Enlightened Conflict

dreams and dream incubators

June 26th, 2017

Family of four on grass with hands up and dream

 

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“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.

I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

 

——-

Diane Ackerman

 

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“Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything.

Those buildings. These lights. This whole city.

 

Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did.

I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.”

 

—–

James and the Giant Peach

 

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Ok.

 

Today I am actually going to talk about dreaming and business.

 

if only dreams wishes

 

Suffice it to say … someone needs to be talking about dreaming because dreamers have been having a tough time of it for a while. Shit. I could argue dreams themselves have had a tough go of it.

 

Pragmatism is the ‘watch word of the day’.

 

Reach for the stars? No way.  You need to think “attainable.”

 

In addition … the outside world seems to get crazier and crazier and more chaotic which encourages the majority of us to just hunker down and get shit done.  It encourages us to not only NOT think about dreaming but even worse …“why dream? I just need to figure out a way of surviving.”

 

All that said.

 

I have two thoughts today.

 

The first is the increasing importance of businesses to an individual’s dreams, and dreaming, and the second is just about dreaming itself.

 

Ok.

The first.

 

I believe the business world is going to start playing an incredibly important role with regard to the future of dreaming.

 

In fact.

 

I believe the successful business organization of the future will be a ‘dream incubator’ rather than the current, more pop culture popular, ‘purpose drive’ organization.

And I say that as a ‘purpose driven organization’ believer.

 

Let me explain.dream wall sitting alone thinking

 

The outside world, as I have noted earlier, doesn’t really seem conducive to dreams and dreaming.

 

The inside world, your job and business Life, is becoming more and more focused on the daily grind and meeting the needs of the grind. In general we are getting squeezed but dreaming, in particular, is getting suffocated.

 

This means there is little space in-between the outside world and inside world for dreams and dreaming.

 

This is where I believe business steps in and maybe sharpens its elbows and creates some space for individual people to remember having dreams can be good and dreaming can actually be a good thing.

 

Businesses can step in and remind people that there is big value in pragmatism and personal responsibility in doing a good job AS WELL AS there may be an equal value in placing a dream or two within the pragmatic ‘do what you need to do’ Life … it kind of adds some rich & royal hues to what could be a duller palette.

 

Now.

Let me address the practical aspect of business and how the idea of ‘dream incubator’ can fit … because a shitload of shortsighted business people are going to suggest they have no desire to have their employees “dreaming” … they want them focused on doing their jobs.

 

Purpose was offered as a glue to hold together, and align, functional behavior <departments & responsibilities> of an organization while providing a deeper value to instill in attitudes & behavior. It certainly offered a version of a North Star from an ethical & moral standpoint but its true objective was to take the place of ‘vision’ in a pragmatic business world seemingly devoid of anything but functional outcome driven behavior.

 

Good intent. Good objective.

 

My belief of ‘dream incubator’ is less functional driven but rather attitudinally driven.

 

My belief is that in a world in which dreaming is not being encouraged a business which encourages you to pursue your dreams WITHIN the business itself will be rewarded <attitudinally, functionally & profitability>.

 

purpose versus dreams organization business 2

 

My belief is that employees, in general, are not driven by their departmental function <which is actually more the ‘keep your head down and do what you need to do’ daily grind> but rather by their dreams — $, ideas, innovations and … well … let me call the last one “perfection.”

 

<please note: this is a simplified version of a more complex organizational idea which I have shared elsewhere, in other words, I know there are more layers to this concept>

 

 

Let me start with ‘perfection.’

 

Some people dream of operational excellence. They get frustrated with politics and missteps and the normal inefficient behavior of a normal organization. These are the ones who offer up the zany process changes which, as a manager, you look at, screw up your face and think “Jesus Christ, what a mosh pit this would be to implement.” And, yet, these are the same zany changes which the organization most likely NEEDS to do to step up from where it is currently running.

 

 

 

$

 

It would be naïve to ignore the fact some employees are financially motivated and that their dreams are tied to more material aspects. They want money and things and your objective should be to inspire them to dream for more and be the organization which can enable their dreams to come true <within the construct of whatever is construed as ‘fair play’ within that organization>.

 

Ideas.

 

ideas dream make fly people think believe imagine educateSome people dream of thinking … and thinking up ideas. Imagine a business which encourages the epe who like t come up with ideas actually helps their ideas come to Life … even if they do not directly apply to the business itself.

 

Huh?

 

Here is a secret a lot of good business people know. While we love to talk about focus and ‘staying in our lane’ and the danger of less-than-strategic expansion, the truth is that a business can accommodate a shitload of different lanes if they are actually good lanes <and good ideas>.

I know when I managed groups while I needed people to focus on what they needed to do … I always encouraged them think about new ideas and talk to me about their ideas – even if it didn’t have shit to do with what we actually did to earn our living. Why did I do that? I could offer a dozen reasons but suffice it to say that it offers them a valuable sounding board for whether they have a viable idea or not <which they liked & appreciated> and I would get the brain working on non-related shit <which invariably gets you thinking about your related shit differently — and I liked that & appreciated it>.

Plus. People like thinking about their dreams even if they can’t actually do them.

 

Innovations.

 

I don’t need to say anything about this. This is obvious. The best innovations are usually a reflection of smart dreaming.

 

Ok.

The second.

 

I believe we need to remind ourselves on occasion that it is okay to dream … and dream big.

 

dream window of opportunity imagine

And that relentlessly pursuing a dream can be inspiring … not discouraging.

 

Now.

 

Being a big dreamer doesn’t mean that you walk around with your head in the clouds. It means that you have a purpose … a big purpose that makes your life bigger and fulfills some promise within you.

Of course … as usual … the key is to find a balance. Think ground and clouds.

Maybe think about it as being pragmatic with no guardrails. A contradiction? Sure. But big dreams are a contradiction. As a practical relatively pragmatic human race we would never have them … unless some of them defied the odds and actually came true.

 

Yeah.

Some really do happen.

 

Anyway.

 

I like the thought of business accepting the role as a business incubator and actually re-energizing the human spirit toward dreams and dreaming.

I like the thought of a business being a ‘dream incubator’ is fulfilling a role life & society seem to be abdicating.

 

Look.

 

extraordinary robbedI have always been a huge proponent that business should accept a larger role in driving societal norms & mores and, in this case, I actually believe that in doing so the business acumen & success is rewarded.

 

Whew.

 

Can you imagine how many resumes a business would get if it said “we want you to make your lives extraordinary, help you make your dreams come true, because if you do … we believe our company will be extraordinary.”

 

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Dead Poets Society:

“Make your lives extraordinary.”

 

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the science, and the lost art, of ROI

May 24th, 2017

choices-path-shopping-direction-decisions

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“… businesses want answers right away and many times high statistical reliability is not worth the cost it takes to achieve it.

 

Insights that point decision-makers to go “left” or “right” is innately good enough. Leaders are oftentimes not willing to pay for “turn left at a 30 degree angle” or “turn right at an 115 degree angle” because it may cost too much money and takes far too long to obtain those precise next steps through drawn-out methodologies.”

 

—–

Kuhn

 

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“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

 

=

John Dewey

 

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“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.”

 

—–

Rene Descartes

 

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Well.

 

fire water contradiction ideas thinkThis is about how ROI gets abused in decision making and I am writing about that because the Trump administration issued their “national budget proposal” <which I fully acknowledge is simple a guideline of the administration’s desires> and immediately started ponying up all their “we made cuts where there was no evidence of appropriate results” justifications.

 

Some of those justifications are terrifying.

Some of their choices are terrifying.

 

As for the budget plan?  As one writer put it … “the math is terrifying.”

 

Cutting Medicaid would be devastating for all low-income Americans, but particularly for women and mothers: 45 percent of childbirths in the U.S. were funded by Medicaid in 2010, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Trump’s budget also cuts funding for after-school programs for children and support for domestic violence victims.

 

I am going to let other people tear apart the incredibly short sighted Trump budget plan <which, yes, has scraps of good ideas> and I will focus on the criteria it appears they focused on <excepting the parental leave initiative which was like placing a half-eaten M&M on top of a turd> — budget by ROI.

 

Budgeting by ROI.

 

Whew.

 

 

This provides me with another excuse to blast my generation of business leaders and how their misguided thinking has screwed up not only how business is conducted, in general, but how we think about business. Specifically about ROI … these hollow men hollowed out business of any of the ‘art’ and color which is associated with thriving businesses which contribute to society & cultural norms leaving at an empty husk of dollars & cents and black & white ROI decisions.

 

Look.

 

roi einstein

I am all for analysis and love quantitatively judging tactics and initiatives. But I also understand that <1>  numbers often do not always tell the entire story and <2> we far too often judge ROI on one specific outcome without assessing some value on some ‘ripple effect’ outcomes.

 

But, first, the numbers and ROI.

 

I wrote back in February that numbers have lost their mojo  … yeah … well … I still believe that … just in a different context.

 

In this case we are dealing with a generation of business people who have completely bastardized the use of numbers – stripping them of anything but the false veneer of what they call “simplistic stark truth.”

Now. ‘Simplistic stark truth’ sounds good … and it sounds really good in the business world.

 

And, yet, in this starkness there is found falseness. The falseness can be found in its lack of imagination, its lack of depth and its lack of seeing anything but ‘what can be measured.’

 

This stupid view of numbers wreaks havoc when viewing ROI analysis.

 

Now … back on November 13th 2016 I wrote about the Trump administration as the last stand of the old white men  <the business generation I continuously skewer> and discussed hollowness. And while I outlined a number of ‘hollow’ things which can be blamed on this generation in that piece I neglected to point one out — the hollowing of ROI.

 

————–

 

ROI.

 

ROI <return on investment> is a fabulous tool. It offers us every day unimaginative pragmatic schmucks an almost heuristic way to judge some fairly complex and complicated things in business.

 

But old white men hollowed ROI of anything intangible and along the way scraped away some of the most meaningful things associated with investment in their desire for simplistic “this led to that.” Certainly some investments have linear outcomes and results. But not all. And these hollow men in their black & white pursuit of profit, efficiency and outcomes became color blind.  Old white men started looking at people as equal to numbers & dollars and not organic organisms of less than linear productivity <in terms of Life actualization as well as business actualization>. These hollow men fell in love with numbers and began diminishing the value of humanity.

 

That is Trump in a nutshell.

 

—————-

.......... hollow men making hollow decisions ......

………. hollow men making hollow decisions ……

Well.

 

I could argue this all happened because ROI analysis permitted a shortcut for business people — a thinking & decision making shortcut.

It permitted, and encouraged, an entire generation to not have to really think but rather fallback on “that’s what the analysis said.”

 

That is plain and simple lazy fucking business … not smart solid business.

 

I will not argue that a good ROI analysis can offer a quick spontaneous glimpse of truth viable snapshot … in fact … it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who stated that the growth of intellect is spontaneous.

 

Of course, he hadn’t been bludgeoned with measurement, ROI and data driven decisions.

 

Of course, he was also on the one who stated … what is the hardest task in the world? To think. And. We are all wise. The difference between create destroy pencilpersons is not in wisdom but in art.

 

And that is where Trump and his merry band of old white men doing this whole budget thing are most aggravating.

 

It is not that they cannot envision the art of decision making but rather they purposefully abstain from the art of decision making <and focus solely on ROI>.

 

It is not that they are incapable of holding two conflicting ideas at the same time but rather they purposefully choose to ignore one idea or thought for the one most supported by the science of ROI.

 

 

It is not that they are oblivious to the qualitative nature & benefits of budgetary decision but rather they avoid the more difficult defense of the qualitative to utilize the more easy, and lazy, rationale of the quantitative.

 

I don’t blame them specifically <although it is their budget blueprint> but it is the unfortunate legacy of that entire generation to do those things.

 

All that said.

 

While ROI seems a straightforward way to analyze … ROI, when evaluated properly, can be devilishly tricky … but when done well it can inform some great insightful decisions and ideas.

 

ROI, when evaluated properly, can be devilishly painful … like having the devil screaming at you type painful … and even when done well tends to dull <not sharpen> the good ideas.

 

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

 

—-

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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But ROI, measurement … practical rewards & output … that is what we ‘do’ these days.

This seem o be our “how we conduct business handbook” these days.

philosophical-discovering-gravity

We seem to have forgotten the value of unsought discovery and the value of … well … the benefit of the benefit <I spent money which created ‘x’ outcome … which enabled this other ‘x’ outcome>.

 

We seem to have culturally decided consciously to … “inevitably we will show a failure of imagination.”

 

What do I mean ? Let me use a quote from Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:

 

 

 

“…in the hands of politicians grand designs achieve nothing but new forms of the old misery…”

 

 

 

In our failure of imagination in our analysis of existing programs and initiatives we come up with grand designs begetting new forms of old misery. But what makes today and this budget worse? These are supposed to be fucking business people and not politicians in place making these ‘grand designs’ <isn’t that what some people voted for with Trump?>.

 

I admit.

 

I am wary of how ‘we the people’ will move forward with regard to budgeting tough-choices-shopping-decisions-lifeand programs and policies and deciding what we should do to better America..

 

I am wary because I see little moving forward, no ‘trying to do what it takes to get there’ other than bludgeoning people with simplistic harsh solutions and no imagination to overcome the cries of ‘why waste money on something like this!”

 

I am wary because I see men of a generation who bastardized ROI analysis applying their own bastardized version of ROI thinking to people’s lives <under the guise of “applying it to people’s money/taxes” — no, they are not the same>.

 

I am a business guy.

 

I cannot envision running a business, or a government, without solid measurement, ROI & budgeting rigor.

 

But I also know from running a business with hundreds of employees that the greatness of an organization does not reside solely in some number … or some ROI analysis.

 

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“The true greatness of a nation is not measured by the vastness of its territory, or by the multitude of its people, or by the profusion of its exports and imports; but by the extent to which it has contributed to the life and thought and progress of the world.

 

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I tend to believe most of us every day schmucks recognize that ROI is part of doing business and insuring our hard earned money/taxes is used effectively.

But I also believe that most of us every day schmucks also realize that some things just cannot be measured solely by numbers.

 

 

I worry that this Trump administration is reflective of the lost art of ROI family choices tough decisions aheadanalysis and the value of discovery

 

In their love of money as ‘winning’ they have lost sight of the value of seeking what is beyond the horizon. They have devalued imagination to such a point that they most likely define imagination as measurable in an ROI analysis. In other words they take ideas and thoughts, even ones with no history, and embrace them not by saying “what if” and “what could be” but rather by grinding it through some veg-o-matic ROI machine to assess its true value.

 

And that, my friends, is how they came up with their “blueprint for a national budget.”

 

And that, my friends, is how they plan on running this country and making their decisions.

 

And that, my friends, is not how America does business … because it shows a failure of imagination and it is imagination, not ROI analysis, which drives real change and progress.

 

—————–

 

“Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization.

Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities.

 

So I believe that dreams–daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing–are likely to lead to the betterment of the world.

 

The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.”

=

 

Baum

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all sins are attempts to fill voids

February 26th, 2017

dog bacon thoughts desires

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“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end.”

 

—-

Sylvia Plath

 

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“All sins are attempts to fill voids.”

 

—-

Simone Weil

 

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Well.

stop trying to convince

 

We all know at least one person who is always trying too hard.

Or maybe they always seem to be overcompensating for something.

Or even that they know they are ‘not as good as’ and spend far too much time trying to convince everyone they are at least better than maybe we know they are at something.

 

We like these people because we like the overall sense that someone is dissatisfied with the present person and seeking a better person.

 

We don’t like these people because we don’t like the overall sense of desperation and the trappings that often come with it.

 

We look at these people and … well … we think about ourselves and the crazy shit we do.

 

Let’s face it … Life makes us do a lot of crazy shit.

 

Okay.

 

It doesn’t actually “make” us … just full-throatedly encourages us to do some crazy shit.

 

It does so because it makes us desire  a shitload of things that can chip away at the better version of ourselves. And by better version I don’t mean external stuff but internal stuff … soul, integrity & character. But life has a nasty habit of encouraging us to think more about external stuff than internal stuff.

 

The size of your bank account.braver he who overcomes own desire achievment soul how winning victory

 

How you look and what you wear and whether you sport Gap or Brooks Brothers.

 

The size of your house and whether you have gold drapes or Pier1 window hangings.

 

This kind of crap can screw you up let alone destroy you.

You can get so caught up in what Life is whispering in your ear as what is important … well … over time that is all you can hear and see.

 

Life becomes almost a parody of itself.

 

‘Less is more’ becomes the mantra of everything but you personally where ‘more’ just seems to look less & less. Life can twist you into a pretzel trying to match up with all the external trappings of what it suggests you should desire.

And as you get twisted all it really does is squeeze out character & integrity & principles drop by drop as Life twists harder and harder.

 

And as you get this squeezed out of you … you will naturally get thirsty. Therein lies the big Life choice … what do you drink?

 

What do I mean?

 

Remember that kid you knew growing up who was always the bully, always the exaggerator, always the one trying so hard to show everyone how great they were … at some point they realize that they are thirsty.

Either thirsty for more or thirsty for what is getting squeezed out of them.

And don’t think Life is standing by silently.  All the while Life will whisper sweet nothings in that kid’s ear telling them what to drink to stay on their path to a ‘better person’ <and it is most likely the sweetest, least healthy alternative>.

 

Look.

 

At some point we all get thirsty … even that young bully … and your Life gets energized by what you drink <and I could suggest you get addicted to what you drink at a fairly early age>.

 

 

always more and more life desireThat said.

 

What I do know is that almost all of us end up being constantly nudged to believe we neither have enough nor are we enough.

 

And it is within those ‘not enough’ spaces, the voids if you wish to call them, in which we commit our sins.

 

We commit our sins most often as we overreach.

 

Okay.

We are tempted to overreach … in our words, our resumes, our successes, even our recaps of our ‘what we did today’ lists.

 

Some overreach more than others. But we all get tempted. And, just as I noted above, it is explainable and understandable. When Life is trying to constantly tell you ‘not enough’ you will constantly be trying to showcase ‘more than enough.’

That is a natural response.

 

And this is where people separate themselves into two basic generalized groups … those who define how they matter <enough> by an internal balance sheet versus those who define how they matter <enough> by an external balance sheet.

I am not suggesting it has to be 100%, internal or external, because most of us figure out how to commit a few ‘sins’ as possible and try and manage what they desire in a way they don’t ultimately get destroyed by their desires. Most of us figure out our ‘best version’ is pretty good … maybe less than some but more than others.

 

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“And so we all matter – maybe less than a lot, but always more than some.”

—–

John Green

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not good enough trying

But some people truly do end up in the 100% column.

 

It is quite possible someone like the Pope is close to the internal 100% judgement … but I imagine a lot of people actually slide close to this Life self-framing. It comes with some external expenses but a shitload of people are willing to sacrifice those things because they know the gold curtains fade, the money can be lost and the houses can burn down. External trappings can only provide so much comfort.

 

On the end of the spectrum are the … well … hollow people. They look glitzy. They sound confident <if not arrogant or blowhards>. They have all the trappings of success. But their sacrifice is whatever internal compass that can guide goodness or true fairness as well as empathy & compassion.

They have sacrificed counting internal cues … because external cues are all that count.  All the while they are trying too hard, seem to be overcompensating for something and … well … spending a shitload of time trying to convince everyone they are at least better than maybe we know they are at something.

 

All that said.

 

We all know at least one person who is always trying too hard.

 

This is the person who desires the things which will destroy me in the end.trying human being

This is the person whose sins are attempts to fill voids.

 

This is the person we know … wish we could change … but is quite possibly the most unchangeable person we know.

 

We all have voids.

We just need to be very very careful that what we fill that void with doesn’t destroy us in the end.

using numbers to make decisions

February 2nd, 2017

 

Numbers are good

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“We should always bear in mind that numbers represent a simplification of reality.”

 

 

—-

Kenneth E. Boulding

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So.

 

This is the partner piece to “Numbers are losing their Mojo.”

 

steal my mojo

 

It is the partner piece because while numbers are losing their mojo … more and more people in business want numbers to make their decision for them.

 

And while I could point to the overwhelming amount of data <numbers> now being cranked out as the reason why this issue is reaching a business crisis level … I will not.

The truth is that all big data does is amplify the situation – more and more business people suck at making decisions, suck at assuming personal responsibility for decisions and suck at thinking thru the true meaning of the numbers available to them <as a version of what I said yesterday — suck at seeing the real shadows of the numbers>.

 

And just as the fact we need to get our shit together with regard to telling the stories that numbers truly tell us <rather than do shit guided by ‘instinct’ an ‘what we feel’> we need to get our shit together with regard to how we use numbers to INFORM decisions and not MAKE decisions.

 

It gains importance because in today’s world it isn’t just ‘big data’ but it is analyzing research, spreadsheets, hell, just the everyday numbers that overwhelm you in the everyday standard operating procedures in business.go on tell me understand

 

We need to be teaching that not all 2’s are created equal <not all numbers are created equal> and that even though a number may be big, or even small, just counting it doesn’t mean it counts.

 

We need to be teaching young business people that what counts is what the numbers say … as in ‘what do they express’.

 

Here is the truth about numbers.

 

Numbers, more often than not, are simply directional signs toward truth … but rarely do they tell the truth in their simplicity. Okay. They rarely tell the whole truth.

And they never are a substitute for judgement.

 

I sometimes fear on occasion we are crafting a generation of business people who view numbers as the answer for everything.

 

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“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”

 

David Ogilvy

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To be fair … this is not the younger generation’s problem … it is more a leadership & management issue.

 

marketing must improve betterWe absolutely have reached a point in business, in particular within organizations of any critical size, where risk is a swear word. And even if you take the risk you are putting your job on the line. With all that hanging over heads you do grab onto a lamp post whenever you can spot one.

 

And, let’s face it; numbers are strewn throughout whatever street you decide to walk upon so, if needed, one is always available to show to explain your decision.

 

It is up to older managers to teach the nuances and how to use numbers to inform the final judgements.

 

But it is quite possible we could live with this if this is all that was happening.

 

The other thing that should strike fear into the hearts of businesses is how older managers, overwhelmed with all the ‘big data’ available … and younger people  who easily rummage through all the data available … combine to, with mostly good intentions, seek numbers to find out what to do next.

 

They do not translate what the numbers mean but use actual numbers as directional signs on where to go next.

This is dangerous.

Now.

Someone will say “no, it is not dangerous, as long as you know the objective.”

 

”Wrong” is what I would say back.

 

For them to be right they have to assume that the best path toward the objective is the straightest line possible.

Well.

If I am a commodity product or service or maybe even the lowest price product or service <and, remember, there can only be one lowest price in any category> this could possibly be true, however, if “value” enters into any discussion with regard to what you are doing or what you are selling … the straightest path may not be what you want … or need.

 

To be clear. What I just typed … what I just shared … rarely is discussed in today’s business world. Why? Well … first … anything that suggests “not fast” or the dark days bad days sad black hole life“not optimal speed” suggests ‘less than efficient’ which in today’s world is “bad.”

 

<or “sad”>

 

Second … to discuss value in this way sounds … uhm … complex or complicated … and if there are two words that could be construed as swear words in today’s business world it would be those two. simplicity, at the expense of anything and everything else, is the go-to place for a shitload of business people and , in particular, business people who would like numbers to tell them what to do.

 

 

Anyway.

 

Yesterday I suggested number are losing their mojo.

 

Today I am suggesting business people may not be using numbers in the most do what you must by Yoshiterueffective way <to maximize the benefit of the organization, product or service>.

 

And tomorrow I will not be writing about numbers … but I can tell ya that numbers will still be misused and misdiscussed.

 

And we better figure that out soon or businesses are gonna get screwed.

 

how numbers have lost their mojo

February 1st, 2017

numbers 2 pencil truth facts learning

 

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“When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books.

You will be reading meanings.”

 

E. B. Du Bois

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“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.”

 

—–

Rene Descartes

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“There are no facts anymore, everything is twisted by corporate greed.

Scientific research, social policy, economic forecasts … nothing can be held as factual.

 

————-

Some everyday schmuck commenting on an online article

 

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So.

 

2 plus 2 numbers truth factsOnce we got past 2 plus 2 equals 4 in school almost every single one of us started learning that all numbers contain shadows.

 

And that within that shadow resided their true meaning.

Let’s call that shadow ‘the value of the number.’

 

Yeah.

 

2 may be 2 but once you get into the real world your 2’s can become a ‘solid 2’ or maybe a “just 2” or even a “2 but really 2.2”.

 

Face it.

If you have been in the business world for any length of time you cannot remember the last time that 2 was simply 2 when presented in some meeting.

 

And then let me give you the more complex example of ‘the shadow.’

 

An expert can offer a number, a statistic or data driven conclusion, and it can be dismissed as ignoring the emotional feelings and angst of the people it i am too sad to walkrepresents <let’s call that the emotional investment & value within the number itself>. And within that dismissal the cold harsh truth becomes a non truth.

 

<sad.>

 

And here is where it gets even trickier … I can flip the discussion around and discuss emotional investment <pick your poison on this> and then find a number to validate it <flawed “if this then that” logic>. And within that reversed logic I am just as likely to create a ‘truth’ from some numbers that is in reality a ‘non truth’ as I am to create a what is in actuality a real gosh darn truth.

 

I decided to write about this because numbers are in a battle for their lives – in business and in society. And it would behoove us to insure that numbers actually won this battle.

 

Without numbers we will enter a world where someone can simply say “I believe what I believe” and “feelings mater more than facts” and that somehow becomes as valid as something that is actually provable.

 

Regardless.

 

Going back to the harsh truth of numbers in real Life … whether we like it or not numbers are rarely just numbers.

If you have any desire to use numbers and actually win any debate using the numbers you <a> have to believe they all have a shadow and <b> believe if you do not look into the shadows you will fail to understand what truth is.

 

I know.

I know.

Some of you may be scratching your head going “gosh, I don’t know if I buy this.”

 

Just think about the last business meeting you were in where someone number pops up on the screen at the front of the conference room and one of two things happen:questions make cry

 

<1> the presenter says “let me tell you what this numbers means”, or,

 

<2> someone sitting at the table says “tell us what that number represents <means>.

 

And, yes, up on the screen … most likely bolded and in some nifty color … is a nice simple clear number. Let’s say 122. Okay. Don’t like that? How about 7? It doesn’t matter. It is a solid number we all know and recognize.

 

And, yet, there are always questions.

 

It sucks but numbers aren’t just numbers and maybe worse … numbers do not speak simply nor do they tell their own story.

 

And because they cannot tell their own story it becomes up to <gulp> humans to tell their story for them.

 

Oh.

 

How I imagine how numbers cringe at how their stories are told.

 

Statisticians, who most likely know more about numbers stories than anyone else, are not natural story tellers and therefore they strip the narrative of anything likeable and bare the numbers for what they are and nothing more.

 

And, as I noted in the opening, this strips numbers of emotion <and emotion is what people are most likely to connect with>. this leaves their audiences sitting there … well … kind of crafting their own story in their own head.

 

Now.

Seeing these relatively important numbers, stripped of emotion, you will then see a slew of non statisticians scramble towards the microphone to cry out what is missing in the numbers presented.

fate

In an absurd twist of fate numbers far too often have stolen from them the one true strength that they have to offer us — the ability to discuss things as a whole, not on the basis of anecdote, sentiment or prejudice, but in ways that can be validated.

 

In theory, numbers should help settle arguments not create them.

 

In theory, numbers should help to offer clarity not create confusion <or doubt>.

 

In theory, numbers should provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what your opinion – can agree on.

 

In practicality, in today’s world, numbers are in the midst of a trust battle.

That, my friends, is bizarre.

 

A number is a number.

 

2 + 2 = 4.

 

Numbers should be the starkest truth society can have – shadow or not.

sad numbers hear listen business

And, yet, study after study suggests that people believe that whomever is offering the number of the day is using it to actually hide something.

 

In fact, rather than eliminating doubt, numbers appear to actually be encouraging controversy and doubt

This is crazy if not truly bizarre.

 

Think about it for a second.

 

Numbers have become untrustworthy.

Numbers have become the voice of the arrogant and elite.

Numbers have become the trusted tool of the conspiracy theorist.

 

Has the world turned upside down?

 

Regardless.

 

Numbers are supposed to offer certainty not uncertainty. They are not meant to be defined by their shadow but rather by their body.

 

—-

The word statistics is defined as a discipline that includes procedures and techniques used to collect, process and analyze the numerical data to make inferences and to reach appropriate decision in situation of uncertainty (uncertainty refers to incompleteness, it does not imply ignorance). In this sense word statistic is used in the singular sense. It denotes the science of basing decision on numerical data.

—————

 

 

And maybe that is where numbers need some help. “Statistics” and statisticians imply such a non emotional, impersonal, aspect that the everyday schmuck comes out of the woodwork attacking the fact that people are not numbers numbers 6 degrees<and, yet, numbers can represent people>. For all that numbers offer us in terms of certainty it is a basic Life truth that no one person ever wants to view themselves as a number.

 

That is a fundamental challenge number users & presenters need to face.

Because while it is true, an unequivocal fact,  that the amount of data <numbers> we leave in our trail in everyday Life will grow even greater and that people are represented day in and day out by numbers that sheer overwhelming amount of information will continue to encourage people to suggest that the numbers do not represent … uhm …. “1” … as in me the individual.

 

And number users and presenters better get their heads wrapped around this because it isn’t about trust or certainty … numbers are factual indicators of health, prosperity, equality, opinion and quality of life <pretty much anything important to society & people>.

 

I say that because when non-numbers people start stretching numerical evidence too far, interpret data too loosely or misuse them simply to serve their cause it becomes a hazard to the betterment of everyone <including you & I>.

 

Numbers truly run into problems when they fall into the wretched hollow between representing true evidence and representing speculative forecasting/thinking.

 

Uhm.

Why does that matter?

 

One represents … well … analysis of what is … while the other represents patterns for what could be.

To the everyday schmuck like me I don’t really discern the difference when presented numbers … they are just some fucking numbers to me.

 

All equal.

That is bad.

 

And then … maybe worse?

When we end up in this wretched hollow of only dealing in numbers’ shadows and not the numbers themselves we trigger not only the wholehearted rejection of expertise … but a pervasive attitude that we should reject numbers in totality <and go simply with gut, feelings and opinions>.

 

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarianThat is bad.

 

That is wrong.

 

That is dangerous.

 

This battle is occurring between facts <cold hard numbers … the body itself> and feelings <the emotional investment, shadow, of the numbers>.

 

Look.

 

This is a very very important battle going on.

 

While numbers truly have no authority over a decision or conclusion … they actually are tools which we use to make decisions.

We misunderstand numbers sometimes because they do not make the decision for us <although we would love them to>.

Think about this.

 

In decision making numbers are only relevant in the feedback loop of the current activity. If you wish to continue on the path, then the feedback pretty much controls the decision <hence you associate statistics with authority>.

 

If you wish to change the path completely, then the statistics on what happens in the old system have no authority and little relevance.

 

This means that numbers, in general, do not indicate the future only share insights with regard to existing and past behavior.

 

Think about that for one second.

 

You should.

 

Because there are a shitload of politicians, non-numbers people and opinion leaders using numbers to tell us what the future will look like.

truth facts numbers understand question

And maybe that is where I will need. Because there are a shitload of extremely qualified think tanks and experts who use numbers to project, speculate and offer some futuristic thoughts … and yet their ‘thoughts’ are valued sometimes less than the thoughts of non-numbers people <who actually misuse the numbers>.

 

Smart people using smart numbers need to figure that out. Because if they do not … we are screwed. I say that because numbers drive a shitload of decisions.

As I wrote once … the business truth is that theory sells … but numbers runs the reality of business. This is also true for policies & Life.

 

My only suggestion to numbers experts is that they need to stop looking at numbers as numbers and recognize that their future, and the truth, is most likely found in presenting the stories found within the numbers’ shadows well.

 

 

 

believing in your own gravity

November 2nd, 2016

  gravity-falls-breaks-sound-life

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

 

“She believed in her own gravity, and she never considered escaping it.

 

 The world isn’t improved by reading the personal tragedy that unfolded afterwards, but there’s also no fighting it—the power that lies in hearing her words is in the totality of its acceptance.”

 

—-

Spencer Kornhaber

<slightly edited quote>

 

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

 

“As long as I know what I’ve done, I’m not gonna worry about what other people say or think I did.”

 

 

because only I know the truth

=====

 

… believed in her own gravity, and she never considered escaping gravity-is-in-my-bonesit may be one of the strongest lines I have read.

 

 

Understanding yourself … who and what you are … is difficult.

 

Accepting yourself … who and what you are … is difficult.

 

Which, inevitably, makes believing in yourself extremely difficult.

 

Accepting less than perfection … or accepting the fact you have imperfections … is difficult.

Knowing you have flaws … and even some destructive flaws … is difficult.

 

If you bundle all of those up … well … that is your gravity.

 

For some reasons, some good and some bad, we always seem to want to fix or change our gravity <which seems … well … as I type that … kind of impossible and somewhat silly objective>.

 

Some people dislike their gravity and fight it … try and escape it … and some even suggest they want to “fly” as a version of showing their dislike for their own gravity.

 

To be clear <part 1>.

 

This gravity discussion is different than a “come to the edge and fly” Life discussion. That is about risk and trying to see what you are capable of.

This gravity discussion is about who and what you are. What grounds you day in and day out as part of what makes you … well … you.fear-of-gravity-fall

 

To be clear <part 2>.

 

Gravity can be defied.

 

Well.

Let’s just say that you can learn to jump, fly or elevate <but you will inevitably get pulled back at some point>. So you can defy your gravity for moments in time.

 

But gravity is … well … gravity, i.e., it remains no matter what as part of Life.

And, while everyone faces gravity, your version of gravity is different than someone else’s.

 

You may like someone else’s gravity. Shit. You may dislike gravity. It doesn’t really matter. You either believe in your own gravity or you end up fighting gravity your entire Life.

 

And that is where that opening quote is so powerful … such a strong Life idea.

 

If you believe in your gravity, flaws and destructive qualities included, and do not try and escape it … you use what you have to the bet of your ability rather than fight it.

 

You believe in your gravity, the good and bad, as part of what can create some space in the world for you and no one else.

 

genaertional attitudes powerlessYou believe in your gravity, and understand it, and accept it, and believe it is what inevitably guides your feet down some path in Life.

 

By the way, this does not mean you are unapologetically comfortable with yourself … you may actually even find yourself slightly uncomfortable with your gravity … you just accept it … and believe it inevitably makes you who you are.

 

 

And, in the end, I imagine if you do not try and escape your gravity you stop looking at other’s gravity, you stop listening to people telling you to try and change your gravity and … well … you decide to use your gravity to become the hero in your own story.

 

========

She needed a hero so she became one.

 

—–

Unknown

======

the reality of overcoming shit

October 13th, 2016

 tattoo-overcome

==========

 

“You can overcome anything … short of death.”

 

Abi Ketner

 

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

 

 

I tend to believe most of us are pleasantly surprised by how well we overcome shit.

 

shit creek survivorThe reality is … well … 99.9% of the time we overcome anything thrown our way.

 

Well.

 

That is if you assess success as “short of death.” If you do not then overcoming gets judged on a variety of fairly creative measurements.

 

But if you strip away everything but ‘death’ as the only failure measurement … well … that means if you recognize you cannot be destroyed, you actually recognize you can overcome just about any and every thing.

 

That affects how you make choices & decisions.

 

 

That affects how you feel about yourself.

 

That all sounds good … and relatively simple … but it is relatively difficult to embrace as a thought and attitude.

 

I actually do not believe this is a Life lesson.

 

I believe it is something we simply struggle with throughout Life.

 

We gain & accumulate things as we grow older. Life experiences, titles, professional experience, money, things and acquisitions … oh … and family.

 

That is reality.

 

And reality hates … absolutely frickin’ hates to be destroyed.

 

We face shit everyday … some big shit and some small shit … and as we face it we view it through bifocals — what reality will be destroyed and how do I protect against it and … well … what do I really want to do.

 

If you focus solely on the latter you will feel really really good about yourself <in Bad 27 7 doing shita semi selfish way> but I can almost guarantee that doing so will come at the expense of some reality in your life. It may be a small expense and it may be a huge expense … but an expense it is.

 

If you focus solely on the former you will most likely have a fairly comfortable reality but I can almost guarantee that doing so will come at the expense of some moral relativity <sense of self stuff> in your life. It may be a small expense and it may be a huge expense … but an expense it is.

 

That is why I said this is a constant struggle for us in life.

 

We know most of the decisions and choices we make will not kill us … but we have to weigh what that choice & decision will kill in our reality.

 

On this one topic I can actually share some personal experience.

 

I have shed the former stuff at some point in my Life & career. I dropped the titles, the compensation, the career, the responsibilities <I do not have a family> and all the past stuff <as well as I could>.

 

Now.

That doesn’t mean that simply destroying it all meant it went away mentally.

Just because destroying everything you feel like you have earned <not deserved> doesn’t translate into some personal ‘slotting’ from that point on – I had that salary so anything less is bad, I had that title so anything less is bad, I had that type of home so anything less than that is bad, etc.

 

That mental aspect takes some time <at least it did for me>.

 

But once I reached a point where I recognized that the only way I could actually be destroyed was death itself … well … doing the right thing and doing what I wanted to do became a shitload easier when trying to overcome shit.

 

I admit.

While not a luxurious life … it is a luxury not many people have.

 

But to attain this luxury I almost had to destroy reality. That sounds kind of extreme. I imagine there is another way to do it <one would hope, wouldn’t one?>.

 

Ok. Look.

 

That isn’t really the point.  It isn’t because I am certainly not suggesting people ditch their reality just so they can always make their decisions based on what would make them feel good as a person. Reality comes with some responsibilities which deserve to be acknowledged.

 

 

I imagine my real point is that more of us should recognize everything is overcomeable. Your worst day, your worst decision, your worst choice, your worst anything … if it doesn’t kill you, can be overcome.

 

I say that because far too often in the moment where the worst is occurring most of us aren’t thinking about the fact we cannot be destroyed … we are worrying about being destroyed. That in and of itself most likely puts us in a position in which we are much more likely to make the worst worse <and, at best, make the worst as palatable as possible>.

 

do what you must by YoshiteruShit happens. That is a given.

 

But not all shit is created equal and not all shit outcomes are created equal.

And while all shit can be overcome … if you are a little more fearless when the shit hits the fan, a little more inclined to believe “what the hell, I am not going to die,” I would argue you may actually be more likely to come through the shit not only alive & well … but not as stinky.

 

And even better? Whew … you will sleep well that night knowing you had destroyed what may have destroyed you without destroying your soul & character.

 

unapologetically comfortable with yourself

October 2nd, 2016

 reminder-unapologetic

 

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

 

when youre unapologetically comfortable with yourself, people really dont know what to do with you.

 

—-

 

from monochromaticblack

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

 

people get mad when they don’t understand the source of someone else’s confidence. lol thats wild.

 

 

from monochromaticblack

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

 

 

Well.

 

projects-complete-finish-progress-businessI loved both of these thoughts written by a young African <Nigeria I believe> woman on her tumblr site.

 

I love them because they do not mean you don’t want to improve <in fact most of these people acknowledge they are work in progress which actually is the foundation for their confidence and comfort with self> but rather espouse a strong belief in self – or being comfortable in your own skin.

 

I say that, yet, most people see these things as cocky or not willing to listen or be accepting constructive criticism.

 

They are wrong.

 

It is just a reflection of a strong self-awareness. And an awareness of what is going on around them. And a willingness to adapt to the situation at hand <therefore each situation aligns with the appropriate confidence rather than trying to stay a square peg and face a round hole on occasion>.

 

To me … this type of discussion around self awareness driven confidence is almost like discussing the difference between the actually appropriate “I couldn’t care less” versus the more common less appropriate phrase “I could care less.”

 

They clearly mean different things and, yet, misused so often they are misheard and misinterpreted.

 

But … about the self awareness the quotes suggest.like-thought-bubble

 

 

I like the stubborn kind of love of thyself.

 

I like the semi-unconditional love of who and what you are.

 

I like the persistency and acceptance of the undeniable compass that resides within.

 

I like the understanding and almost commanding hold this belief has on someone’s character and behavior and attitudes.

 

I like the fact it leaves someone nowhere to go and, yet, at the same time enables the ability to embrace some type of expanded self.

 

 

I like the sense that this is a different type of self love which one can never escape no matter how hard you may try <because Life suggests you should ‘escape it’>.

 

I like the thought that it remains a version of a good friend to rely on regardless of the time of day, situation or crisis.

 

I like the fact it suggests a version of ‘home’ regardless of how far you may be tempted to stray.

 

I like it represents a source of healing from which one can replenish who and what you are … no matter what happens.

 

I like the sense of true companionship strength <thru thick or thin>.

unapologetic-false-world-real-person-pain-life

 

I like the unapologetic faith in head, heart & humanity.

 

 

I like the … well … consistency … and the flexibility. I call it a consistent flexible personality.

 

=====

 

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.

If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

 

 

Friedrich Nietzsche

======

 

I like the idea someone can change innumerable times, yet in each iteration, will remain fundamentally the same.

 

I like the idea that the personality & character doesn’t change for, basically, functional reasons.

 

 

I like the idea it maintains the attitude of ‘the self’ and continuing to change, constantly aligning itself to changing world and what it learns.

 

And, I imagine, what I like most is that this type of self-confidence and belief in self insures that no matter how often Life and the shit it throws at you tries to put an end to its existence … you exist.unapologetic-power-go-on-scared-life

 

The dictionary tells us you cannot ‘put an end to the existence of something’ more than a single time. I would argue with the dictionary <which is surprising because I like unequivocal truths>. Life can, and does, put an end to the existence of lots of ‘self’ things. Sometimes for good but more often for the bad.

 

All I would say is that if you are unapologetically comfortable with yourself you are more likely to insure the existence of what matters and put an end to the existence of that which does not matter … when it matters.

 

People may not know what to do with you but you will always know what you can do.

 

luck & life

April 28th, 2016

 lucky chanceux

—————-

 

Luck.

 

Leaving things to chance and the outside world.

 

——————-

 

“I don’t believe in luck.

I believe in being harbingers of our fate, determining our own path, taking action and creating our own destiny in life.”

 

===

 

Celestine Chua

 

——————-

 

 

While, in general, I believe most of us make our own luck there is actually two types of luck.

 

The type you do make … putting in the hard work and being ‘in the game’ which really isn’t luck … it is just making the most of opportunities that arise and fateputting yourself in position for those opportunities. Maybe I could just call this ‘being harbingers of our fate.”

 

And then there is truly the luck that occurs randomly … chance events in which … well … you are lucky or you are not. Maybe let’s call this “the whim of fate.”

 

Because of what I just said personally I think it is too simplistic to suggest “I do not believe in luck.” I believe that because you can work your ass off and you can do all the right things as often as you can … and random chance … luck as it were … comes whether you invite it or not.

 

This is not to suggest you shouldn’t work your ass off and put yourself in as many positions and opportunities as possible to increase the likelihood that “luck” or ‘chance’ veers in your direction. But I am suggesting that if you do this you are simply controlling your position, place and proximity to the contextual fabric of what is happening around you.

 

And while, yes, there are certainly things you can control I could argue that most things are truly out of your control.

 

Because of that I believe luck does play a role in people’s lives. And luck does not favor anyone, probably does not even recognize it is impacting anyone individually and is relatively indifferent to any scorecard of winners versus losers.

We should all understand that Luck is neither a friend or foe … it is simply a selfish individual always acting in its own best interest. And therefor should our interests coincide with its interests … we are good <lucky> and if our interests do not coincide … well … that is bad <unlucky>.

 

All this said.

fate waiters luck

One of the reasons I decided to discuss luck is that research shows over and over again we <people in general> have a natural tendency to overestimate the degree of responsibility for our own successes.

 

I am certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t take some ownership & pride of our successes and how we have managed to take advantage of the opportunities.

However, to simply suggest it was our own perseverance and hard work that created the success tends to overlook the importance of a dash of luck on occasion <which happens more often than we tend to believe>.

 

And by overlooking luck we then have a tendency, in our minds & attitudes, to adapt what was reality in our reflection … which then encourages us to stubbornly persevere in the future in the face of sometimes insurmountable obstacles.

Ignoring luck more often than not sets some incorrect self-expectations.

 

Now.

 

I tend to believe all of us know that almost all success results from a variety of factors which include hard work, talent, some aspect of the mind & thinking, perseverance and chance. And those factors ebb and wane depending on a variety of factors <things someone who is more passionate about will tend to work harder on>. This means that while we seek consistent behavior & actions to replicate our success that success is more often a result of inconsistent factors.

 

That said … the inconsistency with these factors permits us to reflect backwards upon the parts & pieces we want, or choose to see, to reflect upon as we construct our stories.

Needless to say … this inconsistency within the factors of success makes it very easy to drop luck from the story.

 

We, none of us, don’t particularly feel comfortable giving credit to luck.

luck points dumb

====

E. B. White

 

“Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.”

 

===

 

 

Psychologists use a term called “hindsight bias.”

 

It is our natural tendency to think about the past that some event was predictable <even when it wasn’t> and therefore we tend to focus on the thought we had purposefully put ourselves in place for something that was inevitable <smart, hardworking people that we are>.

 

Studies show that “hindsight bias” actually is even stronger when associated with greater than expected successes.

 

For example.

PewResearch shows people in higher income brackets are much more likely than those with lower incomes to say that individuals get rich primarily because they work hard. Wealthy people overwhelmingly attribute their own success to hard work rather than to factors like luck or being in the right place at the right time.

 

Anyway.

 

Yes.

 

Hard work matters.

 

Yes.

 

Perseverance matters.

 

Yes.

 

Talent matters.

 

 

But the one that that also matters I do not believe we discuss enough.

 

A connected engaged thinking mind.

 

———–

 

“Chance favors the connected mind.”

 

==

Steven Johnson

———good luck bad luck

 

I mentioned earlier that chance, or Luck, is indifferent to us. I would also suggest that luck, or unluck, unfolds and therefore how you react & adapt may be one of the most important behavior traits you can own in Life.

 

In something I wrote back in June 2014, horse racing & life, I suggested … “so many times we say ‘this is the way to win’ … but you know what? … everyone is trying to win. Oftentimes winning is about context and managing the moment.”

 

In this I believe I am suggesting you accept the fact that luck plays a role in Life and that you cannot control it … and you should actually expect it to stick its face into your business. and that if you have a connected mind, a mind which isn’t closed to learning & unlearning, a mind which is open to adapting against ‘status quo’ behavioral rules, well, you may actually have a chance with … well … chance.

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict