Enlightened Conflict

Owning up

October 26th, 2016

 ideas-cloudy-chaos-trouble-contraian

 

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“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”

 

 

Bruce Lee

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“If you own up to your mistakes, you don’t suffer as much.

But that’s a tough lesson to learn.”

 

Lee Iacocca

 

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So.

 

responsible act feelOwning up is all about the respect for the boundaries of responsibility.

 

Owning up to what you have done and said is possibly the truest test of character you will ever see.

 

When you are managing people you learn a shitload about employees by how they handle a mistake … and how they ‘own up.’

 

Now.

 

As a manager … you always filter the ‘owning up’ through your own management style <because you affect your employees behavior whether you admit it or not>.

 

Any leader worth half a shit encourages the people on their team to think, go and do.

 

And, in doing so, they also accept the inevitable mistakes that happen with those who are often reaching beyond what they are currently capable of <that reaching is called “growth” by the way>.

 

Leaders aside … anyone, in any organization worth a shit, is going to find themselves in situations where well intended actions which have become mistakes have been made.

 

<note: I will ignore the crappy organizations who believe stupid ongoing mistakes are a fundamental building block to everyday business>

 

This is where ‘owning up’ moves to the forefront.

 

In general … you will find owning up falls into three basic categories:

 

 

  • Cocoon the mistake.

It is mine. Examine it. Accept it. Blame yourself for it. Own it as an isolated incident.

 

 

  • Leverage the mistake.

It was mine. Examine it. I learned from it. Own it. Use it moving forward as a stepping stone.

 

 

  • Equivalize the mistake

<note: I made up the word “equivalize” … I could have used ‘equalize’ but it is actually more about someone searching for some equivalence that they can pony up in their defense>

 

It was mine … but … it was pretty similar to this other mistake … and remember when <insert name> did this? … which makes it not so bad, right?my bad mistake

 

 

<note: there are certainly degrees of each and every of these response categories>

 

 

Let me talk about these.

 

The first is a martyr. Throwing themselves at the mercy of the court.

 

The last is a victim. Saying … well … if you are going to convict me, be aware, you will also have to convict all these other people.

 

The middle one? Well. Before you convict me let me tell you how it makes me, and us, better.

 

Once again, any good manager worth half a shit will reflect upon their responsibility for the response before they respond. Good managers understand that they set the tone for ‘encouraging mistakes’ and managing the main filter someone flows through when assessing and articulating their own mistakes – fear of repercussions.

 

All that said.

 

If you remove fear of repercussion you gain some true insight into the person.

 

For example … a senior person who feels entitled and ‘above the fray’ will have little to no fear of repercussion and you will see who they truly are in their response. And they can fall into any of the three categories I outlined.

 

Younger employees, on the other hand, are more likely to be scared shitless and their response is like looking into a mirror of your management style.

 

But.

 

Here is an interesting thought with regard to owning up.

 

Shit hitting the fan is like … well … a hurricane. Rarely is it simple and even rules not follow shitmore rarely does it stay a simple storm if you ignore it … it will eventually become a hurricane if you let it.

 

The thought?

 

The ‘i’ of the word hurricane is also in its center.

 

That is where owning up truly resides. How the “I” in the middle of the hurricane acts.

 

Still amidst the buffeting winds?

 

Scared of the mountain high waves?

 

Make little nuanced responses to remain in the calm of the hurricane?

 

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“The little things? The little moments? — They aren’t little. “

 

John Zabat-Zinn

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I imagine my point is that in owning up there is certainly the larger “am I willing to accept responsibility” but there are numerous little things within the acceptance which showcase character.

 

Being accountable, in general, demonstrates you are responsible. It certainly demonstrates you are willing to do shit, to make a mistake and are prepared to take accountability for it.

 

Being unaccountable creates an incredibly irksome dilemma to a manager.

dance-adams-family-couple-distinct

“I didn’t do it” , when all the obvious evidence states you did do it, creates incredibly stilted conversations circling some alternative universes.

 

It can become an absurd dance around reality.

 

And, worse, not owning up to something actually creates a spark which creates a smoldering fire which needs to be constantly dealt with over and over and over again.

 

And each time its little flame appears it scorches that person’s integrity just a little more.

 

I know.

 

It is incredibly easy to point fingers when things go wrong. Even easier to not even speak up and hope that no one notices.

 

Good things, the right things, are always harder to do.

 

Which leads me to a really neat thing I found about ‘owning up’ … which I found when doing some research — an organization called ‘cultures of dignity’ that has a curriculum they offer for young people.

 

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Owning Up teaches young people to understand their individual development in relation to group behavior, the influence of social media on their conflicts, and the dynamics that lead to discrimination and bigotry.

 

Whether you’re teaching in a school, a team, or a youth-serving organization, Owning Up is a flexible, dynamic curriculum that respects your knowledge of the young people you work with and the communities in which you serve.

Owning Up is a tool to help educators work with the most interesting, funny, and challenging people in the world: tweens and teens. It’s also a tool to teach young people the capacity to understand their individual development in relation to group behavior with their peers, the social dynamics that lead to discrimination and bigotry, and the skills to be socially competent in the difficult yet common social conflicts they experience.

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I love it. I love we go out of our way to show young people the power of ‘owning up.’

 

Uhm.

 

Now adults have to exhibit the same behavior <or have their own class>.

 

 

Which leads me to Trump who is, unfortunately, serving as a potential role model for our young people.

 

I imagine I thought about ‘owning up’ because of Trump.

 

He has mastered the art of not owning up to anything. But he does it in a way that I am not sure I have ever seen before. He just ignores what he has said and done. He just keeps moving onward <not upward> and I imagine in his head he shows a disdain for ‘owning up’ because it is so far in his rear view mirror he can’t even see why others want to keep talking about it.

accountability quote

I am not sure if in his own alternative universe <in his head> he never did anything to own up to … or if he is so focused on where he is going next he cannot be bothered by going back to what was.

 

Either way … it teaches nothing about the value of ‘owning up’ to our young people and sends a horrible message with regard to accepting responsibility for words & actions.

 

I would be quite pleased if Trump ‘owned up’ to that.

 

Regardless.

 

All I would suggest to everyone is that there may be nothing more reflective of someone’s character than their ‘owning up’ behavior.

in order to do what we want to do

October 20th, 2016

 

stop-go-signs-life-business-do

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“We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.”

 

—–

James Farmer Jr.

 

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“Success doesn’t come to you – you go to it.”

 

Marva Collins

 

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So.

 

I have written a number of times with regard to passion and how I tend to afraid lose mind find soul lifebelieve it is misguided advice to ‘follow your passion’ … in fact … I wrote ‘don’t find your passion’  as one of my thought pieces.

 

I will not recount my concerns with it.

 

Instead let’s focus on this little gem: what we want to do.

 

What we want to do spans everything from some grand audacious objective to some small ‘I want an ice cream cone’ want.

 

But I don’t care where you are on that spectrum … if you decide to do what you want to do you … well … you end up doing what you have to do in order to do it.

 

I imagine this is a different version of ‘go get it.’

 

I am fairly sure the line “if you want something, go get it … period” comes from “Pursuit of Happyness.” But this is not about happiness this is about doing what you want to do.

 

Doing what you have to do is not a passive thought. It is not ‘bending the rules’ or ‘do whatever it takes to win.’ It is all about actively pursuing what you want … going after it and … well … go get it type attitude.

 

This attitude is fairly consistent in its aspects & overall formula. I say it is a formula because you need to do all three of the things I list below … not just one.

I tend to believe everyone knows these aspects and this formula … and actually agrees with them … but not everyone actually does them.

But here you go:Bad 27 7 doing shit

 

Work … or … doing shit.

 

What you want almost certainly never comes to you.

I can almost guarantee that anything you want you will need to go get. It will require you to do some work and do some hard shit to get to some place where what you want is within reach.

 

If you do not take any action there will be no ‘what you want’ anywhere in your Life.

 

Period.

 

 

 

Relentless & resilient.

 

Work and doing is, unfortunately, not enough. Some people would suggest you need persistence … I will not. I think you need to be relentless and resilient.

 

Relentless implies not just persistency but a real ‘go get it’ attitude. Fortunately, participate relentlessly in manifestation liferesilience is inextricably tied to that attitude.

 

Relentless people tend to be more resilient.

 

I say that because, truth be told, rarely is ‘working hard’ enough. Because even though you are working and doing … Life has a nasty habit of throwing obstacles in your way. And, let’s face it, it is always easier to find an excuse then it is to fight thru the obstacle <especially if the obstacles are relentless>. Resilience is kind of the engine for your progress … no resilience and the engine will stop.

 

Look.

 

Relentless and resilient may not insure Life won’t find some way to beat you down but it sure makes it more difficult for Life to do so.

Relentless and resilience keeps you in the game. It keeps you on the path toward what you want.

Period.

 

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“It isn’t normal to know what we want.

It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.”

 

Abraham Maslow

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Lastly.

 

Give your best.

 

Not all work is created equal and not all ‘relentless’ is created equal. In other words … you can work long and hard and still fall short of what you want to do.

 

But.

Never forget.do your best boy

 

You are the architect of your own fate. And the architects’ best tool is … well … doing your best.

And, unfortunately, you cannot know if the day you take off … or the day you decide to give something less than your best … is the day Fate decides to pay attention to you.

 

You have to give your best every day and every minute you can.

 

The other unfortunate thing is that rarely is ‘your best’ and ‘something’ <the outcome> immediate. It can sometimes take days, weeks, months and even years before you can see the results for your actions and relentlessness.

 

The only thing that is for certain is if you stop or give up you will lose it all.

 

Period.

 

 

That’s why this is a formula … you gotta work, be relentless and give your best to do what you want to do.

 

Lastly.

 

Here is the good news <because that all sounded like a shitload of work>.

 

If you really do all the things I just suggested and do what you need to do to do what you want to do … your success will be on your terms … and no one else’s.

 

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“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”

 

 

Anna Quindlen

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In order to do what you want we do what we have to get it.

work in progress i

Not only does good shit ‘just happen’ but you have to work hard to have good shit happen.

 

Most of us know that.

 

Yeah.

We all wish to that success, and gaining what we want, would just be a little easier on occasion.

 

The only solace I can offer is that if you do things on your own terms, you do what you need to do to get what you want and you work hard doing your best … well … that is the best tasting success you will ever be served.

 

feet in the clouds & head on the ground

October 5th, 2016

 dreams walking

 

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They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground

My sole intention is keeping my head in the clouds

They say that I can’t last a day in the real world

I say you wouldn’t survive one night in mine

 

Asking Alexandria

 

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Suffice it to say that 99% of the best businesses have figured out how to successfully keep their feet in the clouds and their head on the ground.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it looks like I got it twisted around … but I did not.

 

Good businesses are always walking with the future in mind.now what next hugh

 

Always traveling toward possibilities. Always seeking ‘what’s next.’

 

Good businesses are always closely listening to the drumbeat of the feet of what is happening around them. Ear to the ground insuring everyone in the business is keeping their head in the game today.

 

I have called it mastering pragmatism & possibilities.

 

But, in reality, it is the ability to have your feet in the clouds and head on the ground.

 

I tend to believe if more people thought about it this way businesses would have more hope … and more achievable possibilities than they could ever imagine.

 

You have to admit … the current definition – feet on the ground & head in the clouds – just ain’t working that well these days.

 

Businesses seem to be more woefully stagnant <albeit ‘talking’ change> and have more despair and lack of hope with regard to their possibilities than ever.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

I am sure I could invest dozens of page sharing thoughts on why but instead I will focus on what I would consider the intellectual aspects … what is going on in with our attitudes that affect our heads, how we think and how we approach these things.

 

  • Issue one. over-simplification

 

Suffice it to say we have devolved into a society of sound bites. This is true in business even moreso.

 

In business it seems to be all about simplicity.

 

In everyday Life it is ‘summarize it for me’ or ‘oh, it’s simple <insert some explanation here>.’

 

In the end I can’t figure out if should be pointing the finger at us or them.

 

Them <management & leadership> because they think we are not capable of understanding some form of complexity and therefore they only offer up simplified versions of what needs to be communicated.

 

Or us <the employees> because we either:

 

<a> demand a sound bite under the guise of ‘we only have time for the headline’

or

 

<b> we only latch on to the fragment of the whole which we believe summarizes the whole.

 

Therefore I will point the finger at all of us and them.

 

Here is a Truth.

 

business simplicity complex woekMost things are just not that simple.

 

An effect can have multiple causes and a cause can have multiple effects. I say this despite the fact, naturally, we would like all the dominoes to line up one after another and when one falls the next naturally is impacted and falls.

 

Well.

 

Things don’t really work that way. Especially in a business environment. Maybe in a controlled test environment but, in business, events are typically bombarded from a variety of directions and while not all causes are created equal <some can impact more than others> most things are too complex to be simplified into ‘one thing.’ And, yet, we oversimplify again and again and again.

 

Over simplifying simply means ignoring complexities.

 

Over simplifying simply means being consciously ignorant.

 

Over simplifying … well … just doesn’t work in the long run.

 

It eases you through the moment only to have to doubly <or exponentially> invest energy later on.

 

Simply? Over simplification just doesn’t work.

 

Instead of dumbing things down to some simplistic sound bite we need to raise the level of general understanding & knowledge to the level of complexity of the ideas & systems in which a business works.

 

Factually … seconds of involvement <sound bites> versus minutes of involvement <deeper complex discussion> leads to degrees of real knowledge.  i.e., seconds leads to shallow knowledge or let’s call it ‘less knowledgeable.’

 

 

Over simplification will not demystify uncertainty and cannot help us do what we really need to do … reconcepting & rethinking that which is.

 

What I am suggesting is difficult and uncertain work.

 

But certainly more satisfying and inspiring when we solve and recreate and it certainly is a more effective way to keep your feet in the clouds and head on the cloud-feet-hold-high-business-ideaground..

 

I can unequivocally state that the fate of possibilities for a business, any business, lies in balance if we don’t invest in the hard work of ‘non over simplification.

And worse?

We won’t solve any of the problems we face if we do not address this.

 

 

This leads me to …

 

 

  • Issue two. being intellectually insightful is about hard work.

 

Let me begin by suggesting that good ideas cannot be decided by number of tweet votes in favor of.

 

Business ideas do not compete on American idol nor, frankly, should they compete in any larger group.

 

We are not all judges <and probably shouldn’t be on American idol either>.

 

Why?

 

Good ideas are rarely popular; therefore, I don’t really want a business idea to win some meaningless popularity contest

 

If we really want to do what needs to be done to maximize both the pragmatism & the possibilities in business we have to hunker down and work hard … work hard in that we need to use what we have to rethink things … use all aspects including economic thought and philosophy and the past … all of which means dealing with ambiguity and contradiction.

 

And, yes, that is hard work.

 

That is the kind of work that hones the intellectual insightfulness necessary to keep your feet in the clouds and your feet on the ground and … well … make progress. Smart progress.

 

Instead of dumbing things down we need to be raising the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us.

 

And while you may balk at something like ‘intellectual insightfulness’ as too far reaching or ‘elitist’ … suffice it to say we just need to be smarter … less ignorant … more enlightened <open to additional thoughts> and more involved in the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconcepting ideas and systems in which we live in and … well … just plain rethinking shit.

 

Suffice it to say that there is nothing simple when talking about world-changing ideas … because talking will not simply make the world change.

 

I read somewhere recently that ‘if you remove this boundary … the only be wrong stand in your wrongness divideboundary left is our imagination.’

 

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

 

Imagination is important but even imagination is complicated and difficult and tends to not offer tidy solutions.

 

Especially if you don’t invest in the hard work.

 

We need to be doing more of ‘using your imagination within the box of what exists.’

We don’t need to be wandering aimlessly ‘outside the box’ but rather using our imagination insightfully and creatively WITHIN the box … and expand the boundaries.

 

It is all hard work … but hard work will work. And in this case I mean hard thinking work.

 

Simply ‘doing’ aint gonna cut it.

 

We need to be smarter. And whether you think about thinking this way or not … it ain’t about staring off into space doing nothing … thinking is a blue collar job.

Thinking is all about work.

 

Hmmmmmm … it is quite possible that what I just wrote defines “head on the ground” better than anything I have ever written before.

 

Anyway.

As a corollary to issue number two …

 

 

  • Issue three. innovation is not <just> technology.

 

What makes oversimplification even more challenging is that for some reason we seem to be associating innovation with technology … and just technology.

We can’t … and shouldn’t.big picture thinking

 

This type of thinking leads us to possibly believe technology innovations will eventually solve all problems and maximize everyone’s Life as some point.

 

That is a very dangerous idea.

 

It is dangerous because in reality if we focus just on technology as the solution we are actually preventing the real change we need.

 

It’s a very dangerous idea because it completely removes the human aspect.

 

Minds need to innovate too.

 

Thinking and attitudes need to evolve and innovate.

 

New thought systems, economic systems and systems in which people live eat and breath all need to evolve … and that happens through innovation <whether technology is involved or not>.

 

Technology is simply a path that runs parallel to culture <or society> basically amplifying everything that is happening on the parallel path <the corollary to that is … with nothing to amplify the technology remains silent>.

 

Technology and culture and business are entangled.

 

Technologies may enable new ways of doing things … not just doing but thinking. This effects culture … so culturally we need to innovate to structure how those technologies will be involved in our lives <so that we can dictate a little how they are incorporated> and we need to innovate our thinking and culture so that we can actually impact how technology evolves <so that we can dictate how what technology is innovated in some form or fashion>.

 

At the moment it seems like we respond to technology rather than proactively drive technology.

 

Technology has certainly dramatically improved the overall quality of business.

 

The paradox is that the system we have now may make amazing new technology possible, but at same time is creating such cultural conflict that maximizing technology ‘what could be’ seems impossible.

 

We need to innovate the systems in which technology exists.

 

Economically, culturally and philosophically.

All systems need to see innovation.

 

<that’s it for my issues>

 

Look.

 

Hope and possibilities grounded with enlightened pragmatism abound in today’s business world if you look hard enough <and have your feet in the clouds an head to the ground>.

 

But none of it comes easy … these types of things are rarely just given … they need to be earned … mostly thru hard work.

 

I don’t believe simplicity is bad.

 

I don’t believe being optimistic or having a positive attitude is bad.

 

I don’t believe technology is bad.

 

I don’t believe hard work, smartly done, is bad.

head-in-cloud-glasses-think

 

But we seem trapped in the old paradigm of “head in the clouds & feet on the ground.” This old paradigm kind of separates work & thinking <vision> in a non useful way. And I … well … I admit I sometimes think this paradigm encourages a slightly warped version of some lazy thinking.

 

And we cannot be lazy moving forward.

 

And we certainly cannot afford to be lazy thinkers.

 

For in this type of laziness lurks ignorance and it is ignorance we should fear.

Not any ideological argument or technological innovation which inserts itself into our daily lives but ignorance.

 

 

Avoid lazy thinking.

 

Maybe have everyone hearken to Emerson’s words …

 

“Consent yourself to be an organ of your highest thought, and lo! suddenly you put all men in your debt, and are the fountain of an energy that goes pulsing on with waves of benefit to the borders of society, to the circumference of things.”

 

 

My thought for businesses today?

 

sigh-thought-bubbleConsent yourself to be of your highest thought.

And how do you do that?

 

Sigh.

 

Keep your feet in the clouds and your head on the ground.

 

Enlightened Conflict