Enlightened Conflict

big secrets make small people

September 20th, 2017

 

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“Community is the fact that we work toward the same goal, that we accept our respective roles in order to reach it.

 

Values is the fact we trust each other.

 

And, culture?

 

Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit. That matters because most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

 

—-

Fredrick Backman

 

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“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

 

—–

Colin Powell

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Well.

 

secrets we all haveThe relationship between secrets and culture and community is one which is fraught with contradictions, conflict and humanness.

 

I imagine this conflict is driven by the natural chafing between self-interest and community <I have called this community individualism & Enlightened Individualism in the past>.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

We talk a lot about community and team and all of that good stuff. And we talk about it with good intentions. The problem is that true community demands some sacrifice.

 

Therein lies our big secrets.

 

On occasion we decide self-interest is more important than sacrifice.

 

Uhm.

 

This is a version of ‘what you can get away with.’

 

That phrase sounds horribly horrible. It suggests nefarious type behavior. But the truth of it is most of us see what we can get away with on some very personal day-to-day less-than-nefarious type stuff.

 

We cut some corners.

We maybe don’t tell people how we truly feel <or who we truly are>.

We steal some post-it notes.

 

These are our little secrets.

 

We may even have some bigger personal secrets that we decide are just not things we want to share <these are not nefarious … just personal>.

 

 

Regardless.

 

secret own control hide

 

For many of us … our behavior arcs toward what we can get away with. That doesn’t mean it is completely unethical, or some abhorrent behavior, just that while norms set a ‘median’ standard guideline Life is constantly suggesting ‘but this one time you can get away with doing this.”

 

The problem resides with the friction between culture & community and self.

 

What I mean by that is the stronger & more powerful the cultural community norm is the bigger your secret becomes if you avoid the norms.

 

This secret takes on exponential size if you start believing that the norms that are good for you are good … and the ones that don’t match up with what you believe is your self-interest are bad.

 

You only accept the existence of the formal and informal cultural norm structure that constitutes accepted community construct … only as long as that suits your purposes.

Your big secret, therefore, doesn’t have to do with your own behavior but rather in your non-belief ,if not overall disdain> for the community norms.

 

This leads me to hate.

 

hate everythingWhy hate?

 

When you decide to see what you can get away with you have to mentally divide community into “we” and “they.” And in doing so you make ‘we’ good <which suggests what you can get away with is on the side of good> and you make ‘they’ bad.

 

This is a simplistic tactic for attempting to carry the burden of a big secret.

 

Hate is simple.

 

Hate can be an incredibly powerful empowering emotion.

 

Why?

 

In this scenario, using hate, the world becomes much easier to understand and less confusing, in the scheme of things, if you divide everything into friends & enemies, good & evil, right & wrong and a basic we & they.

 

This helps us because the world is strewn with conflict. Not just physical war but of ideas, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. Cultures, communities and classes are bombarded with conflict after conflict. And maybe because of the sheer amount of conflict one of the first things we do is pick sides. We choose a side to stand on because … well … it is easier. It is easier than thinking or, even more difficult, trying to hold parts of two ideas which appear in conflict in our heads at the same time.

 

And once we have chosen a side we then go out and seek some information, or ‘facts’, to confirm not only what we believe but the side we have chosen – this permits us to maintain the status quo and chug along with Life as ‘normal.’

 

Oh.

 

The last thing we do is demonize, or dehumanize, the other side. We diminish them. Make them, their thoughts & ideas, lesser than.

....... making "they" smaller ........

……. making “they” smaller ……..

 

I would suggest this all just makes you smaller as a person <carrying around a big secret>.

 

Big secrets make small people … yeah … unfortunately all of us become smaller with a big secret.

 

 

And this smallness is compounded by the unfortunate fact that you become even smaller when ‘we’ are the people who others HAVE to keep big secrets from … because they believe, and know, we cannot handle them <or don’t believe in them>.

 

All secrets carry a weight to them.

 

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“To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden.”

Sam Harris

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In fact … I could argue that all knowledge is a burden. It carries a weight of responsibility with regard to what you do with it … how you act because you have it … as well as how you think about you, and others, with it.

 

Having accepted knowledge you have made an agreement with it. I tend to small to big secrets life people communitybelieve we don’t think about this. We accept knowledge as … well … maybe like income earned – disposable income in fact. We worked for it, we earned it and it is now ours to spend as we choose.

 

But knowledge is actually more like freedom. It is an unalienable right but it is also a privilege … and therefore one assumes a responsibility to it.

 

Uhm.

 

And with responsibility comes burden. Which almost sounds odd in that something with ‘free’ in it also carries such a heavy burden.

Maybe I should just suggest that nothing really comes for free … everything has something attached to it.

 

Knowledge?

 

Responsibility … the burden of responsibility. And that is a weight you carry … one which can be as light or as heavy as you make it. But. It is a weight nonetheless. One which you learn to carry well or carry poorly.

 

Knowledge tests our ability … and our character … with regard to how well we can carry this weight. It tests how strong we are .. once again … in ability an character.

 

Having said that <and most likely having a number of people feeling a little unconfutable thinking about knowledge that way>.

 

Secrets are a completely different level of a knowledge burden.

And secrets are tricky.

 

Some are thrust upon you … unwanted but yet yours nonetheless.

 

Some are gifted you … carefully shared by someone who believes the weight it carries is too much for themselves … alone.

 

Some are just yours … built by you and carried by you.

 

But regardless of how you assume the responsibility of a secret … it is also basement of my brain secret meetingknowledge. And therefore it also carries a burden … a responsibility … and a weight.

 

I don’t have the scale to weigh them but my guess is that a knowledge secret exponentially weighs more than a traditional knowledge.

 

I also don’t have any research but I also tend to believe, just like extra physical weight, as soon as we start feeling the extra weight of a secret … we seek to shed it.

 

Therein lies the true test of character.

Therein lies how big secrets can make small people.

 

All knowledge tests you. Secrets test you even more.

 

Knowledge, and secrets, take a strength of self to carry its weight.

The weight of responsibility of having the knowledge, the weight of freedom knowledge typically gives us … and the weight of character that knowledge either makes you bigger or makes you smaller.

 

Whew.

That is a lot of extra weight we have accepted by taking on these secrets.

 

And this is where I bring in good … as in good people doing good things … as in good versus almost good.

 

That sometimes very thin line can make a massive difference in life. That sometimes very thin line can decide whether your secret makes you bigger or smaller.

 

Look.

 

If you are clever enough, even if you embrace community, you can get away with a shitload of stuff. But cleverness does not eliminate the fact you gain a bigger secret burden with every action.

 

And you know what?

 

The “community” knows we struggle with this a individuals. In fact it has even intent help flaws self bestcreated some ‘auxiliary precautions’ to help us avoid unnecessary secrets.

 

Huh?

 

This is James Madison’s Federalist Paper #51 or “if men were angels” argument:

 

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If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

=================

 

We are no angels as people.

 

Secrets bear that truth out.

 

And … well … we all carry secrets.

it is perhaps the misfortune of my life

June 11th, 2017

 

 

good bad person trust reliable

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“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”

 

Søren Kierkegaard

 

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“I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

 

Charles Bukowski

 

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So.

 

Last night I had a little time before I shut down my computer to scrounge around some of my favorite websites for some thoughts, quotes and images.

I don’t really believe in serendipity but within 15 minutes on three different sites I gathered the three quotes that anchor this piece.

............ restless thinking one big adventure ........

………… restless thinking one big adventure ……..

I sat back after copying them and I realized it is perhaps the misfortune of my Life that I am interested in far too much.

My misfortune is that I am incessantly curious, a relentless contrarian to existing thought & thinking and a restless thinker in general. My misfortune is that I see restless thinking as one big adventure.

 

I sat back after copying them and I realized I am not satisfied being a petty thief … I want the whole world.

 

And as I sat back I also thought a little about how I got to this place.

Growing up I remember hearing a lot of “maybe you should be more realistic” type advice.

I remember it chafing.

 

It made me think … well … I should think smaller.

 

That chafed.

 

I am sure the ‘safer’ aspect … aiming toward more achievable things and not stretching too far possibly felt okay … but I chafed on the whole thought of not getting what I thought could be achieved or what could be done.

............. small Life pleasure ............

…………. small Life pleasure …………

Shit.

 

I still do.

 

Going small just seems … well … small to me.

 

And, yes, there is a price to pay for thinking this way.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

I will point out two prices you pay.

 

The first price is restlessness.

mctague misfortune curious 1Oh. And restlessness can make people feel uneasy. It makes them uneasy because you are not easily slotted. People want you to present them with a peg and they can put it in some hole and thinking about it and look at it.

 

People, like me, who have the misfortune of being interested in anything and everything and not satisfied with one thing are more of a box. And while boxes represent some symmetry and some tangible aspect for people to grasp, at the same time, … sigh … it is not a peg

 

 

The second price is wins … as in quantity of wins. Even I, probably a more pragmatic aspirationalist, don’t aim toward some truly realistic things on occasion.

That means not getting done what you want to get done, not getting where you want to get to and not getting, in general, the largeness you desired. In other words … you didn’t get a win while someone who aimed lower or accepted something smaller did get a win.

 

Does that matter? I mean life doesn’t really give out trophies … people do.

 

Yeah. It does matter.

 

Watching others win when you don’t does matter to some extent. And you would be lying if you didn’t admit that.

 

Aiming for it all … or something bigger <more broad> than something smaller <more focused> … and not getting it can make you start thinking smaller.

 

And why do you do that? You want a frickin’ win.

 

And that … well … that can affect how you think and what you do.

 

It does so because many of us are willing to compromise some fairly important things to win on occasion.

 

Shit.

Even more of us are willing to compromise a lot of fairly important things <which they hadn’t even tangibly decided were important to them> in order to win on occasion.

 

Oh.

 

I bring up the second group because they are the ones who don’t get the ones who have the misfortune of wanting bigger things.

It’s like a petty thief most likely scoffs at the master thief.

 

Uhm.

But those people may just call this reality <and, therefore, kind of suggesting those who have the misfortune of wanting to know everything about everything are not realistic>.

 

Whew.

Yeah.

 

athlete reality stringsIt is quite likely that my reality, and those whose reality is similar, fights reality itself – I mean society & culture creates lines of reality of which we get boxed in by with regard to expectations.

 

Umberto Eco is the one who suggested life has “lines of resistance.” This was his version of reality.

 

These ‘lines of resistance’ are established mostly so that we cannot say or do whatever we like with impunity.

The problem with that is they also bring along some baggage … baggage like … uhm … what is viewed as pragmatic & realistic <smaller versions of shit that are achievable by many rather than few>.

 

Oh.

Yeah.

 

But, thankfully, the lines of resistance can shift.

 

But, thankfully, some can reach across the lines of resistance and gain access to some bigger shit which lies outside the lines of resistance.

 

All that said.

Life, and these lines of resistance, encourage some people … mostly those who have the misfortune to be interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing to shrink them … encourage them to think smaller and, inevitably, maybe be smaller than what they should be.

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“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself.

Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me.

 what i believe truth opinion

Because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered.

But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being.

 

I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth.

Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honour my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority.

I choose me.”

 

Daniell Koepke

 

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Let me be clear.

 

Smaller is safer. Smaller can actually be very satisfying. Smaller, in some ways, can actually permit you to live a fuller Life <although I would argue it’s not really a bigger Life>.

 

And while small, in this case, could be construed as bad or lesser than … it is not. It is simply a viable choice for people with regard t their Life and how they want to live it.

 

Just as those who have the misfortune to want the whole world. That is their choice.

 

And I would argue that whatever your choice we are all aiming tward the same place … lets call it our “home.” That home within. The place within you that either sits on the favorite Barcalounger safe & sound in a Life lived well in smaller aspects … or the one who wanders forever restlessly over hill & thru the dale seeking the next interest or learning or new thing.

 

Personally, I am the latter.

I am a nomad thinker.  I want to know it all. And when I know something I want to know more.

But that topic is for another day.

 

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“All of life is a coming home. bad-home-is-whereever-you-are

Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword swallowers, all of us.

All the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home.”

 

—–

Patch Adams

 

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Today I would suggest whether you have the misfortune of wanting to know it all or whether you believe in something bigger than you or simply believe there is something bigger within you to be found by not wanting it all … your compass & your map resides within … not some external place or location which may appear to fulfill some aspect of ‘home.’

 

 

======================

so far out to sea <‘restless’>

 

so far out to sea

     standing on impassive intensity

                     of restless possibilities

oh,

     push back the curtain

of slumbering elements

      of disordered solitude.

stir up a peace of

       desolate despair

                       drowning out a cacophony

       of restless disinterested

                           distant thoughts.

restless sun

               reflects upon the path chosen,

                      stand frozen,

      restless mind

                    wander the waves roaming

so far out to sea

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one of the saddest business things I have read in quite some time

May 5th, 2017

sad numbers hear listen business

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“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”

 

Evel Knievel

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So.

 

I don’t read Advertising Age often. I never really enjoyed reading ‘insider industry’ magazines and now that I am not involved with agencies that much it doesn’t mean much to me except an opportunity to catchup on the news of some people and places I know.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

But today a link popped up in my email:

 

 

What’s the Most Risky Thing You’ve Done in Your Career?

Ad Age Asks Participants at Detroit Brand Summit

—-

 

I clicked on it.

 

I figured the advertising business, while often ground down to a nub by brand managers and clients who have an allergic reaction to risk, would offer some good ‘most risky actions I have taken‘ stories.

 

Here is a sampling:

 

 

biggest risk was undertaking Pepsi “refresh project,” a 2010 initiative by PepsiCo to award $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and nonprofits that promote a new idea that has a positive impact on their community. “We took money off the Super Bowl, a property Pepsi had been on for almost a quarter century, and we put it into a different idea,”

 

 

Tylenol talking about product benefits and pain relief. His team, however, advocated toward making the message about feeling better with a nontraditional campaign including events.

 

 

single biggest gamble: “Leaving BBDO to go to The Abundancy, which was a little startup incubator that was trying to do things differently and reinvent how advertising worked,”

 

 

“It was a first-ever auto reveal with Snapchat,” Lenard said. “Together we answered a lot of questions internally about who is the audience of Snapchat: Aren’t they 12-year-olds who are never buying vehicles?”

 

——————–

 

Ok.

 

I worked in the advertising agency business for a long time … that is oh no embarrassedembarrassing.

 

If that is risk, let alone ‘biggest risk’, in today’s advertising world as outlined by some people who I assume are leaders in the industry … the industry is in a world of hurt.

 

As a business person I have always embraced the concept of risk … okay … calculated risk. No sane business person is flippant with risk.

All risk is assessed and calculated for ROR <return on risk> … as well as RODN <return on doing nothing>.

 

I could argue that between ROR and RODN you aren’t really taking any risks … you are simply doing what needs to be done to be successful.

 

That said.

I was sorely disappointed by how these people assess ‘biggest risk.’

 

Look.

 

avoid question bomb stink business problemsEveryone takes personal risks in business.

 

Not everyone takes business risks. And business risk is very different than personal risk … confusing the two, or even conflating the two, in a business environment is fraught with peril.

 

Yes.

Business risks inherently include personal risk … but personal risks don’t have particular consequences to a larger business risk – they are more your risks than anyone else’s.

 

I say that as a professional calculated business risk taker. I can honestly say that any time I ever assessed a business decision or what could be construed as a business risk I never took into consideration any persona risk I may be assuming. To me it would simply clutter what I would assume is a decision cluttered already with ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘uh ohs.’

 

I always believe business risks revolved around what is best for the business … and you let the chips fall as they may with regard to you personally.

 

Now.

 

Getting back to that sad list of ‘biggest risks.’

 

People can confuse risk with change. Change is change. Any change includes some risk because … well … it is change.

But change, in and of itself, is not necessarily originality. And that is where risk truly resides … in something original.

 

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“Safe marketing is the riskiest marketing you can do.”

 

—-

Bill Bernbach

 

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organization business elephant adpat nimble get shit done

Anything original is never safe simply because it has no real record of behavior & consequences. That means you are modeling and researching and doing a whole bunch of good smart shit to insure it isn’t just a guess … but … sigh … it is just a guess.

 

That is risk. Risk is a … well … thing.

 

Originality is a real thing … a challenging thing … and a risky thing.

And to be truly original … in some ways … you must ignore what exists and what has been done before.

 

You must abandon the safe and secure.

 

Just think about this little factoid about pretty much any great original idea that has ever happened:

 

  • It’s effective

 

  • It’s always preceded by a meeting in which you will hear ‘are you nuts?’

 

Well.

 

Maybe we all need to be a little more nuts.

Maybe we all need to be a little less afraid of the different.

 

Maybe instead we should focus on what I believe almost all business people really do know … the new and untried can generate the bigger gains then simply changing the status quo or ‘what is’.

 

I would note that originality has a close relationship to exceptional.

 

Ah.

The root of that word exceptional?

 

Exception <please note … that is a significantly different word than acceptable … or safe …>.

 

We are comfortable in our cocoon of what is acceptable and sameness but it is making ‘an exception’ … taking that slightly risky step … that truly pays off.

 

used rainbowsIn business … if you have nothing to offer but used ideas, you are just a used car salesman.

 

And does anyone in business really want to be that?

 

<unless they are in the used car sales business of course>

 

And maybe that is why the article I read was one of the saddest business articles I have read in a very long time – there really wasn’t anything original or any monumental change. Some were personal risks and the business risks were more tweaks on existing machinery to fine tune the operation.

And maybe that is what the business world has come to <sadly> … a world in which tweaks constitute risks.

 

Sad. Very sad.

 

I know risk is difficult. But I also know it is much better than always doing the sure thing – always making the safe decision.

 

The problem is if you really want any progress or growth … meaningful progress and growth … risk cannot be avoided. You must seek ‘the exception.’

 

In the end.

 

I do think business needs to embrace a little more risk.

 

But to avoid being sad about what we do, maybe most importantly, I think business should stop calling tweaks risky. They are tweaks. They are attempts to make small big and the truly big too small.

 

And, lastly, maybe we need to start thinking more often “but it might just work.” I wrote about that phrase to make a point about how we, in business, are becoming far too hesitant to make changes.  There was nothing in the ‘biggest risk taken’ article that convinced me my point isn’t still valid. We embrace tweaks to avoid “but it might just work” actions.

 

 

“Biggest risk ever taken.”

road to success business graffiti

 

 

Shit.

 

These should be monumental type questions with monumental type responses.

 

And if you don’t have a monumental response maybe, just maybe, you need to look around what what you are doing and seeing of maybe you aren’t playing it too safe.

And, most of all, if you don’t have a monumental response, you should not try and make something small monumental.

 

Bigger risk deserves better than that.

Enlightened Conflict