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“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” – Albert Einstein

I love this quote because for a long, long time (half of my life to be more specific – and I’m not, uh, very young),  I fit the “incapable of forming such opinions” part. However, for reasons that I don’t understand but am grateful for, I’ve done a total 180 degree turnaround. By design, I consciously choose to form and express opinions which differ from the prejudices of my social environment, both the local social environment and, more ominously, the global social environment. What I’ve yet to learn, and I may never learn it because I’m not intelligent(?) enough to suppress emotion over Spock-like logic, is the “equanimity” part (equanimity = evenness of temper even under stress). What keeps me going is this juicy gem from the father of psychology:

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. – William James

Getting back to Mr. Einstein’s quote, it’s essence really comes alive in CCH organizations. It’s especially true between levels of membership in a caste-based hierarchy. Because of “the way things are“, an unwritten rule exists that is followed unconsciously by (almost) all. That rule is: “it’s a blasphemous act of disloyalty for those in the lower echelons of the corposphere to question any actions, decisions, and/or strategies effected by those in the upper echelons“. The rule implies that judgment is a one way street, with the judgers on top and the judgees on the bottom. The penalty of violation, of course, is excommunication or expulsion from the org so that the internal environment can snap back to the mind-numbing status quo. It doesn’t matter if the rule violator(s) contribute more to the well being of the whole org than they consume from it. It only matters if the infallible dudes in charge have their feelings hurt. But then, business isn’t personal, right?

Just because things are the way they are doesn’t mean they have to be that way.

So, how about U? Are U capable of expressing, with or without equanimity, opinions that differ from your social environment? If not, why not? If U do, how do U feel when U take the plunge? Uncomfortable, insecure, isolated? Come on, gimme some feedback here.

  1. fishead
    February 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    interesting challenge.

    On the one hand, if you blindly follow the edicts from above and the corp survives, then at least you are not the cause of the downfall. AND if the corp fails, then again, the decision-makers killed it, not you. BUT if you disagree strongly enough with the commandments handed down, most likely you will be expelled from the body (It is the will of Landrue).

    The funny thing is though, the guy at the bottom of your pyramid doesn’t just evaporate–if he disagrees strongly enough and believes there is a better way, then he moves out and builds his own pyramid. History is full of guys like that.

  2. February 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm


    I love when you visit here and contribute your insights. Thanx for listening.

    Whos’ Landrue? I “binged” it and nothing of substance came up.

  3. fishead
    February 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

    sorry–I spelled it wrong. not a Star Trek fan?


    “…when [the upper echelon] reserves creativity to itself, the Body is destroyed.”

    Spock was always too smart.

    • February 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

      After reading the Landru story from your link and seeing his human pic, I do remember that Star Trek episode. A classic on par with the borg.

  4. Ray
    February 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    This is like a Dilbert cartoon. Nobody wants to confronted with their short comings, even in in an environment that should welcome it. I deal in mainly software, when we are doing an early review it is a rare individual that doesn’t fight back if a problem is found. This should be scenario that people should welcome errors or possible bugs being found but I have had people get so upset that we found an error they stormed out of the review.

    Way back in my career I worked on one project where I had to develop what seemed like a legal case against implementing what was a clearly buggy software release. I made no friends. The release was fixed but at a cost of being late (management didn’t like that) and calling out a bug (developers were mad) in front of many people.

    I am guilty of not being the best person when people find errors in my code. I think its just being a normal human.

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