Enlightened Conflict

shared responsibility

April 17th, 2017

 generation think attitudes collective individual share

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We tend to hold ourself accountable for things we never did.

Hearts we never broke. People we didn’t hurt.

Souls we didn’t crush. “

 

coral-vellichor

 

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All these years I’ve been looking at the wrong side.

 

(via madelinemharris)

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Ok.

 

Accountability, or responsibility, is always a good topic. And, yes, I am a big personal responsibility person. But in business, within an organization, being responsibleresponsibility tends to be more shared responsibility than simple personal responsibility.

 

Oh.

 

To be clear.

 

I believe there is a strong relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility. The stronger the shared responsibility attitude & behavior within leadership & mentors & role models the stronger the development of personal responsibility muscle occurs in everyday schmucks like me. Conversely, if you are surrounded with lack of shared responsibility examples <or even those who espouse ‘selectively chosen shared responsibility’> the value of personal responsibility diminishes to an individual, therefore, they see less value in exhibiting personal responsibility.

 

We don’t talk about this relationship enough.

Far too often we flippantly suggest “people should take responsibility for their actions.”

 

Well … no shit Sherlock.

 

But if your roles models or leaders are constantly passing the buck when the shit hits the fan to save their own bacon <and image> then what the hell … why would you not do the same?

irresponsibility made easy

Yeah.

Sure.

 

Everyone has to pull their weight and do their job and do what they say they are going to do … but very very rarely does an individual perform in a vacuum in a business.

 

This happens more so even in management.

 

It drives me a little nuts when I hear some leaders discuss “delegating.”

 

Somehow delegating equals “absolved of responsibility.”

 

This is stupid irresponsible thinking.

 

My belief that it is stupid thinking is rooted in some common sesne I am fairly sure the US Military says:

 

 

You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.

 

 

In other words … you can give others the power to do things … you can delegate … but, no matter what happens … if something goes wrong … the final responsibility always lies with the one who has delegated authority.

 

Sticking with the military as my guidance … this means if your business has an initiative that has gone SNAFU <“Situation Normal: All Fucked Up”> the blame … and the ultimate responsibility for the mistakes <fuck ups> falls … uhm … up.

The leader assumes responsibility.

 

This is shared responsibility.

 

In other words … this is leadership.

 

Yeah.

 

Once you become a business leader past a mom & pop management style business you have to face the concept of shared responsibility <and some embrace it and some reject it>.

 

puzzle people connect shared responsibilityDespite the fact you have delegated authority that ‘authority’ does not represent a discrete event and period in time.

You bear the responsibility for the cascade of events, decisions and actions leading up to the ‘authority giving’ which means everything you have done up until that point provides the context for the delegating … yeah … you own the arena in which you have placed the delegatee.

 

But this gets exponentially worse <if you are thinking about becoming a business leader>.

 

You actually also share responsibility for the consequences … uhm … intended and unintended.

 

This is different than delegating authority <although it relates to it> and owning responsibility for the action … this goes beyond to the actual ripples from the decisions & actions.

 

Now.

 

Some leaders have a nasty habit of assuming responsibility for the decision and the effect of the decision — within a finite period of time. The weakest leaders try and tie “that was out of my control” or “I wasn’t there for that” as soon as they can to a decision they make.

 

The strongest leaders worry less about any carnage that has been left behind but rather start worrying about any carnage the decisions & actions could possibly create for the future.

 

The truth is that business leaders should take a moment and remember the wise words of … well … an American Indian.

 

Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota leader who led his people against the U.S. Army and later as his people transitioned from life on the plains to the reservation, stressed that when Indian people made a decision, it should be done with the welfare of the next seven generations in mind.

 

Whew.

world is yours ours share life

In a short term world where most business leaders are trying to make quarterly goals and just try and keep their job … thinking with the welfare of the next 7 generations seems … well … impossible.

 

I imagine the real point is that most good business leaders assume some responsibility for the generations to come.  Some people may call this ‘long term strategy’ and some others will call it ‘keeping your eye on the horizon’ or even ‘having a vision’ … well … I am no Harvard Business guru and all that high falutin’ stuff seems unnecessary. To me it is much more simple.

You make decisions accepting the burden of responsibility for what will come … and may arise from your decision.

 

You share the responsibility for what will, or may, come.

 

And if you do that? Damn. You will do good and be good.

 

And if you do not do that? Damn. You may get a shitload of attention and applause in the moment and a shitload of attention and anger in the future.

 

 

Why do I say that?

 

Because if you don’t really believe in shared responsibility and flit from one decision to the next in a transactional “responsible only to the moment” way you will end up rushing from issue to issue, reacting without a plan or a strategy or <worse> no care of longer term affect, creating carnage yet to be seen <because that type of leader tends to seek only the cheers in the moment>.

 

Uhm.

 

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.

Just to point it out … with no plan that means anything can happen and a leader can justify anything. Because with no plan to measure a decision against anything can look right … and unpredictable can be touted as ‘flexible to the situation.’

 

All of this fits a short term leader in a short term world.

 

The people are few and far between these days who weigh their responses and assess long term affects. In today’s world it almost seems a race to be the first to judge or comment on a decision or action and far too many leaders actually manage to the public race to comment rather than the longer term assessment.

 

This is scary stuff for anyone to do but a business leader? Dangerous.

Even the best short term decision makers, if forced into a gauntlet of short term decisions, will struggle to insure at the end of the gauntlet they have kept walking northwards as they had been looking down the entire time. More often than not North will not be the direction you are facing nor will you have actually moved any closer to the North star.

 

I am not suggesting this longer term shared responsibility attitude is easy.

In fact .. it is really really hard.

In fact … it almost means you have to embrace a little “impossible” into what you actually make possible.

 

Huh?

 

 

In general I have always liked logical thinking <no matter how random the logic may be> but I always love it when someone combines some unexpected logic.

Generally speaking the best unexpected logic actually comes from those who do the impossible … thinking of the impossible and seeing possibilities — the impossible being “knowing for sure what will happen in the future.” They make the spectacular leaps/chances, accepting responsibility and sharing responsibility, so that business can make the needed changes or just do the semi-risky things that keep a good business doing good things <things that may push against the borders of the status quo>.

 

Yeah.

Spectacular errors can only happen if you take spectacular chances. I am not fond of irresponsible risk taking and decision-making, but I am fond of doing ‘the right thing’ even when it may appear to be going against the stream. Sometimes that means a spectacular success, sometimes a spectacular error. But always something spectacular.

 

And I will tell you … what more could you want to say about your life as a leader but that you have done something spectacular? Especially if that ‘spectacular’ actually happens a generation later which permits you to sit back and say “I did the impossible … I viewed the future well.’

 

Anyway.

 

Shared responsibility is the burden of any good leader. They tend to be the leaders who understand they cannot really be sure what is going to happen to them over time, they weigh the risks to the best of their ability and let the chips fall as they may.

I tend to believe their attitude is one of “you don’t want to act more fearfully than you have to.”

 

Good leaders have a tendency to hold themselves accountable for anything, everything and everyone … in varying degrees depending on the anything, everything and everyone. And, maybe most importantly, I tend to believe they understand that there is a relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility.

 

And, practically speaking, you will never be viewed as a true leader if you do not.

 

Well.my life is my message duty

 

You know what?

 

To end this thing today … let me offer two other words, typically associated with responsibility, obligation and duty.

 

Obligation refers general to something you are compelled to do by regulation, law, promise or morality. I think good leaders feel obligated to assume shared responsibility.

 

Duty, more so than obligation, springs from an internal moral or ethical impulse rather than from external demands.

I think good leaders feel a duty to assume shared responsibility.

 

Shared responsibility … not only do I believe we should discuss it more often <because it will foster better value in personal responsibility> but I also believe we should be demanding it of our leaders more often.

and from time to time they permit themselves to be told

April 4th, 2017

letters to myself never read

 

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“The world is full of stories, and from time to time they permit themselves to be told …”

 

—–

An aboriginal saying

 

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I believe that the magic and power of a story can encourage and fascinate you.

In prehistory, outside the cave it was dark, but inside they had a fire and somebody was good at telling stories.

Every time I write, I think of the cave.

We are one group, outside it’s dark and wolves are howling, but I have a story to tell.

 

—–

Haruki Murakami

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Ok.

 

stories on wallsIt’s difficult to discuss stories too often.

The fact is that being able to tell a story … okay … tell the story you want … well … is possibly one of the most important skills anyone can have – in life or in business.

 

But let me stay on the business side of stories.

 

Throughout my career I have had the fortune to work with the most unglamorous products & companies you could ever think of <industrial products, commodity like machinery, etc.> and some fairly glamourous products & companies.

 

What they all have in common is that they have a story to tell … and when told well it makes them successful — in sales, in market place positioning, in competitive scenarios, in public discussions, etc.

 

I used to think storytelling was so natural to everyone I assumed everyone would want to tell their story … or maybe better said … talk about their business, their company, their product … as a story.

 

I no longer think that.

 

I haven’t figured out if it is that not everyone can actually tell a good story or that business has beaten the shit out of people so badly that the default articulation is a list of functional features and pragmatic benefits. What I do know is that business storytelling, in general, sucks.

It is absolutely horrible.

 

Meaningless metaphors and less-than-relevant analogies and misused quotes are scattered among the useful functional and pragmatic in the attempt to elevate that which is usefully boring to interestingly useful.

And because that is the case … well … most people either think storytelling is really really hard or that storytelling really has no place in what they are doing.vivid story demonstration metaghor

 

That is nuts.

 

The truth is you can take the most boring of boring, the most functional of functional & most ‘seemingly same of seemingly same’ and wrap it within a story and it … well … becomes compelling, interesting and distinct.

 

The truth is any business contains the essential parts to create a story … heroes, villains, vivid demonstrations or metaphors, life & death and even mysteries and solutions.

 

The truth is anyone can tell a story <it is possible that not everyone can write a story though>.

 

In fact … I feel relatively confident is stating that a good story to tell makes everyone better & more interesting.

 

I do not care what industry you work within or what type of product or service you sell or represent your word is full of stories … and, most likely, a fabulous story just asking for permission to be told.

 

All that said.

 

Someone is most likely sitting somewhere scratching their head thinking … “WTF, that sounds good but I have no clue what to do.”

 

Aw.

 

You do.

You do know what to do.

 

Stop thinking about selling your idea or selling your product/service or even selling your company … think about telling a story.

 

Shit.

 

nuts and bolts commodityI could work for a nuts & bolts manufacturer and be able to put a picture of two nuts & bolts side by side <one mine and one someone else’s>  which look 99.9% exactly the same … and be able to say … “Let me tell you a story about this nut & bolt … because its story is different than this nut & bolt. They look the same but their story is different.

 

Oh.

 

And my story wouldn’t be solely some manufacturing mumbo jumbo but rather a story about who counted on it and how my nut & bolt was the best friend to someone and … well … you get the point.

 

Unfortunately we don’t seem to be in the storytelling business in business these days.

 

Instead we bore down on manufacturing specifications, stress quotients, side by side rankings and a whole bunch of technically important functional aspects.

 

And you know what?

That shit is important.

 

Really important.

 

nuts an bolts story city growTo be sure … if it is my nut & bolt holding a wing on some plane carrying 300 passengers you can bet your last dollar the technical aspects of my nuts & bolts matter. I don’t argue that.

What I argue is HOW the technical aspects are articulated and delivered. What I argue is that if I can make my nuts & bolts look like a city of ideas through some story … I win.

 

Stories make presentations more interesting.

Stories make bland functional aspects take on some color <which equals value>.

Stories persuade people think <and thinking equals engagement>.

Stories to motivate us to see beyond the simple nut & bolt.

 

Suffice it to say … what you say is lost if you do not master how you say it.

 

Storytelling has been a mainstay of the marketing world since … well … forever.

And while it tries to sneak into the non-marketing aspects of the business world it often gets stiff armed by functional communicators – “get to the point” people.

 

This ‘get to the point’ point is nonsense.

 

Storytelling doesn’t sacrifice the functional and pragmatic and practical … it actually elevates it to ts highest value.

 

I could argue that stories are the essential driver of value, change & persuasion … throughout the history of business.whispers stories

 

Look.

 

I would never tell a business to not show the numbers, graphs and facts. It is important.

But strategic use of a good story can make those same bland things surprise people, make them become compelling characters in a story and instead of being cold hard facts laying on a page they can become things that make us think & feel.

 

Story telling is important in that it engages people, communicates relevant meaningful information, builds value on some things that can often be difficult to build value on and, ultimately, it makes you, your product or service & your company distinct.

Why? Because it has a story to tell.

 

The business world is full of stories, and from time to time they permit themselves to be told …

 

 

ignored truths for temporary happiness

March 13th, 2017

temporary fleeting g

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“Who in the world am I?

Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

 

Alice in Wonderland

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  “We ignored truths for temporary happiness.

 

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six word story

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“Most people do not realize that thinking about something is inviting the essence of that something into their experience.”

 

Abraham Hicks

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presentist 1Ok.

 

One of the most difficult things to figure out is what to do ‘now’ when given a choice … particularly if that ‘now decision’ would appear to provide some happiness.

 

I mean … WTF … who would pass on happiness?

 

We have a tendency to either not think long term when facing happiness … or maybe we weight happiness to such an extent it appears to have a higher value then it may actually have.

 

Fortunately for us … we actually have an inner scale.

 

This scale makes this decision a fairly easy one.  That inner scale is the “I know who in the world you are’ scale.

 

If you know that your happiness assessment glasses are clear, not smudgy and provide you at least fairly good vision … well … you have a better than even chance of actually figuring out whether it represents temporary happiness or ongoing happiness.

 

Regardless.

 

The desire or seeking of Happiness cloaks everything. Even truth. And maybe exponentially so for truth.truth people hate

Truth is tricky.

 

We confuse it with common sense, intuition & instinct.

All of which suggest the real truth about … well … truth without actually being true.

None of those things truly reflect truth … just a characteristic of truth.

 

The characteristic? Glimpses. Glimpses of truth are temporary. That isn’t to suggest truth is not everlasting or steadfast but rather our viewing of truth comes in glimpses.

 

That said … I will offer a word to everyone on temporary … a word, if you take some time and consider it a little, which partially explains ignoring truth – evanescent.

 

Evanescent refers to that which almost vanishes as soon as it appears, implying that a thing is ‘tenuous, delicate or unsubstantial ‘ as part of its nature <an evanescent glimpse of the truth>

 

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“If you put your happiness in temporary things – your happiness will be temporary.

 

 

Nick Vujicic

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last haven evanescent temporary glimpseI chose evanescent to make a point … I could have used momentary, passing or fleeing.

All synonyms of temporary.

 

I could have used transient or transitory … both of which stress brevity and impermanence and the fact it will not endure.

Both synonyms of temporary.

 

I could have even used ephemera which denotes that which changes aspect rapidly and continuously.

Another synonym of temporary.

 

I could have even focused on temporary which is a nice general term that implies measurable but of limited duration.

 

But I didn’t.

I didn’t because truth, more often than not, can vanish just as quickly as it appears.

 

Let me explain why.

 

Truth is rarely simple and is even more rarely a “it just is” factoid. Instead it is more likely represented in a disparate range of factoids and fragments. They all swirl around this truth and most often we, seeking simplicity & happiness, ignore all the fragments and put our arms around the easier happiness.

 

The danger in this is that we then have no depth of understanding. We are not forced to assess the fragments and think. We don’t because , in our heads, truth should be simple, clear and obvious <hence the reason we far too often confuse it with common sense>.

 

This is where evanescent comes back into the conversation.

As noted earlier truth is most often represented in a big blob of swirling disparate fragments … and, yet, on occasion if we look at just the right time all the fragments align … and truth appears.wow excited astonish no

 

Some may call this an “ah ha” moment. I would suggest t is simply a moment of clarity.

 

It is a moment in which you truly become a conduit of truth.

 

It is a moment where everything is aligned and Truth stands there … right in front of you … still amidst the swirl & chaos of Life.

 

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“Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.”

 

Voltaire

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Of course … you actually have to be paying attention.

Of course … you actually have to not be distracted by happiness.

 

Of course … you actually hate having to do both of what I just wrote.

I mean, c’mon, to have the opportunity to be wrapped in a nice cozy blanket of happiness for the rest of our existence <because that is what we hope every time happiness snuggles up against us … that this is the time it lasts forever>?

 

Uhm.

 

What a fucking fairy tale.

That is like basing truth & happiness on unicorn farts.

 

Here is what everyone needs to remember as they ponder ignoring truth for happiness.

 

Everlasting happiness is a myth.

 

Shit.

 

Everlasting truth is a myth.

 

Whew. How ironic is that?

 

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“I have lived with a sense of irony and cold curiosity.”

 

——

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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Two of the most valued things in Life are myths.

 

Well.

 

It sure sucks to think that.

 

bad decisions for temporary happiness

Anyway.

 

Here is the most basic truth of all <a non temporary truth but an everlasting one>.

 

Truth will always be truth … but it will never be easy … easy to gather, to understand and to believe.

 

And because it is not easy … and we would much prefer happiness <even temporary happiness> we will accept being right sometimes … wrong sometimes … and at all times believe things on insufficient evidence.

 

Yeah.

We should just face the fact that even on the things we believe, and claim we understand, we are doing so often in an incomplete way <even if we are correct>.

 

I believe my smartphone works … but I have no clue how.

 

I believe … well … full in your own “black box belief” here … things you just assume will work and assume we understand how to make it work but certainly do not understand the ins & outs of its workings.

 

This is the economy.

This is effective government.

This is climate change.

This is finance.

 

This is most of the big stuff in Life.

 

Which brings me to my conclusion … something little … evanescent.

The glimpse of truth.

The moment when all the disparate fragments align and truth stands in front of you.

 

It is the moment when … well … things are sufficient enough to understand and believe.

 

It is the moment we should not ignore truth for either temporary happiness or the temptation of what may appear to be everlasting happiness.

 

It is the moment when we have the opportunity to … well … “see who I am” and yes or no importanceplace an important piece of the puzzle in place.

 

Wow.

 

That sounds like an important moment, doesn’t it?

 

You bet.

Pay attention for it.

Pay very very close attention.

Pay attention … because the glimpse of truth is evanescent.

 

Pay attention … because the last haven of truth often resides in the evanescent.

Enlightened Conflict