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.

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

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“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

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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.

 

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

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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.

 

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“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

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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.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict