ear Friends

Welcome to Two Sides, ONE Coin.

Quote of the Week comes from Albert Einstein

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 30, 2010

People Centered Management

I read the news and it's hard not to become depressed about the state of human affairs.   While our technology has advanced, it is unclear whether the same could be said of human psychology.   Do we consider ourselves to be independent of each other or  are we interdependent?  How does our view influence our experience? The Persian poet, Rumi, is quoted as saying, " This two-way way, duality, feels like a fight.  This Oneness path feels more like a banquet."

The conceptualization of all things broken down into smaller and smaller components is only useful to an extent.  When individual parts are considered more important than the whole, we have created a distortion in perception that results in an enterprise that fails to consider the people that comprise the enterprise.  The same distortion in perception occurs whether we are describing religious, political, or educational institutions.  We cannot turn to today's leaders of these institutions to improve the state of human affairs as they profit from the  prevailing school of  thought that relies only on  numbers and discounts the human.  Isn't this backward thinking?  When should any "thing" be considered more important than a living, breathing being?  What results might another approach yield? What if we switched our focus of attention from a philosophy and practice of Strictly Business, Nothing Personal to a philosophy and practice of People Centered Management?

I borrowed today's topic of People Centered Management from another blogger, Gregory Gull, who writes a blog entitled For Progress Not Growth.  The  objective of FPNG is written as "facilitating critical thinking about the business of business".  These are not the words I would  have chosen in conjunction with the subject of People Centered Management and yet that was the title of a recent post.  Much to my surprise, I found many of the thoughts I have surrounding Business and Business Leadership woven throughout the contents on every page.  Rather than say what that is in this One Coin blog, please visit For Progress, Not Growth and read the words for yourself.

Also worth exploring on the topic of People Centered Management are the words of William Edwards Deming, author of  "The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education" .    A video from 1984 shows  Dr.Deming as a "Prophet Unheard" who foresaw our current economic crises as well as the cure.  Borrowing again from an Amazon reviewer, "Describing prevailing management style as a prison, Deming shows how a style based on cooperation rather than competition can help people develop joy in work and learning at the same time that it brings about long-term success in the market."

People Centered Management.  Not a new idea. But one that works.  I tried it myself over 20 years ago, long before I knew there was a name for it.  My philosophy arose from the simple daily practice of The Golden Rule, also known as The Rule of Reciprocity.  What is wise is always wise or it isn't wise at all.  People Centered Management - A  key to success in the 21st century.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Business Philosophy: Wanted AND Unwanted Results

We have, as individuals, the potential to be our own greatest work of art, our greatest creation.  Following the path that is outlined by another rarely mirrors the results for it's followers as it produced for the Leader, the original pioneer of an idea. 

Too few of us can remember our original self in order to have a truly "original thought". Much to our dismay, most of what we think was something we heard or read.  The same thoughts go round and round within our minds (and some of us have a large collection to draw on) but, wounded egos aside, we seldom think something that has not already been thought by someone, somewhere, sometime. It has also been suggested that "There is nothing new under the Sun."

I've done a lot of web surfing this week, reading Leadership blogs and articles primarily.  There is a tremendous amount of duplication in content and much of what I read can be found through searches in at least a dozen places or more. There is very little original thought, little original thinking, although there's a vast abundance of recycled words and ideas. I remember as a child, my dad would often say, "Don't believe everything you read.  Simply because it appears in print, doesn't make it so."

We can't fault authors for their regurgitation of ideas.  Unless you are writing as an independent blogger, most established blog sites have pre-determined criteria and guidelines for subject content. The words written for existing blogs afford small ability to "customize, alter, modify or adjust" how the material is presented or what material is presented. Our words are poured onto paper and then sent in for review. The subject matter is generally confined to what is considered "safe", restricted to what is "non-controversial". A number of additional sources must be cited that support our propositions and assertions of "The Way" we recommend (i.e - there must be a wide consensus of opinions).

The sheer volume of information we are required to know in order to stay "competitive" in today's market is astounding.  The amount of time we devote to the endeavor of absorbing that information and then applying what we've learned, has left little or no time to reflect on the truth of what we apply. More to the point, we have little time to truly examine our results.

We look for the wanted measurements (typically an increase in profits) but we seldom take time to look at what arose with them - the unwanted "side effects".  The pace today is prohibitive to real reflection so the clock just keeps ticking, time just keeps marching, and business keeps rolling  along.  

Real results are considered found in the "tangibles" - what can be measured or quantified. This is, however, only half of the picture.  It's time we all learn to think for ourselves when it comes to the other half, the "other side" of the proverbial coin.  It is highly unlikely that you will find much material that speaks to the "intangibles" - the real and hidden human costs we pay for the acceptance and implementation of many of these ideas. 

Examples of widespread ideas with under-examined results must include the phrase, "Strictly Business, Nothing Personal". Please note that this is NOT a new idea or an original thought, it is merely the hatcheting of an old one.  Web Definitions defines Business as "a commercial or industrial enterprise and the People that comprise it". In the Strictly Business paradigm, What happened to the other half, the AND of ....and the People?

According to the Web Definition, would it seem more accurate to say that Business Leaders and the Captains of Industry simply chose to dispense with  thinking of People as vital to their business? Has the Business entity taken on greater importance than the living entities that comprise it? Since "the people" are inherent within the definition of Business itself, does it seem likely that the decision might have been made simply because People are problematic to their goals and to their bottom line thinking? 

I sincerely doubt, if polled, that the majority of People comprising a Business want to spend the bulk of their waking hours in an Impersonal environment - devoid of personality, devoid of human characteristics and traits.

I need to ask again, Does the repetition of an untruth (or partial truth) make the assertion true?
Where has the Strictly Business view led us?  What are some of the side effects or unwanted results? Business environments have become largely "soul-less"  while the phrase itself has become little more than self-justification for cold-hearted action.Do we really believe there is no better way?

This self-justification seems particularly true for many self-described "performance-driven" companies who wear the words like a badge of honor, some "thing" they can be proud of.  Interestingly enough, many of these companies that ascribe to the belief that Business can be "Strictly Business, Nothing Personal" are the same companies that claim to follow a Relational Management Philosophy.  I submit that it is unlikely that they truly understand what it is that they say. 

The "Strictly Business" philosophy disregards the human element and the idea of "Relational Management" is still viewed within that partial and narrowed context.  The sphere of consideration has expanded slightly although it is often taken to mean, and is therefore limited to, the inclusion of those who are thought to have a direct "relationship" to the Strictly Business bottom line. The "Nothing Personal" view of Business treats the The People of Business  as Impersonal objects (devoid of personality); all "others" are still seen as merely the means to their ends.

Eliminating the human factor from human endeavors can only lead to soul-less results.  Success arrived at by these means can only bring us short-term pleasure, the long-term result is that our success feels empty and hollow of meaning.

The next time someone points to the benefits of following a particular Business philosophy, I would suggest you experiment before you implement the idea.  Measure your quantifiable results but use common sense and also take a good, long look at the other side of the coin to see what “unwanted” results that philosophy yielded, too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ancient Wisdom & Life Success

Some of you are probably wondering why it is that I sometimes quote  from Ancient Wisdom and  how it's relevant to 21st century success? There is a distinction between knowledge and wisdom and it has been my life's burden that I feel compelled to acquire both, as if I could actually own either.  I operate under the pretense, much like everybody else, because it's what we do.

So, what is the relevance of Ancient Teachings to a life of success?  We all know many knowledgeable people and their  knowledge is thought to be a thing.  Is wisdom also a thing that someone has or someone doesn't?  Can wisdom be bought, taught, or acquired somehow, where-ever it is thought lacking?

It is said that knowledge is more temporary and more transient than Wisdom. Wisdom sustains through centuries while knowledge changes with the times.  What we know  of the world today and what was known in 1490 are very different things.  Could we say that what has endured, is what many think of as wise?

What we need to know has changed.  The ways we come to know it have changed too.

Most of what we think we know, we're taught.  We learn. 
The amount of information we now think we need seems staggering compared to those of us who can remember what was needed just 20 years ago.
We have vast wealth - perhaps an over-abundance of conventional knowledge. 
But are we living wisely?

How happy are we?  How joyful, how peaceful, how loving, how caring?
If what we know brings us nothing of these, then where is this knowing's  real value?

Or , looked at another way - Just what is "it", then, we value?

The path to life success is found in the teachings that also teach us to live wisely.
The teachings that bring more joy, that bring more peace, that bring more love, into our everyday experience.
More accurately, they teach us to be open to these experiences.

Most of us intuit as children that what we are being taught is only true in a relative sense.
Were it not for external pressure, much teaching would quickly be abandoned as garbage in and garbage out.
(I think of all the machines I learned to operate over the years that no longer exist and how that knowledge was only useful for a time.)

The wisdom of Ancient Teachings is as relevant to a life of success today as when they were first spoken if we truly value what it is we claim we value.

Leadership :Simple or Complicated?

I am always amazed at how we complicate everything in our minds.  I belong to a number of Business Groups and Networks and am a voracious reader of books, blogs, forums, and websites. There is a staggering amount of conflicting information available today on any given subject.

Discussions that center on Leadership inevitably give rise to a collection of associative words that are woven throughout their pages. Organization, structure, management, performance, efficiency, productivity, culture, name but a few of those typically found.

Recently I was pointed towards the book "Managing Leadership" and so I looked it up and began with the table of contents.  Leadership has been dissected into 8 or 9 chapters and at least 30 or 40 subheadings.  I admit to feeling slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of wading through another collection of ideas with so many words to talk about one thing.

Nonetheless,  I read these books to see and understand what others are thinking, asserting, advocating, and promoting as "The Way".   What I generally find is that more imaginary divisions are created between this thing and that thing, with each thing further subdivided into smaller and smaller compartments.  How easy it becomes to lose sight of the bigger picture when we dive into the details and engage in what Native Americans refer to as "mouse vision"!

Please don't get me wrong - mouse vision has some usefulness.  Limited usefulness, I should add.  But have we gone overboard whereby everything we see and do need be broken into smaller and smaller components or are we simply pretending to know and understand more than we really do?

Leadership is a concept, and in that sense, has no reality of it's own.  There are some who say they are self-led although I prefer to think of the words as relational, describing the relationship between Leaders and Followers.  One defines the other.  If self-led, then I must also self-follow, and this diminishes the usefulness of both words in the communication of the "concept".

Although books abound on Leadership - Managing Leadership, Leadership Principles, Leadership and Self-Deception - the concept could be made far more simple and easy to grasp.  I simplify it as meaning this: Enlightened  Leadership involves seeing those you lead as people rather than objects, no different than yourself, and in treating them as you would wish to be treated if  you traded positions and walked the proverbial "mile in their shoes".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Life Success - Living the Dream

I began my first entrepreneurial venture in the early 1980's with my husband of 10 years and our 2 small daughters, just 4 and 5 years old then. Three years later, we were selling over $5 million in product annually - a good return for the times and for a new venture.  And yet, the greater our success, the more I found it to be hollow and lacking in meaning.  I often wondered if there was more to life than this?  There had to be more than the setting of goals and their achievement followed by the setting of more goals and more achievements.  We lived a pampered life.  What was enough or would we forever be  chasing bigger and better brass rings; bigger houses, cars, and titles?  When did the goal-setting end and the living of life begin?

To my dismay, I realized that my life had been lived all along but where was I in all of that doing and what really mattered to me?  Was what mattered, in fact, the accumulation of wealth, or the prestige of success, the pleasure of accomplishment, or the power and authority I could exert over others?  The  question  I wanted answered was this: What gives meaning to life?  I could tell you what did not, according to my experience, but I could not say what would. 

My interest in success as a goal unto itself began to wane considerably over the next few years.  I found it ever more difficult to live a life of excess while driving my Mercedes by a homeless family that was living on the sidewalk.   I had to stop pretending not to see all the people in this Land of Opportunity that were hungry, thirsty, broken,  and poor.  The more I opened my eyes to those around me, the less I came to enjoy our abundant success.

Success in any endeavor is much like a dual-edged sword. Whatever is gained, we stand to lose.  Amassing the fruits of success, we have that much more to protect and to safeguard and soon, what we own, owns us. Where is the wisdom in that?

Is it really success that we're after? All  the riches in the world won't help us feel successful until we discover for ourselves what it is that holds real meaning.  It may not be what  you think.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tired of Pretending

A year ago yesterday my dad passed away and I spent the day alone, with myself.  The death of a loved one is often life-changing for those left behind.  Reflecting on these past 12 months, that was certainly true for me.  And true for the rest of my family. Our priorities have shifted and the allocation of our time is engaged in very different endeavors.

I read a book many, many years ago called I Got Tired of Pretending.  Although 20 years have passed since then and I don't remember the content, the title stayed with me as I moved through my days, my weeks, and my years.  I question how much or how little I betray myself by pretense, by pretending that what I see,  think, and feel is what I really see, think, and feel?   I marvel at how often life asks me to pretend that what is real, is not; and that what is "not real" is what matters and holds meaning. 

I would guess this is why many refer to life as merely another game.

"Fear not, what is not real never was and never will be.
What is real, always was, and cannot be destroyed."

These lines from the Bhagavad Gita are my answer to the need for pretending according to my roles, my self-identifications, self-justifications, the expectations of others, and all the other rules of the game that we collectively perpetuate among ourselves.  We are a most curious creation. Arising from nowhere and nothingness, breathing life we begin to see, think, and feel. As we grow we are taught who and what we are according to how we differ from others. The basic premise is that we are separate, divisible, objects surrounded by a universe of other separate, divisible, objects that we must learn to function with, around, and between.  That we survive among others in a predatory world becomes the prime directive.

What if this basic premise is flawed? What if we are not as we were told and have come to believe?

The world we have constructed within our minds is reflected in the world we see outside.  More than 20 years ago I embarked on a journey in search of myself.  I always knew I was not who or what people said, regardless of what nouns or adjectives they chose.  Some words stuck, other words changed, but none satisfied the need to know my self.  I became an explorer of many realms and my searching  led me around the world.  I investigated science, delved heavily into philosophy, and read volumes absorbing the teachings of the world's major religions.  I can more easily say what I am not then to tell you who I am.  I am not separate from you.

And yet, even knowing this, I miss my dad.  I miss entertaining the idea of one day being held within his big, strong arms again.  His transition from form to formlessness still brings a tear or ten, and yet, I also feel his presence more today than when he lived and breathed.  What is real is the Love we felt for "the other", and that can never be destroyed. 

We love you dad. Forever and always. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Open Mind is Under-Rated as a Key to Success

I read a blog this morning where the author asserted that  Being Open-minded is Overrated.
I disagree with the  premise that to have an open-mind is over-rated in the 21st century and, in fact, would advocate the  opposite. I think  some of the primary aspects of what it means to have an open-mind were overlooked or simply not understood by the author.  We need not agree (or disagree) with the beliefs or opinions of others to experience an open mind.
We do, however, need to set aside our own ideas and beliefs. (This does not mean we can't reclaim them if  we are attached to them although they are less needed than we might think. Just think about the thousands of thoughts we think each day and the  uselessness of most.)

Open-mindedness is not something we possess or lack but simply describes a state of receptivity to the consideration  of ideas that lie outside our own. The words denote our willingness to favorably entertain or receive the ideas or  opinions of  others. (Please notice the keywords here are Willingness and Favorably).  Most of us are seldom in a truly open-minded state.

The opposite of an open-mind is to be narrow-minded, opinionated, judgmental, prejudiced, biased, etc., etc.
I don't believe these are attributes Christ, Buddha, or any Enlightened Leader would advocate we embody or personify.
(We also know that the path we are advised to take is not the easy road but a thing easier said than done. )

Why are we so advised to keep an open mind? The ability to (at least temporarily) suspend our own ideas and beliefs is critical to really listening to what another person is saying.  There is little room to pour something new or different into a cup that is already full. Unless we think we already know all there is to know then the full cup of a closed mind is probably not our wisest choice in life.

 Where we "stand" on an issue colors and filters everything that flows in and out of that position and creates numerous "blind spots."  In order to see the whole picture, we need cultivate  an "open mind" state of mind and look as favorably upon the other side of the coin as the side we chose to"stand on" and have adopted as our own. We do this because we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but also because we hope to continue to learn and to grow within ourselves.

Once we take a stand, there should be small surprise if our subsequent experiences hold small potential to be life-changing. We have succeeded in limiting them to a narrowed context  before we even embark on our journeys .  It appears to an observer  that our lifelong quest is really a search for certainty, a degree of security. We do not really wish  to have an open mind as much as to solidify aspects of what we already believe to be true. 

In the same blog, a reader echoes the assertion that open-mindedness to different ideas is over-rated by responding,  "To wedge them in would do violence to our narrative of faith and compromise the character of the story. "

Where does Truth enter in? To associate the search for  Truth with violence merely incites fear and perpetuates ignorance. How solid is the foundation of  faith that it cannot sustain inquiry or investigation? 

And what of Trust?  Do we have so little in our God and/or our fellow beings that we cannot suspend our own beliefs long enough to give favorable consideration to those of another? There are two sides to every coin.  The world might be a better place if we could all learn to see both sides, with an open mind.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Today's the Day - Official Launch!

Hello friends.  Today's the day of the official launch of my second website, www.twosidesonecoin.com and I hope you'll stop in and visit, browse, and comment.  I welcome all suggestions!  Although still in the early stages of development, I have big plans for the future and will keep you advised as the site continues to grow. 

Twosides is a weaving of the personal that underlies the professional although "underlies" is not entirely accurate.  More so, the so-called personal (me, the person) strongly influences all that I do and think and the idea that any business is strictly business, nothing personal, strikes me as both ludicrous and absurd.  What a concept!

Bearing in mind that the idea of strictly business is merely a concept, a mental construction,  I can't help but wonder how it is we came to accept the idea as acceptable?  Although widespread, does anyone really believe it?  More importantly, what are the results of pretending we are two separate entities or that we can impose some sort of split in our  personality between personal and professional conduct, values, ethics, or guiding principles?  Does this imaginary split really lead to our best course of action or do we often find ourselves in conflict?

The idea of business as nothing personal will continue to be explored in Enlightened Leadership upcoming posts so please stay tuned!  And thanks to all who assisted in getting twosidesonecoin.com launched today!  Best wishes, j