31.1.07

A Growing Dilemma

Thirty-Million marriageable men. No women. Growing freedoms and disposable income, scattered across the world’s largest nation. Is this the trailer for the summer’s first blockbuster hit movie or the stage for international conflict by 2020?

In a less-than-surprising clip, CNN reported today on the growing gender imbalance taking place in China. According to the report, the Chinese government predicts that by 2020 there will be “30 million more men than women.” For comparison, the US anticipates that just over 69% of our population will be of marriageable age (ages 20-60) by 2020. Thirty-million marriageable-but-unmarried Chinese men would be equivolent to 14.5% of our adult population under 60.

This growing, gender disparity in China—referred to as “an unintended consequence of the one-child policy”—looms darkly on the near-future horizon (less than 13 years). Laying aside common, table manners, let’s ask what we might expect in such an environment. If you believe in God, then you believe God intended man and woman to marry, have sex, conceive, and fill up the earth. If you don’t believe in God, then you believe that sex, like other animal desires, is the “unintended consequence” of an unintelligent natural selection. In either case, men have a powerful drive. Deprived of the ability to engage in sexual activity within normal human institutions—i.e. marriage—desire often breeds compulsion and “social instability.”

Translation: rape, kidnapping, and the buying and selling of human beings for sex. If recent event has proven one thing, it is that—far from attaining an enlightened state of a peace-pursuing race—human beings are inherently broken. Humans will and do kidnap children, rape women (and men), kill, abuse, neglect, and abandon each other. When these offenses occur, we step back with hand to mouth and utter the predictable question, “How could this happen? Why did s/he do it?” The better (and rarely asked) question is, “Under what conditions does a fellow human being resort so such behavior?” The answer to this question involves self-reflection and, likely, the undesired interaction with one’s own needy state.

If cases—like that of Michael Devlin—are not so much freak accidents as they are the expression of a deep seeded brokenness within the human race (myself included), what extrapolations might we expect from 300 marriage-age/sex-deprived men? Invasion of countries with more women: war. Subjugation of other nations for their natural human (flesh) resources: pillage. Forced sex of subjugated women and often children: rape. In this 21st century, I confess that sounds more like a Medieval movie than a future possibility.

This future is likely but not inevitable. What the US does today matters. So, what if a nation—that has too long embraced the violent disposal of her unwanted people—birthed, nurtured, reared, yes even wanted her most vulnerable members; ceased the practices of abortion? What if in the next 13 years, all of the unborn children to be aborted were born (some 51% of them women)? What would it look like for such a nation to extend an outstretched arm to an enemy-at-arms and invite them into relationship: granting single-Chinese men two-year work visas, with the hopes that they might find in that timeframe a woman to love, to woo, to marry, and with whom to have mutually-willing sex? What if these men and their willing wives went back to China and raised a family of any gender and any size, breaking the destructive patterns of sex-selection and infanticide?

I’ll tell you what it would look like: War, rape, pillage and the sex-trade industry would be largely unbeneficial avenues for single men (Chinese or otherwise). The US would become one of the strongest influencers, from within the borders of the world’s largest nation. The result of an influx of forward-thinking, democratic women into a Communists society could put an end to the unfair treatment of other women and children, and bring freedoms untold to a country that has only known governmental subjugation. In due time, second- and third-generation Chinese-Americans in China would radically change the political, economic, and social atmospheres in this Red State.

I am sure that as soon as I write this, someone will start yelling, “He wants to sell American women to China, and use them to prevent war.” Far from it: I don’t expect the use or sale of anyone to effect global change in the human network. Nor would I expect there to be any forced aspect to such a tradeoff. The US would gain economically by employing some of the hardest working, most ambitious men in the world. US women in their own quest for identity may actually find greater attraction of such committed individual—and in a nation like China that prevents large families, women opposed to the idea of being “stay at home” would receive a welcome embrace. Besides, history demonstrates—from the tribes of Africa to the hills of Tennessee, and from the birth of the Nation-State to the end of Colonialism—that when your son marries your enemy’s daughter, this makes your grandchildren and his one in the same.

Here’s what we do know: There has never been a nation in history looking to address the gender imbalance that China—and perhaps India, in the not-too-distant future—now faces. Nations with an imbalance of resource, natural or human, will not self-rectify through internal restructuring alone. At some point, imaginary political borders just aren’t strong enough to resist the building pressure of a vacuum. There really are only two options ahead: War or Peace. In the (slightly altered) words of Winston Churchill, having established that, “Now we’re just dickering about the price.”

26.1.07

Intuits Respond to "Coaching the Alpha Male

Two paragraphs into the HBR article “Coaching the Alpha Male” and I knew: That is not me! Don’t get me wrong: I’m motivated, creative, insightful, and can multi-task with great productivity. There’s only one “problem:” I’m an Intuitive Feeler (an Intuit). With a label like that, Alpha Males immediately start wondering how to avoid me completely. After all, Feelers can’t be good for results, right?

But that’s not how Intuits work. Intuits don’t often lead large companies or corporations but that’s because we don’t want to. The very idea is a bore. We don’t wake up dreaming of the next ladder to climb, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t also on a journey of achievement. Intuits are like a 4D perspective in a 3D business world.

As the article points out, Alpha Males are rapid processors, “unemotional and analytical in their cognitive styles” and “they rely on exhaustive data to reach business conclusions.” Data collected, processed, charted, graphed, critiqued, analyzed, synthesized, organized, and addressed: That’s so 3D.

Contrary to popular presumption, the Intuitive Feeler isn’t anti- any of these things. (For the record, “Feeler” doesn’t mean prone to uncommon fits of giggles or tears.) In fact, Intuits depend upon thorough information for an accurate assessment of any situation. But Intuits are aware as well of 4D-aspects of data and information—call them the assumptions, blind-spots, or “environmental conditions” under which data was collected, analyzed, or presented. Sometimes Intuits function like a smoke-detector: We can identify smoke, but not (immediately) the source. Sometimes Intuits function like quality-control: We can tell when something is not up to par, but not (immediately) what is missing. Still other times, Intuits function like a metal-detector: We beep in the proximity of metal, but may not know (immediately) whether it is gold. When given a voice—and usually a little time—Intuits can offer insight that either prevents significant negative consequences, or more positively and powerfully advance institutional mission.

Even better, Intuits are often content to be in secondary roles: We don’t want that position. Let the Alpha type have it. In environments where job-security can be constantly challenged by the up-and-coming, Intuits are the Alpha Male’s greatest resource. Intuits want to support, but we need the cognitive space and interpersonal freedom to formulate ideas in ways that are very non-Alpha.

Who wouldn’t want such a person on their team? Oddly enough, many Alpha Males do not. For all that Intuits have going for them, they aren’t prone to rapid processing, usually lack confidence in their ideas, and are not generally authoritative—and therefore can seem (or be in actuality) insecure.

What’s more, we don’t understand Alphaspeak. Intuits are illustrative in their verbal acuity—that is, we like to use analogies. Give us a chart and a little time, and we’ll have you a narrative tale that captures every positive and negative element of the data, identifies oversights, weaknesses, or missed potential. On the other hand, give us a chart, shut us down, and dismiss us, and we’ll have you a resignation letter in less than a year.

There are opportunities within corporations today that could, I believe, double net income through revenue increases, expenditure decreases, and previously-unexplored markets, all contained in the unspoken mental conceptions of non-Alpha Intuits, male and female. This is what I would have added as the final point under “What to Expect from Coaching.” What Alpha Male wouldn’t be motivated by a statistic of such proportions?

I know much of what makes the Intuit tick sounds philosophical and abstract, un-chartable. It is, but that doesn’t make it illogical or irrelevant. Rather, the creative, non-linear, verbal and narrative approach to analysis is exactly what makes the Intuit a 4D player in a 3D world.

PS. So, when will do we get an article on that?

25.1.07

East

The path grows long behind.
The pace picks up. Shadows of younger years
fall upon the grassy places to the left
and to the right.
But I go straight on.

Above, and westward,
the golden light of the afternoon sun
breaks in with melancholy
and with the strain of some ancient tune gently
plucked from the strings of a violin.

Here, a creek bed gives up
the sounds of crystal
in the onward movement of water and stone.
I espy beneath its surface
the images of days now gone,
of recollections rolling onward, ever onward,
as the years tumble in and out of view.

What peace lies beneath the overhanging trees
of memory sweet, beside the stream of recollection?
What gentle rest is found at the place where water,
grass, sun, and memory all unite?

Delighted solace is found therein,
but in the end
I go on.

The sun travels onward, westward
while the creek runs onward, southward.
The wind stirs trees onward, northward.
But I go east.
East, across the distant lands of days unseen,
of years unlived.
East, across the far off hills
and vales of intersecting hopes and dreams,
where the constant melancholic strain of some ancient tune,
gently plucked from the strings of a violin,
sing of home.

20.1.07

Of Prayer and Poetry

Impossible it seems, it may yet be:
certainly, I am a tree—
a tree among a world of trees
on lands that live between the seas,
and each a little place to fill,
a forest, dale, or on a hill.
Some are given to live by streets
or mark the place where one road meets
another.

               Other trees live just to shade
a playground, park bench, or a glade;
still others gather into crowds
and live in forests ‘neath the clouds,
to make adventure of out places
otherwise just empty spaces.

I’ve never known a tree reproved—
though many trees have been removed—
for growing up where its seed fell;
nor ever known a man to tell
a tree, “You should be so much more—
not taking space outside my door—
another greater space to fill:
some princely park, some noble hill,
a royal road, a kingly gate.
You, poor old tree, could be great.”

Every tree grows where it was sown,
content to call a little space its own,
nor pass furtive hours with worry
that they fill a place of hurry
(some urban spot) than quiet woods
or near a stream where limbs, like hoods,
hang tenderly.
                         So why do I
worry so much, and ever try
to fill some greater space than this,
supposing it will bring me bliss,
compare myself to other men
and wish myself like them, when
in their own space they are consumed
by that glory which they assume
others have reached, but not themselves.

Determinedly, my conscience delves
to the deep place where root meets soil
and am content—in human toil—
to fill the spot allotted me:
not extend my span but tend to space,
nurture and feed with tender grace
that in the end men would remark
(not great words) how, like faithful bark
upon a tree well grown, I grew.
How in my shade the birds oft flew
and found solace from cold or heat;
how comfort found those at my feet,
whether to sit and rest or stand
to think alone, or in a band,
how dreamers climbed from trunk to top
searching the horizon and stop
only when tender limbs could bear
their weight no more.
                                        How great a care
was shown those with any need
generously; and without greed
given forth like heavenward prayers
whate’er I could to meet their cares:
to keep one warm—my limbs for fire;
for the poet—to inspire;
to shade the aged—every leaf
spread out to offer some relief.

That every child who feigns to play
may oft be known and heard to say:
“Ring, O ring, around the rosy.
Pocket full of colored posy.
Ashes to dust and dust ashes:
day is o’er when daylight passes.”
For others still, I’ll be a base
for them to run when in a race
or stand like Father’s Apple Tree
above the sound, “You can’t catch me.”

When life is spent, and branches die,
whenever my limbs and trunk lie
rotting, then let me fill a space
within a simple fireplace.
And on the wood that marks my grave,
let them carve, “Here lies one who gave
his everything for God and King,
taking what he’ven will let him bring:
people loved and friendships made;
sweet memories, and prayers once prayed,
and fading lines of poetry
once written, but now long forgot. “

And near the place where I will lay
let them plant a tree that day
to mark the space of life gone by
until, someday, it too will die.

For strange though it seems, yet certainly:
I am a tree.