Enlightened Conflict

it is perhaps the misfortune of my life

June 11th, 2017

 

 

good bad person trust reliable

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“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”

 

Søren Kierkegaard

 

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“I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

 

Charles Bukowski

 

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So.

 

Last night I had a little time before I shut down my computer to scrounge around some of my favorite websites for some thoughts, quotes and images.

I don’t really believe in serendipity but within 15 minutes on three different sites I gathered the three quotes that anchor this piece.

............ restless thinking one big adventure ........

………… restless thinking one big adventure ……..

I sat back after copying them and I realized it is perhaps the misfortune of my Life that I am interested in far too much.

My misfortune is that I am incessantly curious, a relentless contrarian to existing thought & thinking and a restless thinker in general. My misfortune is that I see restless thinking as one big adventure.

 

I sat back after copying them and I realized I am not satisfied being a petty thief … I want the whole world.

 

And as I sat back I also thought a little about how I got to this place.

Growing up I remember hearing a lot of “maybe you should be more realistic” type advice.

I remember it chafing.

 

It made me think … well … I should think smaller.

 

That chafed.

 

I am sure the ‘safer’ aspect … aiming toward more achievable things and not stretching too far possibly felt okay … but I chafed on the whole thought of not getting what I thought could be achieved or what could be done.

............. small Life pleasure ............

…………. small Life pleasure …………

Shit.

 

I still do.

 

Going small just seems … well … small to me.

 

And, yes, there is a price to pay for thinking this way.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

I will point out two prices you pay.

 

The first price is restlessness.

mctague misfortune curious 1Oh. And restlessness can make people feel uneasy. It makes them uneasy because you are not easily slotted. People want you to present them with a peg and they can put it in some hole and thinking about it and look at it.

 

People, like me, who have the misfortune of being interested in anything and everything and not satisfied with one thing are more of a box. And while boxes represent some symmetry and some tangible aspect for people to grasp, at the same time, … sigh … it is not a peg

 

 

The second price is wins … as in quantity of wins. Even I, probably a more pragmatic aspirationalist, don’t aim toward some truly realistic things on occasion.

That means not getting done what you want to get done, not getting where you want to get to and not getting, in general, the largeness you desired. In other words … you didn’t get a win while someone who aimed lower or accepted something smaller did get a win.

 

Does that matter? I mean life doesn’t really give out trophies … people do.

 

Yeah. It does matter.

 

Watching others win when you don’t does matter to some extent. And you would be lying if you didn’t admit that.

 

Aiming for it all … or something bigger <more broad> than something smaller <more focused> … and not getting it can make you start thinking smaller.

 

And why do you do that? You want a frickin’ win.

 

And that … well … that can affect how you think and what you do.

 

It does so because many of us are willing to compromise some fairly important things to win on occasion.

 

Shit.

Even more of us are willing to compromise a lot of fairly important things <which they hadn’t even tangibly decided were important to them> in order to win on occasion.

 

Oh.

 

I bring up the second group because they are the ones who don’t get the ones who have the misfortune of wanting bigger things.

It’s like a petty thief most likely scoffs at the master thief.

 

Uhm.

But those people may just call this reality <and, therefore, kind of suggesting those who have the misfortune of wanting to know everything about everything are not realistic>.

 

Whew.

Yeah.

 

athlete reality stringsIt is quite likely that my reality, and those whose reality is similar, fights reality itself – I mean society & culture creates lines of reality of which we get boxed in by with regard to expectations.

 

Umberto Eco is the one who suggested life has “lines of resistance.” This was his version of reality.

 

These ‘lines of resistance’ are established mostly so that we cannot say or do whatever we like with impunity.

The problem with that is they also bring along some baggage … baggage like … uhm … what is viewed as pragmatic & realistic <smaller versions of shit that are achievable by many rather than few>.

 

Oh.

Yeah.

 

But, thankfully, the lines of resistance can shift.

 

But, thankfully, some can reach across the lines of resistance and gain access to some bigger shit which lies outside the lines of resistance.

 

All that said.

Life, and these lines of resistance, encourage some people … mostly those who have the misfortune to be interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing to shrink them … encourage them to think smaller and, inevitably, maybe be smaller than what they should be.

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“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself.

Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me.

 what i believe truth opinion

Because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered.

But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being.

 

I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth.

Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honour my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority.

I choose me.”

 

Daniell Koepke

 

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Let me be clear.

 

Smaller is safer. Smaller can actually be very satisfying. Smaller, in some ways, can actually permit you to live a fuller Life <although I would argue it’s not really a bigger Life>.

 

And while small, in this case, could be construed as bad or lesser than … it is not. It is simply a viable choice for people with regard t their Life and how they want to live it.

 

Just as those who have the misfortune to want the whole world. That is their choice.

 

And I would argue that whatever your choice we are all aiming tward the same place … lets call it our “home.” That home within. The place within you that either sits on the favorite Barcalounger safe & sound in a Life lived well in smaller aspects … or the one who wanders forever restlessly over hill & thru the dale seeking the next interest or learning or new thing.

 

Personally, I am the latter.

I am a nomad thinker.  I want to know it all. And when I know something I want to know more.

But that topic is for another day.

 

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“All of life is a coming home. bad-home-is-whereever-you-are

Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword swallowers, all of us.

All the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home.”

 

—–

Patch Adams

 

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Today I would suggest whether you have the misfortune of wanting to know it all or whether you believe in something bigger than you or simply believe there is something bigger within you to be found by not wanting it all … your compass & your map resides within … not some external place or location which may appear to fulfill some aspect of ‘home.’

 

 

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

so far out to sea <‘restless’>

 

so far out to sea

     standing on impassive intensity

                     of restless possibilities

oh,

     push back the curtain

of slumbering elements

      of disordered solitude.

stir up a peace of

       desolate despair

                       drowning out a cacophony

       of restless disinterested

                           distant thoughts.

restless sun

               reflects upon the path chosen,

                      stand frozen,

      restless mind

                    wander the waves roaming

so far out to sea

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least expensive thing in life

May 17th, 2017

decent person ROI life humanity

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“It costs $0.00 to be a decent person.”

 

words to live by

 

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So.

 

When I saw this quote I started jotting thoughts down immediately.

 

Here was the most interesting note:  least expensive or most expensive?

 

Huh?

 

It costs you nothing to be a decent person but it can still be an expensive decision. This may sound incredibly cynical but deciding to be decent is not a zero sum decision … it is a Life value equation.

 

I decide to do this <be decent> or do not do this <not be decent> and ‘this’ is the repercussion of that decision <the value or lost opportunity/gain>.

 

Yeah.

By being decent in the business world you can be viewed as ‘too nice’ and get mangled by some cutthroat asshat.

By being decent in Life you can be viewed as naive and get taken advantage of by those willing to ‘do what it takes.’

 

 

decent person is hard understand

 

Therefore, oddly and unfortunately, decency can ultimately be assessed in ROI terms by many of us in our lives.

 

Boy … that sounds pretty fucked up when I say it out loud.

 

 

Ok.

 

So someone may argue with the ROI thing but maybe think of it this way …

 

You walk by 4 homeless people but give the 5th one you see $20. Does the $20 balance out the fact you ignored the other 4? You were decent but selectively so.

 

Don’t like that?

So set aside the money.

 

You walk by 4 homeless veterans … never acknowledging them or looking at them … the 5th homeless vet you stop for a second and look them in the eye and say “thank you for your service.” Does the one you give some dignity to zero out the 4 you completely disregarded?

 

Unfortunately, decency is an ROI assessment. And more excruciatingly … it is an assessment made moment by moment as well as cumulatively.

 

What I mean by that is decency is mutually exclusive not inclusive … and decent moments are independent of other moments <when you may not have been so, or as, decent> … not interdependent <warning: I most likely mangled the meanings of both mutually exclusive and independent>.

 

 

—-

Mutually exclusive events cannot happen at the same time. For example: when tossing a coin, the result can either be heads or tails but cannot be both. Events are independent if the occurrence of one event does not influence (and is not influenced by) the occurrence of the other(s).

—-

 

You do not accumulate ‘decency points’ in Life or in business.

 

Not being decent cannot be equaled out by being extraordinarily decent in another moment.

 

Yeah.

That doesn’t sound particularly fair does it?

 

But you have to think that way or you start thinking about decency in a conscious decision making balance sheet sort of way. “well, I am not going to be particularly decent in this situation because to do so I may not benefit as much as I believe I deserve” and then a couple days later you consciously say to yourself “I was kind of a dickwad the other day so maybe if I am particularly decent now that will make up for it.”

 

I absolutely hated myself for scribbling any thought down that suggested there was a cost to being a decent person. Fucking hated even having the thought.

 

But no matter how much I hated it … it surely does seem like it is a Life truth.

 

To me there is only one way to resolve this ‘self dilemma’ and it is an ‘either/or’ thought.decent person rude and nice

 

You accept the fact you are gonna be a decent human being all the time and accept that the chips will fall as they may throughout Life … and they  may not all fall your way <and you can spend your last days on earth feeling pretty good about yourself from a character standpoint by realizing a Big life can often be found in a shitload of small victories>.

 

Or.

 

You accept the fact that situational decisions are situational decisions and you are a decent person at heart therefore you seek to view life, in the end, as “I was more often decent than I wasn’t” <and a Big life meant you bucked the odds of a world constantly trying to encourage non-decency and you won more often than you lost>.

 

I cannot choose the path for you.

 

But I will state that simply recognizing that this is the dilemma we face in Life … and that this is basically your choice … you have accepted that being a decent person is an ROI analysis.

 

A decent person and ROI. Sigh. What a sad thought.

one of the saddest business things I have read in quite some time

May 5th, 2017

sad numbers hear listen business

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“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”

 

Evel Knievel

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So.

 

I don’t read Advertising Age often. I never really enjoyed reading ‘insider industry’ magazines and now that I am not involved with agencies that much it doesn’t mean much to me except an opportunity to catchup on the news of some people and places I know.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

But today a link popped up in my email:

 

 

What’s the Most Risky Thing You’ve Done in Your Career?

Ad Age Asks Participants at Detroit Brand Summit

—-

 

I clicked on it.

 

I figured the advertising business, while often ground down to a nub by brand managers and clients who have an allergic reaction to risk, would offer some good ‘most risky actions I have taken‘ stories.

 

Here is a sampling:

 

 

biggest risk was undertaking Pepsi “refresh project,” a 2010 initiative by PepsiCo to award $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and nonprofits that promote a new idea that has a positive impact on their community. “We took money off the Super Bowl, a property Pepsi had been on for almost a quarter century, and we put it into a different idea,”

 

 

Tylenol talking about product benefits and pain relief. His team, however, advocated toward making the message about feeling better with a nontraditional campaign including events.

 

 

single biggest gamble: “Leaving BBDO to go to The Abundancy, which was a little startup incubator that was trying to do things differently and reinvent how advertising worked,”

 

 

“It was a first-ever auto reveal with Snapchat,” Lenard said. “Together we answered a lot of questions internally about who is the audience of Snapchat: Aren’t they 12-year-olds who are never buying vehicles?”

 

——————–

 

Ok.

 

I worked in the advertising agency business for a long time … that is oh no embarrassedembarrassing.

 

If that is risk, let alone ‘biggest risk’, in today’s advertising world as outlined by some people who I assume are leaders in the industry … the industry is in a world of hurt.

 

As a business person I have always embraced the concept of risk … okay … calculated risk. No sane business person is flippant with risk.

All risk is assessed and calculated for ROR <return on risk> … as well as RODN <return on doing nothing>.

 

I could argue that between ROR and RODN you aren’t really taking any risks … you are simply doing what needs to be done to be successful.

 

That said.

I was sorely disappointed by how these people assess ‘biggest risk.’

 

Look.

 

avoid question bomb stink business problemsEveryone takes personal risks in business.

 

Not everyone takes business risks. And business risk is very different than personal risk … confusing the two, or even conflating the two, in a business environment is fraught with peril.

 

Yes.

Business risks inherently include personal risk … but personal risks don’t have particular consequences to a larger business risk – they are more your risks than anyone else’s.

 

I say that as a professional calculated business risk taker. I can honestly say that any time I ever assessed a business decision or what could be construed as a business risk I never took into consideration any persona risk I may be assuming. To me it would simply clutter what I would assume is a decision cluttered already with ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘uh ohs.’

 

I always believe business risks revolved around what is best for the business … and you let the chips fall as they may with regard to you personally.

 

Now.

 

Getting back to that sad list of ‘biggest risks.’

 

People can confuse risk with change. Change is change. Any change includes some risk because … well … it is change.

But change, in and of itself, is not necessarily originality. And that is where risk truly resides … in something original.

 

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“Safe marketing is the riskiest marketing you can do.”

 

—-

Bill Bernbach

 

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organization business elephant adpat nimble get shit done

Anything original is never safe simply because it has no real record of behavior & consequences. That means you are modeling and researching and doing a whole bunch of good smart shit to insure it isn’t just a guess … but … sigh … it is just a guess.

 

That is risk. Risk is a … well … thing.

 

Originality is a real thing … a challenging thing … and a risky thing.

And to be truly original … in some ways … you must ignore what exists and what has been done before.

 

You must abandon the safe and secure.

 

Just think about this little factoid about pretty much any great original idea that has ever happened:

 

  • It’s effective

 

  • It’s always preceded by a meeting in which you will hear ‘are you nuts?’

 

Well.

 

Maybe we all need to be a little more nuts.

Maybe we all need to be a little less afraid of the different.

 

Maybe instead we should focus on what I believe almost all business people really do know … the new and untried can generate the bigger gains then simply changing the status quo or ‘what is’.

 

I would note that originality has a close relationship to exceptional.

 

Ah.

The root of that word exceptional?

 

Exception <please note … that is a significantly different word than acceptable … or safe …>.

 

We are comfortable in our cocoon of what is acceptable and sameness but it is making ‘an exception’ … taking that slightly risky step … that truly pays off.

 

used rainbowsIn business … if you have nothing to offer but used ideas, you are just a used car salesman.

 

And does anyone in business really want to be that?

 

<unless they are in the used car sales business of course>

 

And maybe that is why the article I read was one of the saddest business articles I have read in a very long time – there really wasn’t anything original or any monumental change. Some were personal risks and the business risks were more tweaks on existing machinery to fine tune the operation.

And maybe that is what the business world has come to <sadly> … a world in which tweaks constitute risks.

 

Sad. Very sad.

 

I know risk is difficult. But I also know it is much better than always doing the sure thing – always making the safe decision.

 

The problem is if you really want any progress or growth … meaningful progress and growth … risk cannot be avoided. You must seek ‘the exception.’

 

In the end.

 

I do think business needs to embrace a little more risk.

 

But to avoid being sad about what we do, maybe most importantly, I think business should stop calling tweaks risky. They are tweaks. They are attempts to make small big and the truly big too small.

 

And, lastly, maybe we need to start thinking more often “but it might just work.” I wrote about that phrase to make a point about how we, in business, are becoming far too hesitant to make changes.  There was nothing in the ‘biggest risk taken’ article that convinced me my point isn’t still valid. We embrace tweaks to avoid “but it might just work” actions.

 

 

“Biggest risk ever taken.”

road to success business graffiti

 

 

Shit.

 

These should be monumental type questions with monumental type responses.

 

And if you don’t have a monumental response maybe, just maybe, you need to look around what what you are doing and seeing of maybe you aren’t playing it too safe.

And, most of all, if you don’t have a monumental response, you should not try and make something small monumental.

 

Bigger risk deserves better than that.

navigators versus sledge hammers

January 4th, 2017

Innovative solution plan as a pencil trying to find way out of maze breaking through the labyrinth as a business concept and creative metaphor for strategy success and planning achievement.

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“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

—-

Plato

 

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“A person who can think differently and truly on his feet will always find it difficult to sit and fit as an employee in a workplace, for his attitude & approach towards the work will often hit the ego of most co-workers.”

 

Anuj Somany

 

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“If u want to work in Corporate, then u should know how to play Chess.”

honeya

 

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Ok.

 

I was asked recently about a past job I had where I had struggled to be sledge-hammer-maze-business-get-shit-donesuccessful. After hemming and hawing a little <I have never really been sure what hemming or hawing was> I answered “the position required a dedicated navigator with navigator skills and I am a sledgehammer with some navigator vision.”

 

<note: I didn’t understand that until actually into the role & assumed responsibility>

 

 

Yeah.

 

I am a sledge hammer.

Always have been and I assume I always will be.

 

I respect navigators but they are too slow for my tastes, far too often worried about political correctness and always too skewed toward what is important politically versus ‘what is the right thing to do.’

 

Ok.

 

Let me explain navigators and sledge hammers.

 

In business, there are just some people who see office politics <which all organizations have whether you like it or not> and they have the skills and vision to navigate them to get shit done <they also tend to benefit personally with this skill>.

 

In business, there are just some people who want to get the right shit done and believe if it is right then … well … it is better to just say ‘damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead’ rather than screw around with navigating people’s feelings and politics.

 

 

Now.

 

That doesn’t mean that sometimes a navigator isn’t more effective and that a navigator, which is tightly associated with someone who can play office politics, is always a corporate whore.stay the course direction path compass

 

That also doesn’t mean that there aren’t navigators with good moral compasses because there are a shitload of navigator managers who are skilled organizational politicians who do not showcase questionable behavior or even distastefully ‘sucking-up’ behavior.

 

Pretty much any leader worth a shit takes a realistic approach to managing around workplace politics. This does not mean they are ‘political’, per se, or want to play the political game … it’s just they understand that you have to navigate competing interests, whatever resources may be available, the nuances of what is viewed as authority <and who has the authority … which is most typically “enough to hang yourself’>, the bendable organizational rules and whatever information is available.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the navigators have a sledge hammer in their tool box <and use it on occasion>.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the sledge hammers have either some navigational skills or, at minimum, navigational vision <i.e., they can ‘see’ the politics and organizational rubble affecting your path>.

 

Me?

 

I am a sledgehammer.

 

I like to get shit done.

do what communiqueAlways have and always will.

 

Okay.

 

I like getting smart shit done.

 

And I really like getting smart ‘right’ shit done.

 

The nuance between that stuff is clear … if all I did was get shit done, smart & right being set aside, politics and navigating would become almost irrelevant.

Because then you are simply a doer <not a thinker or a thinker/doer>.

 

But even as a sledge hammer you recognize that whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is a fact of life in any organization. And, like it or not, it’s something that you need to understand to insure not only your professional success but the success of the good shit you want to do.

 

Yeah. Sure.

“Politics” certainly has a negative connotation. It most often refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.

In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within it.

 

<and sledge hammers abhor this type of politics bullshit>

 

I hesitate to suggest there could ever be something called “good office politics” but some organizational expert asshats believe that is the kind of crap you do which helps you fairly promote yourself and your ideas <they call it networking and stakeholder management … I call it the ‘necessary bullshit you just have to suck up and do in order to get good shit done’>.

 

As a sledge hammer I realized that there were some things that a navigator thinking-maze-navigator-business-sledge-hammer-do-shitwas good at and I should learn if I wanted to be a more effective sledgehammer.

 

About the only thing I truly value in a navigator is “social astuteness.”

 

This is the ability to read and anticipate situations – allows you to prepare, adapt and tailor your behavior based on the people and conditions around you.

In my words this is being aware of the people & what they believe and the situation organizationally.

 

Let’s just call this “context” <at least that is how a sledgehammer views it>.

 

Now.

 

Being aware is different than acting upon it.

Being aware meant that it prepared me, and my groups, to manage the carnage or consequences of slamming your way straight thru a maze.

 

As a sledge hammer it pays to understand the real map, or maze, of the organization.

Internal politics, more often than not, has little to do with the real organizational chart they give you when you sign on.

 

Someone outlined this important crap to be aware of really well:

    Who are the real influencers?

    Who has authority but doesn’t exercise it?

    Who is respected?

    Who champions or mentors others?

    Who is “the brains behind the organization”?

 

 

As a sledge hammer I realized there were absolutely some things that were in my control as I bashed my way through the middle of the maze getting to where I believed an idea, or the business at large should go.

 

office-politics-navigator-sledgehammer-business-jerks-speechBut, as a sledge hammer, I also recognized I needed to manage my own behavior <this lesson took some time … and learned thru some painful trial & error>.

 

Through watching others and some painful trial & error you learn what works in your organization’s culture.

 

But you learn really fast … as in REALLY fast … that as a sledge hammer you invest exactly 0% of your time and 0 energy on:

 

 

  • Gossip & spreading rumors: you learn to shut up and even when you hear something you wait and assess the credibility

 

  • interpersonal conflicts – you avoid “like/dislike people” discussions and certainly do not get sucked into arguments

 

 

  • Integrity above all: this is a sledge hammer mantra … be professional, do not cut corners, do things right and always remember the organization’s interests

 

  • No complaining: a sledgehammer accepts it will not be easy and you don’t whine about the tough path you have chosen <because it is the path you have chosen>

 

  • Confidence: a sledgehammer is assertive not arrogant, proactive maybe edging on aggressive without ever sneaking into aggressiveness

 

  • Never personal: a sledge hammer has only one thing in focus … the good of the organization <it is NEVER personal>

 

  • Transparency:  assume everything is gonna be seen anyway so you may as well share it all

 

 

Look.

 

Here is what I know.

 

no-way-said-that-in-a-meeting-sledgehammer-goes-right

……… whoa … did you guys do THAT ………..

When you are a sledgehammer and everything goes right it is not only the best in the world for you but organizationally everyone kind of goes “whoa, that was something.”

 

<which is kind of cool and makes it all worthwhile>

 

 

I will admit.

 

Being a sledgehammer is a lonelier way to conduct business than being a navigator. It isn’t that you are not liked nor does it mean you aren’t viewed as a team member at the table but navigators, I tend to believe, are just more social human beings & employees.

 

But sledge hammers have one thing in common … we are all homesick for an organization where we can not think about anything but getting good smart shit done.

 

===========

 

“I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists.

One where my heart is full. My body loved. And my soul understood.

 

(via lipstick-bullet)

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Enlightened Conflict