Saturday, March 21, 2020

ConflictOfVisions

I recently read A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell (2019). 

In this book, TS articulates the foundational differences in worldview of those we customarily label as “the left” and “the right.”  TS is an intellectual, and he writes in a very cerebral way.  This book is definitely NOT a page-turner.  TS’s work reminded me of the non-fiction works of C.S. Lewis in that I almost felt I needed a dictionary close at hand. 

Some of my biggest takeaways:

Ø  Opposite ends of the political worldview continuum can be described as “Unconstrained” (what we would call The Left) and “Constrained” (what we usually label as The Right).
Ø  Regarding the concept of Vision, the Unconstrained worldview articulates in terms of desired results while the Constrained worldview aspires to processes designed to achieve desired results.
Ø  Regarding Knowledge and Reason, the Unconstrained worldview tend to value individual intellect (and intellectuals) while the Constrained worldview skews heavily toward historically evolved systems (whether religious, legal, or social).
Ø  Regarding Social Processes, the Unconstrained worldview holds that elite intellects (either individual or in groups) are best positioned to design and deploy processes that result in equity and fairness.  The Constrained worldview, on the other hand, insists that such outcomes are most likely when grounded in time-tested rules, constitutions, legal systems, and social contracts.
Ø  Bottom line:  The Unconstrained worldview focuses on equality of outcomes that are optimized through decision-making of an elite few while the Constrained worldview focuses on equality of opportunity premised in evolved systems of collective agreement and codification. 

My favorite quote:
“Here, as in other areas of the constrained vision, it is the experience of the many rather than the brilliance of the few that is to be relied upon, and historical evolution rather than excogitated rationality that is paramount.” (p. 197) 

Thanks for the recommendation, JK. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Anchors

In the literal sense "anchors" are those heavy thingamajigs we pitch over the side of a boat (tied to a rope or chain, of course) to keep it from drifting off.

Figuratively speaking, "anchors" serve the same purpose for us.  Our anchors firmly moor us in place to keep us from drifting aimlessly,  Perhaps more importantly, they protect us from being driven to destruction by storm.  

Our anchors tether us to solid ground even when we're not on solid ground.  Anchors provide us with connection, even when tenuous, to that which is firm, unshakable, dependable.

It seems all my anchors have been teachers.  Not all were literally teachers, but all taught me.  Each a Yoda in their own way.  They taught me how to be anchored and when it wise to be anchored and to what we can dependably anchor.

Intentionally or not, they also passed along to me the import of anchoring others.  To channel a popular country song, "I come from a long line of anchors."

Truly thankful at this time in history that I have had, and continue to have, so many anchors.  

Seems they were prescient in their understanding.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

tenBoom

As a teenager back in the 1970s I read a compelling autobiography by Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom.  Ms. ten Boom's book was titled The Hiding Place and details how her family in Amsterdam harbored many Jewish (and Gentile) refugees in their home, all fleeing the Nazi German onslaught.  (Note:  The book is a most worthy read.)

Ms. ten Boom went on to become quite a thought leader of the Christian faith until her death in 1983.  

I was fortunate to have gotten to hear her administrative assistant speak at a conference in the late 70s.  I can't remember the woman's name but I remember vividly a quote she attributed to ten Boom in relation to facing seemingly insurmountable trials and tribulations:

"God does not lead us down stony paths without providing for us strong shoes." (perhaps not exact, but that's my 45-year-ish memory of it)

True now - as it always has been.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

YesButNo

Every organization has it's cadre of "yes men" (and women).  These are folks who endear themselves to the folks up the food chain by saying "yes" even when challenges are warranted, by nodding compliantly when they know the proposal ain't gonna work, by pretending to follow the company line when they have no intention of toeing the company line.

Oddly, these YES WOMEN (and MEN) often end up with elevated titles.  They frequently become the gatekeepers of the permission pipeline that is so often a feature of organizations (the larger the organization, the more layers of permission are required to get meaningful stuff done).

In effect, these YES MEN (and WOMEN) become the primary purveyors of "NO!"  

No need to cry in our beer.  It's the natural order of things.  However, we (those of us who work in organizations) have two options available to us when faced with the YesButNo gang:
1) We can fume, cuss, and shrink back into compliance and meaningless work, OR
2) We can figure out ways to work around or through the NO-Sayers.

Some possibilities for your consideration:

  • We are best to refrain from waging war with the YesButNo folks.  They're rarely bad people, but rather, are usually just looking out for their own self-interests (just like we do).
  • We can arm ourselves thoroughly with information and expertise that gives us powerful credibility in the area of our interests and initiatives.
  • We can "work the room" broadly to inform others of our positions/interests, while being careful not to be subversive.  Sell the idea without disparaging the YesButNo folks.  Transparency - Honesty - Trust - Openness are powerful tools of influence.
  • We can reduce our position/belief/initiative/idea to very memorable sound bytes that we relentlessly push into the arena of ideas.  Repetition has a powerful impact on the human brain.
  • We can exercise patience (with tenacity) in promoting our thoughts on the relevant topic.
If in fact our ideas are worthy, the YesButNo gang will often turn into the YesButYes gang.  It'll be in their self-interest to do so.  

Don't forget to thank them profusely and publicly when they come around to "yes."  It'll be in our self-interest to do so.  ;-)

EVERYBODY wins (which is a pretty good organizational objective).

Sunday, March 15, 2020

RefiningReflection

Life pitches experiences at all of us.  Relentlessly.  Some good, some bad, but relentlessly nonetheless.

Some folks weather the flood of life experiences in somewhat mindless fashion.  For them, it's seems as if "survival" is both process and objective.

Others, however, seem bent always toward a better state.  They somehow focus continually on prospering.  Simply surviving is never enough for this group.  

The prosperers practice the art of reflection constantly.  Reflection is a two-fold process.  It's a way of thinking, then acting.  

The refining process of reflection in response to the experiences life pitches at us goes something like this:
1)  What have I learned, good or bad, from what I've just experienced?
2)  What will I change, in my thinking or in my behavior, as a result of that learning?

Experience means nothing .................... unless we learn from it.