Enlightened Conflict

not even an opportunity to say no

June 14th, 2016


no means no rape change my mind

Let me tell you why I believe, in the Stanford sexual assault <rape> case … the one where a young man sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, the punishment deserves to be the harshest …


“she never even had the opportunity to say no.”



I saw someone had written “but where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses aren’t always because people are rapists.”


Oh my. What bullshit. Bullshit logic absolving someone of personal responsibility for … well … assault.


I have two words for everyone … assault & unconscious. That is the bottom line on judgement.


And while I am sure well meaning people will reflect positively on the young man’s overall character … the truth in Life is that some moments matter more than others with regard to character and morality. There are some moments in which we get judged at our worst. Is the moment truly a reflection of everything only act if you get a yes no means nowho this young man is? Of course not. And, yet, the action, the behavior, the assault, carries a responsibility for which he must carry as a burden for the rest of his life … and the punishment should reflect that responsibility burden.



I don’t speak with young men often about consensual sex but I have a pretty simple piece of advice:



  • “No” means no.


  • “I am not sure” means no.


  • “Maybe” … means no.



  • Only “Yes” means yes.


That said.


The young lady who was raped … never even had the opportunity to say no. She was so drunk, passed out, she never had the opportunity to say no.


From a guy’s perspective this action then turns out to the worst version of rape that could happen <as if there were actually degrees of worstness when it comes to rape … there is not>.


His actions are indefensible.


His punishment should be harsh.


It is quite possible I am looking at this wrong … but in my mind … while nonconsensual sex is inexcusable … I cannot even find the moral <or immoral> category you would put sex with someone who can neither consent or not consent.


This doesn’t even fall in any way into a ‘miscommunication’ or ‘misunderstanding’ zone … this is simply “I am going to take what may be one of the most valuable things you can give someone because I want it and it doesn’t matter what you may think.”i said no means no rape


I wrote about rape maybe in 2013. I called it a life formula that didn’t add up to me.


The number of women who admit to having been raped versus the number of men who have said they have raped.



I tend to believe we all know of someone who has been raped.




I tend to believe very few of us know someone who has admitted to rape.


This means that either a few guys have been very busy being assholes or there are a bunch of guys who are avoiding the truth <I tend to believe it is the latter>.


Rape is solveable. The punishment should be so harsh that a guy seriously considers his actions. Basically he should be wondering if his dick will fall off if he commits rape.



I am not writing this to judge anyone.


I am commenting on the Stanford rape case and suggesting that guys should judge themselves more harshly and with a higher sense of responsibility <and their parents should do so also>.


And it is quite possible I am dancing on the head of the moral equivalence pin.


I am fairly sure understanding “no means no” is a simple enough idea.


I am fairly sure understanding if someone says that do not want to have sex, they do not want to have sex.


I am fairly sure understanding if someone says they aren’t sure having sex is a good idea, they do not want to have sex.


I am fairly sure understanding if someone says … well … nothing, they are silent, they do not want to have sex.


I am fairly sure you should know that you should stop trying to have sex with a person who says they do not want to have sex.


I am absolutely positive that a young woman, who did not even have being drunk is not consent no mean no rapethe opportunity to say ‘no’ had something taken from her that will be with her for the rest of her Life.


An irresponsible young man took it from her. He took something without asking, without ever hearing a yes or a no, with silence as his guide … something that she can ever regain.


Assessing the cost is impossible.


I do not know the punishment he deserves. Jail feels not harsh enough.  But the cost will never equal what he took. And he should feel that cost, whatever it is, for the rest of his life.


I get angry when I think about this case. Shit. I get angry when I think of rape in general. And I got even angrier when a father suggested “should my son be punished this harshly for a 20 minute mistake.”




The concept, the fucking stupid mental gymnastics it takes, to find the equivalence of “20 minutes of stupidity” to “a lifetime of something that can never be regained” is absurd.


I am not suggesting we should make this young man an example.


I believe we should make all rapists an example. Make the punishment so harsh that sex carries the inevitable responsibility it should carry.


I tend to believe the fact we are even having the discussion about what I believe rape is rapeis an incredible misalignment of punishment not fitting the crime suggests we, societally & culturally, have a bigger issue we need to address.

It seems to me that we all need a strong lesson in the fact that there is little, if no, ‘moral culpability’ with regard to rape.


Sexual assault is sexual assault.


Rape is rape.

none of us are who we are on our worst days

February 2nd, 2016


businessman with umbrella and rain




“Somehow, we’ll find it.

The balance between whom we wish to be and whom we need to be.

But for now, we simply have to be satisfied with who we are.”



Brandon Sanderson





We all have bad days.




We all have bad moments.


And I don’t mean when Life has ground you down or work has been like shit … I mean the moments in which you just make a really really bad decision.


A decision, a choice, in which there are bad repercussions … not for you but for someone else.



And there is nothing you can do about it.


You did it.

america these bad days

It is done.



Let’s call this “our worst day.”



And you can rewind it in your head and come up with all the ‘I did the best I could in the moment’ words & thoughts or even “I did what I thought was right” words & thoughts and … well … you know that is not true.


You had a bad moment.


It was a bad day.


And you made a bad decision.



And not only is that decision ‘on you’ it resides within you for eternity as your worst day.



Here is the tricky part.



It can reside with you for eternity externally also.


What do I mean?


Think about it.



If you want to know people you actually want to know their limits. Simplistically … most of us assess people by who they are at their best, what is their top potential, who can be a leader … who can actually be the best.


And then we move on from there.


Now, frankly, knowing weaknesses may actually be more important than knowing strengths.


And by ‘weakness’ I will ask everyone to forget good or bad as a person in this discussion because I imagine we all have some version of good and bad or even an unsteady moral compass.


This is about plain weakness.


The kind of weakness that permits the really bad decision to occur.



Situations have a tendency to strip away the good and bad veneer and have everyone focus on strength or weakness to bridge the situation.


And certain situations thrive on whatever our weakness may be. And then there is … well … THAT situation.


The moment in which what was just a day flips and becomes your worst day.



It is the moment in which your weakness is taken advantage of and becomes the worst it can be. And you become the worst you can be.


It is the worst of the worst. And it is your worst day.


It sucks.


We all know we are not perfect but facing up to the fact we may be weak or have some weakness that has an impact beyond our own self is … well … bad.



Some externally judge that bad as indicative of who we are <and that can haunt you for eternity>.





Some of us judge ourselves on that bad as indicative of who we are <and that can haunt you for eternity>.






better than yesterday

None of us are who we are on our worst days.



We all have at least one truly regrettable decision we can never make up for or find any viable excuse for.


We cannot because it was us at our weakest.





“It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done.”


Oscar Wilde





In the end.


You have to always remind yourself.



None of us are who we are on our worst day.

look of intensity

January 28th, 2016

look of intensity



“I remember your eyes: fifty attack dogs on a single leash.”




Jeffrey McDaniel





“I belong to quick, futile moments of intense feeling.


Yes, I belong to moments.

Not to people. “



Virginia Woolf








intense person all halfWhen I first read those two quotes I immediately thought of that intense person you work with who doesn’t have people skills <or they may have but do not utilize under the guise of “I am a perfectionist and everything else doesn’t matter” and is the scariest type of workaholic … maniacal focus on deadlines & status of things and an overall sense that if everyone else had their intensity the world would be good <and a better place>.



I also thought about how many of these business people who change over time.


Their intensity softens. Sometimes we call it ‘burn out’ <when they just start showing up but not having any interest in delivering the goods> and sometimes we call it ‘selling out’ <they seek mediocrity instead of perfection> and sometimes … well … these people just turn into damn good leaders.


The latter are the ones whose intercity softens but their focus sharpens.





We all evolve as a person over time.


Some call it maturing I would simply suggest it is experience … or the outcome of experiencing Life.



And while personal evolution is … well … personal … there are some shared commonalities.



One of the most interesting common themes in our evolution is most of us, once we get our shit together, become recovering perfectionists.





Recovering perfectionists.



What I mean is that while our adult mentors didn’t call it ‘perfectionism’ as they taught us, and mentored us and guided us toward adulthood <and this even happens early in your young business career> … we were all basically taught perfectionism is the objective if you seek to be successful.


We were all taught to be intense in our focus … and, consequently, that intensity leads to increasing the odds of our success.


It almost seems like we breed intensity.


In other words … intensity and focus and restructuring your Life to be one of the i must be perfect accepted‘successful’ or ‘greatness seeking’ people are kind of the vision thoughts that everyone … yes … everyone … is supposed to embrace.



Google the topic and approximately 12 million articles claim to share the secrets of highly successful people … and pretty much every one says if you simply restructure your entire existence you too can become deliriously successful. And almost everyone on of them, while not expounding upon perfectionism per se, focus on perfecting the details and plans and progress steps.



This sounds not only incredibly stressful but also incredibly challenging … so much so one could conclude not everyone can actually do it <which would suggest that some % of the 12 million secret to success articles are lying>.





Invariably almost everything you were being taught about Life suggests it is either everything or nothing.



Maybe more kindly … I could suggest that all the world sees if you are a C student/employee or ‘not intensely focused’ you are just someone who “isn’t living up to his/her potential.”


Think about it.



Not once did anyone ever … ever … remind you that sometimes saying ‘ah, fuck it’ was a viable alternative.



I know … I know … ‘just fuck it’ doesn’t really seem like a viable alternative if you truly seek success.



But a softer version of the ‘fuck it’ concept is something that economists call the ‘concept of optimization.’


intensity process prize

Optimization is maximizing something subject to a constraint, e.g., businesses maximize profits subject to the constraint of how much capital and labor available.



Personally I like the concept and I believe ‘optimization’ is something most good business people who lead figure out. I also tend to believe happy people figure it out in their everyday Life.


However … let me go back to that dastardly thing called ‘contextual.’



Some guy named Herbert Simon suggested years ago that nobody can actually optimize because it’s too complex and demanding. He introduced a concept called ‘satisficing.’


This is the concept that we end up not maximizing but instead doing something satisfactorily.




I could suggest that this could be construed as embracing mediocrity, or possibly moderating success, but I actually think, while I could haggle over the word ‘satisfactory’ <because you can do this and still have a high level of excellence>, it actually is the space in which recovering perfectionists find a home.



It’s a healthy way of viewing business and Life in which you haven’t eliminated improvement as an objective or something good … but you have relegated constant obsession with squeezing every last ounce out of time, people and ability.



To be clear <part 1>.



You cannot be moderately successful with an attitude of positive indifference or if you work hard at avoiding work or if you only do what you like.



perfect not realTo be clear <part 2>.


A recovering perfectionist does NOT mean you accept mediocrity nor does it suggest accepting something better than the best … it just means you realize best is very very often contextual.


And it means you realize that perfection is most often a myth <or fleeting at best>.



But a recovering perfectionist does mean that your look of intensity scans and spans rather than always be something of laser like focus and that improvement can be measured in a variety of ways and variety of places.



And that is where the best of the best recovering perfectionists reside.

They live in a space in which they have an intense desire to do good things and do good things well. And they do so with efficiency & focus rather than bludgeoning intensity.



What I mean by that is Perfectionists tend to fill space – in their never-ending pursuit of perfection they speak into silence, do things <anything> within uncommitted time and think when … well … all the time. Their intensity with using space & time in all dimensions is relentless and … well … tiring <not always with desired results>.



The most important aspect you will find in a recovering perfectionist is their ability to maximize by NOT filling space … to stop talking once they have set the plan in place.


This doesn’t mean they aren’t intense.



In fact.


Let me suggest you can judge a good leader by their moments of intensity. The moments in which you can almost see & feel the person at the head of the table shift, and settle, and zero in at the task at hand.



Intensity is good … when doled out in appropriate doses and used wisely.



In my opinion <so take this with a grain of salt> effectively managing intensity survived intense fire insidetakes experience.


Young business people, and young people in general, just struggle to balance it.






If you are not an intense person I don’t believe you can become an intense person <you will never be a perfectionist … obsessive maybe … but not a perfectionist>.



If you are a naturally intense person I believe you almost always begin too intense <you are a version of a perfectionist and ultimately remain a perfectionist – and in general miserable and making the people around you miserable – or you become a recovering perfectionist>.



Effective intensity, as with most things in Life, is all about balance.





“It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm.”




Enlightened Conflict