Enlightened Conflict

one of those dumb days where

June 13th, 2017

do nothing sloth impossible every day jo

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“We are dying from overthinking.

 

We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything.

Think. Think. Think.

 

You can never trust the human mind anyway.

It’s a death trap.”

 

Anthony Hopkins

 

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“It’s one of those dumb days where nothing’s really wrong but nothing’s really right either and the sky can’t even choose to be white or gray.”

 

Andrea Portes

 

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nothing neon sign

 

“Nothing” days.

 

 

Its hard to believe with all that shit we always seem to have to do and all the shit that seems to be happening around us and all the shit society, people and culture claims we are demanded to pay attention to … there can be nothing days.

The dumb days in which nothing happens <albeit lots of somethings actually happen>.

 

I think this is one of those things I didn’t think about until I actually thought about it — how can a day be nothing when you actually did a shitload?

 

Sure.

 

There are some people who get busy doing nothing <I actually call this ‘the art of looking busy’ and have a piece on his coming up>.

 

But the majority of us do a shitload of something on the days which we tend to i expect nothing still too muchview as having done nothing.

 

And I am not sure that is particularly healthy.

 

You can surely assess what you have done and apply some value less than what you wished you could assess … but even that “lesser value” is not zero, therefore, it is not nothing.

 

Personally I think this happens because the majority of us have a natural resistance to nothing. What I mean by that is being associated with “nothing”, particularly in a country that extols doing, creates some sense of diminishing or diminished.

 

And no one likes to feel either diminished or having whatever we actually did do be diminished to … well … nothing.

 

Anyway.

 

What that means is we will apologize for ‘nothing’ with a variety of reasons – distracted, bored, tired, etc. – because in the end our internal integrity compass wants to point toward something to make us happy.

In fact … someone created something called the Nothing Day which has been commemorated since 1973. The day is literally about doing nothing at all. There is absolutely no purpose or intended structure for this pointless celebration.

 

especially if its nothing days

 

My point isn’t that we should celebrate nothing or doing nothing or even the feeling we actually did nothing but rather that we see “nothing” where there really is something.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

This is even making my head hurt.

 

Let me try this.

 

Far too often we fall into an all or nothing assessment with regard to our day. What that means is we could actually do a shitload but if it doesn’t meet some “something” standard it then falls to a 100% nothing value.

That is nuts.

 

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“Either I reigned supreme or sank into the abyss.”

 

Simone de Beauvoir

 

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And I can honestly say its nuts because I do it. I can reach the end of a day with a long list of shit I have done and sit back and say “shit, I did nothing.”

And I don’t think I am that different than a lot of people.

 

I could speculate why we do it but I will not.

 

Mostly it is because we think, think & think about the shit … and overthink it … and it is a death trap.

 

Mostly I think society & culture seems to put an extraordinary amount of value on tangible recognizable outcomes therefore if you just do shit … but the shit doesn’t offer some trophy outcome you can hold up for everyone to see than … well … we think we have nothing to show for it. That is also a death trap.

 

That’s dumb.something and nothing sign

 

Not only is that dumb it is the foundation for one of those dumb days where nothing’s really wrong but nothing’s really right either and the sky can’t even choose to be white or gray type feeling … which is a pretty dumb feeling to have.

 

All I can say is that the next time you think it is one of those dumb days where you did nothing … maybe stop overthinking and make it a simple thought — I did some shit today. I will do more shit tomorrow. And eventually some good shit will happen.

confusing America First and Economics First

June 1st, 2017

normalizing america bad behavior values phoenix

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“America is great because she is good.

If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

 

Alexis de Tocqueville

 

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“We Americans are a do-it-yourself people.

We are an impatient people.

 

Instead of teaching someone else to do a job, we like to do it ourselves. And this trait has been carried over into our foreign policy.

 

Nixon from his Silent Majority speech

 

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So.

 

It is a little difficult to unpack everything happening with regard to “America First” and what it means for America short term and long term.

 

trump embarrassed point leader bullyI have a lot to suggest on this topic but because there is so much let me offer some overarching ways of viewing it all. I would also like to note that I am purposefully using Trump as a reference point and not Republican or Trump administration because I believe we would be incredibly shortsighted to not believe that his personal views on how the world exists <in his mind> do drive his behavior and the decisions being made:

 

  • How Trump views the leadership concept of dragging up versus dragging down

 

  • How Trump views rules & regulations

 

  • How Trump views I versus team

 

  • How Trump views uncertainty

 

  • How Trump views life only through a dollars & cents lens <driving an economics first, and only, view>

 

All of these views drive America First … all of which <I would suggest> actually encourage an America Alone strategy. In addition … to a larger extent … all actually encourage an “every man for himself” attitude <kind of an extremely perverse version of traditional conservative ideology>.

 

Dragging up versus dragging down

 

As of this writing I have no clue whether America will stay in the Paris Climate agreement but I will use it as an example of how Trump views America leadership and leadership in general <because it applies to almost everything he is doing>.

 

Leaders understand that to lead you need to ‘drag up’ behavior. This comes at shift up or downan expense in that you are demanded to do more things and act a little ‘better’ without any real compensation.

Yes. This makes Life harder for the leader and mostly offers no additional compensation for the extra effort. You do it because it … well … leads behaviors and attitudes.

 

For example, part of the Paris agreement was that United State had higher standards. This certainly places a burden on American companies. It also translates into an innovation push to meet those standards. And, ultimately, because we lead in innovation the rest of the world will eventually buy our innovations. This leadership also encourages other countries to ‘play up’ as close to United States as possible. Our ‘compensation’ for our better behavior may not be apparent short term but bears the fruits long term <and it is what leaders do>

 

Conversely, if United States drops out, the overall leadership standard drops and, as any organizational study will tell you, the overall tide of standards will sink lower as things get dragged downwards.

This is, simplistically, why leaders have higher standards in business. It drags the organization up … and not down.

 

Trump does not understand this. Nor does he believe in this. I feel comfortable saying this because if he doesn’t understand how his current behavior drags down … well … everything it is indicative he doesn’t understand dragging up.

 

 

Rules & regulations

 

I took a big gulp as I found a list of regulations the Trump administration has obey ruleseliminated while we were watching the general incompetence <by the way … I am not suggesting eliminating things is any less incompetent because even on that Trump seems to follow an “if it exists it should not exist” strategy and not “a thoughtful consideration of its impact” type decision> of Trump leadership.

 

Think of it is this way. Trump believes if there had been no rules & regulations he would be the wealthiest man in the world. He has never found a rule or regulation he has ever liked. He also believes that if he thinks that everyone should think that. I have written about capitalism a zillion times and I have argued that unfettered capitalism simply brings out the worst in people and increases inequality. Rules & regulations, done well, tend to herd behavior <and everyone makes money>.

 

Trump doesn’t think rules apply to him so why wouldn’t we expect him to eliminate rules so he doesn’t even have to pretend he plays by the rules.

 

I versus team

 

Trump has never been part of a team nor does he have any desire to be a team leader. How this translates into his decision attitude is that the global interconnectedness is irrelevant to him. No. He actually thinks it is a negative.

We are not a global team seeking to win but rather it is ‘every man for himself.’ Unfortunately this attitude also cascades down into domestic policy.

 

And because I used the Paris Climate deal earlier to make a point on something else I will do so again here. One would think it would be remarkable that someone who has not appointed someone to run the White House Office of Science and Technology <a person who traditionally serves as the President’s chief science officer> or has the majority of posts on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology <a group of civilian science and tech leaders who advise the president> unfilled would feel qualified to make this Paris decision.  However, if you do not value a team effort and believe “I” is all that matters then the qualified support doesn’t really matter and, in fact, could negatively affect “the I.”

That is what he is doing with … well … everything. “I” is all that matters … ‘fuck office-politics-navigator-sledgehammer-business-jerks-speechthat team thing.’

 

All that said. Everything Trump does and supports gives the finger to anything that could be construed as a team effort. It is “I” in the world. “I” as a country. “I” as a business and … well … “I alone” is the mantra.

 

That said, “it has always been about me and just me” bleeds into everything Trump believes and does.

 

Uncertainty

 

Suffice it to say Trump views uncertainty as a positive <with regard to everything> therefore he is willing to commit to no long term plans or vision and , at the same time, spin the wheel of the ship to wrench it in some direction yet to be identified. It also seems to me that wrenching the entire system 180degrees creates what I offered up as the biggest flaw in Trump’s way of doing business — uncertainty.

 

He does this because he thrives on the belief America will ultimately benefit from uncertainty. He believes that America will swoop in now that is it is free from the shackles of the ‘old order’ <way of doing things, deals, regulations, etc> and dominate what … well … we plans-plus-certainty-fail-uncertaintyalready dominated.

 

The country that has spent decades constructing an international construct based on free trade, multilateral cooperation, a global alliance network, and the promotion of democratic values has now chosen as its leader a man who detests any structure supporting any & all of those things. He wants a demolition derby hoping his car is the winner.

 

This is a bad idea. Very bad. And, once again, while I am disappointed in Trump I am even more disappointed a business man <the secretary of state> thinks this way because it ignores business 101.  Well. It ignores business 101 depending on whether you think America is special, exceptional in some way or that part of what makes America distinct in the world is not the bigness of our economy but rather the bigness of our idea.

 

That said, Trump doesn’t believe in big ideas he only believes in big money. Oh. If you have no ideas the only way to make money is to take advantage of uncertainty. The problem is that America is built on an idea & ideals and not money and while we may <if we are really lucky> benefit economically we will do so at the sacrifice of our ideas, ideals and leadership in this uncertain world Trump desires to play his dangerous game in.

 

Leaders don’t act with uncertainty as their compass they use certainty to lead. Of course, Trump wouldn’t know how to lead even if given an instruction manual with lots of pictures.

 

The dollars & cents lens <economics first>

 

I am not a diplomat or some foreign policy expert but I admit that I took a big gulp the other day when I saw secretary of state suggest that America should american global comercial ineterstmake economic and security needs above American ‘values.’ It seems to be that everything will be decided on an exchange of money and not on an exchange of ideas <where value is a combination of economics and values>. Yes. This means that everything and everyone will be viewed through a dollars & cents lens — if you have money, let’s talk.

 

US foreign policy, Tillerson said, is guided by fundamental values, but he cautioned: “If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to over a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”

 

Well.

 

This seems horribly misguided.

It seems to me while USA is in the ‘doing & making & selling shit” business we are also in the “doing & making & selling shit with values” business.

It seems to me that USA should not really be in the “partnerships of convenience” business where we can conveniently set aside our values & ideals but rather we are in the “partnership with ideals” business where we are delighted to do business with you but you are gonna have to accept the fact we are gonna showcase freedom, democracy and what we believe people deserve.

 

But, that’s me, because to Trump everything is marginalized excepting economics <money>.

 

Let’s be clear … our values don’t get in the way of our economic interests. To believe that is to not believe in ‘value’ <in which premium price relies on some value equation above a dollar is a dollar>.

 

Anyway. Dollars & cents seems quite short sighted. As Gen. George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, commented in 1945, Washington could no longer pursue a narrow conception of national interest or limit its strategic horizons to the Western Hemisphere: “We are now concerned with the peace of the entire world.”

 

To me, the pursuit of “America First” can often be accomplished best by protecting and defending the rights of others which actually includes economic relationships.

 

On that note I dug up a speech made on December 20, 1951 by Dean Acheson which laid out a view of American foreign policy very different from Tillerson’s:

 

——————–

The greatest asset we have in all the world—even greater than our material america one heartbeatpower—is the American idea. No one needs to tell an American audience all the things that this holds for us. It is so much a part of our everyday lives that we do not stop to define it, or to put it into packages for export. But throughout the world, wherever people are oppressed, wherever people dream of freedom and opportunity, they feel the inspiration of the American idea.

 

What we are trying to do, in our foreign policy, is to make possible a world in which our own people, and all people who have the same determination, can work in their own way toward a better life, without having to bear the yoke of tyranny.

—————-

 

Look.

 

I have always known the Trump administration would be putting economy, money, above all and I did outline some concerns I had about attacking a foreign policy based on transactional relationships in some past pieces … but it now has become a reality … it is commerce over conscience.

 

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“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.

Steve Maraboli,

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I think this is a little crazy to think this way as a country. Money is the currency of survival in today’s world and offers an ongoing temptation for “well, just a little bit more would be nice.”

I would be naive to not understand that while 90% of us know money isn’t everything … that same 90% knows money is something. I mentioned it that way because it becomes easy to think money as a ‘this or that’ thought, everything or nothing, and, yet, in this case it is not everything but is certainly still something.

 

That said … Money is 100% everything to Trump and I think Trump yielding the high ground to simply gain some perceived temporary ‘economic advantage’ is simply wrong and will come back to haunt us.

 

To be clear … Trump wouldn’t recognize the high ground if it smacked him in the face.

 

hope light at end of tunnelIn the end.

 

Whew.

 

“The U.S. is, for now, out of the world order business.” <Robert Kagan>.

After more than 70 years, American internationalism was pronounced politically dead.

 

What is really stunning, and upsetting, to people like me is that now the United States is going backwards. It is simply beyond me that we are steering ourselves toward antiquated systems and antiquated thinking rather than moving forward to leading in innovations and ideas. I can only feel a sinking feeling in my stomach as the rest of the world understands what Trump, and his administration, apparently does not … that the United States is about to give away the markets, the technology, the innovation, the jobs and … the leadership. The unifying thread through Trump’s agenda appears to be an attempt to resurrect an earlier antiquated world which marginalizes future considerations and maximizes short term considerations culminating in a stunningly self-destructive United States act of diplomatic and economic isolation.

 

We have faced other crisis in our history and have become stronger by rejecting the easy way out and taking the right way in meeting our challenges. Our greatness as a nation has been our capacity to do what had to be done when we knew our direction and path was right.

 

There is a price to pay if America concludes we are now indifferent to freedoms globally as well as global issues and sit on the sidelines willing to watch it diminished under the guise of “we will not lecture or suggest we know better than you” <which, frankly, is about as un-American as you can get because we DO know better — freedom of thought, religion, speech, etc is better & good> in combination with suggesting “but we will talk with you of you have some money to give us.”

 

I would note that Pew surveys show United States becoming less and less popular and while popularity is not the best measuring stick I could suggest <in looking at the information> that the decline is a reflection of our growing indifference to democratic values and increasing interest in economic values.

 

The world see United States under Donald J Trump assuming a transactional based relationship with the world and not a democratic based relationship with the world.

 

Sigh.

 

There is a price to pay for such positions.

 

Here is what I believe.normalizing america bad behavior values phoenix

 

Trump’s attempt to reverse the shift toward the future is not sustainable. Going backwards never is. And while his quasi-insane onslaught against any rule & regulation under his belief that rules & regulations were the only thing that kept him from being the wealthiest man in the world he is actually going to be a horrible temporary “aberration” in the world’s long march toward the future.

 

I also believe this aberration will come at a terrible cost to America. We may become first but first to the bottom looking up at those who chose to lead the way forward not lead the way backwards.

 

Trump is a profoundly mediocre man with a profoundly dangerous idea of how to make America First.

 

I personally don’t believe Trump has ever known what America First meant … it was simply a slogan to him. It would behoove him to think about this: If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great <Alexis de Tocqueville>. An Economics First strategy sacrifices “the good” which inevitably means America will cease to be great.

For that, I will never forgive Trump. Ever.

 

the false comparison trap

May 30th, 2017

compare-iridescent-person-colorful-special

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“As with events, so it is with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water.”

 

—–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“The sphinx must solve her own riddle.

If the whole of history is in one man, it is all explained from individual experience.”

 

——

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things.”

 

—-

Bruce McTague

 

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So.

 

life explained tat awkward moment birth deathWe LOVE using the past to try and explain shit. Past people, past events, past words and past … well … everything.

When we are faced with something new, or someone new, we immediately start sifting through the scrap heap of the past to start creating some semblance of a jig saw puzzle to explain what we are facing.

 

There are a number of problems with doing this.

 

The biggest is that scraps are scraps. Oh. And the scraps used to reside in a completely different context <which is impossible to recreate>.

 

And, yet, we continue to try.

The problem is that in doing so we elect to not judge the present on the merits of the present. We decline to judge a person as they are, the circumstances as they are and the decisions on the merits of what it is. We do this with everyone and everything … how money is spent, decisions we need to make, new people we have met and even leaders. We do it all partially well intended <we want to make sure we make a fair assessment of hat we are seeing & hearing> and partially because simply examining something and stating “this is good” or “this is bad” <or acceptable or unacceptable> seems … well … flimsy.

 

Comparisons tend to make things look more solid.  And, yet, we tend to absolutely suck at creating the proper comparisons.

 

And, that happens for a variety of reasons – also some well-intended and some not so well intended.

 

I will start with the well intended.

 

As Emerson once wrote: “our being is descending into us from know not whence.” And we struggle with that truth. It makes us uncomfortable … uhm … no … REALLY uncomfortable.

If we don’t know where things descend from then we begin to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find comparisons to do so. this all comes at the expense of judging what is, the beings and such, on the merits of what exists. And this is where the shit hits the fan. We either dip into our own memories or a slew of people start telling us what memories to take a look at <the latter is part of the not so well intended>.

 

Well.

 

Here is an unfortunate fact … our memories, which is how we tend to judge and create mental comparisons, are constructive and reconstructive

 

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“Many people believe that memory works like a recording device.

pico memory key thumb drive

…….. our memory chip ……..

You just record the information, then you call it up and play it back when you want to answer questions or identify images. But decades of work in psychology has shown that this just isn’t true.

Our memories are constructive.

They’re reconstructive.

Memory works a little bit more like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people. “

 

Elizabeth Loftus

 

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“You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it.”

 

——

(via 1112pm)

 

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We desperately want to define things through comparison and continuously ask the universe for signs to show us what we want.

 

We desperately do so because in the absence of some comparison we would then have to judge what is on the merits of what exists — the good, the bad and the indifferent .

 

That doesn’t mean a shitload of people around you aren’t gonna try and affect how you will build your comparisons and encourage you to compare in some fairly creative <sometimes absurd> ways.

 

What do I mean?

 

I go back to the psychologist Ebbinghaus who studied memory construction <his published essay Über das Gedächtness in 1885> where he realized that memory and recall of continuous passages of prose or verse would be affected differentially by people’s experiences and prior knowledge.

Memory is a snare, pure and simple; it alters, it subtly rearranges the past to fit the present.

 

Mario Vargas Llosa

 

 

What that actually means is that the memory you tap into to create the my-worst-enemy-is-my-memory-projectcomparisons you seek are slightly mangled by yourself <in how you remember it> and can be manipulated by devious not so well intended people around you.

 

The Constructive and reconstructive nature of memory:

 

  • Memories are distributed; not unitary

 

  • “remembering” involves retrieving and reassembling

 

  • memories can be revised over time

 

  • Reconstruction is filling in “missing details” on the basis of logic, assumptions, what “must have been the case”

 

  • More common reasons for forgetting: Lack appropriate retrieval cue = something you attach to a memory, can use to recover it>

 

  • Reliable retrieval cues are key to access <and multiple retrieval cues are best>

 

  • Existence of older memories blocks access to newer ones

 

Ah.

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our own eyes.

But, not surprisingly, this is the exact same issue new ideas, “white space” theories, fresh thinking, true <not made up> disruptive people & things face.

 

All tat said. I will point out that something doesn’t have to be truly new to face false comparison challenges … it can simply be a new person in an existing role or a common problem or question just in a different time.

 

Suffice it to say anything new, or any change, is being asked to be defined by the past. And there will never be a lack of people stepping up and suggesting they can define something through a variety of comparisons <many of which you spend more time trying to fend off than is worth the time>.

explain with rational mind

This is a mistake. This is a fundamental error we make. It assumes what is can somehow be extrapolated by something by what was <the past>. In reality, as I have noted numerous times, I cannot exactly extrapolate the past because I cannot exactly replicate the past … which means <in harsh terms> there is nothing there and nothing from nothing is … uhm … nothing.

Yeah.

Most comparisons end up meaning nothing <although they look like something>.

Yeah.

This means most comparisons we create are just plain and simple false comparisons.

 

Without trying to be flippant with regard to what I believe is a fairly standard operating procedure for people … we need to stop. Stop false comparisons.

It is a trap.

And a dangerous trap.

 

Comparisons normalize that which should not be normalized … just as comparisons can de-normalize that which should be normalized.

False comparisons wielded by the devious can construct almost any “normal” you could desire <even if it is hollow & not really normal>.

 

Anyway.

 

In today’s world there does seem like there is a lot of crazy shit happening. And in our desire to veer away from the “crazy shit” feeling we seek some comparisons to normalize the situation <thereby calming the ‘crazy shit feeling>.

 

Just a couple of notes of warning on that.

 

<a> Finding comparisons, if done well, you can actually be convinced there really isn’t crazy shit happening even though there is truly some crazy shit easter crazy kidshappening.

 

As a corollary to <a>,

 

<b> if there is truly some crazy shit happening there will be no shortage of people ponying up false comparisons trying to convince you that there is no crazy shit happening <and some of them will be quite effective>.

 

The only reason I point out the warning is that there really is some crazy shit happening and we need to stop finding comparisons to make today, and some people, look a little less crazy than it really is.

 

There you go.

 

I will end where I began … “Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things <and people>.”

We should invest the energy judging what is, people, ideas and things, based on their present merits not some false comparisons from the past.

 

what firing someone says about you

May 10th, 2017

you sir are fired

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“We should place confidence in our employee. Confidence is the foundation of friendship.

If we give it, we will receive it. Any person in a managerial position, from supervisor to president, who feels that his employee is basically not as good as he is and who suspects his employee is always trying to put something over on him, lacks the necessary qualities for human leadership – to say nothing of human friendship.”

 

—–

Harry Humphreys

 

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“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”

 

—-

Agha Abedi

 

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Well.

 

Leading and managing people is possibly one of the most rewarding things you fire bee strategy drive incan do in a business career.

 

Firing people is possibly one of the most unrewarding things you can do in a business career.

 

Unfortunately these two things are inextricably linked.

 

I could argue that once you assume responsibility for firing someone you learn more about yourself, and I imagine others learn about you, than almost any other responsibility you assume as a leader.

 

No one likes firing people. Well. no one who is any good at business leadership. I don’t care if you absolutely hate the person you are firing, if the person has actually committed a fireable offense and you are in the right to fire them, or even if you fire someone for good reason … suffice it to say … it never feels good to fire someone.

 

And because of that … a good business leader never delegates the tough termination. And they never send someone to terminate a direct report.

Generally speaking … you fire anyone who is a direct report, or you were directly responsive for hiring, face to face.

 

Yeah.

setbacks one of those days poohThis may not be, logistically, the easiest thing to do but it is part of the burden of responsibility. It is the mantle you wear and it is what you are obligated to offer the person being terminated – dignity & respect.

 

Anything less than that and you are shirking your responsibility.  Anything less than that is … well … chicken shit. And you are a chickenshit business leader if you do not do these things.

 

Sure.

 

What I just shared is a hard lesson but one business people learn in young management.

 

I will never forget the first person I ever fired. Paul.

An absolute great guy in absolutely the wrong position and possibly career. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to terminate him. While I was 99% sure it was the right thing to do <and my boss and her bosses agreed> there was an extraordinarily loud 1% in my head that kept me awake that night.

Inevitably he chose a different career and went on to become an SVP of sales.

And he was kind enough to drop me a couple of notes to tell me it all worked out for the best.

 

But I will never forget firing him. I can honestly say I never forget anyone I have fired <and that is a semi-long list after years of management>.

 

However.

I would like to think my leadership career is measured more by the people I did not fire.

 

Not firing, in a larger organization, can be harder than you think.

 

I think I spent more time explaining to the most senior people why I would not fire some of the people I managed than I did ever discussing almost anything else about employees with them.

 

Well. That is … it felt that way.

The crap that floats upwards into senior leadership about individual employees is amazing. The littlest mistakes and quirks seem to take on exponential size when it arrives at the most senior people — and they do not hesitate to share their disproportional views.

 

Regardless. All of those views cut into the ‘trust belief’ … are they respected within the organization, do they have the trust of the organization and can they be trusted with their responsibility.

totally worth it show for it life

And that is when you earn your stripes as a manager. You do not cave in to the ‘easy thing to do’ but rather stand up for your people and let the chips fall as they may. Oh. And you learn it is totally worth it to not take the easy way out.

 

Let me be clear.

No one is perfect. I was not a perfect employee nor was a perfect manager. And, yet, when judging employees there sometimes is the ‘perfect measure’ of which becomes the absurd standard.

 

Yes.

We should judge senior people more critically but we should judge them fairly.

 

Anyway.

 

I didn’t fire a lot of people. And I can think of at least 4 who made me incredibly proud that I didn’t … despite some pressure from others to do so.

 

All 4 of these have sent me notes at different points, not thanking me for not firing them but rather for simply giving them a chance, believing in them and seeing something in them that they knew <because all employees know when they are under ‘the human resources microscope’>  many others didn’t.

All 4 of them have been professionally successful and, more importantly, are solid good human beings. Neither of those are because I didn’t fire them but rather vindicate the non-firing decision.

 

All that said.

 

Firing someone, despite the pain of actually doing it, is often the easy way out and is certainly a way to avoid looking at your own flaws.

 

Flaws? I sometimes believe one of the hardest things you can learn in your career is that your best is not particularly special.

Learning the fact that your talent, in reality, is matched by a shitload of people.

Learning that your best is relatively easily matched by a shitload of people.

 

It is an unfortunate truth that:

 

  • Talent is talent.
  • Smarts are smarts.
  • And expertise is almost always relative.

 

reality-slapped-you-really-hardAt any given point in Life and your career you can look around you and if you are self aware you will note you are rarely the most talented, rarely the smartest one in the room and rarely the only expert.

 

Even on your best day you may not actually be the best.

I imagine that is a tough thing to get your head wrapped around.

But I also imagine if you do wrap your head around it evaluating employees and how you fire them is affected.

 

I always watch how someone terminates an employee.

You can learn a lot about people in that situation … and you can learn a shitload about how someone feels about dignity, respect and responsibility in how they terminate an employee.

 

===========

 

Postscript 1: under the general heading of “chickenshit” from a business perspective:

 

There are hundreds of different viable reasons to fire someone and if you have the responsibility to hire & fire and it is ‘at will’ you can do what you want. But HOW Trump fired Comey was chickenshit.

 

It wasn’t face to face with a direct report <or even face to face with anyone … just a letter delivered by a non-government employee>.

November 24, 2015

While there appeared to be no sense of urgency to terminate the action was taken with an absurd sense of senseless urgency which permitted Comey the indignity of being blindsided, in the middle of a commitment to the people who reported to him and not even in town.

 

This was a chicken shit way of terminating an honorable employee. It is indicative of Trump’s lack of character.

 

Postscript 2: Under the general heading of “this is some crazy shit” from a business perspective:

 

Firing someone for lack of confidence when the people who you are actually working for have a general lack of confidence in you is slightly surreal.

 

This may actually be the ironic point of the day.

Yesterday Donald J Trump fired his FBI Director because of ‘lack of confidence.’ Well. If that is a true criteria and I were to look at some national polling data I could argue Trump could be fired on the same criteria by the American people.

 

Most leaders do not defend their firing decision through childish name calling.

 

“Crying Chuck” “Richie” in quotes <instead of Richard>. Calling people diminishing names. Childish crap like that. I have been criticized as a leader for people I have fired, as well as people who i didn’t fire, and when appropriate I responded with some “why I did it” information but I never deflected my choice & decision onto others by suggesting they were not qualified to criticize … and I certainly always treated peers with a modicum of respect.

 

Tweet response rather than standing up in person

 

Sniping from the sidelines is not leadership.

Period.

‘nuf said.

and, just think, we have 1300 more days of this

May 1st, 2017

 

 

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

 pretending-to-be-normal

“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?”

 

“People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War?

 

Why could that one not have been worked out?”

 

President Trump said during Washington Examiner interview today

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

 

 

In 2013 bibliographers estimated that more than 65,000 books have been i-cannot-believe-that-happened-what-is-going-on-ouch-ponderwritten about the Civil War.

 

 

Sigh.

 

 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

 

 

======= GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Abraham Lincoln =======

 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln

November 19, 1863

a profoundly mediocre person

April 30th, 2017

easy hard said

=========

 

“I thought it would be easier.”

 

Donald Trump

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

 

“It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.”

—-

 

Donald Trump on anti-missile defense system

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

 

Well.

 

Today we begin day 101 of the Trump administration. And while I truly wanted

.......... Trump administration .......

………. Trump administration …….

to suggest that the administration had evolved from clown car status to even possibly a Hyundai status < or at least to a Lada> the leader of the administration, the driver president as it were, seems to want to continue being … well … a profoundly mediocre person.

 

Sad.

 

Sad not in that mediocrity is a bad thing but rather he continues to not see mediocrity whenever he looks in the mirror.

 

Mediocre? The two opening quotes came directly from his most recent interview … this one with Reuters <whose reporter I would give a raise to simply for not laughing out loud at times>.

They seem to sum up everything that makes me think Trump is just a profoundly mediocre person <and, unfortunately, my president>.

 

Frankly, I need to stop reading interviews he gives. Every time I do I <a> laugh out loud, <b> shake my head , <c> am mortified that someone like this is actually leading a country let alone talking with other incredibly qualified people leading their countries and <d> get angry. He always sounds like be believes he is the most interesting man in the world writing his own lines for the “Most Interesting Man In The World” advertising campaign.

 

<note: the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world was actually an interesting man>

 

Sad.

 

I will respectfully disagree with one of Trump’s most ardent followers who suggested yesterday that “that’s how a CEO makes decisions” because the typical CEO does not make decisions like this, does not use words like this nor do they behave like this.

 

All that said.

Another long interview and, once again, we gain some insight into the small brain of the “big handed” Donald J. Trump. He is foolishly naïve … often stunningly ignorant … a profoundly mediocre person.

 

What did he think the Presidency was?

 

Who thinks that being President is easy?

 

Who thinks it’s not a lot of work?

 

How could he be so blind sided … I mean … geez … all you have to do to see the difficulty and complexity of the job, and how that mental burden physically affects a President, is to look at before and after pictures of literally every President <who wasn’t wearing a wig>.

irresponsibility made easy

 

Even in this interview … one 99 days in <so he has had some experience to incorporate into his attitude & behavior> he still sounded like the guy at the end of the bar after having had one too many beers … talking about how he could be as good as any CEO in the world. From the corner of the bar everything looks easier … those of us who have seen the corner office knows it just ain’t that easy.

 

It’s a real job which has real challenges which requires some real skills and demands some real self-awareness.

It’s a real job and not one that resides solely in some imaginative place in which someone sits on a throne where decisions are untouchable and things get done with a word – a presidency may be the world’s most difficult job.

 

Given what I sense was his perception of the job, its responsibilities and its ‘power’ I can only imagine the bitterness he must feel confronted by the stark truth that in the ‘real job’ <not the one he imagined> he cannot simply do what he wants to do and not everyone respects him <if not admires him> simply because he won ‘the crown.’

 

Sad.

 

But lost among all of this “Trump all the time” coverage are the people who voted for him. As he called them “the forgotten American.”

 

You know what? I actually agree with him with regard to a lot of these people. Lots of people and their legitimate grievances were forgotten as we obsessed over a variety of well intended causes.

 

popularity mediocre peopleThey have a cause too … not just survival but economic opportunity and an opportunity to contribute as Americans should contribute.

And these people will pay the price not because as a mediocre president Trump ignores them <as many presidents have in the past> but because he raised their hopes and he is so mediocrely competent he cannot meet even the lowest hope.

 

Oh. That is not just mediocre … that is an asshat.

 

He is a mediocre man whose most immediate concern at the point of any decision is the Trump brand <which, at its core, is built around an image of ‘winning’>.

 

Oh, yeah, that win thing.

 

I cannot explain exactly what my feeling was when I read that in the middle of a discussion with reporters <on day 98>  about Chinese President Xi Jinping Donald J Trump stopped  and handed out copies, to each reporter in the room, of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

 

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red.

“It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

 

Oh. Now I know how to explain that feeling – mediocrity.

 

A mediocre man seeking to make everyone feel he is not mediocre.

 

A mediocre leader seeking to find ways to suggest he does not do mediocre sigh-thought-bubblethings.

 

Sigh.

 

On occasion we get glimpses of what I would call, if I were generous, … encouraging signs of reality buried in the bluster. Signs that he knows how difficult the job is <which sucks compared to his incoming beliefs> and that he is woefully unprepared for it all.

 

And when I am generous I start to think he could get better at it.

I hope so.

 

Oh.

Who am I kidding? He is a 70 year old, bombastic, thin skinned, desperate for approval, narcissistic, mediocre asshat. He is not going to change. We may see a glimmer of ‘good shit’ on occasion but I can almost say with 90% confidence level he will remain who he is … a profoundly mediocre person.

 

In the end … his desire to create entertainment and the constant image/perception of ‘doing something’ only creates more uncertainty & angst than it does real solutions & progress.

 

Beyond the fact he doesn’t act the way we should expect a leader of a business to act <let alone a president or a global leader> he verbally and behaviorally:

 

  • remains a constant threat to free speech, free press, independent courts, checks and balances with congress, minority rights

 

  • treats laws on nepotism and conflicts of interests as though they don’t exist

 

  • lies so habitually that we now hesitate to trust anything he says

 

  • is constantly amazed that the job is as difficult as it is, the world is as complicated as it is and that maybe the people who had been doing things in the past just were not as stupid as he thought they were

 

All of which provides constant evidence, to us, that so far is he is an utterly incompetent President.

 

Yeah.

 

only the mediocre quoteSorry to tell everyone but underlying all the glimmers of hope resides the one underlying truth of the moment … he is a bullshit artist and a profoundly mediocre person and that is what we should expect from day 101 on.

 

As one article summarized it perfectly — Trump is simply a profoundly mediocre person tragically unfit for the presidency.

 

He was on day 1. He was on day 100. He is on day 101. And he will be on every foreseeable day from this day on. A mediocre person who only sees an extraordinary person when he looks in the mirror.

 

“I thought it would be easier.”

 

Sad.

the dark days bad days sad black hole life

 

<and, yes, I will continue to criticize him as long as he stays in my criticism crosshairs on my chart>

 

that tempt you to believe your critics

April 30th, 2017

criticized no matter

===========

 

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.

There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.

 

Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

 

—–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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

 

So.

 

Several people have asked if I will ever lighten up on President Trump.

 

oh my god cover mouth silence do not speakWell.

 

Here’s the deal.

 

Yes. I am a harsh critic of Donald J Trump.

 

However … almost all my criticism & critique is done from a business perspective and not a personal perspective.

 

I do not know the man so commenting on him personally would seem silly.

 

But I do know business.

 

I do know some of the better senior business people.

I do know what good leadership and leading looks like.

 

I also know what business principles would be transferable to attempting to be a president <in a political system versus a “CEO” business system> and I know that I do not know shit about politics <but from afar I can see the maddening aspects and have no desire to work within the system>.

 

I do know that I am a harsh critic of myself … I am self-proclaimed perpetually dissatisfied business person.

 

I do know I am not a big self-promoter, tend to dislike extreme self-promoters and I value confidence … but quite confidence.

 

And that leads to my criticisms of Trump.

critical blame responsibility asshats credit

First and foremost Trump falls squarely in my criticism cross hairs. As the graph to the right indicates when someone is in the asshat space I will be harshly critical.

 

I would note that I assume everyone makes mistakes so if you view this chart as “emphasis of my criticism depending on where you fall on this chart” my level of criticism will naturally dial up based upon the behavior of the participant and not their actual actions <this can translate into some minor criticism even if something is done right and harsh criticism when a mistake is made>.

 

Now.

 

My second basis of criticism falls on progressive scale. The higher the responsibility the higher the expectations <of what you should know, how you should behave and what you actually do> and, ultimately, the higher the volume of criticism for less-than-appropriate behavior. Correspondingly, the lower the responsibility, the lower the expectation and … well … yeah … you get it … my level of criticism diminishes.

 

What does all of that mean?

 

I think we are all much more forgiving of someone who shows some humility and accepts responsibility and admits mistakes and is confident without being overbearing. And the more someone doesn’t show those characteristics the more likely our pendulum of criticism will swing toward … well … highly critical.

 

Ok.

 

I heard someone say “Trump could enact a miracle and some people will criticize him.”

That is not true.

It approaches Trump criticism from the wrong perspective in that it ignores the context that HE creates. I would be happy to not criticize him and I even have edged into giving him some credit on occasion.

But I do so hesitantly.

And I think many others are hesitant for the same reason.

 

Just as he has a tendency to exaggerate … well … everything … he makes it say out loud oopsdifficult to compliment him. There is no counterbalance and our fear , at least mine, is that giving credit seems to take on an exponentially exaggerated level with him. And I seriously doubt that giving him credit will be thanked by offering up some humility or admitting some past mistakes.

Therefore, just as it is with the guy in your office who wants to take credit for shit he has never done and believes that people don’t give him enough credit in general or don’t recognize how smart/talented he is … they absorb credit and compliments as “it is about time” or “what took you so long to see what I have been telling you” rather than “thanks.”

 

These kinds of people are hard to give credit to. And, in fact, these kinds of people almost make us NOT want to give them credit for anything <and , if we do, it tends to be muted>.

 

Does that mean my criticism is too harsh? Shit. I don’t know.

 

I don’t think so.

Harsh, in my eyes, would be if he was actually a business guy who was implementing solid business principles and I ignored that and simply was harshly criticizing some of the ‘art’ aspects of business <and not the ‘science’ part>.

 

But Trump is implementing none of the ‘science.’ In addition, he is the Dolph Lundgren of the artistic portion of business. He has no ‘feel’ for business just one speed and one style and one way of doing things.

 

And that is the basis for my constant Trump critiques — he is failing to meet what I would consider the basic business leadership standards of … well … even a higher middle manager type leader in a larger organization.

 

To be clear.

I am careful about how I criticize anyone in any position. While Trump is most likely not familiar with Plato, Plato offers us some guidelines with regard to how to evaluate a business person beyond simple evaluation of what they do:

 

=========

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

 

 

Plato

 

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

 

Behavior, business included, flows from these three things. It isn’t ‘good business instincts’ or ‘deal making skills’ or … well … any of the things Trump head-in-cloud-glasses-thinkflippantly tosses around with regard to what he believes <and he constantly suggests we all know this about him> is his incredible business skill.

 

And while I could take a stab at critiquing Donald J Trump on what his desire is <psychologically and tangibly> and I may be able to take a stab at what his emotional drivers are … I most typically do not. My critical evaluation mostly resides on ‘knowledge.’

 

His business knowledge and how he uses it.

 

All that said.

 

Yeah.

Sometimes I use some harsh words.

 

I have called him batshit crazy <hyperbole>.

 

I have called him a clown <he does portray some circus performer aspects on occasion>.

 

I have called him an idiot <misuse of a word to highlight what is actually ‘oblivious behavior’>.

 

Does that make my criticism too harsh? No. But what it may do is add unnecessary color to what should be a black & white issue.

 

Black & white?

grays black and white

As one article summarized it perfectly — Trump is simply a profoundly mediocre person tragically unfit for the presidency.

 

Criticizing chaos, or less than competent leadership behavior, or even less-than-principled foundational business acumen is simply pointing out unnecessary turmoil – or a situation which is at war with itself.

Maybe one should view my writings and critiques as the writings of a wartime journalist recording the battles, generals and strategies.

 

Maybe I should think of myself that way with Trump. Why? I want peace. I don’t want this turmoil. It is tiring and mostly unnecessary. And any viable sane business person who has ever held any significant responsibility knows that this is mostly unnecessary turmoil.

 

 

That said. I will continue with criticism … as harsh as is necessary … because I seek peace <because I believe America deserves it and not this shit>.

 

Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them

 

I opened with the Emerson quote, purposefully, for two reasons.

 

The first was what I just pointed out. I am a business guy and I recognize that not only is chaos & turmoil bad in business it is, more often than not, unnecessary and a reflection of poor leadership. While I may be a small voice in the grander scheme of things I will continue to use my voice to criticize with an objective of ‘peace’ instead of what we currently face.

 

My second reason resides in listening to the critics. Emerson is absolutely correct in that if you listen to critics and criticism too much you can very easily lose sight of what is truly important. Someone will always tell you what you have done wrong and what you are doing wrong. However. Not even listening to critics, simply ignoring their thoughts as irrelevant is the path of fools. Good leaders sift through the criticism for the valuable grains of truth. And while Trump clearly listens, obsessively I may add, he does not ‘hear.’ And, yes, there is a difference between listening and hearing <by the way … I wish media would impostor syndrome what i know doubtpoint that out to Trump surrogate who incessantly claim Trump is a good listener>. Trump listens to criticism and finds ways to ignore the truths in any way he can.

 

That said … the conclusion to that thought isn’t “you are wasting your time criticizing” but rather ‘ongoing criticism enable enablers to corral bad behavior.’ Ignoring incompetence or poor decision making or even misguided organizational development steps is not an option.

 

Criticism offers opportunities for course correction.

 

What that means is I will continue to criticize, harshly when appropriate, until the country is on a course … any course <because , in business, you learn that there is no one course just a choice among courses>. And I will criticize until he actually starts acting like all the other CEOs I have ever met, because, once again, this is not how good CEOs behave.

 

=====

Author’s note:

 

I continue to suggest everyone who desires to know how professional foreign affairs and intelligence people and military assess the Trump administration and Trump behavior should visit www.warontherocks.com . My favorite author just delivered a blistering commentary, criticism, of Trump called “The Incompetence Doctrine” … a must read for everyone.

====

 

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict