Enlightened Conflict

least expensive thing in life

May 17th, 2017

decent person ROI life humanity

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“It costs $0.00 to be a decent person.”

 

words to live by

 

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So.

 

When I saw this quote I started jotting thoughts down immediately.

 

Here was the most interesting note:  least expensive or most expensive?

 

Huh?

 

It costs you nothing to be a decent person but it can still be an expensive decision. This may sound incredibly cynical but deciding to be decent is not a zero sum decision … it is a Life value equation.

 

I decide to do this <be decent> or do not do this <not be decent> and ‘this’ is the repercussion of that decision <the value or lost opportunity/gain>.

 

Yeah.

By being decent in the business world you can be viewed as ‘too nice’ and get mangled by some cutthroat asshat.

By being decent in Life you can be viewed as naive and get taken advantage of by those willing to ‘do what it takes.’

 

 

decent person is hard understand

 

Therefore, oddly and unfortunately, decency can ultimately be assessed in ROI terms by many of us in our lives.

 

Boy … that sounds pretty fucked up when I say it out loud.

 

 

Ok.

 

So someone may argue with the ROI thing but maybe think of it this way …

 

You walk by 4 homeless people but give the 5th one you see $20. Does the $20 balance out the fact you ignored the other 4? You were decent but selectively so.

 

Don’t like that?

So set aside the money.

 

You walk by 4 homeless veterans … never acknowledging them or looking at them … the 5th homeless vet you stop for a second and look them in the eye and say “thank you for your service.” Does the one you give some dignity to zero out the 4 you completely disregarded?

 

Unfortunately, decency is an ROI assessment. And more excruciatingly … it is an assessment made moment by moment as well as cumulatively.

 

What I mean by that is decency is mutually exclusive not inclusive … and decent moments are independent of other moments <when you may not have been so, or as, decent> … not interdependent <warning: I most likely mangled the meanings of both mutually exclusive and independent>.

 

 

—-

Mutually exclusive events cannot happen at the same time. For example: when tossing a coin, the result can either be heads or tails but cannot be both. Events are independent if the occurrence of one event does not influence (and is not influenced by) the occurrence of the other(s).

—-

 

You do not accumulate ‘decency points’ in Life or in business.

 

Not being decent cannot be equaled out by being extraordinarily decent in another moment.

 

Yeah.

That doesn’t sound particularly fair does it?

 

But you have to think that way or you start thinking about decency in a conscious decision making balance sheet sort of way. “well, I am not going to be particularly decent in this situation because to do so I may not benefit as much as I believe I deserve” and then a couple days later you consciously say to yourself “I was kind of a dickwad the other day so maybe if I am particularly decent now that will make up for it.”

 

I absolutely hated myself for scribbling any thought down that suggested there was a cost to being a decent person. Fucking hated even having the thought.

 

But no matter how much I hated it … it surely does seem like it is a Life truth.

 

To me there is only one way to resolve this ‘self dilemma’ and it is an ‘either/or’ thought.decent person rude and nice

 

You accept the fact you are gonna be a decent human being all the time and accept that the chips will fall as they may throughout Life … and they  may not all fall your way <and you can spend your last days on earth feeling pretty good about yourself from a character standpoint by realizing a Big life can often be found in a shitload of small victories>.

 

Or.

 

You accept the fact that situational decisions are situational decisions and you are a decent person at heart therefore you seek to view life, in the end, as “I was more often decent than I wasn’t” <and a Big life meant you bucked the odds of a world constantly trying to encourage non-decency and you won more often than you lost>.

 

I cannot choose the path for you.

 

But I will state that simply recognizing that this is the dilemma we face in Life … and that this is basically your choice … you have accepted that being a decent person is an ROI analysis.

 

A decent person and ROI. Sigh. What a sad thought.

navigators versus sledge hammers

January 4th, 2017

Innovative solution plan as a pencil trying to find way out of maze breaking through the labyrinth as a business concept and creative metaphor for strategy success and planning achievement.

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“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

—-

Plato

 

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“A person who can think differently and truly on his feet will always find it difficult to sit and fit as an employee in a workplace, for his attitude & approach towards the work will often hit the ego of most co-workers.”

 

Anuj Somany

 

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“If u want to work in Corporate, then u should know how to play Chess.”

honeya

 

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Ok.

 

I was asked recently about a past job I had where I had struggled to be sledge-hammer-maze-business-get-shit-donesuccessful. After hemming and hawing a little <I have never really been sure what hemming or hawing was> I answered “the position required a dedicated navigator with navigator skills and I am a sledgehammer with some navigator vision.”

 

<note: I didn’t understand that until actually into the role & assumed responsibility>

 

 

Yeah.

 

I am a sledge hammer.

Always have been and I assume I always will be.

 

I respect navigators but they are too slow for my tastes, far too often worried about political correctness and always too skewed toward what is important politically versus ‘what is the right thing to do.’

 

Ok.

 

Let me explain navigators and sledge hammers.

 

In business, there are just some people who see office politics <which all organizations have whether you like it or not> and they have the skills and vision to navigate them to get shit done <they also tend to benefit personally with this skill>.

 

In business, there are just some people who want to get the right shit done and believe if it is right then … well … it is better to just say ‘damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead’ rather than screw around with navigating people’s feelings and politics.

 

 

Now.

 

That doesn’t mean that sometimes a navigator isn’t more effective and that a navigator, which is tightly associated with someone who can play office politics, is always a corporate whore.stay the course direction path compass

 

That also doesn’t mean that there aren’t navigators with good moral compasses because there are a shitload of navigator managers who are skilled organizational politicians who do not showcase questionable behavior or even distastefully ‘sucking-up’ behavior.

 

Pretty much any leader worth a shit takes a realistic approach to managing around workplace politics. This does not mean they are ‘political’, per se, or want to play the political game … it’s just they understand that you have to navigate competing interests, whatever resources may be available, the nuances of what is viewed as authority <and who has the authority … which is most typically “enough to hang yourself’>, the bendable organizational rules and whatever information is available.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the navigators have a sledge hammer in their tool box <and use it on occasion>.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the sledge hammers have either some navigational skills or, at minimum, navigational vision <i.e., they can ‘see’ the politics and organizational rubble affecting your path>.

 

Me?

 

I am a sledgehammer.

 

I like to get shit done.

do what communiqueAlways have and always will.

 

Okay.

 

I like getting smart shit done.

 

And I really like getting smart ‘right’ shit done.

 

The nuance between that stuff is clear … if all I did was get shit done, smart & right being set aside, politics and navigating would become almost irrelevant.

Because then you are simply a doer <not a thinker or a thinker/doer>.

 

But even as a sledge hammer you recognize that whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is a fact of life in any organization. And, like it or not, it’s something that you need to understand to insure not only your professional success but the success of the good shit you want to do.

 

Yeah. Sure.

“Politics” certainly has a negative connotation. It most often refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.

In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within it.

 

<and sledge hammers abhor this type of politics bullshit>

 

I hesitate to suggest there could ever be something called “good office politics” but some organizational expert asshats believe that is the kind of crap you do which helps you fairly promote yourself and your ideas <they call it networking and stakeholder management … I call it the ‘necessary bullshit you just have to suck up and do in order to get good shit done’>.

 

As a sledge hammer I realized that there were some things that a navigator thinking-maze-navigator-business-sledge-hammer-do-shitwas good at and I should learn if I wanted to be a more effective sledgehammer.

 

About the only thing I truly value in a navigator is “social astuteness.”

 

This is the ability to read and anticipate situations – allows you to prepare, adapt and tailor your behavior based on the people and conditions around you.

In my words this is being aware of the people & what they believe and the situation organizationally.

 

Let’s just call this “context” <at least that is how a sledgehammer views it>.

 

Now.

 

Being aware is different than acting upon it.

Being aware meant that it prepared me, and my groups, to manage the carnage or consequences of slamming your way straight thru a maze.

 

As a sledge hammer it pays to understand the real map, or maze, of the organization.

Internal politics, more often than not, has little to do with the real organizational chart they give you when you sign on.

 

Someone outlined this important crap to be aware of really well:

    Who are the real influencers?

    Who has authority but doesn’t exercise it?

    Who is respected?

    Who champions or mentors others?

    Who is “the brains behind the organization”?

 

 

As a sledge hammer I realized there were absolutely some things that were in my control as I bashed my way through the middle of the maze getting to where I believed an idea, or the business at large should go.

 

office-politics-navigator-sledgehammer-business-jerks-speechBut, as a sledge hammer, I also recognized I needed to manage my own behavior <this lesson took some time … and learned thru some painful trial & error>.

 

Through watching others and some painful trial & error you learn what works in your organization’s culture.

 

But you learn really fast … as in REALLY fast … that as a sledge hammer you invest exactly 0% of your time and 0 energy on:

 

 

  • Gossip & spreading rumors: you learn to shut up and even when you hear something you wait and assess the credibility

 

  • interpersonal conflicts – you avoid “like/dislike people” discussions and certainly do not get sucked into arguments

 

 

  • Integrity above all: this is a sledge hammer mantra … be professional, do not cut corners, do things right and always remember the organization’s interests

 

  • No complaining: a sledgehammer accepts it will not be easy and you don’t whine about the tough path you have chosen <because it is the path you have chosen>

 

  • Confidence: a sledgehammer is assertive not arrogant, proactive maybe edging on aggressive without ever sneaking into aggressiveness

 

  • Never personal: a sledge hammer has only one thing in focus … the good of the organization <it is NEVER personal>

 

  • Transparency:  assume everything is gonna be seen anyway so you may as well share it all

 

 

Look.

 

Here is what I know.

 

no-way-said-that-in-a-meeting-sledgehammer-goes-right

……… whoa … did you guys do THAT ………..

When you are a sledgehammer and everything goes right it is not only the best in the world for you but organizationally everyone kind of goes “whoa, that was something.”

 

<which is kind of cool and makes it all worthwhile>

 

 

I will admit.

 

Being a sledgehammer is a lonelier way to conduct business than being a navigator. It isn’t that you are not liked nor does it mean you aren’t viewed as a team member at the table but navigators, I tend to believe, are just more social human beings & employees.

 

But sledge hammers have one thing in common … we are all homesick for an organization where we can not think about anything but getting good smart shit done.

 

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“I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists.

One where my heart is full. My body loved. And my soul understood.

 

(via lipstick-bullet)

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important to know when something has reached its end

November 11th, 2016

 

period just stop here

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

 

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

 

 

Paulo Coelho

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“When you start to suck, stop.”

 

 –

 

Kristen Hersh

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So.

 

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

 

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

Milestones, quarterly objectives, standards, etc.

 

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

 

Now.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Uhm.

 

This is hard. Really hard.

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

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

 

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

Sure.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

In fact.

 

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

 

But ‘being over’?

 

Whew.

 

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

 

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

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

 

—–

Gayle Forman

 

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

few whats next

Yeah.

 

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

 

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

Start anew.

 

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

 

As in … we have no choice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

‘Cause that’s what I do.

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

 

Dave Grohl

<Foo Fighters>

 

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

 

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

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

 

Ok. What to do.

 

This is solvable.

And relatively easy in the scheme of things.

 

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

 

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

Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

To be clear.

Sure.

 

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

 

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

 

Regardless.

 

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

 

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

Sue Monk Kidd

if you have a choice between the right or wrong

September 20th, 2016

now or_never_web_design_grande

 

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“Be strong.

Don’t be a follower.

Always do the right thing.

If you have a choice between the right or wrong, do the right. “

 

Jennifer Lawrence

 

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Ok.

 

reality welcome sign

 

I am a huge proponent of doing the right thing.

 

But.

 

We act like choices walk up and down the street wearing huge signs saying “I am the right thing.”

 

It just is not that easy.

 

And today I am not talking about when the right thing to do is impossible but rather when you truly do not want to follow along blindly and truly want to make the right choice and do ‘right’ and … shit … uh oh … a lot of choices look ‘right.’

 

In this situation I can equivocally state that some ‘wrong’ is cleverly disguised as ‘right’ as they intermingle with right, somewhat right, very right, kind of right and ‘incredibly right feeling but not practically the thing that benefits the most.’

 

This is not about any bias with regard to what is right or wrong or even necessarily about opinions.

 

This is simply about the fact even when you actually stop long enough to ponder <which is not often> the ‘choice du jour’ can appear to have multiple shades of ‘right.’

 

Uhm.

At least to you.

 

Because you are gonna get screwed in this situation no matter what.

 

I say that because while you stand there with a range of ‘rights’ in front of you I can guarantee that some loud mouthed asshat is gonna be pointing at one going “that one, that one , that one!!”hands-waving-in-air-panic-jo

 

 

<sometimes accompanied by a lot of hand waving>

 

 

 

Okay.

 

 

There will most likely be a number of asshats pointing at one of them.

 

Okay.

 

There will also most likely be a number of asshats not even there who will eventually wave their hands and point out that you should have chosen some other ‘right’ then the one you did.

 

Now.

 

While I could simply suggest that there are just a lot of asshats out there in the world and that is part of Life … I will not.

 

Because the asshats will always be there and your choices will always be your choices.

 

Yet, while the choices are yours, the outcomes are not necessarily yours <which is why ‘right’ is a very very tricky topic>.

 

I can honestly say that the best choice is the one you can see the farthest on.

 

friends unfluencers ripples2The best choice makers have the ‘far sight’ ability.

 

Let me explain far sight because it isn’t easy as ‘seeing ripples’ or even ‘see the end result.’

 

A choice is rarely simple cause and effect.

 

It is more the starting gate from which effect springs forth. And, uhm, it is not a 100 yard dash type race where you stay in your lane and everything else stays in its lane.

Your choice actually enters its own little survival race needing to zig and zag in order to avoid the inevitable things which will attempt to steer it off its intended course.

It needs to be strong enough to absorb some hits.

And smart enough to adapt when appropriate.

 

Not everyone can see far when making a choice and not everyone can actually choose the choice with the highest likelihood of survival. And even the best choice makers don’t get it right 100% of the time.

 

All that said.

 

If you think about choices this way one of two things could happen … you can simply feel a sense of helplessness and say “well, my choice probably won’t matter in the end anyway” … or you can just become overly cynical with regard to “right in today’s world.”

 

Yes.

 

Society, life and people are relentlessly tough on ‘doing right.’

 

But here is what I know about choosing between right and wrong.

 

The attempt matters.courage to keep trying succeed try

 

While it is incredibly tempting to think nothing will change … if you refuse to believe that … well … the next 10 choices you make could shape 10 different futures and maybe shape things that can happen over the next 10 years.

 

And that, my friends, may be the only reason to ‘do right’ when having a choice between right and wrong.

Enlightened Conflict