Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday Musings 2/27/11

1) Inspiration. Loved the “Women of the 2010 Games” video. Gotta say, though, that I have yet to NOT have goosebumps watching “Nasty Girls”, the original. Want to inspire young women? Show them what grit and determination looks like?

Still can’t do better than Nicole and “Nasty Girls”.

2) Christie. “When I run out of fights to have, I’ll stop fighting.” I DO like that, the following notwithstanding.

3) Us. So much of our worlds is made out to be “us vs. them.” By its very construct, at its most basic such a thing is designed to create a winner only if a loser is simultaneously spawned (more on that in a bit). Please don’t get me wrong–at times it really is “us vs. them” or “you vs. them,” no matter who “them” happens to be at that moment. Sometimes the conflict really does come to you, or come to us, and in those moments the only way to persevere is to engage, verse.

For some the act of engagement, the state of conflict is a natural and very comfortable location. A corollary: I once worked with a colleague who was a terrific crisis manager; he turned every decision point into a crisis because that’s what made him comfortable. But just as that form of management tends to burn a group, or indeed an individual, from the middle out, so, too, does a constant state of “us vs. them” become a self-defeating proposition.

While ruminating on this, in the middle of an “us vs. them” conflict that I did not choose, I kind of tripped over the opposite. The affirmative version. “Us WITH us”. The continual internal effort to build upon the positive, to plan for the best. To offer within the group the assumption of goodwill on the part of “us”. Indeed, to assume, until proven otherwise, goodwill on the part of “them”.

To build on the power of what it is that makes “us” good, whoever your “us” happens to be.

4) Non-Zero. Do you know people who seemingly can only feel good about themselves if someone else has fallen? Folks who cut others down in an effort to build themselves up? Everything, every encounter big or small, is a little Zero-Sum game. There can only be a winner if someone loses.

Have you ever listened to them talk? Their words are like little knives, meant to produce tiny injuries as they convey information. Many times these injuries are purposeful; other times they constitute collateral damage. What is notable is that the only effort that is apparent is the effort to wound, never an effort to protect or cushion or even prevent unintended injury. No opportunity is too small, and the effort to prevent injury seemingly too great, to miss the chance to inflict damage. You never know when that damage might helpfully/hopefully weaken someone to whom you might some day be compared.

Content and tone are inextricably mated. How you communicate expresses not only your thought but also your intent. Kindness, or not even that but neutrality, puts the content squarely in focus. Central. Untarnished. Funny, but speech meant to communicate and harm is often preceded by some qualifier such as “no offense” or “bless your heart”, as if that somehow makes the speaker blameless for any damage downstream.

The sad thing about this whole gig is that the person who seeks to elevate himself by bringing another down, seeks the win by creating the loss, achieves nothing of the kind. At best…at the very best, the situation created results in a loss for the other, but no more than a draw for the instigator. Which, if you’re keeping score, is actually NOT a Zero-Sum game at all, is it? Nor is it a Non-Zero Sum game, one in which both sides win, or one wins to the other’s neutral “draw”.

Nope, tearing another down in the vain hope that such a thing will boost you up, get one in the “win” column, is actually the third type of game, the Negative-Sum game. NOBODY wins.

Who would want to play THAT game? Who wants to be THAT person?

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at February 27, 2011 7:03 AM

3 Responses to “Sunday Musings 2/27/11”

  1. February 27th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    apolloswabbie says:

    I think the Steven Covey quote is “Seek win win.” Avoid the scarcity mentality. There’s enough STUFF that we can all get more with cooperative effort.

    I know those people too, D, and always feel grateful that the vast majority of the folks I work with and workout with have not been those kind of folks.

    Yes, we’ll see you next week, too. Paul

  2. February 28th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    RJF says:

    Your final point reminds me of a lesson the late Ed Parker (founder of American Kenpo) would teach students who resorted to trickery in order to win sparring matches. Parker would take a piece of chalk and draw a line on the floor about five feet long. He would then ask a student, “how can you make this line shorter?” He would often get several answers, including cutting the line in many pieces. Parker would shake his head and then draw a second line, longer than the first. “Now how does the first line look?” It’s always better to improve and strengthen your own line or knowledge than to try and cut your opponent’s line.

  3. February 28th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Love that, Rob! Thanks very much.

Leave a Reply