Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 168, August 2013 )
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A guy writes me to tell me that my last segment in Balancing Act, about ridiculous things I've unwittingly done, is actually an arrogant act which subliminally tells people I'm smarter than they are. He goes on to analyze me, telling me how Balancing Act manipulates the readers.
"Then stop reading it," I suggested, and moved on with my day.
There is a tendency, slight or severe, to overanalyze. Something that one can accept at face value. Face value isn't always accurate, of course. An unused one-cent stamp from 1847 in the U.S. is probably worth a few thousand dollars, because of rarity and demand. But a jack is a jack in solitaire and a 20-euro bill will obtain 20 euros of goods in most places where it is accepted.
I like to accept new acquaintances, buyers, and chance meetings at face value. I don't read in ulterior motive. I tend to based my conclusions on observed behavior and evidence. I pay no attention to eye contact or body language or graphology (the study of handwriting very popular in France). And if someone says something or writes something, I try to understand it based on the wording, not my reading of some deep intent hidden five layers deep.
This tends to make communication easy and lively. Unless you specifically disappoint me or lie to me, as borne out by subsequent events, I'm going to treat you the way I'd like you to treat me. Listen to what I say and read what I write with the expectation I'm conveying honest sentiments without manipulation of maneuver—I'm working at face value.
Of course, you can waste your time trying to conjugate my words and engaged in declension of my language. But you're much better served just looking at the eight of clubs and assuming it's nothing more or less than the eight of clubs.
The human condition: Bending
I'm sitting near the ocean during a storm watching some large trees sway, rock, and bend in the wind. Their elasticity is fascinating, and essential to survival. (Even large office buildings are constructed with some flex, as are bridges.)
If the trees don't bend, they will snap, from the winds as well as from accumulations of ice and snow. Weak and dead branches are knocked away, so that the healthier ones receive more nutrients. The leaves, deceptively fragile looking, are quite firmly connected, otherwise the tree would be stripped bare in no time.
I've met many people who can't bend. They are doctrinaire, deliberate, ossified. Their way is the only way. When they don't get their way, they "break." The leave the meeting, they resign from the club, they vow revenge, they send nasty emails.
They are "stripped bare" easily, when they encounter a sharper intellect or a stronger argument, their petulance reveals their lack of depth. They are weighted down by the branches that never fall off—beliefs and biases which, though long dead or obsolete, cling to their being.
We're far better off bending in the wind. I'm not willing to lose branches arguing about matters of popular taste. Like an outstanding defensive team, I'll give up yardage but not a score, bending but not breaking. I'll submit to minor choices but will stand for major values.
You can see the "unbending" every day, those who have an "agenda" which must be raised in every conversation, email, and social media posting. They make personal attacks on others when their own weak arguments fail to persuade.
The trees that can flex at the proper time enjoy healthy lives. The grow to their full size, consistent with that type of tree.
The trees that can't flex tend to die early, and never reach any great height at all.
A LIVE STREAM EVENT: IN THE BUYER'S OFFICE
New Workshop: KEEPING YOUR MONEY
THE GAME CHANGER FOR MANY OF YOU:
My wife justifiably regard me as incapable of any kind of food preparation outside of a sandwich. She was going to a meeting, but told me that she had some nice leftovers to reheat for my lunch. She told me to simply follow her post-it note instructions on the microwave.
At noon I went down to the kitchen with the dogs. The note on the front of the device said, "Push the button above." I did so and the microwave turned on for a pre-programmed two minutes. Then it pinged and said "Done."
However, I could not figure out how to open the door. My lunch was inches away and the dogs were pacing back and forth, but there was no way to open the door. I opened a can of tuna and ate it with a fork out of the can, sharing with the dogs. In frustration, I tore the note from the microwave to remind my wife she had somehow locked the machine.
When I did so I saw the button that said "Open" behind where the note had been. The food was cold, but dogs don’t care about a heated lunch.
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