Enlightened Conflict

executive coaching and solving obliviousness

February 24th, 2017

 

either madness or brilliance

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“… life coaching is quickly becoming one of the leading tools that successful people use to live extraordinary lives.”

 

some Life coach

 

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“WTF.”

 

Bruce

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Well.

 

Back in 2013 I asked the question ‘what did we do before life coaching’ … used life coachthe quotes above … and basically stated I thought Life coaching was a bullshit profession.

 

And while I received a great comment, which highlighted some good points on what coaching should & should not be, basically scolding me with regard to what I said … any ‘coaching’ isn’t really about telling someone what to do but rather providing an outside perspective attempting to show insights to help someone get to where they want to go.

To me it seems to me that all this coaching does is to assist in steps to insure … well … accountability … personal & managerial. And it seems to e that all this coaching does is make an attempt to better control one’s destiny <which I imagine is anyone’s real objective not just some executive>.

 

I know I could never be a coach mostly because I don’t think I am that positive nor can I use the words these coaches seem to love “world wants to give you everything you desire” … “your uniqueness is a pleasant gift you can give to the world” ….  “takes courage to follow the path you believe in”“positive energy always attracts positive outcomes”.

I know I could never be a coach because I do believe there are limits to someone’s ability … in other words … everyone has a ceiling. That doesn’t mean you cannot improve sideways or build some depth to improve or fill in some cracks in your ability … just that we do have a reality ‘stop sign’ with regard to our abilities.

 

Regardless.

 

I am just not that motivational.

It just seems like bullshit to me and all I want to do is to “talk about getting shit done the way you want to get it done using a good moral compass to guide it all.”

 

That would be my coaching selling point.

Kinda “blah.”

Kinda no bullshit.

 

And, you know what?

I talk with dozens of CEO’s and business owners on a random basis and they don’t need coaching … they just need some new perspectives to get them out of where they are mentally and step out for a fresh view on a topic, issue or problem. And they mostly don’t need any motivational bullshit, or any bullshit for that matter, or buzzword crap.

 

I still believe Life coaching <and I do toss ‘executive coaching’ in that segment … although most I have crossed paths with are less ‘faux psychologists’ and more ‘pragmatic measuring milestones’ advisors> as mostly bullshit.

 

But.

And this is a big but.

 

If I could ever point to a case in which I believe executive coaching, or Life coaching, may actually be useful … it would be with Donald J. Trump. I am fairly sure I have never seen a business leader with worse organizational leadership instincts and as poor inspirational, vision and communications leader skills.

 

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“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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obvious oblivious confuse blind lead

I am fairly sure we would have less than zero chance of convincing good ole Donald J to accept some coaching because I think he is oblivious to the fact he is not loved by all, he is not respected by all, he is not followed by all <because he attained the title> or that he is not perceived as a great business person by all.

 

He seems oblivious to the fact he actually has to ‘win over’ the skeptics <which every newly promoted leader knows you have to do> and that he actually has to ‘win over’ basic approval <which he is sorely lagging in>.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

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“There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions.

That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious.”

 

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

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While people can debate his appropriate approval ratings <most agree it is dismal> a new CBS study broke down the range of President Trump’s potential support by showing people separated, by themselves, into four groups:

 

  • The Believers. the strongest of Trump backers those backing him but waiting for him to deliver. Believers (22%)] are the president’s strongest backers, who like what he’s doing and how he’s doing it; defend him against his critics, and see him as defending the country against threats.

CBS oblivious Trump skeptics view organization

 

  • The Conditionals. Those quai-supporting him for now but waiting to see some results. Conditionals (22%)] will remove their support if he doesn’t ‘fix the economy’ for them. They’re also concerned about safety, but aren’t as all-in with everything Mr. Trump does, especially in terms of style. A quarter don’t like the tweets.

 

 

  • The Curious. The curious (21%) oppose Mr. Trump at the moment but ‘would reconsider’ supporting him if he does a good job. They’re looking for more than just results, though – they want Mr. Trump to reach out to them, and they want respect.

 

 

  • The Resistors. those who seem immovably, firmly opposed: The Resistors (35%). They want the Democrats to oppose Mr. Trump on many more things, rather than try to work with him; demographically, they are much more likely to be either African-American or Hispanic and young.

 

 

I would assume this is the specific type of information a leader, seeking to lead, would love to have. And if he/she <Donald J> chose to be oblivious to it … I would assume this is the specific type of information an Executive coach would love to have.

 

To ignore this type of information would not only be leadership malpractice but poor organizational awareness.

 

I wrote back in January that being aware that ‘converting Skepticals is always the key to organizationally unity‘.  No … it is not breeding excitement among the fewer believers nor is it attempting to placate the non-believers … getting an organization going is almost always about ‘the skeptical.’

 

Skepticals reside in the Promised Land for a leader. One foot in hopeful promise and one foot in practical promise.

I say that because 43% of America <Conditionals & Curious> are the Skepticals to Trump.

 

comfort talk face in the eye

……………… coaching Donald J. …………………

If I were coaching Donald J I would be focusing on that 43% day in and day out because … well … while I could argue it is the potential pathway to alignment … they actually reflect ‘effectiveness.’

 

If I were coaching Donald J I would tell him to be very concerned with the “resistors’ because … well … 35% is a ‘yuge’ number … as in massive. It is the kind of number that would keep any sane CEO awake at night.

 

If I were coaching Donald J I would also point out that if he would solve the Skeptical group they will inevitably drag a good % of the Resistors out of steadfast resistant into a ‘reluctant cooperator’ status <which is okay>.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

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“I wasn’t sure what was worse: being oblivious or living within reality.”

 

Shannon A. Thompson

 

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I admit.

It seems crazy to me to have to be writing this shit.

 

Like I said earlier … I speak with dozens of CEO types and know even more personally.  Not one … zero … would need this type of advice.

And why I can say that is simple.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their 1st manager position … 200 of them will make rookie mistakes. They will not have ‘coaches’ but they will have mentors & bosses and they will do some shit by trial & error and figure it out.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their senior level manager position … 200 of them will make some mistake … but only about 20 of them will make a mistake that reflects some obliviousness to what reality is.

 

Of the 200 people promoted to their CEO/business owner position … 198 of them will make some mistakes … but the mistakes they make will not be organizational type crap but rather “what to do first & how to do things” type missteps … and maybe 2 of them will remain oblivious to reality.

 

I am sure Executive Coaches can help out on the “what to do first & how to do things” type missteps and that is why that profession exists … but what the hell do you do with the 2?

<which I am tempted to suggest Donald J fits into>

 

Anyway.

 

Lastly.

 

I would coach Donald J. on the “yuge” difference between confidence & optimism.

Trump oblivious curious organizationI could view the numbers I showed earlier as well as some other attitudinal polls and get a nice sense that a larger group of my organization had a strong thread of optimism for a variety of meaningful things.

If I were the CEO, I would like that.

 

I could also view the numbers I showed earlier as well as some other attitudinal polls and get an uncomfortable sense that a larger group of my organization wasn’t exactly confident — with regard to me & my behavior as well as attaining the desired results.

 

To be honest. The situation could be worse. If I were that CEO I wouldn’t be euphoric but on the other hand I would recognize that, if managed wisely, I could close the gap between optimism & confidence and make it a ‘yuge’ win for the organization.

 

  • Donald J is not only oblivious I would suggest if he read what I just wrote he wouldn’t understand one aspect of it.

 

Sigh.oblivious do not want to hear

 

I honestly do not know what you do with regard to coaching a CEO who is either oblivious to the reality of his or her organization … or worse … believes it is irrelevant.

 

But maybe that is why I am not an Executive Coach. I wouldn’t know what to do to coach him.

 

What I do know is that because of Trump … I am actually rethinking my views on the value of Life coaching and Executive coaching.

 

 

How do you solve a problem when one half absolutely hates the other half?

February 10th, 2017

Polar Opposites conflict

 

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I want people to think about our politics here in America, because I’m telling you guys that I don’t know of a single nation in this history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.

This is the most important country in the world, and people in this body cannot function if people are offending one another.

Marco Rubio

 

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Well.

 

Polarization can create some pretty foul conduct.

 

Polarization can bring out the worst in people.

 

Polarization can create stillness within turmoil when movement within teamwork is needed <and desired>.

And.

 

Polarization within leadership is a virus that infects everyone in the organization … not just in leadership.

marco rubio speech on respectful conflict

I was reminded of this as I watched a completely underreported and under the radar speech Marco Rubio gave on the senate floor after <I believe> Elizabeth Warren had been asked to stop speaking.

Warren gained all the headlines where Rubio actually had the words we should have all been listening to. It is maybe 8 minutes long and worth every second.

 

 

Please note that I believe this message is more important than just one directed toward the Senate … it is a message which all Americans should take note of.

We are fortunate to have the privilege of freedom of speech & thought and we should embrace that freedom as one to permit healthy discussion, debate and disagreements … all of which should enable healthy, positive decisions.

 

Freedom is a tricky thing. In the United States of America we have the unique opportunity to “criticize a president without retribution.” <as past President Obama said to a group of military people at MacDill Air Force base>.

 

But our freedoms are being challenge by Trump and his attitudes & behaviors in ways we haven’t really seen in a very very long time.

 

The Trump Affect ripples way beyond simple executive orders and specific friends unfluencers ripples2actions that will have an impact on the people of the country. The more dangerous ripple effect is one of attitudes & behaviors.

Within this dangerous Trump affect ripple,  the freedom to freely criticize is a little less secure … and the way we criticize, debate & discuss in the Trump era appears to be one of not listening, not respecting and not believing that there could possibly be a way to do something differently than the way “I believe.”

 

Trump and his merry little band of morally corrupt liars suggest that there is no middle ground for “ladies & gentlemen to disagree with ladies & gentlemen” <note: this is a rip off of the Ritz Carlton motto>.

 

The Trump Affect has trickled down into his direct organization … the congress.

 

And within that ripple Republicans either embrace the bully opportunity or simply privately watch in horror as leadership decorum and leadership example <which, by the way, IS important as impressionable children and adult seeking cues on how to be leaders watch closely>.

And within that ripple Democrats screech & gnash their teeth in impotent frustration over not only having no power to shift the tides of change but also because, in their heart of hearts, they know this is not the way business should be conducted.

 

Balance has disappeared.

compromise balancing actWhile people can bitch & moan that decorum, in the past, has only encouraged stagnancy & lack of action they should not confuse with what business is conducted and how business is conducted.

Just as I am more accepting of my high school football coach if we have a losing season but the players play with respect & dignity and go to class and show signs of growing up with a healthy personal responsibility … I am less accepting of the coach who permits poor behavior & lack of respectful competition even if they win more.

You can have all the good in this case. But balance has been lost.

 

In fact.

 

We should face the fact that balance deserted us the day Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.

 

And that is why Rubio’s speech is so important. Without actually saying it he suggests that we shouldn’t let Trump drag us down into some dysfunctional squabbling amorphous blob of indignant jerks.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

———-

Rick Warren

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I like conflict and I think conflict is healthy.

creative spark light bulb

It is a basic Life truth that conflict is the positive friction that often creates innovations and new thinking and new ideas.

But, as with most things in life, there are degrees of conflict.

 

The kind of conflict we need now, more than ever, is the productive type.

 

We need to better embrace the valuable contradictions in life.

Things like:

 

Smart and funny.

Silent but says a lot.

Liberal conservative.

Cynical optimist.

 

Oh.

 

And enlightened and conflict of course.

 

We need to better embrace the fact that contradictions are powerful.

They create a chemistry ending in positive friction <when done right> and the fire for innovative thinking and thoughts.

 

In general I believe contradiction not only make life & people interesting but they also forge the kind of decisions that become the iron construct for a solid culture, civilization and country.

 

We need to embrace that conflict is part of life and not treat it as only a negative thing.

 

void embrace the unknownHumans are neither passive nor stagnant. We move. We do. We think.

 

Combine that fact with individuals are unique <although they may group together> and inevitably there is some conflict. It can simply be healthy competition or it can be staggeringly evil intended activity <i.e. there will be conflict because your point of view and thoughts shouldn’t exist and I am going to extinguish them>.

 

We need to embrace the fact that conflict can be “managed”.

Maybe call it competitive camaraderie. I call it enlightened conflict. I believe if people know more about stuff <I don’t really believe it needs a technical term> then conflict will be conducted with knowledge.

 

I would suggest that ignorance, and being close minded, guides conflict toward evil interactions … while knowledge guides conflict to responsible interactions.

 

Lastly.

 

We need to embrace that enlightened conflict is really some version of pluralism.

A pluralism in that it encourages, and embraces, freedom to learn and freedom to think different thoughts.

 

In the end I imagine what I really care about are people’s actions. They can remain mute as far as I am concerned as long as their actions respect others opinions and others lives and meets global responsibilities.

 

Look.

 

enlightened conflict ideasIt is silly to think that conflict doesn’t exist as part of our natural behavior <I apologize to all the “why can’t we all get along” groups>.

 

It is silly to think that friction between beliefs and causes is not the spark for something better.

 

It is silly to think conflict and friction is not good.

Good conflict leads to positive friction and ideation and evolution of ideas.

 

But it needs to be conducted with respect. Respectful disagreements & debate lead to two things:

 

  • Positive friction.

 

  • Enlightened conflict.

 

 

The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking.

The second is lack of ignorance plus conflict equals respectful competition.

 

We here in the United States have an incredible privilege … a freedom to say what we want and disagree and criticize whomever we want. We shouldn’t abuse that privilege by not understanding that it creates good conflict which enlightened conflict thinkenables ‘gooder’ ideas.

 

Marco Rubio did something in his speech which I endorse wholeheartedly … he tried to make an impact on his own little corner of the world … encouraging positive friction for enlightened conflict.

 

 

Marco Rubio had a stellar enlightened conflict moment … and more people should see it and listen.

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“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

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Trump voters deserve some dignity too

February 9th, 2017

pew survey america

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Walt Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them …

He knew that the fate of each one of us is inextricably linked to the fate of all.

 

The notion that the fate of each one of is tied to the fate of all is the essence of democracy.

 

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“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.”

 

Laura Hillenbrand

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“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.”

 

Rick Bragg

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So.

 

american handsI have been unequivocal on this issue from day one … people who vote, and voted, for Trump are no more, and no less, than anyone who didn’t. They are not ‘more stupid’, ‘more ignorant’ or more anything other than more for Trump than many of the other people.

 

Yes.

Trump is an unequivocal asshat.

 

Yes.

Some, and I mean a small sliver, of those who support Trump are asshats <let’s call them Deplorables>.

 

Yes.

As we watch Trump supporters twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend immature lack of leadership and some misguided behavior <with scraps of good ideas being wasted within> some of us want to smirk and say “I told you so” … or say worse.

 

That said.

 

Yes.

Most people who took the time to vote, who took the time to look around and think about their world, the world around them and maybe the world in a bigger sense <be that just America or global> deserve some respect. And they absolutely deserve human dignity … which anyone, regardless of who you voted for, should protect and recognize as one of the things that unites people in a democracy <albeit it oddly divides us at exactly the same time>.

 

Yes.

 

While I think Donald Trump is a moron … I cringe every time I hear someone describe the people showing support for him as ‘uneducated’ or focus the dignity prouddescription on “no college education.”

 

This implies they are stupid.

 

And it also implies everyone with a college education is not stupid.

Trump voters, as with 99% of any country’s population, are not stupid <and, I would note, people with a college education may actually own the market of stupidity>.

 

His supporters are real people with real worries and real lives … and are not stupid.

 

I wrote this in ‘calling of the trumpets’ back in January 2016:

 

In the end he is selling a false ‘us versus them’ narrative and he is selling empty promises by offering past glory which he will somehow craft as a phoenix from the fire.

It all sounds good.

Well.

It sounds safe … and ‘safe’ always sounds good when you view the future and see … well … fog and not a clear horizon.

 

But the future never … let me repeat … never resides in the past.

 

And people, including Trump followers, know that in their heart of hearts but when no one but a bombastic blowhard is offering what appears to be a viable alternative … some people, some smart people, with anger of feeling marginalized and concern for their way of life will follow even an empty promise.

 

But, once again, that doesn’t make them stupid. In fact … as I read what I have written I am surprised more people haven’t flocked to this asshole. Because asshole or not … if someone thinks he can deliver on ‘winning so much you will get tired of it’ and ‘being great again’ being an asshole can be overlooked.

 

We need to recognize Trump followers not as the ‘unwashed uneducated’ but rather as people, listen to them, debate and disagree with respect. And maybe, just maybe, we can convince them that the best version of them resides in the future which most likely will not look an awful lot like the past but be just as good if not better.

 

Trump is a moron but the people who are currently following Trump are anything but morons. They are thirsty and he is offering water. I may personally not want his version of water but I think it is up to me, and us, to show why the water I would offer tastes better than the water he offers.

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

 

Yes.

President Trump deserves the respect of the position … but he also deserves the criticism associated with how he assumes the responsibility of the position.

To date he has only earned the moniker of ‘moron.’

 

 

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“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

 

—–

H.L. Mencken

 

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But that does not make people who invited their hopes in him as morons. If we were to make such a link then … well … that would be a crowded room because how many of us have invested in some misguided hope at some point in our lives? <answer: 99% of us>

 

Now.

 

Google ‘why Trump won” and you will get about “160 million results in .6 seconds.”

The theories run from insightfully intellectually complex to scary simplistic drivel.

 

I would suggest that everyone take a second and go back to the “One Recession, Two Americas” study PewResearch offered us back in 2010. have have nots 2 americas

 

You would end up seeing that about 55% of America “lost ground”, encountering real difficulties & consequences, and the other 45% of the country “held their own” — the recession was largely free of major difficulties.

 

That 55% not only ‘lost ground’ but they feel marginalized economically, personally <as a citizen>, American-ly <they feel America is being marginalized> and politically.

And because they ‘lost ground’ they became increasingly concerned about their country, their economic state, their families, their jobs and their future as well as the future of their kids

 

For that 55% their world view looks better, and very different, than the world that currently exists.

 

Where you live also is associated with how well you fared during hard times: Easterners are significantly more likely than residents of the South, West or Midwest to have better weathered the economic storm.

I should also note that a college diploma is a strong shield against hard times: nearly six-in-ten college graduates count themselves among the 45% who experienced fewer difficulties during the recession, compared with 38% of those whose educational attainment was a high school diploma or less.

 

Suffice it to say that for about 55% of the country the recession either stopped your progress or ground it to a stuttering progress. And that was in 2010.

 

Which means for a good 6 years those who “lost ground” have had to look around and watch celebrated wins <of which most did not participate in>, watch America social progress happen <of which often didn’t look like the kind of meaningful progress they cared about> and watch a government continue to make promises that only seemed to come to Life for … well … not the Lost Grounds.

And all the while they kept hearing people say “the lost grounders” lives are improving <and they wondered ‘who the hell are those people talking’ and ‘who the hell are the people improving’>.

 

I don’t need to make any high falutin’ intellectually complex argument with regard to why someone voted for Trump … I can go back to this one piece of research and say “here is where the 40some million people who voted for Trump resides.” They are the “lost ground” 55% of America all the way back in 2010.

 

And you know what?

They deserve dignity in Life and, it would seem to me, that ‘losing ground’ in any form or fashion … real or perceived … dents a person’s dignity <among other things> and that is just not that difficult for even my pea-like brain to understand.

 

In the end.

 

I want to be clear that simply because we may learn to understand and empathize with the issues other people, including Trump voters, may have that we shouldn’t maintain a constant vigil for HOW the issues are being addressed … to protect our rights, freedoms and … well soul.

And I mention the soul because debates between two people grounded in ‘here is what I think’ very often grinds its way down into a very practical and pragmatic argument … one in which important things like ‘soul’ get left out.

 

where no hope incumbent on us inventIt is incumbent upon us to maintain steadfast vigil over who and what we want to be “when we grow up” as we grind away over issues in the here & now.

 

It is incumbent upon us to take on divisiveness of ideas, minds and desires with respect.

 

But.

 

It is also incumbent upon us to remain vigilant with regard to the Trump administration and how it addresses ‘de-normalizing’ some of our American ideals that have remained steadfast for centuries.

 

It is incumbent upon us to recognize that the worst of Trump, & the administration, simply plays to the worst that is within some people … and it is incumbent upon us to state, simply & clearly & unequivocally, there is something better than the worst.

 

It is incumbent upon us, all of us, to recognize that Trump is an instrument of awareness.

Good bad, beautiful and ugly … his blunt childish simplistic rhetoric bares some of the truths we all have to deal with. But I would suggest it is incumbent upon all of us to not allow him to be judge & jury, nor should we be judge & jury for each other <Trump voters & non-Trump voters> … but instead we should encourage every individual, whether they voted for Trump or not, to look in the mirror for the judge & jury.

 

Look.

 

I don’t get it.

I struggle to find a real valid reason that anyone took a risk on a choice like Trump for America <present & future America> … regardless of how deep in a shithole you may think we are.

 

But.

As noted in my opening quote … the fate of each one of us is inextricably linked to the fate of all. I am they and they are me … and that is just the way it is. patriotism Trump voter freedom responsibility

 

I will listen and debate and treat them with the dignity they deserve … they are no more, or less, a patriot than I.

 

I cannot judge the Trump voter and I do believe they deserve the dignity of their opinion, their thoughts … and their issues that in some way made them believe  Trump offered some hope in resolving.

 

What I do know is that I can judge Trump, and I will, and I will do so vociferously to Trump voters as well as to the world at large … mostly because I know I don’t want someone like me to be president … I want someone better than me.

 

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meladoodle:

 

why do trump supporters say they like trump cause he ‘says whats on his mind’… like no shit man, i have people in my tumblr inbox who say whats on their mind all the time. i had a guy send me a message that said “vape on my dick”. thats whats on their mind and they said it. i’m not like “oh man… dude… lead us…”

 

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wonder how the same thing can be both

February 7th, 2017

good bad best worst think do life be

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

 

“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.

I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

 

————–

Death

<in “The Book Thief”>

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

 

So.

 

This quote is said by Death.

 

Yeah.

Death is suggesting he considers humans beautiful … as well as everything else that we are … all the while resting comfortably in his chair awaiting the opportunity to end it all.

 

We all know we're going to die, but it's one of the few human experiences we don't like talking about. How can we change that?

I admit.

 

The thought seems slightly counter-intuitive, but I like thinking the thought that Death is a lot more complicated than we may think.

 

I like thinking that Death sees us … and assesses us … and maybe even judges us a little … as not one-dimensional things to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

 

I like thinking of death as not some grim reaper but rather a thoughtful person who has a job to do. One who contemplates the fact that some days will be good and some days just won’t be so fun.

 

I like thinking of Death One who can see the best and worst … acknowledging that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people.

 

And, I imagine, I like thinking of Death as … well … intelligent and not simply some mindless executioner wandering about seeking his next victim.

 

For sure this quote reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote about intelligence:

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

 

 

I believe it was Keats who called this ‘negative capability.’

 

best worst faces life people good badAs he explained <or tried to > “it is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

 

In other words … you understand, or least come to grips with, that there is a shitload of inconsistency and uncertainty in Life and, yet, you deal with it and do what you need to do.

 

<that’s my translation>

 

The truth in Life is that we really don’t have to be one thing because you’re not another thing – or not be something if you are something <you get it>.

 

It may seem impossible to appear to be a contradiction and, yet, be quite a successful, happy, productive bundle of contradictions.

 

Not only do you not have to be one thing forever but you can actually be a couple of things now … at the same time … in this time & place.

 

I sometime believe individual happiness is found more often than not in our ‘negative capability’ intelligence. In other words … how smartly we can navigate the contradictions in Life as well as the contradiction of what is within who & what we are. If we don’t learn negative capability then we must seem to inevitably seek to isolate being one thing and one thing only as a judge of whether we are living Life well, productively and with focus.

 

And maybe that is why I believe Death was, and is, intelligent — it has mastered negative capability. Death has embraced the contradiction of being one thing and yet living another seemingly contradictory idea.

If Death can see beauty in that which it will inevitably have to end with its own hand surely we can see good in bad … as well as be both bad & good ourselves.

 

Regardless.

 

It seems like there is a lesson in here for all of us. And maybe the lesson is, unfortunately, not that simple.

 

Death looks, on the surface, as one thing … and yet … is most likely another.

 

Death does one thing … and yet … most likely thinks many other things.

 

We view Death as one thing and avoid him … and yet … should we meet him on the street on his way to meet someone other than us … he may greet us with a smile.

 

While Death’s perception challenge  is actually called “affective fallacy” <confusion between what it is and what it does> this is a challenge we all face in Life.

 

I imagine, in the end, the lesson is a simple one … sometimes Life just isn’t that simple.

 

Ok.

 

Ditch the ‘sometimes.’best worst good bad life complicated

 

Life is never that simple.

 

We are more than one thing … we are a sum of all our parts … we are part of everyone we have met <and will meet> … and we are, at our core, a reflection of a multi-faceted character containing aspects of all which we desire to be as well as some aspects which we view slightly glumly as ‘the aspects I do not desire to be … but am.’

 

We either embrace the contradictions or … well … we will most likely suck at dealing with Life and living Life.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know is that I wish someone taught “negative capabilities 101” because we should all sign up for that class. It would be a better world if we were all competent in negative capabilities.

 

 

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

 

“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

 

Neil Gaiman

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

 

advertising and politics and what you have to say matters

February 6th, 2017

insights people

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“You aren’t advertising to a standing army; you are advertising to a moving parade.”

 

David Ogilvy

 

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“One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.”

 

Victor Hugo

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“The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying.”

 

 

David Ogilvy

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

 

 

So.

 

attitude foreign life adventure

 

Today there will be an onslaught of reviews, assessments and critiques of all the ads seen during the Super Bowl. You will not find one here today … or tomorrow … or any day for that matter.

 

Instead I want to take a moment and comment on business responsibility and their choices with regard to what they say, or do not say, in advertising.

 

I do so because in today’s heightened sense of politicism and divisive rhetoric a shitload of people are making noise about “advertising should honor the event and not use it to make a political statement.”

 

I am most likely in the minority within the marketing community on this issue but … that is nuts to me.

 

Uhm.

If not then … then when?

 

Uhm.

If not me … then who?

 

Yeah.

 

I fully understand  there are consequences & repercussions for your actions.

 

 

But let me take a couple minute to talk about the ‘actions’ part. Far too often this discussion devolves into a simplistic binary choice – an ‘either/or’ choice.

 

You stand for this therefore you hate that. business ethics direction good bad choice

 

 

In other words you cannot be pro-choice and yet respectful or understanding of pro-life … you cannot desire stronger immigration rules and still be accepting of immigrants … you cannot believe in your religion and still accept that how others worship is good & worthy.

 

Let’s face it.

 

Life, in most cases , is not some simplistic binary choice. You can, and should, believe in something and yet still can, and should, be accepting and respectful of others views. To be clear … to be successful in this endeavor we would not only need to embrace respect but also assume that most people, let’s say maybe 99% of people, do the best they can and make the best decisions they can <no matter how flawed those decisions may look in our eyes>.

 

Which leads me back to business and advertising.

 

I believe advertising, in general, should always seek to highlight the opportunity for us to see the better, or best, version of who and what we are.

 

And that is where I believe business marketing and advertising should not fear speaking out. And … I would point out … what I am suggesting is not political nor is it divisive but rather it is contributing to a better society.

 

It is not stating what you believe is wrong … but rather that standing up and speaking out for what you believe is right. Companies make statements all the time. Maybe they do more vocally internally but part of any good organization is a sense of what they believe is right, versus wrong, and how they may define integrity & values.

 

Frankly. We need more companies standing up and vocalizing this publicly.

This is not about saying “you are wrong for believing this” or “we do not agree with you” but rather more about normalizing what is right.

 

I talk with a shitload of business people … not about advertising or marketing per se … but rather about simply being successful in the marketplace.

 

we and you want the whole pie 2

 

I focus on distinction and not differentiation.

 

 

I focus on worrying about “me” and what I want to say rather than finding some elusive, and most likely nonexistent, ‘white space’ in some industry to shape what I ‘should say.’

 

 

I focus on saying the right things and doing it the right way and suggesting that if you tell people the right way to think about things that eventually people will see you as ‘right’ rather than ‘wrong.’

we and you want the whole pie 1

 

Look.

This is not about free speech or any political motivation, per se, but it is about how business, and work life, is an important part of the societal fabric of who and what we are and how and what we think.

 

This also means a business has to slide around the infamous ‘political correctness’ obstacle.

In my eyes … if you want to discuss how political correctness has gone awry … it would be in the business world. Political correctness scared businesses from assuming a role they had gladly played in the past.

It wasn’t too long ago that business played a significant role in shaping society. As Peter Drucker pointed out, back in the early 1990’s, something he discussed called “no more salvation by society” … a time in which businesses understood that work made up a significant portion of people’s lives and therefore they had some responsibility to investing in the fabric of society. As time and views have shifted toward ‘making a dollar’ and profits … the work place became less and less an extension of society but rather simply ‘a place to work and gain a paycheck’.

 

What an empty thought that is.

 

So empty that when meetings occurred to discuss ‘risk in their advertising’, and ‘what should we say’, was discussed … ‘social responsibility’ sat in the corner and had nothing to defend it … and businesses became afraid to make a stand on what they believed was good for society <and simply focused on ‘brand differentiation’ and ‘branding’ … in other words … I am gonna just worry about me and let you worry about you>.

 

Well.

 

This is not only sad … but wrong.

 

Our work lives, like it or not, represent a significant portion of our lives … not just in terms of sheer hours but also in terms of thinking we are exposed to, accepted behavior and general attitudes on what is right & what is wrong.fix society

 

For a business to avoid that ‘fabric of society’ responsibility is shameful.

 

And … yeah … advertising is the most visible expression should they actually accept the responsibility.

 

Ok.

 

Yeah.

 

That said. I go back to the beginning … yeah … there are absolutely consequences for your actions. But that is what business positioning is really all about. Distinctness and forcing people to think … think about you as a company, think about what you are offering … and thinking about how they feel about you, your message … and themselves.

That is what business positioning and marketing and advertising, at its core, is all about. We far too often dumb it down into some ‘selling shit’ sound bite but … well … that is dumb.

 

Yes.

I know.

 

People will debate with me and, to be fair, this whole discussion wanders along the razor thin line of inclusionary versus exclusionary. If your message is effective, concise and clear, it will absolutely be inclusionary for those who see themselves in what you have to say and offer … and potentially exclusionary to others at exactly the same time.

 

However, when done well, a business’s advertising captures the brand’s distinctness <which is a campfire to those who want to be included> and offers a better version of people <so that people do not dislike you … they imply think ‘they are not for me’>.

 

better version think road path society

 

But to do what I am suggesting a business has to set political correctness off to the side, not think about politics at all … and simply think about … well … people. The people who they desire to try their products and services and how they would like to showcase those people as the best version of themselves. Maybe show them the destination mentally or maybe even share the path. It doesn’t matter … it is intended to connect with some better version that resides in everyone of us.

 

And then after thinking about all that … they have to place the burden of responsibility upon their shoulders, open the door and stride out into the world to share it with people.

 

Yes.

In business we have a responsibility.

 

Yes.

Even in the advertising and marketing business there is an almost overwhelming responsibility <which far too many people are not willing to accept this burden> beyond simply selling stuff.

 

——

 

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 small big matters tweak

——-

 

“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.

We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 

——-

 

It is a much easier burden to simply focus on profit and dollars — it is a straightforward black & white responsibility.

Well.

I would suggest to any business person reading this that … well … responsibility is responsibility. All responsibility is only as overwhelming or ‘whelming’ a you make it.

 

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and convincingly as you possibly can … lies will win … and society will end up being shaped that way.

 

If you choose to vulgarize the society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

To be clear.

 

I do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior. And, I will admit, I was heartened by some of the ads I saw aired on the Super Bowl.

 

But I do get aggravated.

 

Ok.

No.

 

I get angry.

 

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility.

 

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

 

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society.

 

matters do hugh 1What we do matters.

 

Selling stuff may matter to our bottom line and the existence of our business but we cannot ignore that a thriving business actually contributes to a greater good — the existence of a healthy society.

 

 

I could argue that while selling stuff is important that what really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

Far too often, by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’, the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we end up brutalizing society in some form or fashion.

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important? Of course not.

 

All I am suggesting is that how you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

 

And that you have a responsibility in how you do what you do.

 

Because how you do things impacts society.

 

It shapes society. It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate and instill good.

 

How you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

How you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.

 

 

Accepting the responsibility assumes you are neither impotent nor harmless.

 

——-

 

“Advertising is far from impotent or harmless; it is not a mere mirror image. Its power is real, and on the brink of a great increase. Not the power to brainwash overnight, but the power to create subtle and real change.

The power to prevail.”

 

==

Eric Clark, The Want Makers: Inside the World of Advertising, 1988

 

——

 

Your responsibility in business is sometimes subtle … but always real.

 

I worry that business people everywhere, but in particular advertising & marketing, have become so focused on getting shit done and ‘attaining the bottom line’ that they have forgotten the responsibility.

 

I worry that business people worry so much about politics and ‘political correctness’ they have forgotten that when good people remain silent … the only one who wins is bad.

 

I ask everyone visiting today to think about what the thinking I offered today.

 

This isn’t about causes.

 

This isn’t about social responsibility <or the welfare of people>.

 

This is about understanding that what you do impacts people.

 

This is about whether you, as business people, accept the burden of responsibility to help shape a society which is a reflection of the best versions of who and what we are.

 

Well.

lift society vulgarize or shape

That is my “Super Bowl advertising review” thought piece.

 

In my eyes … if I am going to spend $5 million on some advertisement and place my ad on some show where a gazillion people will see it … I am going to use my moment in the spotlight to aim for the  best version of myself that I can. And aim to help people see the best version that they can be.

 

Will that piss some people off? Sure.

Does that make me wrong to try and meet that objective? No.

 

Silence is not an option. When you have the podium and he opportunity to speak … you accept the burden of responsibility and try and ‘lift society to a higher level.’

Enlightened Conflict