Archive for August, 2013

Dedication

lavafire

The world isn’t very interested in good anymore. People yearn to be inspired. It takes great work to make a difference. Dedication to purpose is the fuel behind the great work.

The hard work required to get there takes a lot of will. We sometimes encounter it, but don’t always perceive it or appreciate it. Yet it’s pretty easy to recognize when we open ourselves up enough to see it. Mustering it in ourselves…every time…regardless of how we feel…is terribly difficult. That’s what makes dedication so inspiring and ultimately so valuable.

Raise the bar of what’s good enough for yourself and (some) others will follow. A rising tide lifts all boats.

The Universe as a Top

top

[…continued from prior entry]

Reason and faith are in some respects incongruous with one another, but in a deep look there are points where they converge, especially if one is willing to put hubris aside.

A fundamental question we struggle with is, were we created or did we evolve? There are holes in both theories to be sure. But if each side allows for the assumptions that are less concretely known to in some ways be wrong then the two points of view can largely be reconciled.

In fact, all of existence we know of can be explained by both. Evolution depends on the from. For something to evolve it had to come from something else. What is the ultimate source of all this? It could be that God, or some force, set the universe in motion eons ago and we’re currently at some point on what may ultimately prove to be a finite timeline. Or, maybe we are just cells of awareness in a larger organism of some kind. Is the universe deterministic or random? We do not know enough to know.

Dare I say, it is not knowable. We may never know enough to figure it out.

All of these points of view have at their roots unprovable assumptions, so one can simply choose to buy in or not as she sees fit. And thus, in the ultimate irony, a significant bias toward either perspective actually requires faith. The reasoned conclusion is to acknowledge ignorance and humbly remain open.

Galaxie

If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him   — Voltaire

Faith Versus Reason

HAL9000The divide between those who operate on a basis of faith (religion) and those who operate on the basis of reason (science) has reached epic proportions in the past few decades. The perception that their incompatibility is a foregone conclusion is misguided, revealing a lack of understanding of the ‘other’ point of view, and of history.

Faith in our culture struggles from the loss of intellectual Christianity. These days when challenged most Christians are unable to express their faith from the perspective of reason. Additionally, with tele-evangislm and a heavy emphasis placed on faith and spiritual revelation most Christians today do not feel the need to understand the historical background of Philippians or the arguments for law of first beginnings. This has lead to a dumbing down of Christianity and has validated the response from Atheists when Christians follow blindly. “You just have to have faith,” isn’t enough if you don’t already have it. Having noted that, faith does by definition require a bit of a leap.

Reason struggles by pointing to and relying too much on science, as if science is the ultimate arbiter of truth. It isn’t. While clearly based more in the physical world we believe represents reality, it’s subject to the whims of perception as well. It’s far from iron clad. Science tells us to drink milk, and then later reneges and tells us not to. It’s ‘reasonable’ to be skeptical of whatever Kool-aid science happens to be dishing out at any point in time.

Having noted those differences, the two can converge on the truth. All eventually gets revealed to reason, which ultimately removes the need for faith. In the 17th century it required faith to believe that Jesus existed, whereas advancements in biblical archaeology and history now demonstrate to us that there was in fact a man named Jesus who walked around during the early first century. This requires no faith because human knowledge and reason has demonstrated it to be irrefutably true. However it still requires faith to believe the rest of the story, and so it is summarily dismissed by many non-believers.

[To be continued…]

Who is the customer?

CustomerInTheMiddleSmallPublicly traded companies suffer from the fundamental problem of clearly knowing who the customer is. The buyers of goods and services believe they are the customer, but inside the walls of the company it’s not so simple. The focus for most public companies is to produce returns for their investors, and most of them will do whatever is necessary to the customer to achieve that end. The “customer” is just a necessary commodity in a way. Clearly they can’t entirely ignore the desires of the the customer, but you aren’t the primary concern. This is why so many companies you sometimes have bad feelings about struggle to do what appears to you (as the customer) as the obvious right thing. You aren’t really the customer in their world. (Of course ultimately you are, but we’re talking about their perceived world here.) Avoiding for now the practices of well run companies who wisely figure it all out, this stuff is at the very least confusing for most companies. It’s capitalism at work. Revenue is king.

Banks are a great racket to get into if you can. The day-to-day costs of credit card transactions are paid for by the merchants. The card holder pays interest on charges that turn into a loan, but a small percentage (roughly 2%, more on some cards) of each transaction is taken off the top by the bank issuing the card.

So is the cardholder or the merchant the bank’s customer? The merchant is paying them for the privilege of accepting the card. The cardholder is generating the transactions that cause the payment. Anyone who has ever experienced both sides of working with the banks will tell you that the banks advocate for the cardholder. In fact, banks sometimes do highly unethical things to protect themselves (surprise). In no signature (mail order) transactions the merchant has little to no protection should the buyer or bank later decide to try to “undo” the transaction. If the cardholder stops paying his bill there are banks that have been known to systematically go back and retrieve money back from merchants on no signature transactions simply because they can. This stuff does happen. I could give you many other horror stories. We’ve seen other examples of how even when the banks lose a bet, they don’t lose.

It isn’t always easy, but you need to have a good idea who your customer is. It may be your boss. It may be a key person in another department. It may be your spouse (hint, one of your customers IS your spouse). Many people who struggle in a career do so in part because of a lack of clarity about who their customer is. They waste time on things that don’t matter to anyone who matters, while missing the boat on things that could really make a difference. Often it is because the latter appears as more difficult than the former. Sometimes it’s complete ignorance.

When you do something take a minute to reflect on a simple question… “For the sake of what (who) am I doing this?”



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