The currents bear me forward, onward, toward the endless end. The drift is deceptive ... it feels like a direction, but is it really? I see the path, but only when I look away; away from where I am going to where I have been. Looking backward creates the illusion that I have been looking forward.
People don't let you occupy too many categories in their mind. You are either this type or that type. It is hard for people to imagine that you can be both types. It is harder for them to imagine that you can be multiple types. The wise leader will understand the difference between who he is and who people think he is. This calls for simplicity without oversimplification. The leader must communicate out of his complexity with unfeigned simplicity.
The artist or writer who tries to create art that everyone likes can never transcend. The writer writes because he must write, even if he cannot persuade a large enough audience to achieve widespread appreciation (fame). Those writers who can appeal to everyone are likely failing to take a stand with their craft. I don’t mean with the message; I mean with their craft.
I am not decrying those very special writers who create stories that impact all of us, such as Tolkien. But Tolkien did so much that never made it into his book. The development of his world was personal, selfish. He created detailed maps, languages; he envisioned epics. Lord of the Rings may have widespread appeal, but its artistic consistency precisely consists in its authenticity. Its authenticity is derived from the author’s selfish, perhaps total, personal investment.
There is a danger in this observation. Its point can be used to justify some of the most wretched work. Great art exists on a knife’s edge. One can fall off at any moment. The prose poem in the hand of Elizabeth Smart is exalted expression; in the hand of most other writers, it is a wretched exercise — not just awful, but God-awful (not a pun; a theological category). A great artist or writer must hate at least as much as he loves, but probably more.
I fear that most of our lives are self-defined by what happens on the surface, when in fact they are truly defined by how we interpret what is happening on the surface.
It may be easier to understand this if we think of a computer with its operating system, its applications and its output. A computer is not identical to its output. Indeed, the output is dependent upon the application, and the application is dependent upon the operating system.
Most of us spend our lives searching for new applications and working to achieve new outputs. But we fail to address the fundamental issue: our operating system. Philosophy challenges my personal operating system.
One must be aware of the implications of a stimulated response. This seems self-apparent; indeed, it is necessary for a response to have a stimulus. However, I am referring to stimulus in the form of some external element, such as a lecture or a book.
We sometimes take up these choices as if the book or lecture were incidental, when indeed they are accidental. The very fact that they are accidental calls into question the purity of the resulting action. We all seem to feel better if we view our responses as deliberate actions. Indeed, there is comfort in viewing our effects as causes. This gives us a false sense of independence, but it obscures the truth and keeps us from understanding that our first (right) choice is to choose our stimuli.
The test of a man is what it takes to stop him. You measure a leader by the size of his problems. You cannot measure a leader by his last achievement; his last achievement is always outsized by his "new" greatest problem. The key in life is to trade up problems, not to eliminate them.
The enemy of intention is drift. Drift marks the movement from the place one intends to the place one did not intend. The leader must guard against this threat. More often than not, our plans are foiled not from the external force, but from the internal drift.
The darkness kills us. Many great men have suffered for the sake of the darkness. As the French philosopher Camus has said, “Suicide is the problem.” The darkness eventually suffocates any one of us who cannot either find an intellectual or emotional sedative or who cannot legitimately counter it.
The legitimate counter of darkness requires courage, but courage is not enough. Such courage can only be sustained by a transfusion of power that transforms courage into victory. Courage is never a guarantee of victory, but it is often essential to it.
For me, beauty is the antidote to my suffering. I have discovered, as I have aged, that the horror of the darkness is greater than even I have conceived. But, wonder of wonders, I have also discovered that the beauty is so fantastical as to justify my struggle for every single breath. If I have committed many great errors, indeed, sins against my soul, perhaps the greatest is my failure to apprehend the true beauty around me.
To achieve the most with our e-commerce website we must go beyond the mundane concept of a catalog which displays products. There are two philosophical down-shifts:
- The first is the categorical shift from website to product –the website may be considered a product possessing a series of attributes that are likely to delight a customer.
- The second is the categorical shift from product to experience set –the product may be considered an experience set which involves a series of attributes that delight a customer.
These two down-shifts take us beneath the shiny glitter of our offers or our designs and deeper into the perceived value of the customer. Thus, we should not focus on websites or even products; we should focus on holistic experience sets.
It takes real courage not to need to demonstrate that you have courage. It takes authenticity not to need to demonstrate that you are authentic. There is me, and there is my image of me. I am not a whole until both are the same. When we both are the same, I do not just have “an undivided heart.” I have an undivided tongue.