Enduring Life Lessons From Star Trek

Everything I Needed To Know

 

Just thought I would share philosophies of one of my favourite series as expressed by this poster.  Star Trek has been instrumental in projecting visions of the future especially TOS – The Original Series.  Its enduring legacy and impact on both individuals and the world around us is immeasurable. Below please find my analysis and comments on some of the series core philosophies the value of which, I believe extends well beyond the confines of individual, social, national and international ideas and beliefs.

  1. Seek out new life and new civilizations:  One of my favourite philosophies. One should always be willing to visit and learn from other peoples and cultures. It enables one to gain valuable knowledge and wisdom from others and also allows you to place yourself and your particular way of life into proper perspective.
  2. Non-interference is the Prime Directive: One should be hesitant to rush in and meddle in the affairs of others especially without taking the time to fully comprehend the situation and what repercussions any interference may have.
  3. Keep your phaser set on stun: When coming in contact with the unknown we generally allow our fears to overtake us. This often results in the use of unnecessary and deadly force in order to protect ourselves against a perceive threat. Exercising proper caution should allow us to properly explore the world around us – other relationships, peoples, cultures and nature from a position of health, curiousity and strength rather than fear.
  4. Humans are highly illogical: Self explanatory as human beings don’t always see their lives in proper perspective with respect to the “Big Picture”. We tend to rationalise things according to our own perspectives generally discounting that of others.
  5. There is no such thing as a Vulcan Death grip: Generally we tend to take every unfamiliar, strange and negative thing we hear about and exaggerate its effects or presence blowing it all out of proportion giving it mythical status.
  6. Live long and prosper: Here is another philosophy that is self-explanatory. We should endeavour to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health, wealth and prosperity and promote that within others.  Understanding that this is everyone’s goal should help us to keep everything in proper perspective and not attempt to acquire the aforementioned at the expense of others.
  7. Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting; it is not logical but often true: Our desire for someone or something often exceeds our capacity for satisfaction. It is often the journey to achieving or procuring that brings the most joy, euphoria and satisfaction even if we are unable to recognise or understand it in the moment.
  8. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC): Essentially variety is the driving mechanism behind creation and the perpetuation of life itself. This IDIC applies to the fundamental forces of nature, people, relationships,  societies, governments, philosophies, etc.  Until we truly understand and appreciate the variety and diversity of life and what it means in terms of development and evolution, we will continue to destroy ourselves and along with it any hope for a utopic future.
  9. Tribbles hate Klingons (and Klingons hate Tribbles): Of course this is a metaphor stating that in life there will always be conflict and adversaries. The challenge is to resolve differences in a constructive manner and to grow wiser from the disputes or trials that we face whether they be a) Man against Man, b) Man against Machine, c) Man against Nature; or d) Man against Himself.
  10. Enemies are often invisible, like Klingons they can be cloaked: Often the most dangerous of enemies and challenges we face are those that go unseen right under our own noses.  They can be family, those perceived as friends, our own people, culture, country, or even ourselves. The lesson here is to go through life with eyes and ears open; seek understanding and to expect the unexpected.
  11. Don’t put all your ranking officers in one shuttlecraft: A variation of “don’t place all of your eggs in one basket” meaning of course to always keep options open when possible.
  12. When logic fails, trust a hunch: Sometimes when the concrete things in our lives don’t seem to add up, we have to rely on and trust in our intuition.  This is an aspect bestowed upon Human Beings that we should come to understand, utilise and trust in. It is often our hunches or intuition that gives us the answers that we are searching for in spite of all logical information pointing to the contrary.
  13. Insufficient data does not compute: When seeking understanding, knowledge and wisdom it is necessary to gather as much information as possible. There is no getting around this. We must be thorough and dedicated in our research or investigation of someone or something prior to making life altering decisions. This includes the examination of ourselves,  our internal thoughts and feelings.
  14. If it can’t be fixed, just ask Scotty: Always searching for alternative answers and trying to “re-invent the wheel” so to speak is not necessarily the best option when there are practical methods available for solving problems whether simple or complex. We must employ wisdom in knowing when to use tried and true methods and when it is necessary to explore alternatives.
  15. Even in our own world, we are sometimes aliens: The wisdom expressed here is simply appreciating yourself and others for what they are and not what we would expect or like them to be. We are all different and some more than others. We shouldn’t always have to (or want to) sacrifice our uniqueness in order to fit in. It is our uniqueness that makes us special!
  16. When going out into the Universe, remember – Boldly go where no man (no one) has gone before: We should never fear exploring the unknown in nature, each other or ourselves. As long as we are “grounded” within ourselves and who we are, exploring the unknown will greatly enhance our knowledge and appreciation for that which is vastly different from ourselves.

I really love Star Trek particularly the original series. It has had a unique influence on my life growing up as a child especially with respect to my view of myself and the world around me.  Gene Roddenberry was definitely someone ahead of his time. Outside of our offspring, rarely do we create something that impacts life in such a profound way.

I sincerely hope that the aforementioned philosophies will be of some benefit to all who read it and assist you in making our world (and beyond) better for us and future generations.

Star-Trek-logo1

Adiuva me verterem figuram mundi  Thoth II

Advertisements

Just A Thought

Search III

Before exhausting your life searching for that special someone to love, take the time to find yourself first

There is no one more special than that to love!

 

 

Wisdom I

 

Adiuva me verterem figuram mundi  Thoth II

Life and the Business of High Performance Cultures

There are no shortage of theories and examples of what High Performing Cultures are or strategies in how to achieve them.  My take on it doesn’t simply focus on the business aspect of this.  I believe that the strategies involved can also be applicable to daily life as well.  The foundations of any high performance culture be it business, government or social institutions are People, Communication and Trust.

In terms of organisations, good strong dedicated managers that possess intelligence, compassion, knowledge of their respective craft, understanding and wisdom that is used in support of the organisational goals is the essential starting point for a high performance culture.  Of all the aforementioned qualities, wisdom is the most coveted. It provides the manager with insight into the organisation in which they serve; those that comprise it as well as an honest and deep understanding of him or herself within the confines of the institution.  The Greek maxim “know thyself” should be the mantra of all managers within an organisation. For without this personal understanding – this grounding force, the manager loses his or her way and subsequently the organisations’ along with it.

I have been a part of some very good organisations as well as some very bad ones.  A key element in the successful ones have been the awareness by managers of their own strengths and needs or opportunities.  A manager’s altruistic ability to clearly understand their role in furthering the organisation’s goals are, in my opinion, an important aspect in driving its culture and subsequently its success. Nothing is more detrimental to a high performing culture of any kind than selfish leadership that is consumed with self-promotion and personal gain.  Managers of wisdom and integrity foster strong and trusting environments by setting clear expectations and by encouraging the professional (and personal) development and maturation of those serving within.

If the managers are the foundation for any great organisation, communication is surely its framework.  Communication has always been lauded in every organisation that I have been a part of however, “honest”, “respectful” and “open” communication has not always been so readily accepted. What was coached in theory and expected was not exactly what occurred in the real world.  Trust me when I say that the hypocrisy was not lost on each and every member within the organisation.  The reality that I understood was that communication was important as long as it was comprised of what one wanted to hear. In other words, you may communicate anything you like as long as it was not detrimental to the person you are communicating with or their career.

In order for any organisation or system to flourish there must be candid dialogue about the genuine issues and concerns whether they are professional or personal.  This dialogue should be devoid of judgement, fear and ones personal ego.  This communication should be conducted in good faith by all parties and with the appropriate levels of confidentiality  adhered to.  Only in this way can root causes be identified, explored and addressed in good faith. The act of good-faith communication then becomes the perfect segue into the final characteristic or cornerstone of high performing cultures – Trust.

Now if good people or managers are the foundations and communication the framework, then trust is without question what binds them both together cohesively. It serves as the nuts, bolts or rivets in the construction of a high performing culture so to speak.  Trust is such a key element that without it you may not be able to establish the foundations of anything whether we are referencing a business, personal relationship, community,  etc.  It must be an integral part when hiring a manager or for that matter, when considering a potential mate or an elected official to vote for. It must be omnipresent when communicating at all levels of an organisation or within any relationship.  Trust in ones own ability and judgement to successfully execute plans within the confines of his or her own sphere of influence is absolutely essential.

If we are to grow and move forward; increase productivity and profitability; cultivate all natural resources conscientiously and responsibly in the pursuit of high performance cultures; then it is absolutely imperative that we focus on the critical foundations of people, communication and trust.   These focal points are for business, as it is for any relationship, essential to success and prosperity and worthy of the highest investment.

 

Wisdom I

How Do You Face Life’s Challenges?

Here is a story conveyed to me some time ago. I have been reflecting on it a great deal recently and I sincerely hope that it will be of benefit to you as difficulties arise in your life.

Challenges IIIOn a migratory journey down south, a bird decided to leave his flock believing that he could reach their intended destination quicker. While in flight through a cold winter spell his wings became stiff and started to ice over.  He noticed a peaceful patch of land near a farmhouse and decided to land to de-ice his wings.  Shortly after landing in the field, a very large and somewhat unimpressive cow wandered over.  She asked the bird what was he doing to which he sarcastically replied, “I am trying to thaw my feathers so that I can continue on my journey south. Why else would I be here in winter?”  He went on to convey to the curious cow that he should have never left his flock because he has done nothing but waste time especially speaking with her.  The cow, with very little expression, told him that she understood not bothered at all by his sarcasm. She then turned around and proceeded to drop a large amount of “dung” on top of him then walked away very casually.  The bird was both shocked and angry.  The odorous, hot manure dumped Challenge IVon him was an awful thing to do he lamented.  What a worthless, miserable old cow to do such a thing. The emotion consumed him as he now had to clean the smelly dung from his wings.

Shortly there after, a cat wandered over to him. He stated to the bird that he had observed everything that had transpired.  He also stated that it was an incredibly mean-spirited thing for the cow to do. The bird agreed and expressed how much difficult the cow had made life for him.  The cat then offered his assistance in cleaning the dung off of him. He stated that he could lick that off of him in no time at all and he would be free to be on his way.  The bird accepted the cat’s assistance with very little thought at all. He felt that he had wasted enough time in that field and could not stop thinking about the choice he had made with respect to leaving the flock.  The cat promptly kept to his word and cleaned every bit of the manure from Challenges Ihis wings. The bird was elated, and could not thank him enough.  He then prepared to take flight again to get back on his journey. It was in that moment the cat displayed all of his teeth dripping with saliva. He grabbed hold of the bird and swallowed him whole.

You may have heard of this fable before or some variation there of.   I am sure that the meaning of it is quite clear to you.

  1. Everyone who dumps on you is not necessarily your enemy or are hurting you
  2. Everyone who helps you is not necessarily your friend

For me, it was quite profound as it helped me to see life in a different light.  The problems that I had in my life were not necessarily a bad thing. Like the ice on the bird’s wings they provided the means for me to learn from and grow wiser.  Also everyone who has made my life difficult or I believed made my life difficult, whether intentionally or not, had actually provided me with an opportunity to learn, grow stronger and mature.  Much like the bird, we don’t recognise the benefits of something done to us (or for us) because of the stench or pain associated with it.  Conversely, everyone (or everything) that seemed great and beautiful that wanted to make my life easier wasn’t necessarily helping me. “All that glitters is not gold” as they say.  Wisdom and knowledge are derived from our struggles and our ability to accept “what is” and move on from it.  Looking back and regretting the choices we have made can be an exercise in futility and a waste of much needed energy.

We may lose faith, stumble and fall from the overwhelming weight of our situations at times but we must continue on. Success and happy endings are never guaranteed but the journey itself is what’s important and how we conduct ourselves along the way.  As for the problems we face?  There will always be problems but in difficult times I try to reflect on the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – “There is nothing neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so”.   How you view an event is what determines the reality of it to you. I realise that these are merely words and can seem useless to someone who is “walking through fire” so to speak. But in them one may find hope and faith.  For without either of these we truly are doomed and we condemn the world around us as well.

I wish everyone good health, strength to overcome difficult challenges and the wisdom to grow and learn from them.

Same Old Song Different Musician

Election 2016 III

In the United States we are gearing up for another election.  Once again it is time for the two-party system to place their candidates on show to fight it out amongst one another before engaging in a competition for what they perceive as the ultimate prize – the presidency of the United States.  Don’t be concerned if you’re not familiar with the process or various candidates on display because no matter who or which party wins, you can expect the same old song to be played by a different musician or should that be the same old show by a different magician.

Election 2016 IVWe begin the election process with a certain optimism and enthusiasm believing in someone who will do things differently or bring about social cohesion and an integrity to their office and the country only to find ourselves disappointed again and again.  And if by some miracle there was such an individual of conscience, courage, conviction and integrity to bring back a sense of justice and cohesion to the nation as president or other elected official, you can believe that they wouldn’t last long in that job. You can’t understand why there is so much pessimism on my part?  Well, with history as a teacher; the lack of engagement by individuals in the country; prevalent corruption at nearly every level of government; and the ever strengthening evolution of special interest groups and institutions, believe me that it’s not that difficult to understand.

Election 2016 VIIIt has been some time since the citizens of the United States have been made to feel that they truly matter or have felt collectively and socially engaged about what is taking place both at home and abroad.  Please understand that this is not another rant about the government or politicians because it isn’t. We as citizens must assume our fair share of responsibility with regard to what has been taking place over the past several decades.  We buy into the “dog and pony show” hook line and sinker instead of educating ourselves on the significant issues that affects us and what’s in our best interests not just as individuals but as a society or nation.  That in-turn allows the best entertainer to come along and promise much but deliver very little where it really matters which in-turn results in disappointment, apathy, flawed officials, government and policies that seem to be self serving or highly ineffectual.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the political spectrum, allowing yourself to be dazzled by empty or superficial promises and sweet words to your ears will always result in disappointment or worse!  Why does this perpetual and destructive cycle continue?  I believe that we allow our emotions to be tapped at the expense of our logical reasoning capabilities.  So the important factor then becomes whether or not the candidate embodies certain identifiable characteristics that we can relate to (race, gender, religion, etc.) or how our buttons are pushed on certain hot topic issues such as immigration, abortion, gun control, and so on.  Regardless of which party you identify with, you just need to hear those right words spoken with just the right tone at the right time to be sold. And the politicians, sensing the blood in the water like a great white shark, will take full advantage.

The election process is one that hinges on individual self-absorption instead of one contingent on what is best for the nation collectively whether that benefits  our personal desires and circumstances or not.  When was the last time you observed an elected official acting contrary to his/her own personal interests or that of their constituents to do what is right and just for all concerned?  I believe you would have a difficult time answering that one because typically we act in a way that will consistently benefit our own ideal interests.  This is true no matter what the issue is, who you are or what country you live in. So then how can we not expect to experience the same old disappoint as well as the same old conflicts over and over again? I believe we can accomplish this by setting aside our selfish desires and taking a more altruistic stance.

Election 2016 VIIICurrently in the US one of the hot button issues is gun control. After several mass shootings the interest is in controlling the ease in which one can purchase a weapon. At least that is the stance taken on the liberal left while the conservative right resists further controls perhaps spurred on by the National Riffle Association (NRA).  Instead of taking an objective look at the incidents, the knee jerk reaction is to enact legislation that will quickly satisfy emotional needs for a solution and perhaps gain some political capital as well in the process.  Very few that I have observed, in my opinion, have cared about investigating the actual root cause – “why are there so many emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals in this country?”  For those that are saddled with deep emotional and mental issues and want to kill a large number of people, I believe that they will find a way regardless of whether or not they can obtain a legal fire arm. To be fair guns are a significantly easy way to carry out mass destruction. Enacting legislation to make it more difficult to obtain them may reduce the violence that has occurred but where Election 2016 IXthere is a will there is a way regardless of whether you have legal access to a gun or not.  I am of the opinion that our current society is producing these types of individuals be it due to the environment, social/government actions (or inaction) or some other factors. I am not advocating for one side or the other in this debate but merely pointing out that we tend to take the emotionally easy way out in finding a solution instead of diligently searching for a root cause. This in turn results in a superficial quick-fix to satisfy the masses and which then perpetuates the same old reactions to the problems that we face.

Election 2016 XAnother challenging issue is of course illegal immigration. No matter where you stand on this issue you can bet that there is a politician or official waiting to pounce to garner attention and votes by suggesting a course of action that will satisfy their core-base of supporters or to acquire new followers even it is the wrong action to take.  Obviously this is a very complex and emotional issue but again the knee-jerk reaction is to do what will serve selfish personal interests instead of what will be legally and morally in the best interests of the nation as a whole balancing that with the individual needs of those affected.  There are other issues that ignite very emotional responses such as funding Planned Parenthood Clinics; abuse of power by local and government agencies; same-sex marriage; personal civil liberties; mounting personal debt and the shrinking middle class not to mention the international issues concerning ISIS, Syria, Iran, Russia, ad nauseam. Once again you can rely on the fact that the course of action taken (or inaction) will be based on what’s in the best political/personal interests of those making the decisions spurred on by the desires or wishes of their constituency rather than what is the right and just course of action to take with the best interests of “all” in mind.

Now the intention of this post is not to take sides on an issue one way or another but to point out that the apathy, corruption, and unethical practices will continue in government and our society as a whole because we allow it to.  We either influence  OUR representatives, political party, candidates etc. by our emotional reactions, attachments and relationships into initiating some ill-action or allow the aforementioned to do that which will be personally and politically beneficial for them by our lack of attention or engagement.  Indeed we either want personal satisfaction regardless of best interests or we simply don’t care because it has no bearing on our personal lives.

As alluded to in past posts, what is needed is thoughtful, unbiased engagement on our part.  We have to want and desire that which will benefit us all and not what will personally satisfy our own needs and interests.  Sometimes our interests and needs will not conflict with what we desire or with what must be done. When there is a conflict, we have to implore wisdom and realise that selfishness and a lack of understanding on our part will continue to result in a degradation of our society and our lives to a point of no return. That is if we haven’t gotten to that point already. Effective change begins with each one of us reflecting honestly upon ourselves.  We need to place our desires and expectations in proper perspective and ensure that they are just and compatible with the needs of the society in which we live.  We then need to charge those elective officials with carrying out that which is in the best interests of the nation as a whole and vigilantly hold them accountable. Only then can we expect a new type of politician to emerge. One that is actually focused on the significant issues at hand without prejudice and that knows he/she is serving a wise and informed constituency that respects honesty, integrity and expects results from their civil servants and not the same old song.

Duality Of Life Not Realised

Duality II

I dream dreams and numerous possibilities emerge of realities yet to manifest

I awake to a world of concrete shape and form rooted in pain, fear and despair

I think thoughts of alternative probabilities which have not materialised

and I ask myself……”Why?”

 

Wisdom I

How Many Languages Do You Speak?

languages IIHow many languages do you speak? A lot more than you realise I am willing to wager. Language, according to one  definition is a method of communication between individuals, groups and societies which can be verbal, nonverbal or written. It can consist of structured words and sentences, expressions, sounds, numbers or even pictographs to name but a few. Whatever the form language takes, to be effective it must be understood mutually by both sender and receiver.  Therein lies the problem that most of us experience when trying to relate our thoughts, ideas and feelings to one another.

Language has evolved much over the span of human existence from the cave paintings and drawings of early man to the cuneiform characters of Mesopotamia and Persia; from the ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs to the evolution of Greek and Roman forms of communication and on to our modern languages in all of its many forms and dialects.  Lets not fail to mention the evolution of computer language. Yes that’s right, even machines have their own way of communicating with each other as well as with us.

Most of us are fortunate if we can effectively use our native tongue correctly to properly communicate with one another in our own society wherever that may be. To understand and speak a second language places you in a unique category among the worlds population. Beyond that, well you are in an upper echelon of communicating with others and probably just showing off.  But I would like to submit to you more food for thought.  For those of us that are in the one language category take heart. I am going to propose to you that your language skills are increased seven fold without you realising it and they are constantly evolving. You may thank me later if you wish.

Beyond the traditional languages out there such as English, French, German, Spanish etc. are the non-traditional ones that we usually don’t consider. They are based in factors such as our gender, race, religion, age and environment to name but a few. That’s right, each one of the aforementioned serves as a specific language that we all uniquely speak and everyone of those factors combine with others forming the basis of our communication ability. So for instance, a 19 year old, Hispanic, Catholic male from the Southern California region of the United States will speak a different language and have different frames of references than a 40 year old Caucasian Protestant female from New York even though both may understand and speak the English language perfectly.  The same is applicable to any group or subgroup from any country or society.  If you factor in other peculiar aspects such as our political affiliations, educational background, personal experiences, whether you are liberal or conservative and so on an so forth, you can clearly appreciate the unique language that every human being speaks.  Conversely, all of those unique factors contributing to our language skills are also what makes our ability to communicate effectively with one another that much more difficult regardless of what formal language or languages we speak.

language - Babel IRecall the Christian biblical story of Babel and the confusion experienced when all of the workers began speaking different languages foiling their attempt to erect a tower to heaven? Well think of how that confusion is magnified exponentially based on the specific characteristics mentioned earlier.  Yes we speak many languages but, in my opinion, find it difficult to comprehend or appreciate the unique language of others when attempting to communicate our thoughts and ideas. So the next time you engage someone in a conversation appreciate the fact that both of you are multilingual with very different perspectives and endeavour to understand and respect each others distinctive point of view.

The Price of Conflict

worldinconflict II Upon listening to news reports of the various conflicts that are ongoing around the world such as in the Ukraine, Syria, ISIS in Iraq and others, I came to the conclusion that no matter how hideous, unjust or irrational as these wars and others may seem they are serving a means by which others can profit monetarily.  I know that the aforementioned statement may horrify some but please bear with me for a moment.  This is not some chastising lecture on war profiteering but on profiteering in general regardless of the conflict.

Consider this, you can’t sell guns, tanks or any other weapons of destruction to those who have perpetual peace with one another  just as you can’t sell your services as a lawyer in civil litigation cases to those who are willing to resolve their issues peacefully and amicably.  The simple truth is, conflict sells.  Regardless of whether you are referring to global, national and local conflicts or civil disputes involving businesses, groups or individuals. The entertainment industry is another fine example of exploiting conflict for profit. Just think about the television programmes you watch especially those reality shows.  Would they really peak your interest if there weren’t some disagreement to be resolved or even two or more individuals involved in a heated verbal or physical altercation? It is not my intention to insult your television habits so forgive me if I have.  I only want to  give you some food for thought.

Reflect also on the billions amount in arms sales made across the world.  Threats and potential threats whether real or imagined fuel billions if not more in arms sales for various businesses and governments alone. I am also sure that we would be just as astonished with regard to the total cost that goes into resolving civil conflicts that is if solicitors weren’t so secretive about the amount of billable charges that are made to clients owing their secrecy to attorney client privilege.  I am quite sure that everyone gets there piece of the conflict pie to include courts/clerks etc.

In my opinion there will always be conflict because of the simple fact that there is money to be made in it and because we as individuals, allow ourselves to be manipulated into fueling the very conflict that ravage our societies and our lives which in-turn places the burden of cost directly on us to resolve them. In other words we initiate or fuel the conflict and become victimize by it directly or indirectly and then pay the cost of resolving them thereby allowing others to profit. Utilising a regional conflict or war as one example:

  • conflict erupts within a region or across several countries due to some dispute
  • as the conflict rages, damage is done both in terms of lives lost and infrastructures destroyed
  • weapons are purchased and sent to the region for the combatants to wage or escalate their war
  • When the conflict is finally resolved, (if it is resolved) money must be borrowed in order to rebuild what was lost

This may be an over-simplification of conflict profiteering but it is worth your consideration.

Now there are no ready-made solutions as every conflict has its own unique origin but I believe that, like with so many other things, it is within our control to limit the escalation of conflicts on all levels both individually and collectively. As I have mentioned in past posts, it will require us to look within ourselves and take control over our emotions and our actions.  We must stop feeding oxygen to the fires of conflict in all of its various forms and endeavour to circulate the winds of peace. Only then can we stop the endless cycle of violence and bankrupt the mechanisms of our own destruction.