Sunday, May 18, 2008

winning the peace

I was drifting through presentations from TED and came across a presentation on winning the peace. It's a bit long, but worth watchig all the way through, especially since his explanation of how existing resources would be split is near the end. Very interesting, but probably impossible to pull off given the enormous inertia within most social institutions, esepcially the military and overall government.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the undiscovered country

Here's a bit of quirky trivia. The sixth Star Trek film was called Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in which the undiscovered country was a reference to peace, specifically between the Klingons and humans. But in Hamlet, you know, the one by Shakespeare, there is a line that Hamlet speaks in Act III, Scene I where he says:

The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns

The undiscovered country being death, a rather far cry from peace.

Friday, May 09, 2008

unpleasant tasks

The posts about discipline and conflict are really part of something that's been on my mind a lot lately. They both fall under the category of things we, specifically me, must do that are unpleasant. Hardly earth shattering for sure, but highly relevant within the context of exploring the limits of my comfort zone.

Work, and other things, but let's stick to work for now, forces many decisions upon me that are often choosing between two undesirable options. (The parallels with electing modern political candidates is stunning no doubt.) This is not to say that the situations were not preventable or that we needed to end up at the decision we are forced to now make. In fact, many of the most difficult decisions would have never had to be made if everything actually went as planned. No one really wants to make crisis decisions because it means you've managed to work yourself into a crisis position in the first place. While some people may thrive, or claim to thrive, in a crisis, no one should really want to be in a place that has no desirable options, only least undesirable options.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine, who we'll call Jack, touched on the difference between the correct decision versus the perfect decision in one of his many posts about poker and the various lessons to be learned. This is the problem with limited information. We make the best decision we can, with the information we have at that time. I can think of at least two decisions in the last month that I believe were the correct decision, but were almost certainly not the perfect decision. This is the clarity of hindsight and having to live with not just your second guesses, but those of everyone else. I know when I've learned from an event or a mistake because I know what's going on in my head. Bases on how many times people repeat things to me, I'm fairly certain that most people don't realize how quickly I learn. This is something that I can accept pretty easily, or I must accept pretty often, because it is a necessary ability.

Back to the topic at hand, difficult tasks and decisions. I need to take them on every day at work. It's part of being a pseudo-manager (or actual manager) and part of growing up. Responsibility is really what I get paid for. I am paid o a degree for the things I know and even a few things I can do. But ultimately, I bring down lower-management pay to keep the ship in order and make the day-to-day operating decisions. Decisions that force me to, quite simply, be an adult about it. In order to do my job well, I need to be responsible for everything I do.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

what the "average american" spends

I'm not really sure who or what the "average American" is, but this is how he/she/it spends his/her/its money over the course of a year. Note that this isn't meant to convey where Americans allocate their money each year because there is no spot for savings. Though with an negative savings rate for the last two years, the average American would need to give some of that wonderful infographic pie back each year.

Hat tip to The Big Picture as always for his wonderful posts.