I was in a business class for entrepreneurs and the instructor said business owners frequently pay dumb tax and her job was to lower ours as much as possible. Dumb tax is the price we pay for what she characterized as “dumb mistakes”. I thought the whole notion of paying a dumb tax analogy was really clever. I have paid heavily toward the dumb tax in many areas of my life not just in business. And I know I am not alone.
Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash
I feel we are currently paying a hefty dumb tax through our current apathetic response to norm violations. When I was growing up my elders would teach and reinforce for me important benchmarks, those unwritten but understood rules of society, that preserve order. I am not referring to social or traditional customs but the understood code of conduct regarding vices like the seven deadly sins; hubris, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and laziness. I was taught growing up this was God’s way of running a morally balanced universe, and that seemed reasonable to me. I find it fascinating and deeply concerning many of our elders and leaders today seem willing to pay dumb tax or eagerly impose that tax upon us to pay. Mistakes manifested by indifference or disregard for these very standards, that keeps our universe scrupulously equalized, carry a massive tax for that indifference.
Photo by Caleb Stokes on Unsplash
This all puts a great onus on all of us indvidually to to be more discerning about the source, author and dates of information we are consuming. The use of algorithms in social media sites predict what you want to see and forward that to reinforce what beliefs you evidently hold. Its like taking a car out on a race track running a quick lap and assuming you’ve gone somewhere when you actually end up right back where you started. We are all running in circles and paying high taxes, even those who oppose all taxes, the dumb tax does not discriminate we all pay it. Rather than worrying about the danger from others or others insulting us, lets not insult our own intelligence and be our own source of danger.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Diversity is not just about race, culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, political affiliation, economic systems, sexual identity, social status, geography, language, philosophy, hobbies, education, heritage, life experience or world views it’s about all of these and and so much more.
It’s also interesting to see corporations have discovered that in their C-suites and board rooms a monoculture is not good for business. If you surround yourself by sameness it does not cultivate an idea-rich, innovative environment, so boards actually try to balance points of view, talents and personalities to maximize their potential for success. It is ironic that in their own board rooms they see the value of a polyculture, and why? Because they want growth and enhance the prosperity for their company’s shareholders and bottom line. Studies have a shown a rich corporate multicultural tapestry is powerful, sustainable and attracts the best and brightest. And yet these same corporations ask our farmers to engage in the very model they avoid in their own corporate board rooms – monoculture factory farming and monoculture crop production. They encourage a monoculture political climate through financial support focused on single-issue endorsements. For many executives in this conundrum view the morality of this approach as transactional leadership. Meaning following the decision that serves the immediate desired benefit rather than committing to a viable long-term mission or vision.
The history of the craft of tapestry over the centuries supports this philosophy of diversity. As many tribes, clans, customs, rituals, ceremonies, ideas and experiences were brought together over the years new materials were combined; wool, silk, linen, cotton, gold, and silver and new dyes were incorporated. The more diverse the tapestry the more durable the tapestry proved to be. These tapestries have survived in vibrant color and great condition for thousands of years. They combined new approaches, ideas and materials to produce a more enduring result that was intended to last beyond the weavers and recipients lifetimes.
Embracing diversity from this perspective is adopting the perspective of the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, philosophers, healers, and architects that forged the building blocks of the world we live in now. Escape the pull to sameness and invite an idea-rich mosaic that will sustain us for lifetimes and pull the magic out of us all!!!
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilizations ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Diversity: The art of thinking independently together ~ Malcolm Forbes
Being an entrepreneur in the business of consulting engineering has always been an incredible journey for me. The freedom to choose a particular path, the creative energy devoted to developing a great team, the excitement of watching exceptional people rise to the occasion. These are the aspects of the business that have always held the highest appeal for me. However, there is a side to the business that is a slippery slope for me and I find myself disenchanted each time I encounter it, I call it the “hobnob façade”. We’ve all seen it and to be honest I have participated in it in the past, and each time I experienced a very unsatisfactory feeling afterward. So what is the hobnob façade? It goes something like this:
“So how is business going?” Says Dean Goldberry, CEO of Initech Corp.
“Fantastic, we are blazing new trails, can’t seem to count the money fast enough it’s pouring in so quickly.” Says Earl Lee Riser, President of Dunder Mifflin, Corp.
“We are too, this level of success was really inconceivable to me,” Dean adds enthusiastically.
Earl responds, “we should get together and see how we can join forces and conquer the world of paper and data.”
“Absolutely, I will get in touch with you in the next couple of weeks and we will formulate a plan to seal our deal,” Dean says.
“Well….(as Earl awkwardly fumbles with his phone) I need to get going my wife just text me and our dog desperately needs a flea bath I am the only one who can do it. Let’s get together over a grande sugar-free vanilla latte soon, I’ll call you.” Earl declares as he hastily power walks to the door.
This is a dramatization of real events, the names were changed to malign the guilty, no lattes were actually harmed in the making of this dialog.
All silliness aside, this is a very real, albeit heavily embellished, side of the business that is not consistent with my way of being in this world. I feel the most powerful, the most in sync in this world when I am being honest, kind, patient and brave. I also like to have fun, so I will go along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and add silly to that list. I try to measure my words and actions by those benchmarks. It’s so interesting as I have become more successful in the realization of my intent, life simplifies and my relationships have transformed. I find myself attracting like-minded souls. The hobnob façade, which used to repulse me, has become a practice of observation and presence. The presence to know I am up to something else, and the compassion to recognize others are on their own journey which has nothing to do with what I am up to. In other words I’m OK and they are OK.
I notice, particularly on social media, this overwhelming need by many to engage in the repulsion of others, I get it, I have done the same in business. I invite us all to consider a new thought, a new way of looking at it, and recognize what bothers you, be present to it and make your choices from there. These moments of repulsion are not an invitation to lay down and roll in that same mud puddle, they are an invitation to be present, to recognize where you are being pulled or repelled from and make a choice from that place. Always, always, always go back to intent and harmonize your thoughts AND your actions, your intention AND your words. Peace out.
“Great intentions become tragic actions when delivered without careful thought” ~ Michael Dooley The author of, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.
I have been very blessed along my path in life to have been given great examples of integrity and I have also had examples of hypocrisy. My brother, the Eagle Scout, has great integrity, my dad had great integrity, my father-in-law had great integrity, and my grandfather had great integrity. My father-in-law Maurice Lincoln Murphey was a very successful businessman, he was as consistent and steady a man as I have ever witnessed. He was brutally honest and demanded high standards of professional conduct from his employees and colleagues. I often think about what he would do when I am in business situations where I feel I am on shaky moral ground. I feel I need to admit here (staying in integrity) that I would have been fired by Maurice if I worked for him, I tend to be late a lot and I tend to be easily distracted. He was well-known for locking the doors at board meetings so those that did not show up on time would not make the meeting. He was also not in business in the era of cell phones but I am quite certain if he was around now he would make people check them at the door.
I have tried to stay on the high road, so to speak, in my business dealings. Meaning I have tried to conduct business while staying in integrity with high moral and ethical standards. In my humanness I have failed along the way, sometimes miserably. Each time I have let myself down I have learned from it, and as I have matured I have come to realize that integrity is so much more important that short-term gains.
Occasionally, I can spot individuals who through past actions have demonstrated a pattern of hypocrisy or a poor moral compass. When I encounter such individuals I wish them well but make the choice not to do business with them. Sometimes it has been a very difficult decision because it has meant losing potential revenue. However, while it is difficult at the time I have never regretted the decision later. Those individuals are very easy to spot because they are flagrant with their lack of integrity. I am currently dealing with a situation where someone I felt had high integrity has engaged in a series of actions that are, well to be honest, down right dirty. Ok so I take a step back and when I heard of the first act of duplicity I was disappointed but also had to be honest that I have fallen too, we are all human. Then I found out about several more instances of chicanery, so now this is not an isolated incident, a pattern is emerging. Damn, I really like this person I thought they were my friend, crap, so now what do I do? Well my first response was to go into my favorite martyr role, for goodness sake doesn’t she know what a shitty year I have had and yet she is doing this to me and my company. As always that accomplished nothing but made me feel worst, I just felt pitiful and ridiculous. In all honesty, I have to admit I am sad and extremely disappointed. I have been grieving a lot lately and my reaction to this situation follows the grieving process strangely enough. First I was in disbelief or denial; no she didn’t do this or she had no knowledge of this someone else did it, no unfortunately she did it, ok so then I was pissed, then depressed, what does that mean to our friendship, then sadness that something has changed significantly, my trust is gone. In the end I do have compassion. What I have learned about myself is that no matter how upset or angry I am at anyone I always have room for compassion.
I truly believe you reap you sow, therefore, I am choosing to bless this person and send them on their way. It is the journey they are on and for some reason they need to go through this to learn a particular lesson. It has also served to remind me why I am making the choices I am and why I need to continue on the path I am on. I am on my own journey and I have my own work to do. So I will leave others to do their work and I will do mine.
This is what I know to be true; when I am staying in alignment with good moral and ethical standards, I feel pretty good. When I make decisions that are not in alignment with high ethical standards I feel regret and well, basically, I feel pretty crappy. It may not always be easy but it is simple.