Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, since law school, recent events, Arbinger

After law school I ended up working locally for a year or so, met my wife, got a job in Texas, got married and spent about fifteen years in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was very kind to us and the people there were delightful. I first employer retired and left the state and I ended up in a practice group that I really enjoyed. We only moved because we could no longer take living in a city where we had buried so many children, but we return from time to time.

In Dallas we bought a house near some friends (their daughter was Jessica's best friend and we went to her bat mitzvah), I commuted down 75 to work while the construction continued, and became an equity partner at the firm inside of six months. I eventually left for a life style that let me work only five days a week and walk my youngest to school almost every morning. I engage in "almost HIT" weight lifting (I recently took about eight-nine months off to deal with some rotator cuff injuries I had in Judo -- though I did win a second place at a tournament before that happened), long walks with my wife and a bit of blogging.

I keep trying to write. Most of what I end up writing is motions for summary judgment. A judge kind of makes me think of peer review with a vengeance, though I consciously write in a style that attempts to make the conclusions seem simple and obvious. It takes a lot of drafts and I have Blake Hyde to thank for teaching me a lot in that regards.

A dream job, if I'm not already in it, would be teaching negotiation, ethics and ADR -- I've enjoyed teaching, but I really would like more time to research and to write. I've published about forty times, mostly accessible material, though I had one article that has the strangest last couple-three footnotes (no one warned me that they didn't want 100 or more footnotes, but the editor really liked the article, so they solved the problem by compressing the last few footnotes together).

I've become convinced that integrity is a skill that you teach rather than an attribute, though in our current environment it is often just a matter of luck. I think integrity needs to be taught as a skills set, in connection with the appropriate rules.

My parents live down the street from me. My mom is thinking of selling her house when my dad dies (he is doing worse physically, but a lot better mentally since my sister-in-law Michelle came for a visit. As I told her, she is an angel who saved his life, at least for a while). He is in the end stages of Parkinson's, but medication now lets him sleep most of the day and he often has two or three good hours. We take turns with him on Sundays, today was my day and it was a real pleasure.

Much of what we do is try to provide a normal life for our children. The youngest knows that she has three sisters who died, but it does not cast a shadow over her life. It is hard when we see her playing soccer. Her hair has grown out again and even in much different team colors it brings back a lot of memories. But it is also creating new memories, and both old and new memories are very sweet to me.

As an after word, I've been reading Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box and I've noticed one small problem with it.

I find it terribly easy to look at blaming behavior, complaining, hurt feelings, anger and such and
see them as manifestations of "being in the box" or as symptoms of self deception. As a result, the response to many of those types of behavior is to encourage people to get over their self deception rather than look at their claimed problems. I can see that as appropriate, yet not satisfying. It really does give me a different perspective on some sorts of complaints, and I'm still thinking about it.

That aside, (as I'm not sure it is really a problem) I do like the fact that the book promotes the idea that leaders have to change themselves to change those they deal with, rather than inflicting change on others in order to manipulate them -- and makes that obvious and inescapable. I suspect Covey would be appalled at the number of times his principles are endorsed and promoted by leaders who have no intent of following Covey's precepts themselves (and the worker bees the consultants preach to can tell that) -- all because those using them don't get the fact that the change has to come from the top. In Leadership and Self Deception it is inescapable that the only place that change is effective is from the top.

That is revolutionary.

Thanks again Naiah.


Anonymous said...

You've hit a real flaw with Arbringer. The system, even though it starts in non-business situations, really works in business because the box system really applies to most attitudes in business.

But outside, in life, a lot of times hurt feelings are really hurt feelings. Not that a lot of people with hurt feelings really aren't in the box, but the solutions and approaches sometimes differ.

Arbringer training while making a person a lot easier to work for and a lot more engaging in person, also can make them much more dismissive of the hurt feelings of others -- i.e., those mormon feminists -- they are just "in the box" and need to repent and get over their self delusion and quit complaining.

Is that true of Toscano, Anderson and the rest? Perhaps, but it is also true that there may be more to the story.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear that your dad was doing better mentally with the visit of your sister-in-law. There was a post at the blog segullah recently that deals with memory and speaks about people with dementia. I will try to get the link.

Anonymous said...

At the segullah blog it is dated OCT 5 2007 by Maralise and the link is