Enlightened Conflict

big secrets make small people

September 20th, 2017

 

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“Community is the fact that we work toward the same goal, that we accept our respective roles in order to reach it.

 

Values is the fact we trust each other.

 

And, culture?

 

Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit. That matters because most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

 

—-

Fredrick Backman

 

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“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

 

—–

Colin Powell

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Well.

 

secrets we all haveThe relationship between secrets and culture and community is one which is fraught with contradictions, conflict and humanness.

 

I imagine this conflict is driven by the natural chafing between self-interest and community <I have called this community individualism & Enlightened Individualism in the past>.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

We talk a lot about community and team and all of that good stuff. And we talk about it with good intentions. The problem is that true community demands some sacrifice.

 

Therein lies our big secrets.

 

On occasion we decide self-interest is more important than sacrifice.

 

Uhm.

 

This is a version of ‘what you can get away with.’

 

That phrase sounds horribly horrible. It suggests nefarious type behavior. But the truth of it is most of us see what we can get away with on some very personal day-to-day less-than-nefarious type stuff.

 

We cut some corners.

We maybe don’t tell people how we truly feel <or who we truly are>.

We steal some post-it notes.

 

These are our little secrets.

 

We may even have some bigger personal secrets that we decide are just not things we want to share <these are not nefarious … just personal>.

 

 

Regardless.

 

secret own control hide

 

For many of us … our behavior arcs toward what we can get away with. That doesn’t mean it is completely unethical, or some abhorrent behavior, just that while norms set a ‘median’ standard guideline Life is constantly suggesting ‘but this one time you can get away with doing this.”

 

The problem resides with the friction between culture & community and self.

 

What I mean by that is the stronger & more powerful the cultural community norm is the bigger your secret becomes if you avoid the norms.

 

This secret takes on exponential size if you start believing that the norms that are good for you are good … and the ones that don’t match up with what you believe is your self-interest are bad.

 

You only accept the existence of the formal and informal cultural norm structure that constitutes accepted community construct … only as long as that suits your purposes.

Your big secret, therefore, doesn’t have to do with your own behavior but rather in your non-belief ,if not overall disdain> for the community norms.

 

This leads me to hate.

 

hate everythingWhy hate?

 

When you decide to see what you can get away with you have to mentally divide community into “we” and “they.” And in doing so you make ‘we’ good <which suggests what you can get away with is on the side of good> and you make ‘they’ bad.

 

This is a simplistic tactic for attempting to carry the burden of a big secret.

 

Hate is simple.

 

Hate can be an incredibly powerful empowering emotion.

 

Why?

 

In this scenario, using hate, the world becomes much easier to understand and less confusing, in the scheme of things, if you divide everything into friends & enemies, good & evil, right & wrong and a basic we & they.

 

This helps us because the world is strewn with conflict. Not just physical war but of ideas, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. Cultures, communities and classes are bombarded with conflict after conflict. And maybe because of the sheer amount of conflict one of the first things we do is pick sides. We choose a side to stand on because … well … it is easier. It is easier than thinking or, even more difficult, trying to hold parts of two ideas which appear in conflict in our heads at the same time.

 

And once we have chosen a side we then go out and seek some information, or ‘facts’, to confirm not only what we believe but the side we have chosen – this permits us to maintain the status quo and chug along with Life as ‘normal.’

 

Oh.

 

The last thing we do is demonize, or dehumanize, the other side. We diminish them. Make them, their thoughts & ideas, lesser than.

....... making "they" smaller ........

……. making “they” smaller ……..

 

I would suggest this all just makes you smaller as a person <carrying around a big secret>.

 

Big secrets make small people … yeah … unfortunately all of us become smaller with a big secret.

 

 

And this smallness is compounded by the unfortunate fact that you become even smaller when ‘we’ are the people who others HAVE to keep big secrets from … because they believe, and know, we cannot handle them <or don’t believe in them>.

 

All secrets carry a weight to them.

 

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“To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden.”

Sam Harris

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In fact … I could argue that all knowledge is a burden. It carries a weight of responsibility with regard to what you do with it … how you act because you have it … as well as how you think about you, and others, with it.

 

Having accepted knowledge you have made an agreement with it. I tend to small to big secrets life people communitybelieve we don’t think about this. We accept knowledge as … well … maybe like income earned – disposable income in fact. We worked for it, we earned it and it is now ours to spend as we choose.

 

But knowledge is actually more like freedom. It is an unalienable right but it is also a privilege … and therefore one assumes a responsibility to it.

 

Uhm.

 

And with responsibility comes burden. Which almost sounds odd in that something with ‘free’ in it also carries such a heavy burden.

Maybe I should just suggest that nothing really comes for free … everything has something attached to it.

 

Knowledge?

 

Responsibility … the burden of responsibility. And that is a weight you carry … one which can be as light or as heavy as you make it. But. It is a weight nonetheless. One which you learn to carry well or carry poorly.

 

Knowledge tests our ability … and our character … with regard to how well we can carry this weight. It tests how strong we are .. once again … in ability an character.

 

Having said that <and most likely having a number of people feeling a little unconfutable thinking about knowledge that way>.

 

Secrets are a completely different level of a knowledge burden.

And secrets are tricky.

 

Some are thrust upon you … unwanted but yet yours nonetheless.

 

Some are gifted you … carefully shared by someone who believes the weight it carries is too much for themselves … alone.

 

Some are just yours … built by you and carried by you.

 

But regardless of how you assume the responsibility of a secret … it is also basement of my brain secret meetingknowledge. And therefore it also carries a burden … a responsibility … and a weight.

 

I don’t have the scale to weigh them but my guess is that a knowledge secret exponentially weighs more than a traditional knowledge.

 

I also don’t have any research but I also tend to believe, just like extra physical weight, as soon as we start feeling the extra weight of a secret … we seek to shed it.

 

Therein lies the true test of character.

Therein lies how big secrets can make small people.

 

All knowledge tests you. Secrets test you even more.

 

Knowledge, and secrets, take a strength of self to carry its weight.

The weight of responsibility of having the knowledge, the weight of freedom knowledge typically gives us … and the weight of character that knowledge either makes you bigger or makes you smaller.

 

Whew.

That is a lot of extra weight we have accepted by taking on these secrets.

 

And this is where I bring in good … as in good people doing good things … as in good versus almost good.

 

That sometimes very thin line can make a massive difference in life. That sometimes very thin line can decide whether your secret makes you bigger or smaller.

 

Look.

 

If you are clever enough, even if you embrace community, you can get away with a shitload of stuff. But cleverness does not eliminate the fact you gain a bigger secret burden with every action.

 

And you know what?

 

The “community” knows we struggle with this a individuals. In fact it has even intent help flaws self bestcreated some ‘auxiliary precautions’ to help us avoid unnecessary secrets.

 

Huh?

 

This is James Madison’s Federalist Paper #51 or “if men were angels” argument:

 

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If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

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We are no angels as people.

 

Secrets bear that truth out.

 

And … well … we all carry secrets.

humans can do it so quietly

September 5th, 2017

Finding the white space

 

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“The worst thing about falling to pieces is that humans can do it so quietly.”

 

inkskinned tumblr

 

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“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

 

——

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Well.

 

Stark.

 

That is what I felt when I put these two quotes together for the first time.

stark horizon life view

Starkly absent of cynicism, pessimism or optimism.

 

Just stark.

 

Stripped of any hues of Life.

 

That’s what I felt.

 

Shit.

 

I then sat back and said “whew, if I felt that … imagine how someone feels who actually writes these things.”

 

And maybe that is my point.

 

Most of us can only imagine how it feels.

 

Most of us, at our worst, get only a glimpse of this starkness.

 

And even then our stark is most likely not this stark.

 

 

Now … what I do know that humans can fall to pieces incredibly quietly.

 

I do know that starkness is difficult to express to someone who has never seen fill-emptiness-empty-with-various-thingsstarkness.

 

I do know that there are most likely more people who, on the outside, are holding their shit together so well that most of us don’t even think to offer a ‘are you doing okay’ question.

 

I do know these are the people who so quietly are falling apart.

 

So here’s the deal.

 

Falling apart is falling apart. What I mean by that is everything, and I mean everything, that falls apart makes some sound. You just have to listen closely enough to hear it.

 

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No, now you’ve got me interested, I want to know

 

exactly what seems wrong to you, how something could

 

seem wrong to you. In what way do things get to be wrong?

 

——

John Ashbery

 

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You have to listen closely for the sound one makes when they fall to pieces noise silencequietly.

 

For there is a sound.

 

It may be just a whisper of a sound. You may even confuse it for the rustle of falling leaves.

 

But.

 

Quietly or not … as the pieces fall apart they make a sound.

 

You just have to listen closely.

 

This gets even trickier. Let me go back to my ‘stark’ opening. If you have never truly experienced stark, it is difficult to see this kind of starkness.

Sure.

You may get a sense of ‘something wrong’ but far too often we skate along the superficial surface of ‘something wrong’ assuming lack of depth or “not any starker than we have ever seen” and … well … we miss the true starkness.

 

My point?

What may sound like the rustle of some dead leaves on the ground may actually be the sound of some starkness we cannot even imagine.

 

By the way … what differentiates humans from other species isn’t opposable thumbs or the size of our brains … but rather compassion and an interest in humans – interest as in doing better, being better and jut … well … a better life <and helping people be better if they are not>.

 

While, of course, we want it to be better for ourselves we don’t want it to suck for others. And we certainly don’t want anyone to have such a stark existence that their Life retains no color or, worse, no hope.

 

The difficulty in fulfilling this inner innate characteristic is the outer irate characteristic of Life. It is always angrily demanding you to focus on it … and not the other humans occupying Life.

 

Look.

 

I am not suggesting running around listening to everyone’s whispers looking to save everyone.

 

I would suggest that the two quotes I used reminded me that saving a human … life whispers listen closelyjust one … can sometimes be enough.

 

Just listen closely.

 

Humans can fall to pieces so quietly. And no human, even someone we really do not like much, deserves to have such a stark existence that … well … they can only stare blankly at a Life falling apart.

 

dreams and dream incubators

June 26th, 2017

Family of four on grass with hands up and dream

 

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“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.

I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

 

——-

Diane Ackerman

 

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“Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything.

Those buildings. These lights. This whole city.

 

Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did.

I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.”

 

—–

James and the Giant Peach

 

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Ok.

 

Today I am actually going to talk about dreaming and business.

 

if only dreams wishes

 

Suffice it to say … someone needs to be talking about dreaming because dreamers have been having a tough time of it for a while. Shit. I could argue dreams themselves have had a tough go of it.

 

Pragmatism is the ‘watch word of the day’.

 

Reach for the stars? No way.  You need to think “attainable.”

 

In addition … the outside world seems to get crazier and crazier and more chaotic which encourages the majority of us to just hunker down and get shit done.  It encourages us to not only NOT think about dreaming but even worse …“why dream? I just need to figure out a way of surviving.”

 

All that said.

 

I have two thoughts today.

 

The first is the increasing importance of businesses to an individual’s dreams, and dreaming, and the second is just about dreaming itself.

 

Ok.

The first.

 

I believe the business world is going to start playing an incredibly important role with regard to the future of dreaming.

 

In fact.

 

I believe the successful business organization of the future will be a ‘dream incubator’ rather than the current, more pop culture popular, ‘purpose drive’ organization.

And I say that as a ‘purpose driven organization’ believer.

 

Let me explain.dream wall sitting alone thinking

 

The outside world, as I have noted earlier, doesn’t really seem conducive to dreams and dreaming.

 

The inside world, your job and business Life, is becoming more and more focused on the daily grind and meeting the needs of the grind. In general we are getting squeezed but dreaming, in particular, is getting suffocated.

 

This means there is little space in-between the outside world and inside world for dreams and dreaming.

 

This is where I believe business steps in and maybe sharpens its elbows and creates some space for individual people to remember having dreams can be good and dreaming can actually be a good thing.

 

Businesses can step in and remind people that there is big value in pragmatism and personal responsibility in doing a good job AS WELL AS there may be an equal value in placing a dream or two within the pragmatic ‘do what you need to do’ Life … it kind of adds some rich & royal hues to what could be a duller palette.

 

Now.

Let me address the practical aspect of business and how the idea of ‘dream incubator’ can fit … because a shitload of shortsighted business people are going to suggest they have no desire to have their employees “dreaming” … they want them focused on doing their jobs.

 

Purpose was offered as a glue to hold together, and align, functional behavior <departments & responsibilities> of an organization while providing a deeper value to instill in attitudes & behavior. It certainly offered a version of a North Star from an ethical & moral standpoint but its true objective was to take the place of ‘vision’ in a pragmatic business world seemingly devoid of anything but functional outcome driven behavior.

 

Good intent. Good objective.

 

My belief of ‘dream incubator’ is less functional driven but rather attitudinally driven.

 

My belief is that in a world in which dreaming is not being encouraged a business which encourages you to pursue your dreams WITHIN the business itself will be rewarded <attitudinally, functionally & profitability>.

 

purpose versus dreams organization business 2

 

My belief is that employees, in general, are not driven by their departmental function <which is actually more the ‘keep your head down and do what you need to do’ daily grind> but rather by their dreams — $, ideas, innovations and … well … let me call the last one “perfection.”

 

<please note: this is a simplified version of a more complex organizational idea which I have shared elsewhere, in other words, I know there are more layers to this concept>

 

 

Let me start with ‘perfection.’

 

Some people dream of operational excellence. They get frustrated with politics and missteps and the normal inefficient behavior of a normal organization. These are the ones who offer up the zany process changes which, as a manager, you look at, screw up your face and think “Jesus Christ, what a mosh pit this would be to implement.” And, yet, these are the same zany changes which the organization most likely NEEDS to do to step up from where it is currently running.

 

 

 

$

 

It would be naïve to ignore the fact some employees are financially motivated and that their dreams are tied to more material aspects. They want money and things and your objective should be to inspire them to dream for more and be the organization which can enable their dreams to come true <within the construct of whatever is construed as ‘fair play’ within that organization>.

 

Ideas.

 

ideas dream make fly people think believe imagine educateSome people dream of thinking … and thinking up ideas. Imagine a business which encourages the epe who like t come up with ideas actually helps their ideas come to Life … even if they do not directly apply to the business itself.

 

Huh?

 

Here is a secret a lot of good business people know. While we love to talk about focus and ‘staying in our lane’ and the danger of less-than-strategic expansion, the truth is that a business can accommodate a shitload of different lanes if they are actually good lanes <and good ideas>.

I know when I managed groups while I needed people to focus on what they needed to do … I always encouraged them think about new ideas and talk to me about their ideas – even if it didn’t have shit to do with what we actually did to earn our living. Why did I do that? I could offer a dozen reasons but suffice it to say that it offers them a valuable sounding board for whether they have a viable idea or not <which they liked & appreciated> and I would get the brain working on non-related shit <which invariably gets you thinking about your related shit differently — and I liked that & appreciated it>.

Plus. People like thinking about their dreams even if they can’t actually do them.

 

Innovations.

 

I don’t need to say anything about this. This is obvious. The best innovations are usually a reflection of smart dreaming.

 

Ok.

The second.

 

I believe we need to remind ourselves on occasion that it is okay to dream … and dream big.

 

dream window of opportunity imagine

And that relentlessly pursuing a dream can be inspiring … not discouraging.

 

Now.

 

Being a big dreamer doesn’t mean that you walk around with your head in the clouds. It means that you have a purpose … a big purpose that makes your life bigger and fulfills some promise within you.

Of course … as usual … the key is to find a balance. Think ground and clouds.

Maybe think about it as being pragmatic with no guardrails. A contradiction? Sure. But big dreams are a contradiction. As a practical relatively pragmatic human race we would never have them … unless some of them defied the odds and actually came true.

 

Yeah.

Some really do happen.

 

Anyway.

 

I like the thought of business accepting the role as a business incubator and actually re-energizing the human spirit toward dreams and dreaming.

I like the thought of a business being a ‘dream incubator’ is fulfilling a role life & society seem to be abdicating.

 

Look.

 

extraordinary robbedI have always been a huge proponent that business should accept a larger role in driving societal norms & mores and, in this case, I actually believe that in doing so the business acumen & success is rewarded.

 

Whew.

 

Can you imagine how many resumes a business would get if it said “we want you to make your lives extraordinary, help you make your dreams come true, because if you do … we believe our company will be extraordinary.”

 

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Dead Poets Society:

“Make your lives extraordinary.”

 

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Enlightened Conflict