Enlightened Conflict


April 17th, 2015

clumsy embarrass

“Are you referring to the fact that you can’t walk across a flat, stable surface without finding something to trip over?”

Stephenie Meyer






This morning I cruised thru the sports news to see my undergraduate alma mater, USC, had just won the conference women’s tennis championship beating the ever hated UCLA <fight on!>.



And they broke the trophy.





oops trophy




They dropped the trophy … and it shattered.



This made me think about all those wacky trophy ceremonies at the end of the championship games & events where they ask someone to pick up some huge incredibly unwieldy trophy and why they are not dropped more often.






It happens.



In fact … it reminded me of my “Oops. Clumsy me. Uh oh. That was a $50 million stumble. Do I tell mom?” post: http://brucemctague.com/oops-clumsy-me-uh-oh-that-was-a-50-million-stumble-do-i-tell-mom



And while the USC women’s tennis team is kind of funny … this one is hilarious.



In soccer … Real Madrid won the Spanish Cup but the celebrations went awry when Sergio Ramos dropped the trophy <oops part 1> from the roof of an open topped bus … and then the bus frickin’ ran it over <oops part 2>.



Bus running over trophy:





This one may be even better.



While on a recruiting trip at University of Florida the recruit knocked Florida’s 2006 national championship crystal football from its pedestal.





By the way … the recruit did not go to Florida.
By the way … the Waterford Crystal trophy is worth something like $30,000.



And in 2012 Alabama’s crystal national title trophy was shattered … oops … when the father of an Alabama player accidentally knocked the trophy over when he stumbled on a rug that was under the trophy display.



<oops … bring out the broom and dust pan>



I love this shit.


I wish it would happen more often.



I am sure trophies & awards are of value in some way but in general they seem inordinately exorbitant and useless.


clumsy trip

All I know is that after watching the Stays in Las Vegas commercial maybe it does have some use:

Las Vegas:


things people don’t say

March 20th, 2015

easy hard said

“I want to write a novel about Silence,” he said; “the things people don’t say.”


Virginia Woolf


“I don’t broadcast every high & I don’t hide every low.

I’m trying to live.

I’m not trying to convince the world I have life.”




“Her eyes were rimmed with long nights and things she wishes she had said.”


Flowers In Bone Cages


“Humans are easy to read, because what they’re not saying speaks volumes.”


Joel T. McGrath









words know what to say

This is not about things ‘not said’ … that would be about regrets and missed moments and shit like that … this is about selective silence.



When we select, or elect, to be silent … and the choice, and choices, we make with regard to ‘silent.’



In general I think we respect people of few words. We think of them as thoughtful and good listeners.







When I enjoy the company of those who do not say much … I wonder what battle is going on inside their heads.



And, no, not the battle to keep from speaking <those are different type of people>.



This is the battle of thoughts.



The battle that rages between all the words spoken and those not spoken … clashing to create a myriad of thoughts.




This is all about the words you finally debate in your mind on whether they are worth sharing or simply meant to be shelved somewhere in your mind or even discarded as junk.




This is all about the words which scream at the top of their lungs… but are not heard except in the head.




This is all about the words you smother because … well … some words are not meant to be spoken.



“Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”


Erza Taft Benson

 start somewhere words


The mind can be a wonderful, and terrible, place. Within the best minds resides a tug of war where even words themselves stand at each end staring at each other pulling as hard as they can.



Use this word.




Use THIS word.



And while those of us looking on who cannot see the battle inside sit & wait … we often think of the moment as a deliberate use of silent ‘space and time.’


Deliberately using silence to prompt those of us around to go further in thought.



Silly silly us.


Inside the silent resides the war.



I imagine at the essence of what I am discussing is my belief most people are not flippant with regard to how they use their words <I say this despite the fact we watch blathering mouths scattering words like confetti around a room>.



I do tend to believe most people speak with Salvatore Quasimodo in mind:




In my voice

there is at least a sign

of living geometry

the words of life

I have never understood



What make the battle more difficult is … well … the world around us.


It sometimes seems like the world is structurally hostile to nuance.



Subtlety doesn’t seem to be very effective these days.


The internet amplifies and facilitates a sense that we should think the worst of people <even ones we have never met> and to ignore any facts or context that may potentially eliminate the doubt or uncertainty.



Truth always seems just out of reach and yet being called a liar always seems close at hand.



People aren’t, in general, stupid.



Everyone knows how it works.



Refusing to speak means avoiding the fact that as soon as the words are spoken they begin winging their way across social media … where they inevitably seem to end up mutating into something simplistic and inflammatory therefore overshadowing not only anything else you may say … but also what you may have really said <or meant to say>.



words there are noThis all leads to self-censorship and calculated blandness.



This all leads to the ‘should I speak’ battle inside the head raging even longer … where neither side wins. It remains a stalemate … and only silence wins.




“… had their ideology combed over, examined, misinterpreted, rewritten and kicked to death a hundred times.

Talk about breaking a butterfly on a wheel.”


Steven Wells




What happens when people become fearful of saying anything that might be misconstrued is that they … well … remain silent <when they SHOULD say something>.


And while it would be easy for me to say that the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest … I also think most people really know this.



What is more difficult for us to maybe grasp is that the words they <other people> stop themselves from saying are actually the ones that will haunt us the longest.





I feel relatively confident suggesting that in today’s world the battle inside the head for what to say versus what not to say most often ends up in a place where silence wins because … well … that is why there seem to be so many more writers in today’s world.

And I mean writers as in diaries, blogs, tumblr, pinterest, any form of a journal or scribblings or words that capture what you may want to say … just not verbally out loud.


Words can battle on the page.


Words seem quieter on paper.


Words seem like they may go unnoticed <which a part of us actually wants>.




“I am much better on paper.”


Jared M.


right words some day simple





The best minds are very careful in what they say and do not say.



The best minds have some of the greatest battles <we will never see>.



Let’s be sure the best minds don’t let silence win those battles.

accuracy of silence

February 4th, 2015



lie in silence sand 2

“Silence is so accurate. “


Mark Rothko


“Every word has consequences.

Every silence, too. “


Jean Paul Sartre


Why are we embarrassed by silence?

What comfort do we find in all the noise?


Tuesdays with Morrie











There is certainly something good to be said about silence.

Many things in fact.





In particular … being comfortable communicating with silence.



This comfort, if we ever truly find it, is borne from a struggle. I say that because I believe many of us … reflecting upon our spoken output … struggle with warring impulses to speak up and shut up.



To me?



The whole warring impulses revolves around accuracy.



We rue the inaccuracy of the words we use <words we say>.

We endlessly worry about the potential inaccuracy of what will occur if we are silent <words we do not say>.



To be clear.



I love silence.



Particularly in business <as I have written about before>.



< http://brucemctague.com/silence-speak >




Regardless of business … or Life … to me silence defines accuracy in communication.



It is within the space of silence that lies get opened up and bleed to death … and truth is able to step to the forefront.


quiet confidence


It is where the quiet of confidence stifles the screaming of obvious insecurity.



It is where, in business, the best are able to comfortably sit and the ‘not so best’ line up to be the first to speak … regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.




In business we seem to be teaching rushing from one thing to another like organized chickens with our proverbial heads cut off.

That translates into less real listening and a focus on ‘effective communication’ <which kind of implies ‘listen to me’>.

What kind of future leaders do we believe we are developing if we are not teaching them the value of being a good listener.

I tend to believe I am comfortable with silence is because I believe the teller has no responsibility to make the listener believe in the truth.

<source: me>




noise silence




There is certainly a balance between what you say versus when you are silent.


This thought I am suggesting seems centered on the thought “I believe a speaker has absolutely no responsibility to explain or defend.”


That may seem illogical but I believe at the core of this whole accuracy thing is that each person must take the words you have spoken … and make them their own.


And I believe no one can do that for another.



I imagine a part of what I am discussing is silence after speaking. And here is the courage part – trusting in your words and how they may inspire others to think <and react>.






This may actually be one of the times when I believe I am different than many other people.


I sense most people do not believe the thought I shared.




I sense this because I hear so many people constantly defending and explaining … and … well … using a shitload of words to make their words sink in or bludgeon other people into understanding or believing <I imagine with the intent to make the listener take the words you have spoken … and make them their own – in some way>.



But … in fact … silence can make a listener well … think.



But … in fact … silence also permits the speaker to … well … think.





A double positive.



In fact … it is kind of an eloquent use of time.



I purposefully used eloquence because I believe far too often these days we bludgeon with words, behavior and energy.


Everything seems to revolve around who can shout the loudest or be the first or some bombastic behavior.




Speaking, and silence, is an art.



And I tend to believe we forget this.




“The withheld work of art is the only eloquence left.”

letters to myself envelopeDon DeLillo




Withholding words is a version of eloquence.



Letting people have time to think is a version of eloquence.



It is just a version of eloquence to understand that thought, or an idea, is crafted, or created, in one’s mind.



And to be a little philosophical … thought, an idea, is art <I say that because sharing an idea you have is the closest us normal schlubs ever experience to what an artist feels like when they share something they have created>.




As a corollary I would point out that people have a tendency to create images they like as they think … not images they don’t like.




Therefore <part 1>.


If silence allows someone to create their own image they have a likelihood to LIKE what they think.




Therefore <part 2>.


This suggests to really listen to someone you have to be interested in the images people may be trying to hide in their mind.


truth speak







I would imagine, as with everything, silence is about balance.



I say that because silence should be used wisely. Because you cannot remain silent all the time. even in a sparse environment there has to be enough to fill in some key spaces.



More importantly?



Words represent thoughts <or, at least, they are supposed to>.
If you don’t use some words you will end up getting buried in your own thoughts.






“I didn’t know you could get buried in your own silence.”




Jandy Nelson






And this is where the balance occurs … because if you are too silent too often you can get buried in all the things never said.


I say that because silence, when wielded well, creates accuracy.






But only if you point it out <which means you have to speak>.
So maybe it silence is all about deliberately holding silent ‘space and time’ for longer so that it prompts others to go further in thought.



I try and keep the balance simple in my own head … “don’t fill empty space simply because it is empty.”



I try and remind myself that within the empty space … things, not wrought with my own hands … or mouth, will be built.



I try and listen, and see, the things that fill the space before, and after, the empty space.



I try and seek what is found within the silence.



Back in 2010 I wrote this about silence:





In a non-stop world, we have become non-stop speakers.

For this reason alone, silence is a powerful tool.

Think about beginning a presentation with silence.

silence is better

It takes courage.

But it gives your audience time to breathe as well.

We live in a crazy world where silence is not easy to find.

And, frankly, it’s just not that easy to use either.

Silence. Don’t shun silence.

Silence. Embrace it.






Silence is not an easy tool to use.


Silence takes courage.



I worry that silence has become a lost art.



I worry that silence, or remaining selectively quiet, is often confused with ‘lack of involvement’ … or worse … ‘lack of interest.silence words nothing



I worry that those with the courage to use silence with purposeful intent seeking accuracy & truth are becoming a dying breed.




In the end.



All I can say is that as you look around you and notice the silent, the few who purposefully wield silence as communication, remember … they may be seeing more in the empty space than what is not apparent.


“I was quiet but I wasn’t blind.”




everyday sort of magic

August 26th, 2014

magic make




“I do believe in an every day sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”


Charles de Lint








I guess in some way I must be an impractical non-pragmatic dreamer type <despite anything I may have said about myself I the past> because I loved this quote as soon as I saw it.




I do believe in an everyday sort of magic.



I do believe that despite the everyday Life grind we encounter a little magic in our lives … every day.




I do believe more of us should see this … or maybe take a moment and recognize this.




I do believe we ignore the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity too easily <and too often>.



I do believe we need to embrace hope just a little bit more often <on more days>.



moment insightI do believe magic can be found in stars and rainbows <which we should take a moment and enjoy more often>.







In the end … I tend to believe we should seek some magic, more often, in simple seemingly meaningless moments and silent random encounters with people.



I do believe that no matter how alone, or lonely, you may feel there is always someone somewhere who, while may not be thinking about you at that moment, is willing and wants to think about you <and isn’t all that matters?>.



Does this make me some sort of dreamer?





moment beautiful

I don’t know.



All I know is that I am someone who believes in everyday sort of magic.


visible and invisible

April 18th, 2014

invisible but visible



This is about the trick of being present and absent at the same time.


What made me think of this?


When I read this in a book …



“… marveled at the way in which three clear liquids … nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and water … when combined produce color … and not just any color … but the color of a flaming sunset.”




That made me think about business and the ability to slip behind the scenes and take some invisible things … and … well … make them visible.

And visible in a delightful colorful way.




Let’s say these are the people who take things most of us just cannot, or do not, see … and make them visible in a meaningful way that is relevant and recognized.


Anyway … the mixture I described above is sometimes called Aqua regia (Latin and Ancient Italian, lit. “royal water”) or aqua regis (Latin, lit. “king’s water”).





We know these people in business.

Hmmmmmmmmmm … well … maybe not.


Because these people who seem to be able to take the invisible things and put them together in ways that make them visible … also tend to be exactly the same way.


They tend to be silent … or maybe quieter … and certainly barely visible <unless you are paying attention>.



And in today’s world silent smarts is not exactly the way to the top of the heap.


Which is unfortunate … because these invisible characters, who are often not seen or often heard, but who can often have a visible effect on events … are invaluable.


Sometimes unseen … but invaluable.


Unseen because they are really good at remaining still … and silent … and have mastered nonchalant intent listening … but their eyes , while saying nothing, never remain still.


Interestingly … just like the formula I mentioned above <royal or king’s water> … they tend to become visible when mixed with the right partner or on the right team. They ‘mix’ in a way that makes their ‘clear’ have ‘color.’


But I am writing more about those invisible clear aspects in business that remain unseen by the majority of business people. Those invisible, or only slightly visible, aspects all businesses have. The ones most of us miss … because as most of us rush from one place to another, one meeting after another, one crisis after another … our ‘thoughtful moments’ are mostly ‘visionary’ … or ‘horizon’ viewing moments … because we are told that is how to make it to the top of the heap.


You need to think big.


invisible presenceYou need a big idea.


You need to see the bigger vision.


And all those things are good. and necessary.

But it is quite possible we are forgetting HOW to do it.






In todays business world if we don’t believe something exists … well … then it doesn’t. What is invisible cannot become visible because .. well … if ts not visible it doesn’t exist.


But truth is that if we don’t know that something exists … it really doesn’t mean that it doesn’t.

It only means we don’t know one way or the other or maybe we just haven’t been made aware of it yet.


Someone wrote somewhere that evidence is not about proof or certainty or necessity but rather it is simply something that can contribute to belief.

This means we can have evidence but it is in no way conclusive.



This is the fundamental mistake when discussing evidence. The mistake in the belief or assumption that there can only be evidence for claims that are true.


But there is in fact a vast amount of evidence for claims that are in fact false.


The context here has to do with lack of awareness.


When people dismiss that possibility simply because they weren’t aware of it, or haven’t made the attempt to explore it, or haven’t looked beyond their own personal usage/viewpoint — then they are all too frequently jumping to conclusions based on … well … lack of information rather than the presence of it.


The people who do not fall into this trap? The ones who can see the invisible things. The ones who can actually take clear components and put them together and create something tangible and colorful.





The ability to be present … but invisible … is a knack.


The ability to take what is present but invisible and combine them to make them not only visible .. but colorful is also a knack.


I am not sure they are trainable … I could be wrong … but I tend to believe they are more a knack, an innate ability, more than one that can be taught.




I do know that the people who talk the most don’t always have the most to say.invisible and visible silent listen

I also know <okay … believe> that most of these people with this innate ability to find invisible things are really good listeners.


They listen to what is not being said.

They see what is unseen.

They find the thread of the true message in the sounds around them.



They find invisible things … maybe even unclear undeveloped ideas … and these things become visible in their heads.



And they tend to use silence like a weapon.


While others seem to embrace some desire to speak and showcase knowledge or what an individual can do … they remain silent.

They also sometimes have the ability to become attuned to the magic that can occur when all the others blend their ideas and abilities. And then they only act, become visible, if it is needed to strengthen that which is.


That last thought?



This is all really tricky if you want to become a leader.


We think of leaders as needing to stand out or even apart from the rest of the team.

invisible visible nothingnessYet the most influential leaders also know how to blend the invisible factor with the visible factor.


They know there is an appropriate time for standing out and apart from the group.


But in today’s business world potential leaders <and even some already in leadership positions> have a fear that blending in <remaining invisible even though present … and making an impact> will cause their value to diminish.

And it does <not in my eyes but in the business world as it exists today>.


While the ability to bring out the best in others without visibly doing anything is a true leadership skill … and the sign of a true leader … invisibility leads to often becoming, perception wise, superfluous.


I say that because being invisible but present, blending in and standing out, is an art.


And I say that because having the ability to combine invisible factors and creating something wonderful and visible … is a skill.




Think of it this way.writing colors

If you know someone at your company or in business who makes you ‘marvel at the way in which they are able to take three clear liquids and combine them to produce color … and not just any color … but the color of a flaming sunset’ you should pay them gobs of money or just make sure that you pay attention to them.


Because invisible is … well … invisible to pretty much everyone.

And anyone who can see the invisible is worth every penny you can pay them.


Because the most colorful beautiful visible in business … is inevitably created from some random combination of ‘less than visible’ aspects.

my story my house my fire

April 8th, 2014


story house hustle

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” —Alice Munro




My house is my story.

What a great thought.





And it is always on fire.


“We all live in a house on fire – no fire department to call, no way out. Just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the fire better personhouse down with us trapped in it.” – Tennessee Williams




If my story is my house … well … I tend to believe we all live in a house on fire.

And for years I have debated what the Williams quote really meant … at least to me … and then I found the ‘house is my story’ quote and I had my answer.


Now … I am no literary expert nor am I particularly insightful with regard to inner meanings … therefore my thoughts are tainted <or skewed> by my attitude toward Life and living.


That said.

Me? We don’t need no water … let the motherfucker burn.



My attitude … my thoughts.


Well … I actually think a couple thoughts.  Inner fire. Outer fire. Our story is surrounded by fire.

Within and without.



The inner fire.


The fire is inner curiosity.  A passion for something. A spirit and capacity for something … it doesn’t have to be something big … just something.

And it is always burning … and it can burn you up if you don’t set it free.

It is a restless fire.


I will make a generalization here … but … suffice it to say that we all know bitter people. People who have strong opinions but are fairly close minded.


They are burning up from the inside out.

In the close mindedness they have squeezed the fire of life so tightly it fries them. The rooms in the house are burning and they have no place to go.



That’s why I rarely get angry with close minded people or bitter people … I know that most of them are simply burning up from an inner fire that curiosity just hasn’t set free.


By the way … this also means that I don’t really believe the inner spark goes out in most people.




The people that have lost that inner fire have simply lost hope … and maybe I am naïve but I hope that they are few and far between.


Do not let your fire go out, sparked by irreplaceable spark. And the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all. Do fire hands flamesnot let the hero in your soul perish.

And lonely frustration for the life you deserved but never been able to reach.

The world you desire can be won. It exists.

It is real. It is possible.

And it is yours.”


Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill


I think the inner spark always burns.

That there is a fire within everyone.







That inner fire is burning all the time … some people get burned up … others spread the fire … but that fire is there … awaiting to be rekindled if it is diminished.


“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.

It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”


Albert Schweitzer




Then there is the outer fire.


This would be the house we live in … burning down around us.


I believe the house we live in, Life, burns all the time.

Because our story lives within a forest always burning.



Life isn’t easy.

People live.

People die.


And in-between the fire always burns.



Here is the challenge with your story being your house and the thought it is always burning.


Sometimes in the comfort, the safety, of our home … our story feels safe …  and we don’t even feel we are getting burned.


fire walk thruThis is dangerous … because in the end we kind of helplessly watch the fire slowly consume us.

I use safe and comfort and suggest stagnancy … or standing still within the walls of what you know as an example of how you can be consumed by the fire.




Because comfortable complacency does not mean you are not safe.



Well. The house is burning for gods sake.


The fact is that this fire never goes out.


We can never stamp out this fire.


It rages off and on but is always burning.


Safety within the home of what you know is temporary.


Inevitably the fire will consume you by squeezing out what make life interesting and worthwhile. As a counterpoint to inner fire … it suffocates the fire within with the fire coming from without.


Your story burns.


Your story ends up being a burned out shell with everything within extinguished. Just ashes where a raging story once stood.




I admit.

I like the thought of my story being my house … and that it is always on fire.


And while I am not a woman … the point of this quote resonates with me:


She lives her life like a flame; a dance of purposeful chaos … her enchanting light can guide you and quell your fears … she’s hot; inner fire hughwarming those who respect her and burning those who don’t.

She is a flame with an unforgettable glow.

A weak man will try to dim her luminance… but her soul mate will take pleasure in fanning the blaze.


Steve Maraboli

A flame with an unforgettable glow.


Whew. What a story that would be.



Let it rage <I say>.







It is a life truth that we make choices that resonate throughout our lives … but how your story is told … and maybe how it dies … may be the biggest truth.




That’s too deep for today.


Geez … all I am fairly sure of is that the Life is burning around us.


And what about your house?



It may not be burning.



And me?


I think of words from Julianna Hatfield:

“I wrote and wrote like the house was on fire, like words and chords and melodies were going to burn up and disintegrate into the air if didn’t capture them fast enough.”


Juliana Hatfield


I love that thought.


I will write my story like the house was on fire.


I will think thoughts before they disintegrate into ash.


I will live life like the house is burning around me.


fire the world is yoursAnd hope I have a fire never quenched.


“Some men, like a tiled house, are long before they take fire, but once on flame there is no coming near to quench them.”

Thomas Fuller


Because if our Life is constantly on fire … whew … what a view we have from that upstairs window as it all burns.


My story.

My house.

My fire.


“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don’t need no water, let the motherf–ker burn.”

<“Tear the Roof off the Sucker” – chant often blended with ‘The Roof Is on Fire’ by Rockmaster Scott & The Dynamic Three>story on hand


My story. My house.


Let the motherfucker burn.


Now there’s an attitude to live by.


What’s your story?

Enlightened Conflict