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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."

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

21st Century Leadership - Rethinking Our Thinking

There is always an extreme element in society that leans towards greed and selfishness.  There is also always an extreme element in society that leans towards generosity and selflessness.  Most of us fluctuate back and forth between the two, much closer to the middle.  The extremist viewpoint is unbalanced, whether leaning right or left.  Why is this unbalanced? The greedy have small interest in generosity while the selfless seek to eliminate selfishness.  We deny the world as it is - containing both.  Two sides of the same coin.

The idea that we must choose between one or the other of any two opposing sides can only arise from the idea that the back side  is somehow separate from the front side.  Speaking about two sides of a coin is merely a mental conception - the physical (what we consider real) front side cannot exist without the physical backside. The "reality" of a coin is that it cannot be separated, irrespective of what words we choose to describe it's appearance.  We are constantly fooled and deceived by our own descriptions - our conceptualizations of reality appear to take on greater reality than that which we are describing. 

It is time we rethink our thinking.  The near financial collapse is a clear indicator that we have made some choices and decisions that are based on flawed premises regarding our viewpoints .  Rather than adding more and more information to our knowledge bases, it is time that we return to the basics and examine the foundations of our mental constructions in order to correct our misguided flaws and to adjust for our errors.  The heat is on for solutions but if we continue to build upon a flawed foundation and the branches of particular schools of thought without examining the basic premises upon which they were founded, we are doomed to repeat our very recent history.

Do the distinctions we imagine or conceive exist or are they simply ideological?  Can liberal or conservative politicians fulfill their responsibilities as public servants so long as they continue to debate every difference between them?  Would the people they serve be better served if these public servants focused their attention more on what they have in common and rebuild, restructure, and reform our government  from the premise of a common good?

Can employers succeed in their objectives without the contributions and the labor of their employees?  Each depends on the other but do we recognize, acknowledge, and strategize according to the common good of all or are actions centered around that of a  (typically top-heavy) business entity's profit margin ?  Why are people and profits thought to be mutually exclusive?  Common sense and observation would seem to say that personally caring for the good of all people is also caring for the company's profits while the more mechanistic and impersonal caring for the company's (non-living) profits seems to ignore the people and the common good.

Can any institutional or organizational leader advance a cause without the support and cooperation of followers?  To paraphrase an often heard saying from the 1960's - Could our leaders wage war if nobody showed up? Can our businesses run if all employees are on strike?  Can our cause sustain if our donors cease to fund us?

The answer to the questions above is that the foundations that fail to acknowledge the inherent interdependence of All things will produce mixed results.  Why mixed results?  Because the basic premise from which all  the other premises arise is flawed.  The extremist pendulum cannot swing and be held in only one direction but must swing right AND left. 
Most of us are caught in the middle between extremist points of view.  We find ourselves fluctuating between two considered opposites, swayed by emotional rhetoric, conflicted and confused about why things appear to us as other than what they are and what we know them to be.  The description of the appearance of a coin as two-sided has given rise to the subsequent idea that the two sides are separate and that a coin is divisible.  We have taken this simple concept and expanded it to everything that exists in the "real" world - separating one thing from another, ad infinitum.

Individual greed is now merely disguised, impersonally renamed as profit and revenue.  Selfishness is similarly hidden, cloaked behind the "actions" of a non-living entity. Behind the windfall profits and beyond the corporate decisions, are people - people with extremist views.  Neither side of an extreme view can sustain in the "real" world because neither is real beyond our conceptions.  No matter how hard we try to separate the selfish from the selfless, the greedy from the generous, the world will always contain both. Our attempts to choose and to force one side over another can only give rise to more volatile fluctuations.

We shall never fulfill the common good so long as those of us in the middle remain conflicted and confused by the rhetoric of the extremists.  Between ourselves, it is time we rethink our thinking.  The two sides of a coin are only useful in the description of a coin but we must always remember that it is the whole coin that we use.

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