Enlightened Conflict

when virtue was sought

November 23rd, 2016

struggle and virtue

 

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“ … today’s soldiers receive awards for valor. 

 

But valor was taken for granted in the old armies, in the monk ranks.

 

It was virtue that was sought.

 

Maybe a soldier makes an act of sacrifice for his parents. Maybe he dedicates his life to the perfection of archery. Maybe he spent all of his off duty hours writing the nine million names of Buddha.

Or maybe performed great feats for the cause of truth.

 

In these cases he would be rewarded with a medallion from a general.”

 

 

discussion on Tibetan warrior monks versus todays warriors

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Ok.

 

This is actually about business.

 

Before I begin about business.

 

respect wordsI have huge respect for people who serve in the military.

I sometimes believe a lot of that respect is driven by how my military friends discuss courage and valor versus the non-military people.

As well as maybe I have a better understanding of what society values versus what a soldier values.

 

Regardless.

 

I do not doubt that a soldier finds pride in a chest full of awards & medals.

 

But I also tend to believe they are more proud of simply the uniform … unadorned. The uniform itsef is often the most important award.

 

But that really isn’t the point of this quote.

 

While I tend to believe we give too much lip service to how much we appreciate those who choose to serve and too little heartfelt gratitude and respect for those who choose to serve … I wonder how society would view today’s military if they were rewarded with medallions based on virtuistic behavior and not just awards for valor <thereby showing people that choosing to serve is deeper than simply picking up a gun and showing courage>.

 

Or how about this?

 

I wonder how society would view today’s leaders, business and government, if they were rewarded with medallions based on virtue and virtuistic behavior.

 

Yikes.

 

No bonuses for results <because that is expected> and awards only for things beyond ‘job responsibility performance.’

 

Imagine if these would be awards that were a measure of their character and not just of their behavior <or talents>.

 

Okay.

compete respect attention

That was funny, wasn’t it?

 

Could you see THAT happening in today’s business world?

 

<no>

 

And even if we did do it I imagine, using my most cynical perspective, that most people would still find ‘something wrong’ with even those people who earned those medallions.

 

Sigh.

 

 

But here is what I truly liked about the thought. Virtue is not defined in some religious way nor is it defined by ‘what is honesty’ or ethics … or anything like that … it is defined by enlightenment of self. Defined by honing an additional craft.

 

Defined by broadening the mind by focusing the mind.

 

Defined by thoughtful purpose and not by numbers, deadlines and bonuses.

 

What a thought.

 

 

No milestones and fake deadlines.

 

No quarterly goals.

 

Yes to expecting everyone to do their job.

 

Yes to expecting success.

 

 

Yeah.

 

I know.

 

It doesn’t really work that way.

 

Not everyone is a Tibetan warrior.

 

Now.

 

management what growing-global-executive-talentHow about if we did this in management?

 

Maybe we could assume that as you work your way up you show your ‘valor’ in the doing and meeting the expectations. And once you have proven you can excel at the expectations & responsibilities of your job then your compensation rewards get shifted to values … not valor.

 

This may sound crazy.

But think about it.

 

We have become business people who no longer punch a clock but rather punch a goal/deadline/task. There is nothing deeper, from an individual aspect, than checking the boxes and getting a check.

 

Sure.

 

From the top down … the good organizations are trying to instill some culture and pride and sense of purpose.

 

But that seems a little ass backwards or maybe trying to do something ‘counter to the system.’

 

What I mean by that is if everyone is being measured by doing and in task completion <even when exceptional is tagged to it> than the system is saying act one way and think one way … while the organization may be suggesting “hey, we should also think this way.”

 

To be clear.

 

I am an organizational purpose guy.

I am an organizational culture guy.

I am an organizational “dynamic beyond our own purpose” guy.

 

But my heart tells me I am doing so and thinking so in conflict with a general attitude focused on something else.

 

I know I can’t run a business solely giving out medallions for virtuosity and ignoring ‘valor.’

 

But maybe my point is that we should be doing a better job of reshaping a company Culture believe employee managebusiness culture wherein virtuosity and valor at least have a peer relationship.

 

Anyway.

 

I have to tell you as I end this thought that having a business in which the employees  maybe performed great feats for the cause of truth sounds like it would be a fucking awesome business to lead.

 

 

gullible and the death of subtlety

July 27th, 2016

 subtle obvious

 

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“Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

 

Malcolm X

 

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“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

 

 

Terry Pratchett

 

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Your mind is programmable – if you’re not programming your mind, someone else will program it for you.”

 

Jeremy Hammond

 

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“Some conversations are not about what they’re about.”

Anne Carson

 

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gullible charlotte's webWell.

 

I admit.

 

I get a little grumpy when people start bitching about how … well … people <but never them of course> are more gullible today than ever in the past.

 

Let me be absolutely clear on this.

 

I don’t think we are any more gullible than we were yesterday or the day<s> before.

 

Nor do I believe we are any stupider or more ignorant. In fact … I tend to believe most of us are owners of more information and knowledge than ever before <albeit it may be parts & pieces of information>.

 

Now.

 

I do believe we face a couple of things which maybe make people think we are more gullible.

 

  • A desire for more black and white

 

  • The loss of subtlety or nuance as a basic communication tool

 

First.

people black white color

The black and white thing.

 

People, in general, love the concept of things being black & white.

We want it, try and believe the important things are and tend to distrust things that cannot easily fall into a black or white box.

 

Well.

 

While we may want black & white truth and things to be black and white in Life … most things are best captured in subtlety and nuance.

 

Metaphorically … black & white are easily missed but colors capture the eye.

 

 

Second.

 

Subtlety and nuance.

 

Well.

 

Seeing that I just used a metaphor to end point one … well … the engine that drives effective subtlety and nuance is the ability to use metaphors effectively.

 

As a corollary … the ability to understand an effectively communicated metaphor … well … this ‘listener access point’ is a necessary ability to insure subtlety and nuance can thrive.

 

In other words.

 

Subtlety and nuance needs both an effective deliverer and an effective receiver.

Someone needs to be able to paint in colors and someone needs to not be color blind.

 

Along those lines … literalness is black & white.

 

grays black and whiteAnd it seems like nuance and creativity in communicating is being destroyed by literalness <note: not political correctness>.

We just seem to bludgeon each other with sentences stripped of adjectives and any glimmer of color.

 

And in that literalness we end up being a warped version of gullible.

 

I say all that because far too often ‘gullible’ is associated with ‘not intelligent.’

 

That is not so. In today’s world gullible is being driven by the death of subtlety, nuance and metaphorical speak.

 

And the savvy communicators in the world recognize this and therefore revert to simple bludgeoning words & thoughts.

 

Worse?

 

They simply bludgeon us with simplicity. Or, well, at least what they construe as simplicity but as it comes to life in its hideously insipid quasi-truthful simplistic form it does more damage in its effect than if you had said nothing at all.

 

This all suggests that it may appear like being gullible is running rampant amongst us all … and, yet, we may simply being managed by those who know how to effectively articulate what they want to say <which may not be truth>?

 

The most effective tactic a literal communicator uses is by discussing ‘knowledge’ by fitting an explanation after an event … uhm … which is actually kind of easy.

In addition it makes it easy to literally bludgeon others to such a point it appears … well … simple.

 

All the while is the ignored nuance of knowledge … is the past really a predictor of the future?

 <answer: no>

 

In addition the simplicity can often be doubled down on with impassioned rhetoric. And that impassioned rhetoric doesn’t cut through truth like a sharp knife … it smothers it.

 

I do worry about the simplicity rhetoric out there.

 

And I worry because I know nothing about … well … a lot of shit <to put it bluntly> and I suspect most things are quite complicated … not simple.

 

I worry that literalness ignores the nuances which dictate the truth.

 

I worry because literalness is certainly easier to grasp by people. And I worry if they grasp a literal untruth and believe it … well … it becomes a perverted moral drift society truthtruth.

 

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“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”

 

——

 

Bill Bernbach

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Look.

 

Savvy communicators have always been … well … savvy … savvy at manipulating not only our thoughts but also how we feel. They tap into our pea like brains like surgeons. And they do so using tools of both literalness and nuance/subtlety. In fact .. the best wield one in each hand.

 

Now.

 

There are a certainly a variety of tried & true ways we get manipulated/managed by speakers <this list represents a Great Courses course on persuasive speaking>:

 

Show the obstacle and overcome it

 

Empathetic authenticity <I see myself in them>

 

Create and tell a Story

 

the Power of the ‘three‘ <we LOVE lists … and short doable & rememberable lists>

 

the Logical Case

 

Paint a Pictures <with words>

 

Share a vision

 

appeal to the head, heart & wallet

 

Inspire with a Call for positive action

 

 

nuance litte thingsSuffice it to say that managing the narrative matters and how you state the narrative matters. And more often than not how we communicate, when being effective in doing so, sends subtle signals.

 

Yes. Nuances matter.

 

All literalness does is permit we <the listener> to add our nuanced beliefs on top of the starkness and that translates into a stronger self-biased attitude.

 

I am not suggesting literalness be replaced by bullshit buzzwords and cool sounding strategies but rather that facts are supported by subtle and nuanced aspects to reflect the most important truth – facts are complex.

 

I could argue that subtlety and nuance represents the difference between true effective sustainable functioning structures and inefficient unsustainable nonfunctioning structures.

 

But I will not.

 

I will not because the real answer is that … well … we don’t know for sure.

 

But what we do know is that effective communication is the lifeblood of any healthy work & personal environment.

 

We also know that communication takes place on multiple levels in order to be truly effective – literally what we say as well as how we say those things.

 

We also know that emotion is the energy behind any true action. Without emotion action is … well … robotic at its core. In other words … it creates a task doing and checklist completion attitude.

 

Uh oh.

 

Task doing and completion attitude unfortunately feeds into a ‘gullible’ perspective , i.e., just doing what I was told.

Now.

That may not be true … but it certainly creates that perspective.

 

Look.

 

I absolutely do not believe we are anymore gullible today than we were yesterday.

 

I do believe one of the most unfortunate consequences of information accessibility <in its overwhelming way> is that literalness has taken on a significant importance in our heads <and, therefore, it affects our behavior>.

 

I also like to remind people that we suck at knowing what we want.

 

In an information accessible world we say we want black & white … but we really don’t. We crave subtlety & nuance and colors. We just desire it in a way that doesn’t make us work too hard.

 

And, frankly, that is no different today than it was yesterday and nor will it be any different in the future.

 

Give us something we can understand and enjoy … give us the literal truth in a story line in which we can embrace … give the black & white some nuanced rich & royal hues … and well … you have trapped my mind emotionally and logically.worth a try show for it life

 

That, my friends, does not reflect gullible in any way. That reflects a well-informed, engaged semi-enlightened population.

 

Subtlety is surely not dead. And we should be seeking to use it more often … or at least try.

 

Literalness may be currently standing in the spotlight but subtlety & nuance is standing nearby awaiting literalness to wilt under the harsh light of … well … what is truth.

 

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“Once you create a self-justifying storyline, your emotional entrapment within it quadruples.”

 

Pema Chödrön

Enlightened Conflict