28 October 2011

Rewriting Instead of Writing

I was thinking to myself the other day, "Daniel, you have not written anything good for so long." I thought back and realized it has been a while. So, I sat down to write but nothing came and I thought, "that is weird, something should be coming because you have not written forever." I then realized that while I have not been writing new material, I have been rewriting the company's Policy and Procedure Manual. I guess rewriting cryptic and draconian material can be as tiring (if not more so) than writing new creative materials.

19 October 2011

It walks like Pride, it talks like Pride but it is not Pride

Sometimes, and I am still not sure why, people--especially the pious ones--are far too quick to assign things to the "pride" category. I noted this recently as I was working on a case study for one of my classes. In this case study a team of eight college men were assigned to a varsity team and another eight men assigned to the junior varsity team. In the case, the JV team kept beating the varsity team and the varsity team kept getting slower and slower. When the teacher asked what we thought the root cause was, almost immediately the class jumped too "pride," "pride" and "pride." By the time we were done talking about pride, my eyes hurt so much from rolling that I had to hold them shut for a minute. Perhaps I have read too many books and my head is swimming with crazy theoretical ideas, but I am convinced that the entire issue was related to dominance.

The difference between pride and dominance might seem minor, but note that the proper treatment of each is completely different as is the underlying cause:

Pride is a sense of superiority because of one's unique nature. With pride, a display of a lack of respect comes because the individual believes that they could act, plan or otherwise do better than the individual currently doing. The cure for pride is whatever it takes to bring the individual to realize that they are not as special or superior as they believed they are and that while they are special, there are others who are special too and might, just might be able to do something better than they can. And if not, if they are truly the best at something, it is okay to allow others to try.

Dominance is a sense of knowing who, informally, is in charge and thus who you need to answer too. With dominance, a display of a lack of respect comes because the individual is unsure of his place in the informal social hierarchy (and it is most often men who publicly display their struggle for dominance where women generally fight behind closed doors). The cure for dominance is to allow the group to establish dominance through whatever means they would like.

Contrary to the natural inclination, the formal leader (i.e. the coach in the case) cannot dictate the terms of how this dominance is established though they can help facilitate the dominance establishment. That is to say, the leader cannot say, "we are going to throw cupcakes at each other and who ever gets creamed the least is the most dominant among you." This will not work because few people would respect this display of dominance. Instead the leader would need to think through what the individuals would respect and give them ability to express their dominance in that manner. So in the case of the jocks, perhaps a display of who can run the fastest, lift the most weight of some other such display.

Other emotional states that might be confused with pride include apathy (a lack of care about the task at hand or the individuals with whom the task is to be completed), stubbornness (a lack of desire to change, simply because it is change) and pessimism (a consistent viewing of events in the world as being negative and against the individual). While all of these might have a similar outward appearance to pride, each of them is a very different driving cause and thus would have different treatments.