Enlightened Conflict

reason for living

November 22nd, 2015



legacy message life

“Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing is to lose your reason for living.”

Jo Nesbø







I could haggle with the above quote from a pragmatic standpoint, i.e., if you lose your reason for living, you can eventually get it back … or another; if you lose your life, that’s it, no way back … but I won’t haggle.


I will not haggle because it is a wonderful thought.





I could think of a lot worse things in Life than living a life with this principle in mind.



I could also argue that one’s ‘reason for living’ can sometimes not be as easy to truly nail down as one would think.


I tend to believe it is a little easier if you have children or family or … well … let’s just say another person.



life whispers listen closelyBut I could also argue that example is not really ‘reason for living.’


That’s just something you can point to when you cannot point to anything inside yourself. Or, maybe to be fair, your sense of responsible to another human being overwhelms anything inside.






I am not suggesting that ‘other people’ is a bad reason for living … just that if you do so then you have abdicated your ‘throne of self.’


And I would also suggest if you take this “reason for living route” from that point on your life in some big ways and in some small ways will continue to be defined by something eternally.



And once the external is removed?






Then you have to … well … look within.



That’s really my point.



Reason for living really shouldn’t be defined by anything other than something that resides within you.





I think we all have a tendency to believe that if something lies within it must be easier to find than something that resides somewhere outside <in maybe some place you have never been or cannot see>.


It actually isn’t easier.

I actually think it is a little harder. I think it is harder for a variety of reasons but let me just suggest that just like the things you love the most in your home … after a while they just becomes ‘things’ and you forget you loved them. What resides within you is almost the same. The really good shit can become so much part of the fabric of who and what you are it doesn’t really seem like something as big as a ‘reason for living.’



When things are good and easy they become easy to overlook.



In addition.

Society beats into our heads we need to be good at something therefore when we look inside ourselves we begin seeking practical shit we can easily pull out when someone says ‘what are you good at?



I mean, c’mon, how crazy do you think people would think you were if when asked that question you would say “keeping my heads in the clouds.” They would think you were either fucking nuts or living in some public park in a hut.


But that is the hard part about a reason for living.

It’s bigger than simply knowing how to build a website better than someone else or being the top sales person in your company … it is … well … just bigger.

And surprisingly, despite its bigness, it is easy to lose. And easy to lose despite the fact you know where it resides <within you>.






I admit … I chuckle when some people tie ‘being grounded’ with reason for living.

It seems so contradictory to me.



Why would I want a reason for living to be on the ground versus being in the sky?





That’s me.


My intention is to keep my reason for living in the sky among the stars.




“They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground, my soul intention is keeping my head in the clouds.”

==life interesting scared shitless doing

asking alexandria




All I can really say is that everyone should choose their own reason for living – on the ground or in the sky doesn’t really matter … just find it and embrace it.

Because losing your reason for living simply leads to an unhappy purposeless life … and that is a sucky life.

racism, systemic or individual … & me

November 8th, 2015



<this is a post request from a European friend – sorry … it is a little rambling … >

racism 1 white guy


Americans have realized many things for which the rest of the world is struggling, yet, the civilization and the morals of Americans fall far below their own principles.”racism 2 white guy

Harriet Martineau

<1837 – Society in America>


The massacre in Charleston was not just an isolated hate crime carried out by a mentally ill racist in South Carolina. It is simultaneously representative and starkly indicative of the rampant racism structurally embedded in America, the responsibility for which, it might be argued, bears no exemption for any American, especially white Americans, north or south, republican or democrat.

As Richard Wright wrote in his 1945 non-fiction memoir Black Boy, America “insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.”


Joanne Braxton and Michael Sainato

<Guardian Opinion Editorial>


“… the devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns.

He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for …”


Tucker Max





being yourself voice echo



I am an older white guy. And I imagine I have exhibited racist behavior, and certainly thoughts, in my life.


Therefore, I am a racist.



Well … that last sentence pained me to type. Fucking killed me.



But here is the deal.


I think we all are … well … at least the white folk.



We may not be outspoken blatant racists … in fact … I tend to believe most of us are relatively oblivious to how racism slips into how one thinks and acts.



This means that … well … I do believe white people bear the burden of racism.



In particular I know I personally bear the burden of racism every day.



The only way I could justify not assuming responsibility is to assume we live, and work, in a racially neutral society – neutral meaning either everyone is treated equally or every prejudice is equivalent to another.





That is not our world.


racism white makes 1


To be clear <to all my white friends>.


I do not disagree that there is some anti-white racism <maybe let’s call this ‘reverse discrimination’> in today’s world.




racism white males 2

And this is a big but.



As long as I continue walking into businesses where leadership is predominately white <and male>.


As long as I scan annual reports and websites and view a predominately white <and male> leadership team.

racism white males 3
As long as the business, government & social power structure remains dominantly white.


As long as all of those things exist … racism against white people will never be the same as racism against people of other races. For if you DO believe it is the same then almost by default you are suggesting the power structure needs to be protected & defended … not earned.



And that is not something I am willing to embrace.



I AM willing to accept the fact that African American racism is a product of a system that has been breeding hatred and bigotry in America since the first Africans were kidnapped and forcibly transported here in the 15th century as slaves under deplorable, inhumane conditions.



I AM willing to accept the fact that all white-based racism is a product some incredibly steeped cultural cues, attitudes and heuristic aspects <all of which are very difficult to purge from the conscious & subconscious>.



But … just to be clear … racism is not an actual crime. You can’t send someone to jail simply for being a racist.


Simply having a belief without acting upon it in any illegal manner is not a crime.


It may constitute a moral crime but government cannot legislate morality and attitudes or belief.



All that said.



I sometimes struggle to understand why white people don’t accept the fact that racism still exists in today’s world, is embedded in the system in which we exist … and, unfortunately, it will always exist in some form or fashion … and we white folk bear a responsibility with all of it.





I imagine some people could suggest what I am describing as racism within myself isn’t racism <because with some warped logic one could suggest that my self awareness makes my racism impossible>.


They would be wrong.



Yes. I am open minded.


Yes. I tend to believe I am skin color blind <intellect is typically my filter>.



Yes. I am more than aware of racist issues <in work environment and in everyday life>.



But … yes … I am white. And compounding it … I am a white male. And by that alone I am a mixture of all the shit that came before me.


black lives obama 1



There is probably no better tangible example of embedded racism than the term and activism surrounding ‘black lives matter.’



All lives do matter.

As a logical extension, black lives matter as well.

black lives obama 2

That is sort of the point of the entire concept.



Black people have the right to stand up and point out that an issue exists <a complex one which often gets lost under a simplistic banner> and that as long as white people <mostly male> make up the bulk of the power structure that maybe we white folk should accept the burden of responsibility.black lives obama 3


I have a hard time disagreeing with them on that.






I say all this to provide some underpinnings to a discussion on ‘progress.’


Because if you accept that we will always be a work in progress than saying things like ‘but it is so much better today than it was’ is not acceptable <this is also a ‘go to’ white person statement>.




Racism has always existed and in some extent.  And while it certainly exists now and there are some vocal aspects to racism today … as a country we have struggled with this since day one.



And if you believe African Americans are more divisive today with regard to the issue <often blaming the president for creating a divisive environment> I would like to point out that one of Tupac Shakur’s most popular songs addresses theses issues … in 1998:

tupac influence change the world



Tupac “Changes

<written in 1998>



Just take a moment and think about how crazy some of his lyrics are … saying a black president is about as unbelievable as pigs flying.

At that moment and time he sang those lyrics he couldn’t conceive the possibility it could ever happen <too bad he couldn’t see the day>.


The song is as relevant today as it was then.






Have we made progress? Absolutely.


Have we achieved what we should achieve? Absolutely not.



Only an idiot denies the existence of racism, but there are very few people who are conscious enough of what needs to take place as we progress and have the courage to consciously address it.



Frankly … I struggle to believe white people, and black people, in America are prepared to let go of their cultural identities and begin forging a new reality in which all are equal within every situation and at any time & place.





Not yet.



I do believe blacks have earned the right to be angry <not the right to act inauspiciously upon that anger though>.

racism black lives

And I do believe the burden white people <mostly male because they own the power structure> have to earn the right to NOT have blacks angry at them.



And in saying that … well … it makes most of us white folk look like we want black people to be angry at us every time we stand on some pedestal and shout “all lives matter … not just black lives.’


It shows a lack of awareness to the real issues at hand and a lack of awareness to who is at fault in addition to lack of awareness with regard to who is truly the victim here.



It is hard to suggest racism doesn’t exist in USA and is embedded in its various structures. And I believe that to deny it simply cripples society in some fairly insidious ways.



In addition <just to complicate this issue even more>.



Here is the unspoken aspect about racism … it is not just about blacks.



The entire immigration discussion in America is strewn with racism.





Think about how we talk about Mexico and Mexicans.


Think about how we talk about ANY immigrant.



While the vitriol and hateful rhetoric seems targeted against ‘illegal’ immigrants it stains all immigrants.



Think about it.


Even our base assumptions are racist. Huh? Assuming ‘bad intentions before good intentions’ <which is quite similar to ‘guilty before proven innocent’> is one of those low level racist driven attitudes which drive wedges between whites and ‘others.’



It bothers me that we far too often swing between the flippant ‘daily humiliating & overt acts of racism are almost gone from America’ statements <to reflect progress> all the way over to the general lack of awareness to how what we say, and actions we far too often take, are reflections of aspects of racism <and yet we never call it such>.

white nonsense racism


This is simply white folk nonsense.



The important need of the present is to confront the less visible but much more pervasive and destructive racism remaining in American society <jobs, education, housing, legal system, banking>. This racism is hard to address because it is part of the fabric of society.


And maybe we white folk need to step back and think “… maybe this is what black lives matter is really about. Maybe black lives matter seems to focus on the legal aspects … but they are also mired mentally in wanting to discuss it all.”





I don’t see America as a nation inevitably mired in racism. We are simply a country that has struggled since its creation with racism – not just blacks but religiously, culturally any other divisive theme you can come up with that challenges Americanism <which is ill defined therefore individuals embrace their own definition>.



Racism in America is actually less about skin color or country origin it is more about power and preservation – preservation of culture & identity.

lose something good get better terror

Culture is about how a group of people define reality … with themselves at the center of that reality.



If you ponder that then … well … white folk <especially white males> are having their culture threatened … and their power threatened … therefore their identity is being threatened.



And maybe that is why I am so adamant that the burden of racism resides with white people. The burden resides in managing and handling feeling threatened.



Some progress has been made but what everyone seems to be missing is that … well … in a long race or in a long game … the last steps are the hardest. It may feel like things have become worse but maybe it is just that we are on the cusp of winning … and this the slogging part. The part where one part of us is scared of losing, threatened in the moment and maybe we wonder what ‘is’ after the goal line for us white folk.



How do I deal with it?


I accept somehow someway I am racist … and hope my awareness makes me a better man.better than yesterday



I accept that racism is tragic, systemic, and a disease that creates structural problems which infect societies at the intersections of ethnicity, religion, class, social structure as well as political identity … and I accept that America is still infected.


I accept that somewhere out there … well … there is a cure for this infection.



And isn’t that what Black Lives Matter is really asking for? A cure? A cure so that their part of society can be a healthy productive part of the greater good called America.





I gotta tell ya.


I don’t think they are asking anything unreasonable.

but it might just work

July 10th, 2015


smart risk may work just

“A million to one chance but it might just work.”


Terry Pratchett






Taking chances.



We all do.







smart risk taking may workWe all convince ourselves we do.



Some of us are willing to take chances when it is a 90% likelihood <or we feel like it is a 90% likelihood>.

That’s not really truly taking a chance.




Some of us are willing to take a chance when it is somewhere above a 50% likelihood.

That has chance involved.



Some of us look at the likelihood & probabilities and even though say it may look like a million to one odds … well … we say ‘it just may work’.



Suffice it to say … how you take chances … and how often … says a lot about who you are as a person.





How about it sends a message out to everyone surrounding you and they look at you as some type of person?


Someone who constantly thrives on million to one chances scare the shit out of people.




Someone who constantly thrives on almost certainty chances bores the shit out of people <which is a poor leadership quality>.



The gap between those two things is massive. And it is a black hole of chance and choices so deep it can eat you up if you are not careful.



More careers have disappeared in this black hole than can be counted. And because so many have disappeared the majority of people lean toward ‘certainty’ in actions and behavior. This obviously leads to mediocrity. And mediocrity leads to self-disgust <in some form or fashion>. Disgust may be a harsh word but it is the unfortunate shadow of self-disappointment.


Where ongoing disappointments stands … disgust is never far away.




impatient think question look

“… do you ever get so disgusted with yourself, like you can not believe how stupid and thoughtless you are and it’s so frustrating because you keep telling yourself that you’ll do better next time but then next time rolls around and the same thing keeps happening and you end up in this pattern of mediocrity.”


(via anawkwardbreed)




I am certainly not suggesting seeing “it just may work” as standard operating procedure.




I always remind people … you don’t know what you don’t know and once the marbles start rolling it is difficult to predict where they will go. In other words … how well, or poorly, you adapt and react can change the odds moment by moment. What may look like a million to one in moment one may look more like a 50/50 chance moments later.



“It just might just work” has some optimism. The ‘just’ & ‘may’ suggests no false optimism but rather an acceptance that there is huge risk, the odds are against you, but you are willing t play the game and see how it ends.



This is not only a personal thing but also a generational, age, thing.



Older business people have created this wacky attitude of a false security of behavior predict Brainpredictability. And they take refuge in this attitude tending to be excessively cautious under the guise of ‘it will not work’ <based on my worldly wisdom> rather than viewing things as ‘it just may work.’



Security ranks higher than risk taking.



Unfortunately, this means that many of these same people, and their businesses, lose out as they lack the courage to make changes or adapt to a changing environment <which actually impacts the odds >.



False security of predictability often leads to missing experiences that bring necessary change.



Risk taking is usually considered a characteristic of youth. Young people seemingly never hesitate to try new activities, to move to new places, to change routines & to challenge the status quo.



I believe it is not based on immaturity or lack of experience but rather they can often view a situation or scenario with a different eye … and therefore derives different ‘chance’ to the potential outcomes.





I love when young people in business do this and I encourage them to articulate their thinking as well as possible. My objective is to view it as they see it through their eyes. And once I have achieved that … I then assess ‘chance’ based on that view <rather than the initial view I may have had>.



2 things come of this:




1.    Invariably I find the odds are truly different after listening. They see things we don’t see and it creates a different path of possibility. It may not shift it from million to one to certainty … all I am suggesting is that the chance ratio changes.

2.    I can actually convince them that it truly is a million to one chance and that it ‘just may not work’ without sounding like an old curmudgeon who doesn’t listen or doesn’t want to explore new ways of doing things.






“It just may work.”




Far too often older managers in business refuse to say this let alone even think it. And thinking it is half the battle.


Brain activity, thinking muscles, increases with challenges … new activities and new experiences challenge established ways of thinking about life & business.



You know what?


“It just may work” isn’t really about risk taking or being risk adverse … it is about thinking and thinking about possibilities.



Too often older people associate possibilities with risk taking. And while predictability brings a sense of security it also means you lose out on the rich experiences of thinking, curiosity & exploring. And maybe that is why young people get so cranky with older business people.



It’s not that they don’t see older managers take risks … it is that they see older managers aren’t even curious with regard to the possibility that someone may suggest something that creates an ‘it just may work’ moment.



In the end … I like to remind people that success is contextual, situations and environment are constantly changing and ‘it just may work’ chances are also contextual.



No one … not even the most brilliant business person in the world … can always envision every inevitable moment or aspect of a process. Far too often the marblestravel of success is often best viewed as marbles rolling on a flat table … that is being rocked. It just may work then becomes dependent upon how well you can avoid, deflect and direct the marbles.






I would like to note that nothing in that last paragraph suggests predictability.





About the only thing I can predict about 99% of things discussed in business is ‘it just may work.’

Enlightened Conflict