Strange Bedfellows …

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Mismatched - GratisographyI guess I don’t watch enough television … or maybe I just don’t watch the advertisements …

 

Recently I saw a television spot for Geico Insurance, but at the end of the spot, a blatant plug for Helzberg’s Diamonds was added in.  Apparently these two products have enjoyed a business relationship for several years, of which I was not aware.

The commercial was well-done, using high production values and with an affirmation of loving commitments, a bit of humor, beautiful beachfront scenery, a heart-warming wedding scene … and a talking Gecko … and a sidekick crab.   I thoroughly enjoyed it and still find a smile every time I have seen it since that first sweet moment.

However … 

The combination of products struck me as somewhat incongruent.  It was like seeing an attractive young woman with unexpected facial hair. 

I could see matching diamonds and wedding caterers or car insurance and an automobile dealership, because those products are closely related.   But diamonds and car insurance?  Seems a stretch to me, but I am relatively naive regarding the ways of the world.  

What is your reaction to seeing incongruent or very tenuously connected products matched up in ads?

How do you feel about seeing two products touted in the same commercial, even if they are closely and logically related?

How do you like television commercials in the first place?

Wondering why this little triviality caught my attention  today in the Heartland ….

John

Image:  Gratisography.com

It’s All Relative …


Yin and Yang metalAll definitions of words, like everything else, are relative.  Definition is to a major degree dependent upon your partisan position.  Your leader is always flexible, he has pride in the dignity of his cause, he is unflinching, sincere, an ingenious tactician fighting the good fight.  To the opposition he is unprincipled and will go whichever way the wind blows, his arrogance is masked by a fake humility, he is dogmatically stubborn, a hypocrite, unscrupulous and unethical, and he will do anything to win; he is leading the forces of evil.  To one side he is a demigod, to the other a demagogue.

Saul Alinsky,  Rules For Radicals:  A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

This is a most erudite statement about our human tendency to see the same traits and interpret the same words or thoughts differently, dependent on who is exhibiting said behavior or words.

An idea from someone we admire sounds more palatable than when an enemy or someone from a group we dislike or fear voices that same idea. 

THE PROBLEM:

Too bad … this very human trait gets squarely in the way of our thinking critically and effectively about the message, because we focus our attention on our relationship to the messenger, and not on the value or merits of the message.

This is deadly at any time and doubly so now …. We need to step up our game at discerning valid and effective stances, and not allow our perception of the person who delivers the message to distract us. 

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT TRUST:

All this, of course, assumes basic trust in the messenger.  If we do not trust the messenger, we will not listen to them, but if we do, we might take all they say as true.   Trust can be our powerful way to decide who we listen to and a powerful block to hearing what we need to hear.   

Trust, by itself, is simply a feeling about someone or something else, and trust conveys no objective truth one way or the other.   Sometimes though, it’s all we have to go on …

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Halo and Horns - Dreamstime.comI have no easy resolution to offer here.   The tendency to rate things based on our relationship with the messenger is as old as humanity and does not break easily.

It’s called the “Halo and Horns” effect.

One thing I do know:  Awareness is the beginning of positive change here, as it is in almost all change.  

If we first honestly and deeply consider our perception of a person and how that perception might influence us to hear them more negatively or more positively, we are on the way to more effective critical thinking.

Being free to simply agree with our heroes and ignore or rail against our enemies is no longer as easy as it once was …

Trying to sift through all the hoopla, platitudes, and innuendos swirling around important issues in the Heartland …

John

REFERENCE:  Halo and Horns Effect (Wikipedia)

INSPIRATION:  Quote originally shared by Steve Layman, who toils prolifically at Anderson Layman’s Blog.  Not only has Steve introduced me to a range of other worthy bloggers, his daily stream of fascinating and eclectic thoughts, images, and links brings continual mental exercise to my brain and joy to my heart. 

 

 

Image:  Morguefile.com

“Perfectly Perfect Imperfections” …


PerfectionPerfect Imperfections” … sounds like part of one of those lists of oxymorons, like jumbo shrimp, deafening silence, or military intelligence.  Two words that seem to cancel each other out or are opposites.  The phrase does not seem to make sense.

Some folks spend a great deal of time trying to make perfection … especially during the holiday season, when our vague and often incorrect memories of childhood happiness demand of us that we create the same idealized memories for those we love.

You know … the perfect tree, the perfect gifts, the perfect holiday sequence.

We set standards for our own behavior that would challenge a saint.

We expect to always be right about things, ahead of the game, and in the lead.

We do not accept failure, even partial failure, as inevitable, but view it as unacceptable.

In other words, people who seek perfection are often mentally unstable.

Mental instability comes when one’s behavior and thoughts are at odds with reality to a degree that affects their lives. 

When we set up goals for ourselves that are literally unreachable, we set ourselves up for disappointment at best and almost always for depression.

When we expect to always win completely, we do not know how to lose effectively.

When we view losing as unacceptable, but still lose, we have painted ourselves into a proverbial and emotional corner. 

I wish I could go so far as to claim that perfectionists are psychotic, but let’s reserve that title for those who are truly mentally disturbed.  This is not about deep neuroses or psychoses, but about living our lives in a more effective way.

Perfect Imperfections is both the title of a song (see link below) and a great image for our consideration.  It’s a useful concept that tells us things need not be perfect (as we imagine) to truly be perfect (as we accept and enjoy). 

I would guess that 99.9% of successful marriages, business partnerships, and long-term friendships are based, at least tacitly, on this idea.

What or who comes to mind as you reflect on the phrase “Perfect Imperfections”?

How have you or will you come to peace with your own “Perfect Imperfections”?

Why does all this matter?

Entertaining pleasant thoughts of the loveable imperfections of the person with whom I have shared the best moments of my life in the Heartland ….

John

Here’s a lovely song that was the first inspiration for this post:  Perfect Imperfection by Kevin Gates on YouTube.

For those thirsting for more examples of oxymorons. click the link and have fun.

Image:  Me and WordArt.

Which One of These? …


Which One - Gratisography.jpgThe other day, I saw a friend going through a significant amount of angst around whether to unfriend someone on Facebook.

Not the stuff of an exciting novel,  but their situation did raise some interesting questions for me.

THE SITUATION:

The crux of this person’s issue was whether to continue their active and visible support of a cause that is gathering much attention in our society at present.  The issue has significant political, economic, sociological, and societal ramifications.   Please feel free to spend a few minutes trying to guess which issue it is … I am not saying.

The other person is on an opposing side of this issue, about which my friend feels strongly.  My friend believes that how our society deals with this issue will have profound impacts for many in a number of different ways.  

The other person apparently feels equally strongly about the profound nature of the issue and the effects of the outcome for everyone.

These two people have been friends for most of their adult lives and have shared the raising of children, managing of careers, and personal traumas in abundance.  On a personal level, they have each given much of deep and lasting value to each other.  

For each person, although these are not their words, I think they believe their world would be paler and less joyful without the other person in it.

However, each also feels strongly about the issue and the long-term effects for them, their children and families, and for society.  To choose to support the issue as they see it matters to them and to those they care about.

THE ISSUE:

So the real question here is not which person is right or wrong … and it is not about the issue.  Issues will always come between people.

The decision each of us has to make is this:

When it comes to decision time, do I choose the Greater Good or to sustain Personal Relationships?

We all have to answer this question, at least to some degree.  With the swirling social, cultural, educational, economic, and political issues that face us, we probably do not have the luxury of only associating with or living with those who are in lockstep agreement with us on everything.

If you do have this type of life situation, you probably are either in a cult of some type or have decided that getting along with whoever you are around is more important than anything else.

But I am not asking whether you would rather “just get along” … we all probably would like that.

The question rephrased is this: 

Which is more important to you:  A good friendship or an ideal or value?

LEADERSHIP ANGLE:

This relates to the well-known continuum used in the leadership development world to describe two ways of behavior as a manager or leader:   One has an orientation toward Task (Achieving business goals and getting things done in the workplace) at one end and an orientation toward Relationship (Collaboration, connection, and maintaining relationships as the primary goal of leadership). 

Of course, we are not completely anchored to one end or the other and the leadership environment in which we operate affects our orientation in a specific situation.   Still, in general, we trend one direction or the other, and the more we have to work in the non-trend direction, the less comfortable we are.

Current progressive leadership thinking, as described in exciting new books like Mastering Leadership, supports the idea that an effective leader is able to focus on both task and relationship, and not moving too much toward one or the other.

My original and rephrased question is more personal though:  

When you must choose between supporting a cause or an issue and maintaining a close relationship, which one wins your time, energy, and talents?

Well, I have asked the same basic question three different ways .. so YOU CHOOSE which version to respond to:)

Wondering about my own choices around issues and people in the Heartland ….

John

Image: Gratisography.com

Title:  If you are a Jack Nicholson fan, you know where this phrase came

A Little Relationship Talk …


Love To All

This is one of those deceptive quotations … simply phrased and blindingly positive.  Let’s unpack this a bit …

LOVE TO ONE …

This sounds fine, and is very supportive of the generally held concept that you unite with one love, forsaking all others … even as we prove that this is much more often upheld as an ideal, rather than as a reachable goal.

Then you realize that this part restricts you to one love.     I look at my wife, children, and grandchildren, to say nothing of other family members and close friends … and I wonder “Which one of these do I choose?

FRIEND TO MANY …

This one seems OK, since it both removes the restriction of choosing just one person to share affection and connection with.

Of course, those whose preference is for fewer, deeper relationships may argue that those are more valuable to our well-being than having a large number of shallow relationships.

Quantity should not trump quality …

For examples, see any social media platform, where the number of connections, links, followers, friends, and so on, are counted and publicized.  You will see some folks taking the “Many” idea to a useless extreme.

GOODWILL TO ALL …

This is what some of us call an “Absolute” statement … “All” means everyone. So far, so good.

Easy enough to do when you are only thinking of those to whom you are related or have some common bond, such as religion, ethnicity, geography, values, beliefs, or so on.

Harder to do when you think in terms of extending goodwill to those who vehemently and maybe even violently oppose that which you cherish.

So maybe my thoughts have gently spoiled your enjoyment of this nicely phrased, lofty-sounding, but ultimately questionable guide.  Please note that I did not ever promise that critically evaluating things would be easy, pleasant, or fun.  I will promise you that your decisions and actions will be more positive and value-filled if you engage in critical thinking practices.

To make you feel better, I put this quotation in a nicely designed form suitable for printing, framing, and displaying … fell free to share, even though you may no longer wish to do so:)

Just thinking out loud, while the intellectual, emotional, and ideological conflicts swirl around me in the Heartland …

John

Inspiration:  PsyBlog post about quotations

Image:  Morguefile.com