Being All You Can Be: Your Best Version

goal settingA couple of months ago I ran into a top professional athlete at a social event.

We spoke for some time. He is a father of two and was particularly steamed up about a couple of child development issues.

Primarily, he strongly resents (his and all) children being told you can be anything you want to be. Basically, he believes this is just not true.

I’m not arguing if he is right or wrong, but shouldn’t we wonder why such a high achiever would feel so strongly on this point? And, this same concern applies equally to anyone setting lofty goals.

It’s particularly poignant when you consider his resume and background:

     –  Child of immigrants with well-defined genetic background from a notably assertive culture.

     –  An impressive array of top amateur personal and team-level accomplishments as a teenager at national, international and world level.

     –  Prominent winner of the most prestigious world-wide team event in his sport; accomplished with a storied franchise at a professional level.

     –  Someone who overcame extraordinary and unusual physical setbacks.

     –  Currently still a top professional and a well-respected household name in his sport.

Clearly, these are impressive credentials for any (predictably) high achiever.

He is also a doting and thoughtful father who truly wants the best for his children and yet definitely resents them being misled or potentially set up for disappointment.

During discussion it became clear his primary concern is that High Expectations should be (R A A):

      – Realistic (for the individual concerned), R

     –  Achievable (by hard work, practice and skill development), A

     –  Available (in viable enough numbers to make the goal practical), A

For Example: There would be no point EITHER (say) being a 6’ 5” wannabe Olympic Gymnast, OR (say) needing to pursue a PhD. for any advancement in a required field when struggling with grades in High School, OR (say) being one in 1 million individuals maniacally desiring a single Presidency. In all such cases there will be probably be disappointment; and they all fail the respective R, A, A criteria.

Additionally, recent studies have shown that high achievers do all have one thing in common: In the right PLACE at the right TIME. Some even call this an element of chance or luck.

Now all this doesn’t mean people can’t have lofty goals or reach for high achievement. Nor should anyone settle for less than they might accomplish.

This particular athlete’s fundamental issue revolves around fear (for his children) of them dedicating their life-time to a goal, achieving much yet still falling short of what ultimately proves to be an overly ambitious objective. This could easily doom almost anybody to an undeserved and lasting sense of failure.

It’s true that many great achievements would not have been accomplished without great outreach. I agree. Great things are often fueled by someone shooting for the stars.

Also, one person’s over-reach is an essential incentive and fundamental motivator for another.

But if your goal is to ultimately instill a sense of self-worth, accomplishment and meaning in others, then maybe tempering people’s goals with Realism, Achievability and Availability should be considered?

Sometimes enlarging and evolving objectives as you proceed keeps the momentum, desire and struggle in better perspective. Yet in some cases you really must just aim for the horizon and beyond or have little chance of ultimate success, even at the outset.

Certainly, everyone deserves to accomplish all they might and can.

But occasionally a guiding hand helps people realize their potential while avoiding any unnecessary sense of failure.

Do you have colleagues, friends or workers who maybe even need to set their targets higher? Then help them aspire to more.

Have children who might go far? Then set their targets appropriately high; plan for great achievement, but make certain those interim results are routinely celebrated, valued and acknowledged all along the way.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh



That Which Does Not Kill Me, Can Still Do Harm

fredMost of us have likely ruminated over Nietzsche’s maxim, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

The insight holds much merit. But I believe it to be inherently flawed.

It is true for example that trauma survivors have reported positive changes and enhanced personal development. This phenomenon has even been named: Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

I have been fortunate to reap benefits myself of some positive behaviors and personality traits from bad experience. But cannot say I’ve seen others routinely advantaged by their traumas; quite the contrary.

So, let’s consider an Example (*) of Trauma:

Son cannot swim, Father wants him to learn. Boy is thrown into deep water to struggle and survive without assistance.

Disturbingly, this has been a literal and metaphorical event many times.

Now if the boy doesn’t sink, he may be stronger as a survivor and embrace a broad philosophy and fearlessness of diving-into new things.

In practice, many may learn to swim this way, yet still experience a life-long discomfort around bodies of water and lose trust for the person who threw them in. This psychological trauma could be both profound and enduring.

And correspondingly, the child that swam, seemingly survived and thrived may develop unhealthy tendencies resulting from their experience. Perhaps they will evolve to recklessly dive-into new situations without sufficient thought?

After all, an individual’s profound strength in any area is often accompanied by its corresponding weakness, as a flaw. Great strengths are also often our weaknesses.

As a Metaphor, this Example (*) provides many potent insights.

It is accepted that Adaptable Individuals can grow from traumatic events. Less intuitively it’s found that highly adaptable people do not grow as much; affects are less profound, likely because they already evolve well and learn from experience.

But not everyone is very adaptable.

And not all significant events appear obviously traumatic; the difference is in the eye of the experiencer.

In practice, our personalities and psyche are molded by experience. We are the result of our genes, culture, environment and experiences.

From birth, we are bombarded with events and our environment.

There are both philosophical beliefs and (even) religious doctrines that argue our Acceptance of trauma through and passed suffering is what moves us forward to Personal Growth.

In reality, we do not all move forward positively, building upon and benefitting from exposure(s) to traumatic events.

I would wager every person on the planet is morphed or inhibited in some adverse fashion as a direct result of negative experience.

Life brings challenges to us all

We routinely see or hear of Abuse (mental and physical), Cultural Pressures, Neglect and more.

Divorce, Bullying, Prejudice, Molestation, Crime, Violence and even War are commonly visible in most societies. If we are not directly involved we are exposed to such occurrences.

Events such as these are not water off our backs. They are formative and influential. They sculpt our personalities, opinions and psyches.

As a result, everyone carries baggage from one experience or more.

Many of us are indeed highly adaptable humans; we do learn and become stronger. But it is improbable all people are sufficiently able to adapt and be unaffected by every event in their past.

It is possible for those more suited (or, fit) to recognize detrimental impressions made upon them and act to often mitigate many harms. But its improbable anyone can extract from their buried memories every single formative barb that subtracts from their complete well-being.

Certainly, there is always outside counsel (be it personal, friendly and/or professional) available to address serious concerns about feelings or behavior. Need help? Then seek it out.

Do you really understand your reactions to all events and encounters? Are there comments circulating wondering why you behave or react in some manner? Are there undigested occurrences in your background?

Closely consider your past and current reactions. There will be definitive events that predict your strengths and weaknesses. Give them sufficient thought and when armed with greater insight, direct your own personal growth.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh


Fundamental Trust Keys Relationships

Trust fallTrust is foundational in a relationship whether between Colleagues, Friends, Spouses, Significant Others or even Animals.

What it is and means can be stated succinctly:

The NOUN, Trust

firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.

Trusting someone

believing in their reliability, truthfulness, abilities or strength.

Many people fear to trust. Sometimes this is burned into their personalities as the result of their life experiences. Perhaps it is tied directly to interactions with a specific person.

In the end, being able to trust (and wisely) will prove fundamental to our personal happiness.

Throughout life all relationships have ups and downs. But there remain actions we can take to help others trust us.

The mantle of being Trustworthy is commonly assumed by:

Keeping routines, being Predictable (as opposed to boring, fickle and random etc.)

Being Reliable

Meaning What We Say

Telling the Truth

Sharing How We Feel

Saying No, Sometimes (as/if/when appropriate)

These traits and behaviors are self-explanatory.

Building Trust in relationships is generally believed achieved by:     trust 2

Shared Values

Providing SpaceConsideration and Kindness

Acting Without Alternative Motives

Making the Relationship a Real Priority

Seeing Things Through

Again, the meanings here are self-evident.

The downside to underperforming in these areasLack of Trust: a slippery slope typically leading to lies and deception.

And since people have a propensity to treat others as they are treated, there is an inevitable likelihood they will reciprocate and respond with the same or equivalent behavior. The innate human desire to retaliate can cause us to enter the descending slope.

Relationships are easily overtaken by Deception when Trust is weakened.

These pointers and guidelines are assumed, general and common knowledge. They summarize long-standing principals and belief.

Yet how many people really adhere to such maxims in their relationships? Who is truly aware of the pitfalls and routinely acts to mitigate the liabilities?

How are you doing in your relationships? Any of these simple pointers need your improved application with those you care about?

At work, home and in everyday life, these same Principals of Trust apply. So, take a close look at how you are doing, and why.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh


How Arrangements Get Blown

close the loopIt seemed like the simplest thing to coordinate, but something critical to the event’s success went wrong.

A key person didn’t show, there was a misunderstanding of intent or an important item was overlooked. Sound familiar?

The underlying cause is always the same: SOMEONE didn’t close the loop.

Even simple arrangements can go adrift, so if there’s real complexity involved you’re almost asking for trouble.

And, the solution is always the same: Discussions and preparations need to end with a timely, final and complete summary in everyone’s hands.

There’s many ways to close that loop; hit all key participants (and cc’s) in a GROUP with identical email, text, voicemail or other suitable shared applications.

In reality, there is also often last-minute coordination and changes. In many cases these can be critical adjustments required for success.

So, someone needs to OWN the coordination. One person must close the loop, get everyone in-sync.

close loop 2

If there is room for error, there often will be. It’s usually required a coordinator /arranger is designated, agreed and acknowledged, up-front or at least early-on. So, make sure to step up when it’s clearly your job, or help ensure someone is clearly designated and empowered.

Every participant and supporter of the event (meeting, gathering, conference, show etc., etc.) must know who is orchestrating and coordinating matters and to advise them clearly of important updates and critical changes.

It’s all seemingly obvious. But so often arrangements go wrong. Someone fails to pass along key information or changes.

One of the biggest liabilities is the failure of participants to recognize the significance of new information or plans. Coordinators can make calls/approaches for last minute issues to identify such liabilities.

When it comes down to it, groups and teams working together to pull-off important events are as strong as their weakest members. One sloppy player, rushed, not thinking things through can wreak havoc.

We’ve all seen examples of blown communications: People show up for meetings unaware of need to bring crucial information, food arrangements are misunderstood for catering and sometimes even critical attendees aren’t properly advised of their role in attendance.

Those persons failing to provide important updates can be rushed, disorganized or plain lazy. Be sure folks prone to such behaviors are prompted to revisit their contributions BEFORE that Loop is finally closed.

Hopefully, this causerie is familiar to you? Perhaps it serves to complete your thoughts or act as a reminder. But beware, for in many cases what we humans readily grasp intellectually is poorly represented in our behavior.

Have you ever shown up to a meeting where a key person wasn’t even invited? Been booked to the wrong room at the wrong time?

Worse still, ever witnessed something otherwise well-managed only to appear in disarray because of such blown arrangements? This damages reputations.

Perhaps you should review how you coordinate with others. There’s usually plenty of room to sharpen communications and better secure your important events.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh



Great EXECUTION is NOT Everything

Creativity and ExecutionJust a few days ago I read A.N.Other article about the supreme importance of Execution. It was well-written, pertinent with many valid points.

But, it missed the mark.

Naturally, Execution is extremely important. If you cannot bring Ideas (and Products) to fruition, they might as well have never been conceived.

Imperfect or failed execution is lost opportunity and wasted investment. All this is true.

I first had the related debate 10’s of years ago; then we were discussing the relative importance of Ideas versus Execution.

As a young, start-up VP-of-Engineering debating a seasoned (well-known and highly respected) Silicon Valley Executive (my boss, the CEO) we both leaned with inevitable biases.

My colleague held that “ONLY Execution mattered.” I felt his position egregiously undervalued the creative process.

As in many arguments, in different ways we were BOTH right. We were similarly both wrong.

Clearly, without Execution there is no result. Ideas without viable results or consequences are of little value or import; particularly so in business. Not a totally unreasonable argument.

 Yet the reverse is true: If you have no Ideas to implement, then execution prowess is meaningless.

In reality, we need BOTH Ideas AND Execution equally. This seems an obvious conclusion.


And yet, as in every argument your opinion might differ greatly depending upon your perspective.

My colleague was in an advantaged, senior position. Seemingly every day prospective entrepreneurs would bring product and business ideas to the table. He had seen many products proposed and pushed before occasionally being taken up and implemented, sometimes many years later in modified forms.

Delays in realization can be affected by Resources, Opportunity and Timing. You need the right stuff at the right time and in the right place.

It is easy to understand that when you are surrounded by Ideas and Suggestions, they seem almost free and of lesser value. Put another way, until Execution occurs and an Idea is realized it might easily seem no more than dust blowing in the wind.

But conversely, without the Idea (and Creative Process) there is simply nothing to realize.

Ideas within themselves are inherently important, even if not realized. Creative new thoughts emerge from older ones; precedence can be common. Even dead-ends will suggest direction and provide guidance.

All this applies equally to Personal Life. Without the ability to take action (Execute) our plans (Ideas) are just thoughts; they can become unfulfilled dreams.

In Business, we need channels to produce the Ideas (or Product Concepts, or Approaches) that fuel our growth. These may be R&D, Marketing, Customer Input or other Forums and Mechanisms.

Similarly, we ultimately succeed or fail depending on the excellence of our Execution. This typically involves Development, Manufacturing, Pricing, Sales & Marketing and our Delivery.

So, there we have it. It is NOT one versus the other (Execution v. Ideas), it is BOTH.

And excellence requires at least real competence across their spectrums.

Do you have all the great Ideas necessary to succeed? Need to upgrade your sources?

Look at your own Execution. Does it get you where you want to be, when you need to get there?

Make sure YOUR Business and Life are filled with great Ideas AND the ability to make things happen.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Adapt & Flex: The Winning Recipe for Everyone

flexMany of us have been exposed to the Personality Profiling and Human Behavior Characterizations long common in industry. Professionals often undertake their new responsibilities on the coattails of such testing. Management teams relentlessly search for excellence by better understanding the natures and differences of their colleagues; and this, all based upon

such characterization.

Yet regardless of the specific Personality-Type we find ourselves to be, there remain key BEHAVIORS from which we can all profoundly benefit. These are our abilities to Adapt and be Flexible.

Perhaps you have heard of the well-known and generally still highly regarded Briggs Meyer testing scheme? It pigeon-holes participants in one of sixteen (16) Personality-types (Types).

If interested you can easily find free testing questionnaires on-line that quickly determine your personal characteristics and hence classify you as a specific Type.

If we briefly indulge a Summary of the principals involved, this classification is achieved by considering (per Carl G. Jung’s characterization) your

General Attitude and direction of Energy Expression:

Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I)

Preference for form of Perception:

Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N)

Preference for processing Information:

Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)

This was added to (circa 1980) by Isabel Briggs Meyer (presumably a Jungian disciple) who espoused the principle of judging-perceiving influencing personality-type.

How a person Implements Processed Information:

Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

So, there we have it. By the nature of the testing we are ALL fitted into ONE of 16 Boxes. These Personality-types are defined by us being biased predominantly to one element in each of the 4 pairs (above); we are all characterized as either: E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P.

Intriguingly, in four (4) versions of these tests administered over 30 years my own characterization has remained essentially unchanged. Very interesting and consistent.

The associated detailed Personality Descriptions spell-out insightful and quite extensive character outlines for each of these resulting 16 Types: ESTJ, ESTP, ESFJ, ESFP, ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP, ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP, INTJ, INTP, INFJ and INFP.

If you embark on the testing process, once you’ve been pigeon-holed you’ll find the corresponding Personality-Type Description strikingly relevant and appropriate. These outlines alone offer insightful reading, even without a test.

But inevitably, this illumination also highlights the obvious and inevitable flaws for each personality-type. Every pigeon-hole showcases great strengths alongside (often understated) accompanying deficiencies.

Happy is the individual whose life is largely aligned with the strengths of their Personality-Type.

Yet none of us exist in a vacuum and our life experiences are broad, so inevitably those flaws (see above) can and usually will make some form of appearance. They are the chinks in our armor.

Here now is exactly why both Adaptability & Flexibility are of great import.

We can readily compensate for our Personality-type deficiencies by ADAPTING. Adaptability mitigates any weakness and enhances our ability to prevail.

Likewise, FLEXIBILITY is equally valuable. It is our ability to bend pliably with circumstance as we ADAPT to challenges.

So, Adaptability and Flexibility are great Behavioral Skills to possess. They protect and aid us when we’re most exposed by our deficiencies and yet can also enhance our performance when we are at our best.

We are exercised and stressed by challenges we face at work, home and in our personal lives. Adaptability and Flexibility are assets on every front.

Now think a while about your own circumstances.

Review both the new and familiar challenges you face. Are you ADAPTING sufficiently and FLEXING in your own best interests? Perhaps you need to improve? Think it through.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


A Challenge: Trying New Things

Try New ThingsWhy do we try new things?

Most new ventures are driven by either Necessity or Enrichment. We NEED to do things so we might benefit in some way.


Its common understanding that many people fear change; but what are new things if not this?

And failure to react to change can leave us leave us disadvantaged in our ability to branch out in different directions.

In practice, new ventures can be either profound or minor; as simple as bringing on a new phone App or disruptive as career change.

Sadly, for some people the discomfort of change is as dramatic for inconsequential events as major; yet, it can become life-limiting if we are paralyzed to inaction as a result.

A sudden or unexpected need for change can be a shock to almost anyone’s system. The challenge is to embrace the need (and often inevitability), take a deep breath, accept what is essential and see the ultimate opportunity and benefit.

Being able to fearlessly embrace change is empowering. It is the gateway to new ventures, skills, places and experiences.

Driving a car at >150mph can be a thrill, but then if things goes badly wrong the consequences may be dire. Similarly, going sailing can be a great adventure but here the downside of (say) a little sea-sickness is more minor (assuming risk of drowning is low!).

So, on some occasions we might be gung-ho in trying new things, but it’s generally wiser to avoid truly reckless behavior.

We can take on simple or even adventurous new enterprises, expanding our own envelope, providing we understand and can live with the associated risks and consequences.

I believe people should push themselves and seek out new challenges; be they mental, emotional or physical.Try New Things 2

There is no reason we should back off doing what we can reasonably achieve throughout the course of our entire lives.

After all, when we no longer challenge ourselves we cease to grow. This is the path to stagnation.

I regularly meet people who are regretful about specific things they have not done. And sadly, these were clearly readily possible within their financial, physical and emotional constraints.

Certainly, unless fraught with rare psychological constraints, no-one need be that person full of regrets.

Aspire to what is possible for you.

For example, a young healthy person may not (say) be practically able to climb Mount Everest, but perhaps they are still fully capable of clambering up many Monroes (>3,000 feet tall mountains), if they just make the opportunity.

Similarly, older people might not even be fully mobile, but can still (say) get themselves wheel-chaired onto a plane, cross the country and attend that favorite nieces wedding.

We can often do more than we first think. There is always much that can be reasonably realized.

We only need to imagine and try; there is usually some way to make great things happen.

Got any skills you failed to develop? Any places you never went and still might? Any person you should have sought out and didn’t? Is there something you just never attempted?

Fortunately, it’s usually never too late.

Imagine what you might try, and make it happen!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Fail and Succeed: A Winning Recipe

fail fastA large part of S
ucceeding is Failing.

Not that Failure is preferable to Success, but rather its often an inevitable step on the path.

Inventors notoriously fail repeatedly when refining their inventions. Thousands of failed attempts were made to perfect a viable light-bulb, for example.

Some failures are catastrophic and should preferably never occur; the Titanic comes to mind.

Ideally, we avoid and design out all failure and risk. But in practice we are often forced to discover problems retroactively.

Failures generally precede and are fundamental to ultimate success. Little is ever perfected without repetition and improvement; in such circumstances dealing successfully with failure is an imperative.

Triumph through failing is accomplished by our distinct Actions:

Recognizing the Failure

Analyzing the Problem(s)

Developing Corrective Action

Implementing the Next Pass


Fail Fast has been the mantra for Entrepreneurs, Inventors, Investors and Business people for decades.

Not all Failures are catastrophic; they are typically inevitable, likely or possible. The issue is to learn from them, adjust and move forwards.

These principals and Actions are by no means unique to Business and the Invention Process. They apply equally to many facets of life including, but not limited to Interpersonal Communications, Relationships and all the Sciences and Arts we might imagine.

It is our human ability to learn and move on that matters; our intellect, heart, appetite and resolve enable us to prevail and ultimately succeed.

The very act of practicing anything to perfect one’s skills is by its nature an acceptance of the role of failure in pursuit of success.

Yet the idea of Failure itself is not well received in most cultures. Nevertheless, embracing a methodology and philosophy centered around this seeming inevitability is of obviously great value.

And ultimately, we are all resultant products of our Success and Failures.

So-called, Failing Fast is critical to Manufacturing. If you’re building (say) complex or expensive goods it behooves you to test early and often to find unfixable defects quickly and eliminate further wasted investment. Both the success and profitability of most Corporations is directly tied to this approach. And of course, any fixable defects might also be reworked.

Relationships and Human Interaction can be quite similar, but might require more subtle handling. Here, sometimes rapid recognition AND correction of issues is critical; in other instances, simple early awareness and moderated reaction is more appropriate.

Examples of this might be (say) the difference between clearing a building that’s on fire, versus working through corrective action(s) for a child’s bad behavior. In both these cases knowing early on helps, but the need for immediate and brisk action can be different.

In most all instances, rapid RECOGNITION of Failure is valuable. The issue is to have the recovery process and Actions consistent (in both timing and severity) with the significance and urgency of the Failure (or, Problem).

Clearly NEW products, situations and events blatantly cry out for this type of analysis and thinking.

Thus, it’s easy to overlook established processes in need of fresh review. Initiating insightful investigation (even belatedly) often uncovers valuable new opportunities for both great and small improvements, simply by using a Fail Fast approach and mindset.

And again, these principals apply equally to Business, Personal and Family Life, Engineering, Sciences and Arts alike.

So, are you Failing Fast, when you should? Checking for troubles, early on? Are you adjusting and correcting in the appropriate timeframe?

There’s no time like the present to run these ideas and principals by your Work and Private Life to discover just what benefits and improvements are there for the taking. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Culture to Personality: Curse & Blessing


Image result for culture and personalityEvery day most of us wander out into the world and deal with people.

It doesn’t matter if you lead, manage, supervise, parent or just communicate, you’ll be interacting with complex personalities.

Often it’s convenient to deal with people as groups, in some set manner, but it’s preferable we understand and address them as individuals.

Whether we’re working on personnel issues, negotiating or just generally communicating we are better prepared and able if we understand the unique personality of those involved. This is a complex problem and can be a tall order.

Yet it’s clear that the deeper and more specific our understanding of an audience, the greater our ability to Be Authentic, Connect and Communicate Effectively. So, we should attempt to consider and account for individuality.

Now, unique Personality is defined as: the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

No simple explanation of how personality is formed is universally accepted.

However, it is possible to make overarching judgements about what certainly affects personality, even if today no definitive model seamlessly explains how these elements interact.

Personality is created and affected by:

Culture– Programming the self

Experience(s)– Environmental, Physical and Mental

Brain Function– Baseline; also including Development, Growth, Evolution and Performance

Genes– Base Physiology and Persona

Health– Resulting from Lifestyle and Exposure

All this plus a person’s ability to Adapt to these factors helps establish a unique Personality; this fuels the outward expression of individuality.

Further, any of these elements listed above may have a lesser, greater or even disproportionate impact on the outbound personality; and elemental interaction may be either simple or complex.

I suppose this explanation is in some ways analogous to Atomic Theory: Waves explain some things nicely, Particles others and yet nothing comprehensively and elegantly really ties these very complex worlds together, either.

Now, these five (5) Elements (Culture, Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health) individually each warrant extensive comment. But practically, this is a BLOG not a book.

So, let’s just explore one aspect to help advance our understanding of Personality.

I’ve always thought there isn’t enough attention given to the profound importance of Culture. Let’s focus on this

Culture is defined as: the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society.

I believe we are programmed throughout our lives by culture. Everything we experience is biased by the prevailing culture in which we are immersed. It dictates the very way we perceive the world.

Culture can impact our every action and deed; how we eat, drink, smile, laugh, sit, stand, sleep, bathroom, dress, seek partners, interact with others and more are all influenced at some level.

Religious Opinions, Social Beliefs and Values constantly bombard us though our immediately surrounding culture.

What we might truly independently believe and think can easily be lost with such overwhelming, ongoing immersion and social pressure. Also, many cultures seem to additionally immerse and burden females relative to their male counterparts.

Why is all this important?

Well, if we are raised in one culture versus another, then our behaviors, reactions, values and beliefs can all be quite different; a recipe for likely conflict.

Consider (say) a born-and-bred New Yorker relative to a Saharan Bedouin. Obviously such radically divergent exposure and upbringing would be expected to deliver notable culture (and thence personality) differences.

But must we consider only dramatically dissimilar environments to see such significantly different results? I think not.

Consider (say) the case of Scandinavians: Internally I am told their own various cultures consider Swedes to be paralytically PC, Danes frighteningly outspoken and Norwegians quite dull and less imaginative.

It’s not clear if such characterizations are wholly fair (certainly they’re not PC), but they are commonly held and have substantial general acceptance within these (physically close) cultural groups. These are relative impressions.

I must admit through years of travel and international dealings I’ve found some characterizations to be surprisingly meaningful; be they crude and unflattering in some cases. And the same is true across the world.

For example, a Bostonian is certainly not a San Franciscan; neither are they like a Londoner, Singaporean nor a Muscovite. We are an amazingly diverse species and yet generally quite strongly aligned locally, when within shared cultures.

Each culture when observed from any other often seems quite strange. It is not just the actual cultural differences that create this view but also the perspective from which they are seen.

And, cultural differences can be startling.

I once communicated with supposedly agreed, polite hand-written notes and brief voice-messages to a colleague as a solution to mutual meeting schedule conflicts. What was originally well-meant and efficient was ultimately taken as demeaning and rude. In this case there were pronounced West meets East and other disconnects; inevitably, significant cultural differences are prevalent within multicultural societies.

Never underestimate the importance of contrast existing between cultures. And, human tolerance of such differences is far more tenuous than their acceptance.

We are all products of our cultures. Most of us are heavily programmed to the preponderance of the culture in which we were formatively immersed.

In this sense those of us with very similar upbringing can be greatly alike, sharing many commonalities. And yet in practice, the other elements of personality (Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health along with our adaptability) still cause us to develop unique identities.

It is generally held that our personalities are formed early in life: “Give me the child till age seven (7) and I’ll show you the man/woman.” Many of us will have personally witnessed reasons for such a claim.

So in summary, if we want to interact successfully with others it only makes sense to be well aware of their predominant cultural influences. It is one key window to who they are, what they feel, value and believe.

Are you involved with diverse cultural groups? Perhaps your communications should be better sensitized to serve your audience?

Are you the one from a different culture? Maybe some individuals you meet need more carefully considered interactions than you’ve previously offered?

Take a close look at the folks with whom you interact. Sometimes a lack of cultural awareness can burn both you and others.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Growth in Pretentiousness Fueling Social Value

Image result for PretentiousI was never a fan of pretension. And, I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of the behavior.

The Definition of Pretentious is attempting to impress by offering greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

After the casual observation that pretension is seemingly everywhere these days, I was wondering what might explain the apparently uncommon growth in this trend.

Certainly, there are some obvious current Contributing Factors:

Social Equalization. Lack of growth in or reduction of household economic situations will cause many individuals to seek ways to differentiate themselves and feel special; a human need.

Information Access. Google anything and read for 15 mins and you can usually surpass most people’s general knowledge on any subject; it’s easy to appear expert.

Knowledge Compartmentalization. Experts in maturing, competitive fields must generally evolve more vertical knowledge in lieu of broadening their expertise; they are driven to go deeper and so inevitably become less broadly expert and educated. We are in an era where a thinning veneer of disaggregated public knowledge exists; it is harder to be broadly expert.

Political Correctness (PC). There’s declining cultural willingness to openly expose or confront flawed thinking, facts or claims in social situations; this provides opportunity for pretension to thrive, even in a time of more readily accessible information.

Time is Short. Who can investigate every suspicious or questionable claim?

Unthinking Acceptance. People are often easily fooled. Humans tend to readily believe what’s in print or comes from a perceived, historically reliable source; though Fake News must now be shaking this foundation.

A Pretension is a claim or aspiration to a particular quality. Being pretentious generally connotes such a claim is unworthy.

But how do we KNOW which claims are overstated or false?

Certainly we live in an age where perception is reality as the accepted norm. Indeed today, most celebrity is built on completely manufactured perception. And the speed of acceptance is such that if something looks like a duck, it’s a duck; whether or not it quacks.

We are inundated with facts and information of obvious increasingly uncensored quality. It is an era spewing fake news and prejudicial reporting on every side; so then, who can or would routinely trouble to (say) run down every minute detail of an acquaintance or colleague’s perceivably questionable claims and assertions? There is often too little time or real importance.

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If someone lays claims we are unmotivated or unable to check, perhaps we deserve them as our reality. Certainly History itself is built on such foundations.

Personally, I have lived in cultures where pretension is thought of as something as a character flaw. In an increasingly PC world it can become less clear when such behavior should even be outwardly highlighted.

Perhaps if someone purports or displays modest vestiges of some skill, knowledge or association we should always give them the benefit of the doubt with their claims? As individuals I think we tend to do this (to keep the peace; not rock the boat), even when we occasionally also record a question mark about their validity in the back of our minds.

However, if we have questions about people’s pretentions, we are unlikely to ever fully trust them on any matter of importance. Surely Leaders, Managers and friends should educate their acquaintances accordingly.

We’ve all seen people make questionable, pretentious claims regarding their jobs, lifestyles, experiences, possessions, family, associations and expertise. There’s frequently a wannabee expert proffering dubious wisdom and status at every party, dinner and social event, too.

So, it should be carefully noted that bold pretension is generally offered by a very insecure person. Ultimately, they feel vulnerable so need to make themselves more, or others less.

Now, we’ve all tweaked someone’s nose when they’ve made claims with visible flaws. Perhaps we even did this to avoid appearing gullible or unknowledgeable?

Whatever flawed claims and aspirations individuals present to us, maybe we should most commonly just let the buyers beware and bite our tongues? However, in the event of actual or material damage affecting others, it really is time to speak up. Even then it’s always wiser to be discrete and minimize any confrontation when doing so.

Humans possess and will often display unique, complex outward reactions to unwanted stimulus. And, the spur of outrageous pretentious behavior can be truly profound. Despite this, sometimes just being PC and letting things pass unacknowledged is often the wiser approach.

Do you work with a lot of pretentious people? Meet many in social situations? How do you react to these individuals?

It is easy to lose respect for people who put on airs. It is harder to walk in their shoes and understand why they do so.

So, next time you see such behavior, take a look in the mirror and check if your own peacock feathers are on display, or perhaps even stimulating the problem.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh