Tag Archives: Community

There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

iron fist

(Image/YouTube)

I’ve been forging my shiny new iron fist and intend to wield it mercilessly on properly informed violators.

The purpose of blog comments is to provide a tool for feedback and the exchange of ideas. As a staunch opponent of censorship, and a strong proponent of free speech, I have intentionally avoided anything resembling the policing of comments.

For most of Must Be This Tall To Ride’s existence, the posts were little more than ultra-personal, first-person stories, leaving comments that might be deemed “offensive” in the camp of being critical of my ideas or insulting me.

I’ve always been okay with that, and I’m still fair game. But other people are not.

Things are different now. Human beings—real people—most of whom are kind, conscientious and respectful of others, are having ongoing conversations in the comments that live beneath MBTTTR posts. In certain respects, it has become a living, breathing community.

Communities have guidelines. Established and agreed-upon codes of conduct designed to protect the community and cultivate an environment where its members can thrive.

By allowing community members or visitors to knowingly violate the spirit and principles of the community, the community will eventually cease to exist because all of the principled people with healthy values and boundaries will find a better way to spend their time.

MBTTTR community members have always, and will always, come and go.

But it can never again be because someone who doesn’t represent the core values, mission and purpose of this place is poisoning the well.

What that means is, moving forward, if someone knowingly poisons the well, I’m going to stick my digital iron fist directly up their ass and ask them to leave.

The Case for Being Intolerant of Intolerance

“Hey, Matt!!! What kind of comments will you delete?!”

The simplest and most generic way to explain the new comment-enforcement policy would be: A comment should not grossly violate the Kindness litmus test.

Kind DOES NOT mean the same thing as “nice.” But they’re close. This isn’t about everyone liking one another. It’s about everyone treating others with the requisite amount of dignity and respect.

KINDNESS
“Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.”

If it doesn’t pass that common-sense sniff test, I’m trashing it.

“Hey, Matt!!! Isn’t it possible something might feel unkind to me and others but NOT you, which would cause more disagreements?”

Totally possible.

Because I remain staunchly anti-censorship. I am anti-censorship because I believe so strongly in personal responsibility. I believe people are in control of themselves and responsible for their choices. Choosing to share an idea publicly, which is then rejected by another person or group, is a fundamental part of the free exchange of ideas. And sometimes that will hurt people’s feelings. And that will create paradoxes and situations which flirt dangerously close to hypocrisy.

But so long as I adhere to the principles about to be shared, and so long as most of you do the same, we will often arrive at a great place.

“How?”

Moving forward, we will be a tribe.

A tribe that (when exchanging ideas in MBTTTR comments, at least) is united in its effort to lift up all tribe members. More on this in a moment.

The Magic of Defining Yourself

The best thing I’ve read recently is The Book In A Box Culture Document—something that very intentionally, deliberately, and thoroughly defines the culture of Book In A Box. (An MBTTTR reader thoughtfully shared it with me, and I can’t overstate my gratitude.)

One of the most important lessons of my first year as a partner in a startup company is the power of an organization putting clearly defined ideas to paper regarding its mission and purpose.

When you define your purpose, difficult decisions mostly go away. Because a choice tends to either serve the mission and purpose, or not.

The fantastic BIAB Culture Doc served as my model for fleshing out the principles that will guide the MBTTTR tribe moving forward.

…..

Thrive

(Image/likesuccess.com)

The MBTTTR Mission, Purpose, Values & Principles

MBTTTR’s beginning was firmly rooted in the Me, Me, Me space.

MBTTTR’s future will be firmly rooted in the Us, Us, Us space.

Our collective mission, purpose, values and principles will be clearly defined while ALSO being subject to scrutiny and change when new information demands change. Those conversations will happen with the passage of time, and we will collectively adjust course as needed. Together.

Mission (What are we doing?)

To tell honest stories about the human experience—even when it’s uncomfortable and against our natural self-preservation instincts—to connect others to good people, good questions and good ideas in ways that help humans thrive.

Purpose (Why are we doing it?)

To use judgment-free storytelling as a tool to lift people up—mending hearts, enriching minds and uplifting souls—for the betterment of human relationships.

We believe human relationships are the things which most strongly influence an individual’s quality of life. That people with healthy, high-functioning relationships have measurably better lives than those who do not.

We believe human relationships thrive when individuals are prepared to contribute positively to them.

We believe a person is best prepared to contribute positively when she or he is balanced in four key areas: Mind (mental health), Body (physical health), Spirit (spiritual health), and Emotion (emotional health).

Values (What do we care about?)

1. Things that matter.

“Hey Matt! What matters?”

Who do you want to be with if you only have one day to live? What do you want to do? What are the things you’re thinking about?

Those things matter.

Here, we mostly care about the earthly thing that matters above all others—people.

2. Learning and growth.

“Knowing things is great, but the reality is that most “facts” are either an illusion, or have a short half-life,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “The success of our tribe will not be determined on what we know right now. It will come from our ability to learn quickly, and implement what we learn.

“This means every person in our tribe must be an active and lifelong learner. We all must be curious, willing to ask questions, and most important, willing to change our minds when new facts demand a new perspective.”

Come to discussions with a Beginner’s Mind. With humble inquiry.

If your goal isn’t to find the best answer, but to win an argument on the internet, our relationship will be short-lived.

The MBTTTR Tribe cares about finding the best idea. The closest thing to Truth we can arrive at in all of our flawed humanity.

“Let the best idea win,” says PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

And it will be a guiding principle here.

The beauty lives in the trying.

3. Results.

While we celebrate, encourage and admire those who try, we value results. Another BIAB-inspired guiding principle of MBTTTR will be just that.

You get brownie points for trying. You also get divorced.

Intentions often matter. But if you’re trying earnestly to be a good spouse, but failing as evidenced by your shitty, dysfunctional and broken relationships, we think that should be taken into account.

If you don’t TRY to hurt your wife, but you ACCIDENTALLY hurt her, the following becomes true: You hurt your wife.

If NOT hurting your wife is a guiding principle in your marriage, then your intentions mean little.

Another BIAB gem: We award medals for results. Not attempts.

“While we deeply value results, results by themselves are not enough; we must get results the right way. Of course this means being ethical and honest and doing the right thing. But it goes beyond that,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “Getting great results means that we must be focused on the experience that people have when dealing with us.”

4. We value human connection and shared experiences.

By considering the experiences of the other people we interact with, it requires us to be empathetic and considerate. It forces us to see everyone as another human, with their own wants and needs and desires, and it compels us to consider those in our actions.

The most important life lesson I’ve learned post-divorce is:

A. Ohhhhh. THAT’s what empathy means!, and

B. Holy shit. Empathy is the most important life skill people need to succeed in relationships, but few people ever explain or define it for young people.

[Author’s Note: The remainder of this document is mostly in note form and heavily modeled after the content generated from the BIAB team. For the sake of time, I need to move onto other things. I will make this document a permenant fixture as a page on this site, and I (or WE!) will more clearly define these principles moving forward.]

Principles (How do we apply our values?)

The First Principle: We before me

 

The Second Principle: Tell the truth

“Amateurs want comforting lies. Professionals want to hear uncomfortable truths,” the BIAB Culture Doc says.

Truth is about caring. Truth can be painful, but if you deliver it right—with both candor and authentic kindness—it helps people more than anything else you can do for them.

The Third Principle: It’s not necessarily what you say or do, it’s how they feel

Again: Medals for results, not attempts.

There must be room in our hearts and minds for others’ experiences. Our experiences DO NOT and CANNOT define the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and expieriences of others.

The Fourth Principle: Our goal is to find the best idea

From BIAB:

We criticize ideas, not people.

Why? Because most people tie their identity to their ideas.

This attitude is toxic and destructive to creative and free discussions. We are the opposite. Confrontation is good, as long as it’s about the ideas and not the person.

We call this “shoot the message, never the messenger,” and the point is that all discussion is always about an idea, and never about a person. We discuss what is right, NEVER who is right.

However: You are not your ideas.

People must feel like their identity is safe–even if their ideas are not.

This is very difficult to achieve (it is in some ways against core parts of human nature), but if we can do it, we create an environment that has people intensely debating and rigorously scrutinizing ideas—that is simultaneously respectful of people.

This creates the best outcomes for everyone, because it means the best ideas will almost always win—which means the tribe will win.

CLARIFYING NOTE: This principle also means your beliefs must be based on facts, and you must be willing to change your beliefs if the facts change.

Feedback must be our North Star. It’s HOW we navigate and calibrate and make sure that we are serving the MBTTTR mission, the interests of the tribe, and the other people we affect. How else can we know we’re doing the right thing, unless we’re hearing it from the people we affect?

…..

For the love of all that is good and beautiful and worth caring about in this life…

Pretty please…

Be kind to each other.

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Why People Divorce and Miss the Misery

Soldiers silhouette

(Image/ct11.wikispaces.com)

During the 18 months I was sleeping in the guest room, I felt like a lonely stranger uncomfortable in his own home, at best, and suffocating heavy-chest anxiety the rest of the time.

That’s why I loved going to work, and why I dreaded every Friday afternoon when I was staring at a long weekend at home where the best I could hope for was an occasional moment of levity with my pre-school-aged son before spiraling once again into My Marriage Sucks and I’m a Huge Failure.

The Monday commute to work was sweet relief.

But then one Sunday evening, my wife took her ring off, and the next day—a Monday that felt different than the others—she left forever.

And then—even though it should have been impossible—home became more suffocating and miserable than the previous year had been.

Even the shittiest marriage I could have ever imagined felt better than feeling (justified or not) abandoned at home combined with losing half of my young son’s childhood.

When you don’t think falling down further is possible but Life teaches you otherwise? That’s when you start questioning whether waking up tomorrow is actually worth it.

When being awake hurts, there’s nowhere to run and hide.

Home becomes a silent, empty prison. Vodka buys you a couple of hours, but sometimes you cry anyway.

Work no longer provides relief. One day, I thought I was going to hyperventilate in a full conference room in front of most of the department. They’d still be talking about it behind my back.

Friends and family help on a case-by-case basis. But mostly they don’t, even though it’s not their fault. Some things just take time.

I grew up in a big-family environment. Everyone seemed to like me.

I grew up with a pretty large social network relative to where I lived. I liked pretty much everyone. Most of them seemed to like me back.

I had a vibrant and indescribably awesome social life in college. I had a core group of friends who were more like family. I had a college newspaper staff I enjoyed working with. And I had an expanded network throughout campus, ranging from athletes and sketchy stoners to uptight student government leaders and high-ranking administrators.

And then my friends started graduating and moving away. One by one. Sometimes, a few at a time.

Until it was my turn, and I insta-ran-off to Florida with my girlfriend to chase pipedream Pulitzer Prizes and non-existent beach parties.

I felt lonely.

My friends and family felt far away. And the things that made me feel good or made me feel like I was having fun for my entire life didn’t seem to exist, no matter how much I loved the palm trees, blue skies and postcard-worthy beaches.

I missed my friends and all the parties. I missed the chaotic familiarity of holiday gatherings back home.

That’s when I first started to feel inadequate.

Like I couldn’t make friends anymore. Like I couldn’t have fun anymore. Like something was wrong with me because my girlfriend wasn’t filling the void, even though it seemed like she should be enough. Like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t make my girlfriend happy because I wasn’t filling the void for her, even though it seemed as if I should have been enough.

What’s wrong with us?

Why are we failing so hard at adulthood?

We must be freaks since no one else ever feels like this.

Your Tribe Matters More Than You Know

Some of you will remember this topic from a previous post, but when I didn’t know what to write about today, and then today happened, I knew I had to revisit it.

A buddy at work who I don’t think has ever read this blog sent me a link saying “This book sounds fascinating.”

The link was to this The Daily Beast article Why Vets Come Home and Miss the War, which is about Sebastian Junger’s most-recent book, called Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.

“Why is it that you go through this terrible experience of war where you witness death and destruction, and you come home and there’s part of you that misses it?” wondered former-Marine-turned-Congressman Seth Moulton.

At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to compare myself to the bravest people alive (I’m not), the sentiment isn’t so different from: How is it that I can spend every day feeling miserable at home because of my shitty marriage, only to feel EVEN MORE miserable after my wife moved out?

Some soldiers despise one another, but won’t hesitate to take a bullet for those they dislike. Some of these war veterans experience the most horrible things imaginable—watching friends die, being shot at, near-death experiences, constant stress and anxiety the likes of which most of us are too coddled to begin to accurately imagine.

Yet, when they come home to what seems like it should be the safety and security of their homeland among friends and family, they’re unhappy and genuinely miss being in the theater of war.

It’s hard—maybe impossible—to understand the vital role Purpose plays in our lives until we finally experience not having any.

From The Daily Beast article:

“Moulton and his brethren came home to a fractured society where almost no one knows their neighbor, and chats by text or Facebook have replaced face-to-face interaction, the antithesis of the cheek-by-jowl closeness of troops in combat. Author Junger, 54, argues convincingly that Americans need to recapture the best part of their tribal beginnings, when small bands of people depended on each other for survival and so developed deep social ties that protect, bind and even heal, as an antidote to the chronic self-centeredness and loneliness that plague modern living.”

And then later:

“It’s only halfway through the book that he gets around to explaining how that loss is why troops—even those who never actually saw combat—feel bereft when they come home from war zones, missing the brotherhood, the sense of sacrifice and the mission that comes with war.

’You’ve got veterans coming back to a society that not only does it not have that very close human cohesion of your group of people around you, but also seems to be losing its cohesion at the macro level of 320 million people,’ Junger said at a book event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by veterans group The Mission Continues.

’Spiritually, this country is bleeding right now,’ he added, to nods in the crowd of veterans. ‘It’s fractured economically, politically, socially,’ whether you’re left or right, spiritual or agnostic, he added.

“In short, the American community lacks the social skills to connect with each other, much less welcome veterans home. So returning troops don’t miss the blood and guts and mayhem as much as they miss their tribe, or any tribe.”

How to Mend Brokenness

Why was I so miserable three and four years ago, but not today even though my marriage and family didn’t return?

First, it was here. You. This place. Having something to do that mattered.

And now I have my partners and clients in our budding consulting agency. I’ve never been busier. I’ve never been so removed from fun and vibrant weekend nights. I’ve never been so inactive (as a single guy) in the dating scene.

And I feel great. I am excited to wake up every day.

It’s because I have things to do that matter.

It’s because I have Purpose, even when my little boy isn’t home.

Even when there’s no adult around asking about my day, or what’s for dinner, or curling up next to me for a Netflix binge, or who is counting on me for any number of things.

It’s because I am once again part of something. It’s because there are people counting on me, even though they don’t look and feel anything like my spouse did.

I’m not championing the single life. Not by a long shot.

In fact, I’m trying to do the opposite here.

Because, while we certainly have our Dishes by the Sink arguments and laundry list of Shitty Husband things to talk and think about, perhaps what ails you, or your partner, or your relationship most is the purpose and sense of community that disappears in the absence of a tribe.

Maybe he or she isn’t choosing his or her friends over you. Maybe they’re simply trying to feel whole.

Maybe the reason you feel lonely on the couch isn’t because the person you love isn’t paying enough attention. Maybe it’s because, like Charlie Brown, you need involvement.

Maybe the loss of tribe and its impact on our lives is another one of these Life Secrets that most of us never figure out because it lives in The Places We Don’t Talk About.

But not because we can’t. Just because we don’t.

But maybe we can start.

Because living is awesome when you’re actually alive.

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Ask Me Things, Please

Image courtesy of kindnessresources.com

Image courtesy of kindnessresources.com

In an effort to evolve this blog and maybe have a little fun or some great conversation, I launched a page called Ask Me Stuff which you should go read.

I want you to ask me things because it will create some new content opportunities and because maybe I’ll accidentally help someone once or twice.

Let’s call it a social experiment.

For anyone inclined, I appreciate your time and contribution very much.

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