Archive for July, 2010

The Shaping Of Partnerships: What Is Required For Success?

July 27th, 2010 No comments

Before we get into any of the complex details related to this subject matter, it may be smart to postulate that a mutual interest in a specific subject matter is paramount for continued commitment and long-term success. Without mutual interest in a specific subject matter, it would be quite hard to get on the same page and forge a solid partnership.

                In addition to mutual interest, there is always the somewhat tense issue of finances (i.e. – does one of the potential partners enter the partnership with cash bursting out of their pockets while the other has to get a small hammer and crack open the piggy bank to scrounge some shillings?) Gross differences in monetary position does have the potential to throw a wrench in the works and rise the wafting stench of suspicion in the air. Greed and power differentials can make people a bit loopy.

                Let’s not ruminate too much over the greenback though, what about the personal relationship? How much does each partner in the partnership actually like the other? Is the clanking of glasses an occasional celebratory dynamic in the relationship? Or, is it a ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ business mentality? While work-life balance is a fascinating topic of discussion, it is not necessarily the most imperative in the development of a meaningful interpersonal relationship.

                The other break-off piece of the interpersonal dynamic is the frequency of belligerent behavioral speech. Blue-collared entrepreneurial folk like to refer to this interactive phenomenon as ‘cannon-shots’. If you want a picture of what this interpersonal dynamic looks like; envision a thundering rhinoceros bucking and blasting everything in its paths into an oblivion with massive and uncontrollable head and horn thrusts. Needless to say, cannon-shots don’t sit well with others and tend to dissolve partnerships speedily.

                And, of exceptional importance in business partnering, is the complex issue of trust, transparency, and personal disclosure (which needs to not be confused with absolute personal disclosure). The expectation of absolute personal disclosure, in any relationship, is not only tyrannical, but a political doctrine of totalitarianism. If a partner in a relationship thinks that something very important has been left unsaid (thereby raising caution), an in-person, face-to-face meeting needs to be scheduled to resolve any feelings of uneasiness or distrust. During such an in-person meeting, all and any personal or professional agendas must be revealed by both sides.

                If such a scheduled meeting needs to happen and one of the potential partners has acted in a very indirect and shrewd way, that same potential partner is responsible for initiating a direct contact via telephone or email to get things underway with the other potential partner. If this is not to be the way, the other potential partner needs to maintain personal integrity/credibility and cannot make any further direct communication attempts. This approach has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with the reality of how a partnership develops.

                There are many more variables that are responsible for the shaping of a partnership, particularly one that is successful. Are you willing to share any other variables you can think of with me?

I’ve been workin’ on the railroad, all the live long day,

Matthew Polkinghorne

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What To Do When A Family Dynamic Just Won’t Work

July 26th, 2010 No comments

This is a sensitive topic. The many behaviors, actions, and motivations of our minds, tend to be guided by the subconscious/unconscious (these are very important concepts) realms that we cannot directly see or tangibly hold. Because of this, it becomes harder to accurately see into our self and what is going on inside of us – not just as an individual, but as an individual that exists within the whole of a family that usually has a fixed set of interactive patterns or ways in which people in a family act and speak toward one another. When a family dynamic is healthy – when each individual communicates with each individual in a constructive way – the whole of the family tends to function in a more fluid manner.

                At the same time, a family dynamic can be deemed to be unhealthy. That is, each family member or many family members within a family communicate with one another in a deconstructive way. In taking such a communicative approach, the family dynamic begins to emerge as degenerative – withdrawn, afraid to communicate authentic feelings with a keen eye toward avoiding conflict (even if it is healthy) by any measure and means necessary. Typically, this kind of family dynamic is built into the family system with subtle threats, explosive emotions (feelings), and the installation of fear.

                In the latter case, where the family dynamic is deconstructive and degenerative, each individual within the family has to evaluate whether or not the continuance of communication is worthwhile and really, healthy. In the absence of this kind of evaluation, each member of the family may continue to drag their self through an entourage of negativity and unsettling emotion. If, on the other hand, the family dynamic (pattern of communication) is positive and supportive, an evaluation by each individual may be unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

                But, what do we do when a family dynamic just won’t work or doesn’t seem to work over an extended period of time – let us say years of time or decades of time? What is a family to do? Or, what is each individual within the family to do to ensure they will continue to feel healthy about what is going on within the family dynamic?

                One option is for the family to do nothing, sweep it under the rug and pretend like nothing is going on – bad strategy because then the pattern of interaction is transferred to the succeeding generations of the same family who remain befuddled by rampant nuclear family tension. Or, another option is for family member (s) to speak up and voice their authentic feelings about what they feel is really going on. While this may be uncomfortable, creating the possibility for conflict and emotional strain, it also creates the possibility for there to be a resolution and a movement toward a more positive mode of how family members are talking with one another and affecting each other’s mental states.

                If the option of speaking up and expressing authentic feelings is rejected overall by the family, then one or two, or however many family members who will not align with the decision of rejecting authentic feelings may decide that it is ‘time to call it quits’ and commit to living a separate life (with very limited communication) that has more of a trajectory toward sustained positivity, growth, and more consistent feelings of happiness.

This line of reasoning, by the way, is also very applicable to organizational behavior and interaction.

What are your thoughts about family dynamics, communication, and voicing authentic feelings? Is all this talk just a bunch of hocus-pocus and taboo? Or, do you think there may be a grain of truth in what has just been said here?   

I, for one, feel the fragments of these realities and thus make a willing commitment toward positivity, playfulness, mutual respect, and collaborative growth.  

Until then, I’ll be listening to Near Fantastica by Matthew Good (sound vibrations of invincibility).

I am sorry for sounding like a know-it-all. I don’t like myself that much.  

Drop me a line if you find the time,

Matthew Polkinghorne   

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I Know You Know You Think You Know What I Am Thinking: Think Again

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

What an odd, thought-inspiring title. Really, the title should lead you to a bit of chaotic thinking and chaotic possibilities. Double-think, triple-think, quadruple-think, the sky is the limit really and I don’t pretend to think I understand this line of chaotic reasoning anyway. At best, I am only certain it exists and is a part of war games (even the innocent kind of war games) and strategic thinking.

                In an effort to not over-think things, let’s try and expand this notion by considering a fun game like chess. Let’s say we sit down to a game of chess and it appears as if (after playing several games) we both have similar levels of skill. Sometimes you win, sometimes I win, but overall, neither of us asserts, through our respective moves, noticeable dominance and repeated victory. Because of this reality, we must now shift ‘the game’ to a new level and challenge the mental strategies of each other’s mind. What this sort of means is that we must now think about where the other person is moving next and how our thinking of that next move actually influences the move itself.

                This is where we get into the whole ‘I think you think you think I am thinking this, therefore I will think differently and you must think about what I am thinking you think you think about my thinking differently’. I know, it’s sounds absolutely crazy and ridiculous, right? Maybe, maybe not. I guess it really depends on who your opponent is sitting down on the opposite side of the table. Is your opponent someone just sitting there, moving pieces , counting squares and trying to avoid hazardous moves? Or, is your opponent someone who enjoys the idea of ‘warring minds’ trying to outmaneuver each other in a game of skill, rigor, and patience? Both questions, in of themselves, brings forth this 3rd question – how do you really who you are actually playing with anyway?

                But let’s not get too nuts, were just talking about a fun game of pieces and squares. One thing I am beginning to learn, however, is that when people want to win and are in a weak position within a current game, they will feign vulnerable facial expressions and create inferior-looking postural positions. While this may be quite true, it is another fantastic facet of the game – the temporary fluctuation of emotion that tries to incite an illogical response from a competitor and compromise their position.

                In playing with a friend of mine, I do know this; he is thinking about what I am thinking about his thinking about my thinking. Therefore, I must think again and, think differently. Otherwise, my thinking will likely not out think his thinking. Which, of course, would stink…

Do you think about what others think about your thinking? Or, do you think monolithically?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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10 Reasons Why I Love Cooking For My Wife

July 20th, 2010 No comments

This may seem like a bit of a spoofy subject, but I think it is quite important. Throughout the last several years, cooking for my wife been has brought her a lot of joy (me too). Here’s are the 10 reasons why;

1.       It lets her know I genuinely care about doing things for her.

2.       It lets her know that I respect what she does for a living.

3.       I like surprising her with new cooking ideas.

4.       It really helps the overall situation when we are entertaining friends.

5.       I can cook on-demand (i.e. – when she has a specific dish request).

6.       I can whip something special together on a special occasion (i.e. – birthdays, anniversaries, and mother’s day).

7.       I love seeing the look on her face when I have made something very tasty.

8.       I love hearing her say ‘honey, you’ve outdone yourself again’.

9.       If I cook us dinner, she will always clean up afterwards so I don’t have to do it.

10.   **Most importantly – it helps build intimacy and respect in our relationship.

The 10 reasons just listed are just a brief glance as to why I love cooking for my wife. This list is not exhaustive and there are many other reasons that have been forgotten.

                Besides why I love cooking for my wife, the activity of cooking actually brings me a lot of joy. One of my favorite dishes to make is chicken stir fry. The chicken stir fry I like to make has many savory ingredients; peanut oil, soya sauce, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, chicken spice, and, of course, a slew of scrumptious veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red peppers, and yellow peppers).

                Now I can’t give all of my delicious recipes away, but I’d love to hear what you cook for your wife, partner, or significant other. Do you cook for the one you love? Or, do you refrain from such activities because you feel that they might be beneath you?

                I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions, or questions.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Kissy, Kissy, Kissy: Weed Out The Rump-Smoochers To Make The Big Bucks

July 19th, 2010 No comments

Sycophancy and rump-smooching are at an all-time high. Everywhere you turn, someone is snuggling up to somebody else’s derriere and planting big wet ones. The presence of such nauseatingly noxious behavior is all around us – in the family, at the office, and as close as to the one you say goodnight to just before you noggin lands on the pillow, ready to count sheep.

                And while this type of behavior may be all fine and dandy (mostly because it keeps people’s egos healthy, not overblown by any means – yeah right), it will, without a doubt, dilute and weaken creative thinking and initiative, thereby moving away from the ultimate goal of attaining the ‘prize’. As such, let’s set our sights on how to better identify rump-smooching behavior that may be doing more harm than good. Keep a keen eye on the following behaviors, it may save you giant money bags of jangling coin in the long-term. Let’s have a peek-a-boo;

I) Big, Big Smiles – yes, I am afraid it is true, big-big smiles are the devil in disguise. While they may make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside (feel really good about yourself), they will eventually turn your business upside down and have you pull your empty, lint-filled pockets out of your trousers as your eyebrows raise toward the sky at forty-five degree angles. Now and again, big-big smiles are just fine. But, be mindful of the frequency in which you are on the receiving end of big-big smiles. If it’s too much, especially from one person, don’t be shy in shooting back a scowl or grimace to that same person. It will keep them in check and help make sure their gums do not become dry and sore.

II) Edge-of-the-Seat Keeners – watch out for the people who look like they may leap at you like a leopard frog or pounce on you like a pit bull. While you may feel enamored by their positive looks and sickening enthusiasm, don’t be surprised if romantic gazes soon follow. When people have a drunk look in their eye they are probably drunk. But, a drunk look is just another indicator, perhaps caveat, of a rump-smoocher sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to get the big call to go in the game. Remember, people who sit on the edge of their seat for prolonged periods of time are likely to slip and bang their buttocks on the ground – it’s just the natural laws of gravity. And, when the natural laws of gravity take over, don’t be surprised if a big-big smile is, all of the sudden, missing. Bottom line? Enthusiasm is excellent, positivity is great, but you have to wonder what the heck is going on if keenness is continually being projected in your direction.

III) Unexpected Rubbing, Massaging or Touching – the calling card of the one who smooches rumps, excessive touching, rubbing and massaging should raise suspicion in your mind. I mean, it’s O.K. in the dugout before one of your teammates is about to step up to the plate and drive the winning run home, but if a person wants to be fondled that much, they’ll likely consult a professional masseuse or holler out to their significant other and plead for some kind of oily rubdown. A pat on the back is fine. So is a heartfelt hug. Just be mindful of individuals that always seem to be groping and probing you – both psychologically and physically.

                Relationships are very important. Camaraderie is imperative. Rump-smooching is suspect. Heed the gentle warnings associated with these 3 types of behavioral (interactive) cues mentioned above. By doing so you will build meaningful relationships, spark creativity, drive continuous results, and not delude yourself in a cesspool of grandiosity generated by the niceties of others. And, don’t forget to carefully weed out the rump smoochers. The big wet ones are nice, but come on, let’s face it, you don’t want to live in a false reality while being drenched in drool.  

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Salmon, Grizzly Bears, Corporate America, Money & Leadership

July 11th, 2010 No comments

I wish to share a story with you. The story is about salmon, grizzly bears, Corporate America, money and leadership. The story, in of itself, is fairly simple because it touches on something most of us appreciate – the beauty and splendor of nature. Intertwined with visual imagery of nature, is an interpretation of the status of things – how all of our lives converge and mingle to create our current day Western society.

                Now think about all those salmon out there swimming up a stream or river, fighting ferociously against the current to higher ground and a place to breed. When a current is swift, the salmon must work hard to get to where it needs to go. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, energy must be expended to reach destination and spawn. Otherwise, the life cycle of salmon is disrupted and the species may struggle to survive. This journey may sound boring and easy right? Well, not so fast. The journey can be quite dangerous, filled with predatorily perils – in particular – grizzly bears.

                In terms of being predators, grizzly bears (the few at the top of Corporate America), strategically place themselves in perfect swiping positions. Their claws are jagged and their teeth razor sharp. So there those few grizzly bears are, huddled together at a waterfall junction (jumping spot for the salmon) of elevation change, voraciously waiting for the brave-soul salmon to make their courageous leaps of faith, hanging foolishly in mid-air and ripe for a frenzied grizzly bear feast. Now some salmon, the salmon that leap with savviest agility, wink at the grizzly bears as they jump and motor on upstream toward the promise land. But not all salmon are so savvy when it comes to waterfall-jumping and winking. Some salmon just timed the jump improperly and end up with a tooth in the eye that was supposed to be winking. These salmon fill up the gut of the grizzlies quite well – a delicious snack after a period of slumbering and hibernation.

                So there those grizzlies sit, ‘slobbily’ chewing salmon and slurping the occasional and unexpected leaping oyster. As the feast continues, the Corporate America grizzers begin to dream of the next spawning season and what spoils will be there to await them. They rubs their claws together, sharpen their teeth, and have anything but bearish conversation. In fact, the conversation is all about the next feeding frenzy – the  next aquatic slaughtering of salmon and the indulgent results (money, heaping dump trucks full of cold hard beeping cash).

                Does Corporate America have far too many grizzers hanging out at junction of elevation change? Are there too many grizzers schmoozing with polar bears, collaborating on how to devour the greatest number of salmon? Translated in terms that make sense, is there a shortage of diplomatic bears (leadership or leaders) stationed at the waterfall (pandas and koalas) – the kind of bears that know how to calm down the ravenous beasts (grizzers and polars) and their feeding frenzies?

                Can you picture a grizzly bear, polar bear, panda bear, and koala bear hanging out at a waterfall together  discussing the salmon consumption situation? Do you think savvy salmon should wink at the gatekeeping grizzlies as they attempt to jump over the altitude divisive waterfall? Answer a few of these questions thoughtfully, and consider this brief story of salmon, grizzlies (other bears too), Corporate America, money, and leadership.

Final Question: If enough savvy salmon elude enough swiping claws and pool together, will the few grizzlies starve to death? 

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Sentiments: This May Come As A Surprise, But… I Am Happy For Them

July 10th, 2010 No comments

The title of this entry may make you think anything. After all, we can be happy for people for an innumerable amount of reasons. We can be happy for someone because they just had a baby. We can be happy for someone because they just found a new job. Or, we can be happy for someone because they just struck it rich with all the winning numbers in one of those wild-eyed, edge-of-your-seat lottery draws.  

                But as it relates to my own personal sentiments,  I can say, without reservation, that I was genuinely happy for someone else and the forward movement of their life. Now even if I was casually browsing Facebook and just happened to sneak a peek at a few photos of some longtime friends, ones I have had very limited communication with over the last decade. This does not, in any way, detract from the sincerity of my sentiments (at least it does not in my mind). There may be those individuals who think that snooping around on Facebook is a tad obsessive and a complete waste of time, but such people may tend to ascribe miniscule value to long-terms relationships (friendships).

                But back to my sentiments. My other-oriented sentiments were ones filled with good-will and genuineness. I came across a beautiful photo of a happy couple standing beside a rather nice new something. At first I thought ‘holy smokes…that thing is sharp, sleek and a slew of other fancy descriptive words’. Then I thought ‘Wow, look at them – they really have done well for themselves and are living a very good life together’. Let’s be honest though, such positive sentiments are often muddled and distorted by a mixture of negative thoughts and feelings. Seldom do such positive sentiments standalone unfettered by the easy seepage of spoken negativity.  

                For instance, consider all of the adult conversations you have had to date throughout your life. When you think about all of the conversations, specifically the ones that are centered around the achievement of others (usually people who you care about and in return care about you), how many of them get tainted by statements like ‘Yeah, but look at what they had to give up to get that’? Or, the bitter and resentful; ‘Well, that’s not the life I would chosen’? Far too often, when we focus on the achievements and forward movement of others, do we entangle ourselves in jealousy, anger, and petty verbalizations – verbalizations which berates the reputations of others – dragging their names through a bog of belch, filth, and stench (but who doesn’t do this, really?)

                How, then, do we avoid the incessant psychological temptations of belch, filth, and stench? Will we just accept our negative interactive trepidations as part of the big social game, one that inevitably irks out the giant belly laughs that keeps us moving as a people? Or, will we play it a little safer, deciding that it is better to perpetually permeate positive sentiments into our social relationships?  

Whatever which way we will be, as of right now, and for the foreseeable future…I am happy for them.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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