Strategy is more about the "strategist" than it is about the "strategy." The strategist employs a fundamental ability to predict behavior. This ability is grounded in a deeper gift: the ability to enter the mind of another. All other strategic decisions are contingent upon this gift.
The mind responds to the construct of story. Certain authors, especially in Europe and now in much of contemporary America, reject the beginning, middle and end approach to story. They rightfully perceive that many stories do not immediately resolve. They advocate a "slice of life" approach to writing. However, I think we err when we conceive of story as an external sequence.
Story is a drug. It bypasses our critical sensors and alters our consciousness. If one is to write an effective story, one must match their representation of reality to the realities of the person experiencing that representation. This requires one to consider the impact of the combined ingredients on the mental/physical components of the recipient.
The artful author is not just writing a story; he is mixing a drug.
There are two kinds of pain: clean and dirty pain. Here is an example of clean pain: someone you love dies. It is like a sharp knife cut; it heals evenly, with less scarring.
Then there is dirty pain. Here is an example of dirty pain: Someone you love betrays you. This is like a jagged knife cut; it heals poorly, with more scarring.
I am trying to live a life that allows me to survive clean pain and that minimizes dirty pain. Age is not just a function of years; it is a result of injuries. The injuries, and particularly the scarring of your soul, costs you more life energy than the simple passing of time.
The irony of life comes from answering three questions: “who I am,” “who I thought I was,” and “who I want to be.” The contemplation of these questions can cause one to feel like three distinct people, but peace will only come, when you realize that you are not the three, and you are not even the one. If you are not careful, such thinking will lead to abject disillusionment. Peace comes when you realize that you are not static, but fluid, just a child becoming… One is never “I;” one is always “I-ing.” The “on the way” is who you are.
One of the greatest decisions a team leader will make is the scope of their focus. How wide? How narrow? You must be narrow enough to achieve concentrated excellence. You must be wide enough to maintain sufficient relevance. This is true when you are the individual researcher thinking of your life work. This is true when you are the CEO of an organization. Most err on the side of too wide, not too narrow, and achieve a pseudo-profundity that is four inches deep and four miles wide.
Elsewhere I have written of the dyad, questions and answers, as it relates to the triad, questions, possibilities and decisions. The point of this observation is simple: When we embrace the implications of this triad as it relates to our condition as incipient, we realize the need for a particular virtue.
I use the word “virtue” with deliberate vagueness. It could take many observations to reflect on the various ways in which this word has been used across 4,000 years of debate. But for the purpose of this observation, it is sufficient to say that we need certain qualities of character.
One of the most important of these is often overlooked; it is courage. We think of courage in many ways, but rarely do we think of it in the nuances of spiritual pursuit. However, when one does not have an ultimate answer, and yet must make an ultimate decision, the operational virtue is courage. The most courageous acts in our lives may be those ultimate decisions we make (and truly live) in the absence of ultimate answers.
I love to see symmetry in the presentation of words and terms. However, I am painfully aware of the fact that the symmetry is never truly symmetrical, that the aesthetic quality of my craftsmanship is directional but not definitive. The best that I can hope for is a fragment of beauty.
There is a difference between pattern recognition and revelatory knowledge. A leader must realize when their perception is connected to the extension of a familiar pattern because such patterns can be disrupted, leading to a surprise outcome. Beyond this, whether the leader has a strong theological orientation or not, there is a sort of revelatory experience that the leader sometimes experiences. It comes in the form of an inexplicable knowing. A leader will somehow know, absolutely know, without any plausible explanation, a fragment of vital information (perhaps an event which is coming).
This knowing transcends pattern recognition, and it very well may transcend explanation. That does not change its remarkable power. Whether he can explain why he knows or not, the (brute) fact that he knows is still important. There is a categorical difference between pattern recognition and this sort of inexplicable knowing. The leader can move tentatively around the implications of pattern recognition, but he must move decisively when he experiences that sort of transcendent knowing. This is when discretion and courage become an essential dyad.
Philosophy should be tested across multiple conditions. This is particularly true of philosophical "life-systems." We need to ask, "How do these principles work under conditions (x)"? Let the variable (x) represent a set of diverse and extreme conditions. Let these conditions be extracted from a carefully considered selection of life experiences.
Most philosophers fail to account for the direct experience of radical evil or intense agony. Moreover, they fail to personalize these conditions. The philosopher must ask how they might endure such horror within the constructs of their "life system." This cannot be an objective question; it must be a subjective question. One must get near the trauma or, at the very least, experience it within their mind.
Let (x) represent the kidnapping, molestation and torture of our own child. The variable (x) is offensive. Indeed, most of us can hardly bear to dwell on such a scenario. However, it is foolish to ignore the possible intensities within our life system and thus prescribe operations for its norms only. Our philosophy must be stress-tested.
Brilliant writing, the work of artists like Wordsworth and Elizabeth Smart, can awe me with its sense of sheer beauty. Nevertheless, it feels to me as though these remarkable writers rely primarily on their delicious prose to draw me in and forward. Something is missing. There is no structural “draw.” Their work is widely read, but couldn’t it find a larger audience if a structural “draw” could be integrated. There is something essential, something revolutionary (and likely offensive to critics) in this approach.