Enlightened Conflict

get caught trying

August 25th, 2016

 caught trying do not be afraid life do



“History doesn’t choose individual people.

History chooses everyone.


Every day.


The only question is: How long will you ignore the call?”


Brad Meltzer



“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

Jonathan Safran Foer



How to succeed: Try hard enough.

How to fail: Try too hard.


Malcolm Forbes




what are you going to do i do not know


Some people choose to not just be bystanders.


Some people choose to be tryers.


Some people treat personal liberty with incredible care and responsibility.



Some people love the depth & breadth of the imagination and, yet, retain a healthy skepticism toward what they love & dream about.



Some people embrace personal freedom and, yet, permit limits and responsibilities to steward the freedom.



Some people can become captivated with the beauty of Life and dreams and following passions and, yet, understand the demands of reality are more pressing than anything that is simply captivating.



Some people are brave … and bold … and, yet, refuse to be stupid about it.


Some people seek the extraordinary and, yet, understand they are simply being asked to take advantage of the ordinary found available to any and all.




“And while I’d like to lay claim to some extraordinary act of originality, truth is I’m only taking advantage of capabilities inherent in everyone.”



Mark Z Danielewski




Some people not only hear the call of history … they also answer the call.


Some people think about doing … and some people actually do.



Some people understand that we all have multiple lives within us and, yet, decide to live one life well.





At some point you need to decide what type of person you want to be.choice is yours arrows direction


Some of that type of person or some of the other type of person.


To be a bystander or be a tryer.


All I can really suggest is … well … get caught trying to be a type of person.

trying is rarely enough (with some important exceptions)

February 15th, 2015


courage i will try again

“I always thought I’d get farther.

I’d like to blame the world for what I’ve failed to do, but the failure – the failure that sometimes washes over me as anger, makes me so angry I could spit – is all mine, in the end.

What made my obstacles insurmountable, what consigned me to mediocrity, is me, just me.



I thought for so long, forever, that I was strong enough — or I misunderstood what strength was. “


Claire Messud


“I started at the bottom,

and somehow I’m still at the bottom.”











This is about trying. And, oddly, trying is a little difficult to discuss.


Really? <Yup>


secret keep going trying

Try this on for size … ‘trying is good’ versus ‘trying is not enough.’ And it is within that wretched in between our lives reside.

It is almost like trying to assess the difference in importance between the beginning and the end of things.

With no beginning <trying in the first place> there is no end <whatever ‘it’ is that makes people suggest it is not enough>.



Suffice it to say … regardless of whether trying is good or bad … we put a lot of emphasis in Life on trying.



And that emphasis makes us think a lot about trying … when to try … when to not try … and, ultimately, what is the price <prize, value> of trying?








Unfortunately  … the price, and prize, is both something and nothing.



I told you it was the wretched in between.





Let’s do ‘something’ first.




Frankly … most people don’t even try.


They are so scared of ‘no result’ that they do not even make the attempt.




try motherfuckers

“Nothing that we do, is done in vain.

I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph.”


Charles Dickens


“There is power in our intentions.”


some idiot

<pop psychologist>




I say this, and share the quotes, to point out that trying actually does mean something.



Something in that … well … it at least gives you a chance. Trying gets you ‘in the game.’


With that thought in mind I could suggest ‘victory can be found in the attempt.’


Trying means something … in fact … it can mean a shitload.


Taking the step.





And maybe the biggest something? … the learning you gain from trying.


trying thinking planning

Maybe the largest value of trying is in the learning.


The experience.


The mistakes, failures and doomed investment of energy.



That said. While trying certainly can be ‘something’  … let’s get to the unfortunate truth of ‘it means nothing.’




“Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention.

The seagull may intend to fly away, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock.

There’s no difference between that gull and all the others.

Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place.

Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions?

Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

Andy Andrews


Ah … intentions and the ‘nothing’ aspect.





Here is the deal with intentions and trying:






“I started at the bottom, and somehow I’m still at the bottom.”






You may have great intentions with trying but in the end … you run the risk of being exactly the same as one who actually did nothing.



You may still be at the bottom with everyone else … and all you have going for you is that ‘you tried & they did not‘.





That said.




Nothing has multiple aspects … but let me do the tangible doing <or not having done anything> and the intangible self-value aspect.



The tangible outcome … this is basically no result.






Let’s say … certainly no good result.


No matter how you judge shit … losing or nonsuccess is … well … unfortunately … losing or nonsuccess.


Life does provide gobs of opportunity … but … at some point trying needs to pay off. Without it … it is simply wasted energy.


Or a hollow victory <victory in the attempt>.



The good news?

I would tend to suggest <in Life> … in general … iterative trying does not conclude in consecutive losses … it concludes in some victory <even if it is small>.


If it doesn’t?





The bad news.


Trying is not enough.





And intangible aspect of ‘nothing’ … this is the self value aspect.



immensity of life is hard

“The trouble is, I am not at peace with myself; I am not always “something,” and if for once I am “something,” I pay for it by “being nothing” for months on end.”


Franz Kafka




Trying that doesn’t culminate in something <anything at all> means … well … being nothing.





That sounds harsh.





It is harsh.



It is harsh because trying and continuous non success … well … sucks. It is harsh. And that harshness affects you <not just outside perceptions>. It affects how you see yourself which means it affects your self value.





This nothing thing is harshly sly & clever. Trying and nothing can come to Life in a variety of ways … you can even be nothing simply by … well … trying in the wrong way.


How crappy is that? You are trying but you don’t even realize there is a ‘right way to try’ and a ‘wrong way to try.’



“Sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity.”


David Ogilvy


Another way of trying and yet not doing it the right way?  Sometimes you try by making promises … only they come up empty.




“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.”


The Fault In Our Stars



Or sometimes trying ends up coming to life in intentions <I intended it to end up this way … but it did not> … sometimes even good intentions … only to come up empty on the ‘good deed’ side of the ledger <oops … not result I envisioned>.




Life is short and if you’re looking for extension, you had best do well.

‘Cause there’s good deeds and then there’s good intentions.

They are as far apart as Heaven and Hell.


Ben Harper



As my good friend and colleague, Albert Einstein once said, “Life is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”


<I believe he said it at Starbucks once a long time ago>




Regardless.lies we tell ourselves



If you are not really really careful … trying can quickly become an odd version of a compromise … or negotiation … with Life.



“I tried” and then whatever the decision or action becomes mentally “an exception” if it is not optimal or comes to some good deed.



And before you know it you are on that slippery slope.



And once on the slippery slope … well tu mori <“you die”>.



Life is funny <in a not-so-funny way> that way.








Here I am writing an incredibly long rant suggesting trying is not enough and, yet, I have said this following thing a zillion times:




“All you can really ask is for someone to do the best they possibly can.”


Anonymous (and me)




Said it a zillion times.



I have no clue who I stole it from but it is mine now.



But if I could beat this into the head of every leader in the world I would be willing to staple the piece of paper with the quote on it to my forehead.



I recognize that sometimes we ask so much of people it is amazing.



And, yes, many people do not know what they are truly capable of until they are pushed to aim for something seemingly impossible.



I was a pretty demanding leader.

I set an incredibly high bar for my teams.


outcome situation

But I am fairly sure that, in the end, all I asked is that they do their best.


And if it isn’t enough then we can say we didn’t succeed for lack of trying.



And, unfortunately, sometimes that’s as good as it gets.



Ask the best of people and I believe most people will surprise you by doing a little better.



And ‘doing a little better’, 99% of the time, leads to some outcome … therefore … the trying is enough.

head scratching numbers (and American voting)

November 6th, 2014


“99 percent of all statistics only tell 49 percent of the story.”


Ron DeLegge



“Figures often beguile me particularly when I have the arranging of them myself.”


“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”


Mark Twain


Just a quick note on the recent USA midterm elections, the silent majority <which was a huge majority and the silence deafening> and some head scratching numbers.


People, including me, will dizzy and dazzle you with a variety of numbers and statistics all under the guise of ‘the people have spoken’ <hear me roar!!> in the American midterm elections.



No roar.

Just the never ending screech of the few and the shouting.


About 37% of those who could vote voted.


<uhm part 1 … that means 2/3rds of people DID NOT VOTE>

<uhm part 2 … that means 1/3rd of all voting adults made a country decision>

<uhm part 3 … that means, assuming about 53% of the vote went to the ‘winners’ .. that means 18% of the adult population has suggested a direction for the 100%>

vote hands


Of those who voted the significant majority were the hard core <either an unchangeable democrat or an unchangeable republican> as well as:


–          Primarily old & white

–          Significantly less likely to be young or a minority

–          And not independent <intent to vote plummeted among independents>


–          the numbers  –


–          Whites accounted for 75% of voters, up from 72%, a record low, in 2012.

–          Nonwhites accounted for 25% of voters, down from 28%, a record high, in 2012.

–          Millennials <Voters age 18-29> made up just 12% of voters — down from 19% in 2012.

–          Older voters <age 65+> made up 26% of voters, up significantly from 17% in 2012.





Let me take a minute to comment on the results and the deafening silence from the ‘people’ <who every headline shouts ‘have spoken’>..





We Americans are consistent.


This is nothing new.


All second term Presidents since 1822 have gone through this voter discontent <both Democratic and Republican Presidents>.

Every second term President but one <Clinton> their party has lost in the midterms. The losers include Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt.


To make this – slightly odd continuing diatribe from a loud minority – about the current President is simply not true.

It is voting history since 1822.





Style versus substance.

confuse minority

The midterm election has provided fantastically, sometimes absurd and always annoying, political theater but failed to create any interest to the general population … and particularly of the unaffiliated independents <although even the core party attention declined a bit>.



To me …I can think of 3 reasons:


–          believe the outcome will change nothing.

Even with Republicans winning the Senate and holding the House .. Congress has been so dysfunctional internally it is difficult to envision palatable change.



–          lack of a galvanizing issue for either party.


Republicans didn’t run against their opponents … they simply ran against Obama. This is incredibly odd in that the approval ratings for the president, while low, are not even close to the depths of poor approval the congress has.

And then Democrats ran against their opponents without showcasing any policies but rather tried to diminish their opponents.

There were no real issues discussed … certainly not a passionate galvanizing one.


–          A lack of a popular figurehead for either party driving their base to the polls.


The President has low approval ratings.

Oh. But neither party leader in Congress is popular nationally, or among his own party base.

voting apathyNobody cared because they didn’t like anybody.




It ain’t the president … people are just unhappy with politicians.



Some statistics:


–          According to a voters’ exit poll, 80% of Americans disapprove of how Congress has been handling its job, while about 58% are displeased with President Obama.

A whopping <said sarcastically> 44% have a positive view of Democrats and 40% have a positive view of Republicans.


Doh.doh homer


Americans have just elected the party they like the least to run the government body they least trust.



–          34% of voters expressed that they were voting in opposition of President Obama and yet 61% expressed that they were dissatisfied or even angry with the Republican leaders in Congress.

<someone figure the logic out on how Republicans won seats>


In addition.


This was a qualitative vote <an ‘I feel’ vote> and not a quantitative vote <an ‘economy/wallet’ vote>.


–          45% say the economy is the most important issue in their vote. That’s down from 2012 when 59% chose it and 2010, and 2008, when 63% said it was their top issue.



All in all this election showed America nothing.


Think about it.


Just two in 10 voters trust the government in Washington to do what’s right all or most of the time.



This basically translates into:

Democrats think Republicans are screwing things up.

Republicans think Democrats are screwing things up.

Independents just think it is all screwed up.


vote no

And how screwed up is it?


This spring, a study by professors at Princeton and Northwestern reported that voters’ preferences were essentially irrelevant in determining what policies their elected officials pursued.


In addition about $3.67bn was spent in this election … and most of it by a tiny fraction of wealthy interests.


Money buys what it wants.



The combination of big money from an elite group of influencers in combination with a low voter turnout means that fewer average Americans are electing the nation’s leaders.


The corollary, of course, is that those who can write big checks have gained greater influence.




All of this just makes me shake my head in dismay and … well … worry <just a little>.


A healthy voter turnout is fundamental to a healthy democracy.

Low turnout is usually attributed to a belief that voting for one candidate/party or another will do little to affect public policy.


And America’s overall voting record sucks:

“Voter turnout in the United States fluctuates in national elections, but has never risen to levels of most other well-established democracies.

In countries with compulsory voting, like Australia, Belgium, and Chile, voter turnout hovered near 90% in the 2000s.

Other countries, like Austria, Sweden, and Italy, experienced turnout rates near 80%. Overall, OECD countries experience turnout rates of about 70%, while in the U.S., about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections.”




I admit.


america map drawnI waffle on the voter turnout discussion.


I blame voters for not actually voting to clearly communicate what they want.


I blame politicians for building an environment where the people don’t perceive, they actually believe, Congress is dysfunctional and cannot get anything done let alone a ‘right thing.’


I blame people in general as we waffle between the disappointment that government <the president in particular> doesn’t lead and yet when government <the president> does lead and make decisions we shout ‘unconstitutional & power hungry.’


I blame myself because … well … I am a solutions guy and I cannot see a clear solution.



The bottom line.


People bitch.

People moan.


But they mostly do so silently.

In private or on a bar stool.


This election changes nothing excepting maybe there are now different people who will talk about doing a lot and actually doing little.


Yesterday old white people won more seats in government.

This suggests more old thinking.




And here may be the biggest head scratching number.


As Republicans puff out their chests and shout there is a new world order and ‘the people have been heard’ … all exit polls clearly pointed out that when asked who would most likely <and preferred> to be our next president … Hilary Clinton <a democrat I may point out> was almost double her closest Republican mention.



Republicans dominate the votes <ok … not dominate … just had a majority> yet indicate a Democrat as next preferred president?sigh hand


Someone smarter than I needs to figure that one out.


In the end?



That was all truly inspiring to write & thin about <not so much>.

Enlightened Conflict