What if all focused on giving and receiving Joy?

Right now, it seems like all the forces are focused on bringing anger to the world. Imagine if each of us, instead of worrying about what others are doing wrong, spent all that energy focused on bringing Joy to others. Imagine, when someone tries to bring joy to us, we are able to actually accept it.

It is easier to focus on what is wrong. It is easier to hate another, and to be honest, to hate what we don’t like about ourselves. Our brains look for what is going off, so we can protect. But if we charge around in protection mode all the time, we are not doing more than just staying alive. It is not living and thriving.

I am going to try to focus on giving Joy and Receiving it more. I need God to help me on this one.


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To the Left, everyone on the Right Supports Trump

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/stephen-colbert-trump-jonah-goldberg-alliance/

This may make me pause in my idea that Never Trump hurts us.

Now, Jonah is no Jennifer Rubin, or Bret Stephens. He has approved of some of Trump’s policies. Still, to say he is a Trump ally is just wrong.

I guess we all look alike to them.


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The Challenge of Free Trade: How Does One Side Win When Everyone Cheats?

Posted this at Legacy: What do people think here?

I used to be a believer in Free Trade. No matter what, I thought the trade policy of America should be that there are no limits whatsoever to trade. If the other side had all sorts of restrictions, it did not matter, because it was always better for Americans on the whole to have total free trade. Why did I believe this? Because learned people said it was so, and that was good enough for me.

However, as I have aged, I have grown more an more uncomfortable with the idea that one side trading free and the other side putting up restrictions is always best for the most Americans. It is counterintuitive, to say the least. For instance, how can it be better for me as an American, that American farmers cannot sell their goods in the EU so that EU farmers are protected? How does that help Americans as a whole, exactly, when American farmers have to compete on an uneven playing field? Less competitive EU farmers get the benefits of higher prices, while American farmers have to run even leaner. How does that help the average American?

From a security standpoint, the US armed forces are buying electronics from one of our two rivals. I cannot imagine that the Chinese government is using this to spy on us somehow, but setting that aside, if we went to war with China, where will get the parts? It makes no sense to outsource a strategic industry to another nation. At least to me. I am sure it makes 100 percent sense to the Free Traders. All Free Trade, no matter what, all the time. Nothing is zero-sum, everything is win-win, even when the other partner is a geopolitical rival. Germany should not worry if it is dependent on Russia for its power, because that is the best way to get power, and if the whole Germany power industry goes down, well, that is just free trade to Russia. No worries.

So, I no longer believe in Free Trade at all times. If you are a free trader, I’d love to have my mind changed.


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My kids are fine. I don’t think “Gen Z” is that bad off.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/generation-z-depressing-look/

 

Generation Z appears to demand safety over intellectual discomfort on campus. It is too early to tell whether other students will push back against this campus shift in favor of open debate and academic freedom, but the trend is not at this moment favorable.

I do not agree. This is based on my kids, their friends, and the boys I have worked with as an Assistant Scout Master. Now these are all post 2000 kids, not yet in college, but to a one, they seem to ignore race, think there are only three genders (male, female, attack helicopter), and generally think that the heat of the left is something to be ignored at best, or laughed at at worst. Most tend to think Trump is a weird, wild man, but think it is more funny than serious. That seems to be the theme: All the rage of the Gen Y and Boomers is funny, not to be taken seriously.

Now, maybe I am biased here, but that is what I am seeing.


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Conrad Black: Decisive as Ever

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/donald-trumps-nato-allies-beleagured/

Many of the president’s EU counterparts are in deep water politically.

On the heels of my misguided intuition, expressed on another site last week, that Judge Coney was the president’s most likely selection for the Supreme Court vacancy, the president should be (but won’t be), commended for choosing the least controversial candidate, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The nomination of Kavanaugh, a Bush appointee and friend, may be taken as (but again probably won’t be) a conciliatory gesture to traditional Republicans. Whatever appearances, conservatives are placated, moderates have nothing to complain about, and an obviously highly qualified candidate is unlikely to be seriously damaged by the Democratic kamikaze attacks, which did not await the banal formality of having the name of the justice-designate before hurling themselves at the unnamed choice. Assistant Democratic Senate leader Dick Durbin bravely advised the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection to the Senate, those in states that went heavily for Trump two years ago, to sacrifice themselves, take one for the (shrinking) team, and fight the president’s nominee. There is no indication at this point that Trump needs any Democrats to get Judge Kavanaugh confirmed, or that some of the more vulnerable Democrats can win reelection, whatever their selfless histrionics over this issue

 

Read the whole thing!


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“Always” anything Always sounds like an article of Faith to me

So, over on the other site, I am being lectured about free trade. Apparently, war only destroys value, and trade always increases value. Now, I argued that war can create value in terms of technological advancement, but was told that, no, that is actually trade between government and the market, and as such, not “apart” (sic) of war. Further, trade always creates value, and if used as a weapon it is not trade.

Now, what I see going on here is changing the meanings of things to fit the template of faith. Once one makes a decision about how things are, one fits everything into that system. Here, “trade” is always a good thing that will increase “value” while “war” is always a bad thing that will destroy “value”. As such, any demonstration that war might bring value is turned into trade. If there is such a thing as using trade for destruction (say to run someone else out of business), then it is not real trade.

Anytime a complex system is treated with an “always” or “never” I always feel like I am walking into a faith system.

What do y’all think?


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AI Drivers

 

Liked this article on AI and cars. It hits many of my concerns. It also lays bare a classic programmer desire, that I hate. Namely, the desire to force everyone to change what they do, because it is to hard to get the software to adapt to us.

Drive.AI founder Andrew Ng, a former Baidu executive and one of the industry’s most prominent boosters, argues the problem is less about building a perfect driving system than training bystanders to anticipate self-driving behavior. In other words, we can make roads safe for the cars instead of the other way around. As an example of an unpredictable case, I asked him whether he thought modern systems could handle a pedestrian on a pogo stick, even if they had never seen one before. “I think many AV teams could handle a pogo stick user in pedestrian crosswalk,” Ng told me. “Having said that, bouncing on a pogo stick in the middle of a highway would be really dangerous.”

“Rather than building AI to solve the pogo stick problem, we should partner with the government to ask people to be lawful and considerate,” he said. “Safety isn’t just about the quality of the AI technology.”

I despise this mentality in software. Machines should adapt to me. The whole point of AI is that it is is smart enough to adapt to me, not the other way around. Outside of software, the whole concept of ergonomics is to adapt things to people. Inside software, the goal is to make people adapt, and in this case, adapt at the point of a gun.

I love this part too:

many companies have shifted to rule-based AI, an older technique that lets engineers hard-code specific behaviors or logic into an otherwise self-directed system.

A bunch of rules is not AI in my book. Oh, maybe it meets the why it is listed in the dictionary, but when we say “AI” people are thinking about something that learns, not something following a bunch of rules written by people.

Ann Miura-Ko, a venture capitalist who sits on the board of Lyft, says she thinks part of the problem is high expectations for autonomous cars themselves, classifying anything less than full autonomy as a failure.

Yes! Either it drives as well or better as a human, fully autonomously, or it should not be on the roads. Duh! That is the whole point. But, here we have one of our betters chiding us for believing the hype they sold.

One study by the Rand Corporation estimated that self-driving cars would have to drive 275 million miles without a fatality to prove they were as safe as human drivers. The first death linked to Tesla’s Autopilot came roughly 130 million miles into the project, well short of the mark.

But with deep learning sitting at the heart of how cars perceive objects and decide to respond, improving the accident rate may be harder than it looks. “This is not an easily isolated problem,” says Duke professor Mary Cummings, pointing to an Uber crash that killed a pedestrian earlier this year. “The perception-decision cycle is often linked, as in the case of the pedestrian death. A decision was made to do nothing based on ambiguity in perception, and the emergency braking was turned off because it got too many false alarms from the sensor”

So they turned off a safety feature because it had too many false alarms. Great. Seems like whomever made that decision should be guilty of something like manslaughter. I wonder how many more deaths are needed to put an end to this farce. Either the cars need to be fully autonomous, driving as well as humans, or they should not be on the road at all. They have already caused deaths.


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Who Do YOU Work For?

How Understanding the Answer for Yourself and Your Employees is Vital to Engagement.

 

When I was a boy my father taught me a story by the great Zig Zigler. You may have heard it, Zigler’s Rail Road Story. Robert Terson repeats it in full here. It’s about the railroad president named Jim, who one day stopped to pull a line worker, Dave, into his car, where they sat and chatted for an hour.

When Dave’s friends on the crew asked what was going on he told them that he and Jim had started working on the same day 20 years ago. They wondered to themselves, how could one man become president while the other was still working on the line?

As Terson reminds us:

“Dave looked wistfully up into the sky and said, “A little over 20 years ago Jim Murphy went to work for the railroad; I went to work for a $1.75 an hour.”

The truth of this story was so powerful that when I heard it I decided that I would probably never work simply for a paycheck, but always “go to work for the railroad.”

Most people believe that there is only one motivation that triggers our behaviors. As a therapist, I have discovered there are many motivations that drive the things we do, and, often, unconsciously. In therapy, much of the work is uncovering these motivations. So, the answer to the question, “Who do you work for?” is not binary. Jim worked for the railroad. He also worked for a salary, but it was not the primary reason.

The fact is that people work for far more than those two reasons. I am driven to work to support my family. I don’t think I would work as hard without three other people in my life, especially with college ahead for two of them. Being unemployed for half a year has been a grind and a time for personal growth. Much of our self-worth is tied up in how productive we are.

Sometimes, however, work is not for yourself or your family. One of the Gallup’s Q12* survey questions asks about having a “Best Friend” at work. Gallup has shown that if someone says they have a best friend at work, they are more likely to be engaged. It’s about the relationship they have formed with the people on either side of them. The starkest example of this is combat. Veterans will tell you in the moments of combat they are fighting for their brothers and sisters.

The late Bill Mauldin, the wonderful cartoonist who did Willie and Joe all through World War Two, captured this foxhole relationship many times in his years-long series of cartoons. There was one with Willie telling Joe, “Joe, yestiddy ua saved my life an’ I swore I’d pay ya back. Here’s my last pair of dry socks.”

For supervisors, it is vital to understand what your personal motivations are for working, as well as to understand the motivations of your employees. If your motivations are centered on your income, the people working for you will know it. If your goal is focused on the advancement of your own career, they are going to know that too.

These are important goals. But if they are the sole focus, they can be self-defeating. Employees know when you care about their careers. They know when you are dedicated to discovering and develop their goals.

We have sayings for someone who is just working for a paycheck: “Phoning it in”, “Doing the bare minimum not to get fired”, “Waiting for retirement”. These all mean the same thing: the employee is disengaged and not going to do his or her best.

Leaders and managers in the 21st Century need to understand the employees’ reasons for working. Otherwise the “Jims” will move to someone who does understand them, and you will be left with the “Daves”. If you are a “Jim” and your current employer does not seem to care, start looking for someone who will.

 

Originally published at TalkForward

Bryan G. Stephens is an executive on a mission to transform the workplace. He is the founder and CEO of TalkForward, a consulting and training company, utilizing Bryan’s clinical and management expertise to develop managers and teams in a corporate environment. As a licensed therapist with strong understanding of developing human potential, he is dedicated to the development of Human Capital to meet the needs of leaders, managers, and employees in the 21st Century workplace.

Bryan has an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University, Coles School of Business, and both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.


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