Enlightened Conflict

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

===

 

 

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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

 

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

=======

 

Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

staying above even when stepping down

June 25th, 2017

 

inspire people dont give up

 

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

 

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

 

—-

J.R.R Tolkien

 

 

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

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

—-

William Shakespeare

 

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

 

 

Ok.

 

lead togther step down dominant

This is about business and business leadership.

 

Leading is a big job. It carries big responsibilities and big burdens. You have to be big enough in some way <skills, charisma, character, smarts, etc.> to stay above the organization and employees. And I say “above” because part of leading is being able to see above the heads of everyone so that you can lead and align and step in when & where appropriate.

 

Above is not dominance per se just that you maintain a dominant position from which you can most effectively & efficiently lead.

 

Now.

 

Here is what any good leader knows … you don’t have to be big to … well … be big.

Heck. You don’t even have to act ‘big.’

 

In addition.

 

A good leader can leave the comfort of the ‘throne’, i.e. the trappings of the ‘bigness’ –the natural ‘dominance’ that comes with a title — and still remain above even when stepping down from all those things.trump dominant Genuine people fake people

 

However.

 

Not everyone is a good leader. And not every leader is particularly good at navigating the natural doubts <am I doing the right thing, am I doing the best thing, am I doing the thing I should be doing, etc.> that come along with being a leader. By the way … any good leader has some doubts on occasion … it keeps them grounded.

 

Regardless.

 

What that means is there will inevitably be business people who fear looking small. And they protect their illusions of ‘bigness’, or being bigly, mainly in several ways:

 

  • They diminish everyone they can in the attempt to make others as small as they can so that they look bigger no matter the comparison

 

  • They find a ‘safe space’ in which they place their metaphorical throne and make everyone come to them <this is kind of like the boss who purposefully has their desk built slightly higher and the chairs facing the desk slightly lower to insure they maintain a physical dominant position>

 

  • They avoid, as much as possible, one-on-one interactions with anyone their own size <unless they can control the environment>.

 

  • They ground themselves in platitudes under the guise of “flexibility & adaptability” so they can avoid having to defend anything specific with anyone who could diminish their bigness

 

 

Well.

 

Why I decided to write about this is … uhm … day in and day out Donald J Trump offers us in the business world reminders of ineffective leadership style and the characteristics of insecure leadership.

And the number one business dunce stupid brand marketingcharacteristic of insecure leadership is the inability to step down and still stay above.

 

Insecure leaders are extremely hesitant, if not completely resistant, to leaving their ‘dominant position.’

 

Let me explain ‘dominant position’ because it can sound bad <and it is mainly meant to express a position of authority>.

 

A CEO or a president is clearly in a dominant position by title and by responsibility and, in most cases, by some larger skill that got them to where they are. A true ‘dominant position’ <let’s call it “authority”> combines all aspects.

 

Therefore the person in the dominant position combines substance & style. And this is where insecurity steps in … because if a leader has any true doubts with regard to their ‘dominant position’ – mostly doubts on their substance — they start exhibiting some insecure characteristics.

They will dial up their style aspects to cloak any substance deficiencies and become excruciatingly careful with regard to how they interact with other people.

 

But the one I thought about today was “stepping down.’

 

Let me explain.

 

I heard Donald J say the other day “they should call us to participate.” In other words … they need to come to me <thereby establishing some aspect of subservience and feeds the sense of ‘dominant position.’

 

shift up or down

This was not a one-off comment.

He does this … every … frickin’ … day.

 

Trump never “goes to people” nor does he unite by inserting himself into any opposing groups <people who may not agree with him> opening himself up to say “let me be part of what you want.” I cannot envision him ever going to opposition and suggesting he wanted to work with them <they have to come to him>.

His whole leadership style is driven by an insecurity of ‘dominant position’ and he fears stepping down from his position because he fears it will expose the fact he isn’t really above anyone other than in title.

 

In other words … he fears looking small <or ‘not bigly’>.

 

And therein lies the larger lesson.

 

Good leaders don’t become smaller when they step down or go to people rather than make people go to them. They know there are no ‘little people’ but rather only big responsibilities of which everyone has.

 

Little people are little wherever they go … even if they just sit in the corner office.

Unfortunately for us a little leader knows this … and doesn’t know this.

What I mean by that is they can sense their littleness therefore they go out of their way to stay within whatever cocoon of ‘bigness trappings’ to encourage the belief they have that they are actually big. And, yet, they don’t know this rump dominant Do you think clouds look down on people and thinkbecause they tend to have an oversized view of themselves <every should come to me attitude>.

 

They see themselves through a fairly warped view of self-relevance … “everyone else becomes more relevant by being around me therefore they become bigger in my bigness.” And that partially outlines their main fear.

Loss of relevance.

Anyone who becomes more relevant than them is a danger. Loss of power, the illusion of or real, is the danger.

 

What that all means is that an insecure leader more often than not lives in a “you need to come to me, call me or ask me” mentality.

 

  • Foreign dignitaries come to visit him <and he does not visit them>.
  • Democrats should call me instead of being obstructionists.
  • People need to visit him at the White House <or Mar a Lago>.
  • He never works with people or offers to meet them.

 

He treats everyone as if they should be subservient to him and if they do not meet that desire he is dismissive or even attacks them as ‘obstructionist.’

 

leadership go your way

 

Let me be clear.

 

No sane business leader <in this generation> has this attitude.

You cannot.

You cannot because you know many of the people working for you are actually smarter than you and a shitload more just may know something you do not know.

You cannot because oftentimes your peers, who actually report to you, may actually be better than you at some things.

You cannot because you know that good people never want to feel subservient but rather want to feel being a key part of overall success.

 

Most of those who lead have learned these things not by attempting to learn to be ‘above’ but rather by learning how to lead. And you learn that mostly by getting into ‘the game’ and realizing you can play anywhere at any time. I know that I took an advertising job as a young newly promoted VP in NYC not out of any desire to be the best but because I was curious. I was curious to see if I could “play in the NYC advertising game.” I didn’t need to be the best nor did I desire to dominate … I just wanted to see if I could play.

I can tell you that once you become comfortable with knowing you can play at the biggest level and the lowest level you have a fighting chance to become a leader.

 

Look.

 

We all have numerous character flaws and it is a sad truth the majority of us can’t see them. This is even more difficult in a leadership position because you do naturally become more self-aware of any of the things you are good at and yet also not good at … but you also lean heavily on the things you ‘perceive’ got you where you are today.

 

I say that because insecure leaders are relatively hollow on the self-awareness.

Looking at Trump it is easy to see that he grew up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. He lived in a bubble in which young, mentally lazy, rich, amoral white men routinely got away with whatever they wanted. These same characteristics are exhibited in his insecure leadership style.

 

Here is what I know.

trump ominant look down on other people

Big leaders are big leaders.

 

And they are big because wherever they go they retain their bigness. That means they need not ‘stay above’ to be big … they can step down … sit in town halls answering questions from real people as well as sit down with people who didn’t vote for you as well as sit down with peers and discuss ideas … and walk away just as big as they entered the room.

 

Small leaders cannot do those things, therefore, they do not.

 

I have now given you a way to judge big leaders from small leaders. Judge away. Every leader should be judged … and judged harshly … because … well … they are leaders and that is their burden.

a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me

September 6th, 2016

 

 fear bird fly fall never do life

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

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

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

 

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”

 

 

Andre Gide

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

 

Ok.

liar fear

 

 

There is no such thing as fearless and a fearless person is a … well … lie.

 

Oh.

 

Maybe there is with those badass guys who do special forces and know mental voodoo which enables to kick the shit out of people and not die.

 

 

But for most of us schmucks?

 

We all have some fear about something. And we are lying if we do not admit that. Now. It is quite possible we hesitate to embrace this thought because … uhm … it implies we have some coward within us.

 

Wow.

 

That sounds shitty.

 

Who the hell wants to ever say that about themselves? <answer: no one>

 

But maybe what helps us get over that cowardly angst is the recognition that it is actually fear of fear which probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself.

 

That said.

 

I am not suggesting that makes it any easier in practicality just that maybe recognizing a monster is half the battle to killing a monster.

 

 

Anyway.

 

brainsnacks 5 fears we all have

………… brainsnacks 5 fears we all have ………..

 

Some smart psychologist at Brainsnacks suggests there are 5 basic fears that everyone has:

 

 

Fear of failure? Read it as fear of ego-death.

Fear of rejection? That’s fear of separation, and probably also fear of ego-death.

The terror many people have at the idea of having to speak in public is basically fear of ego-death.

Fear of intimacy, or “fear of commitment,” is basically fear of losing one’s autonomy.

Shame and guilt express the fear of—or the actual condition of—separation and even ego-death. The same is true for embarrassment and humiliation.

 

 

I thought that was interesting but most of us think about fear in our own ways, read books on how to deal with it and we either figure it out or we don’t.

And honestly … some do and some don’t.

 

I will suggest that facing fear is probably the biggest impediment to success <even beyond poverty, existing circumstances, etc.>.

 

We often give our fears far too much power by believing they are bigger than they really are.

 

Look.

 

I am not suggesting that fear doesn’t exist I am simply suggesting we often permit fear to take on superhuman powers and intergalactic sizes in our minds.

 

If you agree with that thought then it appears seeking to be successful may mean not actually eliminating fear … but simply making it into bite sized portions more easily swallowed.

 

 

Or maybe … would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me.

 

Regardless.

 

Choose however you elect to deal with fear. But choose.

 

Because you don’t choose at your own peril <what I fear is quietly killing me >.

 

fear of suffering worseHere’s the deal.

 

All people fear failure.

 

Everyone.

 

And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

 

There is no such thing as a fearless person.

 

It’s just that some people set it aside and go forth striving to seek something that lies somewhere beyond the fear.

 

Across the chasm as it were.

 

The French call this  “l’appel du vide” in French< compulsion to jump from high places or “the call of the void”>. But the truth is that ‘some’ does not equal ‘most.’ Not many people are truly tempted to jump from the edge into a void.

Most of us just talk about it <and we like talking about it>. But most do not do it. Not because they aren’t tempted by the challenge but rather because they fear what comes from stepping out into the void.

 

Do most people mind being challenged <attempting to do that which they have not done>?

 

Absolutely not.

 

The majority of people do like meeting challenges and that satisfaction which comes from meeting the challenge. I believe it is because you have not only ‘bested’ the challenge but you have also ‘bested’ the fear you couldn’t meet the challenge <even if it was only an inkling of fear>.

 

So there is certainly a level of personal satisfaction of ‘dealing with fear” … or maybe better said ‘facing the unknown’ that all people like.

 

However.

 

What about that ‘good fear.’

That big fear.

Stepping into the unknown fear?

 

Ok.

 

Remember.

 

Fear is defined as the emotional response to an actual or perceived threat of immediate or imminent danger or pain <or some derivative of the five I listed above>.

The capacity to experience fear is part of human nature that has been hard-wired into us.

 

Hardwired or not … the ‘big fear’ <whatever our personal fear monster may be> is debilitating to most people. It is a fact that a large number of people suffer the often debilitating impacts of fear and anxiety. They suffer a sense of being overwhelmed and helplessness leading to an inability to take action or make changes.

 

Interestingly I believe we tend to tie bravery and courage with being able to overcome that helplessness brought on by fear.

 

Well.

I don’t think that’s right.

 

In most cases it is more about having the ability to see <or conceptualize> what is somewhere across the chasm and using that as the focal point to step toward.

More often it is the ability to see the fear as … well … fear of fear and nothing more than that.

fearless controlling fear

 

Regardless.

 

That’s not courage … that is simply focusing on what is important. Or, let’s say, an ability to focus.

 

I guess I find some support in my belief in that most individuals we look to as brave or courageous people openly admit that they were not free of fear when they faced the unknown <death or simply stepping into the unknown>.

 

They simply kept going with their plan of action, in spite of feeling scared, because they were generally resolute in their decisions, knew the risks attached to what they were doing and in many cases believed that their actions served a larger cause for a greater good.

 

People like that don’t lessen the fear … they simply accept it.

 

Patton once said this about equating bravery with a lack of fear:

 

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man.  All men are frightened.  The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.”

 

Anyway.

 

Fear is a real issue. As real as poverty, lack of education or some disease.

 

It is a real issue because, simplistically, the inability to overcome fear translates into a lower quality of life.

 

No shit.

 

Quality of life <and, me being me, I have some proof to back this up>.

 

Someone called fear the “…nameless, unjustified, unreasoning terror which paralyzes needed effort.”

 

And according to a psychologist quoted in a 2009 Psychology Today … “the inaction that stems from excessive, irrational fears or fear-based thinking often shows up as a decision to live life from a “safe” position and not take risks, even if that means forsaking opportunities that might provide greater joy and expansiveness to one’s life.”

 

No shit.

 

I tend to believe we lla sense that fear holds us back but also have a tendency to shrug our shoulders and say “if it were meant to be I would have done that something” as a justification for not facing our fear.

 

Well.

 

Maybe think about that choice a little harder next time.

 

The cost is high if you decide to not face your fear.

 

So.

 

Circling back to the beginning … people who have overcome fear have learned to focus on what is truly important … they have either faced their monsters or decided that they were less important then what they really wanted.

 

And I actually believe most successful people have done exactly this … these have faced their inner demons, monsters, and have asked them to come along for the ride instead of hiding from them <or being safe>.

 

Or.

 

They have had a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is BurningBridgescoward in me, and found what is lost in me.

 

 

We all have fears. Accept it. Do what you have to do. Do what almost all of us do. Push on.

 

And know this:

 

85% of what we worry about ends up having a positive or neutral outcome. <research>

 

Enlightened Conflict