Tao of the Zentropist

February 26, 2009

Zentropism’s Applications for Homeland Security

I was recently asked by a colleague and friend that has been following my writings to devote a posting to the topic of Homeland Security, and the applications of the Zentropist approach towards law enforcement, counter-terrorism and private sector security consulting operations. This is actually a subject close to the heart, in part due to both past and current personal and professional associations that I keep, my undergraduate studies (my 2-part graduate level thesis was sadly somewhat prescient regarding today’s global political environment, developed during the autumn of 1991 and spring of 1992 with a focus on domestic counter-terrorism for Part I and counter-insurgency operations for Part II), as well as a close family member that works as a special agent for a federal agency that shall go nameless for now.

Needless to say, I firmly believe that the Seven Primary Attributes that are fundamental to the Tao of the Zentropist have direct bearing on the ability of a civilian (including sworn law enforcement personnel, who in my opinion should NOT be separated out from this grouping) or military operative/agent/officer to improve the skills necessary to effectively predict, identify, and disrupt potential terror operations.  If one thing is abundantly clear, the shocking (at least in the eyes of most Americans) events of September 11, 2001 were caused by not only a colossal failure of intelligence-gathering and information sharing among a myriad of often competing and dangerously bureaucratic civilian and military governmental agencies, but also by an inexcusable failure of imagination. Quite simply, folks that should have known better simply could not fathom the unconventional means that could be employed to sow terror and strike at the “soft underbelly” of a target, namely the United States, which in the case of the fundamental and malignant interpretations of Islam existing in certain Sunni and Shi’ite traditions, is the very manifestation of corruption and decadence.

One of the most important constructs of the Zentropist approach to life, whether as a tool used in the pursuit of one’s occupation or as a guide to self-improvement and mastery, is an appreciation for unconventional thought and the necessity of not becoming beholden to rigid interpretations of data, as well as a marked aversion to bureaucratic “group-think” and “passing the buck,” which sadly, seem to be the hallmarks of far too many institutions. Those who work in the security consulting / “personal protection” field understand that the moment one has to draw a weapon to protect a client (arguably one of the last lines of defense), there has already been a certain amount of  “failure” in the system; because if proper planning, including threat assessment and analysis and the resultant preventative measures, was performed prior to the assailant(s) breaching the “inner ring” of the protection circle, then the best efforts to circumvent the undesired action were obviously flawed.

As those who follow such things now know, the 9-11 hijackers could have been disrupted at several junctures in their ramp-up to operational status had the right people been able to put the pieces together. Occam’s Razor, which states that, “All other things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one,” is a very useful axiom to keep in mind. It is absolutely mind-boggling, for example, that a flight school would not find it odd that students were interested in learning how to take off and fly commercial aircraft, but had little interest in landing. I’ve been around aviation long enough to hear pilots (at least those that intend to live to fly another day) remark that, “Take-off is optional but landing is mandatory.”

As much as I personally find the expression, “thinking outside of the box” to be repeated ad nauseam by those that don’t grasp its implications so as to begin to lose any meaning, it is important to acknowledge that we must never let our preconceived notions, cultural biases or ignorance and underestimation of the commitments of others deter us from seeing through their eyes so we might better understand likely behavioral patterns. We must never become so blind to the fact that when our antenna is clearly telling us that the other party is doing “X,” we fail to address this threat because in our worldview, “X” is unfathomable and therefore, we falsely conclude that the other party is surely doing “Y.”

While Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character (to our great loss, in my opinion), his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a keen observer that made Holmes’ deductive reasoning and ability to read his environment based on subtle clues feel so real as to border on the preternatural. Yet these skills, and more important, the attitude and discipline necessary to develop them, are well within the realm of the possible and align quite fittingly with the capabilities of the Zentropist. As the fictional Holmes commented to his fictional friend/companion/biographer John Watson, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

One of the challenges of the Zentropist is deciding where the line of “impossible” begins and accepting that even the “improbable” must be given credence when all available evidence points in that direction.

You don’t build a hypothesis, much less a theory, by manipulating the “facts” (which includes errors of omission) or observable phenomena to fit your conclusions; you must collect, parse and analyze all available data and then seek to deduce patterns which explain that which you’re witnessing.

This is made all the more important, with the stakes dangerously high, when it comes to maintaining the security for human life, whether individual or collective.  Because when you play on the “defensive,” you need to be right 100 percent of the time, while the “offense” potentially only needs to be right once…

In a future posting, if there’s sufficient interest, we can delve into Zentropism’s applications in asymmetrical warfare, a.k.a. counter-insurgency operations or low-intensity conflict, which are often related to but distinct from counter-terror operations…

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February 24, 2009

Specialist, Generalist or Zentropist?

Many societies, both Eastern and Western, demonstrate an almost pathological need to classify and categorize things, perhaps in an effort to impose some “social order,” or at the very least, the artifice of one.

It is hardly breaking news that as I write this, the global economy is undergoing an enormously painful “correction” or “transition” or perhaps even “complete meltdown of the existing order,” with all the attendant consequences, ramifications and “bad juju” that this entails. People at virtually all levels are feeling the impact (and those that have not, as of yet, perhaps should beware of being smug, as the stage is becoming fertile for more contentious expression of dissatisfaction, namely peaceful or even violent revolution from certain quarters), and the accompanying disharmony and chaotic energy unleashed is not inconsequential.

With job security being an illusion for all but a fortunate few, many people are finding themselves having to actually give meaningful thought to the career paths and choices that they have made, engage in “personal branding” (this blog quite frankly being an expression of this idea), and really try to develop a longer-term career strategy. In doing so, and performing such frank soul-searching, those in the working world will often have to contend with being labeled by others as a “specialist” or “generalist,” although in recent years, as I previously referenced in a blog posting (“The Zentropist Defined: The Fourth Attribute”), the term “versatilist” has entered the lexicon among savvy workers.

Of these various existing labels, the Zentropist is closest in relation to the definition of a versatilist, although characteristics of both the generalist and specialist will be found. If we examine the concept of “Zentropism” as a philosophical and ethical framework, the inevitable realization that should follow is that anyone, no matter how lofty or humble their occupation is perceived to be, can embrace the Primary Attributes and utilize these not only for occupational growth, but personal development as well.

By imposing labels of “generalist” or “specialist” on a person, whether this is done internally by one’s self or by others, we immediately limit the potential of that human being to evolve and transform. If we dig deeply enough, even the individual widely perceived as fitting the traits of a “generalist” is apt to have command of some sub-set of knowledge, no matter how arcane, narrow or “useless,” to encroach on the domain of a “specialist” in that particular field.

It is probably self-evident, but perhaps not to all, that one of the primary criticisms of the “generalist” is that while this individual knows a little about a lot of things, he or she is unable to go “beyond the surface” when deeper understanding or command of certain skills or knowledge is called for, and perhaps is even perceived as a bit of a dilettante that flits from one thing to the next, without “mastering” anything.

Of course, the Zentropist can only smile at the notion that “mastery” has a fixed goal line that once crossed, can never be exceeded or improved upon.

Conversely, the “specialist” can be in high demand and well-regarded in his or her field, so long as this knowledge is perceived as being valuable to others, but as soon as that knowledge becomes (or is perceived to be) outdated, commonplace, or simply no longer relevant, that individual is seen as a dinosaur or one unable to change with the times and adapt to new circumstances.

Humans should not have expiration dates, beyond the time when our journey in this world is finished. Up until that moment, as the Zentropist understands, barring deterioration of our minds / body / spirit, we retain the capacity to learn and to grow. The Greeks spoke of gnosis (“knowledge”) and sophia (“wisdom”) as being highly desirable for individual cultivation, and these are indeed highly worthy goals for us to pursue, so long as we understand that we will never reach the finish line. It is a journey without end, in which the road we travel will reveal many things about ourselves and others.

So rather than allow yourself to be branded by others, or worse, to perceive yourself as falling into the “generalist” or “specialist” camp, accept where you are today and commit to embarking upon the path of the Zentropist. If you expand your thinking and refuse to accept the limitations that are often self-imposed or even (all too often unfairly) placed on you by others, you may surprise yourself with what you can accomplish if you “get your mind right” and commit to the path which beckons.

We all have something of value to contribute to this world, and if we accept this not as a burden, but as a sacred or simply meaningful statement of fact, our lives, and the lives of those that intersect with us, no matter the duration of such contact, will be richer for it…

February 21, 2009

Project Management Comes of Age

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon as of late, a development which is especially noticeable over the course of the past year. The designation “PMP” appended after people’s names on business cards and social networking sites, particularly those oriented towards professional networking. So what is this “PMP” exactly and what does it signify?

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which until relatively recent times was not that frequently encountered. However, thanks to an aggressive push by the PMI, in an effort to legitimize project management as a career field in of itself and not merely a skill set or collateral duty responsibility of a manager or executive, not to mention the lucrative revenues reaped from administering the exam and publishing study materials, we now have yet another certification process to proudly display our competence. But does it really?

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet sat for the PMP exam, although I have the educational background and hours to qualify. This is largely a factor of time and opportunity costs, and perhaps due to the fact that in the operation of my consulting practice to date, the issue of the PMP designation has never come up. Yet I’ve still found the time and cultivated sufficient expertise to put together some useful advice and tips on project management practices despite this potential handicap.

Now as the originator and chief proponent of this Zentropist state of thinking, it would be hypocritical of me to unduly criticize formal education and the attainment of knowledge in any form. And surely it is a positive development that an attempt is being made to codify and perhaps standardize project management practices and theory… but that being said, I also think there is a false dichotomy at play. You see, there are any of a number of highly skilled and competent people with years of project management experience that lack the PMP certification, and as a result, are probably finding themselves discriminated against by corporate HR types that have an unfortunate tendency as a whole to glom onto “certifications” as a prerequisite for hiring no matter what the source.

I want to be clear that I am not condemning or questioning PMI’s efforts to promote the PMP designation, as I myself am formally trained in PMI practices and have read various editions of the Project Management Book of Knowledge, or PMBOK as it’s affectionately acronymed. Although I have held job titles in the past which include “project manager,” because of my multi-disciplinary approach to work and fear of being narrowly type-cast, I have always seen “project management” as a skill set, much the same as writing, or strategic planning or even financial analysis.

However, perhaps due to the economic crisis which has cast a malignant shadow over the global economy, project management is now a very hot topic. Businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and consequently, various brick and mortar as well as online institutions, some quite established and others clearly fly-by-night, are now offering certificate programs in project management. Give us X weeks and Y dollars and we’ll turn you into a “project manager” with a nifty piece of paper to prove it.

Folks, it doesn’t work like that.

Project management is a skill learned over time. And although it can be found in probably every industry vertical under the sun, it can differ widely across the spectrum. Some industries and occupations require those in the project management seat to be highly credentialed and/or to possess advanced degrees involving highly technical and/or scientific knowledge. Some PM’s have no choice but to be subject matter experts in their fields.

The PMP exam certainly requires memorization of a lot of theory and commonly defined terms, which probably is useful to some degree. At the end of the day it’s a multiple choice exam which may prove awareness of the theory behind project management, but hardly can be argued as proof of mastery. In of itself, possessing the credential is not a detriment to one’s career, but even with the “time spent in practice” requirement (PM’s are supposed to document their hours to prove eligibility for the exam, yet this is by no means fool-proof or subject to intense verification and if you search the Internet, you’ll find people promoting ways to doctor experience to meet the criteria), I think it foolish on the part of HR departments to penalize those with demonstrable accomplishments that lack such certification.

After all, many of the accompanying project management certification programs being hawked to those seeking to change careers or hang onto the one they currently enjoy have little if any educational requirement; it matters not if one has an undergraduate degree at all, much less a post-graduate one.

All this being said, a Zentropist also must be sensitive to the winds of change and it may be time for me to bite the bullet and seek out this PMI promoted stamp of approval, even if this does not fundamentally change my innate capabilities as a project manager. After all, as a society we tend to relish “certifications” and other notions of regulation and licensing for some fields and vocations without necessarily looking past the surface to see what really lies underneath.

And that’s a damn shame when you think about it…

February 17, 2009

The Zentropist Defined: The Seventh Attribute

Today we finally reach the last of the Zentropist’s Primary Attributes. In doing so, we travel full-circle, reflecting an observation made by the Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk who said, “The Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.”

For those that choose to walk the path of the Zentropist, every day presents new challenges and new opportunities, with the possibility of uncovering fresh insights as well.

Although many in the West are more familiar with the Japanese term “Zen” in reference to a particular strain of Buddhist philosophy, its origin and roots lie somewhere to the West of Nippon, perhaps in India although it rose to prominence in China, particularly in its adaptation (along with Taoist teachings) by the monks of the now world famous Shaolin Temple order. In China, it goes by the name Ch’an Buddhism, and is spoken of as “The Middle Path,” which provides some clue to its essential nature.

Many are familiar, at least superficially, with the concepts of Yin and Yang, of opposing forces that cannot exist independently and must operate in harmony and balance each other; for one in excess of the other leads to chaos and disharmony. If the Zentropist is to realize the over-arching goal of the path, one must come to terms with the Seventh Attribute, “The understanding that amid the seeming chaos of the world lies balance and we must seek to maintain this.”

There are many who would suggest that it is the very imbalances that manifest in our world which lead to the greatest discord and suffering. Such issues are perhaps best left to another discussion, but there is an underlying truth that our world is one filled with contrasts which operate in apparent harmony regardless of our efforts to change them or otherwise impose our will or desires.

The Zentropist must remain aware at all times that when pursuing a desired outcome, there will be consequences, intentional or not, and these must be carefully monitored so the net result of our efforts is beneficial rather than harmful. If one accepts the notion that entropy is but a measure of the order and disorder existing within a system, and the premise that chaos is invariably present to one degree or another, finding constructive means to channel the available energy into productive work is paramount.

In many respects, the Zentropist is not unlike the director on a film set, providing the unifying creative vision which is influenced by the collaborative actions of many others, ideally working in harmony but upon occasion, deliberately or not operating at cross-purposes. It is the responsibility of the Zentropist to intercede in these instances so that balance is restored and that progress continues with as little interruption as possible.  The Zentropist, by virtue of working on behalf of others, does not operate in a vacuum and all actions and behavior must be governed accordingly.

The Zentropist is also wise to keep the following axiom close at hand and to diligently practice it, for the Zentropist by definition must assume the mantle (and burden) of leadership and in exercising this responsibility, may need to delegate his or her authority. However, while a leader may delegate authority, a leader can never delegate nor abdicate responsibility or accountability. As a general rule, Corporate America has shirked this philosophy for years and the results are all too apparent in the current global financial crisis. Those that pursue personal financial enrichment and material rewards at the expense of all else will inevitably suffer the consequences and reap the whirlwind which their selfish and self-serving desires have spawned.

The leader that embraces the simple yet vital principle above may very well have what it takes to walk the path of the Zentropist.

Do you?

February 13, 2009

The Zentropist Defined: The Sixth Attribute

Courage is a trait often spoken of, and perhaps as commonly misunderstood. Courage, or the lack thereof, may or may not expose one to physical harm, but its absence will almost certainly expose one to psychological harm.

John Wayne once famously remarked that, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” Some might debate the Duke’s courage off-screen (there’s no denying that he embodied it in spades on celluloid), but that little nugget does certainly encapsulate physical courage. Yet this is but one expression of the term.

It is acknowledged by the Zentropist that one must develop, The courage, both intellectual and physical, to seize the initiative, to act in a moral and ethical manner, to inspire others, to exercise good judgment and to endure whatever is necessary to prevail.”

Far too often, we lack the courage of our convictions, and find ourselves shirking from a course of action because we perceive it to be unpopular or possibly exposing us to undue ridicule, risk or danger. The true Zentropist cannot abide such shortcomings, at least for long, and will find the inner strength necessary to rise to the occasion. In doing so, guided by a moral compass that is not swayed by the court of public opinion or the self-serving lodestones of greed and selfishness that warp the navigation of some, the Zentropist will serve as an inspiration to those who understand the value of the path taken.

Ernest Hemingway had a great deal of courage, yet ultimately, this was perhaps his undoing, for courage without good judgment becomes needless sacrifice, and this is to be avoided whenever possible.  Still, it is instrumental to look at the foreshadowing of his ultimate fate in a passage he famously composed in the classic, A Farewell to Arms:

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that it will not break it kills.  It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

The Zentropist seeks to bend rather than break, but understands that sometimes we must be broken to rebuild ourselves more strongly. In the practice of working on behalf of others, the Zentropist must always have the courage to do right by one’s charges, to find the solutions to the best of one’s abilities, and to produce results which deliver tangible and hopefully long-lasting value.

I’ll leave you with some final words from Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, who said, “Always do right — this will gratify some and astonish the rest.”

So get out there and astonish the masses…

February 11, 2009

The Creed of the Zentropist & Preview of Coming Attractions

Filed under: Uncategorized — zentropist @ 5:32 pm

I have previously made reference to the creed, or motto, of the Zentropist, which is, “The fluent blade cuts cleanly.”

I believe that this concise phrase penetrates to the essential core of the Zentropist. I also want to pay tribute to the source of this inspiration, which is the novelist Takashi Matsuoka from a passage in Cloud of Sparrows (Dell Publishing, 2003) which reads as follows:

“Words can damage. Silence can heal. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is the wisdom of sages.

“Knowledge can hinder. Ignorance can liberate. Knowing when to know and when not to know is the wisdom of prophets.

“Unimpeded by words, silence, knowledge or ignorance, a fluent blade cuts cleanly. This is the wisdom of warriors.”

We’ll explore the Zentropist Creed in greater detail in a future posting.

For those chafing at the bit and wondering when I’ll be exploring tangible business topics and getting past all of the philosophical musings, rest assured that this is coming in the weeks ahead. Among the topics that I’ve already identified for editorial are:

  • Project management and the sudden surge in its popularity
  • The role of storytelling techniques and devices in business
  • Specialist, Generalist or Zentropist?
  • Integrity and the Zentropist
  • Principles and the Zentropist
  • Dealing with Difficult Clients and other studies from the Case Files of the Zentropist
  • The differences between Business Plans and Strategic Plans
  • Understanding Capital Sources
  • Marketing Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank
  • And much, much more!

So hopefully this will entice those of you who have begun following this blog to keep returning! Our monthly newsletters have begun circulating as well. If this sounds like it may be of interest, click here to join our mailing list.

The Zentropist Defined: The Fifth Attribute

It is perhaps ironic given the times in which we live that we will speak of Character and its crucial role as the fifth of the seven Primary Attributes of the Zentropist. It should come as no surprise to those reading these postings that the world has been in an economic crisis for some time, arising from both individual and collective failings of character, arising from those who seek only to take more than they contribute, and who lack the fortitude to “do the right thing” simply because it is, well, the right thing.

From the Zentropist standpoint, one must seek to develop, The character to remain humble while maintaining the confidence, bearing and integrity to transmit the wisdom gained from experience.” It’s a tall order, I realize, and only a liar will tell you that he or she has never fallen short of the mark. As has been observed, we often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes; perhaps this is simply hardwired into the human psyche, some feature set of our genetic programming, whether you view this as a product of some larger Creation guided by a “Great Architect of the Universe (to borrow a Freemasonry expression) or simply the result of random mutations and natural selection over time.

Humility and humbleness are traits that some interpret as weakness, and this is a terrible mistake. The moment we start believing in our own infallibility is the moment that we architect the beginning of our personal disaster. No one has all the answers, and the true Zentropist will accept this without reservation. It is not about faith, or lack thereof. The Zentropist must pursue Truth as guided by his or her conscience, fully aware that the path one walks is seldom as straight as one might initially believe. For that path will intersect with others, and by different routes the same destination may very well be reached, although the journeys will by definition be different for all.

What is most critical at this juncture for the budding Zentropist is that as the journey progresses, in spite of mistakes made (and some may be whoppers), and for whatever successes both great and small are celebrated, one must draw confidence in his or her ability to make a difference. The Zentropist does not aspire to be some “Superman” as defined by Nietzsche, but rather, seeks to set an example of persistence and perseverance by overcoming shortcomings, by turning former weaknesses into strengths, by leveraging strengths to achieve some greater good.

By moving forward and maintaining one’s integrity, by living true to the Primary Attributes which form the code and creed of the Zentropist, one will acquire wisdom which may be used to the benefit of one’s self and others.

Some may believe that our journey through life is walked on the precipice of a Great Abyss, which we may choose to acknowledge or not, and that our actions will indeed “echo through time” whether we realize this or not. Whether we gaze into the abyss, and whether or not it looks back are inconsequential; the Zentropist has a responsibility to share his or her gifts, however humble they may be perceived, for in doing so he or she will be rewarded one thousand-fold.

Thus speaks the Tao of the Zentropist…

February 9, 2009

The Zentropist Defined: The Fourth Attribute

We now turn to the fourth of the Zentropist’s Primary Attributes, which is centered on Knowledge in all its myriad forms. There is a natural tendency for some to seek to flaunt their accumulation of knowledge, to prove to the world that they are “expert” or somehow all-knowing when it comes to a particular subject. This is the course of fools and charlatans. On the other hand, there are those who revel in their ignorance, or worse, do not comprehend how dramatically their lack of knowledge impacts their journey through this life, which is a tragedy in of itself.

The Zentropist walks the Middle Path. The Zentropist seeks, The knowledge of when to speak, and when to listen.”

For as with force, which can only have one direction in a given moment of time, one can be speaking or one can be listening. One cannot, however, be doing both simultaneously.

Knowledge can be highly esoteric or highly technical; it can be mundane, it can be revolutionary; it can change the course of human events or it can simply be a part of the greater flow of life. The Zentropist must selectively continue to evaluate his or her body of knowledge, to seek to broaden it where appropriate, and to plumb the depths of the subjects to which he or she is drawn, for knowledge calls out to those who seek it and takes on a life of its own. Possessing knowledge for knowledge’s sake may not be productive in our fast-paced modern world, but encouraging the curiosity and thirst that lead one down a path, so long as that path is not one of self-destruction or harmful to the well being of others, is to be admired.

Let us also be clear on an important point. A Zentropist is not someone who knows a little about a lot of things, a dilettante masquerading as a subject matter expert. In fact, a Zentropist must have a command of a number of subjects, and certainly should demonstrate expertise or substantial capability in specialized fields. That being said, a Zentropist should also have the wisdom to consult with those more knowledgeable when the situation warrants, and must never overstate or over-estimate his or her abilities. To do so would invite the very disharmony and chaos that we seek to overcome.

The Zentropist exhibits qualities of both the generalist and specialist, which some in the business world have termed a “versatilist,” or per a press release statement in 2005 regarding the IT sector by Diane Morello, VP of Research at Gartners, Inc., “Versatilists are people whose numerous roles, assignments and experiences are enabling them to synthesize knowledge and context to fuel business value.” In many respects, the versatilist as defined by Ms. Morello is a prototypical Zentropist.

It has been famously said that, “To know is to know that to know is not to know.” This is something that is rather profound on several levels. In admitting our ignorance, our knowledge is revealed, and in seeking to address the very deficiencies that we all know to exist, we discover new things about ourselves which lead to our continued evolution.

And the more a Zentropist evolves, the better he or she can serve not only his or her own needs, but those of others.

And that, ultimately, is what it is all about…

February 6, 2009

The Zentropist Defined: The Third Attribute

Our last posting emphasized the importance that the Zentropist must place on acting decisively and committing with a “fullness of intent,” yet also paradoxically suggested that all actions must remain interruptible; that is, the Zentropist must adapt to changing circumstances by remaining keenly attuned to all senses.

Upon first impression, this may seem a virtual impossibility, for how can one commit yet not commit? This can be expressed by invoking the mental image of an antenna that can transmit or receive signals depending on how it is wired. The Zentropist, even while in “transmission mode,” must always reserve sufficient “bandwidth” to continuously receive, to be able to process the data stream arising from his or her interaction with the surrounding environment and make necessary adjustments without fail. Newtonian physics teaches us that every action has an “equal and opposite” reaction, which again, is nature’s way of finding and achieving balance.

In order to operate effectively, the Zentropist accepts that one must maintain, The adaptability to operate in fluid environments and to remain interruptible.”

The Zentropist acknowledges that if a course of action is not producing the desired results, it is foolhardy to blindly continue on the course without making some adjustment. In certain circumstances, the adjustment(s) may be relatively minor; yet these seemingly small acknowledgments can have significant cumulative effect. Conversely, there are times when a particular tactic or stratagem is simply untenable, even if they have worked previously, and to stubbornly refuse to see this creates unnecessary hardship and stress on the enterprise in question. In these instances, the Zentropist must be prepared to find new solutions, which may reflect a change in objectives (the short-term) or signify a change in goals (the long-term).

Again, one must be cautioned against falling into the trap of interpreting resistance as an indication that a course of action is misguided or incorrect; change of any kind produces stress, and stress must not always be looked at in a pejorative light. What is critical is maintaining a careful alignment of both the objectives and goals and seeking to move continuously towards their resolution.

In Lao Tzu’s classic work, Tao Te Ching, the expression appears, “to be like water.” Water is a natural element that is at once fluid and powerful; given sufficient time, water will erode the mightiest rock and can even defeat metal. It does this, however, not through brute application of force or imposition of its will, but by remaining fluid, chipping away at the obstacle as it continues on its journey, whether as drops falling from the sky or a stream, river or sea which is constantly in motion. In this deceptively compliant manner, it imposes the “death of a thousand cuts.” And the Zentropist does well to remember that, “The fluent (or fluid) blade cuts cleanly.”

I’ll leave you for now with a passage from Lao Tzu, as translated by Chao-Hsiu Chen:

The greatest good is like water:

It benefits all life without being noticed.

It flows even to the lowliest places where no one chooses to be

and so it is very close to the Tao.

It settles only in quiet locations.

Its deepest heart is always clear.

It offers itself with great goodness.

It keeps its rhythm as it keeps its promises.

It governs tributaries as it governs its people.

It adapts to all necessities.

It moves at the right moment.

It never flaunts its goodness

and so it never attracts any blame.

 

 

February 4, 2009

The Zentropist Logo Debuts

Filed under: General Business — zentropist @ 3:27 pm

Thanks to Roland Plukas of MonkeyBoy Interactive, we have our own custom logo!

For those in the market for a Creative Director with a command of both traditional and digital graphic design, I’ve worked with Roland for years and can highly recommend his services.

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