Enlightened Conflict

patriotism & enforcing conformity

October 13th, 2017

constitution american-flag-all-rights-reserved-by-jade-leyva

 

Today I discuss mandating standing for the national anthem <as President Donald J Trump appears to be advocating>.

 

While I will share my views and while I doubt Mr. Trump has ever looked at the Constitution or googled “Supreme Court decisions with regard to enforcing patriotic compulsory routines” I will share what the US Supreme Court HAS said about this:

 

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“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.”

 

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US Supreme Court 1943

 

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To be clear.

 

normalizing america bad behavior values phoenixI stand for the national anthem.

 

I don’t burn flags.

 

I believe people should do the former and the latter.

 

That said.

 

I could give a shit if people stand, place their hand on their heart or sing along. It’s a ridiculous empty faux act of patriotism to simply do something because <a> you have to or <b> you do it because everyone else is doing it.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try not acting like an asshole to those who have served.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try conducting yourself in ways that make this country look like it’s less full of shitheads and more like a country whose military teaches dignity, honor & integrity.

 

I respect the flag and the country but if you truly want to respect those who served, well, try and act like we are not at war or our freedom is under attack from some outside enemy and recognize that the only attack we are under are from dickheads like Trump who claim to value freedom and independence but espouse conformity & hollow patriotism.

 

Beyond all of that, and whatever constitutional freedom of speech stuff you want to attach to this discussion, there is an additional fairly basic business management aspect – building an organizational culture is never about enforced conformity.

 

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“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”america-red-white-and-blue

 

John F. Kennedy

 

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“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.”

 

Rollo May

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Yeah.

 

I admit.

 

I hate codes of conduct <in general>.

 

I have never been a fan of conformity in general … and absolutely hate forced conformity.

 

I hate dress codes.

 

I hate office rules.

 

I hate meeting rules.

 

Yeah.

 

all-of-you-aligned-self-normal-accountableI say that tied to the thought of how some people are discussing creating laws, or establishing rules, for standing for the national anthem.

 

I say that because this entire discussion isn’t just about being patriotic, and being a ‘patriot’… but enforcing conformity or specific behavior.

 

We try and do that shit in business all the time.

 

Well.

 

Leaders who do not understand how to build a strong self-sustaining organizational culture try this shit all the time.

 

To be clear.

90% of the time, enforced behavior, fails miserably.

 

What do I mean>?

 

90% of the time the desired behavior, which you have always forced & enforced, stops when you stop looking and stop enforcing.

 

At the core of ‘enforced’ is that it isn’t something people want to do, or maybe it isn’t something they naturally inherently do, and they do it because they have to do it.

 

At the core of ‘enforced’ is failure. People, in general, don’t like to be told to be honest, do things certain way and how to think. Trying to enforce organizational attitudes & behaviors works just as well as forced changes of behavior in personal Life <diets, quitting smoking, chewing on your fingernails, etc> — it does not work

 

By the way.

Here is the other weird thing about ‘enforced conformity.’

 

Failure even happens with the shit that <a> people really don’t mind doing and <b> people kind of know is the right thing to do.

 

It’s just that people do not like to be forced to do things … even things they kind of want to do anyway.

 

—————————-america fix myself

Seek to impose your will, and more men will kneel (if they’re permitted), and when they rise, it will be with resentment in their hearts.

Embrace liberty, and more men will rise, and they’ll do so with joy.

I want those players to stand.

I want to see their hands over their hearts.

But I want to see that happen out of love, not fear, and so long as the fear remains, a decision to stand means nothing but an empty victory in a culture war that will tear this nation apart.
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Look.

 

We would love it in business if everyone did what you wanted them to do.

We would love it if everyone in a society did things the way they were supposed to do.

 

But you cannot enforce conformity and, in fact, just as the Supreme Court suggested with the national anthem in 1943 … you really do not want to force behavior. You want behavior to come from within the individual and not enforced from ‘without.’

 

Oh.

This is where the role of “social norms” can come into play.

Different from enforcement, that promotes top-down direction, administration and monitoring, encouraging social norms can spur, and inspire … uhm … conformity.

 

It is conformity by choice.

It is having the freedom to conform … and choosing to do so.

 

This is a powerful conformity.

 

Anyway.

 

The Supreme Court got it right back in 1943 when a small group of Jehovah’s Witnesses declined to salute the flag. They were patriots but their beliefs wouldn’t allow them to demonstrate reverence for a flag <a symbol>. The Supreme Court rendered its verdict — with words that should be etched into the minds of anyone who truly cares about who and what America is:

 

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Those are the most famous words of Supreme Court case West Virginia v. Barnette, but it is these words which any true patriot, or leader, should ponder:

 

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Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.

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In other words, the power of the symbolism & patriotism lies with the choice to honor & dignify the symbolism of a fag & an anthem.

 

In other words, compelled patriotism … the effort to force a person to say or do what they do not believe … doesn’t touch upon the true spirit of what the country stands for.

 

In other words, if I have to compel someone to be patriotic, or do acts which imply patriotism, the American Idea isn’t working.

 

In other words, mandatory patriotism isn’t patriotism at all.

 

In other words, the government cannot force someone to violate their conscience and they shouldn’t bully private businesses into doing what a government cannot legally dictate.

 

I will say this over and over and over again until the day I die — the cure for bad speech is better speech, the cure for bad behavior is better behavior and the cure for dealing with any ‘the American ideal (and idea)’ doubts is not bad enforced conformity.

 

We should inform, educate, and recommend policies, ideas & behavior that improve America but allow its citizens their freedom of choice.

 

For the best compliance, don’t just enforce the rules, establish the norms.

 

Yeah.

 

compromise life good want you theyI am sure some NFL owners will attempt some behavior-shaping constraints <fines, suspensions, etc.>. And they have that right as a business owner managing their own business & culture.

 

But I will tell them a secret <and I am hoping President Trump, who has never managed a business which demanded building a culture, is listening in> … that will not shape behavior but it will certainly shape attitudes <unfortunately, most likely not the attitudes truly desired>.

 

Forcing functional behavior is not always the best approach to shaping behavior.

 

Here is what any business leader who has ever run a business knows:

 

It takes your own to govern your own.

Not rules of conduct.

Not enforced conformity.

 

Lastly.

Just to conclude this piece.

 

Trump the asshat.

He has no fucking clue how to build a company culture. To him culture is having all the women wear their hair the same way, everyone wear a certain type of clothes that appeal to him and wear name tags with the Trump brand on it.

 

How do I know he has no clue how to build a culture without ‘enforcing conformity’?

 

The one people skill he has exhibited to date – it seems like Trump has this unique capability of bringing out the worst of people on actually the best of things.

 

Huh?

 

By using patriotism and pride in country <good> he encourages … well … wrong thinking, wrong thoughts and wrong behavior.

 

What he has done is bring out the worst in people who actually believe in a good thing.

 

What an asshat.

 

I would remind President Asshat what every god business leader knows about their employees and their culture … both good and evil lies within the hearts of most men (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) .

Most of us have the capacity to do great and good things … uhm … do very bad and evil things.

good bad person trust reliable

Leaders have a choice.

 

Either bring the best of the good out of people or bring the worst of the bad out of people.

 

You cannot bring out ‘good’ from within through some type of enforcement nor should you be seeking to try to ‘conform’ good.

 

Good has to be encouraged, not enforced <someone should print that off and put it on Trump’s mirror so he can see it every morning>.

power concedes nothing unless demanded to do so

July 26th, 2017

 dynamics-of-power

 

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 “Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.”

 

—–

Frederick Douglass

 

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“Next to the assumption of power is the responsibility of relinquishing it.”

 

Benjamin Disraeli

 

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Well.

 

We don’t talk about power and people often beyond the tripe about how power power authority leadcorrupts people <as I have written … only people can corrupt themselves>.

 

So let me talk about the dynamics of power in business in a non-corrupting way. What I mean by that is … well … responsibility & authority. Whether anyone really admits it or not once you attain a senior position in a business you have gained power. Now.

 

This power is most often not embodied in any nefarious way but rather it is simply a reflection of responsibility & authority.

 

You have power over decisions.

 

You have power over people.

 

You have power over funds and their allocation.

 

You even have power over ideas … which ones die and which ones live.

 

Most of us do not see this as some all empowering power or even eye it with an power-within-corrupt-strongauthoritarian belief. We do not view it as some “center of power” but rather we see it is actually more like a linear tool <or hammer> selectively used.

 

Now.

 

Wielded well … power can look like a central source of authority but ‘wielded well’ is actually a flurry of linear tools, like playing whack-a-mole, applied to establish selective moments of desired behavior and progress <and this flurry actually creates the sense that there is a larger centralized power>.

 

But here is the thing.

 

Once you have gained authority you are extremely hesitant to concede the ‘power.’ This hesitancy actually shifts into full-on “hold on with ragged claws” if you have mastered <or you feel like you have mastered it> the ‘useful flurry of power’ in appropriate ways.

 

Partially I think this is the allure of … well … owning the initiative – or having some power over initiatives. This shouldn’t be undersold. It is exhilarating and … well … powerful. In business while we measure results and report ad nausea the most satisfaction most leaders get is not in measuring parts & pieces but rather the totality of what they do.  and once you taste that satifation you have no desire to conceded anything that could keep you from possibly attaining that satiscation again.

 

Is that holding onto power? Sure. I guess.

But I tend to believe it is more “I know how to do my shit and I want to keep ding that shit” attitude than any ral bad ‘power trip’ type attitude.

 

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“Never relinquish the initiative.”

 

—–

Charles de Gaulle

 

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Unfortunately … people on the outside just don’t see it that way.

 

And it is understandable they may not see it the right way because I believe it speaking Power of Words 577x600was Geoffrey O’Brien who said ‘history unfolds as always in the midst of distraction, misunderstanding, and partially obscured sight-lines.’

 

That is how the authority version of power works. It unfolds in the midst of distraction and partially obscured sight lines.

 

That is how authority works. It unfolds in the midst of a flurry of choices, decisions, delegations and doing <all blurry and, yet, creating a sense of central power>.

 

Regardless of what it is … or what it looks like … once attained we tend to not want to relinquish it – we do not want to concede it.

 

It must be demanded to be relinquished.

 

And here is where it gets tricky. Because even if there is a demand to relinquish, and you do have to relinquish <you get fired and have to take a ‘lesser authority job’ or you get demoted or you simply shift jobs with a different authority level> … we hate to concede it.

 

I mention that because that is one reason why older senior people who decide to take a lower titled job <even with the best intentions and capability to actually ‘do the job’> can struggle or just be a pain in the ass.

 

It’s not that they truly are a pain in the ass it is simply … well … they have felt the satisfaction of authority and dislike the loss of that authority.

 

All that said.

 

Power concedes nothing <unless the power owner is stupid, foolish or arrogant> … but as someone smarter than I said once … it always reveals.

 

Authority reveals.

 

And maybe what I am suggesting today is that authority can actually reveal character and ability. And once you have seen what you can do, what you are capable of doing and what you like to do … well … it is not an easy thing to conceded or relinquish.

 

And, let me be clear, you can actually be good with authority and effective with use of power and can still be demanded to relinquish it.

 

It is a falsity to suggest that being good at something means you will always be able to do it <or someone will always seek to have you do it>. you can be forced to relinquish authority, even if you are good at it, for a variety of reasons in business <ranging from well-intended to absurd>.

 

It is natural to want it again if you were demanded to relinquish it.

 

Anyway.perspective common sense justice good people

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to claim someone is ‘power hungry’ or ‘protective of their power’ … and mean it in a bad way. Having authority and enjoying authority and wielding authority well is addictive <or maybe just like having ‘the perfect buzz’>.

Is it wrong to be hungry for that? Whew. Sure doesn’t seem wrong.

 

I say this so that maybe you take a second before you rush to judge a person who has had a senior role and has decided to assume a position with lesser responsibility & authority because … well … once you have had authority it is really really hard to relinquish it.

 

While power concedes nothing I would suggest that the feeling of authority used well tends to not want to concede anything.

 

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“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

 

Paulo Coelho

 

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Enlightened Conflict