Aren’t we all fundamentalists to the core? By fundamentalist I mean strict adherence to a set of principles or ideas. Some of us claim to be idealists, optimists, pessimists or even realists. No matter what we think we are, there is evidence we are more than the ideas and beliefs we reveal to ourselves in our minds let alone what we tell others about ourselves. Our actions and deeds stem from our conscious decisions as much as our unconscious choices and reveal more about us than our limited set of ideas we keep in our heads. People pick up on the incongruity between what we say and what we do. It may be a sense in the gut or just a feeling easily dismissed, but we know more than our conscious minds comprehend. We may become emotionally or intellectually disturbed when the incongruity is large. This is where I was over the weekend.
Even my kids asked me if I was okay as I was more quiet than normal. They even thought I was angry when I was just trying to make amends amidst a sea of disconnects between what I thought some friends at work were about and what their actions revealed. I attended a third party audit of a different business area within the corporation I work for. For years I talked with these folks about how we want to drive improvements in how we manage our business. We joked around about how there are some people who operate within the paradigm of “QMS pretty.” QMS pretty is making things look good to an auditor or customer when in fact normal business operations is different. It’s the same when a guy sucks in his gut around a pretty woman or when a woman wears a girdle to make herself seem skinnier than she is. There is a spectrum of this falsification. As I watched the audit progress, I realized the gap between what these folks did and what they had been saying for years. It was disturbing. It was unsettling. I thought we were on the same page only to find out we reading different books. I felt lied to. It felt like dealing with a car salesman who only shows the good points while there are obvious flaws. Furthermore the auditors were swooning over that new car smell. All of my observations and judgements were swimming around in my idealistic brain through the weekend. Then I went to work.
I shared my observations with a few of my co-workers back at my business area. A good friend shared with me he liked how I was idealistic and thought it was important in the quality role I have. As we shared our mutual observations, he added, “so, you’re not just an idealist but a fundamentalist.” This at first stung but upon reflection, its’ true. That’s what this blog is about. It’s my avenue of sharing how I think everyone should seek learning through out their lives. This blog is about managing ourselves as a successful business might as it navigates its ever changing environment. It’s about continually seeking integrity by doing what we say and saying what we do. So, yeah, I’m a fundamentalist as I think everyone in every situation can utilize these principles. Realizing I’m am one voice in over 7 billion, I’m forced to recognize my way is not the only way. There are myriad manner of approaching life to achieve whatever we set out to do. I also recognize there is no way for me to know the thoughts, feelings and ideals any other person has. Even my spouse of 22 years continually surprises me with her uniqueness and she has a twin who is a totally different person. Each of us have our own ideals we impress or simply project upon the world. It could just be the judgements each of us have about our spouse, kids, friends or co-workers. It could be how we think things should be at home, work or in our culture. Our fundamentalist nature is born out of the comparisons we make every moment between what we take in and the models we have in our heads of how things ought to be. We then find groups of people reflecting our own ideals so we may be more comfortable. We find friends who think and feel similarly about what happens as we do. We connect with others who find the same problems in the world or at least relate to our bitching of how things aren’t as they should be. In the deepest roots of ourselves we are all fundamentalists as we can not get outside of the ideas and illusions we create within.
What gets scary about the fundamentalists of the world is when a particular ideology takes hold and starts to control and affect other people. When force is used to spread our ideologies, we undermine our very nature of being unique individuals. We are not terrorists flying an airplane into a building but we all adhere strictly to the basic principles we use moment to moment to understand our experience. We use our ideologies to comprehend ourselves and those we interact with. We find a slew of differences between us and those we interacting. And thus, we wax and wane between us and them when we could reduce our conflicts if we simply shifted our thinking to “we.” My friends at work helped me to do this very thing. While the folks at a different business operate differently than I do, we are in this game of keeping our business profitable together. There’s room for us to be both QMS pretty in front of auditors as well as seeking improvement in our daily business affairs or transforming us into a learning organization. I do not have to approach the biz of me in the way you approach the biz of you. The key is that we are managing ourselves in a way appropriate to our particular situation. Upon reflection the business area is doing what it does because that is their identity. Their products can be fixed in the field and thus selling themselves to their customers is their culture. Whereas, the business area I work in has a different identity born out of the products we produce having to work perfectly up in space without opportunity to go fix it. Whether we are idealists or hucksters, we are fundamentally after the same thing, staying in business and turning a profit. Showmanship is just part of the gam. Don’t we all put on a show when we are being tested? Some of us put on a show that is quite different from who we are day to day while others just do what they do which is a show in of itself.
I suppose I should say thanks to those folks who have helped open my eyes to different approaches and ideologies. I know where I stand and recognize my way is not the only way. We all manage our personal business differently as it should be. It’s natural for us all to judge each other. I suppose the important thing is what we do with our judgements. Do they help us expand our experience through learning or tend to keep us stuck in our particular mode in life? I choose to learn and expand as that is the nature of life itself. Without growth we decay and die. I choose life, growth, and adaptation. What do you choose? Is your fundamentalism inclusive or exclusive of the life around you? What fundamentalism is behind your showmanship?
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