Clean, Well-Lighted

One of the great travesties of our great worldwide panic is the loss of third spaces. Or, in the case of us introverts, second spaces.

We as a family are living under constraint. My exit plan involved buying a 15 passenger van and the largest RV trailer I could find, and imposing ourselves upon the kindness of my sister and brother in law, until suitable employment could be found. It’s a big house, and there’s some land attached. But we both have big families. I’d say there are something on the order of 20 people attached to a single piece of real estate. It’s not ideal. We look like a commune.

What I found was that my job search process was constrained as well — by the noise. I found a spare bedroom somewhere (!), but here I am hiding out doing nothing specific, and right outside there are at least THREE family emergencies, and a toddler that cries whenever he’s not held.

So to job apply, or work on cover letters and interview technique, I must away… and there is nowhere to go. Every library is closed. Starbucks is pick up only. I am close to my parents that I haven’t lived near to for over 20 years, but that turns into family conversation, for obvious reasons.

For several weeks, my go to solution has been a nearby Barnes and Noble that has kindly opened up its coffee shop. But then I feel compelled to spurge $5 on a cup of coffee, which is rough when you’re unemployed. Break for lunch? That’ll be another cup of coffee, pal. (Imagined society places strange burdens.)

Today, I found another option: a nearly abandoned mall.

As an introvert and bookworm, I assure you: it’s absolutely charming.

Leadership Philosophy

A lot of job interviews lately have included a question about my approach to leadership, so I thought I would jot down a few thoughts toward an answer.

Leadership really consists in two parts: building the team, and giving the team a focus or mission.

Building the team should be really easy. Most people really want to be a well-respected member of the inner circle. Man is a political animal, as Aristotle said, so people will be trying to clump together naturally. Unfortunately, everyone is different, and they have different ideas, rough edges, and issues, so fitting together has to be dynamically managed. There are a million ways to get at this, each with its own technique, but that would take too long to go over.

Usually a lot of those issues revolve around trust, respect, expectations, and communication, so I try to start with those things first, before branching out.  I did study as a pastor, so I tend to be pretty gentle in my approach at the beginning.  If anything, that’s a weakness of mine: sometimes I’m too slow to rachet down to a more firm, disciplinary approach.  I’m confident I can do 99% of the team building through listening and explaining, if I am given enough time.  But sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to build the team, and you have to use stern words and disciplinary action to get results quickly, which runs the risk of undermining trust and respect if it isn’t done right.

Usually I compensate for my gentle team-building with a high tempo urgency around the mission.  A team without an objective is just a social club and doesn’t belong at the workplace anyway.  Focusing on the mission takes pressure off of the political aspects of the team and gives me time to build trust through communication.  It also allows me to make dynamic changes to the structure of the group by pointing at the metrics I am targeting.  If the change didn’t produce the desired result, it should be obvious why we’re making another change.

In terms of setting the mission, I am a process guy, and I like incremental improvement.  I have seen leadership that just picks an objective, throws all the resources available at it until it goes away, and then picks a new objective. It drives me crazy.  It’s like weeding a garden every two years, or washing dishes only when you run out of spoons.  I want to  take territory and hold it; I hate to give up ground.  So I tend to find the most urgent problem, do what I can to deal with the immediate fallout, and then identify procedural changes we can make to correct that issue permanently.  Then I will move on to the next set of problems, coming back regularly to make sure we haven’t fallen back on previous issues.  This means you may not see a lot of dramatic progress at the beginning.  What you will see is consistent progress so that, usually around 6 months to a year, my team stands out in every category across the board.

The last thing you will see is development of subordinates.  I see a lot of correlation between building a team and raising a family.  As a dad, I’m not just raising some kids to hopefully be successful someday.  I’m training my children how to train their children to raise their children.  In the same way, I expect to see personal development in my team, so that they are giving me advice how to build my team, which shows that they are ready to lead their own teams and develop them too.  Fortunately, developing my subordinates into leaders takes the same techniques as building the team in the first place: listening, communication, imparting a vision, etc.

Not sure about the solution, but the problem is real

“On the other hand, the status quo simply isn’t sustainable…”

Social-Media Oligopolists Are the New Railroad Barons. It’s Time for Washington to Treat Them Accordingly

The problem with social media deleting people for being hateful isn’t about freedom of speech, per se. it’s about whether only governments can violate freedom of speech. I would say that, by violating freedom of speech generally, you set yourself up as a government. The editors at Quillette argue that this demonstrates that they have become a monopoly or a trust.

Ok, sure. But the problem with a monopoly is that it takes on the powers of a government, with out the balance of power that we use to constrain a government. In business, competition fills the limiting principle requirement that balance of power fills in government.

Expowerment

Theodore Giola on the distinction between cancelling somebody on social media, and getting them fired: https://quillette.com/2021/01/10/to-expower-the-people/

It’s a good article, and I was impressed when he said, “I started writing this essay five years ago.” But I was disappointed when’s he failed to make the obvious connection with Chinese communist struggle sessions and the Terror of the French Revolution.

Caught me by surprise

If it isn’t obvious by now, our answer is: you’re asking the wrong question. This should be every pastor’s answer too. Stop asking questions that presuppose an emaciated, unbiblical household, and start asking how to build a healthy, God-glorifying one. What is the use of complaining about the dishes, or demanding that men step up to do their fair share, when the house itself is broken down and crumbling? Stop trying to ameliorate the feminists’ point by making out like it’s not so bad provided the man just does more. Instead, concede that there is a real problem, and recognize that trying to fix it by properly dividing the housework is like trying to keep Titanic afloat by speeding up and correcting course after being slowed down by that iceberg.

But Who Does the Dishes

Thanks, I hate it

Owing to an interchange with somebody on Twitter, I have felt inspired to read Marx’s Capital. I haven’t gotten through the introduction yet, and I’m already horrified.

The version of Capital that I’m reading is the Penguin Classics edition, © 2004, with an introduction by Ernest Mandel, which was apparently written in 1974. Mandel is definitely on the bandwagon, and he keeps going on about the Labor theory of Value, which is both the most insightful thing ever, and also completely misunderstood by anybody who disagrees with it in any way.

Capitalism, or maybe surplus value of labor, exists in a world where the owners of the land on which a factory exists are not the owners of the company that works the factory. Apparently land owners are titled lords who own vast estates and rent that land to the factory owners, rather than selling. Similarly factory owners are singular entities, rather than shareholders. The owners of factories do no work of any kind. The only work that is done is people with actual wrenches, who pull levers on machines.