All posts by mallagher

Tony Robbins and Stress Training

Athletes train and they train rigorously. They have to do so if they are to perform at levels that are needed to win. After all, their opponents are training too.

So you might ask, why don’t the rest of us train? Not physically, like athletes, but mentally and emotionally? Why don’t we work on getting more out of our minds?

Jim Loehr says that we should in order to be more engaged. And he coaches CEO’s to engage and rest in better cycles. All well and good. But what about stress training? Training for handling the tensions that will come up? To get a sense of what some people do, check out Tony Robbins’ morning ritual.

This might be more than you want to do. But you get the idea. He is stressing his body first thing. I think he may be onto something.

Shaming 101

Monica Lewinsky has made a stir with her TED talk on cyber bullying and shaming in general.  There are lots of reasons to think about this, and she tends to treat it as a moral issue. Fair enough. But it is more than that.

Shaming is a tactic that humans have employed for as long as we have been communicating. It is a disciplinary tool. Remember the practice of being put in the stocks?  Public humiliation, it was thought, would improve behavior.

The key was that the shamer should have the authority to shame. Then the shaming was about enforcing generally accepted norms. But our modern society no longer works quite this way. Our communications are far more free than they used to be. We can “say whatever we want” and we do so. And we shame each other.

It is important to keep in mind that doing this has effects beyond the communication itself. Those effects tend to promote rather than diminish personal conflict. And they tend to diminish the creative aspects of further exchanges.

In other words, it helps make us stupid. Well, go for it if that is what you want to be.

What is Conflict?

Most of us try to avoid conflict. It is threatening and perhaps even dangerous. This is a very old instinct.

And it is an instinct that bullies take advantage of. The prototypical bully will test to see if you are afraid. If so, he or she knows that they have you where they want you.

But should we fear conflict? Should we seek to eliminate it from our lives? Or is there something in conflict that we actually need?

Stay tuned. i will address that question.

Putin Dead?

The rumor mill is busy today. Russian president Putin has not been seen in public since March 5th. is he, therefore, dead? Well, most likely not. But as vox reports, while this story may be a bit silly, the reality behind it is serious.

The reality is that Putin has centralized power to himself .And there is no succession plan  for when he does exit the stage. That raises the possibility of confusion, and perhaps violence.

On a broader level, this also tells us something about modern institutions. They are less easily run by a charismatic leader than they perhaps once were. We might think of it this way. Charisma is a broadcast effect. It can be effective in delivering a powerful message to a group. But it is a one way message. It does not empower and it does not allow for flexible decision making.

Politics Follows – But What?

There has been quite a lot of talk these days about the fact that politics is not delivering leadership.In the US, Washington is mired in gridlock. Worse still, it seems impossible to generate meaningful dialogue about serious issues. In Europe, core issues of the sustainability of the Euro find no political forum at all. And of course, these are perhaps the two most sophisticated political systems in the world.

Should we despair? give up on politics? Some might be tempted. They yearn for simpler ways to get decisions made. But this yearning ignores a problem — making decisions is just one part of the process in producing great societies. A more important part is assessing what decisions need to be made. And here, individuals tend to get lost in their own agendas. They flounder when they need to pivot. So we are stuck with a group process, like it or not.

The question then is how to make politics better? And here I think we need to do a re-think. For too long we have nurtured the fantasy that politicians lead. In fact, they do not. What they do is watch closely to uncover how to get elected to office and stay in office. And they do that stuff — no matter how silly it might seem. This is not leadership.

So if we want more dynamic leadership in society, we need to look to channels that compel politicians to follow — not plead with them to lead. What channels? That is an interesting question — and one that needs urgent attention.

the traditional answer is that we look to media. A free press can save us! Free exchange of ideas is the future! And I think few would debate whether media is essential. But is freedom enough? I think not. The missing sauce here is accountability. When the press is not accountable for the reporting that it does, it can broadcast whatever it wants.

I will be thinking a bit more about how to generate more accountability. Stay tuned!

Truth or Right?

American politics is raucous. It always has been. And part of that raucousness is a less than 100% dedication to the truth, especially in the heat of a political campaign.

But there is something a bit more devilish going on these days. These days, we witness a “movement” that is dedicated to changing how we understand who we are as Americans. Why? Because liberals screwed up the inheritance from the founding fathers.

This would not be such a big deal if the movement was like many other movements in America – just another voice in the crowd. But this movement has now taken over one of the great parties, the republicans. How did this happen?  Heather Cox Richardson tells the story rather well.

Who Killed Nemstov?

It is the question of the hour. Initially, it was presumed that Mr. Putin had a hand in it. But Mark Almond thinks that perhaps it was the radical nationalist crowd

Whoever murdered Boris Nemtsov wanted to kill hopes for a cosier future between East and West.

There is a point here — Nemstov’s murder will harden attitudes in the west against Putin (whether there is evidence of his complicity in the crime or not). It will make it harder — not easier — to undo sanctions.

But consider — during the Ukrainian fiasco, Putin showed no serious interest in getting rid of sanctions quickly. He could have by doing a deal in Ukraine, but he did not. So is he really so worried about sanctions now? Perhaps not. On the other hand, a public murder of Nemstov demonstrates to the Russian elite that they cross him at their peril.

We might also recall that murder in Moscow has not been all that uncommon over the last period of years.  Anyone remember Paul Klebnikov?  Anna Politkovskaya? These are just two. Who killed them? Was it the shadowy nationalist right, trying to discredit Putin? If so, what did Putin do to demonstrate that he is a more moderate figure? As far as I can recall, he did nothing.

In other words, my own guess is that Almond is full of it.