Enlightened Conflict

forever and one second

February 6th, 2014

 

Alice:                    “How long is forever?one second width

White Rabbit:    “Sometimes, just one second”

 

<Tim Burton … from Alice in Wonderland movie but never in Lewis Carroll’s books>

 

Ok.

Regardless of whether this is a made up literary quote or not … it is a thoughtful thought.

It is kind of Tim Burton’s version of Mr. Margorium’s “37 seconds is a lifetime if used well.” < http://brucemctague.com/waiting-versus-living  >

 

I imagine I am writing about living instead of waiting … and recognizing that even if you do live … some moments in time are different than others <although they all surely look the same as they appear on the watch>.

 

But.

Time is a funny thing.

It can ebb and flow all within a finite amount of time.

It can increase speed and decrease speed and yet remain an extremely identifiable finite amount of time.

one second yearsIt can take years of asking and creating questions … and a second to answer everything.

 

All of which makes me think of two things:

 

-          Memorable moments

-          Moment of clarity

 

Obviously they are not the same thing … but could end up being the same moment.

Anyway.

 

First.

              Memorable moments.

 

I sometimes call these untangled moments.

Life is a tangled snarled bunch of moments. But every once in a while you inadvertently pull the right end of the string and the knot is released … everything becomes untangled.

 

It can be a smile from some across the room.

It can be a falling star.

It can be something really big … a seemingly small decision made amongst many.

 

Frankly … you don’t notice many of these ‘one seconds’ when they happen.

 

“In real life turning points are sneaky. They pass by unlabeled and unheeded. Opportunities are missed, catastrophes unwittingly celebrated. Turning points are only uncovered later, by historians who seek to bring order to a lifetime of tangled moments.” —Kate Morton, The House At Riverton

 

It is in reflection that these seconds last forever.

A moment etched in time.

These are truly ‘a second that is forever.’

 

Finally an interesting paradox … explained for you.

 

Now you can tell someone how one second can also be forever.

 

Second.

            Moments of clarity

 

Clarity is an amazing thing.

It can be forced externally <let’s call these ‘oh shit’ moments> and internally <I call these ‘lock picking’ moments>.

 

Oh shit moments.

Physiologically ‘oh shit’ moments actually causes the mind to become intensely focused. focusThis physiological response actually permits our brains to record more data than normal.

 

Physiologically what also happens is that memory then ends up replaying the information in slow motion mostly to assimilate all the additional information stored in there.

Think of it like filming something with a high speed camera and then replaying it at a normal speed.

 

I cannot figure out if time slows down … or our mind speeds up … to accommodate more information.

 

Doesn’t really matter.

Oh shit makes us focus … and when focused our minds are pretty amazing computers. They create moments of clarity. These moments may be fleeting <and some of us actually miss the clarity moment as it passes by> and we become simply overwhelmed by all the data.

 

That leads me to the internally forced moment of clarity.

 

The first is what I just explained above. Focused minds overwhelmed by data offer an open window to a moment in clarity.

The challenge?

Life slams the window shut pretty frickin’ fast.

You have to almost train yourself, and your mind, to see thru the window for the moment it is open.

 

The second is truly the ‘lock picking’ moment.

 

Lock picking moments.

Why do I call it ‘lock picking’?

 

one second beautyI don’t know how to crack a safe or pick a lock <and I imagine I wouldn’t broadcast it if I did> … but I do know what it feels like to have a moment of clarity when thinking about something. It is like having all the tumblers in the lock suddenly align and you hear the click of the lock unlocking.

 

And, yes, I swear I hear a sound in my head when it happens. Oh. And it is a frickin’ beautiful sound.

 

I am often asked to describe it … and I do so … but I cannot explain the noise of the moment of clarity when the tumblers align.

I imagine it is just in my head.

But I tell people that is what you are seeking. When everything just falls into place your mind will tell you in some form or fashion that you have entered into a moment of clarity.

 

Interestingly … maybe this is just me … but I have found that these moments are also very similar to the first one I described in that Life doesn’t hold that window open for long.

 

What I mean is that I have learned over time to write it down or say it out loud to someone when the tumblers fall into place.

Maybe the mind simply opens that door which you just unlocked and closes it behind you and you immediately enter a new hallway with dozens of other locked doors and the mind moves on.

 

I don’t know.

 

All I know is that moments of clarity are simply moments. They may echo in eternity <lasting forever> … but only if you actually recognize them.

 

If you don’t?

That one second just gets buried under the mound of other missed seconds.

 

 

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” – David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

 

And yet … within the multitude of drops … the limitless ocean called Life …one second can be forever.

Uhm.

Can.

 

You just have to make sure you pay attention.

 

That said.

I will end with two relevant quotes from two great thinker/writers:

 

“Forever is made up of now.” – Emily Dickinson.

 

 

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

 

 

Kurt & Emily probably loved Alice in Wonderland.

 

There is no why … because how can there be in a world of nonsense … where we seek to find some sense?

The ‘forever one seconds’ always end up being trapped in amber.

 

Here you go … the full Tim Burton script:infinite i sweaer

 

“It is better to be feared than loved.”

“The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?

Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would.”

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours”

”Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second”

 

In the end I can only chuckle.

 

One second?

 

Of course one second can be forever.

<and I am not entirely bonkers>

shrinking

January 24th, 2014

 

“No one and nothing is worth shrinking for.” – Indigo Williamsshrinking goethe

 

 

Well.

I’m a pretty pragmatic guy.

 

But.

Sometimes you have to push back a little … push back against reality.

Or maybe what everyone else sees as reality.

 

Now.

This isn’t about hope. And, shit, not even dreams and dreaming.

 

This is simply about … well … not shrinking. Or maybe not getting the life sucked out of you. Life is tough enough as it is … and Life does a pretty nice job of trying to erode you <wear you down> … that is its version of shrinking you.

Wearing you down.

 

It’s tough enough just keeping an eye out to insure Life doesn’t shrink you.

 

But other people?

Well.

They ain’t as big and important as Life.

 

Notice Life begins with a capital L and people begins with a small p.

 

That should make my point.

 

There are a lot of people out there who walk around as if they are a capital P type person … and maybe they have some title … and they even maybe have earned some respect … and absolutely you should listen to some people more closely than others … but no one is worth shrinking for.

 

I have seen many people … and often some very senior experienced people … fawn over little p people with big p titles … and if you look closely you can see them visibly shrink before your very eyes.

Its sad.

And slightly frightening to watch.

 

Me?

That’s proof enough that I will not permit that to happen.

 

Some people are more important than others … but no people is worth shrinking for.

 

Lastly.

How people use Life in a sneaky way to encourage you to shrink.

 

 

“People will kill you over time, and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases, like ‘be realistic’.” —Dylan Moran

 

Sneaky.

These people <who have likely accepted self shrinkage> are doing and saying things so that you become like them … shrinkers.

stop hand

They will be relentless. And you need to say “stop.”

 

Yes … yes … yes. There is a pragmatic side.

Absolutely.

You have to keep your eyes open and your mind clear and judge what is happening around you … but even a realistic decision shouldn’t diminish … shouldn’t shrink you … it <at its worst> should just put you on hold. A momentary situation until you can grow some more.

 

Shrink? Never.

Just watch out … because people <small p and big p minded people> can be sneaky in their attempt to encourage shrinkage.

 

In the end?

 

No one or nothing is worth shrinking for.

 

Simple as that.

 

ragged claws across the universe

December 31st, 2013

 

“I should have been a pair of ragged clawsragged claws brains

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” – TS Eliot

 

 

“Do I dare disturb the universe?” – TS Eliot

 

 

Well.

Both lines above come from TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

 

In the 130 line poem Eliot explores Life from the depths of the ocean floor where one scrabbles out a living on ragged claws to the heights of the universe … and the immensity of Life that resides in between.

Uhm.

Okay.

At least that is what I see and think when I read it.

 

And unfortunately <or fortunately> I am no literary expert and therefore do not have the ability to tear his writing apart evaluating what they call ‘literary allusion’ <… pulling from Donne, Dante, Shakespeare and Marvel to Chaucer, Hesiod and the Bible. A reader has to take these allusions on board to get the most out of his poems, though on the surface they are fairly accessible>.

 

Therefore.

I can only tell you what I think after I read it. That must mean ‘what is on the surface’ is what I imagine the experts would suggest I am doing.

So take what I share with a grain of salt <but read the poem>.

 

Ok.

I admit that TS Eliot poems tend to make me think … stark language steeped with cynicism and a hint of urgency driven by desperation but always with an introspective look at Life.

 

ragged claws sense of ourselvesThis poem is about a person’s desperation that time in Life is running out and he hasn’t made his mark on the world.

 

I believe most of us have an ongoing thread of ‘am I being meaningful’ in Life. It is ongoing from the time we begin wondering what we will do in Life through the moment we step out of school and into the real world and continues as we do what we need to do day in and day out to survive and be the best we can within the circumstances we exist in.

But.

I do tend to believe with age … we begin to obsess a little more over the whole idea of ‘being meaningful.’

That is what the poem makes me think about.

A man looking back on his Life, and at his life, and desperately assessing what could have been.

 

in my pea like brain the whole idea centers on adequacy.

Ah.

Adequacy.

Equal to what is required ior expected but not exceeding it by much. Adequate is suitable to the case or occasion. Nothing to rave about but meets what is needed.

 

I purposefully chose adequate to share my thoughts because it suggests we have what it takes to do what we need to do in Life … yet … is adequate enough?

 

Most of us muddle through Life with small glimpses of something bigger. Maybe it is slightly beyond our grasp for some reason we cannot truly understand … but the glimpse remains etched in our minds in such a way we tend to come back to it again and again in our thoughts.

 

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

 

Ah.

Is this what we fear as we ponder our lives?

 

That Death mocks us as it awaits our arrival?ragged claws someone to tell

The arrival could be years away … but it can be seen mocking even from afar.

 

I imagine the thought behind the mocking is found within us … in that I was afraid I was not good enough, did enough … or been enough of what I could have been.

 

I wasn’t adequate to be anything more than what I was.

 

There is a self-consciousness with constant introspection and anxiety about mortality and fragility of ‘doing something’ in life.

 

The poem digs deep into a self reflected desperation … which I don’t see as all consuming … but rather a moment of deep thought. A thought so deep that Life begins to become overcome with feelings of self-consciousness and regret and echoes of a hundred indecisions and a hundred visions and revisions.

The hundreds bombarding you in that one moment.

 

Luckily we tend to shed these moments well … and move on.

When we don’t we tend to be haunted.

 

Are we haunted by the Life led?

Or by the Life which we never led?

 

Regardless we are haunted.

 

This kind of soul searching for meaning is often simply seeking a richer association with Life than simply scrabbling with ragged claws.

 

And in that search and introspection of adequacy we often seem to dare to peek at unimaginable heights. The heights which we are uncertain we are adequate enough to not only explore but to survive and prosper.

 

Which leads to my favorite part of the poem.

 

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate,

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

 

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

 

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

 

ragged claws thinker doerAh.

Do I dare?

Do I dare to walk among the disdain I expect from the people who talk of Michelangelo?

 

Am I good enough to accept that I will have my time just as you have yours?

 

Am I only adequate to use ragged claws to survive the day to day depths of life?

 

Am I adequate enough to actually dare to do, and be, more?

To actually disturb the universe?

 

And then there is the immensity of Life that resides somewhere in between.

 

I tend to believe while we do not dwell on these types of questions … most of us ask them of ourselves at one time or another.

 

Ok. I will admit.

It is poems like this … at times of the year like this … that one ponders whether they have made a mark in the world.

Have they done something meaningful or maybe more importantly … ‘am I meaningful.’ And I don’t mean to people <because someone always cares about you> … I mean meaningful to something bigger … Life.

 

It is only the arrogant who say ‘yes I have.’

 

The majority of us just wonder.

 

And there is a discomfort in not knowing.

Not knowing if you have not only been adequate or whether you would have been adequate doing more.

Discomfort in not really knowing how ‘big’ we could be.

Discomfort in the belief that our ‘adequate’ made us little.

 

Discomfort in not really knowing if you could have been better … done better … and made a better difference.

 

In the end.

I gotta tell ya.

 

Having a tombstone read “he dared disturb the universe” would be quite a legacy.things doing wooden

 

Anyway.

To close.

A thought from Marianne Williamson which seems to tie well with the poem.

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

 

 

Have a great 2014.

Dare to disturb the universe.

 

ragged claws——–

 

To read the entire poem.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot:    http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/eliot02.html

 

we happy few

December 29th, 2013

“From this day to the ending of the world,few people understand

But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother …” - Shakespeare’s Henry V

 

 

So.

‘We happy few.’

 

In about 1801 aboard some ship it seems Admiral Horatio Nelson, quoting his favorite Shakespeare play, toasted a small group of his best friends and the leading captains/admirals in the Royal Navy as “we happy few.”

 

Oh.

Let us remember that this small group helped a small island’s navy kick the crap out of every nation in the world.

 

That said.

When I began thinking about this and decided to write … it was focused solely on business. And it will remain so, however, as always … I seem to find that personal Life mirrors business life in many ways. Particularly if you define your Life <or let’s say that your Life is often defined by> what you do professionally.

 

Regardless.

I think we are all seeking our own “happy few.” People we can surround ourselves with that don’t comfort us … they just make us better.

 

I thought of this because I recently saw someone I worked with after almost 15 years. I had worked well with her. And after almost 15 years apart … we still worked well together. Ok. Not just well … but really well.

 

We were still part of ‘we happy few.’

 

This ‘happy few.’

The group in which we can not only be ourselves … but actually prosper.

These can be friends, coworkers or whomever.

Some symbiotic relationship seems to exist … even within some hierarchical relationship … that makes things better.

And maybe more importantly … make you better.

 

This ‘happy few’.

 

The people you go to battle with in life or in business.

The people who know what you are thinking before you even think it … and even when they don’t … when you surprise them … they don’t reject … but rather … well … think. Not out of respect but rather because they assume there has to be some thread of usefulness pragmatism or hope that can be used.

 

I have written several times about how great businesses are often somewhat based in some fashion of serendipity … having the right people at the right place at exactly the right time. < http://brucemctague.com/right-people-right-place-right-time >

 

I still am a firm believer in that.

 

Maybe even more so now.

 

Because after 15 years I have been reminded that in the seamless inner workings of a great business relationship of ‘we happy few’ … I know in my heart of hearts … if I could gather ‘we happy few’ in one place … at the right time … we would kick ass. And, in my case, having worked in a number of places … I believe I could gather the happy few from all places … put them together … and while they would all laugh at the common ‘me things’ which make me … well … me … in the end … the ‘we happy few’ would work well together as a ‘we.’

 

This happy few.

 

The few are defined by time … as well as a natural connection.

Time teaches the nuances. The timing of actions tied to intent. The ability to ‘see’ inside what is being thought in all dimensions … without all the explanation. And the comfort to stop and ask and explore and debate the unsaid before it is even said.

 

And then the natural connection.

In we happy few the leaps of logic are no longer leaps but simply common sense.

There is a tendency to not really imagine what is possible … because the happy few just see through some personal filter of what is possible.few thinking and feeling

There is no gap between thinking and feeling. It’s all connected among the happy few.  Discovery is messy but within a small interconnected group there always appears some form of tidiness.

 

What I just described is a natural thing … maybe honed by time … but the metal upon which is placed on the whetstone of time is already there.

 

Now <part 1>.

I am not suggesting the sea is always smooth. Nor am I suggesting the sailing is always seamless. In fact I tend to believe what makes a true ‘happy few’ is the conflict … and the resolution. The ability to fight and make up … without thinking it was a fight … nor that you are actually ‘making up.’

It just is.

The conflict is natural and positive … the resolution is natural and positive.

For some intangible reason the ‘what’s next’ portion of we happy few is attainable and possible and happens without any barnacles on the side of the ships to slow you down.

 

Now <part 2>.

This is all frustrating to those outside this small band of brothers.

Frustrating in that they need and want the words & explanations.

Frustrating because they want to separate <and often debate> the thinking and the feeling.

Frustrating because they can only imagine the finite and need comforting to step into the infinite.

Frustrating in that they only see the impossible and begin demanding the few whats nextpossible.

Frustrating because all they see is the mess in discovery and not the tidiness in the what is discovered.

 

Well.

This is ultimately all frustrating to the happy few because they are already thinking of ‘what’s next.’

 

This happy few.

 

It’s different than  family. It is certainly a professional thing.

Family can make you blind because its … well … blood. With family you can go through walls for someone … often for all the wrong reasons because of the one right reason … its family.

 

In the professional world?

This small band goes through walls for only one reason … the right reason. It is never <if but rarely> blind … but based on respect & trust & a sense of completion of something good based on something more than feeling <which family sometimes leans on>.

 

I feel sorry for those who professionally have not had the ‘we happy few.’ I would guess if you haven’t experienced it … you have been a little less successful. And I will not have to guess by saying you just haven’t received the full benefit of professional life.

You may attain a different success … but you haven’t attained the success of the camaraderie and trust and … well … the real opportunity to be open and be yourself in the professional world.

 

And maybe it’s that last thought that is the most important.

 

Because having been a leader <even in a smaller sense of the word and world> one of the most difficult things is to be … well … yourself. Open yourself up to exposing the flaws and mistakes and the sometimes stupidity that comes as the façade to what comes before something not stupid. And with ‘we happy few’ you have that small window of opportunity to open up. You don’t forfeit all the things that come with being a leader or having to lead … you just gain because you actually get to grow as a person.

 

And that is what we happy few is all about.

be yourself but judged

We got better.

They made me better.

And in doing so I got to lead and be a leader <through some luck of the draw>.

 

We happy few means being one of the luckiest people in the professional world.

 

And I believe Admiral Nelson knew that.

He was good at what he did. He was smart and intuitive and courageous. But I think in his heart of hearts … he knew he was lucky in that he was part of ‘we happy few’ which enabled him to be the best he could be.

His “we happy few” permitted him the luxury to rely on simple strategies rather than complicated complex plans. The interconnectedness of the small band made not only him, but all of them, certain in the knowledge everyone would support one another in striving toward the bigger objective … and yet be confident enough to use their own initiative when required. While the thinking was complex and sometimes leaned on a good dose of imagination in the end the thoughts were easily communicated in simple written instructions reinforced verbally when possible or necessary.

His captains were intelligent, experienced officers … they needed no more.

 

And that is what we happy few is in the professional world.

 

They need no more than each other to be happy.

 

 

 

 

———: historical note.

 

About Nelson’s “we happy few.”wellington nelson and dow

Nelson’s happy few were the Royal Navy captains who served under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson.  Several of which infamously served as his flag captain at different times. He originally used the term only for his captains at the Battle of the Nile but in correspondence it was deemd a broader perspective in Nelson’s eyes.

 

The ‘band of brothers’ comprised, in order of seniority, James de Saumarez, Thomas Troubridge, Henry d’Esterre Darby (1764?–1823), Thomas Louis, John Peyton (1760?–1809), Alexander Ball, Samuel Hood, Davidge Gould (1758–1847), Thomas Foley, George Westcott (who died of a wound sustained during the battle), Benjamin Hallowell, Ralph Miller, Thomas Thompson, Edward Berry, and Thomas Hardy. Those whom the naval historian Sir John Laughton considered worthy of an entry in the original Dictionary of National Biography were, with one exception, outstanding officers. Saumarez, Troubridge, Louis, Foley, Hood, Hallowell, and Hardy would hold important commands as admirals. Ball was the first governor of Malta, although he died before reaching flag rank. Thompson ran the Navy Board for a decade. Hardy topped them all: he became first sea lord in 1830 and helped erect Nelson’s Column. By contrast to the others, Edward Berry was prone to serious errors of judgement at sea and in combat. <source Andrew Lambert – Oxford University Press>

 

The one left off the list was most likely Nelson’s best friend and most respected companion … his second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar Cuthbert Collingwood. I have used Cuthbert in a post before: http://brucemctague.com/moment-to-do-the-extraordinary

still in search

September 29th, 2013

 “I’m still in search for what’s meant for me. I don’t know if i’m living or just alive. end of the world insistI look for paradise on Earth.” – Infinite <contributor on weheartit>

 

 

I look for a lot of images and thoughts on weheartit.com.

I often find that young people have a nice knack for reminding me of several things:

 

-          The constant battle between hope and despair

-          We never stop growing up

-          Life is truly a journey <and rarely do we reach a real destination>

 

 

And I imagine what young people really remind me is that no matter your age … we are all kind of still searching for ‘what’s meant for me.’

 

I know I am.

 

I know most of my friends are.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know.

We talk about what we have and ‘things we have’ and how our children are our legacy and all that stuff … but deep down … when we really talk about what we think … we all are still kind of searching.

 

Are we as hopeful as this tween <’look for paradise on earth>? Nope.

We have been tainted by life somewhat and have our sights on something slightly less than ‘paradise.’

 

I tend to believe we older folk are simply searching for something meaningful.

 

I imagine that is what Infinite is really talking about … but in ‘tweenese’ <they have their own language sometimes>.

 

But as you peruse the images and thoughts she has on her wallpaper you wander through beautiful hopeful thoughts, disturbingly despairing and hurtful thoughts, angst over self, dreams of something better … and the normal every day young challenges of boys and friends and gossip and school.

 

I imagine those same thoughts are a reflection of even us old folk <without the dating and school and stuff like that>.

 

Like it or not, young or old, Life has a tendency to never reside in answers … but in questions. In wondering about things.

Things like:

 

-          Where are we?

-          Where are we going?

-          Where do we want to go?

 

Big questions.

Questions which gobs of books tell you how to navigate and answer and resolve in your head.

Well.

Throw those stupid books away.

 

infinte who you want to beWhether you are 15, 35 or 55 … those questions remain with us as we run Life’s gauntlet of hope and happiness on one side and despair and disappointment on the other.

 

We just keep going.

Searching for whatever it is that will be ‘us’ in the end … and … well … as Infinite suggests … maybe we find whatever paradise there is.

 

There are no answers.

Just keep asking the questions.

 

Personally?

I like that thought.

 

Life is about asking questions.

 

Oh.

And paradise.

 

That certainly is something truly worth seeking.

seize fate

September 22nd, 2013

 

“I shall seize fate by the throat.” ― Ludwig van Beethovenfate master of

 

“Destiny is for losers. It’s just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen.” – Blair Waldorf

 

Well.

I just used the Beethoven quote when discussing Beethoven.

And.

Here I am using Beethoven and Blair <from Gossip Girl> to make a point.

 

Whoa.

Whoda thunk Gossip Girl and Beethoven would be used together to make a thoughtful point.

 

Anyway.

 

Fate & destiny.

It’s easy to think of these things as some invisible hand guiding our direction in life.

<note: I wrote another thought on this discussing the links of coincidence and fate:  http://brucemctague.com/coincidence-and-fate >

 

Personally?

I like the thought that we have some destiny … some fate …  awaiting us. That there is some reason for being here.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

 

 

The struggle I imagine I have in my head is that I like doing … and not waiting. And the thought of permitting something theoretical like ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ to take me by the hand and lead me somewhere doesn’t sit well with me. And I also imagine that part of Life is figuring all this shit out.

 

And, frankly, I don’t think I am unusual in this type of thinking.

 

 

We have a tendency to use terms like fate & destiny in hindsight … ‘it was fate’ … or … ‘it was my <or his or her> destiny.’

 

And when you recognize that fact <looking in the rear view mirror> then you have nowhere else to go thoughtwise then  to keep moving and not waiting.

 

Look.

 

You can wait.

Or.

You can do.

 

You can permit fate … or what ‘is supposed to be’ dictate your future.

Or

You can seize fate by the throat and refuse to let destiny live … as it currently exists.

 

Life is sometimes meant to be battled, wrestled and yes … even grabbed by its throat … to get what you want out of it.

 

Sometimes you have to be stubborn and always you have to be at minimum an active participant … and at maximum you have to be an active combatant.

 

I began with Beethoven because he used his stubbornness to strengthen him and he came to terms with his deafness in a dynamic, constructive way.

 

Free me of only half this affliction and I shall be a complete, mature man. You must think of me as being as happy as it is possible to be on this earth – not unhappy. No! I cannot endure it. I will seize Fate by the throat. It will not wholly conquer me! Oh, how beautiful it is to live – and live a thousand times over!

 

he seized fate by the throat … shook it mercillesly … and plunged into composing <the rest of his Life>.

 

Mentally his thoughts are captured in these words:

 

“Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce.” – Beethoven

 

Blair from Gossip girl … not as eloquently … simply suggests that destiny is for losers.

 

We will not all be Beethoven or Blair personally … but we can all certainly embrace the attitude.

 

If you are eager to accomplish great deeds … heck … accomplish any deeds then Fate sometimes needs to be seized by the throat.

 

You know … I imagine we all have to believe in some way we are here for a reason.

And that is where Fate or Destiny resides.

 

The reason.

 

Fate and destiny are the end accomplishment.

But it’s kind of up to you to figure out what that destination is.

 

Fate or destiny is quiet fellows.

They tend to keep their thoughts to themselves.

 

Even worse?

They have a tendency to hide so you can’t sit them down and say ‘what is my fate?’ … ‘what is my destiny?’ … ‘tell me where to go’.

 

Sometimes you kind of have to reach out blindly … grab the sonuvabitches by the throat and say ‘here is my fate’ … this is my destiny.’

 

Trust me on this.

 

fate choosingIf you do that … fate or destiny … as they struggle for some air … will tell you of you are being stupid with what you are thinking … or you are on the right path.

 

I imagine it is easier to suggest that theoretically they are waiting somewhere for you to welcome you when you get there.

 

Sure.

It would be a shitload easier if the bastards would actually tell us … maybe even send a short email suggesting some things … but they don’t.

 

And will not <if you are waiting expecting them to>.

 

You are here to accomplish something.

You are here to do something that will ‘echo into eternity’.

 

It may not be a 9th symphony.

It may not even be a moment in the spotlight as a gossip girl.

 

But.

 

You should refuse to settle for anything less than what you believe your reason to be here is.

 

In the end.

Beethoven did say it best.

 

“Fate shall certainly not bend and crush me completely.”

impatience and choices

March 5th, 2013

“Impatience kills quickly.” –  Katerina Stoykova KlemerImpatient Bird

 

“Mental clarity ain’t for the faint of heart.”-  Katerina Stoykova Klemer

 

Well.

I believe we could all become more adept at making choices.  Because, if anything, we seem to have become worse at making thoughtful choices. Heck. Maybe even ANY choices.

Now.

I am all for, and a huge proponent of not dicking around <the technical term for ‘wasting time overthinking’> when a choice needs to be made.

But there is a difference between making speedy decisions and making a decision because speed is the main criteria.

Of course … this is festina lente.

Make haste slowly.

And it is becoming more important to think this way because the fear of choices … leading to making the most obvious or most popular or the most expedient <speediest> … is plaguing not only our personal lives but more importantly the business world.

Fortunately there are scientists at work trying to figure out why.

In the meantime Psychologist Barry Schwartz has put forward an interesting (and slightly disturbing) theory about choices and happiness.

 

“The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose.” – Barry Schwartz

 

Mr. Schwartz calls it the paradox of choice.

It seems the more choices we have, the less likely we are to make a decision, which ultimately makes us unhappy.  Schwartz suggests that choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed and, ultimately, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Barry Schwartz studies the link between economics and psychology.

I found it interesting because he actually suggests <kind of> that having more options doesn’t increase our overall satisfaction <benefit + happiness>.

Here is his talk on Ted:

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

 

impatient patienceMaking choices … having the mental clarity to do so in a typically impatient world is made more difficult by the fact many of us begin by thinking of regret. Yup. The fear of choosing one thing before you even choose the other. All of this being tempered by the “now factor” <I need to make a choice now>.

I call this the internalization of opportunities/costs/loss.  Or maybe it is simply dwelling on the benefits of the next best options that have been forgone by a choice <losing something, albeit even speculatively, that you never had>.

Every choice has opportunity costs.

And since we live in a world of infinite possibilities, it’s so hard to figure out what to do, when, and where.

If you start thinking this way … well … you begin living in a world strewn with hypotheticals.

If I do A, then this will happen.impatient and irritating

But what if I do B?

Will I be happier?  Will I get back more? Will everyone around me be more satisfied?

Or what about C? That looks good.

But someone suggested D.

You get it. There are 26 letters in the alphabet and while most of us stop way before Z … even getting to D can be maddening.

It seems like the world is your oyster … everything is possible … but you don’t take advantage of any opportunities because you’re not sure of what’s best.

To make matters worse, more choices tend to raise our expectations: we think more choice = better quality.

Anyway.

I use scientific advice to suggest that there are some happy few people who look at each choice discreetly. More choices do not equal better quality to them. They do not need the ‘more’ they simply need the context. These people drive us crazy because they do not typically offer us choices <we may like ‘more’ but they offer ‘less’> but rather they offer us ‘the’ choice.

And it is often a good choice.

The best? Shit. Is there really a best? There are most often better choices than others … and they identify the better of the better.

This is typically where we end up screwing up the value of these people. Because we want ‘more choice’ and they want ‘right choice’ <and move along>.

We are impatient humans … yet we always want more … and we seem to always want it all in less time.

It is an ongoing daily struggle.

Let’s get personal first. Daily Life.

This is about how most of us are not good at assessing ROC <return on choice>  the return on whatever we have invested in making the choice as well as once the choice is made.

We suck at this.

There is the investment in developing the choices <and however many we need to feel like we have enough to assess … assuming that is a finite number>.

There is the investment in actually assessing the choices <better, betterest & best … assuming a best can be actually identified>.

There is the investment in the actual choice.

Oh.

And there is investment post-choice.  Yup. Even if we choose the rightest choice we either have angst over whether it was the best or we have angst hangover from the choice process.

Ok.

Let’s go business next.

I call this the paradox of organizational choice.

The end result is the same as Schwartz’s <too many choices creates diminished value>. But the path to the result is different <if not just as paradoxical>.

Here is that paradoxical business organization logic path.

Faster good choices are better.

Few good “choicers” <people who can do the first thought> available.

Many within organization believes they are good ‘choicers’  <and permitting them to make choices has a paradox effect of building their personal self-esteem as ‘good choicers’ while actually implementing less than optimal choices thereby encouraging poor choice making>.

Organizations, to be more efficient & effective, should drive choices <all> to the select few good ‘choicers’

Unselected majority ultimately grumpy <but organization actually benefits>.

Wow.

That is not only a paradox but a Gordian knot <or in layman’s terms … ‘playing Twister with your organization’>.

 

Look.

All I am suggesting is that some people are really good at making ‘impatient choices.’ They have that mental clarity that actually improves in impatient moments … and the maturity to slow down the moment and say ‘let’s not be so quick to make haste’ <and actually be right about it>.

But not everyone is like this.

And, in fact, they are a minority.

impatience clarityI imagine the optimal world would be to funnel all choices through this minority.

Imagine being the key word … because that is an imaginary world. We couldn’t do it.

If your life, or your business, has one or two … use them, preserve them, foster them … and trust them <you will go farther than you ever imagined>.

If you do not have the luxury of having one of them around <which by the way … is an entire article on how most of us suck at accepting someone is better at this than we are> you have to learn to manage impatience. Yeah. Easier said than done.

I imagine the point here is by acknowledging and accepting the issue gives you the opportunity to actually deal with the issue.

 

And in the end … organizational impatience leads to the permitting of poor choices <and a quicker death of a thousand cuts>.

Personal impatience in choice making probably just leads to general unhappiness <kind of a different thousand little cuts>.

Dealing with impatience … and balancing impatience & patience ? … well … it ain’t for the faint of heart.

integrity: the 99 or the 1?

April 12th, 2012

So.

I am fortunate enough to be part of TED (who I respect). And I have been involved in several discussion threads which are going to inspire some posts.

Lately I have been participating in a maddening discussion thread on “Do you think living by values and having integrity is a thing of the past?”

It’s mostly maddening because we sound old. Heck. The question sounds old.

I know every generation as they get older always thinks it was better “before.”

Another maddening part is what I call <as a generalization> the “1 perspective”.

In that the actions of 1% create a perception that they are bigger than they are <note: 1% is a generalization, possibly hyperbole, and absolutely not research-driven>.

By the way …  I do not believe values/integrity are a thing of the past. I also do not believe that there is a massive downward spiraling of values/integrity taking place. I also do not believe it is the end of the world as we know it <from a values & integrity standpoint … or any standpoint I may add>.

Anyway. All that said.

I am fairly sure I didn’t make many friends in this thread when I suggested integrity is about accountability and not words (or philosophical thoughts). I said something along these lines.

Ok. The original question specifically asks “are values & integrity of the past.” And this conversation is weaving its way through economics (capitalism/materialism destroys morals/values). Religion (a religious laissez faire attitude undermines traditional values). Generational (kids today are all about “me”). Anthropological (some Rappaille reptilian brain driving actions). A beautiful “ignorance is the enemy” thought (higher knowledge & understanding will develop integrity). Even some ‘crisis’ type thoughts (we have never been through anything like this before).

Here are just some random thoughts given all I have read.

All older people believe younger generations don’t have the same values they have (had). Every generation feels that way. They are correct. Integrity is integrity but each generation will implement it in a different voice.

But that’s not really the point.

Here is what I know (in my heart of hearts).

I could put 12 15 year olds from 15 different countries on a panel and show them a 5 minute video on a variety of corruption, inhumane actions, killing or some relatively despicable bullying-like activity from around the world and I will guarantee you that all will know what is wrong. And while they may not know the right words they will say it is some form of value lacking activity or lack of integrity. In other words they certainly know what “right” behavior is.  Inevitably they will ask of us, our generation, “don’t you recognize it is wrong?”

And then … “You do?”  Well. “Then why don’t you do something about it?”

Now. Make that panel 22 year olds and it will go exactly the same way with one additional question to our generation … “if you aren’t going to do anything about it get the hell out of the way so we can do something about it.”

Every ‘old’ generation thinks about what is lost.

Every new generation aims toward what is to be gained.

That is the beauty of generations.  Maddening at times but beautiful.

Now.

The only thing that has changed over time is transparency. Because of the internet we don’t have more social revolutions or social anything … we just have more transparency. No more or no less values or integrity.

But. The transparency dials up accountability and responsibility.

Because now that 1% (or so), who don’t exhibit the behavior or ‘integrity of actions’ that attitudinally we know is wrong, not only can’t get away with it but their transgressions get communicated over that megaphone called the internet, therefore, those responsible for stopping it are held more accountable than ever.

That means we are responsible for the actions of our peers. And our actions reflect upon what future generation’s think (maybe not what they actually do).

Think about that.

Accountability.

Isn’t it possible that our generation’s integrity will be judged by how we respond and lead toward ‘what is right’?”

Maybe before we wonder about whether it is something of the past (which I think we all know isn’t really true) we should be accountable for our present. And who is going to lead (because while it is absolutely about the individuals even ‘individuals’ need leaders)?

Yeah.

Well.

I now have a small group of passionately pro bruce TED fans.

And a bunch of grumpy old folk  who are anti-bruce.

And a bunch of really philosophical mumbo jumbo I had to delete because it made my head hurt.

The funny thing? (or sad I guess). I am an old folk.  Ok. Before someone jumps on that … let me say I am “of an older generation.” And I cannot believe I am in such a small minority.

Regardless.

I do feel a growing sense of responsibility toward the actions of my peers in my generation.

<hence the reason I write ad nausea about it>

Anyway.

One comment said ignorance is the enemy. Of course there are multiple levels to that comment. But most importantly to this topic we can’t use ignorance as an excuse anymore.

We see lack of integrity more than ever before – not because there is necessarily more of it just that what there is cannot be hidden as well as it may have been in the past.

We will be judged by what we do, or don’t do, with this transparency.

And we are accountable not only for our generation but also the message, and example, we set for future generations.

But here is the good news.

Young people know what is right. And if we do nothing they will just shove our butts out of the way and deal with it themselves.

I continue to believe we don’t have diminished values or integrity overall. Although I tend to believe some generations have a skewed perspective, or tainted perspectives, yet our youth is still good to go if we adults give them some direction.

And I do believe globally we are going through some issues <crisis?> that makes us question overall value & integrity. Some thoughts just because I have seen what people have been discussing:

-          Web. Just my opinion. The web is simply a facilitator. The web doesn’t create anything. People create. The web simply disseminates what people say and think. I could argue that the web hasn’t facilitated any crisis but rather has grinded us down into inaction through information overload. Regardless.  That is a different discussion. Let’s just say I don’t believe the web is degrading our values or integrity.

-          We have seen all of this before. These aren’t really unprecedented times. The web is new but the world had the same values discussions in the 1920’s (and there was a world wide depression). The world had the same values discussion in 1521 with Martin Luther. And all of these same values discussions went worldwide even without the web. Strauss & Howe have argued we are a historically generation cyclical civilization … doomed to make similar mistakes as generations cycle through and experiences change which affects our ability to solve the problems.

Which leads me to …

-          Crisis and facilitating change. A lot of smart people in TED wonder if we are destined to face a crisis if we don’t do ‘something.’ Well. this is a chicken or egg discussion. As a civilization, large populations of people, do we need a crisis to create change or do we facilitate the change to resolve a crisis (which inevitably will need to be resolved).

We people are pretty consistent. It typically takes a pretty big problem <crisis> before we step up to the plate and make the big changes in behavior needed to resolve it. And there is a cycle in that also.

People see crisis looming.

People talk.

Some people do.

There is a lot of angst <and gnashing of teeth>.

A larger group steps up and takes control and solves the crisis.

In the end? The world will not cease to exist. It just may cease to exist as we know it today.

And you know what? That’s okay. The majority of people will still value human life and choice and conduct themselves with integrity. A minority will always do the opposite.

Schumpeter called all this Creative Destruction.

All I know is this. There will be a crisis. There will be a solution. And life will go on <changed or not>.

Next.

The tough majority or minority discussion where values & integrity plays a role.

-          Economic inequality. Or Capitalism (or greed).

<note: I am not going to suggest socialism or even economic equality … just fairness>

Any time historically economic equality (or maybe better said … at least a realm of believability between the haves and have nots) has gone out of whack people have:

  1. Bitched, and
  2. Did something.

There are so many types of capitalism out there but suffice it to say I think unmanaged capitalism will always lead to inequality. Those who have … want to have more. And those who don’t have … want what they don’t have. That inevitably leads to crisis when it is clearly out of whack. And, once again, history has shown this again and again … on a country by country basis as well as globally.

What is going to happen (no … I do not have a crystal ball).

-          Leadership. Ah. Crisis leads to leadership. Inevitably we need someone (or a small group of people) to guide us through the crisis. And maybe that is where his whole values & integrity discussion circles back to. Can we find leaders who are pragmatic enough … with integrity we can hold onto … to guide us through to whatever the next phase is. And that is where I get jammed up. I don’t doubt that there are leaders out there with our best interests in mind … I struggle to see how they can fight their way through the ones who use “values” to forward their own agenda.

But. I have faith … and I have hope. I have the belief that someone who is a shitload smarter than I am who has the same good intentions that I have will step up to the plate and lead.

Anyway.

In the end … this whole thing really is about integrity.

(defintion): Integrity is a concept of consistency (lack of contradiction) of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. In western ethics, integrity is regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one’s actions. The word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character.

99%, by in large, do act with integrity.

That 1% just looks huge.

And, no, I do not think we’ve turned into a nation, or world, based on nothing but greed <or “what’s in it for me”>.

I do believe many of us have gone into a defensive mode … meaning “I need to protect my interests” but that is much much different than “what’s in it for me” mentality.

We may need to take a radically different approach.

But I tend to believe we just need a radically good leader.

The 99% will diminish the 1% if led correctly.

I am not absolving the 99% of doing something … for even in their own actions they can affect what will happen … and even where we end up going.
The road will be long and slow and will take the commitment of everyone not just leaders.

By the way … that last thought is a biggie.

There is a big danger in wanting too much, of asking too much, too fast. This is not in the immediate gratification category.

We often criticize our leaders for not doing enough or for not solving the problems.

We refuse to accept the complexity of the world and the somewhat limited power of leaders to have an immediate effect.

One of the biggest issues we need to face is the simplification of reality and believing that simple solutions will solve the problems.

Yes. Some things can be handled simply. But most are pretty compex issues that need to be untangled.

As one TED commenter said … “

“The reality is that this world is muddling along in the right direction. Of course if 7 billion people are willing to do the right thing it will go a lot faster.”

Enlightened Conflict