Enlightened Conflict

recovering from WTF

November 19th, 2016



They <Democrats> are our intellectual and social betters. They didn’t lose because of their positions.

They lost because they think we are misguided fools and they didn’t do a good enough job of educating us.




A sarcastic RedState Commenter






I scan all news outlets from bleeding heart liberal to scary Armageddon right.

The main thing I have noticed is that Trump has sucked the oxygen, and intelligence, out of all media <social, cable and ‘mainstream’>. It is an event unlike anything we have seen before.


He does nothing, says nothing of any consequence, maybe throws in a random insanely juvenile tweet or two … and it sucks all the oxygen out of anything & everything. This is like the OJ in the Chevy Blazer but the Blazer is still driving in its 18th month.


All I can conclude from this is that he is an attention whore who loves any attention and will do nothing to calm the attention storm <because he could stop the insanity if he wanted to>.


And this leads to me to what I am referring to as the “ongoing WTF hangover” and how Republicans and Trump surrogates <and, yes, they are different> keep on suggesting ‘get over it, he won.’


That is crazy.

doom sucks negativity divide unfair

And, worse?

It shows a lack of insight into what happened.


This is not about being a sore loser. This is not about not accepting a loss.



This isn’t even really about politics.


This is not that they lost … it is about who they lost to.


So, please, all those who say ‘he won get over it” take a deep breath and think about it this way.


If this had been Romney versus Clinton and she lost … yeah … people would have been bummed … frustrated … but not protesting or standing up and asking the VP to think about ‘the people’ with concern and a tinge of fear.

Romney is sane, a good man with some policies you could agree with, and some to disagree with, and he clearly stated what you could expect from him <none of those things can be checked with Trump>.


If this had been …






Rand Paul

Cruz … okay … maybe less so.



Yeah … people would have been bummed … but not really concerned with what was going to happen <okay .. maybe with Cruz> … certainly not protesting and asking the VP to think about the people with concern and a tinge of fear.





I am not going to suggest Clinton won the popular vote and bla bla bla … but there is this absurd Republican stance that “the people have spoken and the winner is clear.”






Clinton: 63,049,607 votes … 47.9%


Trump: 61,610,484 votes … 46.8%


Everyone else … maybe 8 million+ votes … 5.3%


Trump didn’t even win enough votes to beat W. Bush … and, boy, does Bush look good now <George W. Bush 2004 62,039,073 … Donald Trump 2016: 61,610,484>.


My point?what-stupid-shock-wtf-surprise


They are acting like the 72 million <or so> people who did not vote for Trump didn’t wake up the next day saying “WTF just happened?”


They are acting like maybe let’s say 20% of those who actually did vote for Trump, maybe 12 million people or so, didn’t wake up the next day saying “Holy shit … uh oh.”


They are acting like 28% of those who didn’t vote at all didn’t wake up the next day and saying “WTF happened … holy shit … I fucked up <because I would vote for Hillary if I had the chance today>”

                           (research conducted with non voters by international paper)





The Wake Forest football team could beat Alabama one weekend.

99% of the people would wake up the next day going “WTF happened?”

Maybe 90% of the Wake Forest fans would wake up the next day and say “Holy shit.”

But pretty much 99.9% of the people know Alabama is a better team.





WTF doesn’t just fade away.


In fact … it has a number of levels.


wtf-20-times-a-dayThe farther the WTF edges toward true outrageousness the deeper the WTF.


The farther the WTF edges toward sheer shock the deeper the WTF.


The farther the WTF edges toward real disbelief, as in “how could someone so unqualified assume such an important position that could affect my life, career and country”, the deeper the WTF.


And then … when the WTF wears a cloak of “oh shit” … well … it is the kind of WTF that is not tied to the loss but rather to the “WTF happens now.”

It is that last one that lingers … and lingers until there is a better sense of ‘what will happen.’



As I have stated … not all WTFs are created equal.


And it is absurd to not understand that and stupid to diminish it. Especially if we are talking about the majority of the population and the WTF candidate didn’t even gain 50% of the population to raise its hand and say “yeah, I think you can do the job” <let alone I think “you can do a job I want”>. Compound that with the truth, a cold hard fact, that more people actually believed someone else should do the job … well … ‘get over it, he won’ just doesn’t hack it.


I can guarantee you one thing … no real business leader would sit in their new corner office going “well, I won, they just need to shut up and line up outside my door and love me and my plans.”   




I know.


We have all seen it in business … there may be nothing worse than when the new leader ignores the WTF or is oblivious to the WTF.


It doesn’t happen often … but most of us have seen it <if not on just a lower management level>.


Treating a ‘WTF happened’ attitude as if it doesn’t exist is just not good leadership.




Cultures and people, in general, don’t like vacuums. In fact, their presence compels us to fill the vacuum … well … mostly with shit.shit well nuts


People do not like to extrapolate. People do not like to guess.

And when forced to … well … we come up with shit.

Oh. And shit multiplies fast and is sticky.

Cleaning up shit is not just a messy job it can almost be an impossible job.




I am no business leader genius but even I know when you assume a new leadership position you do not assume everyone knows who you are, what your plan is and what you want to do.


Silence creates a vacuum which, until all of us every day working schmucks fill it with our shit, is only filled with uncertainty, questions and maybe a little fear of what’s next.


Silence only does one thing … increase the initial WTF factor. It does not diminish it.


To diminish the WTF factor you need to fill the vacuum with something other than shit, vague shit and bullshit.


Set the agenda. State the plan.

It gives even the skeptical & cynical a measurement stick and something to hold on to beyond a simple ingoing “WTF attitude”.


Once again … this inherently leads me to my latent disdain for Trump as a business person. Trump has no idea how to lead nor does he understand, or have the experience, how to positively build an organizational culture nor does he show any signs he knows how to lead.

He is solely a purely transactional operator. That is not a leader.



watch uh oh shit bad day crisis businessSo … Mr. President elect Trump.


Maybe you should not consider this a win but rather a promotion where:


  • About 100 million of your 200 million employees are, at minimum, skeptical you have the temperament or the skills to have earned that promotion.


Let’s call these the “WTF employees.”


  • About 72 million of your 200 million employees unequivocally did not believe you were deserving of the promotion.


Let’s call these the “WTF … holy shit” employees.


  • About 40 million of your 200 million employees were so indifferent as to whether you got this promotion or not that they most likely had no clue who you were when it was announced.


Let’s call these the “I don’t give a fuck” employees.


  • About 60 million of your 200 million employees thought you should get the promotion … but … uh oh … about 30 million of those employees didn’t think you were actually qualified or had the temperament for the job … they just didn’t like the alternatives.


Lets call these the “oh shit, what happens next?” employees.



So, Mr. President elect Trump, time to grow up and lead.euper into giving a shit bad decisions



And Republicans.



Maybe you should consider you fucking won because 28% of the other team decided not to show up on game day because they thought their team was going to win easily.


Maybe you should consider the fact that about 100 million adults or so are fairly sure your nominee is an incompetent asshat with the maturity of a spoiled teenager and no discernible moral compass.


Maybe you should consider a sizable portion of your own elected party woke up the following morning fairly sure your nominee is an incompetent asshat with the maturity of a spoiled teenager and no discernible moral compass <and said ‘oh shit’>.



Maybe you should consider the harsh fact that around 72 million adults clearly stated they had little interest in the ‘Republican mandate’ and another 68 million or so adults were indifferent <they did not even vote>.


In the end.




I am not pissed about losing I am pissed I have to worry whether the winner is actually competent enough to keep the country out of the shithole.


wtf-per-hour-24-7I am clearly one of the “WTF” employees.


And, no, this is not about politics … this is about leadership and leading a country.


So maybe everyone should consider taking their proverbial heads out of their proverbial political asses and recognize the country is suffering from a major case of WTF … and deal with it rather than ignore or diminish it.



what will you look at

June 26th, 2015


look attention listen

“No matter what you are looking at, you can find something wrong with it, something imperfect, something that is not okay with you.

Don’t worry, if you look hard enough you’ll find it.

There is also something ‘right’ with everything.

No matter what you are looking at, you can find something right with it, something perfect.

There remains, then, only one question: What are you going to look at? “

Neale Donald Walsch





I have written about how we “see things” before < http://brucemctague.com/seeing-and-well-really-seeing  > but this thought piece is a little different. This one is more about how attitude can affect what we see more than heuristics and real psychological stuff.



That said.





I am not an optimist.


Nor am I a pessimist.

optomist hope


I tend to believe I am a cynical optimist.



I love hope.


I love pragmatism.



I am pragmatically hopeful.




I decided to begin that way because I love this quote.



We choose to see what we desire to see.




Maybe not desire … but what we expect to see based on out attitude toward Life <not just visual cues we have stored up in our heads>.



Life does not make it easy for us to see what is actually there because it rarely makes something simple for us.



Most things are complex.




In all there is bad and good.



In all there is wrong and right.



I don’t believe what I just wrote is an epiphany to anyone.






I do believe not enough people think about it and how our own personal attitude can skew what we actually see.


seeing is seeing eyes-are-useless

Many, maybe most in today’s world, people see wrong …. and focus on wrong <albeit we may do the infamous ‘say something nice first’ before becoming maniacally focused on what we have identified as  ‘wrong’>.



And a smaller group of people, who hate those people who focus on only the wrong, become blindingly oblivious to wrong and talk about sweeping hope and the inherent goodness to be found within everyone.



Both options are bad. It is like only have an ‘on/off” switch when most of us should have an attitudinal dimmer switch.







For most of us … no matter what you look at … you will choose to see what you want to see.



The one thing I can guarantee you will NOT see?



A completed puzzle.



Life, the one around you or even your own, remains a puzzle yet to be put together.


It is a puzzle with pieces which can be pulled out and replaced … it is a puzzle with pieces yet to be found … and even with pieces yet to be made.

Attitudinally I believe we all know this but … well … we hate it. A work in progress is difficult to judge because you never really know where it is on the progress scale, therefore, we like to view things & people as ‘almost finished’ or even ‘main puzzle pieces are in place.’



We are wrong to do so … and most of us know so … but it is still natural for us to do so.




“Things are pretty terrible but then again you don’t buy a puzzle that’s already put together.”

a tweet Jonah Green




That all may sound terrible.


And it may sometimes even look a little terrible around you.



But .. is it really terrible? Are you looking at the wrong things or are you simply seeing what you want to see?seeing is seeing tree



All I can suggest is to look … really look … because sometimes the obvious is not really obvious and what you are shown is not really representative of what could be seen if you push what is being shown to you off to the side.


And, maybe most importantly, you need to push your attitude off to the side and try and see what is as … well … what is.




In the end …. all I can ask is … well … what will you choose to see?

ottimista pessimista

April 5th, 2014

optimista pessimista 2 glasses

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.” – James B. Cabell



When entertaining <as if I actually entertain> my favorite drinking glasses are my ottimista pessimista glasses.


Italian glasses with a line etched in the middle with ottimista above and pessimista above.


Nothing seems to generate a more lively discussion than one on optimism versus pessimism.


Simplistically most people like to bucket other people into one group or another.

I, a self proclaimed “cynical optimist’ tends to believe there are not many true Eeeyores <pessimists> and not many true Tiggers <optimists> in the world.


I tend to believe we have aspects of both <albeit our individual personality will skew us toward one r the other>.

Sometimes one aspect is more dominant than the other … but we have both … which is a good thing per research:


–          according to research from the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, optimistic managers may do a better job of helping employees reach goals and be more productive. In a cross-sectional study of 86 employees and 17 managers at an Information Technology (IT) organization, researchers Margaret Greenberg and Dana Arakawa found that positive leadership correlated with employee optimism, engagement and project performance.



–          a German study stated that optimistic people actually face a greater risk of disability or death within 10 years than pessimists who underestimate their future life satisfaction. The reasoning behind this is that the pessimists might actually be a bit more careful about their future than the optimists.



So if we have both … and both working together makes us the best we can be … I imagine the solution is to have a mix of both keep your eye on the realistic ball.

optimista pessimista floating


No can do.

We are individuals … and each individual will see reality thru their own optimist or pessimist lens <at each other>. Therefore as we view each other we see that characteristic as ‘bad’ … or maybe just an unrealistic point of view.


Neither optimistic nor pessimistic is bad in and of itself.  An article in Psychology Today said:


“It’s simply not the case that optimism is “good” and pessimism is “bad”—although that’s how we’ve been encouraged to think about them. Rather, both are functional. And both have value.”



Interestingly … I often find that this is a discussion seems to take place between conservatives and liberals. Or risk averse and risk taking <which by the way do align with the labels>.


Ah. The conservative mind.


In a 1956 essay “On Being Conservative”, the philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote that someone with a  ‘conservative temperament’ is:


“not in love with what is dangerous and difficult; he is unadventurous; he has no impulse to sail uncharted seas. What others plausibly identify as timidity, he recognizes in himself as rational prudence. He eyes the situation in terms of its propensity to disrupt the familiarity of the features of his world”.



I am not sure I would go as far as our friend Mr. Oakeshott goes.



It certainly explains the reluctance among many sane people to take the more radical actions necessary to make radical changes <even when they know they should be done>.




If you use only one perception filter, optimism and pessimism both have major flaws.


In problem solving an optimist is at least likely to come up with a number <and variety> of different things to try <maybe one of the will work> … while a pessimist is more likely to noodle over what is wrong, what could go wrong and why in the world we are even facing something wrong … and do nothing <which pretty much almost never works>.


As a generalization this would suggest in survival situations an optimist is more likely to survive.


<please note: I am ALL for survival>


On the other hand.

Optimists can be nerve wracking to be around.


They tend to always talk best case and then buy their own hype.optimist pessimist circles

And when something does go wrong  they inevitably blame the ones who pointed out what could go wrong with their plan <because ‘THEIR stupid, rosy-eyed idea didn’t fucking work’ is how one online writer suggested>.


Unfortunately every positive thought does NOT propel you in the right direction.

Misguided optimism is as bad as overcautious pessimism.




I am hesitant to suggest balance as the key because actually achieving balance is … well … something called “inertia.”




Doing nothing.


At least the optimists move. Because not moving … and just wringing your hands means … well … you will never discover something whether you may have expected to find nothing.



You can discover something in something where you expected

to find nothing. – Regina Derieva <The Last Island>



The pessimist doesn’t even have the opportunity to find something.




A ‘realist.’ <as an option to being optimistic or pessimistic>


This realist label is pretty popular. Most people suggest being a ‘realist’ is all about someone downplaying the good things <minimizing the highs> and recognizing some bad things as inevitable <minimizing the lows>.



Unfortunately … not true.


A true realist is someone who makes completely unbiased judgments and who doesn’t see things through any kind of filter. Neither a positive nor a negative one.


Unfortunately this means that no one can actually be a realist. Sorry about that. Psychology points out that completely an unbiased perspective is neither possible nor actually productive <most of the time>.


In addition … when someone says ‘they only look at the facts … with no emotion’ … well … they <too> are lying.

optimism pessimism paradox


Two people are likely to feel very differently about the same event simply because they highlight different pieces of the available information <some call these pieces ‘facts’>.



Even if truly ‘dispassionate’ … someone with a positive mindset will concentrate on other aspects of a situation than someone with a negative mindset.



Neither of them are necessarily in the wrong.




Here is one thing I do know.

There is something really exhausting about reality.

What do I mean?



Even the most positive optimistic person will inevitably be challenged <if not eventually ground down>.


It is a researched factoid that positive beliefs are derived not from the total number of good experiences but from a low ratio of bad vs good experiences.


Whew. That can be exhausting.



All that said.


What do you do about being optimistic or pessimistic?



In 1949 Harry F Harlow, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, outlined an alternative  … something he called ‘intrinsic motivation.’

In other words … the joy of the task itself.


Another guy, Daniel Pink,  discusses this idea all the time and suggests that for most complex tasks intrinsic motivation is a much more powerful drive than any external motivator.


And that a key part of this motivator is purpose.


“The most highly motivated people, not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied, hitch their drives to a cause larger than themselves.”



In other words, economic incentives alone do not cause individuals to perform complex tasks better <nor make them more optimistic or pessimistic>.


So maybe it is the journey that matters the most.

Maybe it has nothing to do with being optimistic or pessimistic.

Maybe all that really matters is doing something with purpose – not an ‘end game.’


Therefore … what this means … is you are not optimistic … nor pessimistic … but rather simply a person with a purpose.




Here is what I really know for sure:optimist common sense creeping


“All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” – Confucius



I always keep that in mind because … well … optimism … and positive outcomes really aren’t easy things to do and attain. And bad things happen. Keeping that in mind not only keeps me from being an Eeyore <or pessimistic with regard to Life and the world> it also probably keep me from slitting my wrists <figuratively>.  As well as keep me from chugging whatever alcohol someone puts in my ottimista and pessimista glasses.

seeing and … well … really seeing

November 15th, 2013


“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

John Lubbockseeing is seeing didnt see anything

“My experience is what I agree to attend to.

Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

William James


‘You see, but you do not observe.

The distinction is clear.’

Sherlock Holmes <A Scandal in Bohemia






This is about viewing life with eyes wide open. Really seeing what you see. Because there is seeing … and … well … there is seeing.


We see so many things … around us … in front of us <objects & views & sensory things> … in the people we know <gestures & emotions & behavior> … but do we really see them? And, frankly, can we see them all?


Too often we don’t.


In our rush to get from point a to point b … and getting kids out the door for whatever they need to get out the door for … and … well … you fill in the excuse for how we look at a lot of shit going on in our lives … it is an unfortunate truth that we rarely ever see what is going on. And we certainly do not see everything we could, and possibly should, see.


Once again.

Around us as well as in the people in front of us.



Yeah … yeah … yeah.


We pay lip service to this. We say we care and pay attention and are observant … but we aren’t.


To be fair.


It isn’t easy to really see what’s going on around you with everything else you are thinking about and focusing on. And, no, this isn’t about distractions or technology or any of that crap. This is simply about the fact that Life can be a natural blur and the fact that we, as people, in general suck at seeing what it is really going on around us … the world as well as the actual individual we may seeing is seeing Eyes that lookbe interacting with.


In fact.

We have science on our side as an excuse <for our suckedness on this issue>.



Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator. It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that.”

cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz



This thought really does impact how we spend our lives.


We fail pretty miserably at being aware of what is going on around us and in Life because we get geared up to notice only that which is relevant to us.



And, frankly, we kind of suck at that too <discerning what is most relevant to us>.


We tend to float past each other … and past life itself … cut off from the world by not only by ear buds but a belief that what is going on around us is not the most relevant thing.


There is seeing and … well … seeing.

And there is a vast difference between the two.


Frederick Franck in “Zen Seeing/Zen Drawing” argues:



“The glaring contrast between seeing and looking-at the world around us is immense; it is fateful. Everything in our society seems to conspire against our inborn human gift of seeing. We have become addicted to merely looking-at things and beings. The more we regress from seeing to looking at the world — through the ever-more-perfected machinery of viewfinders, TV tubes, VCRs, microscopes, spectroscopes — the less we see. see what we look forThe less we see, the more numbed we become to the joy and the pain of being alive, and the further estranged we become from ourselves and all others.






That is a discouraging thought.


He is basically suggesting that once we get on the slippery slope of ‘not seeing’ we very quickly enter, and stay, in this miserable abyss of blindness.


He may be right.


But I would rather believe he is not.



Seeing, really seeing, is a discriminating decision made by you.



Not the world around you.




Life is often in the nuances.


Lots of people think semantics is important.


But this isn’t semantics or nuances.



Seeing is simply about openness.

Open eyes, open mind, open heart … open to unapologetic attention.



This is about not really looking for something in particular just being ready and receptive to whatever happens around you and in front of you.

And by not seeking anything in particular <because that inhibits true seeing> you end up, as someone wrote somewhere ‘… by your own eyes you will see, and there will be a conclusion.’


In other words … you don’t see based on your own ideas but rather you see based on … well … what you see.


seeing is seeing as we areHey.

I am not suggesting this is easy.

I am simply suggesting that you can do it if you elect to.


If it helps … we have evolution to blame on why I can say what I am saying to you:


…. evolution’s problem-solving left us modern humans with two kinds of attention: vigilance, which allows us to have a quick and life-saving fight-or-flight response to an immediate threat, be it a leaping lion or a deranged boss, and selective attention, which unconsciously curates the few stimuli to attend to amidst the flurry bombarding us, enabling us to block out everything except what we’re interested in ingesting. (Selective attention, of course, can mutate to dangerous degrees, producing such cultural atrocities as the filter bubble.)



The ‘filter bubble.’


the filter bubble

… by definition, it’s populated by the things that most compel you to click. But it’s also a real problem: the set of things we’re likely to click on (sex, gossip, things that are highly personally relevant) isn’t the same as the set of things we need to know. – Eli Pariser



Evolution and Life experience has created this filter bubble for each of us. And, by the way, each of our filter bubbles are different <because our Life experiences have been different in creating it>.





This filter bubble idea also suggests that you can manage, if not actually change your filter bubble.






You can change the way you see things.




“To learn to see- to accustom the eye to calmness, to patience, and to allow things to come up to it; to defer judgment, and to acquire the habit of approaching and grasping an individual case from all sides. This is the first preparatory schooling of intellectuality. seeing is seeing beyondOne must not respond immediately to a stimulus; one must acquire a command of the obstructing and isolating instincts.”

Friedrich Nietzsche




I love that one thought … ‘allow things to come to it.’ Allow what you see to come to your eye … and ultinalety your mind.


Seeing is in the mind … not in the eyes.


Mentally we need to stop focusing on a specific destination but rather watch during the journey.




“You reminded me of another traveler I knew who always wanted to get there, wherever there happened to be, and as a result missed what was all around him at the time.”

Sir Richard Burton author and traveler






More research.



Just to make everyone feel better … beyond evolution … there is a real reason we do this. It is called ‘adaptive ignorance.’


This is no excuse … and this ‘adaptive ignorance’ gets driven by an out of whack barometer of what is important <kind of> to us crazy people … but at least there is a psychological reason:



This adaptive ignorance, she argues, is there for a reason — we celebrate it as “concentration” and welcome its way of easing our cognitive overload by allowing us to conserve our precious mental resources only for the stimuli of immediate and vital importance, and to dismiss or entirely miss all else. seeing is seeing eyes-are-useless(“Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator,” Horowitz tells us. “It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that.”) But while this might make us more efficient in our goal-oriented day-to-day, it also makes us inhabit a largely unlived — and unremembered — life, day in and day out.



Not only does Life make seeing difficult … our minds do.


Our minds adapt more and more <which ultimately constrains seeing> by a couple of things:


–          productivity <just getting shit done or out of the way or solved>

–          the ways we learn to see the world.



All this adaptation <or I imagine we can call it ‘coping’> creates something researchers call ‘search images.’

These are things all of us employ when we need to narrow our attention in a goal-oriented task.


Unfortunately … this is only helpful or even possible if we know what to look for.


And that, my friends, is ultimately the point about seeing … and really seeing.




“… more is missed by not looking than not knowing.”

Thomas McCrae



We don’t see because we don’t look.


What a shame.


Because by not looking … really looking … we miss seeing some really valuable <important> things.see with your heart


I’ve provided a whole bunch of excuses for why we don’t really see things … real researched psychological reasons to hold on to if you want.




Geez. I am thinking I would like to adapt my adaptive ignorance to eliminate the ignorance part.


But, hey, that’s me.



Enlightened Conflict