Showing posts with label Optimism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Optimism. Show all posts

November 17, 2019

OPTIMISM vs pessimism

So I thought this really matched my philosophy to a T on optimism and pessimism. 

As Joel Rosenberg put it in his book The Ezekiel Option, "In the long run everything would turn out fine...but tomorrow could be a disaster."

In short, this equates to:

I'm a strategic optimist, but a tactical pessimist. 

My mom used to say, "If I am pessimistic, I'll never be disappointed." LOL

I think though when we have faith then we know that truly, in the end everything is for the best and will be okay.

In the short term though, there are challenges to face and these can be tough indeed. 

- Strategically an optimist. 

- Tactically a pessimist. 

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 17, 2015

From Stability Comes Instability

I remember hearing the phrase (not sure from where), "everything and the opposite."

I think it refers to how within each thing in life are elements of the exact contrary and opposing force. 

Similar to the interactions of ying and yang, the world is an interplay of opposites--males and females, black and white, fire and water, ebb and flow, good and bad, optimism and pessimism, and so on. 

Everything has a point and it's counterpoint.

It was interesting to me to see this concept expressed in terms of the financial markets (Wall Street Journal), where bull and bear contend in terms of our finances.

But what was even more fascinating was the notion from the economist, Hyman Minsky, who noted that the very dynamic between stability and instability was inherent within itself.

So for example, Minsky posits that a stable economic market leads to it's very opposite, instability.

This happens because stability "leads to optimism, optimism leads to excessive risk-taking, and excessive risk-taking leads to instability" (and I imagine this works in reverse as well with instability-pessimism, retrenchment and limiting risk to stability once again).

Thus, success and hubris breeds failure, and similarly failure and repetitive trial and error/hard work results in success.

It is the interflow between ying and yang, the cycle of life, life and death (and rebirth), the seasons come and go, boom and bust, and ever other swinging of the pendulum being polar opposites that we experience. 

The article in the Journal is called "Don't Fear The Bear Market," I suppose because we can take comfort that what follows the bear is another bull. 

But the title sort of minimizes the corollary--Don't (overly) rejoice in the bull--because you know what comes next.

Go cautiously and humbly through life's swings.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2015

Superhero Socks

Thought these socks were pretty cool.

POW!
WHAM!
ZAAP!
KAPOW!
SPLAT!

We are living in an age with potential for great upheaval whether from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, bigotry and social inequality, national debts and unpaid social entitlements, poverty and pandemics, global warming and environmentally unsustainable practices, and the clash of Western and Eastern civilizations. 

Thank G-d for advances in technology and innovation to help address these huge challenges of our time. 

However, whoever is portraying everything as all rosy or telling you to just be optimistic and all will be well--they're feeding you a bunch of you know what!

We need a superhero/Messiah leader to come help us save the day and these socks would be perfect for their arrival. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 11, 2013

The Status Quo, No!

Two more articles, this time in Fast Company (Sept 2013) are pointing to the unhappiness of people and the desire to change things.

The first "You Sign, Companies Listen," about Change.org, "the world's petition platform" that now has 40 million users launching as many as 1,000 petitions a day.  Now the site is allowing organizations to respond to petitions publicly and also has a "Decision Maker page," which shows organizations all the petitions against them. 

Change.org focuses on "personal issues with achievable solutions," especially personal stories of injustice. The site is about a carrot and stick approach. Organizations can choose to listen and respond positively to their constituents legitimate issues or "there is a stick" if they don't engage with the hundreds of thousands and millions of petitioners. 

A second article, "Not Kidding Around," about DoSomething.org, which "spearheads national campaigns" for young people interested in social change. Their values are optimism for a sense of hope, rebellion meaning the rules are broken and needs to be rewritten, and empathy to feel others pain so we can change things for the better. 

There is a notion here that the youngsters "have no faith that Washington politicians can solve this problem." These kids feel that "the world is in the shitter" and they want to help create social change. 

It is interesting to me that despite our immense wealth and technological advances or maybe in some cases because of it--creating a materialistic, self-based society--that people are disillusioned and looking to restore meaning, purpose, and social justice.

Things have got to mean more than just getting the latest gadget, blurbing about what you had for lunch on twitter, or accumulating material things (homes, cars, vacations, clothes, shoes, bags, and more). 

People can't live on materialism alone, but are seeking a deeper connection with G-d and the universe--to make peace with our creator and with each other and create a better world where we are elevated for helping others, rather than just taking for ourselves. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 15, 2012

Resilient To The Core

I circled back to an article that I saved away for the last 10 years (5 years before I started blogging and practically before it really even existed)!

It is from Harvard Business Review and it is called How Resilience Works (May 2002). 

It is an incredible article about what differentiates the person that falls apart and seemingly gives up under immense stress and those that use it as a stepping stone to future success and greatness. 

Resilience is "the skill and capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change."

Literally, resilience means "bouncing back," perhaps versus jumping throw a plate glass wall from the 50th story. 

Everyone has their tests in life--whether loss, illness, accident, abuse, incarceration, poverty, divorce, loneliness, and more. 

But resilience is how we meet head-on these challenges, and it "can be learned."

The article looks at individual and organizational "survivors" of horrible things like the Holocaust, being a prisoner of war (POW), and terrorist attacks such as 9/11, and basically attributes resilience to three main things:

1) Acceptance--rather than slip into denial, dispair, or wishful-thinking, resilience means we see the situation exactly for what it is and make the most of it--or as they say, "make lemonade out of lemons."

2) Meaning--utilizing a strong system of values, we find meaning and purpose even in the darkest of situations--even if it is simply to learn and grow from it!

3) Ingenuity--this is capacity to invent, improvise, imagine possibilities, make do with what you have, and generally solve-problems at hand. 

Those who accept, find meaning, and improvise can succeed, where others fail. 

Now come forward a decade in time, and another article at CNN (9 July 2012) called Is Optimism Really Good For You? comes to similar conclusions.

The article describes how optimism works for an individual or an organization only when it is based on "action, common sense, resourcefulness, and considered risk-taking."

"It's the opposite of defeatism"--we recognize that there are things not in our control and that don't always turn out well, but we use that as an opportunity to come back and find a "different approach" and solve the problem. 

The article calls this "action-oriented optimists" and I like this concept--it is not blind hope nor is it giving-up, but rather it is a solid recognition that we can do and must do our part in this world. 

Fortune Magazine summed this up well in an article a few months back as follows--There are three kinds of people: "those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those wonder how the heck it happened."

When things happen in your life--to you--which of these types of people will you be? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 14, 2011

The Elevator and The Bigger Picture


Some of you may have watched the HBO series called Six Feet Under that ran from about 2000-2005 about a family that owned a funeral home, and every episode opened with a freakish death scene.

In fact, the father who was the funeral director dies an untimely death himself and bequeaths the funeral home to his two sons.

The series, which ran for 63 episodes, evoked a recognition that life is most precious, too short, and can end in both horrible and unpredictable ways.
This week, I was reminded of this in all too many ways:

First, Brett Stephens wrote a beautiful piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the graceful death of his father from a horrible brain tumor. Brett describes in vivid terms the operations, loss of sight, debilitating bouts of chemo and radiation, agonizing shingles, loss of memory, mobility, sight, ability to eat, and more. Brett writes: "cancer is a heist culminating in murder."


Then today, all over the news were reports of of a horrible accident in New York, where a woman was killed in an elevator accident when it shot up while she was still only about half way on and she was crushed between the elevator and the shaft in a 25 story office building on Madison Avenue.


Third, I learned from a colleague about a wonderful gentlemen, who served his country in the armed forces and was an athlete in incredible shape, when one day in the gym, he suffered a massive heart, which deprived of oxygen for too long, and he was left horribly crippled for life.


Unfortunately, similar to Six feet Under, in real life, there are countless of stories of life's fortunes and misfortunes, death and the aftermath (adapted from the show's synopsis--I really liked how this was said). Yet, in the end, we are left with the completely heart wrenching feeling of how it is to be without and sorely miss the people we love so dearly.


In the Talmud, I remember learning this saying that to the Angel of Death it does not whether his intended is here or there--when a person's time is up, death shows up and no matter how peaceful or painful, it is never convenient and always deeply traumatic in so many ways.


For one the elevator opens and closes normally and brings a person to their destination floor, and to another the door may close on them, never at all, or the elevator may shift right beneath their feet.


We can never really be prepared emotionally or otherwise for the devastation brought by accident, illness, and death--and while it is hard to be optimistic sometimes, we can try to maintain faith that The Almighty is guiding the events of our lives, and that he knows what he is doing, even if we cannot always understand the bigger picture.


May G-d have mercy.


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris McKenna)

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July 9, 2011

Future Of Space Travel

For those of you who are upset to the see the final Space Shuttle mission this week, we definitely have something to look forward to with the new Orion, Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for manned space flight.

The main saucer-shaped "Crew Module" can separate from the "Service Module" that contains the propulsion, water and oxygen for sustaining life, and cargo transport (this is similar to the flying "saucer" that could separate from the main body of the Star Trek Enterprise in later episodes).

Orion will supposedly be the most advanced space vehicle out there to support missions from 4 to 900 days (virtually a full blown Star Trek voyage).

It is being built by Lockheed Martin (an early supporter of the United Federation of Planets?) and will have advanced life support, propulsion, avionics, and thermal protection for reentry (and hopefully in development are the phasers, photon torpedos, phase modulating shields, warp core, and transporter).

The Orion will be able to transport 4 crew and may be augmented by Robonauts (sort of like Data the android, but with no personality yet).

Robonauts are engineered by a collaboration of NASA and General Motors, and according to GM, they will help automate "dull, repetitive, and ergonomically challenging tasks" and make us more efficient in both the aerospace and automative industries.

Note: A robonaut is currently up on the International Space Station for testing (a precursor to Deep Space Nine).

Progress is being made, cool things are coming, and we will hopefully all be fortunate to see it unfold.

Gene Roddenberry was right about our future all along. :-)

(Source Photos: Star Trek Enterprise from here)

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March 6, 2011

The Exponential Road To Peace




When Charlie Rose interviewed Ray Kurzweil, the renown futurist (BusinessWeek--March 7-13, 2011), Kurzweil assures us that in just 8 more doublings of solar power output (each, which is happening every 2 years), we will be able to meet 100% of our energy needs.

This is the amazing power of the speed of exponential technology change to potentially solve our seemingly unsolvable human problems.

As always, Kurzweil's optimism about our future is noteworthy.
I hope that Kurzweil and the Prime Minister of Israel who discussed energy advice also shared insights about the prospect for Middle East peace.

Let the amazing promise of technology coupled with the ultimate in faith (and a strong military deterent) bring genuine peace to us soon. Amen!

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September 23, 2009

Realistic Optimism and Enterprise Architecture

Optimism can be a key to success in your personal and professional life!

The Wall Street Journal reported in Nov. 2007 that optimism leads to action and that “if even half the time our actions work out well, our life is going to turn out for the better…if you are a pessimist, you are unlikely to even try,” says Dr. Phelps an NYU neuroscientist. Similarly, Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania observes that “optimists tend to do better in life than their talents alone may suggest.”

So while optimism is often “derided as a na├»ve, soft-soap disposition that distorts the realities of life,” Duke University researchers found that optimists actually lead more productive and by some measures, successful lives. For example, they found that optimists “worked longer hours every week, expected to retire later in life, were less likely to smoke and, when they divorced, were more likely to remarry. They also saved more, had more of their wealth in liquid assets, invested more in individual stocks, and paid credit-card debt bills more frequently.”

At the same time, overly optimistic people behaved in a counter-productive or destructive fashion. “They overestimated their own likely lifespan by 20 years or more…they squandered, they postponed bill paying. Instead of taking the long view, they barely looked past tomorrow.”

Overall though, “the influence of optimism on human behavior is so pervasive that it must have survival value, researchers speculate, and may give us the ability to act in the face of uncertain odds.”

Optimism coupled with a healthy dose of realism is the best way to develop and maintain the organization’s enterprise architecture plans and governance. Optimism leads the organization to “march on” and take prudent action. At the same time, realism keeps the enterprise from making stupid mistakes. An EA that is grounded in “realistic optimism” provides for better, sounder IT investments. Those investments proactively meet business requirements, but are not reliant on bleeding-edge technologies that are overly risky, potentially harmful to mission execution, and wasteful of valuable corporate resources.


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June 6, 2008

Life Expectancy and Enterprise Architecture

We all hope and pray for a long and healthy life with our loved ones. Unfortunately, when serious illness strikes, the question is how long does a person have to live?

The Wall Street Journal, 6 June 2007, reports that despite all the diagnostic medical tools today, predicting life expectancy is still “a very inexact science.”

While it does not seem odd to me that “doctors often fumble predicting life expectancy” since this is truly only something G-d can know for sure—what is odd is the magnitude of the discrepancy with doctors predictions. “Doctors overestimated dying patients’ survival by a factor of 5.3”!

Why the gross inaccuracy? And can this provide any lessons for enterprise architecture planning?

  • Forecasting is not a science—“Even some of the best scientific studies of some of the more common medical cases points to one conclusion: we don’t really know.” Similarly, with planning business and technology, we can’t really see into the future or around corners. The best we can do is to extrapolate from events and trends. This is more an art than a science.
  • Old/bad data is a poor basis for planning—“Life expectancy data for such patients are dated. ‘True life expectancy with best treatment is constantly changing.’” Similarly, with business and IT planning, events on the ground are constantly changing, so for planning to be even somewhat accurate, you need real time and quality data.
  • Optimism is an exaggeration—Doctors tend to be overoptimistic with their life expectancy predictions, “in part because they tend to be confident in their abilities and hopeful for their patients.” While we can’t give up hope—ever—we should not be overconfident in our abilities. When architecting the organizing, we must try to be as realistic as we can and not look at the enterprise with rose colored lenses.
  • Overlooking the obvious—“Doctors simply overlook the signs of nearing death.” As architects, we cannot overlook anything. We need to be on the lookout for the latest business and technology trends and plan accordingly for the enterprise.
  • Difficulty communicating bad news—“The pain and difficulty of communicating the prediction exacerbates the error…when estimating life expectancy for patients who, it turned out, had about a month to live, doctors tacked on 15 days onto their private predictions.” Enterprise architects need to be good—no expert—communicators. This is important in translating business-technology speak and in charting a course. If the current roadmap is not right for the organization, architects need to articulate the problems, why and how to fix them.
  • Treatment can cause more problems—“Patients and doctors expecting a longer survival time may agree on more invasive treatment, adding the burden of side effects and complications to patients in their final days.” Similarly, as architects, we may see a business process or technology problem and in trying to fix it, end up doing the wrong thing and exasperate the problem. So like doctors, our first pledge needs to be to do no harm.
  • Feedback and quality control—these “could help hone survival estimates.” So to with planning and governance, doing the assessment/lessons learned and performance metrics can be very valuable for improving practices and processes going forward.

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January 2, 2008

Change Management and Enterprise Architecture

Change denotes the transition that occurs between one state to another…[There are two primary] “cultural attitudes towards change [either]:

  • Change is random, lacking determinism or teleology, [or]

  • Change is cyclical, and one expects circumstances to recur. This concept, often seen as related to Eastern world views such as Hinduism or Buddhism, nevertheless had great popularity in Europe in the Middle ages, and often appears in depictions of The Wheel of Fortune.
Change [does]...require organisms and organizations to adapt. Changes in society have been observed through slow, gradual modifications in mindsets and beliefs as well as through dramatic action (see revolutions). History is one of the tools used to document change.” (Wikipedia)

In the book, Making Change Happen, by Matejka and Murphy, the authors show how the United States is well suited to handle change, but also why we must be vigilant not to let our prosperity lead us into a lull.
“Since its birth as a nation, the United States has consistently been on the cutting edge of change. Why? Immigration, invention, and the belief in a better tomorrow…[we] have created the most diverse nation on the face of planet Earth…immigration has led to the invention. Each group brings different values, cultures, ideas, and prospectuses and is motivated to achieve the American dream. [Finally,] our belief in possibilities—a better tomorrow—has further stimulated change. This belief in what could be is an optimistic, creative approach to life itself.”
Ultimately, in our diversity lies our strength!
So what’s the issue?

“Evan a country such as the United States, generally more comfortable with change than other nations, has occasionally seen its collective organizations caught off-guard, dwelling in the past, asleep at the switch!”
Here’s one telling example:

“…a former member of the board of directors of Motorola (the leader in the cell phone industry at the time). At one board meeting, a board member walked in holding a small cell phone and exclaimed, ‘who the heck is No-ki-a and where are they? Sounds Japanese!’ When told that Nokia was a new competitor, located in Finland, the board member remarked, ‘Finland? How can that be? There’s nothing in Finland but ice and snow!’”

This is the new marketplace, “where firms you never heard of, from places you aren’t familiar with, can suddenly appear on your radar screens one day and steal your competitive advantage the next.”
So from a User-centric enterprise architecture perspective, there are two major imperatives here:

  • Information is key to survival—“The way to stay afloat now is to go into a ‘heads up, sensing, searching, sorting anticipating, adjusting, survival mode.’ Pay attention! Scan the environment. Gather information quickly and process it even faster. Your life depends on it. As external changes accelerate and competitive advantages shift, leading change becomes an organizational imperative.”
  • There must be an imperative to change—“The true paradox of ‘success and change.’…We must learn to change when we are performing successfully. But success makes us cocky and content. Change is the antithesis of the much-loved maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ First organizations must be willing to change. But willingness depends on the belief that a change is necessary and that the proposal is the right change.” What makes change even more difficult is that strategic change is the enemy of short term efficiency (and profits).

In enterprise architecture, the architects are the change agents and the architecture is the roadmap for strategic change. The EA provides the information for the organization on internal and external factors that enable it to understand the nature, intensity, and impact of the oncoming change, and to take action to adapt, transform, survive, and even thrive. Further, EA is often maligned for shaking things up and there is often significant resistance to EA and change efforts; however, EA is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, which is helping the organization change strategically, even when things are going well, and where operational efficiency may possibly ‘suffer’ somewhat. Strategic change is for the long term survival of the organization and this needs ongoing care and feeding to be successful, and not just an adrenaline shot when the heart of the organization is already in cardiac arrest.
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