Saturday, August 29, 2015

PC Party of Alberta – Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned

We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires. - Pope Benedict XVI

I believe that the biggest problem that humanity faces is an ego sensitivity to finding out whether one is right or wrong and identifying what one's strengths and weaknesses are. - Ray Dalio

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …


It was a quiet evening in the church as the parish priest waited in the confessional in silence.  He sighed, looked at his watch and prepared to leave for the evening when he heard someone enter the confessional.

He drew open the small door between them and waited.

“Bless them, Father, but I honestly have no idea how many years it’s been since their last confession”, said a voice quietly.

“Bless them, my son?”, the priest asked quizzically.

“Well, of course”, replied the confessor, “We have worked for a very long time to convince the people that we are the only solution for their every need and they just don’t get it.  Clearly they have an issue that they need to deal with and I am here to discover how to help them.”

“I see”, replied the priest as he frowned in the darkened confessional, “And what makes you think it is they who have the issue when it potentially may be you?”

“I have no idea what you are referring to”, said the confessor huffily, “We’ve done nothing wrong.”

“We?”, asked the priest, “Why don’t we just focus on you, shall we?”

“I don’t see why that is necessary”, replied the confessor, feeling his agitation begin to rise.

“Well”, began the priest, “While I don’t ordinarily do this, I see we are an impasse and so I have no choice but to identify you.  While I won’t name you specifically, my son, I know your voice to be that of a well-known politician in the Province.  Why don’t we begin our conversation again with that understanding, shall we?”

“Hmmmmm”, the confessor frowned, “Very well.  Here is my struggle, Father.  We lost the last election badly and now in the current by-election, people are all over us claiming that we have not changed at all and that we don’t deserve to win this by-election as a result.  Their argument for this has absolutely no merit at all and I am struggling to understand what they need to do to change their outlook on things.”

“Is this in regards to the candidate who has some issues in his background that portray his campaign and your support of his campaign as slightly dishonest?”, the priest asked quietly.

“Sort of”, replied the confessor, “But it’s more than just honesty or dishonesty.  Yes, we are being sort of dishonest about his background and I will admit that we are ignoring calls for transparency around this, but dishonesty for the greater good is a noble principle, is it not?  I mean , when it comes to winning, whether it be in politics or business, isn’t it better to do whatever it takes to win?  A small amount of dishonesty doesn’t hurt anybody, especially when it gets the best person elected for the job.”

“Perhaps”, answered the priest, “but how do you define the difference between a small amount of dishonesty and a lot?  Who defines what is an acceptable amount of dishonesty?  And if we accept a little dishonesty now, can we claim to be disappointed later if other examples of dishonesty are found within the individual or the Party he represents?”

As the priest spoke, the confessor listened carefully to his voice and suddenly a light dawned on him.

“I know you”, said the confessor, ignoring the priest’s observation, “You used to be a well-known politician.”

“Very true, my son”, replied the priest quietly, “But after what I thought was going to be a lifetime of public service, I decided to leave that Life and begin a lifetime of atonement for what I did in my political career and to really serve the people.”

“So you know what I am going through, Father”, said the confessor earnestly, “You should be able to tell me what’s wrong with the voters.”

He shivered in excitement as he realized he was getting closer to the answer he sought.

“Slow down”, replied the priest, “I have been watching the demise of your political party for some time.  I remember some years ago when a member of your party wrote about the struggles within your party and he suggested that there was either a mole in your party who was deliberately tearing the party apart or that your party was the victim of excessive ego or incompetence.  Let me think …… ah yes … if I remember correctly, the piece was called The Trojan Horse of the 21st Century.”

“That’s preposterous”, expostulated the confessor, “There is no mole in our party trying to deliberately undermine us.”

“Well”, replied the priest, “He did suggest that it was either a mole, excessive ego or excessive incompetence.”

“Like I said”, emphasized the confessor, “There are no moles in our Party.  I am sure of it.”

“Well that leaves only two options, doesn’t it?”, the priest asked somewhat sarcastically, “Listen my son, when you come here to seek the forgiveness of our Lord, you must do it with a humble and contrite heart.  Otherwise, I can’t help you.”

“So you are saying there is nothing you can do for me?”, asked the confessor.

“Not at this time, my son”, replied the priest.

“Hmmmmmmph”, grunted the confessor and he stood up to leave, “I expected much more of you than this, Father.”

“I’m sorry I disappointed you, my son”, replied the priest, “Tell me.  I am preparing to retire for the evening.  Is anyone else waiting for confession.”

The confessor opened the door and looked at the long line of people waiting, most of whom being his colleagues.

“There’s a lot of them”, he said as he stepped outside, “Goodnight, Father.”

“God bless you”, replied the priest, “Remember what I said.”

As the confessor walked away from the confessional, the next confessor in line gestured with his hands and asked, “Well?  How did it go?”

“Very well”, smiled the confessor, “He said that I was so good that there was nothing he could do for me.”

The confessor in line smiled and gave him a two-thumbs-up as he entered the confessional.

And with that, the confessor walked to the back of the Church, blessed himself and walked out.

To be continued.


© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Background

When I watch a group that has been as badly burned as the PC Party of Alberta was in the last election and when I watch that same group show no change in transparency, accountability, leadership, awareness, strategy or execution as they are exhibiting in the current by-election in Calgary-Foothills, I can’t help but wonder if this continued behavior is because someone:

  • wants the Party to die (a mole)
  • doesn’t believe the Party did anything wrong, either in the past or in the present (excessive incompetence, indifference or ego)
  • doesn’t know how to fix the execution and the results of the Party but doesn’t have the humility to ask others for help either (excessive ego).

Unfortunately, unless a cranial defibrillator is applied to members within the Party, any of these will produce the same result, none of which are in alignment with what the PC Party of Alberta desires.

A Final Albeit Important Thought:

Is it fair to throw Calgary-Foothills candidate Blair Houston under the bus for their failings or is he ruining their chances with his failings (or is it a combination of both)?  Either way, by sticking it out when he should have stopped running, he and the Party are inviting people to find more dirt on him in a rabid attempt to skewer him. 

It’s one thing for people to strongly encourage him to stop running.

It’s another thing to ruin him if he doesn’t comply.

In such situations, he runs the risk of being ruined personally and professionally as well as politically if he persists in running anyway.

The question is:

Is he persisting willingly, begrudgingly or blindly?

The answer would be very revealing of both the party and the candidate.

Unfortunately, some answers may hasten the demise of the Party as well as the candidate if they are not careful.

This reminds me of a post I did some time ago, National Security: Saying Everything By Saying Nothing, where I referenced The 9 Ways of Being an Accessory to Another’s Sin as described in the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

I. By counsel
II. By command
III. By consent
IV. By provocation
V. By praise or flattery
VI. By concealment
VII. By partaking
VIII. By silence
IX. By defense of the ill done

I’d say many people have checked most, if not all, of this list off in this by-election.

What do you think?

This musing is related to earlier blog posts, including but not limited to:

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Politics and the Mutability of Human Values

(aka Bad Government – It’s Your Fault)

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. - Zig Ziglar

Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it. - Mark Twain

Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure. - James Altucher

My recent exploration of the by-election in Calgary-Foothills and the potential embellishment of education credentials by one of the candidates in the blog post PC Party and Blair Houston–Isn’t Honesty Still the Best Policy? has generated thousands of emails, private messages and texts to me (not all kind, professional and positive, may I add) and the reaction caused me to think about the general election currently underway in Canada.

In regards to the afore-mentioned by-election and my expression of concern regarding the potentially dishonest representation of education credentials by a candidate, I was told by Party execs and some MLAs that the resume embellishment is known but that it is important that the candidate stay in the race anyway without a public correction since officially addressing the issue may damage his chances.

This suggests to me that the human value of honesty is mutable and wavering within these individuals, being something that can be paraded around when convenient / useful but which can be modified or ignored when required.

But when one explores the larger political scene, is it any different for any political campaign on a municipal, provincial / state or federal level?

We have national politicians in Canada espousing the importance of legalizing pot, sending blankets to refugees in Syria and the like but I don’t hear many voters demanding specific, explicit, measurable, verifiable details regarding the economy, climate change, ever-escalating healthcare / education costs, privacy versus protection (anti-terror) legislation and the like.

And even when a candidate rolls out a half-baked answer or solution to something, it is often full of holes, has no data to back it up and oftentimes has nothing to it at all.

And yet we blindly accept everything without asking the candidate “What are the real issues?  Why do they matter?  What is your solution?  How do you know?

And so political parties, politicians and their blind, Kool-Aid drinking minions continue to send us meaningless distractions which divert our attention away from the truth that most (not all) politicians are either ignorant, indifferent or incapable when it comes to serving the populace or creating solutions to the ever-growing list of “stuff” that needs to be addressed while it still can be addressed.

What does this say about politicians and political parties?

What does this say about us when, not if, we accept it?

Does such a stand on our part remove our right to complain when politicians let us down later, when we suddenly learn all over again that their values and ours, that our needs and their intentions, aren’t in alignment?

Why do we care more when the politician lets us down after being elected instead of caring more about the details regarding the candidates and their solutions / intentions before we elect them?

Why would we rather spend more time complaining after the fact instead of using our time productively during an election to produce the best government possible?

Why indeed.

The likely reason is that it is easier to blame someone else for the failures around us rather than take proactive steps to prevent them in the first place.

In other words, we are running short of personal responsibility when it comes to the issues that we face collectively and so it is easier to wait for the failure of someone else to manifest so that we can point a finger elsewhere instead of at ourselves.

The Bottom Line

Politicians rely on the apathy, indifference and ignorance of the electorate.

What does this say about them?

What does this say about us?

At what point will our apathy, indifference and ignorance produce a government that is actually incapable of solving our problems despite its best intentions because the problems are too large, varied, complex and interwoven?

Why do we tempt fate by potentially allowing such a scenario to be created?

Maybe we have already reached (or passed) that point and politicians have merely become feel-good, “the future is always bright” mouthpieces to serve their own needs and intentions, knowing that our needs are already unsolvable but selling us a bright future can satisfy their own desires.

Would you know the difference between promised solutions and realistic ones?

Would you bet your family’s security and well-being on your answer?

Do you care?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

It takes more than a vote to create a positive future.

It takes an intelligent, informed vote.

And last time I checked, there seems to be a significant shortage of those,

Because in the end, when ineffective, incompetent or dishonest politicians and governments are elected, it’s not their fault.

It’s ours.

In service and servanthood,

Harry

Sunday, August 23, 2015

PC Party and Blair Houston–Isn’t Honesty Still the Best Policy?

One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are. - Cal Thomas

I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live. – Socrates

[Author note: There are important addendums following this post, particularly addendums 2 and 3]

Dear PC Party of Alberta / Blair Houston (Candidate for Calgary-Foothills):

While a lot of my readers in Alberta have been enjoying (or hating me for) my occasional musing about the PC Party of Alberta and the missteps it has taken in recent years, writing about you has become a little boring for me and I would rather move on if you don’t mind.

However, I can’t move on because I see political leadership as an essential component for creating a strong future for citizens and when I see flaws in political leadership, I know said flaws, if allowed, will fracture the future for the people that the politician and political Party claim to serve.

As a long-time conservative, it matters to me where conservatives stand, what we represent, why we are allegedly the best choice and when we make mistakes (and we all do), what we intend to do to fix them.

When the Calgary-Foothills election was called, I asked you and Mr. Houston publicly what had been learned from mistakes in the past general election and how the Party will re-engage the hearts, minds and votes of the voters.  After all, to win the vote, one must influence the mind of the voter and to influence the mind, one must touch the hearts of those voters.  As a long time strategy person on Wall St., this seems obvious to me – that a mea culpa and a new strategy are necessary to regain the support of the people.

When I asked the question, I received insults which I found amusing enough to write about here PC Party of Alberta–Proving Einstein and Churchill Right? and here PC Party of Alberta–Who Will Bell the Cat?.

However, I never received a reply from the candidate or the Party specifically answering my questions or concerns.

Now a story is circulating about Mr. Houston’s alleged resume embellishment, where he claims to have gone to the University of California, a highly prestigious institution, while his campaign manager admits that he went to the College of the Desert (a two year technical school).  Here’s an important note – most people who have attended the University of California note the specific campus as many campuses have prestigious reputations of their own (e.g. UCLA, UC, Berkeley, etc).

While I’m sure the College of the Desert is a fine institution and in fact, there is nothing wrong with having attended such a school, in the private sector where I live, intentional resume embellishment for the sake of employment / personal promotion is grounds for dismissal.

That aside, you both have dodged the question in the media about Mr. Houston's education credentials which brings the same old question to mind:

When will honesty and transparency become a part of the PC Party in its alleged desire to rebuild itself or are they just clich├ęs to hide a desire for status quo under the guise of something different?

Or ….

Should we just give up asking any politician for honesty and transparency in the first place?

If the claims are true and you are going to steamroll ahead anyway, then we are in the process of watching another dishonest person run for office.  If that’s the case, the PC Party hasn’t changed and honesty is still a rare commodity within the Party.

If the claims are true, then Mr. Houston should do the honorable thing and step aside unless he has an excellent reason for the discrepancy.  To admit such a discrepancy, whether he decides to continue running for office or not, would take a lot of courage but would be the right thing to do.

If the claims are not true, then one can make them go away instantly by merely responding to them.

And finally, to at least publicly respond to the accusation would show some level of accountability and responsibility to the public.

Because if we don’t have honesty, courage, accountability and responsibility in our political candidates and our political parties, what do we have?

And if we don’t have that, we don't have anything and neither should any Party claiming to want to represent our best interests.

Mr. Houston, please say something, otherwise you don’t deserve anything.  You claim to want to be the voice of the people – let’s here you speak when the people ask you questions.

Your integrity has been called into question – defend it otherwise other people will define it.

Yours most sincerely,

A citizen who worries about the future we are creating for our children.


In service and servanthood,

Harry

PS The difficulty with silence is that it usually (not always) suggests that an inconvenient truth has been spoken.  Human beings have a tendency to fill in the blanks when there is a vacuum of comment / information / response, often to the detriment of the person who has little to say in their own defense when others have much to say about them.

Addendum 1 – A Call For Honesty

The Calgary Herald ran a piece on Mr. Houston for the Calgary Municipal election in 2013 (found here).

Ironically, he cited the importance for “respect earned by honesty” and for the need for people “to have faith in politics again”.

It’s hard to know if he believes these things based on the afore mentioned musing.

Calgary Herald quotes

(click on image for larger version)


Addendum 2 – Post Debate Conversation – August 24, 2015

I attended the debate in the Calgary-Foothills riding tonight with the hope of requesting clarity on this item.

I submitted a question regarding this to the moderators but it was included in the questions which were considered to be attack questions and so was rejected.  This is what I tweeted when I heard this:

Tweet

Since Mr. Houston was unavailable after the debate, I stopped by the campaign table set up outside the debate area and asked his staff why the brochures on the table still imply that he graduated from a school that he in fact, did not graduate from.

The nice lady at the table stammered for a bit, suggested that he had graduated from there (which I refuted) and she suddenly had another answer.  She told me that the truth was that he had started to go to school at the University of California (didn’t know which campus which is still curious as previously noted) and that his mother had died while attending and therefore he had returned home.

While this is unfortunate if true, I told her “But you imply in the bio that he graduated from there so this doesn’t make sense.  In addition, if this is the truth, then why don’t you just say that to the press and to the many people who are concerned about his honesty and integrity and settle it once and for all.  All it takes is one statement that says ‘I went to the College of the Desert and took some courses at the University of California but had to leave because my mother died’ and it becomes a non-issue.  Allowing confusion over his education credentials to grow this way, if this is in fact a true story, creates a vacuum of information which is likely to be filled by speculation that will likely not go in his favor.”

She said “You should have been been his campaign manager” to which someone standing nearby, listening to the conversation, said “To hell with that – he should have been Harry’s campaign manager.”

Here’s another idea.  If a candidate is discovered to have some “ambiguity” in how their education credentials are presented but the issue is admitted and corrected as soon as it becomes known, the candidate can actually leverage the correction as “Look at how honest and forthright I am”.  Some strategy people I know would take this one step further and leverage the death of the parent to tug at the heartstrings of the voters (this is a morally questionable strategy but happily used by some).  Unfortunately, this strategic opportunity was passed over by the candidate. 

If there is concern about how a “lack of education” would be perceived, I couldn’t care less.  I have worked for Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and others and they didn’t have degrees when starting / growing their companies.  Formal education is fine but it is a human being’s inherent wisdom, knowledge, business savvy, communication skills, listening skills, collaboration abilities, life skills and other things that matter.

I have no idea if her story is even true, especially the way it was told to me after I refuted the first story she told me.  It may be a sad, true story or it may be a fabrication.  For the many universities that I have taken the occasional class from, I do not claim to have “attended” the institution because it would likely create some confusion as to my education credentials.  For those classes, I note them as “class x completed from institution y” so as to not imply that I obtained degrees from those institutions.  If Mr. Houston had intended to attend full time and didn’t convocate, there is nothing wrong with merely stating that.

During the debate tonight, Mr. Houston claimed to be a “relationship builder”.  He and his campaign team have a long ways to go to better manage public expectation using effective communication.  I and others asked him and the Party several times for clarity and they never even bothered to answer (something that would have taken a minute or less).

As I noted before, we can define our reputation or allow others to define it for us.

The nice lady at the table said that he chose not to address these concerns because he felt that he didn’t need to.

When one makes this choice, one has chosen to allow others to define who they are, a move that is not very astute or strategic in the political world, sending the wrong message to potential voters while simultaneously projecting an air of arrogance or incompetence.

Bottom Line - Control the Message

Maybe if people like myself and others keep giving these guys free consulting advice, that they will finally use it, otherwise they can continue to produce the result they are producing. Smile


Addendum 3 – The Mutability of Human Values – August 26, 2015

I was told by PC Party execs and some MLAs that the resume embellishment is known but that it is important that the candidate stay in the race anyway without a public correction since officially addressing the issue may damage his chances.

This suggests to me that the human value of honesty is mutable and wavering within these individuals, being something that can be paraded around when convenient / useful but can be modified or ignored when required.

What does this say about politicians and political parties?

What does this say about us if we accept it?

Does it remove our right to complain when individuals let us down later, when we suddenly learn all over again that their values and ours aren’t in alignment?

Why do we care more when the politician lets us down after being elected instead of caring more about the details of the people before we elect them?

Politicians rely on the apathy, indifference and ignorance of the electorate.

What does this say about them?

What does this say about us?


Addendum 4 – Questioning the Strategy – August 28, 2015

Watching the lackluster performance of Mr. Houston in several debates and recognizing that he is a perpetual candidate who has ran for various seats over the years without winning any of them, I wonder why the PC Party chose him over a “ringer”, especially if the riding is as important to the Party as they claim.

Is this a strategic failure on the part of someone within the PC Party or did they believe or fear they were going to lose despite their desire for a win, thus not wanting to sacrifice a more important player?

Only a select few know.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Purpose-Filled Life–Applying Your Strengths

Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses. - Marilyn vos Savant

Figure out what you really love doing and use your strengths on a daily basis. - Tom Rath

I spend a lot of my day helping people and organizations figure out how to do things better, whether it is in the area of strategy definition and application, extremely large-scale IT architecture, team collaboration or whatever other need serves those who interact with me.

When establishing or attempting to understand the foundation for the project, I always ask the people I am interacting with questions such as “What do you do well?  What are your strengths?” and even in the 21st century, I continue to be amazed by the people and organizations who cannot answer the question at all.

For those who can answer the question by parading their Myers-Briggs test, Strengths Finder 2.0 result, Teamability report or any other test, most can’t answer my obvious follow-up questions – “What do they mean to you?  How are you applying them?”

They seem to have taken the test (or tests) and having ascertained that they are an INTJ, a crouching tiger, a blend of red and blue, a squirrel or whatever other result their specific test told them, they move on without applying the important information that was just handed to them.

Information without application is mere entertainment but when one applies information, it becomes knowledge, which when applied produces results, which when learned from produces wisdom.

When people or organizations apply the information provided to them, they discover a number of things, including but not limited to what make a person most / least productive, what makes a person a better or worse contributor / collaborator, what turns them on / off, etc.  Since the net of these attributes, the good and the bad, roll up to produce a strong or poorly performing organization, knowledge of these attributes is essential to creating a healthy, strong organization.

Awareness of this information also provides individuals with a filter by which they can evaluate the cacophony of information, requests and demands flowing in their direction, thus allowing them to choose what they allow to enter their spheres of influence and to decide what is worthy / necessary for them to respond to - for their betterment and for the betterment of those who interact with them personally or professionally.

A Personal Illustration

My Myers-Briggs profile is INTJ (the Mastermind profile).  Specifically, the four letters mean the following:

  • Introversion – I prefer to be quiet and reserved in interaction.  Quiet observation allows me to learn more than walking in with a swagger that suggests I know it all already.
  • Intuition – I prefer abstraction and big picture thinking (i.e. “where is this project / intention going?”).
  • Thinking – I prefer data over emotion / rhetoric to make decisions and to measure results.
  • Judgmental – I prefer plans and predictability over “winging it”.

Meanwhile, my Strengths Finder 2.0 strengths are:

  • Futuristic – I am focused on long term outcomes – yours, mine, your organization, etc.  I never stop thinking about this.
  • Strategic – I prefer focusing on strategic planning around measurable outcomes and goals over tactical execution or setting out without a measurable destination in mind.
  • Connectedness – I believe everyone has a role to play if we can ascertain what their strengths are commensurate with what we need and we can find a way to leverage their strengths.  Too often we don’t do this and end up with “problem children” on our project, blaming them for something that they can’t prevent because they are hardwired to do what they are doing.
  • Achiever – results are everything.  If we can’t measure them, we don’t know if we have achieved them.
  • Learner – the constant acquiring, application and sharing of knowledge is essential to my well-being.

My Teamability report suggest that I am a Founder, binding vision and action together and acting as a “conductor / orchestrator” to produce results that improve the lives of people, organizations and the world at large.

Most people, having acquired their “official list” as noted above nod and smile and then move on with their Life, not applying what they have just discovered.

They also miss the importance of understanding the relationship between their strengths and to see how they support / feed each other.  Observe how my strengths support each other in the following diagram (click on the diagram for a larger version).

Maximizing Strengths

In the diagram above, ideas feed my futuristic strength (where my brain casts a vision), the vision flows to my strategic strength (where measurable outcomes, goals and plans are defined), the measurable outcomes are sent to my achiever / connectedness strengths where collaboration with others becomes critical to achieving the desired result and the strength of learner is used to measure progress and adjust where necessary.

Meanwhile, my INTJ attributes tell myself and others how I will apply these strengths and my Teamability role drives my need to inspire others and to orchestrate the desired result.

The impact of my strengths on my behavior and results is easily observed.  For example, one can see that if I am given gory details to accomplish, I will not like doing it and I am unlikely to produce a useful result.  While I am an empathic person, if you give me a role where I need to be empathic all the time, my need for data application (on their side and mine) will eventually overrule my sense of empathy, which may not be desired.  While I am considered a strong communicator, if you make communication my primary role, I may get frustrated if I don’t have a role in casting the future, designing strategic plans, etc.  If you give me a role where I am an order taker, my Teamability role as Founder will cause me to resist.  I can follow direction – just not day in and day out.  If you invite me to an agenda-less meeting, I always say no since a predictable, effective use of my time and contribution cannot be defined.

The list goes on and on but if one understands my strengths, how I react to the request of another in fact becomes quite predictable!

And so, if I am asked to participate in something where I cannot see a way to leverage and apply my strengths and attributes, then I will usually decline the opportunity since I will likely not be happy with the project, those around me will likely be unhappy with me and what I / we produce will likely be less than ideal as a result.

Some people think this makes me aloof.

I think it optimizes my result (and theirs).

Applying the Illustration

A senior executive of an organization reached out to me the other day because he wanted to speak to me about something I had written on my blog.

The request was somewhat vague, where he indicated that he wanted to discuss “general stuff” with me.

Think of how this request gets processed by my strengths (which are hard-wired inside me and are non-malleable and non-negotiable).

  • Futuristic – I don’t know what vision he has and he is not asking me to cast one so I can’t apply this strength.
  • Strategic – I am not being asked to evaluate or create a plan with measurable outcomes and goals so I can’t apply this strength.
  • Achiever – I am not being asked to produce a result nor evaluate one so I can’t apply this strength.
  • Connectedness – There is no sense of collaboration present as I am not being invited to collaborate or leverage my network to collaborate so I can’t apply this strength.
  • Learner – I may learn a few things in the interaction but I am not being asked to apply or share that learning, thus the knowledge nuggets are more for entertainment purposes than anything and don’t really serve the need of this strength.

Then consider how my Myers-Briggs attributes evaluate the request:

  • Introversion – I prefer to be quiet and reserved in interaction.  He has attempted to condescendingly “talk down to me” in the past and while I never back down from a fight if required, his past performance suggests that his future intention will be much the same, something I have no interest in.
  • Intuition – I prefer abstraction and big picture thinking (“where is this going?”) but he doesn’t want to tell me in advance, so likely my thoughts on “the big picture” aren’t desired.
  • Thinking – I prefer data over emotion / rhetoric to make decisions and to measure results while his intention is to “talk down to me” or influence / intimidate me with nothing other than emotion so my desire to apply data usefully will not be satisfied.
  • Judgmental – I prefer plans and predictability over “winging it” but he prefers a meeting with no agenda (which could produce anything but most likely nothing of value).

Meanwhile, my Teamability role of Founder calls me to orchestrate results that positively impact people around me, something I will not be provided the opportunity to accomplish here.

Now a yes-person, a person who has no understanding of their strengths and attributes makeup or a person who doesn’t value their own time would likely have said yes, either feeling intimated to attend, feeling a need to feed their ego with “I’m in demand / I’m important” or hoping to produce “a result” (any result) but instead they produce a meeting with little results of any value but potentially a lot of frustration (or worse) amongst the participants in the room.

I on the other hand, understanding how the request feeds into my strengths (or not) decline the request since I see myself as offering no value in regards to the things that “turn me on” or serve others.

Some people get indignant when their requests (or demands) are turned down.

I prefer to honor who I am, what I bring to the table and what value I bring.  If I don’t bring value, I don’t show up.  If you don’t bring value, I don’t invite you.

Again, some people think that this attitude is aloof or “stuck-up”.

I disagree – I think I am honoring and respecting one of the most important gifts that exists – your time and mine.

Where it really bends people’s brains is when I obtain their strengths profile in advance of a meeting (which I often do).  I use to maximize collaboration and results but more devious people use it to manipulate participants who don’t know how to honor their own strengths.  Knowing your strengths, defending how they are used and knowing how to apply them can protect you from such miscreants.

The Bottom Line

Most people I interact with cannot identify their strengths and even if they have done so, have no idea how to apply them, how to use them as a filter for information coming their way or how to use them as a lens by which others can see how to interact with them effectively and appropriately.

When we learn to honor, apply and communicate our strengths, we find that our results improve, our interactions improve and our future (as well as the future of those around us) improves both personally and professionally.

Are you aware of your strengths?

Do you understand how they work together?

Do you know how to apply them?

Do you apply them?

Do you honor and respect them (especially their hard-wired nature)?

Do you communicate them to others to enhance interaction with you?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,

Harry

PS I am not overlooking the importance of values, ethics, morals and faith since knowledge and application of these are essential components of a healthy, purpose-filled Life.  However, because I consider these to be essential, foundational components that underlie everything we think, say and do and because we all define these a little differently, I didn’t get into a detailed analysis of them here.

Also note that many self-improvement programs fly in the face of our natural, hardwired strengths, making a one-size-fits-all approach very difficult to apply successfully.  For example, people who say you should end your day with your inbox empty and your desk cleared may have something that works for them but it doesn’t work for me.  That is why awareness of one’s strengths is essential if one is shopping for such programs to make sure they work together effectively.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If Only You Weren’t So Stupid, You’d Understand

Never insult anyone by accident. - Robert A. Heinlein

An injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult. - Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

[Author Note: After this blog was posted, Ms. Buzreba abandoned her campaign.  Here is her statement:

Resignation

My post remains as a warning for other politicians who insist that their actions of the past are not a reflection of who they are in the present.  I believe Ms. Buzreba did the honorable thing which in fact IS an example of positive character.  Now … if only Hillary Clinton …… Smile

So as you read this post, think about other politicians instead of Ms. Buzreba.  Perhaps they could learn something from her graceful exit.]

The original blog post continues ……

The political world has become all abuzz once again as another political wannabe, Calgary-Nosehill Liberal candidate Ala Buzreba, sees her social media past become, unfortunately, her present as Alberta NDP MLA Deborah Drever experienced shortly after being elected.

It seems that Ms. Buzreba, in a life that has clearly prepared her for public service, has previously graced the Twitter world with beautiful gems such as:

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

And of course, the ever so poetic, so intellectual, so mature  ….

Tweet 3

Unfortunately, such words become politically inconvenient when running for office so Ms. Buzreba felt obliged today to issue an apology that included these tweets:

Apology 1

Apology 2

Ah yes – the classic politician who wears the Teflon suit of convenient misdirection, revisionism and amnesia with a touch of mass hypnosis sprinkled in …. “you will forget what you have seen here”.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak-minded – it all depends on how many weak-minded people are present at the time.

When one makes comments that are crass, immature or insulting and they make headlines once discovered, it doesn’t become “a lesson in social media” as she dismisses her comments.

It is a statement about her character, since social media doesn’t change our character, it reveals it.

As for the tweets not reflecting her views, everything I think, speak and write are a reflection of my views and yet she somehow thinks that we can be convinced that what she says doesn’t represent how she thinks?

Perhaps this suggests that she in fact will be the perfect politician since we rarely receive from politicians what they tell us we will should we elect them.  Her training is complete.

And while she can dismiss the ranting of her 17-20 year old self as being from someone who wasn’t as mature as she is now, I know that when I was 20 years old, I knew the difference between being respectful and not.

The reality is that the foundation of her character appears to have a malfunction in it but she, like many politicians, think that it is fair territory to insult or degrade and to dismiss it with a perfunctory apology whenever convenient (translation: whenever caught).

We are taught that everyone makes mistakes and so we should forgive everyone when they offer an apology and beg for forgiveness.

Unfortunately, too many times this becomes a useful, strategic weapon of choice for the bully and the ignorant, since the convenient apology always stands at the ready after the damage has been inflicted upon a person or an organization.

Imagine if I insulted her gender, her faith or anything else about her and having inflicted an unethical, immoral or illegal barb, I retracted the statement saying I was merely having a bad day.

Imagine if we all lived this way.

The difficulty here is that what we don’t condemn today, we accept tomorrow …..

….. and what we accept today, we embrace tomorrow.

If you find such perfunctory apologies acceptable, send me an email.  I will have someone arrange to have you or someone that matters to you incessantly insulted on a personal level so that you can see what such a society will eventually look like.

Perhaps if we didn’t forgive and forget so easily those who mistakes are more character flaws with intentional acts of malice behind them rather than simple accidents, people would be forced to think more before they speak or act.

And besides, we need stronger character in our leaders and politicians … not weaker.

The Bottom Line

Character is not something that is suddenly put on like a new jacket or suddenly discovered in a revelation when someone discovers something nasty in our past.

It is a seed that is planted early, nurtured carefully over the years and is revealed when we are called upon to be at our best, especially during times when we face our deepest, most daunting, challenges.

And in such situations, what we say and do provide insight into who we are, sometimes to our chagrin.

While we can choose to ignore the warning signs of flawed character in ourselves and others, we can’t ignore the results produced by that flawed character.

By the way, I’m sorry for calling you stupid.  I asked someone for a second opinion and they said you were ugly too (thanks, Rodney Dangerfield).

Actually I don’t think you are either ….. and I stand by everything I say.

Do you forgive me?

More importantly …..

Do you stand by everything you say and do and does it reflect who you are?

Do you care about the consistency of what others say and do as a reflection of their character?

Does it matter?

Should you care?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,

Harry

Saturday, August 15, 2015

PC Party of Alberta–Who Will Bell the Cat?

The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow. - Jim Hightower

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. - Coco Chanel

The heavy response to my blog from a couple of days ago, PC Party of Alberta – Proving Einstein and Churchill Right? and earlier posts such as To Demand Better of Your Politicians, Demand Better of Yourself, Going Bat Sh*T Crazy with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and other posts remind me of a funny children’s story I read as a young boy.

The story, Who Will Bell the Cat (and its variants), goes like this:

A group of mice were arguing in a mouse hole one day about a cat that had been terrorizing them.  With every passing day, the cat would sneak up on one of them without warning and would make off with the unsuspecting victim.  The mice were now tired of this and were arguing about what to do about the villain.

One mouse suggested that if they put a bell on the cat’s neck, then he would no longer be able to creep up on them unawares.

Recognizing the brilliance of the solution, the mice spent considerable time congratulating themselves on how they had solved the problem when their celebration was interrupted by a lone voice in the back of the mouse hole.

“The solution may be brilliant”, observed a wise old mouse, “but who will bell the cat?”

Silence filled the mouse hole and eventually the mice went about their business, realizing that there is a big difference between being full of ideas and having the courage to carry them out.

The PC Party of Alberta has been plagued by difficulty for some time, with a significant amount of dissension within the ranks regarding a number of things, including but not limited to very interesting personal interests and habits of former MLAs that have not been revealed to the public, interesting personal interests and habits of current MLAs, significant unhappiness with the current Party President and her lack of publicly visible leadership, significant concern over the potentially unethical, immoral (and possibly illegal) actions of some MLAs in the last election, the performance of the current interim leader, the belief by some that the last election wasn’t really lost (really?) and other things.

Then there are the Party members who discourage dialog by shouting down anyone who dares to suggest that something might be wrong and the grotesquely diabolical who actively discouraged dialog around change before the election (because everything was perfect), came to an amazing epiphany after the election that dialog around change was welcomed and needed (and wrote beautifully moving passages to promote this) and yet who work behind the scenes to make sure that such dialog is still controlled, restricted or prevented.

Whew … take a breath.

Meanwhile, members pound tables in frustration in coffee shops, covertly send emails and text messages back and forth and post vague or thinly disguised messages of concern on social media.

Interestingly, many of these messages (including the private ones) end up on my laptop and phone, with people saying “you should say something about this”, which is curious enough, but it is always followed by “but make sure you don’t quote me”.

The content is so intriguing, titillating and damning and its delivery so covert that I feel like The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Occasionally, I make observations about the PC Party (and other political parties, to be fair) and there is a public gasp of “I can’t believe he said that” and a private whisper of “Thank you for saying that – you have much more courage than I do.”

My suggestion to members of the PC Party of Alberta is this:

If you see ways to make the Party better for the sake of the Party itself, its members and the people of Alberta, such ideas won’t see the light of day if you choose not to take action or if you insist that the ideas only be discussed in dark recesses and alcoves that allow you to whisper your ideas without someone discovering your identity.

It takes courage to make change.

Lack of courage with plenty of ideas merely produces dissent, cynicism, frustration and wasted energy.

And it doesn’t get you re-elected.

After all, drinking the Kool-Aid is like drinking vehicle coolant – both have the potential to produce blindness.

People kept quiet in the past, often selling their own souls, their ethics and their morals, so that they wouldn’t be thrown out of power.

But the difficulty now is that doing the same thing keeps one from improving, both from within the Party to root the rot out and to present a stronger Party that is more in tune with the people of Alberta in the 21st century.

Until this happens, the ethical, moral, ideological and yes, legal foundation will never be there to form another government …. ever.

The problems have been identified.

The “villains” have been outed.

Many great ideas and brilliant people exist (especially younger people) to make a significant, positive difference to the Party and to the Province of Alberta.

However, brilliant ideas and an endless supply of passion require courage in action to bring these ideas to fruition.

So … the only question remaining is …..

….. who wants to bell the cat?

In service and servanthood,

Harry


Addendum – Members Weigh In …. Anonymously

A number of members have emailed or texted me to thank me for posting this musing.  Ironically, they prefer to remain anonymous, thus demonstrating the depth, breadth and scale of the problem that exists within the Party.


Addendum 2 – The Importance of Data – August 24, 2015

After the PC debate in Calgary-Foothills tonight, this item was posted by a PC Party supporter (click on image for larger version):

Wrong data

The data used by Ms. Walker to confirm that Mr. Houston is the best candidate is either humorous or pathetic, depending on how you look at it.  With powerful insight like this, how can the Party go wrong?


Addendum 3 – Questioning the Strategy – August 28, 2015

Watching the lackluster performance of Mr. Houston in several debates and recognizing that he is a perpetual candidate who has ran for various seats over the years without winning any of them, I wonder why the PC Party chose him over a “ringer”, especially if the riding is as important to the Party as they claim.

Is this a strategic failure on the part of someone within the PC Party or did they believe or fear they were going to lose despite their desire for a win, thus not wanting to sacrifice a more important player?

Only a select few know.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

PC Party of Alberta–Proving Einstein and Churchill Right?

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

[Author note: A sequel to this blog post can be found here - PC Party of Alberta–Who Will Bell the Cat?]

When the PC Party of Alberta announced a candidate for the upcoming by-election in Calgary-Foothills, I was curious:

What has the PC Party learned from the election loss in May and what would their candidate do differently as a result of those lessons?

With that in mind, I posed a simple question on the Facebook pages of the candidate and the PC Party.  The question was this:

On what platform will he run? Have we admitted our weaknesses yet, why we lost and what we need to do to regain the confidence of the people? No nasty answers please - this is an honest question from someone who would like to understand if stuff from the past has been resolved.

I thought the question to be fair, legitimate and respectfully asked.

The candidate never answered the question as of the time this post was published.

However, on the PC Party wall, I was blessed with this fascinating interaction (click on the image for an easier-to-read version).

PCAA

“Clowns like me”.  We’re off to an excellent, cerebral start in our exchange.

The interaction continued ….

PCAA

Now I’m a “clueless clown”.  I’m having trouble keeping up with the elevated intellectual level of the exchange but I feel I must persevere despite my obvious shortcomings.

Mr. June’s rant continued before the PC Party finally addressed my question and I responded:

PCAA

Note that they did not attempt to refute his comments at all – a curious thing.

However, in a desire not to feel left out of the exchange, Mr. June re-entered the conversation:

PCAA

Clearly I am not worthy of the intellect of this individual and I disengaged before embarrassing myself further.

The reality is that there are always idiots (Individuals Derogatorily Opining Trite S**t) out there who can’t wait to share their weak, fact-less, disrespectful opinions on the Web.  I feel bad for anyone whose lives are limited in such ways – it must be a dark, frustrating, powerless way to live.

However, what I am fascinated by is that the PC Party did not attempt to silence the individual or publicly disassociate themselves from his opinions.  Even though it is THEIR forum, they are allowing others to shout down anyone who dares to engage in public discourse for the sole reason of making something better and they are not making any comment to the contrary.

And when someone speaks on someone else’s behalf and the latter chooses not to refute what was said, you have to wonder if they agree with what was said or if they don’t care what the potential result could be if they don’t refute it.

The difficulty here is that what we don’t condemn today, we accept tomorrow …..

….. and what we accept today, we embrace tomorrow.

Does the PC Party know what it may be embracing with such a hands-off attitude regarding the comments of the dull and the ignorant?

Does the PC Party care?

Perhaps the PC Party prefers that difficult questions not be asked.

I can’t tell – they don’t answer them but they do allow others to be the hammer in an effort to squelch public discourse, potentially presenting a desirable outcome for the PC Party since someone else gets to play the heavy when the questions are awkward to answer.

Again, I don’t know and can’t guess if an answer is not forthcoming from anyone except the people who have little to share and a lot of energy to do it with.

Interestingly enough, only one individual by the name of Maxim pointed out that the response to me was unfair.  Such little response suggests that others agree with intimidation tactics, no one cares about the interaction, no one cares to take action when they see something wrong, no one cares enough about the PC Party in general or they have better things to do with their Life.

None of these things send a positive message to the PC Party or to the people who might observe or participate in such interactions.

Voter influence is all about perception and so far, the campaign in Calgary-Foothills is off to a bad start from my perspective.

The fact that people prefer me to be in their camp instead of attempting to drive me to the opponent’s camp through intimidation or indifference is a subject for a different day. Smile

The Bottom Line

You should never allow someone else to define who you are with their own message on your behalf.  It may be the last or only message that others receive and you may fall victim to the reputation that becomes attached to you if the message is not a positive one or one that properly reflects what you represent (or at least what you want it to represent).

If you don’t like what that reputation is, then do something about it.

Because if you don’t do something about it, maybe you agree with the message being promoted or if nothing else, you may be perceived as agreeing with it.

Either way, the perception of the recipient will be the same whether you like it or not.

Do you care what reputation is defined for you by others?

Does it matter?

How do you know?

What are you willing to do about it?

For the PC Party, failure to shut down the ignorant who define the reputation of the Party may be proving Einstein and Churchill to be right.

I wonder if they care.

In service and servanthood,

Harry

[Author note: A sequel to this blog post can be found here - PC Party of Alberta–Who Will Bell the Cat?]


Addendum: A member of the PC Party, after observing the interaction, texted me this thought:

The PC response is pathetic: we’ll get to a platform when we stop being so busy.  How do you commit to run without a platform?

An interesting thought indeed.


Addendum 2 – A Response From the PCAA

The PC Party Twitter account sent me this tweet in response to my observations:

PCAA Response

PCAA Response

A few observations regarding their response:

  1. It addresses the subject without really addressing it, since it doesn’t reject the comments as not reflecting the position of the Party or the candidate.  While entertaining all opinions is noble, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand when some participants are abusive and should be banned. 
  2. The tweet takes the politically correct stand of “we don’t want to say a specific person was naughty” so we will generalize it to be “some people” which technically could include me for refusing to accept the aggressive nature of others.  Meanwhile, last time I checked, “some people” were still continuing their abuse of the opinions of others.  Convenient?
  3. If one does not have a policy for healthy discourse in 2015, one is seriously behind the times.  Beg, borrow or steal someone else’s – there are many to choose from.  “Grow a set” as the expression goes and know when it is obvious to shut down those who merely seek to shut down discourse for their own misguided reasons.  We can’t be everything to everyone, otherwise we end up standing for nothing.

The Bottom Line

The damage is done – my question went unanswered by the Party and by the candidate and others have expressed a lack of interest in speaking up as a result.  Is this a deliberate act under the guise of “we don’t have a policy for healthy discourse”?  This would be very convenient if true.

Not much appears to have changed since the Party attitude, poor perception of what the voter wanted and lack of strategic foresight brought the Party down in May of 2015.

Oh wait, many PCAA members still don’t believe that they really lost that election and maybe that’s the problem.  This is especially true given that many PCAA members keep citing the strange, unrelated statistic that since the PC Party and the Wildrose Party combined took more popular votes than the NDP, then it means that the NDP didn’t really win.

To those people, I ask them to look at who sits on the Government side of the Legislature.  That is the only answer that matters.

Those people remind me of the belief of some that if someone dies in a violent way, their ghost remains where the person died, unaware that they have actually died.

A pompous attitude when you are “on top of the pile” is not appropriate.

A pompous attitude when you are not is not intelligent.

One causes you to lose.

One prevents you from winning.

Is there any difference between the two in the end?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Complexity of Morality Duality

Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions. - Ayn Rand

Everybody makes excuses for themselves they wouldn't be prepared to make for other people. - Rebecca Goldstein

The ego is a mean mechanism which mobilizes the absolute strongest rationalization traps in order to preserve itself. - David Jascha

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …


The two lawyers sat in a Starbucks in a city in Alberta and stared in silence at their respective coffee cups.

The older of the two alternated between sighing heavily and biting his lip in frustration while his younger colleague said nothing.

“What really ticks me off more than anything”, said the older lawyer as he broke the silence, “is the lack of morality in this matter.  How dare someone do such a thing and think that they can get away with it?  There is something seriously wrong in a world where people seem to think that they can get away with acts highly deficit of ethical or moral substance while thinking they can do so without fear of retribution or rebuke.”

He lightly struck the table between them with his fist as he shook his head in anger.

“How dare they?”, he said forcefully but not loudly.

“I don’t know”, muttered his younger colleague.  He had always looked up to the partner seated across from him but now he wondered if he had aligned himself with the wrong mentor.

“What do you think I should do?”, asked the older lawyer.

His younger colleague shrugged.  “I’m not sure”, he replied, “I don’t have any experience with stuff like this.  I don’t know if there is much you can do at all.”

“Well”, continued the older lawyer, “there is one thing that I can guarantee you.  If I find the son of a bitch who did it, I will have his butt hanging from the flagpole.  It is a sad day when we allow the immoral and unethical to do things that interfere with hard working people like us.”

He was interrupted by a chime from his phone.  He picked it up and examined the message displayed.

His face began to darken in anger and he looked up at his younger colleague.  “I’ve got to go”, he said tersely, “she is sending me some material and I need to respond to it before the day is out.”

He got up and without so much as a nod of thanks to his younger colleague, walked out of the coffee shop.

One of his partners had been watching the interaction from the other side of the coffee shop and walked over to the younger colleague.

“He seems pretty angry about something”, he observed, “Is everything ok?”

Feeling a little uncomfortable about revealing something shared in confidence but not wanted to anger the partner now seated across the table from him, he shrugged and asked, “Can you keep a secret?”

“Of course”, the partner assured him.

“He’s angry because someone just sent his wife a list of the women, including clients, that he has been having affairs with for years”, said the younger lawyer, “and now he wants revenge on the person who did it.”

The younger lawyer paused for a moment before continuing.

“What I don’t understand”, he said uncertainly, “is that he is saying that what that person did was immoral and yet he doesn’t see the immorality of what he has done.”

He paused again before looking the elder partner directly in the eye.

“How is that possible?”, he asked.

The two men looked down at their coffee cups in silence for a moment before the elder lawyer pulled out his mobile phone and texted to a colleague.

I have a secret that we can use to finally get rid of you-know-who.

To be continued.


© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Background

While some things have been altered here to present a coherent story, the basic facts of the story are true.

In my world of Wall St., I have always been fascinated with the duality of morality, the notion that what I do is “always proper, ethical and moral” while the other guy who is doing the same thing suffers from a serious deficiency of ethics, morals and practically anything else.

There is also the point of how some people leverage the immorality of others for their own gain (and some people specialize in this technique).  Is that any better than the original immoral act?  I don’t think so.

The ego, when motivated by the wrong things and a twisted sense of perspective, can produce some interesting results and how the results are perceived by different people.

Ah the concept of duality.

I spoke to a farmer last week who was all wound up about what we are doing to our environment (including our food supply) in the name of money and how we all needed to do something about it.  I agreed totally and then asked the farmer if he used Round-Up ready seed from Monsanto and he indicated that he did.

I asked him why he would use such a product when it has been demonstrated that Round-Up, one of the most poisonous chemicals known to man, is now turning up in our food and water supply, especially when he was so fired up about what we are doing to our environment.

“Could this be a variant of greed?”, I asked.

“This is different”, he replied, “this is all about maximizing yield quantity and quality.  That has nothing to do with greed.”

“Possibly”, I replied, “but if you are maximizing your yield quantity and quality, is this not all about maximizing profit?”

“Of course it is”, replied the farmer.

“As a businessman, I have nothing against maximizing profit”, I observed, “but could it be said that this is a variant of greed when we know that we may be sacrificing the health of others in order to achieve a maximized profit?”

The farmer was silent.

“What I would recommend”, I said, “is that you need to remove the duality from your Life.  You can either focus on maximizing profit using the products you are using, not care about the impact of the health of others and stop complaining that people need to stop contaminating the environment or you can start making the difference on your own farm that you so passionately believe is needed and thus be the change you want to see in others.  You cannot live both sides of duality.”

“That makes me a hypocrite, doesn't it?”, asked the farmer.

“Not necessarily”, I replied, “although the duality you are trying to live doesn’t work at all and eventually you will be called out on it or you will drive yourself crazy.”

The conversation ended without a stated purpose on the farmer’s part.

I suspect that profit will win in the case of this farmer – it is the preferred path of most people in the world today.

As a businessman, I understand the importance of profit.

However, the duality within our lives, whether in how we generate a profit or how we live our lives in general, often leads to complexities in our Lives as the things we desire, the things we demand of others and the things we do run into conflict with each other (often at the sacrifice of someone else).

Do you have unresolved dualities?

What do they say about you?

What are they doing to you?

Should you do something about them?

Why or why not?

How do you know?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.


Addendum – Duality Examples – August 12, 2015

I rarely post addendums to #1206 blogs but I had an interesting event occur today that illustrates dualities perfectly.

Someone who taught me in theology some years ago posted a photo today of a naked man standing in water and made an observation that if we had more of this type of thing, we could get more women interested in fishing.

It might have been amusing had it not been for the fact that this person, a woman, is highly sensitive regarding pictures and comments that men post about women, especially when it looks like the man is objectivizing the woman.

Recognizing the duality of “do as I say and not as I do”, I politely asked what she would do if I had posted a similar photo of a woman.  After she made her point (poorly) that she is proving what women have to go through, she disconnected me from her social media account before I could reply.

It brings to mind this duality variant.

When people call us on something, we can either observe the following (with context specific information included from this event):

  1. If we teach or have taught theology (including application of morality and ethics behavior), we don't post pictures of naked men to make "a fun point".
  2. If we are offended by men who objectivize women when they post pictures of naked women "for fun", we don't post pictures of naked men in return.
  3. We don’t "make a point" by performing the same act as the person who affronts us (two wrongs never make anything right).
  4. If we don't see the inconsistency of what we do versus what we demand (or what we teach), we should remember that Life teaches us to:

a. Understand dissenting / questioning opinion when expressed respectfully.
b. Discuss differences of opinion maturely.
c. Entertain dialog in give and take without getting emotional.

OR ... we can do this:

  1. Make a point and then immediately unfriend / block the other person before our action can be explored or questioned (thankfully we got the last word in before disconnecting from them).

JR once said:

The more social media we have, the more we think we're connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.

They say that social media keeps us connected but I think it is providing us with new ways of forgetting how to connect with each other in respectful, mature ways that matter, creating many opportunities for new dualities to be created in our lives.

I also think social media creates many opportunities for us to be inconsistent, with our dualities in plain sight for all to see (even if we are blind to them).

It doesn’t create the dualities themselves but merely reveals them.

The only issue is that when we get caught in our dualities, it is not the other person’s fault and so we shouldn’t be angry with them.

The fault is our own and so we should accept blame and responsibility accordingly.

What do you think?

If you don’t agree with me, don’t bother emailing me – I’ve already disconnected from you in a proactive, pre-emptive fashion. Smile

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Musings at 50–Confessions of a Self-Made Man

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. - Denis Waitley

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. - Melody Beattie

Today as birthday greetings for my 50th birthday come to me from around the world, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to be blessed with the love and support of so many amazing people.

It also reminds me of something else.

I have experienced many things in my Life, including walking away from a serious illness, five airplane incidents (one depressurization, one near mid-air on final, two RPM governance failures on take off and one structural integrity compromise), a lightning bolt that hit a playground set 50 feet from where I was standing, 4 NYC muggings, a serious bicycle accident, a stabbing on a subway, a tornado that touched down a block from where I was walking and a list of other things that start to look ridiculous at some point (over 25 of them according to the Starbucks napkin I scribbled on).

Many people have said that either someone is looking out for me or I’m being saved for something.

Perhaps.

I have also been blessed repeatedly in business, often being given opportunities neither desired nor sought (nor which I thought I was qualified for) but which unfolded amazingly in my favor, including an IPO of a company that I cofounded in NYC in the late 1990’s.  Most people wouldn’t have seen this in my future when one looks at the house that I lived in in my early years:

Early house

A few times when I have made presentations, organizers said they were expecting someone much older, based on what they have learned about what I have accomplished and how it was unlikely that such a list could have been squeezed into the Life of a younger man.

But as I look at the greetings that now flow in, some of which are from people I have known for 45 of my 50 years, something is tremendously obvious to me.

For all of the things I have appeared to have performed, accomplished or survived, I am in fact responsible for none of it.

The credit for everything incredible I have experienced in my Life is entirely due to the many people I have been blessed to have known over the years.

It is from those people that I acquired the wisdom, knowledge, courage and strength to learn how to build a better Life.  When I didn’t always get it right, they were there – sometimes to lift me – sometimes to straighten me up.  And yes, some served as a warning on how not to live.

When I applied myself as I should have, things worked out well.  When I didn’t …. well …. I bear responsibility for the mistakes I have made along the journey.

And so when I hear people talk about being self-made or how their self-description has a lot of “I did this”, “I did that”, etc., I wonder how cognizant they are of the impact of other people on their lives.

There is no such thing as the self-made man.  Oh sure, we all may be intelligent, wise, talented, good-looking, wealthy, etc, but it requires others to help us see those gifts and to help us leverage those gifts to the best of our potential.

Because if it weren’t for all of those people, most of us wouldn’t accomplish much if anything at all.

So as the greetings continue to pour in from family and friends, I in turn thank everyone who has helped me, encouraged me, supported me, taught me, angered me and loved me.

The first 50 years have been possible only because of who you are and what you do and for that, I am eternally grateful.

And if I have accomplished anything at all, it is only to prove true the old adage attributed to Sir Isaac Newton:

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

YOU are the giants – thank you for a great first 50 years.  To name you all would take a LOT of space – you know who you are.  It is my privilege and honor to travel the journey with you, to learn from you and to collaborate with you towards making a better world. 

Now … have you thanked your giants today?

In service and servanthood,

Harry

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Contagiousness of Worry

A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work. - John Lubbock

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …


Two men sat in a softly lit professional office, one lounging back on a small leather couch while the other sat about five or six feet from him, legs crossed and writing notes.

“And so how long has it been since you slept well?”, the psychiatrist asked.

“Well”, replied the patient, “I’d say it’s been about 20 years give or take.”

“And all because of worry?”, the psychiatrist asked, his eyes not leaving his notebook.

“For good reason”, replied the patient, “My line of work generates a lot of things that are difficult to absorb at the best of times.  Being on the inside of a large number of interesting organizations means that I am often in the know of a lot of things that I would rather not be involved with.”

“I see”, replied the psychiatrist, “And it is this that causes you worry?  What do you worry about?”

“Well”, began the patient, “I worry about a lot of stuff.”

The patient then began to explain his concerns about the world, touching on climate change, poverty, nuclear weapons, cyber security of infrastructure, the realities of the economy, the financial house of cards that the world had created, global ecology, terrorism, various health concerns attributed to technology and a number of other areas.

“That’s a lot of stuff to worry about”, said the psychologist, “Why do you think you worry about them when most people don’t care and live productive lives despite what is going on in the world?”

The patient frowned but ignored the question.

“What finally got to me”, the patient continued, “was when a lion was shot by some stupid American dentist and the whole world exploded in indignation.”

“Well”, observed the psychiatrist, “That was a pretty heinous act.”

“True”, agreed the patient, “But the hunt for lions has been conducted by the wealthy for many years and few have cared before.  Not only that, but similar hunts for other animals are routinely conducted in many countries including in the countries where the greatest outrage has sprung from and despite these realities, few have ever given a shit before.  Sure there have been a few groups that cared but the world has mostly been silent until now.  It’s almost as if the world, in oblivion to what is going on, sits around in numbed out boredom until something mundane but sensational surfaces and then they wake up for just a moment before they go back to sleep again.”

He paused as the psychiatrist listened in silence.

“Someone made an observation on social media the other day”, the patient continued, “that it was odd that people cared more for one lion than for the 24,000 children under the age of five who die daily from tainted water.  He was immediately beset upon by a number of people who pointed out that the lion was more important, the water problem had already been solved or that we can only solve one problem at a time.  The reality is that none of these things are true, all living things are equal in importance and that we can solve more than one issue at once.  However, what struck me was that despite the real and significant threats we face daily, most people don’t awaken until something relatively irrelevant or not new strikes them and only then do they explode with indignation and even then, it’s just for a moment.  Look at Haiti as the perfect example – they are still suffering years later but because the media doesn’t give them any attention, only a few people know about it.”

He paused.

“Just indignation”, he said softly, “Not action ….. just anger-laden indignation.”

The psychiatrist waited to make sure the patient was finished before speaking.  “So what are you saying people should be doing?”, he asked.

The patient’s brow furrowed as he reflected on the question.

“I think it’s important for people to not only get indignant about the lion but also where our political, military, business, financial and religious leaders are leading us.  It’s time for people to be informed about what is going on in the world, what the risks are, how our potential allows us to create a better world if we desire one and what everyone can do now to contribute to creating that better world …….”, the patient said before pausing.

“…… while there is still a world”, he added quietly.

“Have you ever considered finding another outlet for your worry?”, the psychiatrist asked, “Many of my patients find that spending more time on things like Facebook helps them to worry less.”

“In fact”, he continued, “I find that such exercises help many of my patients to stop worrying completely.”

The patient started at him intently. 

“So what you are trying to tell me”, he said, “is that by pretending that there are no problems, that we can make them go away?”

“That’s not what I said at all”, replied the psychiatrist, “What I said is that since each of us are too small to change the world, why waste time in worry when there are things available to help us forget the things we cannot change?  Why be angered or worried about the world and where it may be going?  Such pessimism is not healthy for you as you can attest to.”

“Do you believe that calling reality as it is is the same as being pessimistic?”, asked the patient, feeling anger beginning to grow in him, “A pessimist believes there is no good, an optimist believe there is no bad but a realist recognizes that there is both in the world and that acknowledging our reality is the only way to create more good and less bad.  The good within us and in our results reminds us of the importance of creating more of both but this is only possible when we acknowledge the reality of where we are, where we need to go and what we need to do.  Only the ignorant get angry when presented with reality.”

Feeling his voice starting to shake, the patient looked away in anger.

“I believe the patient should be answering my questions and not asking them if you don’t mind”, the psychiatrist said calmly.  He began writing on a pad and without looking up, said, “I’m going to give you something to help you worry less.  Come back next week and we’ll see how you are doing.”

He tore a sheet off the pad and held it out to the patient but he ignored it.  He took his laptop out of his bag, started it, opened a few things and then laid the laptop on the coffee table between them, turning the screen to face the psychiatrist.

“You asked me earlier why I worried when few others do.  The reality is that a lot of good people worry every day but there aren’t enough of us yet to attain a critical mass of knowledge or resources to change the direction of the world towards one that honors our potential.  The majority of people are numbed out or care too much about Facebook, some game that doesn’t work on their phone, or ….. or … or … a single lion.”

The psychiatrist adjusted his glasses and looked at the laptop screen in front of him.  Arranged on the screen were a number of documents and emails.

“May I?”, asked the psychiatrist.

The patient gestured for him to go ahead and the psychiatrist took the laptop and sat back in his chair.  He skimmed through a number of documents, his eyes jumping from one to another.

His head began to hurt as text and images jumped out and grabbed his attention.

The patient stood up, walked over to the psychiatrist and gently took the laptop from him.

“Now you know”, said the patient, “Keep the prescription, doctor.  I don’t want or need it.  I prefer to be worried than to be numbed out, especially if the definition of being productive is nothing more than to be oblivious to what matters.”

Placing his laptop in his backpack, he walked out the door, closing it softly behind him.

The psychiatrist said nothing, staring at the door in silence as he pursed his lips and furrowed his brow.


The psychiatrist tossed and turned all night, totally unable to sleep.  When the alarm blared out the start of a new day, he stared blearily at it.

“I can’t do this today”, he thought.

Reaching for his phone, he called his personal assistant.  When her voicemail answered, he spoke sleepily into it.  “Hi Mary”, he said, “I’m not feeling well today and need you to clear my calendar of all appointments”.

He paused for a moment and then continued.  “Do me a favor also and get me an appointment with Dr. Andrews as soon as possible, please.  Thanks, Mary.”

He hung up and flopped back into his bed, staring at the motivational poster on his night table:

"If destruction fails to entangle us, distraction will do its best." - Beth Moore

It had been too long since he had spoken to his own psychiatrist and now he knew he needed to.

To be continued.


© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Background

Contrary to my typical backgrounder, if the ideas contained here need to be explained, I would recommend that the reader either get informed and get involved or go back to being numbed out, whichever helps them sleep at night.

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.