Enlightened Conflict

struggle for the soul of e pluribus unim

September 25th, 2017

 

be-better-exponentially

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

 

“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written.

And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes.

I personally resent it bitterly.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

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

 

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

 

Samuel Johnson

 

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

“When tyranny comes to the United States, she will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a bible.”

——

Gore Vidal

 

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

 

 

Well.

 

Trump is exhausting. I think not only to me but to America. Day after day, week after week, he seems to attack … well … e pluribus unim <out of many, one>.

Trump seems to thrive on dividing and the conflict that arises from dividing.

 

some men just want to watch the world burn leaders managers business told you so

 

I admit.

 

On occasion I sit back and think of Alfred in Batman … some people just want to see the world burn.

 

Anyway.

 

Donald J Trump went to war against professional black athletes this weekend under the guise of patriotism <albeit his attack is blended with that instinctual subconscious racism which Trump seems to invariably inculcate almost everything he does with>.

 

They fought back.

kneeling patriots NFL

 

That said.

 

I just had to explain to someone this weekend that I don’t hate Trump – in fact I don’t believe he is worthy of any emotional energy on my part – but that I hate his inability to lead, to unite and to … well … offer a north star with regard to some fairly important discussions that any country should have and must have … and will have.

 

one person flawed perfect save

I hate that his take on America is not e pluribus unim <out of many, one> but rather unim pluribus e <I made that up> … or … out of one, many.

 

He has done some absurdly horrible leadership things since he has taken office but this weekend, in which he unequivocally used patriotism to suggest that black athletes peacefully protesting what they believe is a social injustice were not only unpatriotic … but should be fired for not showing patriotism, is just … well … horrible. Horribly unpatriotic in fact.

 

Uhm.

 

That last thing said. Like it or not … patriotism is not a prerequisite for citizenship. In fact … I would suggest that on any given day a fairly significant swath of the USA population is relatively disappointed in the America. That doesn’t make them any less patriotic, nor does it make them disrespect America, it is like having a quarrel with a loved one … I still love you but at the moment I am not the happiest person in the world with you.

 

Regardless.

 

It is absurd to make this a patriot versus non-patriot issue <but that is what Trump is doing>.

 

Frankly … it is absurd that some people suggest this is a ‘political’ issue … this is a social issue.

 

And Trump is our head absurdity – he is our scoundrel.

 

untrustworthy scoundrelScoundrels, when challenged, will often use false patriotism in order to shut up their opponents.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to suggest a black athletes who earns more money for their skills than a hard working white American is a lesser ‘American’.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism, tweeted or yelled, to attempt to affect the economic realities of an industry or specific individual’s income.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to flirt with some casual racism.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to … well … actually attack what could be construed ‘patriotic freedoms’ <items actually listed in the Constitution>.

 

I don’t find it hard to believe Trump is a scoundrel … and, yet, I continue to be shocked by the numerous things that Trump does to violate the norms of not only the Presidential office but the norms of American freedoms as well as the norms of … well … business.

 

He represents 330 million people and the economic wellbeing of all businesses <which benefit all people> and, yet, he seems to have no problem calling out individuals and individual companies as ‘unpatriotic’ <because they balk at his self defined “america first”>.

 

It’s hard to think of a group President Trump hasn’t offended or attacked as a candidate or in office:

 

Women.

Establishment Republicans.

Democrats.

 

.......... Trump attacking ... well ... everyone ........

………. Trump attacking … well … everyone ……..

Journalists <“sick people … thieves and crooks”>.

TV hosts.

Pollsters.

 

NFL players.

NBA players.

Gold Star parents.

 

POWs <McCain>.

The “Hamilton” cast.

Jews <several times … and, yet, “Israel” is good>.

 

Catholics <Pope Francis criticisms “disgraceful”>.

Muslims.

 

Immigrants.

African Americans.

Latinos.

<never white people … even if they carry Nazi flags and say “Jews will not replace us”>.

 

LGBTQ community.

New Hampshire residents <“a drug-infested den”>.

Mexico.

Belgium.

Germany.

London.

Paris.

<add in another dozen countries>.

 

NATO.

The UN.

 

A variety of individual companies.

A union leader <or two>.

 

Steph Curry.

Snoop Dogg.

 

 

Whew.trump divide america tweet shout nonsense

 

I think the only ones left are nuns, white/straight/Christian men, Putin and Ivanka.

 

I could argue that Trump is offering us the most insidious unpatriotic thought of all … “anyone who does not agree with my self defined version of America First is not patriotic — a true American.”

 

Whew. That’s … well … insidious.

 

But … you know what? All of this means that Trump is demanding we fight not only for the soul of the nation but also make a decision with regard to “e pluibus unim.”

 

Fight?

Out of many, one slips off the tongue easily. We like it … maybe even love it. And it becomes easy to say “well, the flag embodies this.”

It is easy because it is tangible and simplistic.

 

Here is the unfortunate truth we must all face; even our scoundrel of a president, America is an idea. This does not diminish the importance of the flag as emblematic of America as a whole because … well … the flag IS actually emblematic of the whole. By that I mean the military does not have the sole ownership of the flag <and I have the utmost respect for the military with multiple friends in the military> but rather all, the many/pluribus unim, use the flag as representative of ALL the ideas that make up America. Many have died for those ideas … some military and some not.

 

America is an idea lived out by ALL the people.

 

America is an idea lived out by people who embrace the soul of the idea of which America is founded upon.

 

I wrote once a while back that “with our new President I recognize we are now one-just-principle-strength-life-livein a struggle for the soul of America – a struggle for our moral core.” And while I still believe that he has brought an entirely different dimension into this struggle … a struggle over patriotism.

One would think this is a relatively easy discussion but Donnie Two Scoops, in his intellectually hollow way, simplistically has decided that patriotism is defined by “not kneeling” or “not burning the flag” … in other words … ”flag above all”.

 

Look.

 

I would not kneel during the national anthem but I am not black nor have I faced the social injustice that African Americans face day after day. But I would certainly show support, and respect the choice, of anyone who believed they should.

That is patriotic and that is America. Freedom to show protest and freedom to show support in the way I choose.

 

Ah.

Maybe the bigger question is would I kneel if I was so disappointed in America so much that I needed to make a stand? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm … I imagine I would.

I don’t know what the issue is but I could envision it.

 

But this whole NFL/sports/black athlete versus Trump issue is simply one more data point showcasing the ongoing struggle for the soul of our nation AND what ‘e pluribus unim’ really & truly means.

 

I am personally determined to take up this struggle in any way I can … and anywhere. That, to me, is the patriotic thing to do.

 

plan badly oops cornered

……. my little corner of the world ……….

And I will do whatever I can in my little corner of the world. I will fight back by showcasing individual norms which I believe should help guide societal norms & patriotic norms and ‘e pluribus unim’ norms… better than what I believe our current President offers.

 

We need some people to stand up and hold our moral compass up high so that we can rediscover the soul of America and set forth toward the North Star.

 

We need to stand up and recognize how easy it is to overlook false patriotism <because patriotism seems to be something we can all agree on>.

 

Sigh.

 

Day after day this scoundrel sitting in the Oval office does things that remind us that we are now not only in a struggle for the soul of America and a struggle for our moral core … but he is challenging “e pluribus unim.”

 

Let us be clear on one thing.

 

One incredibly important thing.

 

Our President does not appear to have a soul of integrity & dignity only a core of ‘win at all and any costs’ nor does he appear to believe America has a soul other than a platitude of ‘patriotism’ <which he seems to think is made up of solely of military, law & order and power> nor does he appear to be centered on any moral imperative beyond ‘winning’ <and looking impressive & strong>.

 

To be clear. That is false patriotism based on some incredibly hollow thinking.

 

Regardless.

 

This, simplistically, a false narrative of false patriotism offered to us by a false leader.

 

I believe there is a time to stand with strength, there is a time to be competitive, there are winners and losers and not everyone should get a trophy and that being nice isn’t an imperative with regard to how you play the game or be competitive.

I believe in America, respect for the flag and that patriotism is a powerful energy underlying ‘e pluribus unim.’

 

I can almost 99% guarantee the American Symbolic Chief, or our President, only cares about how you look while you play the game <the ‘trappings as it were> and wraps himself in an American flag without understanding what the flag stands for.

 

Everyone should remember in this struggle that Trump is hollow and in his lack of leadership ‘e pluribus unim’ runs the risk of being driven by platitudes an superficial ‘branding’ exercises rather than true understanding of what makes ‘one out of many.’

And everyone should be thinking that Trump should be the last fucking person to be defining patriotism for us.

 

Sigh.

 

If anyone doubts the patriotism of someone who kneels during the national anthem, I will end with this thought.

 

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

 

“I got a daughter, she’s going to have to live in this world. I’m going to do whatever I got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like, ‘Hey, you did something, you tried to make a change.’”

 

—————

Miami Dolphins player Michael Thomas

 

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

 

I cannot figure out how that is not patriotic.

 

 

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.

saying what matters and it matters what you say

June 16th, 2017

————————–

 

own your words maps to your intentions

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

 

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”

 

Robert Frost

 

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

 

Well.

 

blog-writing-work-from-homeI write a blog.

In fact.

A couple thousand pieces and a couple million words.

 

In my mind … I have something to say and I say it. Maybe it all means nothing and as Frost suggests … I am one of those who have nothing to say but say it.

 

Regardless.

 

If I say it … I own my words.

 

I say this because we are edging into a world where people are of an age that are shifting into leadership positions, positions of influence, who … well … have blogs or have written for blogs.

 

And, uh oh,  they are being demanded to justify their words, thoughts and ideas. In other words … they are being asked to own their words. They may have had nothing to say but they said something and now they have to explain something about their nothing.

 

This is all incredibly interesting <and slightly amusing> to me because if you go online you will find thousands of writing advice columns <usually formatted in the heinous listicles and written by self righteous older people> written for the attention of young people … warning them of the dangers of what they put online and how it can affect their future employment.

 

The amusing part? I found none <zero> advice columns directed toward … well … me <self righteous older people>.

 

And you know why? Because we older folk are supposed to know better.

what are you going to do i do not know

 

 

Sadly.

Some of us do not know better.

 

There are lawyers seeking higher positions, business people seeking a seat in a C-level suite and even doctors seeking to shift into a more general business world who are finding that their words are following them <and they need to own them>.

 

And, no, “it was just my personal opinion on my personal blog” doesn’t hack it. if you shared a thought you own the words in how you shared it, therefore, you own the thought AND the words.

 

To be fair … I will spend a second in the tricky part.

 

Is the past a predictor?

 

Should we waste our time revisiting the blog writings of someone who most likely sat down and vented personal thoughts on things of matter?

And … maybe more importantly … should we be held accountable for words we decided to put down and share on the world wide web?

 

Simplistically I would say … of course we should be held accountable for the words then … just as, of course, what we said then may be different than what we would say now … and we need to own those words <and justify the difference>.

 

Simplistically I would say … it is indefensible to solely make a stand on ‘you said it because you can’ and , simplistically, it is indefensible to simply say ‘that was then and this is now.’

 

If you write, you own the words. Therefore, use words with care.

 

 

blog posts scary

I don’t have time for many blogs … the daily diaries, the motivational tripe, the pieces that don’t really have a point, emotional directionless solution-lacking pieces … these have some value in some ways but they aren’t really the potent things <albeit … you own those words too so be careful>.

 

But many blogs are there to make a point. And if you make a point, you own it.

Oh.

And … you own the words you use to make that point.

 

I make no mistake when I post something in that I know when I open my mind and share my words they represent a potent formula that can be drunk with pleasure or peril.

I know whether it is a large presentation, a one-on-one discussion or a 998 word post on my blog I am doing so as a public speaker.

 

I own my words. I own my thoughts.

 

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

 

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

 

Yehuda Berg

 

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

 

I am surprised when older people get trapped in business discussions having to discuss things they may have written. I am surprised because I know when I write and share those words … I can use these words as a constructive force or a destructive force. And with either path I own what I construct as well as own what I deconstruct.

 

Now.

 

What also surprises me a little is that older people who have blogs or write opinion pieces are not young inexperienced people but, if you are making a point, you really do know that simply ranting or using some childish phrasing or hyperbolic rhetoric diminishes what you have to say.

 

And I say that knowing I am free with the swear words and generous with snarkiness.

 

But what helps me is that I have found over time that conceptually I write in the same framework as I learned how to communicate in the professional world.

Stylistically it is me … all me <maddening to some people who visit the site> … but the framework resides in what I have always believed is the most simplistic way to create a simple message.

 

Sure. I may not communicate what I want to say simply but underneath the swear words, the snarkiness, the faux intellectualism and the casual use of grammar resides a desire to hit what I have always believed is the message simplicity bullseye <by the way … anyone, blogger, opinion writer and even a communications agency can use this simplistic guide>.

 

The bullseye.

 

simplicity bullseye business

 

On one axis, the horizontal, you are bookended in framing.

 

On one end is whatever issue & solution I can offer — functionally what I have to offer <my experience, my ideas, my thinking> — followed in toward the bullseye by … well … me, the writer, and who I am and what I stand for <so that my thinking gets filtered through who and what I am … lets call that my character>.

 

On the other end is the need or want – functionally what is needed – followed in toward the bullseye by what the situation, or people, may desire <or think they desire> so that pragmatism gets filtered through the sometimes random irrational minds of people.

 

The other axis, the vertical, is even simpler … hero, conflict and resolution. It is basic story telling applied to ideas.

 

simple story connection message bullseye

 

 

I want to offer a hero <it can be an idea> which can enter into a conflict unflinchingly, or flinchingly if appropriate, and offer a resolution. Simple stories work the best and, as one writer articulated it … “incorporate elements of hero, conflict, and goal.”

 

All this permits me even in my most dry pieces to attempt to offer my version of a story which, as stories are supposed to do, address deeper and enduring emotional levels tapping into personal  “issues” such as self-esteem <conformity versus individuality>, self-doubt and economic wellbeing.

 

Everyone who writes should have a story. They shouldn’t toss out words thoughtlessly, or worse, irreverently.

 

Anger doesn’t guide a good story <typically> but as long as you continue to aim forward the bullseye even an anger driven critique can end up in an okay place when viewed by someone in the future.

 

And all of that matters if you assume at some point someone will demand you own your words.

 

The story formula is simple:

 

  1. Pick what matters <a conflict>

 

  1. Offer a distinct meaningfully view, hero and resolution

 

  1. Imbue with your personality & character <which will inevitably be captured in the hero apects>.

 

I could argue, and I would, that if you stay within this framework what you take care of your thoughts care of your words ownwrite today will be representative of something you want to say tomorrow. You may not want to say exactly the same thing today, or tomorrow, as you did in the past but you will most likely be able to leverage from the past to what you want to say.

 

I mention this today not just to share my framework for writing but rather because many people my age, or slightly younger, are being measured more and more by the words they shared online. And more and more of them are finding that they have to choose between what they believe in <most likely reflected in something they wrote in the past> and what they need to say to get what they want in the moment.

 

That seems kind of nuts to me … that choice I mean.

 

What I want today should be aligned with what I believe in. I can take a fairly hard stance on a variety of issues, and I have, but I also hope that my heroes & resolutions reflect adaptability to other’s views and the situation at hand. When I do meet new business people or people I haven’t seen in a while and sometimes they bring up something I have written … well … let’s say 5 years ago … I am good. I may not think exactly what I did then but my basic beliefs have not changed.

 

It surprises me when some fairly qualified people have not assumed that stance in what they have written.

And.

I certainly have no patience for those who are more than willing to toss out their own past words as “I said that then but now …” or “I wish I had chosen my words more carefully.”

 

I will not suggest we should all get our words right every time <I surely don’t> but not all words are created equal and the really important ones … the potent ones … the ones that can construct or deconstruct … you should get right.

 

Well.

At least right enough that someday in the future your career will not hang in the balance over a poorly thought out blog piece. Conversely, if you did think it out and your career can hang in the balance over it … well … you made a stand.own your words who you are

 

And backing off that stand simply to get to where you want to be is … well … not good.

 

My writing style, or lack of style, aside … I don’t understand ever being trapped by owning your own words if you have decided to be “true to thineself” no matter what. I said something then and maybe I could have used better words but the basic thought premise is what I believe. Take it or leave it because getting the job, sitting at some table in a discussion, getting something I want doesn’t mean that thought can be discarded … if I believe it … well … I own it.

 

I will admit that owning up can be difficult but, as I once said, mistakes or things you have said in the past can be an awful lot like a hurricane … and “I” is always at the center of a hurricane — stay steady and hold the center.

 

I have no time and I have no patience for older people who do not own their words. And they should be ashamed of themselves for discarding thoughts and words so easily just to get something they want now.

Thoughts and words are far too valuable to be that disposable.

 

the non decline of American military

May 29th, 2017

military cemetery

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

 

“Those who worry about an American military supposedly in decline should relax.”

 

—–

Michael O’Hanlon and David Petraeus

 

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

 

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley:

 

“the US Army … more capable, better trained … and more lethal than any other ground force in the world.”

 

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

 

 

“Neither our strategy nor our psychology as a nation and certainly not our economy must become dependent upon the military establishment.”

 

——-

John F. Kennedy

 

========

 

Ok.

 

heroes memorial-dayOn Memorial Day, a day on which we honor the ones who gave ‘their full measure of devotion’, I pulled out a piece that has been sitting in my draft folder for quite some time.

 

It is a thought piece on the rhetoric and thinking on the overall decline of the American military as well as some of the simplistic thoughts being shared on the spending and size of the American military.

 

I will not provide gobs of resources to support my thoughts but rather I will direct you to two foundational resources if you want some more thinking fodder.

The first is www.warontherocks.com . If you ever want to get a better grasp on military thinking & strategy, I find no one better than the people at WarontheRocks at offering a wide range of thinking, and thinkers, to help you move beyond the simplistic politician rhetoric.

The second is a fabulous piece written for Foreign Affairs magazine by Michael O’Hanlon and David Petraeus called America’s Awesome Military.

 

Anyway.

 

I can honestly say I have always had a point of view with regard to how much the USA spends on its military and I absolutely believe in spending on the military and defense.

100%.

 

But I sometimes believe we need to get a grip.

 

Now.

 

Politicians, Trump in particular, seems to have a nasty habit of tying spending to old school military things and thinking – lots of big ships, lots of people in uniform and lots of big weapons <and cool ones>.

always more and more life desire

Basically it is just a ‘more & big’ spending strategy.

 

But if you listen or speak to military people there are some real nuanced discussions going on – what do I actually need money to spend on and what strategies of combat do I need to invest money to support?

 

There are some real debates within the military with regard to spending to support the present and spending to support the future. I wish politicians would just step aside and let the military go directly to the people and say “this is what matters and this is how much it would cost” <with none of that wacky politician budget maneuvering and fake low ball estimating where we end up accommodating overages>.

 

I wish that because a couple of military commanders, Petraeus in particular along with Michael O’Hanlon, have put a nice stake in the ground with regard to some spending truths.

 

————————–

Despite five years of official complaints about “sequestration” budgets, U.S. military spending remains historically high. In 2016, U.S. military spending will be $607 billion, including $59 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, the fund that ostensibly finances wars but also funds non-war (or base) accounts. Barring a new budget deal, the fiscal year 2017 budget, now stuck in Congress, will be virtually the same size.

 

In real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, Americans spend more on the military today than at any point in the Cold War, except the brief peaks during the Korean War and the 1980s. Current military spending is 36 percent higher in real terms than in 2000, with two-thirds of the growth in base spending. The United States spends more than double what Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea collectively spend on their militaries.

————————–

 

Their real point is that the military doesn’t necessarily need a bigger budget but rather they need money to update & upgrade.

And here is where I believe politicians are showing a true lack of imagination.

 

Year after year we haggle over annual budgets and all we end up doing is funding a great military operation in need of investment spending.

That’s stupid.

 

what-i-think-i-can-do-mind-over-matterWhat would I do?

 

Just as I would have done with the Iraq War <but Bush decided to not do> I would go to the American people with a specific number needed and a specific one-time tax to get the money. I would treat the upgrade need as a specific project with specific objectives for which the military will offer specific updates to the American people showing what their money is being spent on and what is happening.

 

Why do I believe that will work?

 

  1. The current budget is big enough. I may be interested in tightening the screws a little on current Pentagon budget management but, in general, they have enough money. Tell the people that because it sounds reasonable.

 

 

  1. People are fine with paying one-time costs … especially for something as important as the military. In addition it sets the military up for future “ask American people for specific project funding” asks. And you know what? if people cannot be convinced to invest in it maybe, just maybe, the military should go back to the drawing board. but I have to tell you … in my experience … the senior military personnel are better than 99% of business people at outlining needs & wants and rationale.

 

 

  1. To a certain extent the military should involve the everyday people more often. We often talk about the wealth inequality gap in America, well, there is an increasing gap between military and everyday people. Military people, and families, and associated services are becoming increasingly cocooned. This does not benefit the military nor does it benefit the everyday citizen. Both groups are made up of some incredibly patriotic people who have the best intentions for America … it would behoove America if they interacted more often.

 

 

  1. Lastly, military strategies are changing. And while my idea is about budgeting and asking for money it bleeds into the military sharing with people how conflicts will be conducted. This benefits both the military and the everyday schmuck like me. it sets better expectations and stops people from defining military by movies and past military historical events.

 

 

Now.

 

I brought up that last point because WarontheRocks had a fabulous piece on “the three things the current Army Chief of Staff wants you to know about the Army and the changing face of conflicts/war.”

 

The biggest thing that jumped out to me was actually a business idea <described in military terms>. I call it “controlled autonomy” <driving disciplined decision making in a business as close to the actual business itself> but the Army Chief of Staff called it “disciplined disobedience.”

 

Wow.

What a great fucking phrase.

Awesome.

 

But it also has budgetary repercussions <you need to train and recruit different types of soldiers>.

And the everyday schmuck like me needs to hear about this so I can better understand why the military needs a specific budget.

doing the right thing bravery

Milley offers several fabulous thoughts which impact funding.

 

Mobility versus static <not just troop movement but supplies, command posts & resources – “stand still and die” is the overriding thought>.

At the point of conflict ‘disciplined disobedience’ skill set.

Ability to adapt shifting necessary resources <air, ground, support & naval> in real time.

 

All of which suggest that monies need to be shifted to accommodate strategies.

 

All of which also suggest that U.S. military spending is partially high because U.S. security ambitions are broad AND the strategies are evolving but not evolved <this suggest inefficiencies>.

 

What do I mean? For example … quick strike & response is dictated by proximity and if you see threats everywhere then … well … you need to be everywhere with enough force to be meaningful.

 

———————

A strategy of restraint would serve the United States better. By narrowing the scope of what U.S. security requires, restraint would establish a true “defense” budget. Though cost savings are secondary to strategic benefits, a military budget premised on restraint would save substantially more than hunting “waste, fraud, and abuse,” a common method of finding military savings. Waste hunters implicitly endorse primacy by objecting only to what offends their sense of sound management: overruns in acquisition programs, failed projects in war zones, or research projects with foolish titles. The Pentagon’s efficient pursuit of unwise goals is a far richer target for cuts.

<source: WarontheRocks>

—————–

 

Once again … we have the resources, we have the trained soldiers … the military doesn’t need complete overhaul but rather some fine tuning <source: America’s Awesome Military>:

 

  • The condition of most weaponry compares well with that of the Reagan era. For example, most Army vehicles have “mission capable rates” exceeding 90%. To be sure, there are concerns, for example in certain helicopter fleets. Problems that exist are specific, not systemic.

 

 

  • Training is still recovering from the stresses and strains of recent years. The ground forces in particular, after so many years conducting counterinsurgency, are gradually restoring their abilities for large-scale maneuver warfare of the type vital to deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, among others. About two more years will be needed to complete the task. But the recovery path is now well charted and well funded.

 

 

  • The men and women of the U.S. military, though tired and strained, have never been finer. That is not a simple statement of patriotism. The data back it up. For example, today’s typical serviceman or servicewomen has even more experience in uniform than those of Reagan’s day. Military pay is solid, compared with jobs in the civilian economy. For example, the latest quadrennial review of military compensation calculated that the typical soldier, sailor, airman, airwoman or Marine earns more than about 85% of his or her civilian cohorts with comparable age, education and experience in overall compensation.

 

 

  • The defense budget, though itself not proof of quality, is high by historical standards. Counting combat operations as well as nuclear weapons accounts at the Energy Department (but not counting the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, which is separate), national defense now costs America slightly more than $600 billion a year. That compares with a Cold War average of about $525 billion, in inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars. It is at least three times China’s budget and six to eight times Russia’s. And those much-pilloried U.S. allies collectively budget about an additional $600 billion between them, meaning that the Western alliance system accounts for at least two-thirds of global military spending.

 

obama military stand up for the uniform politicsLet me summarize all the detail I shared <because I dint think everyone would go to the highlighted article.

 

Setting aside all the rhetoric … the US armed forces display high standards of professionalism, expertise, and experience. As Michael O’Hanlon and David Petraeus said in America’s Awesome Military:

 

———————

The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners.

 

Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed.

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

 

“We have what we need, but we need every dollar, every training event, every person.”

 

———

Col. Robert Whittle, 1st Cavalry Division

 

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

 

Now.

 

Politicians posture. That is what they do <no matter how misguided it is>.military respect salute

 

But we need to stop talking about military not only in last generation terms but also in a discrete way … what I mean by that is the United States has many resources to draw on beyond its military forces. The country’s high-tech and innovative sectors are the best in the world. It has solid economic fundamentals, including a gradually growing population base, the world’s best univer­sities, and a large market at the center of global finance and commerce.

 

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

 

“We know already that computers are mightier than guns. We know that the new opportunities reside in the campuses of the scientists, rather than in the camps of the army.”

—-

Shimon Peres: May 1994, at the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Accord

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

 

And, assuming the current administration does not dismantle it, the United States leads a globe-spanning system of alliances and partnerships that includes some 60 countries, collectively accounting for two-thirds of global economic output and military capacity.

 

Look.

 

Feel free and visit some of the resources I have provided. You will clearly find some incredibly smart military minds discussing what strategy & tactics look like in the future. Most discussion revolves around mobility, instant adaptability, ability to integrate with nation coalition forces, divesting force structure <remove some land bases and use increase navy as ‘moving platforms’ to deliver & deploy … which allows substantial savings in personnel, operations and maintenance, intelligence, and real estate costs> and the combination of combat & stability operations <post combat>.

 

They clearly recognize that the world looks different as does military response needs.

 

And all of that impacts budget needs beyond the simplistic “more ships, more planes and bigger stuff” arguments.

 

Lastly.

NATO.

 

Geez.

At some point I would either like Donald J Trump to have a NATO 101 lesson or simply let DOD secretary Mattis handle it.

 

Bottom line is that there is a relationship between what other members invest in their defense and what USA invests. But it isn’t ‘their money versus our money.’

 

Their investments eliminate the need for USA resources … that is the soldier dad youre-home-safe_largerelationship. They spend more and we can spend less <make some cutbacks>.

 

And you know what? Obama was able to squeeze out a promise to increase their own expenditures 4 years ago and … well … as Mattis just said: “And the bottom line is that nations are spending more on defense now than they were five years ago or ten years ago”.

 

The whole NATO discussion out of Trump’s mouth wanders between crazy ignorant and crazy grandstanding.

And the worst part is that uncertainty with NATO impacts budgetary needs.

 

Anyway.

 

On this memorial Day I want to suggest we need to provide the proper resources to our military … but that doesn’t necessarily mean just throwing money at them. In today’s world I want money to chase smart thinking. And, as I have already said, peruse the military minds around the country and we have the smart thinking … we just need politicians to get out of the way.

 

Enlightened Conflict