Enlightened Conflict

shifting gears professionally

March 8th, 2017


gears working elite blue collar people experience



“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.

Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”


Denis Waitley




“You are always a student, never a master.

You have to keep moving forward. “


Conrad Hall




This is about shifting gears professionally.


What made me think about this?


I recently watched a professional acquaintance who shifted gears.




To be clear.

He shifted up.


He had a good business, good business model and a good business sense. In my eyes he was cruising along in maybe 2nd or 3rd gear <good … not bad … and not great> … and then … well … he found another gear.


To be clear.


When I first saw his business he was maybe in 2nd gear … not really rocking the boat or rocking the world but steady consistent and moving forward and solid business.


Looking from the outside in I never saw spectacular but I saw steady. I saw … well … 2nd gear.


He didn’t know it but, behind the scenes, I would never hesitate to recommend him, maybe not typically for those who needed to shake the etch a sketch,  but 100% for those who just needed a good engine tune up. Over the years he steadily shifted up to maybe 3rd gear … always steady and solid <good, maybe very good, just not that extra little great>.


But then that changed.

formula success steps

One day I saw his business newsletter and … well … I sat up a little straighter and read it a little closer.


And read it again.


It felt like he had shifted gears.

It now felt like 5th gear stuff.


I got the next newsletter.

Definitely 5th gear.


He had shifted gears professionally.


I tend to believe this happens a lot as you get older.


We shift gears.

We reach a point professionally where you have it pretty good, you have some good experiences which have taught you a shitload of different things … and you sit back and scan it all <comparing it to what you have done>.


This is where the shift occurs.


Some decide to downshift.


Some decide to shift up.


shift up or downNow.


To be clear.


There is a huge swath of people in the business world who simply go in to earn a paycheck, their only gear is the one that does their job <mostly well or well enough> and their career progresses in that one and only gear.

I would note, just for the record, day to day business relies on these essential people and their steady gear attitude <so stop giving them shit or look down on them in any way>.


This is not about them.


This is about the business people who want more. They want to use another gear then other employees … and for the most part throughout their career … they do.


Inevitably these people reach a point, maybe some success, maybe a title, maybe it is just some more good experience where they … well … decide to shift gears.


up or down shift gearsAnd, yes, this is where some shift down.


These ‘shift downers’ have decided they have been working hard and they see the other relatively happy one gear people and say “I am going to slow down.”


Some people call it selling out.

Younger people look at these older people as ‘wasted space.’


I just call them people who believe they deserve to down shift <so stop giving them shit or look down on them and look to maximize their experience>.


This is not about them.


This is more about the business people who wanted more … and then see that maybe they could actually “be more.”


These are the business people who shift up.


And you know what? Shifting gear seems like the appropriate metaphor here because ‘the analogy of ‘shifting gears’ is used to identify and explain the key factors (agents) involved in driving career formation, and describe the level of interconnectedness between these drivers.’


To shift up … in order to respond to the pressure … the gears have to be in sync, work simultaneously and coordinate the rest of the body around them.


And that is what happens. You have accumulated a lot of knowledge, expertise and experiences <practical functional stuff> and then you decide to incorporate some personal clarity to the horsepower.


It is almost like you find some clarity … in yourself professionally which permits you to better identify the largest and most influential parts in the gear box.

And then … you shift gears.


I feel qualified to write about this because I did it. I shifted gears up.

And I have seen others in my generation shift up … and down.


expectations outcome disappointment 1I will admit that it has taken me awhile to not have disdain for people who down shift … mostly because it is so far out of my DNA I, frankly, couldn’t understand it.


But I do now.

I certainly see the value of ‘down shifters’ and believe any organization would benefit from having a mix of good, qualified, experienced, downshifters.


As for shifting gears up?



Seeing someone in my business generation do it is … well … a joy.

Mostly because, in general, the shift is tied to a decision that our generation may have not always been the best for the business world and possibly injected some flawed thinking with regard to business acumen & principles. This means that most ‘shifting up’ is tied to trying to address those ‘wrongs’ or at least try and inject some ‘righter thinking.’


I get some shit from people because I am hard on my entire business generation … everyone.


Look.follow heart brain tupac


I think more of us should be.

To be clear.


I don’t expect everyone in my generation to decide to shift gears up but I would like more of my generation to at least understand some of the consequences of our behaviors & principles.


And for those who decide to shift gears upwards? I hope they get a chance to implement their new horsepower because today’s business world can make it pretty difficult for people in my generation, who truly have something to offer and are willing to not be attached to the old ways of doing things to actually get to do what they truly offer.


little but big & 100

December 21st, 2016

 little things big things



“You’re little but you’re  big.”



Pretty Little Liars




“The human tendency to regard little things as important has produced very many great things.”



Georg C. Lichtenberg






Today is December 21st … the littlest day of the year – the winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in terms of hours of daylight one tree christmas winter<solstice basically means “sun stands still”>.


On the winter solstice, everywhere south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours. Meanwhile, everywhere north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.


The good news?

Daylight gets bigger from here. From here on out the days gradually get longer and the nights shorter.




On the littlest day it seemed like a good time to talk about big things … and their relationship to little things.


Couple of quick thoughts.


Time. We bitch & moan about not having enough time to do everything we want to do. I could argue that most people actually get more real practical pragmatic shit done on the shortest daylight day of the year then the longest daylight day of the year.

More focus. Less distractions. More shit done. less daylight hours. Littler day. Bigger productivity.


Time is time … neither little nor big.no-time-to-be-looking-at-the-bright-side-silver-lining


If you ever need an example of how littler can translate to bigger … well … the shortest day of the year is adman good place to start.


Little, or few, is more often than not a harbinger, forerunner or precursor to big.


From few, many. From one, multitudes.


This leads me to the heinous concept called ‘the big idea.’


I admit.


I get tired of hearing about ‘big ideas.’


In fact … in my cynical mind … whenever I hear big idea I hear hyperbole, fantastical thinking & likelihood of big failure.


I perk up when I hear someone say … “you know … I have a little idea that I think can make a big impact.” That I can get onboard with.


Let me make my point by showing how few, let’s say 100, can be the beginning of something big.


100 monkeys.


cancelled ThinkingMonkeyYeah.

100 monkeys.



100 Monkey Theory

In 1952, on the Japanese island of Koshima, a monkey named Imo washed a sweet potato before she ate it.  She and her fellow, Macaca Fuscata monkeys were given sweet potatoes by the scientists who studied them.  The monkeys like the taste of the potatoes, yet did not like the dirt.  Imo taught her mother and the other monkeys she came into contact with and over time more and more monkeys were washing their potatoes.


Imo’s practice catches on.


Well, the interesting observation is that after a significant minority (let’s say 100 monkeys to use a number) of the monkeys were washing their potatoes, the scientists observed that very quickly after this, all the monkeys were washing their potatoes.  Like a critical mass had been reached and now all the monkeys were able to access this knowledge somehow even if they did not come into contact with Imo and her friends.  More interesting is that scientists observed that at the same time, on other islands monkeys were also washing their potatoes.


It appears that when 99 monkeys were washing potatoes and one more joined, a critical mass was achieved and this awareness was now available to everyone (please don’t get hung up on the exact 99 or 100 numbers).


This is known as the 100 Monkey Theory.





The foundation of the theory is when a certain critical number achieves an awareness of “something” <an attitude or behavior)> and that ‘something’ becomes accepted … it shifts into a norm, i.e., from the few, many.


I believe the truly stunning aspect of this theory is the ‘island to island’ aspect.




And these monkeys didn’t have internet.

Nor a classroom.

Nor any physical contact.


This theory suggests that, although the exact number may vary, when only a limited number of people know a new behavior it may subconsciously reside as the conscious property of the collective people. I am NOT suggesting some telepathic mumbo jumbo … but … I am suggesting that accepting new behavior <and attitudes I imagine> has a tipping point.1 2 3 gif score rate life people


In addition … I do believe the ‘100th’ is reflective of my overall belief that great minds puzzling over similar situations are quite likely to have the same idea & thought <and inevitably the same innovation> wherever they may be and never having crossed paths with someone who is having the same idea at the same time>.


If you agree with that, then the 100 monkey theory is not as wacky or cerebral as it may seem at first blush.




You may not buy it.


You may not think people are related to monkeys.

You may think 100 isn’t enough.

But you should think about it.


You should think about how from little … something bigger arises.


And while I really do not want to get hung up on the actual numbers it is fascinating to think that there is a point at which if only one more person absorbs the new attitude and changes its behavior that somehow this awareness is picked up by almost everyone.


A book has been written on this theory, “The Hundredth Monkey,” by Ken Keyes Jr., I don’t suggest reading it because, well, the concept is pretty simple and you don’t need a book to explain it nor do I believe a lot of pages with graphs and explanations will convince you.



Here is my point on the littlest day of the year.


It can take a littler amount than you may think to create the change and behavior you desire. Add to that thought the importance of 1 – as in 99 to 100.


Whenever you doubt that 1 can make a difference just think about the 100 Monkey Theory.


I believe any one even remotely interested in creating cultural change should invest some time thinking about this theory. Instead of needing dollars to create change or wacky ideas to affect attitudes or investing energy trying to create “a wave of change” someone should focus on “the 100” or ‘the few.’


Think about creating change by offering relevant useful behavior information and focusing on the few.




Sure would make life a little simpler huh?


<note: some people, like me for an example, call this creating an influencer base to influence mass behavior>




If you focus on the littler stuff, the fewer, well … this means you can have a planned what happenedlittler plan than normal.


I can hear the screams of disagreement from big idea people … “big ideas need to be nurtured and protected by big well thought out plans.”




The main issue with big plans and big planning is the fact that little things are always changing.

Even worse, these changing little things are oblivious to the neat orderly plan you had in place.


And even with all this change I imagine you have a choice … plow through the little changes swirling around with an unchanging plan … or watch the little changes <kind of like watching a double dutch jump rope> … and let your neat plan take on some less neat fluidity.


Little things can make big differences.


Little things can make big plans & ideas die.


And not everyone can see little shit when there is a big shiny looking shit dazzling you as if it were a star you shouldn’t take your eye off.


I would suggest that you know you are a big planner <as in one effective at creating Big plans> if all the little things that go wrong do not make your big plan go awry.


Little things can make big plans go awry.



Little things can make anything go awry.


On the other hand.


Little things can make big impacts.


Little things can become big things.


So.hard to plan success_and_happiness


On this littlest day of the year think a little littler.


Think small.


Take a little time and focus on little things which, if nurtured, can become big things.


And maybe think a little about the fact that there is not too little time but rather maybe we should seek to do bigger things in the little time we have.




And always remember … big shit is always a composite of a shitload of little things.




“That is the problem, we give larger space to small things. We give them power to break us in the tiniest form.”



cannot resist the invasion of ideas

December 16th, 2016

 strategy think anger angry business ideas filter



“One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.”



Victor Hugo



“Our ideas, like orange-plants, spread out in proportion to the size of the box which imprisons the roots.”


Edward Bulwer Lytton







Whether we like it or not … whether we admit it or not … we are all ignorant. It ignorant people understandingis impossible for s to know everything therefore we have ignorance boxes <different topics> in our heads just sitting around collecting dust waiting to be pulled off the shelf.




Those ignorance boxes are interesting boxes.

They come in different sizes and shapes and depths.


In addition.


Ideas are an interesting plant to … well … plant in the ignorance box.




The roots of ideas will inevitably end up in conflict with the box they have been planted in.


That is the inevitability of the invasion of ideas … conflict.


That is the inevitability of the invasion of curiosity … conflict.


One territory … let’s call it ‘the country of what you do not know’ is always being invaded by an army of ideas and thoughts <some true and some untrue>.




There are winners and losers in this whole knowledge, curiosity & ideas battle … of which you, yourself, can be victor or vanquished. The only thing you can be sure of is you will always be in conflict and always be at war.


That is one of Life’s biggest truths.


Curiosity comes with a price … and a reward.


I wrote once … ‘far too often we place curiosity in some unequivocal good or bad space … “curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning” or “curiosity killed the cat” … but, truthfully, curiosity embodies both good and bad. And I say that as one who is unequivocally in the camp of “knowing more of anything is good.’


The constant invasion of ideas seems to revolve around two things near and dear to my heart:


  • Positive friction.



  • Enlightened conflict.

truth and conflict


The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking … therefore … the friction has a net positive effect. I could even argue that even bad thoughts that are well thought out and well articulated is positive friction. I imagine  could argue any thinking is better than no thinking.




The second is that … well … any conflict of thought & ideas will enlighten in some form or fashion. I tend to believe the arc of conflict leads to true knowledge. But “arc” is the key word. I think we get a little hasty with regard to people and thinking and this constant war. We forget it is a battle by battle thing and not a ‘battle which embodies the outcome of the war.’ We look at someone who we deem as ‘ignorant’ rather than viewing them in the midst of battle and somewhere on the arc of true knowledge.

I can honestly say there are few people I will not debate with, discuss with or have a discourse with. I will discuss anything with anyone and listen and respond … “go to war” in other words.




Other than purposeful ignorance I tend to view ignorance as simply the opening gambit in the battle of the day.




i will talk about anythingI am definitely a curiosity guy.


And, well, I guess I am definitely a conflict guy <when it comes to ides and thoughts and issues>.


And I love the thought that I am not actually seeking ideas or ‘working hard to learn’ but rather ideas and thoughts are constantly seeking to make battle with us … constantly invading our space, our ignorance, and … well … we go to war because it is a war worth fighting.


It is a fight for knowledge.




I have heard many people say “I want to know everything there is to know on this topic.”

I often wonder if they are up for the battle that will need to take place to make that happen.


I know someone can know a lot.


I absolutely know that you can know enough to be dangerous.


But I am 100% unequivocally clear that knowledge is a never ending battle.

Even on one topic you probably don’t have enough hours in a lifetime to know everything there is. I guess that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try … but suggesting you know everything is … well … not only silly but may actually be a reflection you do not understand the extent of the conflict at hand.


My site is called Enlightened Conflict.


My motto is ‘seek truth.’seek_truth


And I do feel as if I am constantly fighting a war … and fighting on the side of Truth.

Do I believe I know truth or at all truth? … absolutely not.


As any warrior would tell you … I get closer to be the best I can be as a warrior every time I fight. It is the conflict which fights ignorance and seeks to enlighten in victory … or maybe just survival of the battle of the day.


Maybe that is why the two quotes I opened with interested me.


The conflict of ideas does not have to reside in any open debate. You don’t even need another person. Ideas invade in any number of ways. They plant themselves in boxes you have forgotten you even had. They grow to a point where you cannot ignore them anymore and begin to battle existing ideas you have. It becomes … well … a war between learning and unlearning … new and old … what you knew and what you know.


And once ideas bloom enlightenment occurs.





“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson



experience, enablers and innovators

July 1st, 2016

 data connecting-dots-stevejobs


“The human condition can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future.


It is the great task of human knowledge to bridge this gap and to find those patterns in the past which can be projected into the future as realistic images.”



Kenneth E. Boulding



“Sureness will always elude you.

The detective will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole.

We do not go on despite this. We go on because of it.”



Sara Gran






We business folk talk a shitload about innovation. Shit. Even I have written innovation wackysome bullshit about ‘innovation being the lifeblood of any ongoing business’ <in my defense I may actually have anchored that thought by suggesting “restless thinking” itself is the lifeblood of any ongoing business>.


Innovation is one of those broadly defined words which people grab onto whenever they want to sound … well … like they are representing some fresh thinking <versus the old way of doing things>.


And while that may be so innovation is significantly different between an entrepreneur and an established company. Well. they may be the same in intent but they tend to have different challenges in order to reach the intent.


That said.


I have said t before and I will say it again <and again> that innovation whether you are an entrepreneur, a start up or an existing business is very very <very> rarely associated with anything ‘outside some box’ but rather assessing, evaluating, analyzing that which is WITHIN the box in an unconventional way.


It is mostly about looking at the patterns and things of the past and project out to some envisioned future state.


And, inevitably, while we blab about innovations and innovators we start creating some weird perception that innovators are some different people who live somewhere outside of whatever box the rest of us live in therefore can see shit we cannot see.

In this alternative business universe to be an innovator you must naturally be a disruptor.


Simplistically this suggests the business world naturally evolves into enablers disruptors enablers majority peopleand disruptors.


It’s crazy.


And … well … it is wrong.


Here is a business truth.


The great thinkers and innovators live right inside the same box as the rest of us. They see the same shit as we do. They do not necessarily take more risks than we do and they do not seem to embrace chaos very well.


In fact.


The best business problem solvers are not innovators nor do they invest a lot of energy discussing innovation.




They understand the proper roles of experiences, they don’t make trite statements like “if we don’t look to the past we are doomed to make the same mistake” and they do their creative thinking inherently.

While it may not be popular to state … they are simply a different type of enabler.


They enable what could be to … well … be.


And while there is another weird perception that they are mad scientists who dream up insanely imaginative ideas …


  • They know what they’re doing.


  • They know how they’re doing it.


  • They know why they’re doing it.


hugh brainstorming box peopleIn other words.


They are not making shit up. They are not finding anything outside of any box.

They simply use what exists in a different way.


But they don’t necessarily call it innovation. In fact … many of these people get confused when it is called innovation. To them it is simply grasping the patterns of the past, recognizing the experiences that matter, and deciding that something that should be done that … well … matters.


The whole idea of being called some “Innovator” often confuses them because to them it is simply aligning information and ideas that matter. Innovation sometimes confuses them because they simply see it as enabling past learnings & patterns to come to Life <just in a different way to you & I>.


<You can typically uncover the ‘innovation posers’ by the fact they call themselves ‘out of the box thinkers’ and call the thinking they do ‘innovative>



They also have an innate ability to see outwards, to see what could be and, yet, question what is yet to be.


And the good ones?


Their ideas are never really in some clear ‘that’s impossible’ space … they all have at least a glimmer of ‘possible’ somewhere within. I imagine this is so because there is always something of ‘patterns of the past’ inherent in their so-called innovative idea. There is always a healthy aspect of enabling some aspect of the status quo or ‘what there is to work with.’


But you know what they all have in common?


Some good experience and an innate ability to make some decisions based off of some relatively disparate information <most of the information reflects what is existing>.


In other words … they are really really good at asking the inevitable and ‘oft-asked’ question in business … what must be true to make it work?”




“Failing to strengthen an idea by throwing tough questions at it is a disservice to the idea itself. The key question is “what must be true for that to work?”


It’s a powerful question that quickly separates high-potential ideas from the blizzard of distracting ideas that can result in lost traction.


Ideas are not treated as precious pearls to be polished but as sparks born of friction.”




Mark Payne

enablers do themselves society can do should do


“There are so many good ideas that get thrown out for being “too unrealistic” when, in reality, they might just need some tweaking and a little creative thinking to give them legs to stand on. If the idea is good enough and will deliver excellent ROI in the end, it might be worth a little extra time, effort and money up front.


So, sit down with that “too-big” or “we can’t do that” idea and give it a chance. Write down all the things that need to be true for it to work; then, tackle those things one at a time until you have a sound, realistic frame for your concept.”



The Garage Group





I imagine one of my most important points today is that innovative ideas are more likely to come from people we may think of traditionally as ‘enablers’ rather than some disruptive jerks running around trying to set the world on fire.


And if you think about that <and maybe try and believe it> … well … think about the most basic enablers in your life.


  • Do you know the name of the person who picks up your trash?


  • Do you know the name of the person who stocks the shelves at the supermarket?


  • Do you know the name of the person who made the bowl you put your cheerios in this morning?


These are the semi silent majority of enablers in our world. And while we far <far> too often take for granted the labor which keeps the world running we absolutely ignore these people as possible ‘disruptors.’


Enablers play an important role in the ecosystem of … well … things. Just google enablers embedders engagers enhancersthis thought and you will get a bunch of semi-intellectual writings on the ecosystem of how things are done and created and the role of enablers <versus “Engagers, Enhancers, and Embedders”> in the world of things.


It is a little embarrassing to see how we so easily slot people into some space.

And while I do believe some people are inherently better at thinking and critical decision making I do not believe that there are ‘innovators’ and ‘enablers.’




We certainly need “maintainers” to keep the world going and stuff appearing on shelves for us to buy and to make shit for us to use … but that doesn’t mean they are not also capable of ‘innovating.’

To me … enablers, maintainers and disruptors are all 99% the same.


Not everyone wants to assume the innovator or a disruptor mantle but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of contributing.


And I also do not believe it is wrong to believe your Life “dream” is a steady typical hour workday, with a reasonable commute, making enough to afford a home, food, healthcare, education for their kids and a little more to have some small luxuries … in other words … okay with not being rich, but not okay with being poor. In other words … slotting yourself into some self accepted ‘enabler’ status.


In fact … I would suggest that those people are the engine that keeps the world running … they are “the enablers of all things” just as so-called ‘innovators’ are enablers workers doers society“the enablers of new things”.


Each plays their role to enable the world to actually work properly and enable ideas to flourish & leaders to do their gig successfully.


And you know what?


Each enabler, whatever their specific skill & experience is, will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole. We do not go on despite this. We go on because of it.




The world is enamored by ‘leaders’ and ‘disruptors’ and whatever seemingly unconventional thing is out there.

But what if we stopped being enamored by ‘out of the box’ crap thinking and simply suggested all of those milling around inside the box will enable that which needs to be done and will create that which will be done <implementing & ideation>.

If we do that then … well … it kind of seems like we have the experience on hand to decide what makes the world work and ultimately reject the crappy things that just clog up the engine.


I admit.

I get tired of all the disruption and innovation talk.

And I can honestly say I have worked with maybe the best packaged goods innovation team in the world and have certainly worked with some of the best, most talented & smartest, ‘disruptive thinking’ people in the world.



The world.


What I can unequivocally say is that the best forward thinking ideas, startups/entrepreneurs/large company portfolio thinking, has all come from experienced thinking and not amateurish pie-in-the-sky thinking. The ideas are grounded in some ‘new view’ of existing patterns and a pragmatic view of unconventional thinking.


While I love young people and their minds and thinking … the best idea come with experience. That doesn’t mean that everyone with experience actually does come up with ideas … just that experience enables the best ideas.experience


And it is quite possible that experience enables you to navigate the ‘unsureness’ and permits you to go on despite it.




And everyone is an enabler. Don’t forget that thought. Mostly because the best of the best so-called innovators most typically see themselves not as innovators … just people who are enabling what could, and should, be.

the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be

June 29th, 2016



memories pictures life sky dreams wishes stars




So when I saw this picture I thought of … well … stars.



What if each picture hanging was a star?


What if each picture was representative of some wish, or dream, that came true?


What if each star above us represents some ‘moment’ in Life glittering above us to remind us?


What a nice thought.


What if the stars in the skies are wishes yet to be and wishes redeemed?




If that was ever a reason to take a minute and look at the stars on occasion that should compel us all to look upwards on occasion.


Back in 2012 I wrote something that began ‘stars are special things.’


In that post I mentioned the power of star gazing.


In this post maybe I am suggesting you can actually build your own starry night sky


I mean … what the hell … most of us are not astronomers and most of us do not have telescopes and I imagine an even fewer of us actually count all the stars in the sky.


So how do we know that each time we take a mental picture of a moment that another star isn’t added to our night sky?


Practically speaking I imagine that sounds silly.


But from an empowering Life perspective? Shit. It sounds anything but silly.


It sounds … well … fucking good.


It sounds … well … like I own a part of the night sky.


It sounds … well … like every night I can look up and my life makes up part of the beauty of that which is a starry night sky.

stars and thinking boy

I like the thought.


I like the thought that every moment we take a mental picture we hang a new star in the night sky and that each night, if we choose to look up, we can see our moments flickering and sparkling above us to wish for more, to simply admire what is there and hope that someone somewhere is wishing on one of our memorable moments for themselves.


And you know what I may like the most?


I could pick a room and hang picture after picture from the ceiling and make believe they are the stars I have built in my own Life sky.



spinning out of nothingness scattering stars

December 20th, 2015


star wish fly by think dream


“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”






When I started on this one I wasn’t sure if it was about self, life, dreams or maybe even starting a business. And then I realized, in some weird way, it was kind of about all.





Think “connection.”


stars in handOr maybe connecting with something in a multi-dimensional way <emotionally, physically, experientially> which not only grounds us to us <our self> but has a commonality to ground us to other “us”es.



I like the thought that maybe each of us is really a star <shining brightly for something good or hopeful … within ourselves as well as possibly for someone else>.



I like the thought we spin out of nothingness as people, as careers, as thinkers and as doers, scattering to find our place in the expansiveness ahead.



I like the thought that maybe, because we really are stars, we seek them to find whatever secrets they could share about us.



I like the thought that stars can be seen by anyone, anywhere if you only look up on occasion.



I like the thought that stars connect people and thoughts and dreams and wishes and … well … anything hopeful.



I like the thought that while stars are about space they are actually more about managing space by circumventing distance to activate that which can exist between stars and people.



I like the thought that stars actually embrace the strongest business building concept thru actively engaging people in a physical way … an emotional way … and an experiential way.



Stars engage us, connect with us, in a way that businesses and brands should attempt to emulate any authentic way they can <because I am not sure I can find any one person who dislikes stars>.


stars and night sky




Whether we truly are stars spinning out nothingness or stars simply represent our sense of ‘nothingness to what could be’ mindset … it is pretty amazing to think that anything spinning out of nothingness can inevitably create one of the greatest connections a person can ever have.
Stars represent life moments … stitching together all that we are and all that we want to be to form thoughts & attitudes which fuel behavior.



Stars are part of everyday lives and occupy critical space in a person’s grander Life story. They never dictate behavior but instead inspire behavior. They do so by nudging us toward both emotional and transactional personal investments into ourselves inevitably shaping life patterns, creating behavior, and ultimately encouraging us to make personal identity statements about who we are.



Stars are the beginning, middle and end of Life. They represent life and how we live it.



They are the small cornerstones to our Life stories.
Somehow they transcend the transactions we make with ourselves by resonating with something inside as well as outside the moment of ‘transaction’ with the star.


And maybe most importantly?



This multi-dimensional transaction we make with a star perpetuates a bond which unites, influences, inspires and scatters us out of nothingness toward … well … somethingness.



I imagine that means stars ultimately represent a connection with ‘what could, or can, be.”



Stars help us answer the ultimate life question … “how do people fulfill their potential and figure out who they are and what they’re capable of?”





Here is what I know for sure.



We should all look at stars every once in a while.


Some of us may find hope.


Some of us may find clarity.

inside us stars find self

Some of us may find ourselves shrinking before the immensity of Life.



Some of us may see possibilities.



And some of us may find that they take the moment and make a Life transaction.



But all of us WILL find something.

Large and full and high the future still opens

October 24th, 2015

imagery black ink write


“I take up my old pen again – the pen of all my old unforgettable efforts and sacred struggles. To myself – today – I need say no more.

Large and full and high the future still opens.

It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life.

I like these words.

For anyone approaching middle age, or wading through it, they may be the most useful words anyone has written, words that if we repeat often enough we may even start to act upon.

Words that could change our lives, or the long sweet stretch of it that is left.”


Henry James

<wrote in his early 50s>


“We know that greatness doesn’t come from building walls, it comes from building opportunity.”



<note: the original quote has “America’s” before greatness>









Bad we help that


Yesterday I wrote about ‘no chance means no chance.’ Looking back upon it while I don’t regret the truth, or pragmatism, of it … I began recognizing I kept going back to it again and again … my fingers hovering over the pragmatic side of it and the ‘delete’ key … and having my thoughts hover over the hope portion with itchy fingers, and itchy mind, to write more and talk about how glimpses of ‘having a chance’ are the things that often not only get us thru the day but get us thru life.



That is the power of words. A word has the power to change the way you think about things but maybe more importantly a word … yes … a single word … has the power to change your life <because what you think often begets what you do>.



A word can surely be a wall … but more often than not … a word is a building block for opportunity.



Such a small thing is large and full and … well … high the future still opens.



And while that sounds big & sweeping and maybe easily dismissed as words of a dreamer and things that are nice to think about but will never happen … I would like to point out that for almost 20 years now the internet has brought more new & different words into our lives.
These words are opportunities.



These little things are big and full of the future.



Because of this seeming barrage of words our lives, our culture; our minds have been forever changed.



There is no going back and there is no ‘giving back.’ Words when encountered remain your companion to be hugged, bewildered by, spurned, loved and shadows you wherever you go from that moment on.words big brevity



Even on the days when we shut ourselves away from people and the bustle and grind of Life there will not be a single day in which you will not interact with words.

They are your constant companion <friend or foe>.



Whole companies are now dedicated to words.



Any search engine or browser company.


Any social media company.




Whole industries these days has been developed solely on the use and management of words.



Your words beget their words.


They organize words which inevitably force you & I to consider, an reconsider, words.



At the core of our lives is one simple thing … a word.



one plusOne word at a time our life is built.


One word at a time … opportunity … a dream … a hope … is built.



This means that a word, or combination of words, is the key to everyday life.



The way we interpret a word can not only change the present but impact the future. One word can … well … actually change our behavior <Amazon is the most practical tactical example of this>.




Technology has actually given a word ‘super powers’ <and they were pretty frickin’ powerful before>. a word is no longer something we simply observed & absorbed … it now has acquired a more active role in life … it creates and impacts how we interact.






A word is a fundamental catalyst of Life.






It is impossible to imagine the world without words.



A word enables us to do things that maybe seem unthinkable.


A word encourages us to think … well … we have a chance.



And, maybe most of all, while I think of a word as the small key to greatness and opportunity I continue to think of the one syllable 4 letter word that is possibly the most powerful word in any language – hope.

words a minute fast


Whenever I wonder why I sit in front of my computer and write I remember that words not only are the only constant companion we encounter every day but they are involved in almost every aspect of our lives.




In some small way maybe I think of James’ words … “today – I need say no more. Large and full and high the future still opens. It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life.”



Weigh your words carefully today my friends … and take a moment and ponder the words you encounter … for most do not build walls but offer opportunities.

knowledge, working for it and managing cynicism

June 8th, 2015

knowledge big board stuff


“Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.”

(It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery)


<Christopher Marlowe>


“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”


Gus <Fault in our Stars>


There is a part of everything which is unexplored, because we are accustomed to using our eyes only in association with the memory of what people before us have thought of the thing we are looking at.

Even the smallest thing has something in it which is unknown.


Gustave Flaubert








knowledge work for research



Knowledge takes work.


Let me start again.



There are smart people … born that way … but they are not born with knowledge.


Natural smarts is a trait.


Knowledge is earned … it takes work.







That work can be fun … because the aid in the fight for knowledge is curiosity … and curiosity is fun.



I wrote this in June 2010 on curiosity & knowledge:








Gaining knowledge can be fun but it takes work for a couple of reasons:




–      Knowledge is about accumulation and sifting


–      Knowledge is about overcoming cynicism


That said.



As a self-proclaimed knowledge seeker I feel qualified to at least comment on this subject.



I admit that those of us who seek knowledge are doomed to be in companions of misery.



We see our blind spots and seek to solve our wretchedness.



And we do so faced by others who don’t accept their blind spots … seeing what they want to see rather than what is really there <some aspect of ‘not knowing’ or ignorance>.



We companions in misery realize the terrible nature of the bargain we make with Life. We do not seek to squander whatever curiosity-driven abilities we may have in self-indulgent behavior … but rather look for some higher intellectual plane found with knowledge. We also realize part of the bargain is we need to be resilient in the face of the cynical.



In other words.



We seek to avoid what Faustus accepted … a life of mediocrity … “I’ll burn my books,” Faustus cries as the devils come for him.



Desperate schoolgirl

Desperate schoolgirl


We seek to avoid quitting, compromising or simply admitting defeat.



We seek to avoid denouncing, as Faustus did in desperation attempting to save himself, the temptation of knowledge … the quest for knowledge that has defined most of his life.




Faustus: Stay, Mephistopheles, and tell me, what good will
my soul do thy lord?

Mephistopheles: Enlarge his kingdom.

Faustus: Is that the reason he tempts us thus?


We seek to avoid failing our calling in Life … the constant desire <temptation?> for more & more knowledge.



More & more knowledge.



That is what Life dangles in front of all of us.



Becoming smarter.


Becoming more enlightened.


Becoming more knowledgeable <and yet less knowledgeable at exactly the same time>.



Those are the fruits of temptation which make us wretched and constantly leave us in misery.





But what a wonderful misery.



We companions in misery wallow in the enjoyment of the task <the pursuit of truth & knowledge> but we also enjoy the actual task of the pursuit … the moments when we actually touch the enlarging kingdom <the glimpses of true understanding>.



I would suggest it is a balance of the two … the pursuit and the ‘touch.’






Today’s world?



A couple thoughts.



1.       Wisdom versus knowledge.


knowledge wisdom


Wisdom does not loom large in the modern psyche.

It has been replaced by knowledge, which does not pretend to emotive value; in its least appealing forms, it even eschews such associations. It is strictly about things and the manipulation of them; and, unsurprisingly, it’s directed outwardly, towards the technologies of life and not their meanings. So we have many people who, externally speaking, are able but not wise; active but not prudent.

And perhaps this defines our society and our age as much as any other set of words: activity without prudence, or, imprudent doing.

To have prudence is to have foresight, to attend to.

But attention is born from within, not from outward circumstances; and in the great esoteric traditions attention is of a divine origin, not a worldly one.”


Lee van Laer


Wisdom is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom. And, yet, we often confuse them.


Truly wise people far too often get bludgeoned by people who have ‘knowledge.’


Facts or quai-facts are used like rational rocks covering a person until they not only get muffled but succumb to the weight and suffocate under the crush of mis-used knowledge.



Wisdom is a level above knowledge.

It is taking knowledge and understanding the emotional and cerebral aspects beyond the ‘facts’ and smart sounding words.



Wisdom is divine.


Knowledge is of the world.



That nuance escapes the majority of people.





2.       Inquiry versus knowledge.


wisdom ability knowledge learning


It seems like the emphasis is on inquiry <not real knowledge> in today’s world has attained a status in which it gets confused with knowledge.


Inquiring minds do not have to be knowledgeable.


Knowledgeable minds are inquiring minds.



In that paradox it is easy to get confused.


And in the confusion knowledge can be reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief.



That, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.



It increases the companionship of misery knowledge seekers endure.





The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.




I have an entire article coming soon on how debunking has become not only fashionable but rather a business.



A world strewn with contradictions should make us ponder more interesting questions and not simply debunk existing knowledge. There is certainly some satisfaction to be found in being critical but we cannot lose sight of the fact it is more interesting to find inspiration in the questioning <and learn more>. But many people are lazy … accept what they know at the moment as ‘what is’ and remain cynical of all that … well … “is not.”



Being smart, for many, means being critical … having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. The critical skill, intellectual challenging, is not totally without value, but simply being satisfied with debunking <and not answers> is a dangerous game.
Critical reflection is fundamental to learning, but confusing disbelief or cynicism as a sign of intelligence or intelligent thinking has only contributed to a decay in true enlightened thinking.



The type of absorption true critical thinking demands is becoming an endangered species in today’s world.







Suffice it to say … inquiry has attained such status because … well … how can you not love that information is now available so easily?





But there is a huge difference between learning information and knowing something <which takes a lot more time>.



The burden of those who truly seek knowledge is that knowledge takes time.




But instant knowledge gratification comes at a price: when practically all answers are a click away, we sometimes stop really valuing the search or the solution. I’m willing to deal with that if it means I can know everything that is known (at least hypothetically – Google’s taking forever to scan every book, and let’s not even TALK about how long it’s taking for them to get me a Wikipedia implant).

As far as I’m concerned, if you have access to a Samoa cookie any time you happen to crave one, it’s OK if they’re a tiny bit less delicious than they were when you had to serendipitously stumble across an eight-year-old and wait six weeks for a box of them. But I can’t deny that I treasured my research successes and serendipities much more when they were more difficult.





That completes those two thoughts.






In addition.


overcommunication too many words


I absolutely believe we all benefit by spending a little bit of time to really appreciate the staggering wealth of information available via the internet and how little effort it truly takes to mine that wealth.



On the flip side of the coin.



When everything becomes a click away people begin foolishly thinking it is actually easier to become … well … knowledgeable … or worse … an expert.



Unfortunately … knowledge takes work.



To get the answer you must survive the question.


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”





So. Once you work and gain knowledge … what do you do with it? Uh oh. This is where society can lead you astray.



And that leads me to a fabulous site http://expertenough.com/



Most people think of being knowledgeable with an objective in mind … let’s call it ‘being an expert in something.’


And, yet, we define expert in absolutes of ‘best of best’ or some pinnacle of knowledge.



Expertise isn’t an absolute.


Think of it as a scale, from 1 to 10. If you’re a 3, there are plenty of 1s and 2s out there who you can teach, and probably better than people with more expertise.







In the end I believe knowledge is worth the work. Working to gain it and working to fight cynicism of others.



It takes work to know knowledge is about knowing it is more about ‘understanding.’ That is where the real prize resides.




“Any fool can know.

The point is to understand. “


Albert Einstein





Marlowe and Faustus reminded me of the thirst for knowledge and how far people will go for it.



Faustus, restless for knowledge, forsakes scholarship for magic and makes a pact with the Devil … and endures Hell.



Let me be clear.



You don’t need to make a deal with the devil.


You just need to make the choice to work for it … and work towards the heights to be attained.




The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

—-24 hour news knowldge



I know I have said it before but the people who make it look easy make it look easy because they invested a lot of hard work to make you think so.


Knowledge, or being knowledgeable, is exactly the same.



You aren’t born with knowledge … you have to work to gather it, sift thru it and understand it. And even once you have gained it … you need to work to protect it and ‘project it’ in the ongoing battle with ignorance and cynicism.


Bottom line.


It is work.



It is a lot of ‘toiling upward in the night.’



But … it is a labor of love.

the difference between breaking a rule and breaking a stupid rule

May 31st, 2015

breaking rules Hagy


“The world is full of rules. Be the exception.”



“To every rule there is an exception—and an idiot ready to demonstrate it. “

Vera Nazarian


“Any fool can make a rule

And any fool will mind it.”

Henry David Thoreau





This is a business thought.


This is about rules, breaking rules … and how tricky it can be to communicate a thought well in advertising.

thin line business


Suffice it to say professional communications is always about walking the thin line of connecting with your audience thru visuals & words … and teetering over into the abyss of ‘just missed.’

Professional communicators are paid dearly to be smart enough to discern the difference between things like a ‘break the rules attitude’ <which is burdened by rebellious irresponsibility> and a ‘break stupid rules attitude’ <which is often an attribute and precursor to ‘someone who gets good shit done’>.






It is sometimes a very very thin line and sometimes bad shit happens even with good intentions.





And this is a HUGE but.



Professional communicators, PR people & advertising people & marketing people, get paid to walk the line and walk it well.



So when someone does something stupid you have to scratch your head and wonder how the hell something like that happens.



To be clear.


This is different than simply doing bad advertising.


This is different in that it is more a reflection of bad thinking … or … let’s call it misguided execution of what was probably a good idea <once>.



I would imagine the intent was correct.



I envision business people eating M&M’s sitting in a room discussing strategy and someone saying something like “people who drive our car are the ones who are not comfortable being a sheep in society … and try raising their family to think for themselves” … which is a nice thought.



And someone else said … “lets figure out how to show everyone they aren’t sheep and just do what everyone tells them to do.”



And then some brain dead person said … “they don’t follow rules.”



Dohtrain going off

<insert mental image of train going off the tracks>




I saw an Audi TV commercial that made me think of this.



Well crafted.


Kind of humorous <using some excellent hyperbole>.


Beautiful photography <as you would expect from a car manufacturer>.
And then … oops … it teeters off that fine line into ‘missed.’




One young boy with the gumption to challenge the very fabric of our society has cannonballed into a pool less than an hour after eating.

The world is full of rules, break them, challenge those in charge, and drive an Audi.

Audi TV Spot ‘Swim’:









I did not have a visceral response like this when I saw it:



“I just saw the commercial twice.

Thank you Audi for undermining everything we need in society. Rules. Now you should try to teach this kid in class when the parents helps undermine the process too.

It’s called ethics. Try it sometime. No Audi for me.”


Steve Nordwick



Hugh's Missing the Point

Hugh’s Missing the Point

But I did say “shit, they missed the mark with this.”



I clearly understand what they were trying to do and say.


It was tongue in cheek.



They clearly tried to use an old wives tale ‘rule’ to make a point.


It was hyperbole.



But … well … there is a huge difference between breaking rules and having the attitude to eye rules with some question rather than blindly following them.



And that is where they miss.



They want people who don’t simply follow rules like a sheep but rather look at rules with a discerning eye of ‘stupid or smart.’



And maybe that is where they truly miss the mark.






Smart people don’t encourage breaking rules.

Smart people encourage breaking stupid rules.


SmartBaby answer

Smart people don’t break rules for the sake of breaking rules.

Smart people assess rules and break them when appropriate.



I am not sure I like the message which suggests kids should not only ignore a safety rule but ignore an authority figure.



And I absolutely do struggle with depicting a parent who seemingly venerates and applauds a child flaunting not only rules but figures of authority <even a lifeguard has some responsibility and authority>.



I worry a little about its misguided judgement all within a ‘creating an entertaining commercial’ construct.







I do believe you can encourage individualism in some other way than ‘The world is full of rules. Be the exception.’





I KNOW you can encourage individualism and ‘smart behavior choice even in the face of rules.’





I’m sure I am over thinking this but valuing some sense of order thru rules … and personal accountability toward rules … is kind of what makes civilization run.



And I feel like this communications goes beyond just breaking the rules … the parent is teaching him to disrespect rules <and smart rule breakers respect rules but recognize stupid rules>.



And more disrespect?



While I am clearly in over thinking mode … the pool is not theirs … it is a rules followingcommunity pool with a lifeguard … which means it comes with some choice to assume some personal accountability within society guidelines if they elect to use the pool … which then assumes they are respectful of the rules, obey the rules posted by those who grant them the privilege to use the pool.



Yeah yeah yeah … that is overthink.


But … and this is a big BUT … I have written a number of times that advertising and marketing can affect behavior and attitudes. And if I truly believe that <which I do> then even some of the smallest things should be eyed with ‘responsibility’ in mind.




Look <part 1>.



Some rules are good.


And rules intended to keep a child safe <even if it is a stupid rule> is good.



Telling a child that it is good to break the rules, no matter how seemingly small or stupid, suggests a bad lesson to a child.




Look <part 2>.



Beyond society … in business I know breaking stupid rules is sometimes necessary to get things done.



Excellent effective leadership actually seems to come with an unwritten responsibility to cut through rules that act as barriers to achieving what needs to be done <for the overall betterment of the organization>. I could argue that truly great leaders get where they are because they can do exactly that … legally of course, when the rules tell us otherwise.


Some people call this cutting through the red tape.


I call it the ability to weave your way thru the organizational bullshit and get shit done.



I can guarantee that if you look throughout any successful organization you will always find some ‘smart’ rule breakers who work diligently to overcome or circumvent the rules, regulations, and policies that unintentionally hinder progress and make it difficult to accomplish shit that needs to be done.






I mention that because creative people sometimes get mixed up between what they see in a business environment and what happens in Life environment. Lie isn’t always a Dilbert scene and Life SHOULDN’T always translate from some rules everyday existencebusiness perspective.



The mom in the commercial may be one of those professional ‘break stupid rules smartly’ people … but ‘managing’ her child takes a different skill.



A professional communicator should recognize that.






Close … but they missed the mark.

Enlightened Conflict