Trump Got it Right

“January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” – President Trump

He might not have meant it the way I’ll interpret it, but he said it, and it is true.

From this day forward, it is up to us, the people of the United States of America, to keep the ship afloat. We are in charge, and we can and should be held accountable.

No longer can We The People adopt the mentality of an ostrich with their head in the sand. Contested issues that we care about, unjust and unfair practices or actions, no longer can you ReTweet, Share, or Snap views that align with your own through the social media networks to make yourself feel good about “making a difference”.

You will need to do something. An actual thing.

And that might be hard. You might have to listen to an opposing viewpoint, and despite your best intentions and attempts, you might not be able to sway the opposing party.

GOOD

It will give you a chance to become better. Fortify your information. Learn everything you can, have information, REAL information to better your argument and influence. Learn to talk, understand, debate, but more importantly, win.

You’re going to have to listen to ideas you don’t like, because surprise surprise, not everyone might agree that you should drink milk straight from the udder, or that everyone needs to trade in their cars for horse drawn carriages (or they’re just absolute maniacs who are terrible human beings, which is an entirely different problem). This is America, and the same rights that protect one party, protect the other. Deal with it, and become better, and stronger. Fight harder than the other side, but more importantly, fight fucking smarter.

Support your local movements, the marches, the meetings, the protests, all actions. But understand that the best, the absolute best way to win this, to succeed, is to attack from the inside.

How many kids do you know these days that grow up saying, “I want to be a politician someday.” Probably less than the ones that say they want to be “social media influencers”. The only way to beat this game, is to first learn the rules of the game, then bend them as far as they will fucking go, then go ahead and break them for good measure, because you’re going to write some new ones.

Teach your kids, your students, the young people in your life, to give a shit about politics. Not just every four years. Change happens slow, and it needs to be a set deliberate actions and choices, with calculated steps and maneuvers to achieve a goal. Pissed off the election didn’t go your way?

GOOD

Bet you care a little more about politics now, don’t you? Paid attention to the coverage? I did. Did I care before? Not enough. I am as guilty as anyone else. But now that we’ve seen what can happen when the system is thrown into absolute turmoil, NOW is the time to initiate choice and action to become better than we were yesterday.

Do we need a nation of politicians? Holy hell no. But we need a nation of informed, tactical young people who are willing to go the extra mile for their cause, because they care about it. Not because that is what their friends think, or because that is what they see within their safe-but-comfortable social media bubble, but because that is what they think and believe in, even after they have been exposed to conflicting ideas.

Learn to step out of your comfort zone, to look at things from your opponent’s viewpoint, because that is how you win. If you can’t begin to predict what the other side might do, you are going to lose the game every time. It might be uncomfortable, it might be hard to hear, but use it. Use every bit of it to make yourself stronger. Find a way to beat their argument and tactics, from the inside.

Brute force only gets you so far. And even then, you’re becoming the bully you wish to overthrow. Work smart, and before they have a chance to realize your intentions, they’re fucked. “But what about peace, love, hugs, and hope? This sounds so mean!” Listen, we didn’t write the rules of the game, they’ve already been laid out. If we want change, we need to get involved. There is a team that is playing by the weird, screwed up rules that already exist, and that is where the game is played.

So get involved, speak up, but above all else, bury yourself in knowledge, pass it on to others, and encourage others to do the same. Bring any youth in your life into that world, do your best to teach them that it matters. We The People have a voice, but we’ve learned that voice isn’t always as loud as we need it to be. The best fix is to put some amplifiers in the system.

So get to work.

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The System is the Solution

It’s been said before, by people way smarter than me,

The System is the Solution

If you’re sitting there, thinking about going back to work tomorrow (or maybe you’re procrastinating at work now, because you’re overwhelmed), dreading a shit load of tasks that just seem to eat up your time and bog you down.

Listen up.

Odds are, if you (or your staff, or your team, or your co workers, or, or, or….) are running around like a scalded kangaroo with a bunch of just-out-of-the-oven baked potatoes in your pouch, then you should take a good, long, critical look at what your systems look like.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, that’s because your shit is broken.

You are not sure of the next steps, there may be too many ways to solve the problem or reach the resolution of the process you have in front of you, or you suddenly realize you’re one quarter of the way through of what seems like an endless set of steps even though you can see the end resolution right there, around the corner that nobody is looking at.

If you’re not in control of these systems, and exist just a cog in a large machine that hums along in it’s own way, beyond the reach of your control and influence, I feel your pain. Get out while you still can, or be stuck in the quagmire of unneeded steps and hoop beyond hoop to jump through. If you can’t gain direct influence, don’t expect it to improve.

If you’re the one responsible for initiating the activities you pursue on a day to day basis, and have complete control over making changes or initiating influence onto the actual way these tasks are performed, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself. So get to work improving.

Most folks don’t even realize they are operating in a system where twenty five steps exist, but ten will do. They think step eighteen, “Make sure everybody and their Aunt Trudy know you are moving to the next step.” is an entirely critical part of the process. Maybe they like more work, maybe they have to deal with the “That’s the way we’ve alway done it.” company culture.

I get it, that can’t be your fault. That’s what we do best, what we value, being busy for the sake of being busy. Have eight hours to fill in a work day? Better fill it. Doesn’t matter if you can wrap it up in six, or maybe even four, don’t slim the process down, but add more steps to be sure you look busy when the supervisors roll through.

We commend hours worked even though the outcome may be less than ideal, and condemn efficiency in the form of getting your tasks done early, even if the outcome is above and beyond what is expected.

What now, then? You’re sitting there thinking about how you move through your day to day tasks, thinking about how they do seem a bit “busy workish”, but all you’ve got to go on is some keyboard jockey telling you that it could potentially probably maybe almost could be all your fault. How then, do you fix it? Well, don’t shoot the messenger, but here’s the bad news, you’ve got to start from step one.

Throw it all out. Every part of it. Get ready for an exercise that is going to suck, but yield benefits ten fold on the other side. You’re going to write down the process you want completed, as if you were going to give this handbook to a complete novice and tell them how to do the task. Every single step that you currently do to reach your desired outcome.

Yes, yes, I know, you’ve been doing this for years and you just teach the young whippersnappers how to do it by telling them that they are wrong so many times they eventually do it right. Congrats, you’re part of the problem (and you’re horrible at training).

Writing the process down not only serves the purpose of showing new hires what is expected of them (an entirely other conversation), but what it really does is allows you as a leader and policy maker to visually look at a process that you only think is the best way to accomplish a goal. It feels right, because it is comfortable. If you had to do it again, as if you had never done it before, what would you really do? What would you change? If the directive “This task takes an entire day, let’s get it down to three hours.” Where would you start?

You start, with writing it all down. Without taking the time to think through the process critically, you are not going to be able to see any of the failure points. And the best way to think critically about a process, is to take the time and begrudgingly lay out all of the steps. Then, trade papers with the person to your left. Have someone outside your department, or who isn’t familiar with the process that you hold so dear, take a look at what you’ve laid out. See if they can do it, find out if it makes sense, and please, please, have a civil discussion when they make suggestions on how to improve it. If I hear “Well that’s just the way we’ve always done it!”, everybody has to start over.

Have a real discussion, bust out the dry erase markers and make the whiteboard look like a brown oval roundy ball play book. Find a way to visualize the data, or material, objects, whatever, as they move through the process. I like X’s and O’s, because then people think I know stuff about sports when they come in my office. I lie, usually. I get caught, always.

It’s up to you to find out where efficiency can be gained. And also up to you to know when to stop trying to optimize. Don’t ever, EVER optimize with the expense of safety, morale, or not reaching your objective. All things serve The Beam, and so does the process, if it doesn’t get you where you need to end up, it’s worthless, no matter how efficient it is. So think critically, but don’t assume literally throwing material from station to station is a good solution, m’kay?

This can be a deep, dark, scary hole, so don’t over-optimize. Take a look at the size of your organization, and the net benefit. Now, keep in mind that if your plan is to grow, then the benefit will begin to multiply (as do the inefficiencies), so figure it out now when there are only four Bob’s, and not forty or four hundred.

So, I’m only talking about workplace processes, right? That’s right, right? RIGHT?!

Wrong.

You can use this sort of critical thinking in almost every aspect of your life. Should you? No, you shouldn’t, not all of the time. But if you ever get to Sunday night, and think about all of the thinks you didn’t  do this weekend that you wish you had, well, get it together. Unless something completely uncontrollable happened and threw the entire schedule into the trash outside of your control, you once again, have no one to blame but yourself.

“But hey, dude, are you such a stick in the mud that everything has to be outlined within a process? 7:00AM to 7:13AM (Coffee one) 7:14AM to 7:30AM (Read the paper) 7:31AM to 7:44AM (Coffee two), like that? You’re a wacko. My weekends are for relaxing you loser!”

Shut it. Just like you how you make time for things you don’t like to do (dishes, cleaning your home, taking out the trash, etc.) you need to make time for things you do enjoy.

Note I didn’t say “find time”. You don’t need to go looking for anything, time is coming at you all of the time, if you can’t find it, then you need to start looking at your other systems. The solutions are yours to find, we’re not going to go into that here. I don’t know your situation, I just know everyone gets the same hours in each day, and it might seem like some are able to squeeze every last second out of it. It’s your turn to do it now. Sit down, look at your day on paper, how much time did you actually spend looking at your Instagram feed or Snaps? Is that vital to your end goal? If not, cut it out. Move onto more important tasks, and you might just find yourself getting to Sunday night with a completed checklist and a clear head. (Side effects may vary, not a doctor).