Why sometimes it takes pain to remember

So I understand that consistency is the key to blogging (and most anything that you do), but an interesting pain turned out to be a blessing for me last week. I was on a long overdue, and very much needed vacation with my family on the Outer Banks in North Carolina when the resort that we were staying at charged an arm and a leg for wifi. I was faced with a dilemma. I had brought my trusty (well, maybe that is an overstatement) laptop with me, had some good source material for research, and fully planned to blog each day holding to my plan. But I also tend to the thrifty side. So I balked at their price, never unpacked my laptop or many of the books I brought with me, and just enjoyed my time with family.

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What a weird concept! An actual vacation from work! This was the first time in many years I had done such a thing. Not a working vacation, not a trip to go speak or present somewhere, an actual vacation. And as hard as it was at first to cope with the idea of not having blazing wifi to do all of my normal tech-heavy functions, by mid-week I was downright liberated.

Today when I actually got down to really checking my email after the long break, I came across an email in which a friend mentioned a video that was quite powerful and challenging. So I watched, and I realized how often I am guilty of exactly the issue that he speaks of. Check this video out now.

So, my lesson learned from this vacation and video is that life must be lived, not virtually but in person – real people!

How might you alter your daily routines to actually engage the people that surround you, rather than simply living through the virtual setting of the Internet?

Speaking up.

Yesterday, I wrote in this space about the importance of not allowing a negative lens shape your view of others. In that post, I mentioned how it is our own thinking about others that often leads to conflict, rather than actual actions by that person. Perceptions, not reality. I believe that is very important for individuals to understand and live out. Today, though I want to look at the other hand of the conflict quarter and recognize its positive attributes.

Now, things can be categorized in two ways with this subject. The first is shown in the work of great activists like Dietrich Bonhoeffer have exposed that not standing up to speak against wrong, is evil – “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” This must be understood and embodied. Don’t say yes, by saying nothing and standing by. Sometimes confrontation is the only way to go – speak out against injustice and harm to others, don’t just stand by and let others be taken advantage of, and care for others in just the same way you would care for yourself.

The other way, is when people play the “yes man” role. This is the person who either is trying to get close to a boss or other person of influence and they feel the only real thing they can do is stroke the ego of that individual. We have all been around them before, right? One of the most telling caricatures of this archetype is Lefou in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. In that movie, Lefou plays the yes man (also sometimes known as a hype man) to Gaston the bully of the town. Gaston, as depicted in this movie, is quite full of himself and Lefou only serves to exacerbate that issue. He encourages the buffoonery and arrogance of his friend by failing to disagree or expose what are certainly ideas that can bring harm or are just plain stupid (seriously we would never had the terrible idea of kill the beast if at some point in time Lefou just told Gaston that he shouldn’t do something).

If you are connected to a person that only wants you around to confirm their ideas, opinions, and actions you need to find new connections. That is not healthy for you and it is not healthy for them. Don’t enable a person by letting them feast on their ego. You are worth far more as an individual when you learn to think for yourself and speak up based upon what you know (an aside on this, don’t let this be your license to act like you know everything – that is another BAD idea).

Have core values, stand for something, study what comes before you, and speak truthfully. Conflict may come, but it won’t likely be about personality (when you look at the good in others), but it will be based on ideas, processes, and evidence – discussion on these topics is positive as it causes each one of us to be improved. (Just don’t be this guy or the guy in this comic).Image