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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Selective Enforcement

Selective Enforcement?

Hey all -- time for the second half of the double-portion.

Maybe this one belongs squarely in the life's-not-fair-suck-it-up category, but I've just seen it happen too many times that something's gotta give.

Sometimes in families, or elsewhere, we see people get off scot free with behavior that would have landed the rest of us in hot water.  Many times this is due to "the code," "the way it works," or because some stupid hen-pecking order has elevated some chump to an undeserved pedestal.

This unwritten hierarchy often permits the aforesaid chump to bully, malign, insult, deride, disrespect, and take pot shots at anyone they feel like with immunity and impunity.  And the enablers and hangers-on who permit this to happen are always at the ready with a plethora of platitudes and excuses why it just has to stay that way and can't ever change. 

What's to be done then?

You may have noticed the link I have to Dr. Benjamin Leichtling's website on my blog roll.  He says it best, but suffice it to say, his opinion seems to be that if these spoiled and enabled individuals don't think they're required to respect you, you're not required to give them further opportunities.  You can set up boundaries that prevent their entry unless and until they learn how to behave.  You can make it clear that the tone and the mouth are unacceptable.  You can repeat these Four Pillars to yourself as many times as you can to remind yourself that they don't get away with it with you.

This may mean causing a dust-up.  It may create warring factions and family feuds.  It comes with a great deal of risk.  But what about the reward?  At the very least, these overgrown trust-fund babies will learn that if they don't feel like growing up and changing the behavior, they had better look for other arenas where it will be accepted, because it won't be on your watch!

Short and sweet tonight all -- work tomorrow!

Comment, like, retweet, follow, +1, just show me the looooooove!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Wrong Way

Hey hey all -- my technical difficulties have now been rectified.  When you keep a laptop with Windows Vista for five years, you have to expect a Windows or McAfee update to go "down the wrong pipe" and cause trouble.  I thank the expert techie who helped me out of that jam.  One of these days your friendly neighborhood blogger needs to join the '10s and buy himself an iPad!

We gotta talk about yesterday's tragic events at the Empire State Building.  Just what the heck happened with this Jeffrey Johnson?  A year after losing a job, he tries to put a point-blank mob hit on an ex-co-worker in broad daylight? 

The thing that really doesn't make sense is that he lost his job a year ago.  A temporary desire for revenge is expected immediately after losing one's job, but a year later, even if times are still tough, that desire should have waned, or better yet disappeared.

Couldn't someone have helped this man out?  Couldn't he have tried to help himself?  Or better yet, did the murder victim bully or torment Johnson that badly, or cause his termination, or act spitefully or snarkily?  We haven't heard all the details yet, even in the year 2012, but they may explain a few things.

The archives of this blog are jam-packed with posts that rail against bullying and those who permit it to happen.  It's no secret that I expect effective consequences to be delivered against bullies, gangsters, and miscreants without abandon.  But never, and the Rock means never, have I ever suggested that victims deprive these bandejos of their very lives.   Murder is never the answer

The Columbine killers were bullied so much they probably didn't understand right and wrong anymore -- they were still wrong to kill.  The Colorado "Joker" may have had some issue with Batman fans -- still wrong anyway.  Tons of employees of the United States Postal Service have laid waste to their employer -- not the right move no matter how frustrating the life must be.

People who wrong you are asking for consequences, without a doubt.  But unless they have a gun to your head or are interested in leaving your body living but violated (and not "legitimately," Captain Wordsmith Akin) in the immediate future, ending their lives is not the way to solve the problem.  As I've said before, we don't live in a comic book.  You don't get to be a hero for blowing someone away just because you're so unbelievably badass.  You get to be a criminal, a terrorist, or a corpse yourself.

I may be borrowing a quote from my adversaries, the "we-don't-care-it-doesn't-bother-me-it's-your-problem" crowd, but this time I think they're right.  There is such a thing as "natural consequences."  Some may call it karma, G-D's will, or bad juju, but it exists no matter what name it has.  When people wrong you, you have an obligation to protect yourself and to present consequences for your tormentor's actions.  But that obligation is limited by reason, common sense, and basic human dignity.  Did someone backstab you last year and cost you a promotion?  You don't have to pretend to believe that schmucking fool's friend, but you can still stop grinding your teeth in their presence.  Did someone embarrass you at Boy Scout Camp back during childhood?  For all you know, he may have contracted a terminal illness and died a slow and painful death.  Did someone make you feel useless, inadequate, abject, and deserving of abuse when you were young?  For you know, he may be unemployable due to a criminal record and still living at home well into his 30's or 40's.

Point being, our window of opportunity to dispense consequences is limited by time, space, and natural law.  We do not decide that an offense other than murder warrants death, only G-D does.  We do not pretend we're in a Rambo movie and that anyone who tries to stop you from killing deserves to die worse.  Stand up for yourself, live by the Four Pillars, and shut people down when they try to hurt you, but don't let it expand to homicide.

And oh, by the way -- some of the examples of natural consequences I listed above are true stories.

Comment, like, retweet, do your thing, peeps!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympics Over, Games Begin!

More Prizes To Be Taken and Glory To Be Found

For many Olympic athletes, tonight is the end of a lifetime of training and focus towards victory.  Some of them met and exceeded their own expectations, and some came up slightly short. We did have Ali Raisman win a gold medal and dedicate it to the memory of the fallen Israeli athletes of 1972 -- showing more class than the administration even attempted.  We also had Michael Phelps finish off his career in style, the women's soccer team avenging last year's World Cup loss, and the Redeem Team -- well -- redeem itself!  Not to mention, our super-amazing track & field medalists!  :)

But we also had Mackayla Maroney come so close, but just not have her best day.  And we also had Marathon Meb Keflezighi come just short of medaling behind two Kenyans (expected) and a Ugandan (huh?).  And on his way to the history books, our boy Phelps also wound up collecting two silvers and failing to medal in one event.

As I stated at the start of these Games, the honor is not actually meant for the eventual winners, but for those who competed at their best level.  So for all those who did, much respect and admiration.

But as is the case with the rest of us, life goes on after the torch is extinguished and everyone packs up and moves out of the Olympic Village.  Back to their home countries, back to their families, back to start their lives again.

(holy hole, I think I'm morphing into my parents -- this is exactly what they would tell me whenever something was over.  NO chance to post-mortem, NO review and recap, NO post-game show, NOTHING of the sort, when it was over it was OVER, stop talking about it and go to bed.)

Well, without morphing into my folks, it's better to move on from these experiences, win or lose, before they hold you back.  Yes, our Redeem Team will brag about their gold medals throughout the NBA season, much to the chagrin of their teammates from other lands.  And yes, Phelps still needs to make $$$ from his endorsement deals.  But since these games only happen every four years (every two years, counting the Winter Games), they're forced to move on to other pursuits.

And so must we.  As sports fans, we must switch gears to the pennant race in baseball (Let's Go Yan-Kees!), the start of the football season (J! E! T! S! JETS! JETS! JETS!), and training camp for hockey (Go Isles, Please Don't Move)!

In my game, once a case is over, it gets closed up.  That's not including the question of whether something can be appealed, or whether settlement negotiations are needed.  I mean when it's OVER, it's over.  It's not kept in a library for reference, it's not left in an office taking up space, it's OVER.   Taken to storage, maintained for record keeping purposes for seven years, and then shredded

And so it should be.  This weekend, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was "so detached from the past & so focused in the present moment, that it almost feels like my past was a 'past life.'"  I've blogged before about moving on, etc., but that quote indicates that the speaker no longer needs to keep reminding himself to do so.  He's already gotten his head screwed on straight, and is looking at what's on his plate in front of him, that whatever was on his place yesterday is a nearly-forgotten fantasy.  If my folks ever met this guy, they'd shake his hand just for saying that!

Obviously, our lives are going in one direction, much like athletes running a marathon or a tri -- if you turn around and go back towards the starting line, you will not finish.  Much like our athletes who did their best and came home empty-handed, now is the time to learn and reinforce the lessons learned from what happened, and not to bemoan what might have been and wasn't.  Rather than kicking yourself for zigging when you should have zagged, for choosing this move instead of the other, or not being cool and smooth enough so that pole vaulter from New Zealand would've gone on a date with you, just don't repeat whatever mistakes were made. 

Have a good night, all.  Don't forget to comment!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Welcome Back, Dolores!

The Intervention

Hey All --

This week, time to re-visit the issue of enabling, and how to counteract it. 

In the past I've spoken about how bullying persists in schools, offices, and families -- NOT JUST because there are victims, and NOT JUST because someone "asks for it."  The one thing a bully needs to survive is an enabler.  Someone who knows that the conduct is wrong, someone who has the power to curtail it, someone who could respond to the behavior with consequences, but doesn't.   Maybe because they're scared, maybe because they're not sure what to do, maybe because they just "shrug it off" or "tune it out" or "turn the other cheek."  Regardless of why it's happening, it's FEEDING the bullying, not "ignoring" it.

Some time ago, I blogged about a memory from college.  I was a member of a certain organization, which shall go nameless, that allowed a bully to control and manipulate its internal structure.  This individual was given carte blanche to slander, demean, belittle, defame, and insult all those who were not followers or cronies with immunity and impunity.  Until one day the good people of this organization said "That's Enough!"  They were ready to expel this individual with prejudice.

A meeting was held regarding this individual's behavior and the organization's feelings about it.  For the first time in this young person's life, which was not much more than 21 years, unflinching honest feedback was given to the abusive and self-centered behavior that had been left unchecked for too long.  This person exhibited eye rolling and contempt towards this criticism, questioned how this behavior should be relevant "after all I've done," and argued that the fact that "my personality is not pleasant" should continue being disregarded.  When confronted with one particularly egregious and inappropriate comment this person made, this person actually giggled at the sound of their own words, and protested that "I wasn't talking to you when I said that."

However, unlike the prior encounters that this person was accustomed to winning without a fight, every protest was met with even more evidence of the unacceptable behavior.  Pooh-poohing it didn't work this time.  Little by little, this person realized that numbers and volume were leading to defeat, and that none of the enablers and cronies were able to continue their defense.  Finally, without admitting guilt or responsibility (it would've taken waterboarding for that to happen), this person begrudgingly conceded that the behavior was "not fair" to the non-cronies, and that this person would "try" to change the behavior.

It was not an overnight success, and this person did not spend the rest of college wearing a halo and wings.  However, this intervention did result in a marked improvement in the behavior.  With the realization that the behavior was no longer funny, cute, or tolerable, it occurred less frequently.

This tool should be just as effective for bullying as it is to stop a pattern of drug and alcohol abuse.  Get yourself a good-sized group of trust friends and families, sit our misguided friend in a chair, lock the door, and don't let up until he or she gets the message that it's not OK.  Being outnumbered, outgunned, disproven, and exposed can have an obvious effect even on the most brazen, hardened, loudmouthed, spoiled, and unabashed bully or miscreant!  In ideal circumstances, children are taught to shed this behavior early on without the need for an intervention, but sometimes it just "skips."

So, without being a surrogate parent or teacher, if there's someone in your life who just doesn't get it, see that they do!

Comments Welcome!