The Most Difficult Thing in the Entire World?

What do you think this might be?

The wife and I have been talking about how people from different countries behave and how they interact. Germans and Dutch are different from Brits, Americans are more in your face, the French subtle and the Southern hemisphere are a little more open. This is but a sketch. There is, in this country, a bizarre way of beating around the bush.

I have come up with a working hypothesis in this regard, see if you agree with it:

The most difficult thing in the entire world is being simple, straightforward and honest.

There is terrible fear of our naked-ness, metaphorically speaking. What is so wrong with it? To approach something with open hands and open hearts is more terrifying than root canal work without anaesthetic. There is so much power in open hands open hearts, it is a gentle apolitical power and not power over. It has a bouquet of humility and whether you believe it or not, there is a kind of power in genuine humility.

Having cued this up:

Is my hypothesis sound and applicable?

The Lust for Power and Kudos

Depending on your own personal orientation you will have a lust for power and kudos to a greater or lesser extent. In some these are very strong, and it is a strategic weakness in their make-up. Whilst they are busy drooling and currying favour, they can become hypnotised and lose sight of what it is they once stood for. They may seek fame and money. And when a movie producer asks them up to his hotel room, they complain about his todger waving about. Gullible is a word that springs to mind.

“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.”

– Yoda

So, they get to look at the eye of the dark side, so to speak. And that short-cut to fame has a price attached.

Many have gotten themselves into tricky situations because of their lust for power and kudos. They may hitch their wagon to someone famous only to find out that they are a creep and a bastard. All the while the promise of power and kudos by association beckons, they are blinded. “It can’t be, it can’t possibly be. I don’t want to see it because it would ruin my cunning plan, my short-cut to glory.”

There is a temptation for every human on the planet, the universe designed it that way. It has the patent.

Some questions pertaining to this:

Do I lust after power and kudos?

If so, why?

Has this lust, this temptation, ever led me astray?

Resistance to New Thinking

History shows us that there is always resistance to new thinking. A major component of this resistance is clone-think and institutionalisation. Group-mind simply does not want to budge. But the biggest component is threat to power-base. Anything which even slightly threatens the power-base, the established order, simply will not be tolerated. “This is the way we do things around here and you, sonny-Jim, will comply or else!”  There are more personal forms of resistance; “This is the way I suppose the world to be, this is how it works, and I shall not listen to anyone who tells me otherwise. For if I do the world I have assembled for myself might collapse and I can’t be having that.”

Last summer when I was looking into doing a start-up one of the key things I was looking for was agility, and agility in thinking. Sadly, in many cases this was lacking and particularly so in the UK. There is an impetus to encourage innovation provided that it does not threaten, even in the merest, established order. I found the people I dealt with in France and Germany to be significantly more agile and less stuck in the mud. We are back to power and the obsession with power-base in the UK. We may want innovation, but we want to control it and pull the strings, oh and can we please have a cut too, and let me borrow some kudos man.

New thinking is unsettling for some, even those who want change. We might want change but only a tiny little bit, please. We do not want anything too radical. Resistance is a bottleneck to evolution and whilst some degree of discernment is advisable simply going “shan’t”, isn’t the answer. Some friction is inevitable and if a balanced friction, it is a good thing, out of which learning comes. I’ll speculate that as a rule of thumb, the older we get, the more we resist change and the less fluid we become.

Science is loath to let go of the tried and tested. And rather than rewrite a rule it will introduce a vast polynomial expansion of adjustments to a given law before abandoning it. Each exception or adjustment is justified ad infinitum. And thus, an equation becomes several kilometres long before we let go of it. This tenacity to the old is pervasive. There is something comforting about it. Somehow, we know what we are doing even when that knowledge starts to look increasingly shaky.

Above all new thinking threatens the sense of control which we think we have, even if that control isn’t so great as we imagine it to be. Many fear to improvise, they prefer some “rules” even if they don’t like them. It is better to have rules and order than free-flowing improvisation. If you like playing games, then you want to know the “rules” so that you can play the game and bend the rules where it might be possible. We could make a case for a therapeutic use exemption of a drug and still be inside the “rules”. Game-players like rules because they have a framework, improvisers don’t like rules because they can inhibit and prevent. Without rules it can be difficult to prove who has won, because there are no metrics.

Having cued this up:

Am I a resistor to new thinking?

Is my resistance fixed or variable?

Is my resistance all about control and control of power?

Do I waste energy, dissipate it, by my resistance?

Am I agile or fixed?

Force and Power?

Is being forceful and powerful a good thing, something to aspire to?

Yesterday I spoke a little on the use of coercion in “management” practice and this type of behaviour is common. It may even be accepted practice. But nobody questions if it is a good idea or not. If we use fear and greed as motivators, we have a fearful and greedy workforce, we may even promote people with this orientation. What kind of a climate does this produce? Is it a climate of nurturing, of inspiration and encouragement? No! It is much darker than that. OK so we no longer use actual whips and manacles, we use threat and contracts in their stead. It is not so physically brutal. And if our carrot of encouragement is financial or status based, then those fond of such carrots go after them. I’ll suggest that this produces a skewed circumstance which may not be the most productive. Yet that culture is the embedded one.

If we are to usher in a New Age, then we need to consider more carefully than, “this is the way we have always done things around here”.

How we might progress from the ways around now to some other ways in the future is difficult to predict, it is unpredictable. If, as I have suggested in the blog, very many human minds are rejecting our current ways of living, then sooner or later change must happen. But it will be very slow. Just as the whips of the cotton plantation now seem outdated, might we look back on 20th and 21st century employment practice as barbaric? Maybe. Those fond of force and power will always argue the case for well-behaved and obedient minions. Looking back to history there is nothing quite like increased repression for stimulating revolution. There comes a point when people say; “fuck this, I have had enough!”

If we take by force, what does Newton’s third law suggest? Well it suggests some form of karmic reaction, a push back. If we coerce, then the law of karma suggests that in time we too will be coerced. Seems to me we should bear in mind “as we sow, so shall we reap”. It may not happen overnight, but we are tempting fate.

Having cued this up and as an exercise:

Run the words, force, forceful, power and powerful through your consciousness.

Do they sound attractive to you?

Are they things which you might aspire to?

If so, why?

Are they generative of harmony?

Potens Est

Money can be viewed as crystalized power, according to the Toltec tradition. And with crystalized power you can buy yourself a golf resort or if you have £3 billion to spare, an aircraft carrier. Power is weird as is money. Material power has a certain gravitational pull, it draws people to it. Not all are drawn but many are.  And power struggles are a major theme in popular culture, they lie aback literature, movies and TV dramas. People are fascinated by it and many stories are, in one way or another, about victory. These victories can be large scale or moral. There is some kind of obsession with winning. Often power and the powerful are not portrayed in a good light. This is because power can do strange things to people.

A long while back, someone accidentally gave me a gift of power. He was trying to denigrate me, to score a few points, he said that I was powerless in a certain situation. His attempt at “stabbing” me, opened up a wonderful new dimension for me, the dimension of powerlessness. A whole new avenue of inquiry lay before me, he opened a door. It was a tremendous gift. It had never occurred to me that being powerless might be interesting or a good thing. The less material power one has, the less responsibility there is. And without going all Spider Man on the subject, certain types of power can confer responsibility. As things stand I can no longer crystalize power, well only very small amounts. This means that there are many things which I cannot do. They are outside of my power, beyond my say-so.

Associated with power is the notion of potential, an un-manifested possibility of power. It is a kind of maybe you could do this, but it is untested on the physical plane.

Here on the farm I have no sight of the goings-on amongst the powerful, the rich and the famous. All I have is the window on these worlds offered by the press, who are drawn to them because of their gravitational pull. I doubt the press is afforded real insight so that which I see is very sketchy. I have no say-so in those worlds. I am powerless to affect those worlds. I am not drawn to them by the gravitational pull. This pull is in some cases relied upon. There is an assumption that moths are drawn to flames, which is a general but not encompassing observation. If you only want moths that is fine, but what if you want or need ladybirds?

Those keen on power seek to develop a power base, which they defend. They build a castle, a brand, an army. This branding is a relatively modern commercial thing and there are rankings as to which brand has the most power and which has the most loyalty. You could be a Nike or an Adidas person, for example. This brand loyalty is similar to having an army, we could be city or united in football terms. It provides a sense of identity, of belonging and contest. It gives us something to talk about and something to do of a Saturday afternoon.

Provided that one does not threaten a power base in any way, one is pretty free to operate. The moment a power base comes under the merest of threats some kind of conflict ensues, that conflict can be actual or simply political manoeuvring. Those with friends in high places have the power to stop you doing something. It is in their power, their say-so. All it takes is a quick ‘phone call in many cases. Many spend a lot of time concerned, even worried about their power base. This kind of power is a burden and it can exact a price, a price which some are more than willing to pay. If you are powerless, there is no power base to defend.

Which brings me around to these simple but profound questions:

Am I a moth?

Am I fascinated by or otherwise drawn to power?

If so, why?

Power by Association

It is common practice to claim “power” by association, this is the basis of name-dropping. And in social media such as LinkedIn many are “proud” to mention the number of connections they have. In the latter case there may be “power” in that they may know someone who could help / do. It is not uncommon for people to over-egg how well they know someone so as to bask in the “power” associated with that person. People make many claims. In Hollywood many will have claimed power by association to a certain movie mogul; “yeah I know Harvey”. The moment that his “gold” started to tarnish, they dropped him like a dead donkey. People may even have back-tracked on their previous claims.

To be associated is to be deemed powerful.

As it is for people, so it is for organisations. If one is associated with a particular brand like IBM or Microsoft, that carries power and kudos. People notice them on your CV, they have weight and gravitas. In this sense the association does bring a certain power.

This power by association is a fragile thing, it can be a double-edged sword, the example of Harvey being a case in point. It is safer with organisations than individuals. But some of these carry a tarnish as well, FIFA springs to mind. In the end it is a matter of perception.

In the logic of power by association, I have none, because I am not associated and as an unmentionable, it is very unlikely that anyone would drop my name and want to be associated with me for the purposes of claiming power by association. Maybe way back in the past, this might have happened a little, but not now. Whatever I try to do now might suffer from this lack of power by association. The associations tank on my car has pretty much run dry, it is out of gas.

Here in my yogi’s cave, I have very little idea of what goes on in the “real” world. Apart from a very brief factual bio, I am making no claims. I am not name-dropping anyone. I personally never got why some seemed so enamoured with this practice. It takes all sorts.

As an exercise:

Do I claim power by association?

What kind of power does that confer?

How do I personally feel about name-dropping?