Enlightened Conflict

idealism and realism (possibilities and pragmatism)

September 15th, 2017

idealism pragmatist doing shit

===

 

“It has generally been assumed that of two opposing systems of philosophy, e.g., realism and idealism, one only can be true and one must be false; and so philosophers have been hopelessly divided on the question, which is the true one.”

 

——–

Morris Raphael Cohen

 

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

 

“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.”

 

——

Herbert Hoover

 

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

 

“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

 

———–

John Galsworthy

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

I am a pragmatic hope guy. I clearly love instilling hope as part of any business, suicide hope againstor Life, vison but don’t believe in any aspect of false hope. As I have written before while false hope is maybe slightly better than no hope at all    … hope should be treated carefully.

 

That said.

 

All hope to me should be grounded in some sense of pragmatic and reality.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you cannot have both idealism and realism.

 

I, frankly, don’t understand when people suggest you shouldn’t have aspects of both hope & pragmatism, possibilities and pragmatism and idealism & realism.

 

We should want both AND demand both.

 

It is reaching for the stars and reaching realistically.

It is keeping your feet in the clouds and, yet, head on the ground.

 

But that’s how I think.

 

I thought of this as I noted Hillary has an entire chapter in her new book called pragmatc-hillary-won-some-lost-someidealism and realism where she criticizes some aspects of Bernie Sanders.

I would suggest everyone not read it as criticism of Bernie but rather a tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.

 

I will not defend Mrs. Clinton. It’s not my job.

 

<nor will i buy the book>

 

But I will defend we hope believers who also believe in pragmatism.

 

I will defend that I can offer a sense of a difficult path without creating a larger sense of ‘doom or Armageddon’ to create the sense of urgency which we often deem necessary in order to inspire real action.

 

And, inevitably, that is what this is all about.

 

How do inspire people not just to inspire but to take action?

 

How do I inspire larger ideas and larger actions?

 

I imagine all politicians, who are a version of leaders, have to figure out how to balance this. It is a tightrope all of us who have led walk.

 

The difficulty on this tight rope is that there will always be people debating, and futurist non linearcriticizing, while you walk on this tight rope. They will argue we need more radical change. They will argue we need less radical change. Shit. They will argue we need no change moving forward but rather reverse some of the changes made.

 

And you know what?

 

Some of that, in all of that, is right.

 

Some of the past is awful and some of the decisions we will make for the future, and in the future, will be awful.

 

Conversely, some of all of that will … well … not be awful.

 

To suggest that there are easy answers or that the steps forward are clear and simple is … well … stupid. Stupid & foolish.

 

Hillary is, and will always be, a lightning rod.

 

We may scratch our heads with regard to some of the things she says … or we may instead sit back and ponder the good debate to be found in the lightning rod discussions.

 

For in her “Idealism and Realism” can be found the constructive decision which any leader tries to find their own course in leading.

 

We debate all of this shit in our own heads … and then we debate it in conference rooms and boardrooms every week.

 

deal with uncertainty repeat embrace life do

We are responsible for past decisions and, yet, try to unburden ourselves so that we can move forward.

 

Simplistically, just because I <maybe> made an awful decision in the past doesn’t mean I will make an awful decision in the future.

 

Simplistically, just because I maybe offer a hopeful idealistic decision for the future doesn’t mean it is a realistic decision for now.

 

Simplistically, just because I try and slow everybody down on some idealistic discussion shouldn’t suggest I am any more ‘canny or wise’ than everybody else let alone the person who offers the idealistic hope that people may gravitate toward … it just suggests that maybe I am trying to balance … well … reality.

And maybe incorporate the fact that, pragmatically, I would like to incorporate some possibilities for people today & tomorrow.

 

I will suggest, no, I will tell you the harsh truth … getting good shit done is hard.

 

pragmatic hope people balanceGetting shit done means balancing overreach and under reach.

 

Balancing possibilities and pragmatism.

 

Balancing idealism and realism.

 

Balancing the practical and the hope.

 

Balancing what people think they want and what they need.

 

Balancing the majority and the minority. Balancing what is good for one and good for all.

 

Anything less than that is oversimplification.

 

Oh.

 

Shit.

 

And then there is context.

One can never lose sight of context.

 

You have to balance the idea, the hopefulness of ‘what could be’, against pragmatically where you have been <what has happened if not what has just happened> as well as where you are.

 

It is incredibly simplistic to suggest an Obama decision when he took office should be compared to a decision a Clinton or a Trump would make when they took office. Just as it would be incredibly simplistic to judge a business leader if they were to take over a large company which was truly heading into a shithole versus a company which had some problems but was, in general, businesswise healthy.

 

Every transition has its own singular issues. And, let’s be clear, every situation has problems.

 

We should all recognize that in the overall life cycle of Life problems and opportunities, practical and possibilities, hope & despair, heroes & villains, will appear in different forms.

 

This is not cynical … this is … uhm … reality

 

Yaeh.

 

Whoever became the new president of the United States was going to deal with some problems.

compromise life good want you they

Harping on whatever those problems doesn’t really get you anywhere.

They are what they are.

 

I could also argue that … well … arguing over idealistic ideas and vision without admitting some pragmatism and practicality doesn’t really get you anywhere.

 

We all hate cynicism and because we do we confuse it with pragmatism and practicality.

We all get tired of pragmatism because … well … it sounds small.

 

But I would point out that we all not only get tired, but absolutely unequivocally hate, false hope and unrealized idealism. “Large” unrealized equals zero, nothing, nada. People don’t like a zero, nothing, nada no matter how large the zero, nothing, nada is.

 

And you know what?

 

A good leader knows all of this. And they do their best to walk the tight rope. They may not always get it right and they may not always get done whatever is needed to get done to alleviate the problems, or all the problems, that exist in the here and now. But I would point out that, realistically, you can never alleviate all problems and that problems exist, contextually, no matter if an idealist or a realist, a pragmatist or a ‘possibilities driven’ leader, a hope or a practical leader steps in. the only constant that any leader faces is that problems existed to be addressed, exist to address and will exist to address … all to eventually be solved.

 

Not accepting that as a Life truth is foolish.

 

I thought of this today as I envision Hillary Clinton will face another day of criticism from not only all sides but all dimensions. I am sure she will deserve some but the sheer amount is crazy. Yeah. It is most likely an easy buck for a shitload of people but it is lazy.

 

Lazy rhetoric and lazy thinking.

 

 

Maybe, just maybe, we should be sitting back and thinking I would suggest everyone maybe think about this as a grander tutorial on how you can both be idealistic and realistic.combine contradict idealism realism possibilities

 

I tend to believe this would not only be helpful, but a necessary, discussion because … well … we deserve both idealism & realism, possibilities & pragmatism and hope & individual significance.

 

Once again, I am not in the business of defending Hillary Clinton, however, maybe … just maybe … we should stop criticizing what happened and start discussing what happens now.

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

===

 

 

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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

 

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

=======

 

Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

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

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

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

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

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

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

feet in the clouds & head on the ground

October 5th, 2016

 dreams walking

 

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

 

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

My sole intention is keeping my head in the clouds

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

I say you wouldn’t survive one night in mine

 

Asking Alexandria

 

===

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I have called it mastering pragmatism & possibilities.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

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

 

  • Issue one. over-simplification

 

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

 

In business it seems to be all about simplicity.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Or us <the employees> because we either:

 

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

or

 

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

 

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

 

Here is a Truth.

 

business simplicity complex woekMost things are just not that simple.

 

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

 

Well.

 

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

 

Over simplifying simply means ignoring complexities.

 

Over simplifying simply means being consciously ignorant.

 

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

 

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

 

Simply? Over simplification just doesn’t work.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

What I am suggesting is difficult and uncertain work.

 

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

 

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

And worse?

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

 

 

This leads me to …

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Why?

 

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

 

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

 

And, yes, that is hard work.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Simply ‘doing’ aint gonna cut it.

 

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

Thinking is all about work.

 

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

 

Anyway.

As a corollary to issue number two …

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

That is a very dangerous idea.

 

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

 

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

 

Minds need to innovate too.

 

Thinking and attitudes need to evolve and innovate.

 

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

 

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

 

Technology and culture and business are entangled.

 

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

 

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

 

Technology has certainly dramatically improved the overall quality of business.

 

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

 

We need to innovate the systems in which technology exists.

 

Economically, culturally and philosophically.

All systems need to see innovation.

 

<that’s it for my issues>

 

Look.

 

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

 

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

 

I don’t believe simplicity is bad.

 

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

 

I don’t believe technology is bad.

 

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

head-in-cloud-glasses-think

 

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

 

And we cannot be lazy moving forward.

 

And we certainly cannot afford to be lazy thinkers.

 

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

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

 

 

Avoid lazy thinking.

 

Maybe have everyone hearken to Emerson’s words …

 

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

 

 

My thought for businesses today?

 

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

And how do you do that?

 

Sigh.

 

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

 

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

Enlightened Conflict