggle with warring impulses to speak up and shut up.



To me?



The whole warring impulses revolves around accuracy.



We rue the inaccuracy of the words we use <words we say>.

We endlessly worry about the potential inaccuracy of what will occur if we are silent <words we do not say>.



To be clear.



I love silence.



Particularly in business <as I have written about before>.



< http://brucemctague.com/silence-speak >




Regardless of business … or Life … to me silence defines accuracy in communication.



It is within the space of silence that lies get opened up and bleed to death … and truth is able to step to the forefront.


quiet confidence


It is where the quiet of confidence stifles the screaming of obvious insecurity.



It is where, in business, the best are able to comfortably sit and the ‘not so best’ line up to be the first to speak … regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.




In business we seem to be teaching rushing from one thing to another like organized chickens with our proverbial heads cut off.

That translates into less real listening and a focus on ‘effective communication’ <which kind of implies ‘listen to me’>.

What kind of future leaders do we believe we are developing if we are not teaching them the value of being a good listener.

I tend to believe I am comfortable with silence is because I believe the teller has no responsibility to make the listener believe in the truth.

<source: me>




noise silence




There is certainly a balance between what you say versus when you are silent.


This thought I am suggesting seems centered on the thought “I believe a speaker has absolutely no responsibility to explain or defend.”


That may seem illogical but I believe at the core of this whole accuracy thing is that each person must take the words you have spoken … and make them their own.


And I believe no one can do that for another.



I imagine a part of what I am discussing is silence after speaking. And here is the courage part – trusting in your words and how they may inspire others to think <and react>.






This may actually be one of the times when I believe I am different than many other people.


I sense most people do not believe the thought I shared.




I sense this because I hear so many people constantly defending and explaining … and … well … using a shitload of words to make their words sink in or bludgeon other people into understanding or believing <I imagine with the intent to make the listener take the words you have spoken … and make them their own – in some way>.



But … in fact … silence can make a listener well … think.



But … in fact … silence also permits the speaker to … well … think.





A double positive.



In fact … it is kind of an eloquent use of time.



I purposefully used eloquence because I believe far too often these days we bludgeon with words, behavior and energy.


Everything seems to revolve around who can shout the loudest or be the first or some bombastic behavior.




Speaking, and silence, is an art.



And I tend to believe we forget this.




“The withheld work of art is the only eloquence left.”

letters to myself envelopeDon DeLillo




Withholding words is a version of eloquence.



Letting people have time to think is a version of eloquence.



It is just a version of eloquence to understand that thought, or an idea, is crafted, or created, in one’s mind.



And to be a little philosophical … thought, an idea, is art <I say that because sharing an idea you have is the closest us normal schlubs ever experience to what an artist feels like when they share something they have created>.




As a corollary I would point out that people have a tendency to create images they like as they think … not images they don’t like.




Therefore <part 1>.


If silence allows someone to create their own image they have a likelihood to LIKE what they think.




Therefore <part 2>.


This suggests to really listen to someone you have to be interested in the images people may be trying to hide in their mind.


truth speak







I would imagine, as with everything, silence is about balance.



I say that because silence should be used wisely. Because you cannot remain silent all the time. even in a sparse environment there has to be enough to fill in some key spaces.



More importantly?



Words represent thoughts <or, at least, they are supposed to>.
If you don’t use some words you will end up getting buried in your own thoughts.






“I didn’t know you could get buried in your own silence.”




Jandy Nelson






And this is where the balance occurs … because if you are too silent too often you can get buried in all the things never said.


I say that because silence, when wielded well, creates accuracy.






But only if you point it out <which means you have to speak>.
So maybe it silence is all about deliberately holding silent ‘space and time’ for longer so that it prompts others to go further in thought.



I try and keep the balance simple in my own head … “don’t fill empty space simply because it is empty.”



I try and remind myself that within the empty space … things, not wrought with my own hands … or mouth, will be built.



I try and listen, and see, the things that fill the space before, and after, the empty space.



I try and seek what is found within the silence.



Back in 2010 I wrote this about silence:





In a non-stop world, we have become non-stop speakers.

For this reason alone, silence is a powerful tool.

Think about beginning a presentation with silence.

silence is better

It takes courage.

But it gives your audience time to breathe as well.

We live in a crazy world where silence is not easy to find.

And, frankly, it’s just not that easy to use either.

Silence. Don’t shun silence.

Silence. Embrace it.






Silence is not an easy tool to use.


Silence takes courage.



I worry that silence has become a lost art.



I worry that silence, or remaining selectively quiet, is often confused with ‘lack of involvement’ … or worse … ‘lack of interest.silence words nothing



I worry that those with the courage to use silence with purposeful intent seeking accuracy & truth are becoming a dying breed.




In the end.



All I can say is that as you look around you and notice the silent, the few who purposefully wield silence as communication, remember … they may be seeing more in the empty space than what is not apparent.


“I was quiet but I wasn’t blind.”




difference between positive thinking and hope

January 21st, 2015

hope versus positive thinking


“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”


Thomas Merton



“You can’t be happy if you’re thinking about being happy.

Happiness is either there or it’s not, and if you’re thinking about it, it’s not there. “


J. Parata










hope cup of


On new year’s day I wrote about a pragmatic hope … a practical version of hope < http://brucemctague.com/2015-creating-rational-hope-eliminating-rational-ignorance  >  … or a rational version of hope … and all of a sudden I received a bunch of emails talking about ‘thinking positively in 2015″ and how that will power ‘good things.’





While I love hearing from people about what I write … sometimes I step back into the conversation because I think someone has misconstrued my thinking.




2015, shit, any time is about Hope … not positive thinking.


Let me be clear.


The whole positive thinking business drives me a little nuts because I am unequivocally in the Hope business.



And they are not the same.


Not even close in my book.



Hope is about a desire for better things to happen.


Positive thinking is not really hope … it is about envisioning things to happen … therefore … it’s just positive things.






I am not suggesting positive thinking is about ‘confidence’ because it is not.


Confidence, when managed well, is a character trait.


On the other hand … I sometimes refer to positive thinking as ‘personal puffery.’ Puffing yourself up thru some random ‘positive thoughts about myself or what I believe I deserve.’ In fact … I think that is where that whole fake law, law of attraction, begins … with puffery.





Positive thinking is all about making the intangible tangible in your mind. Its about creating the thought, an image in your mind, that what seems impossible isn’t just possible … it becomes real.



Conversely … Hope is all about accepting the intangible … and accepting that it hugh impossible mad hattercould become tangible … not just in your head but in reality.


What seems impossible just appears … well … as not impassable.




It is the simple acceptance of what could be possible.









But a huge crevasse in between the two.






We don’t all need positive thinking to be successful <but … we do need some doubt or cynicism to balance>.


However … we all need hope.



A hopeless existence just isn’t worth living. Shit. We humans instinctively know this … that is why we spend days, hours & minutes searching for hope.


Unfortunately … we sometimes settle for something a little short of hope.

<insert “Uh oh” here>

Because of that, with good intentions to feel good about where we’re headed, we mistake positive thinking for genuine hope.



The real difference between the two seems to come down to their sources.



Positive thinking flows from the human will … from the choice to believe that everything will turn out all right <whether it actually does or not>.

sell hope i can




On the other hand … Hope seems to rest on character on the promise that Life offers <albeit it may not look that way all the time>.



Positive thinking seems to depend on us … while Hope seems to depend on Life.




Oddly <or interestingly>.



After looking at some research … it also seems that there are some character traits which affect how we think about positive thinking and hope.



It appears how we have developed our character <or how we think about things> makes a difference.




For example.


How we view our behavior through a certain filter – shame versus guilt. This filter is developed within our childhood.



Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person … where guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing.




Shame is a negative judgment about the core self which can be debilitating & diminishing. Shame makes children feel small and worthless and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether.




In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right.





The idea of positive thinking grew in the 70s and is certainly popular as we manage our shame versus guilt feelings.


Positive thinking has become a way of handling whatever happens to be bothering you.



The positive thinking movement continues to be strong today, culminating in recent years with the massive success of “The Secret” book and movie which prescribes tapping into the “law of attraction” <which is not actually a Law> to attract good things in your life simply by thinking about them.








Unfortunately … sometime Life cannot be ‘handled.’

life is a beautiful struggle


Life is … well … lived.


And therein is where Hope resides.



Positive thinking is not only flawed thinking but a fallacy.


They posit that positive thoughts are supposed to generate positive feelings and ultimately attract Positive life Experiences. This is the belief that positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will <wherein the reality is that a balance is the best>.



The true death knell of positive thinking is the tendency to expect the best.




The majority of Life is actually not portrayed in ‘the best.’ We get glimpses of the best and at times we brush up against the best but more often than not we do not attain the best.




Therefore one of three things happen:


We accept less than the best but call it the best.

<all the while thinking positively of course>

This is a sad compromise.

This is called ‘settling’ which is a word you never hear in positive thinking psychology <mumbo jumbo>.


  We become blind to reality.

The close ‘one time’ becomes the example of positive thinking proof which blinds us into ignoring the 99 other times our misguided positive thinking guided us into a less than fruitful path.


We become … well … discouraged.

This can create some false optimism <false positive thinking> in that we live under the belief that ‘we are due’ and ‘it will happen the next time’ and we will not change behavior <which has created the outcomes to date> and end up with the same results over and over.





In addition positive thinking generally promotes a “more is better” approach to positivity.



Some proponents of positive thinking would argue that if you don’t have the wealth, health or happiness you want out of life, it’s because you allowed some negativity to creep in. Only by shutting these thoughts out and focusing on the positive can you be successful.





That is kind of bullshit type thinking.


Life is … well … what happens.



And Hope is more about Life.


Hope for something better. Not anything specific … just better.



Therefore it accommodates negative emotions <doesn’t reject them> recognizing they help us to flourish in our lives.



In fact … one research study found an ideal ratio of 3 positive emotions to every 1 negative emotion for human flourishing.








To be clear.


Not 3:0.



This means it is all about accepting both positive and negative emotions <in whatever ratio they happen to exist> and then acting consciously, while staying true to personal values and goals.



Hope enables people to develop standards for judging their actions, feelings of empathy and responsibility for others, and a sense of moral identity, which are conducive to becoming a better person.



hope this way


“The miserable have no other medicine

But only hope.”


William Shakespeare




Hope enables people to see, and find, something beyond the miserable.



Hope enables the ability to look for the unknown. Hope, by definition, is a feeling that what is wanted … will happen <or some desire accompanied by expectation>.




Children seem better at this Hope thing than adults <maybe that is why we adults created this whole ‘positive thinking’ bullshit? … because we stopped being good at Hoping?>.

Many times I wish we adults had a little more of the hope of the young. They never seem to doubt that what they hope for will happen. I don’t think we need all of that … just some.







One last thought before I leave you with your own thoughts.


Today and Hope.



These days it seems like the word ‘hope’ is used in a pretty casual way. It is almost like we use it as synonymous with some type of need.


Like we need many things to happen in our lives.




Like we need jobs, we need money, and need some ‘thing.’



We tie this Hope thing to … we need … we need … we need.



I don’t know if its because we live in such a tangible outcome oriented world these days … or that Hope and dreamers have it kind of tough as not being pragmatic or realistic enough … but regardless of the reason … Hope is being diminished into some fairly basic needs & tangibles.



Hope cannot, and should not, ever be cheapened … and certainly not ever <ever> lowered to the abysmal depths of positive thinking tripe.



Hope is more a primal need and Life expectation.



And hope is infinitely more powerful than any amount of positive thinking.


Hope isn’t about thinking about ‘what isn’t’ as ‘what is’… it is about believing ‘what could be’.




Hope is not false believing <like positive thinking ‘personal puffery’> but real believing … an acceptance that something appears impossible … and yet is not impassable.



There is a reality in hope that doesn’t exist in positive thinking.




To that end.



I will end with a quote from the infamous movie ‘Princess Bride’.




“We’ll never survive!”


You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”


The Princess Bride




Hope, in a very odd way, is about realism.


Or being realistic.



We hope that things will happen.



We envision what could be.compromise never settle for



Not guaranteed … but maybe what ought to be <believing that because it ought to be that somehow … someway … we will get there>.




Hope is … well … about survival.


It may be tempting to settle for positive thinking … but … it means you are settling for too little.


Do not settle.



Accept the big prize in Life – Hope.

everyday sort of magic

August 26th, 2014

magic make




“I do believe in an every day sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”


Charles de Lint








I guess in some way I must be an impractical non-pragmatic dreamer type <despite anything I may have said about myself I the past> because I loved this quote as soon as I saw it.




I do believe in an everyday sort of magic.



I do believe that despite the everyday Life grind we encounter a little magic in our lives … every day.




I do believe more of us should see this … or maybe take a moment and recognize this.




I do believe we ignore the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity too easily <and too often>.



I do believe we need to embrace hope just a little bit more often <on more days>.



moment insightI do believe magic can be found in stars and rainbows <which we should take a moment and enjoy more often>.







In the end … I tend to believe we should seek some magic, more often, in simple seemingly meaningless moments and silent random encounters with people.



I do believe that no matter how alone, or lonely, you may feel there is always someone somewhere who, while may not be thinking about you at that moment, is willing and wants to think about you <and isn’t all that matters?>.



Does this make me some sort of dreamer?





moment beautiful

I don’t know.



All I know is that I am someone who believes in everyday sort of magic.


dear skepticism

May 10th, 2014

skeptical faith god devil


“It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”

Naguib Mahfouz



“It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.”

Kenneth Clark





I sometimes believe we confuse lack of confidence and skepticism.




I am sure they are aspects of the same thought <on occasion> but suffice it to say whenever you are skeptical with regard to something about, or for, yourself … someone will contritely suggest you are simply lacking confidence.



There is no ‘how to live Life’ handbook.

And most of the time we do the best we can as we make it up as we go.

And, yes, I am fairly confident all of us sit back at some time or another and say ‘what if we don’t know what we are doing.’


What that typically translates into is a life in which we constantly get tugged one way by optimism or hope … and the other by skepticism. In other words … skepticism slows you down. And sometimes it can actually be strong enough to stop you.


Having skepticism as an acquaintance isn’t necessarily a bad person to have in your circle of acquaintances. It will give you the reasonable caution to consider a little before oblivious optimism grabs your hand and pulls you off of some overly optimistic ledge.


soul mates intamacyBut having skepticism as a so-called ‘friend’ is a bad person to have close to you. Its nagging presence insures you always feel like you truly have no idea what you, personally, are doing. It makes that hesitation personal. And it makes you forget that everyone doesn’t know what they are doing and making it up as they go and doing the best that they can.


Life is bigger than just us and while we are individuals and unique in our character … we all pretty much share the same rules and challenges in Life.

Skepticism is personal.

It pulls you out of the bigger ‘us’ and makes you a smaller ‘us.’


I thought about this when I found this incredible teen written letter … written to herself … well … lets say she wrote it to her so called friend ‘skepticism’:


Dear Skepticism,

Oh, why must you infect my brain with your contagious thoughts? You are not content to let me simply accept, you find any way to twist my beliefs into doubts. When I am truly happy, you shatter the illusion and show me exactly why my life is nothing to be pleased about. Mirroring me, images of success and loneliness, you know how to get under my skin. Skepticism, you know my shape itinner self more so than any other, thus you know which strings to pull. I am your marionette, controlled by your twisted intentions. Push and pull the words in my mind, formulate sharp sentences designed to drawn blood from my fragile humanity. The way I hurt others, is multiplied in the way I myself am torn apart.


In this distance, in this loneliness, skepticism welcomes itself to my chemically dyed head, taking it’s place amongst longing and deep hurt. Underneath the surface intelligence, beneath the mathematical formulas and psychology terms, is my fragility. This I admit, not much effects me, except my own carefully targeted words. Why would I allow myself to feel pain at the words of others, when my own mind is so much capable? My inner demons are muted when I am amongst others, when I am laughing with my best friend or in the arms of my boyfriend, but in silence they scream demented tones. “Why would anyone love you?” They taunt me, pulling at my weaknesses. “You really think you have anything going for you besides your intelligence?” They laugh at my naivety. “If you were worth something, to anyone, would your phone really be so silent?” They say the things I do not want to hear. They speak the truths I try to forget.


Skepticism, please take leave and allow me some peace of mind. A good night’s sleep would be beneficial, I am sick of this restlessness. The distance itself is enough, I do not need your constant reminders of what it might mean. I know you find pleasure in twisting at the corners of my mind, but please fuck off. I do not need the constant doubts you provide me with. This weekend has given you sufficient time to point out exactly how I feel, I get it. Skepticism, I know you only want to protect me, but it’s much too late for that. I am old enough to make my own mistakes and hold my own beliefs so please, fuck off.  I am done with you telling me who does not care about me. You are not a good friend, understand that I want nothing to do with you. You only bring me down.




Skepticism is sly.

Even though we don’t really know what we are doing <in general> we do know something and yet actually doing it is something  very different. maybe we have no idea


Therefore … skepticism sets limits for you <under the guise of protecting you>.


You know you should stop procrastinating.

You know you should be writing, or doing something to improve a skill, or practicing something, or decluttering.

You know you should … <insert whatever you know here>.


These are things you know.

You are skeptical of … well … whatever <success, effort, process, results, value … bla … bla … bla>.


In business they have something they call The Knowing-Doing Gap. Gobs of companies pay gobs of consultants gobs of money to increase their effectiveness and limit the knowing – doing gap. And after all the gobs of whatever … they know what to improve … but still don’t actually implement it.


Why can’t we put what we know to do … into actual doing?

What stops us?


The answer is simple and difficult.



Skepticism determines limits.


“Why do you, or they, or anyone get to determine my limits?”

Veronica Roth



All that said.


It takes a teen to remind us how to deal with skepticism:


“dear skepticism … so please, fuck off.  I am done with you telling me who does fuck yourselfnot care about me. You are not a good friend, understand that I want nothing to do with you. You only bring me down.”


We may not know what we are doing.

But most of the time we know what we should be doing.


We all have ‘heart’ and will always be afflicted with a skeptical mind.



Tell skepticism to fuck off and go do.


visible and invisible

April 18th, 2014

invisible but visible



This is about the trick of being present and absent at the same time.


What made me think of this?


When I read this in a book …



“… marveled at the way in which three clear liquids … nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and water … when combined produce color … and not just any color … but the color of a flaming sunset.”




That made me think about business and the ability to slip behind the scenes and take some invisible things … and … well … make them visible.

And visible in a delightful colorful way.




Let’s say these are the people who take things most of us just cannot, or do not, see … and make them visible in a meaningful way that is relevant and recognized.


Anyway … the mixture I described above is sometimes called Aqua regia (Latin and Ancient Italian, lit. “royal water”) or aqua regis (Latin, lit. “king’s water”).





We know these people in business.

Hmmmmmmmmmm … well … maybe not.


Because these people who seem to be able to take the invisible things and put them together in ways that make them visible … also tend to be exactly the same way.


They tend to be silent … or maybe quieter … and certainly barely visible <unless you are paying attention>.



And in today’s world silent smarts is not exactly the way to the top of the heap.


Which is unfortunate … because these invisible characters, who are often not seen or often heard, but who can often have a visible effect on events … are invaluable.


Sometimes unseen … but invaluable.


Unseen because they are really good at remaining still … and silent … and have mastered nonchalant intent listening … but their eyes , while saying nothing, never remain still.


Interestingly … just like the formula I mentioned above <royal or king’s water> … they tend to become visible when mixed with the right partner or on the right team. They ‘mix’ in a way that makes their ‘clear’ have ‘color.’


But I am writing more about those invisible clear aspects in business that remain unseen by the majority of business people. Those invisible, or only slightly visible, aspects all businesses have. The ones most of us miss … because as most of us rush from one place to another, one meeting after another, one crisis after another … our ‘thoughtful moments’ are mostly ‘visionary’ … or ‘horizon’ viewing moments … because we are told that is how to make it to the top of the heap.


You need to think big.


invisible presenceYou need a big idea.


You need to see the bigger vision.


And all those things are good. and necessary.

But it is quite possible we are forgetting HOW to do it.






In todays business world if we don’t believe something exists … well … then it doesn’t. What is invisible cannot become visible because .. well … if ts not visible it doesn’t exist.


But truth is that if we don’t know that something exists … it really doesn’t mean that it doesn’t.

It only means we don’t know one way or the other or maybe we just haven’t been made aware of it yet.


Someone wrote somewhere that evidence is not about proof or certainty or necessity but rather it is simply something that can contribute to belief.

This means we can have evidence but it is in no way conclusive.



This is the fundamental mistake when discussing evidence. The mistake in the belief or assumption that there can only be evidence for claims that are true.


But there is in fact a vast amount of evidence for claims that are in fact false.


The context here has to do with lack of awareness.


When people dismiss that possibility simply because they weren’t aware of it, or haven’t made the attempt to explore it, or haven’t looked beyond their own personal usage/viewpoint — then they are all too frequently jumping to conclusions based on … well … lack of information rather than the presence of it.


The people who do not fall into this trap? The ones who can see the invisible things. The ones who can actually take clear components and put them together and create something tangible and colorful.





The ability to be present … but invisible … is a knack.


The ability to take what is present but invisible and combine them to make them not only visible .. but colorful is also a knack.


I am not sure they are trainable … I could be wrong … but I tend to believe they are more a knack, an innate ability, more than one that can be taught.




I do know that the people who talk the most don’t always have the most to say.invisible and visible silent listen

I also know <okay … believe> that most of these people with this innate ability to find invisible things are really good listeners.


They listen to what is not being said.

They see what is unseen.

They find the thread of the true message in the sounds around them.



They find invisible things … maybe even unclear undeveloped ideas … and these things become visible in their heads.



And they tend to use silence like a weapon.


While others seem to embrace some desire to speak and showcase knowledge or what an individual can do … they remain silent.

They also sometimes have the ability to become attuned to the magic that can occur when all the others blend their ideas and abilities. And then they only act, become visible, if it is needed to strengthen that which is.


That last thought?



This is all really tricky if you want to become a leader.


We think of leaders as needing to stand out or even apart from the rest of the team.

invisible visible nothingnessYet the most influential leaders also know how to blend the invisible factor with the visible factor.


They know there is an appropriate time for standing out and apart from the group.


But in today’s business world potential leaders <and even some already in leadership positions> have a fear that blending in <remaining invisible even though present … and making an impact> will cause their value to diminish.

And it does <not in my eyes but in the business world as it exists today>.


While the ability to bring out the best in others without visibly doing anything is a true leadership skill … and the sign of a true leader … invisibility leads to often becoming, perception wise, superfluous.


I say that because being invisible but present, blending in and standing out, is an art.


And I say that because having the ability to combine invisible factors and creating something wonderful and visible … is a skill.




Think of it this way.writing colors

If you know someone at your company or in business who makes you ‘marvel at the way in which they are able to take three clear liquids and combine them to produce color … and not just any color … but the color of a flaming sunset’ you should pay them gobs of money or just make sure that you pay attention to them.


Because invisible is … well … invisible to pretty much everyone.

And anyone who can see the invisible is worth every penny you can pay them.


Because the most colorful beautiful visible in business … is inevitably created from some random combination of ‘less than visible’ aspects.

my story my house my fire

April 8th, 2014


story house hustle

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” —Alice Munro




My house is my story.

What a great thought.





And it is always on fire.


“We all live in a house on fire – no fire department to call, no way out. Just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the fire better personhouse down with us trapped in it.” – Tennessee Williams




If my story is my house … well … I tend to believe we all live in a house on fire.

And for years I have debated what the Williams quote really meant … at least to me … and then I found the ‘house is my story’ quote and I had my answer.


Now … I am no literary expert nor am I particularly insightful with regard to inner meanings … therefore my thoughts are tainted <or skewed> by my attitude toward Life and living.


That said.

Me? We don’t need no water … let the motherfucker burn.



My attitude … my thoughts.


Well … I actually think a couple thoughts.  Inner fire. Outer fire. Our story is surrounded by fire.

Within and without.



The inner fire.


The fire is inner curiosity.  A passion for something. A spirit and capacity for something … it doesn’t have to be something big … just something.

And it is always burning … and it can burn you up if you don’t set it free.

It is a restless fire.


I will make a generalization here … but … suffice it to say that we all know bitter people. People who have strong opinions but are fairly close minded.


They are burning up from the inside out.

In the close mindedness they have squeezed the fire of life so tightly it fries them. The rooms in the house are burning and they have no place to go.



That’s why I rarely get angry with close minded people or bitter people … I know that most of them are simply burning up from an inner fire that curiosity just hasn’t set free.


By the way … this also means that I don’t really believe the inner spark goes out in most people.




The people that have lost that inner fire have simply lost hope … and maybe I am naïve but I hope that they are few and far between.


Do not let your fire go out, sparked by irreplaceable spark. And the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all. Do fire hands flamesnot let the hero in your soul perish.

And lonely frustration for the life you deserved but never been able to reach.

The world you desire can be won. It exists.

It is real. It is possible.

And it is yours.”


Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill


I think the inner spark always burns.

That there is a fire within everyone.







That inner fire is burning all the time … some people get burned up … others spread the fire … but that fire is there … awaiting to be rekindled if it is diminished.


“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.

It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”


Albert Schweitzer




Then there is the outer fire.


This would be the house we live in … burning down around us.


I believe the house we live in, Life, burns all the time.

Because our story lives within a forest always burning.



Life isn’t easy.

People live.

People die.


And in-between the fire always burns.



Here is the challenge with your story being your house and the thought it is always burning.


Sometimes in the comfort, the safety, of our home … our story feels safe …  and we don’t even feel we are getting burned.


fire walk thruThis is dangerous … because in the end we kind of helplessly watch the fire slowly consume us.

I use safe and comfort and suggest stagnancy … or standing still within the walls of what you know as an example of how you can be consumed by the fire.




Because comfortable complacency does not mean you are not safe.



Well. The house is burning for gods sake.


The fact is that this fire never goes out.


We can never stamp out this fire.


It rages off and on but is always burning.


Safety within the home of what you know is temporary.


Inevitably the fire will consume you by squeezing out what make life interesting and worthwhile. As a counterpoint to inner fire … it suffocates the fire within with the fire coming from without.


Your story burns.


Your story ends up being a burned out shell with everything within extinguished. Just ashes where a raging story once stood.




I admit.

I like the thought of my story being my house … and that it is always on fire.


And while I am not a woman … the point of this quote resonates with me:


She lives her life like a flame; a dance of purposeful chaos … her enchanting light can guide you and quell your fears … she’s hot; inner fire hughwarming those who respect her and burning those who don’t.

She is a flame with an unforgettable glow.

A weak man will try to dim her luminance… but her soul mate will take pleasure in fanning the blaze.


Steve Maraboli

A flame with an unforgettable glow.


Whew. What a story that would be.



Let it rage <I say>.







It is a life truth that we make choices that resonate throughout our lives … but how your story is told … and maybe how it dies … may be the biggest truth.




That’s too deep for today.


Geez … all I am fairly sure of is that the Life is burning around us.


And what about your house?



It may not be burning.



And me?


I think of words from Julianna Hatfield:

“I wrote and wrote like the house was on fire, like words and chords and melodies were going to burn up and disintegrate into the air if didn’t capture them fast enough.”


Juliana Hatfield


I love that thought.


I will write my story like the house was on fire.


I will think thoughts before they disintegrate into ash.


I will live life like the house is burning around me.


fire the world is yoursAnd hope I have a fire never quenched.


“Some men, like a tiled house, are long before they take fire, but once on flame there is no coming near to quench them.”

Thomas Fuller


Because if our Life is constantly on fire … whew … what a view we have from that upstairs window as it all burns.


My story.

My house.

My fire.


“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don’t need no water, let the motherf–ker burn.”

<“Tear the Roof off the Sucker” – chant often blended with ‘The Roof Is on Fire’ by Rockmaster Scott & The Dynamic Three>story on hand


My story. My house.


Let the motherfucker burn.


Now there’s an attitude to live by.


What’s your story?

being dauntless

April 2nd, 2014

dauntless stand up

“We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.” – Four <Divergent>




“Virtue refuses facility for her companion … the easy, gentle, and sloping path that guides the footsteps of a good natural disposition is not the path of true virtue. It demands a rough and thorny road.”  – Michel de Montaigne




Being dauntless.


In an otherwise incredibly poorly written great story <the Divergent trilogy> we get to think about the value of … well … virtue.


The book places society into five different factions … each espousing one specific virtue <at the expense of other virtues>.


I imagine one of the points is that making one virtue your Life focus is bad in that we are a complex balance of a number of virtues.




The factions are <virtues>:dauntless divergent 5









It is in the Dauntless idea in which I found something that truly struck a chord.


Something I found valuable to think about.


Not just for me … but society and people in general.

Let me share some words in the Dauntless Manifesto:



“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”





There is a thought.


There is a BIG thought.


Why do I think so?


In a me, me, me world <or at least it sometimes feels that way these days> … in a world where if I see never ending advice like ‘no one will stand up for you but yourself’ … or … ‘the only one you can count on is yourself’ one more time … I will … well … begin to lose a little faith in humanity … this thought is something we should all wrap our heads around.


In ordinary acts of bravery.


Bravery as in everyday actions and not in running into fires to save someone or stepping in front of a bullet.


Bravery as in stepping in front of criticism.


Bravery as in stepping in front of ‘doing nothing.’


Bravery as in stepping in and doing what is right <even if it may not be the easiest thing to do>.




How about these words:


“We believe in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves.”



To be clear.

The thought is not that I am not suggesting shouting … but rather speaking out for those who only whisper.

And defending those who cannot defend themselves.



The world is made up of a bunch of different people.

It is crazy … fucking crazy … to criticize and diminish the people who only whisper … or do not always defend themselves. We may not like it … we may wish that they stood up and spoke out … but just because they don’t doesn’t make them ‘lesser than.’ It is simply what it is. Accept it. and if you can make a difference … and you want to make a difference … then make a difference. You are no better than the other person … you are simply doing what you do.

If you are dauntless … then be dauntless.


But I imagine my real point is … well … if you have this dauntless virtue than accept the responsibility.

It is who you are and you should be it.


My next point?


dauntless freedom sacrificeFearless and dauntless are two completely different things.

Dauntless doesn’t mean you do not have fear … it simply means ‘going the way despite maybe having fear.’



Dauntless is a relentless pursuit of what you believe is right.


As Montaigne suggests it is not an easy gentle slope of living life … it is a rough and thorny road.


But Montaigne <and I imagine Divergent suggested> understood that there is a Life worth fighting for.


At least there is a vision of what Life should be.


I found it interesting that the author of the Divergent trilogy suggested the following lyrics to this song captured the essence of what she was writing about <and I thought it also was relevant to being dauntless>:



“Hold on to the world we all remember fighting for

There’s some strength left in you yet

Hold on to the world we all remember dying for

There’s some hope left in it yet

Arise and be

All that you dreamed.

– Flyleaf <Arise>




Arise and be all that you dreamed.


Do we not all dream about standing up for those who cannot stand on their own?

Do we not dream about speaking up for those who can only whisper?

Or defending those who cannot defend themselves?


Maybe that is dauntless.

And if that is being Dauntless … well … sign me up.




We may all dream of being ‘that person.’

But that is not for everyone. And it shouldn’t be. Because sometimes being dauntless means you are simply clearing the way … opening the pathway … so someone can get through and do what they do.dauntless one thing


And what they do is make the world a little more like the world we remember worth dying for.


Roles & responsibilities.


We all have roles & responsibilities in Life. We may seek or desire to be ‘more’ … but reality often suggests we have a specific role … and responsibility.


Embrace your role.

Embrace your responsibility.


And embrace being dauntless in doing so.





The Dauntless Manifesto has some thoughtful thoughts. Things we should all think about. Things that may remind us of the world we remember worth dying for.


And, what the hell, if I can channel Montaigne thru the Divergent trilogy there certainly has to be some meaning worthwhile to ponder.






Parts of the Dauntless Manifesto are silly … but it is a poorly written young adult book so just focus on the sometimes breathtaking choice of words:

dauntless manifesto


Dauntless manifesto:



We believe that cowardice is to blame for the world’s injustices.

We believe that peace is hard-won, that sometimes it is necessary to fight for peace. But more than that: We believe that justice is more important than peace.

We believe in freedom from fear, in denying fear the power to influence our decisions. We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.

We believe in acknowledging fear and the extent to which it rules us. We believe in facing that fear no matter what the cost to our comfort, our happiness, or even our sanity.

We believe in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves.

We believe, not just in bold words but in bold deeds to match them. We believe that pain and death are better than cowardice and inaction because we believe in action.

We do not believe in living comfortable lives. We do not believe that silence is useful.

We do not believe in good manners.

We do not believe in empty heads, empty mouths, or empty hands.

We do not believe that learning to master violence encourages unnecessary violence.

We do not believe that we should be allowed to stand idly by. We do not believe that any other virtue is more important than bravery.






Enlightened Conflict