Archive for August, 2010

Lead, Lead, Lead: Leadership Books

August 30th, 2010 No comments

I recently heard a highly prosperous businessperson utter the phrase “Oh no, not another leadership book!” The uttered words kind of caught me off guard in the sense that I questioned in response in my own head “What would be wrong with another leadership book?”

                Has the topic of leadership gone so stale that people are starting to cringe at the idea of another publication release on leadership? Is this topic just being overdone to the point of creating nauseam for the everyday manager and employee?

                I don’t think so. Maybe hundreds to thousands of recent leadership book releases have just had dull titles and boring conceptual concepts.

                But yet the statement is a bit unsettling, especially for up and coming authors who think they got the next best book idea for the field of leadership. It makes an aspiring author wonder if their vested time will be thrown to the wayside and their ideas passed by like the casual observance of a mind-numbing freeway mileage destination sign.

                I, for one, thoroughly enjoy writing and reading about leadership. The topic of leadership often sheds light on a lot of frustrating and hard-to-figure-out human interactive behaviors, particularly the ones that are negative and destructive – leaving a person with a craving for ginger.

                If, however, there are credible rumblings amongst public voice that the topic of leadership has been written about every which way from center, rest assured that this writer has got a few topic tricks up his sleeves that are most certainly guaranteed to enliven to mind and spirit of avid, coffee consuming readers.

                What are your thoughts? Is the topic of leadership next on the chopping block?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Nip Conflict In The Bud & Equalize Emotionally Imbalanced Relationships

August 10th, 2010 No comments

Revenge is bad. Nothing good comes from it, only intensely charged feelings, shattered finances, and a heaping mess of problems. Any expression of revenge represents the worst side of any human being. Revenge, strange as it may sound, is expressed when a human mind is at its weakest and most desperate state or point.  

                As it applies to relationships between human beings, revenge it focused on another individual or group when emotional imbalance (however extreme it may be) is perceived or experienced by one person or one group of people. In essence, one person or one group acts on another based on the culmination of emotional transactions within the relationship. While revenge can be largely centered around how money changes hands, we will keep our focus on emotional imbalances and how to neutralize them or equalize them by nipping conflict in the bud and thereby averting interpersonal disasters.  

                Let’s say you are considerably unhappy with how a relationship is progressing with another human being. So unhappy and frustrated, in fact, that you are feeling feelings of revenge bubbling and circulating through your neural circuitry. You have had it with a certain individual and are ready for a heated conflict of gargantuan proportions, one that will have the scent of revenge poignantly wafting from the brim of your mouth as you utter out every last despicable syllable of hate.

                But wait…need you act like such a gruesome beast even if you feel it to be justified? Is there not a better way for you to resolve interpersonal conflict without having both of your eyes go flush red while plunging off the deep end? Certainly, as civilized creatures, there must be a better way to equalize emotionally imbalanced relationships without resorting to desperate revenge tactics, no?

                Yes, there certainly is a better way. It is called – nipping conflict in the bud to equalize and restore emotional balance in a relationship before it gets out of hand or reaches a point of no return. The simplest way to equalize emotional imbalance in relationships is to make self-assertive statements about how you are feeling to a person whom you feel is causing you some form of internal distress.

                For example, let’s say you are completely fed up with a person who likes to use the cowardly form of communication known as indirect communication. Instead of tolerating this meek behavior, it is simpler to make a direct statement to the person (i.e. – if there is something you want to say to me, have the strength and courage to look me in the eye and tell me what is on your mind). People have a tendency to have messengers convey their true feelings for them. This kind of emotionally evasive practice creates no value and muddles your personal and professional image.

                When dealing with a person who talks non-stop, not making room for anyone else to speak, an excellent self-assertive statement may be – please stop talking, take a breath, and let others contribute their thoughts to the discussion.

                There are many other human behaviors that can easily create emotional imbalance in a relationship. Identically, there are as many self-assertive statements to counteract emotional imbalances in a relationship. Whenever you feel as if an interpersonal relationship is becoming emotionally inequitable, nip it in the bud and remember that self-assertive statements (face-to-face or through electronic communication) are an excellent way to equalize and/or neutralize disquieting personal affect that so often accompanies an emotionally imbalanced human relationship.  

                You owe it to yourself to feel balance in your feelings. Orate self-assertive statements.

                What about you? Do you feel as if many of your relationships are emotionally out of whack? How do you attempt to equalize or neutralize such relationships? Are you nipping conflict in the bud? Or are you letting everything fester inside until the internal state of revenge turn your eyes a volcanic red?

                Equalize. Neutralize. Do your best to oust any internal fury associated with revenge, nip conflict in the bud, and successfully restore and moderate feelings of personal balance.

Drop me a line if you find the time,

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Human Innocence: Why Do We Crave It So?

August 4th, 2010 No comments

 I am not going to go on a long-winded, intellectually exhausting escapade on why we crave the expression (s) of innocence from our fellow human beings. Mostly because I wish to hear from you and what you think about the topic of human innocence and why we, intermittently, do crave it so.

                However, I do want to share a few quick thoughts of my own in relation to this subject matter. In a way, human innocence can symbolically be represented by the hatching of a baby chick – an adorably cute furry creature with a little orange beak that longs to let out its first resounding quack.  You can’t help but want to pick up the cute baby chick, cuddle it, and bask in its pure innocence. It kind of creates a sense of oneness, stopping time while dulling the mind to forget the current agenda.

                An extended idea of human innocence may well be the notion of vulnerability. Vulnerability may be understood as a person’s internal acknowledgment that there remains a part of them that is untainted by the social experience of their interactive life and that acknowledgement can be authentically and openly shared with other people. Said differently, a person looks inside to realize and accept that their trust, on occasion, has been broken, their feelings have, now and then, been hurt, yet there still remains time and chance to find authentic relationships that will bring a sincere and non-threatening joy to their life. This means that there is more time for us to develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships with human beings, ones where we feel safe to share the vulnerable parts of our self and, at the same time, express innocence to another.

                When Edgar Allan Poe deliberated the structure, rhythm, and meaning of his poem ‘The Raven’, he perhaps conveyed the idea of human innocence and vulnerability best. I will paraphrase him here; “When creating ‘The Raven’, I chose a melancholic and mournful tone to try and best illustrate the concept of beauty in a human life. I chose this tone because there is nothing more beautiful as when another human being is authentically moved to tears”.

                With Poe’s words and representation in mind, herein rests an afterthought; Innocence, on its own, is not beauty. Vulnerability, by its self, is not beauty. Therefore, the merging of innocence and vulnerability is required for an individual to reach the heights of beauty. Embodiment of innocence is not enough. A person must embrace its pure form expression, vulnerability. Otherwise, beauty cannot be achieved and the individual will remain miserable – unfulfilled.

                Do you like poetry? Is the human experience of fulfillment dependent on the authentic expression of vulnerability? What does fulfillment mean for you?

Drop me a line if you find the time,

Matthew Polkinghorne  

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Don’t Confuse ‘Sensitivity’ With Being Afraid, Anxious Or Easily Hurt

August 1st, 2010 No comments

This is a common mistake in perceptive judgment. When we decide to enter relationships with other human beings we naturally size each other up. This means, in a manner of speaking, that we do our best to get a feel for how another person ‘thinks’, ‘feels’, ‘does’, and ‘perceives’. Generalizing to the topic at hand, we try and figure out to the best of our ability if a person is easily swayed by their emotions.

                When we make an attempt to figure out if a person is easily swayed by their emotions or feelings, we are trying to discern how best to act around the other person – especially if we enjoy their company and want them to like us. In essence, but not the be-all, end-all, conducting our behavioral movements with tact so people feel comfortable and do not feel like they always being attacked.

                But wait a minute, what if your entire approach to understanding of interactive behavior is just way off? What if your ‘perception’ of someone being easily hurt, afraid, or anxious is completely misconstrued and off-base? What if you are forgetting a fundamental principle of physiology in your assessment of another person’s state of mind? What do you do then, particularly if you want to be a part of a relationship with another human being and actually understand that human being at the same time? What if you are not aware of the ‘physiological’ understanding of sensitivity? What if you are not aware of the ‘physiological’ understanding of ‘hypersensitivity’? Do you think it may be time, given the concrete reality of physiology, to withhold your hasty remarks and convoluted perception?

                I hope so. Many people, when they psychologically ‘label’ another as sensitive, figure that a person is just very susceptible to their feelings and may easily become anxious, feel guilty, feel afraid, or somehow slip into a clinical depression based on the actions and words of another. As stated earlier, depending on who you are interacting with or sitting across from at a table, this is a common mistake in perceptive judgment of respective human beings. This, however, is not to say that some people do not become easily enveloped by sadness – because some people do. What we are saying is that 10-15% of the human population is either sensitive or hypersensitive to the physical environment. Meaning, such individuals are perceived incorrectly (by conventional wisdom) to be afraid, anxious, or easily hurt.

                To keep things simple, this means that a small percentage of the human population perceives environmental stimuli that the rest of the human population likely does not. How else do you think the lead woman/man of a rock band effortlessly cruises around on stage checking in on all other members of the band while executing vocals and shredding a guitar simultaneously? The answer, without trying to sound pedantic, lies in the idea of individual differentiation. In this case, a person’s physiological level of understanding while being a part of the natural environment.

                Translated into terms of human interaction, a physiologically sensitive or hypersensitive person may ‘appear’ to be sad, hurt, afraid when being spoken to in a certain way by a non-sensitive person. This, however, is the sensitive person’s way of reflecting the internal state of the non-sensitive person back to them. It is like the sensitive person is saying without saying it to the non-sensitive person ‘why are you so angry’? Or, why are you so hurt? What is wrong, why are you not content with the way of how things really are in this world? When will you make peace with what is?

                Next time you preemptively believe that a person is afraid, hurt, or anxious when you are talking or needlessly attacking them, remember a fundamental principle of physiology; there are varying levels of environmental sensitivity across human beings. The more sensitive a person is, the more encompassing their perception of the physical environment tends to be. And hence, the more complete their understanding of how things really are, is.

                Why do you think loners become loners anyway? Do you really think it is because they are frail little pussy-cats or social misfits? Or , do you think it is because they quickly perceive an internal state and do not want to be around a certain kind of energy?

                Happy loners become happy loners for a very specific reason.

                That’s right, I said happy loners. Don’t let psychology fool you into incorrect assumptions and fallacious perceptions. Happy loners don’t like gregarious windbags. And, gregarious windbags are secretly infatuated with happy loners.

                What do you think, is too much value ascribed to physiology while psychology gets a bad rap as we do our best to understand interactive dynamics and the internal feelings of others?

Furthermore, if you had to choose, would you rather be a happy loner or a gregarious windbag? And, why would you rather be a happy loner or gregarious windbag?

Also, do you think happy loners enjoy seclusion and isolation because they have been provoked too often by gregarious windbags?

Don’t hesitate to voice your thoughts and share your authentic feelings.

More on this fascinating topic to come soon.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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