Enlightened Conflict

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

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

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

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

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Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

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

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

staying above even when stepping down

June 25th, 2017

 

inspire people dont give up

 

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“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

 

—-

J.R.R Tolkien

 

 

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“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

—-

William Shakespeare

 

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Ok.

 

lead togther step down dominant

This is about business and business leadership.

 

Leading is a big job. It carries big responsibilities and big burdens. You have to be big enough in some way <skills, charisma, character, smarts, etc.> to stay above the organization and employees. And I say “above” because part of leading is being able to see above the heads of everyone so that you can lead and align and step in when & where appropriate.

 

Above is not dominance per se just that you maintain a dominant position from which you can most effectively & efficiently lead.

 

Now.

 

Here is what any good leader knows … you don’t have to be big to … well … be big.

Heck. You don’t even have to act ‘big.’

 

In addition.

 

A good leader can leave the comfort of the ‘throne’, i.e. the trappings of the ‘bigness’ –the natural ‘dominance’ that comes with a title — and still remain above even when stepping down from all those things.trump dominant Genuine people fake people

 

However.

 

Not everyone is a good leader. And not every leader is particularly good at navigating the natural doubts <am I doing the right thing, am I doing the best thing, am I doing the thing I should be doing, etc.> that come along with being a leader. By the way … any good leader has some doubts on occasion … it keeps them grounded.

 

Regardless.

 

What that means is there will inevitably be business people who fear looking small. And they protect their illusions of ‘bigness’, or being bigly, mainly in several ways:

 

  • They diminish everyone they can in the attempt to make others as small as they can so that they look bigger no matter the comparison

 

  • They find a ‘safe space’ in which they place their metaphorical throne and make everyone come to them <this is kind of like the boss who purposefully has their desk built slightly higher and the chairs facing the desk slightly lower to insure they maintain a physical dominant position>

 

  • They avoid, as much as possible, one-on-one interactions with anyone their own size <unless they can control the environment>.

 

  • They ground themselves in platitudes under the guise of “flexibility & adaptability” so they can avoid having to defend anything specific with anyone who could diminish their bigness

 

 

Well.

 

Why I decided to write about this is … uhm … day in and day out Donald J Trump offers us in the business world reminders of ineffective leadership style and the characteristics of insecure leadership.

And the number one business dunce stupid brand marketingcharacteristic of insecure leadership is the inability to step down and still stay above.

 

Insecure leaders are extremely hesitant, if not completely resistant, to leaving their ‘dominant position.’

 

Let me explain ‘dominant position’ because it can sound bad <and it is mainly meant to express a position of authority>.

 

A CEO or a president is clearly in a dominant position by title and by responsibility and, in most cases, by some larger skill that got them to where they are. A true ‘dominant position’ <let’s call it “authority”> combines all aspects.

 

Therefore the person in the dominant position combines substance & style. And this is where insecurity steps in … because if a leader has any true doubts with regard to their ‘dominant position’ – mostly doubts on their substance — they start exhibiting some insecure characteristics.

They will dial up their style aspects to cloak any substance deficiencies and become excruciatingly careful with regard to how they interact with other people.

 

But the one I thought about today was “stepping down.’

 

Let me explain.

 

I heard Donald J say the other day “they should call us to participate.” In other words … they need to come to me <thereby establishing some aspect of subservience and feeds the sense of ‘dominant position.’

 

shift up or down

This was not a one-off comment.

He does this … every … frickin’ … day.

 

Trump never “goes to people” nor does he unite by inserting himself into any opposing groups <people who may not agree with him> opening himself up to say “let me be part of what you want.” I cannot envision him ever going to opposition and suggesting he wanted to work with them <they have to come to him>.

His whole leadership style is driven by an insecurity of ‘dominant position’ and he fears stepping down from his position because he fears it will expose the fact he isn’t really above anyone other than in title.

 

In other words … he fears looking small <or ‘not bigly’>.

 

And therein lies the larger lesson.

 

Good leaders don’t become smaller when they step down or go to people rather than make people go to them. They know there are no ‘little people’ but rather only big responsibilities of which everyone has.

 

Little people are little wherever they go … even if they just sit in the corner office.

Unfortunately for us a little leader knows this … and doesn’t know this.

What I mean by that is they can sense their littleness therefore they go out of their way to stay within whatever cocoon of ‘bigness trappings’ to encourage the belief they have that they are actually big. And, yet, they don’t know this rump dominant Do you think clouds look down on people and thinkbecause they tend to have an oversized view of themselves <every should come to me attitude>.

 

They see themselves through a fairly warped view of self-relevance … “everyone else becomes more relevant by being around me therefore they become bigger in my bigness.” And that partially outlines their main fear.

Loss of relevance.

Anyone who becomes more relevant than them is a danger. Loss of power, the illusion of or real, is the danger.

 

What that all means is that an insecure leader more often than not lives in a “you need to come to me, call me or ask me” mentality.

 

  • Foreign dignitaries come to visit him <and he does not visit them>.
  • Democrats should call me instead of being obstructionists.
  • People need to visit him at the White House <or Mar a Lago>.
  • He never works with people or offers to meet them.

 

He treats everyone as if they should be subservient to him and if they do not meet that desire he is dismissive or even attacks them as ‘obstructionist.’

 

leadership go your way

 

Let me be clear.

 

No sane business leader <in this generation> has this attitude.

You cannot.

You cannot because you know many of the people working for you are actually smarter than you and a shitload more just may know something you do not know.

You cannot because oftentimes your peers, who actually report to you, may actually be better than you at some things.

You cannot because you know that good people never want to feel subservient but rather want to feel being a key part of overall success.

 

Most of those who lead have learned these things not by attempting to learn to be ‘above’ but rather by learning how to lead. And you learn that mostly by getting into ‘the game’ and realizing you can play anywhere at any time. I know that I took an advertising job as a young newly promoted VP in NYC not out of any desire to be the best but because I was curious. I was curious to see if I could “play in the NYC advertising game.” I didn’t need to be the best nor did I desire to dominate … I just wanted to see if I could play.

I can tell you that once you become comfortable with knowing you can play at the biggest level and the lowest level you have a fighting chance to become a leader.

 

Look.

 

We all have numerous character flaws and it is a sad truth the majority of us can’t see them. This is even more difficult in a leadership position because you do naturally become more self-aware of any of the things you are good at and yet also not good at … but you also lean heavily on the things you ‘perceive’ got you where you are today.

 

I say that because insecure leaders are relatively hollow on the self-awareness.

Looking at Trump it is easy to see that he grew up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. He lived in a bubble in which young, mentally lazy, rich, amoral white men routinely got away with whatever they wanted. These same characteristics are exhibited in his insecure leadership style.

 

Here is what I know.

trump ominant look down on other people

Big leaders are big leaders.

 

And they are big because wherever they go they retain their bigness. That means they need not ‘stay above’ to be big … they can step down … sit in town halls answering questions from real people as well as sit down with people who didn’t vote for you as well as sit down with peers and discuss ideas … and walk away just as big as they entered the room.

 

Small leaders cannot do those things, therefore, they do not.

 

I have now given you a way to judge big leaders from small leaders. Judge away. Every leader should be judged … and judged harshly … because … well … they are leaders and that is their burden.

planned parenthood and making a choice about choice

May 30th, 2017

feminism unfinished rights hillary

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“You’ve got to do what’s right, or what you think is right.

And you’ve got to make tough decisions.

And you’ve got to be willing to take on your friends when you disagree with them.”

 

———-

Antonio Villaraigosa

 

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“Government should make tough decisions in the larger national interests, even if it upsets the people.”

 

—-

Sharad Pawar

 

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I will admit upfront.

 

abortion 1 I don’t really ‘get’ why there is so much animus toward Planned Parenthood.

 

Yeah.

 

I fully understand the anti-abortion viewpoint and I certainly respect it. But there seems to be a level of hate towards Planned Parenthood that almost stuns me on occasion.

 

 

But what really stuns me?

I also don’t really ‘get’ why men are dictating women’s health decisions.

 

abortion 2

Anyway.

 

I don’t want to get into a pro choice/anti abortion debate with anyone.

 

But I do not believe it is healthy for America to continuously, year after year, fight over this issue. Not only is it unhealthy from a divisive rhetoric standpoint … it is an expensive debate.

 

 

Expensive?

 

Despite the fact that abortion is legal every year every state seems to be fighting abortion.

 

 

abortion 3Alabama $1.7 million in attorney fees and costs for anti abortion. One year.

 

Wisconsin $1.8 million in attorney fees and costs for anti-abortion. One year.

 

Texas $1 million … just in their own attorney fees defending anti-abortion restrictions. One year.

 

Indiana <when Pence was governor> over $1.4 million in attorney fees and costs for anti-abortion. One year.

 

North Carolina spent millions <too many over the years to count>.

 

abortion 4In one year … add in the dozens of $150,000 cases where states pay individual health clinic reparations.

 

There are no published numbers for how much money the people who actually defend what is already legal are spending … but let’s assume it is millions of dollars.

 

Well.

 

What a waste.

 

What a waste of money and time and energy.

 

abortion 5It’s not like that money has no better purpose <education, infrastructure, community growth>.

 

It’s not like that time has no better purpose < education, infrastructure, community growth>.

 

This is just not a good thing.

 

So.

 

I have a proposal for America.

 

Let’s solve it.

Solve it once and for all.

 

Sure. The supreme court did but, well, for god’s sake … that’s just 9 incredibly smart legal minds. The people should be able to have their say … every single one.

 

Let’s have a one time vote.

 

Set aside one week in … well … let’s say August <I don’t really care when I just chose that month>.

 

And America votes.

And once the vote is in … it is done.done I am

 

And maybe to really make sure it is ‘a done discussion’ … to make it truly a convincing decision … let’s make it 60.1% as the standard the vote needs to meet.

 

Yeah.

 

I sit down Planned Parenthood and all pro choice people on one side of the table and all the anti-abortion people on the other side and say “I respect your views but once the vote is in you just shut up and live with what the majority of people have decided.”

 

Sure.

 

Someone is gonna be pissed … and maybe you say to them … okay … if the vote ends up less than 2/3rds one way than we can have another vote in … well … lets say 5 years from now.

 

But until then you just shut up and let’s get on with getting on <and let’s make sure the vote offers some additional “rules & guidelines” so we don’t go back into the whole “fringe arguments doom loop”>.

 

Oh.

About that “every single person “vote thing I mentioned.

 

equal opportunity bitches get stuff doneWhat I really meant was ONLY women vote <I can hear gobs of self righteous white men yelling now>.

 

It is a woman’s body.

 

Let the women of America choose.

 

 

I am no politician but it seems to me given all the time & money & energy we have invested arguing over abortion rights and planned parenthood that investing in a one-time vote just for women and let them direct the final decision once and for all <and stop having old white men shouting out absurd thoughts with regard to a woman’s body & choice> seems reasonable.

 

Personally I feel I have no right to be involved in a woman’s choice unless I am personally involved. I want a woman to be able to make a choice and if I have been involved in the creation of the potential human I wouldn’t mind participating in the decision — but — ultimately it is a woman’s body and a woman’s choice.

 

Personally I don’t really see how anyone can argue with that <but I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer>.

 

Personally I don’t see how having this discussion on an ongoing basis is good for America. I am a business person and about the only business learning I can offer in this very personal decision is that not making a clear decision and living with a decision is possibly one of the worst things an organization can do. I have seen how it bogs a good organization down.

women mans world

 

The hard decisions & choices are … well … hard.

But in business, once decisions are made … they are made, in order to have progress you need to move on.

 

It is time to move on from this discussion.

 

We should end it now.

 

Let the women vote and let the women have what the women deserve – to make the choice.

 

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history feminism women anonymous

Just a note on everyone beating the crap out of Planned Parenthood.

Whatever we decide everyone should be aware of these facts:

 

 

According to a Guttmacher Institute survey in 2011, 69% of abortions are paid for entirely out of pocket. Another 15.6% report using Medicaid, while 7.3% used a non-Medicaid source of coverage (although this 2011 survey did not indicate the type of coverage–employer-sponsored or non-group, etc.). 8.6% reported not knowing whether they used third party coverage.

 

 

There is no easy way to cut Planned Parenthood out of the health-care ecosystem without causing a health crisis. Without this vital resource for reproductive health, all Americans who need safety-net medical services would suffer—patients who get care from Planned Parenthood, yes, but also those who rely on FQHCs, where quality of care would crumble under a wave of patients with nowhere else to go.

 

 

Planned Parenthood clinics make up 6 percent of the 10,700 safety-net family planning providers in the U.S., but they serve 32 percent of all patients who rely on the free or low-cost birth control these providers offer. FQHCs, meanwhile, serve a disproportionately low slice of this patient population: just 30 percent, even though more than half of all safety-net family planning providers are FQHCs. According to the new Guttmacher analysis, each FQHC site that currently offers contraceptive services marks an average of 320 patients who use those services every year. The average Planned Parenthood takes on 2,950 contraceptive clients, more than nine times the FQHC load.

 

There is no conceivable way that the patients who get their free or subsidized birth control from Planned Parenthood could continue getting the care they need if Planned Parenthood clinics were forced to close or cut back on their contraceptive services. In 27 states, FQHC sites would have to double the size of their current roster of contraceptive patients; in nine of those, the average FQHC would have to triple its contraceptive client load. Women living in the 13 percent of U.S. counties with at least one Planned Parenthood but no contraceptive-providing FQHCs at all would have to travel unnecessarily long distances just to get basic care, burdening other communities’ health centers with surges of new patients.

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curiosity’s tempting thorn

March 30th, 2017

rose in wind

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she repeatedly pricked

her curious finger

on the same tempting thorn.

 

Noor Shirazie

 

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“Because sometimes you have to do something bad to do something good.”

 

Oscar Wilde

 

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Curiosity can be a cruel friend on occasion.

 

Ok.

 

I imagine I could say that being curious is a cruel gift.

 

The curious are always on a trajectory of … well … more.  It is difficult to ever attain “enough” if you are curious.

cruelty of curiosity

I share this graph I drew because most curious people do not always assess any consequential cost-benefit analysis when embracing this seemingly infinite abyss <or, more positively, a well> of curiosity.

 

It doesn’t really matter if your curiosity drags you down the more shallow slope of surface breadth of tantalizing “one learning begets a path to another learning” or the more focused depth of “how much can I learn about this” … the temptation of curiosity is more often cruel than it is pleasant.

 

This means curiosity goes where it may … even if the outcome is harmful, useless or endless.

This means the curious, in a cruel twist of fate, are often treated as ‘ignorant’ of what is important with regard to using their time.

 

Even with all that cruelty … suffice it to say people, in general, have a tendency to go above and beyond but the curious are almost addicted to the above & beyond.

 

This seemingly instinctual urge to gain information we don’t really need is extraneous — and at its most extreme, dangerous.

 

Dangerous?

Well … yeah.

 

why are you keeping curiosity locked door life peopleIf you think about it having an overactive curiosity muscle is almost counter intuitive to evolutionary theory, i.e., the most curious among us should’ve been killed off pretty quickly.

 

And, yet, curiosity has survived, people have survived and the undeniable drive to actively pursue “above & beyond’ survives.

 

That doesn’t mean it is any less cruel … just that it permits survival.

 

The other cruel aspect of curiosity is its uncomfortably close relationship with ignorance. Theoretically curiosity exists to remove ignorance.

Far be it from me to point out that if your curiosity is never completely sated then ignorance remains, exists and is most likely bigger than ever before.

 

Oh.

I did point that out.

Cruelty … plain cruelty.

 

I imagine someone could embrace ignorance and avoid the cruel aspects of curiosity although I would suggest a closed mind actually expands ignorance. And as ignorance expands … within that growing emptiness … I would imagine at some point someone is going to be tempted to know what lightning was, what the stars were, how something can be done better, done faster or just done, or even why someone got sick and someone got better … or whatever temptation may arise within ignorance?

 

Temptation is temptation.

 

Ah.

 

The thorns of curiosity.

 

The cruelty of curiosity has never stopped the curious even despite the fact that most of the curious are not particularly good at assessing long term consequences nor are they particularly good at assessing the cost/benefit analysis.

 

In July 2016 The Scientific American magazine published an article called — Curiosity Is Not Intrinsically Good <The human drive to resolve uncertainty is so strong that people will look for answers even when it’s obvious those answers will be painful>.

 

Look.

 

Curiosity may be cruel. Curious people may suck at cost benefit analysis, assessing consequences of their curious time investment and gathering useful information versus useless information … but sometimes you have to do priorty people addicts curious businesssomething bad to do something good.

 

As with everything else in Life … the best of the curious learn to manage their addiction. They learn to balance the depth versus the breadth, the time invested versus the return on their investment and while they know that their curiosity can be cruel at times … they just learn to carry some band aids for the times they prick their fingers on the inevitable thorns.

 

I still believe we, as a society, would be a much healthier society if we handed out band aids and encouraged more curiosity rather than curb curiosity by suggesting it is most useful to ‘the dreamers.’  In fact … back in July 2010 I even suggested a “National Program to Support Childhood Curiosity” directed toward kids <with Curiosity Fulfillment teachers>. I still believe this would be a better initiative than most of the more focused, but misguided, initiatives it seems like we craft for our children these days.

 

Regardless. Curiosity can be a cruel gift … but a gift nonetheless.

 

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“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”

 

Isaac Newton

 

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Enlightened Conflict