Saturday, June 02, 2012

politician

The first NOT of the series.

This turned out to actually be the most difficult one I've written so far.  I thought Christian would be.  My perceptions of how people would receive it, both those who are resistant to Christianity and religion, but also those who also believe like me but might wonder if I was missing something or getting something wrong.

But this is more difficult.  To define what I'm not, I have to first define what I think it is, and then say that I can't relate to, or more accurately, do not like those traits, do not aspire to those traits, wish to live a life in which I exhibit those traits as infrequently as possible.

My first attempt at this started with my perception of politics and all that I find wrong with them and then quickly veered into what I was worried was far too much an indictment of my workplace and co-workers. I felt uneasy about it, asked my confidant (and a much smarter person) -- my wife -- to read it over and it didn't sit well with her.  Though her first comment was "Wait... now you're claiming undiagnosed Asperger's as well?"  Well, we all knew I am, if not a hypochondriac, at least extremely suggestible.

I'm probably not, but there's a lot to like about Abed, who says what he thinks, is straightforward, someone whose intentions and thoughts and motivations are easy to understand.  If you don't know who Abed is, that's sad.
Go find episodes of Community to watch online.  What he has so say isn't always easy to hear, but you know he's being truthful.  I may have a little more tact than him (I'm trying), but I'd like people to believe that if I'm saying something, it's something you can take to the bank.  (If anything, I feel my deception is in what I don't say - that somehow not saying something is less wrong than saying something untrue.)

Anyhow, maybe that best sums it up in a way that doesn't put anyone in a bad light -- I've often been accused of seeing the world in black and white, of being inflexible.  It's been couched in terms of failure to earn influence or consider context -- that I should be doing more compromising, more considering the greater good.  (I've always maintained the biggest reasons I got in trouble in this area were holding firm to things that are legal or technological in nature, violations of which opened up unacceptable risk.)

Now, there are places where this consideration is appropriate - the idea that "good enough" is better than "perfect" - I may be repeating myself to note a recent TED Talk where the British Postal service had a 98% on-time delivery rate for first class mail.  It decided it wanted 99% and almost bankrupt the system trying to get there.  But in reality, the general population believed the number was around 40-50% if I remember correctly.  They might have been better served to aim for 95%, cut a few unnecessary costs and market the 95% rate.  Inform the public of how much better they were than people thought and at the same time, save some money that could be used for a better purpose.  There's the idea that "good enough" is better than "perfect" because you spend too much time trying to reach "perfect" -- which is subjective anyhow -- and that's time you're not spending somewhere else on improving something else.

But I guess when I say politics, I'm referring to some more damaging gray areas - where you choose something that's less desirable, less beneficial because you personally gain from it.  Where instead of gaining influence you're really just trading favors.  That's selfish.  It's also suspect, it's harder to understand motivation, it's harder to trust.  It's not really in the interests of the greater good, the people you represent.  For me, this really translates into the workplace where I, to some degree, represent my teams, the organization, the partnership, and our myriad "customers" (in the most generic sense of the word).

And maybe that's the issue.  It's easy to be paranoid, it's easy to be suspect, it's easy to doubt people's motivations, especially after the first time someone's burned you, or the second time you find yourself in a situation where you've been burned before, even with a different set of people.

I feel like it also requires a level of complicated thinking - scheming - like a game of chess - where you're actually competing against people instead of working with them.

I want to do the right thing because it's the right thing.  Of course, in order to do so, that requires a lot of influence, a lot of respect, and a common understanding of what the right thing is.

But if your right thing isn't someone else's right thing, that makes it really difficult.  That's when things get murky, chaotic, unclear, difficult to keep track of, etc.  There's secrets, incomplete truths, outright deception - plotting, scheming, manipulation, withholding of information, etc.

This is not me.  I don't want to waste time trying to keep track of different people's realities, or who I've told what, or who I've promised what or what they've promised me in return.

I'd much rather spend my time and brain and energy:

* leading, inspiring and setting direction
* thinking up great new ideas
* improving on existing ideas and processes
* enjoying life
* helping others work through a problem to resolution

I guess that boils down to my desire for a sense of (for myself and others):

* fairness
* transparency
* clear motivations (even if we disagree)
* consistent outcomes
* logic
* dependability
* having accurate and complete information to make decisions
* consensus or at least acceptance (even if it's begrudgingly or tentatively extended)
* trust

I know this is somewhat utopian thinking.  But is that wrong?
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