Convenience Bends

bend.jpgThere is a technique in blacksmithing called the convenience bend. If you’re working on a piece, you might find you can’t get your hammer at a particular spot because another section of the piece is in the way. No problem. Just bend it out of the way, work on the section needed, and afterward bend it back. 

Usually, when bending the obstructing piece out of the way, you must deform the piece from what it is intended to be, and you might even undo some of the forging already done. That can be bothersome, especially when you tend to think linearly and you hate straying from the straight and forward path. To have your work at a place you want it to be, only to have to put it out of shape again, goes against the grain of most people’s thinking.

But it’s a good lesson for life though, isn’t it? How often do plans play out in a non-linear fashion? How often do you have to temporarily veer off the main course in order to stay with the main course in the long run? I find it’s quite often.

With blacksmithing, you know what you’re starting with, and you know what you want to end up with. However, you are not assembling a bunch of prefabricated parts — the work piece itself is changing shape and will go through several different manifestations before being complete. That is hard to do. What shape does this iron need to be now in order to get it to the shape it needs to be next? This challenge of sculpting is the reason the trade of blacksmithing has always been occupied by artists.

And such is life. You might know what you want, but you might not know how to get there.

Sometimes you just have to move forward blind, try new things, and make a few convenience bends.

 

life line

Advertisements

Conferences are a Waste of Time

speakerYou might be like me and dislike conferences. But, is that a good enough reason not to go? Perhaps not. So lets flip it and assume you love going to conferences. Is loving them enough of a reason to go? It might be for you. But suppose you wanted to convince a conference hater to go and to do so you had to come up with other reasons why you go different from the fact that you love them. What would those reasons be?

Conference Lover (CL): Conferences are great for team building and community.

Conference Hater (CH): If you only see a group of people once a year at a conference and not at any other time during the year, they are not your team nor your community. If you do see them regularly throughout the year, why have a conference?

CL: There is great teaching.

CH: If you own an iPad and have an internet connection, you literally have at your fingertips access to the world’s greatest teachers on any subject at anytime throughout the year.

CL: Networking!

CH: Assuming that networking refers to meeting people who have solutions to the problems you’re facing, why would you wait for a conference to hopefully meet someone? Why would you not actively pursue meeting the right people throughout the year?

CL: It’s a great time to get away from it all.

CH: Like a vacation? My vacation time is limited and I’m not going to spend 80% of it in a conference hall.

CL: Your presence at the conference signals your loyalty to the organization.

CH: Hah! Next….

CL: Vision casting from the leaders — seeing the bigger picture.

CH: I’m not fumbling around with no vision for 360 days of the year only to find it at a four day conference. Besides, you don’t want to make any major decisions for your life while being hyped up at a conference.

CL: You don’t want to be independent do you?

CH: My dependance rests on those close at hand. And their dependance rests on me. Only they can make demands on my time.

CL: Conferences are fun and encouraging.

CH: If the single subject of the conference were something that I was very passionate about, like a particular theological theme, or Christian education, or blacksmithing, then I might go for fun. But as soon as the conference is advertised as something essential for my success, then I know it will neither be fun nor essential for my success.

CL: ……

What else would you say?

I still don’t like conferences.

Related reading: A Critique of Conferences; Andragogy (Adult Learning)

Expanded Thoughts on Subjected Will

Many people believe the ability to choose A over B is free will, and to not have free will means one can not choose A over B. However, the ability to choose A over B is not evidence of free will. It is only evidence of will (a desire to choose one over the other). And the opposite of free will is not “no will” but rather, “not-free will”, or subjected will.

Even though you actively chose A over B, there is a reason you chose A over B, and if you trace that reason back to its point of origin, you will discover different sorts of forces acted upon you which you had no control of. To have true free will, you would have to be under no influence of anything whatsoever when making any decision. That condition is probably impossible.

Your will is subject to your desires, and your desires are subject to your nature. Even God has a nature which He can not violate.

Related reading: Subjected Will

Be Judged by Reality (Not by Peers)

I recently finished reading two books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Skin in the Game and Antifragile. Both are good books and I will have to go back to them to glean more of the ideas.

One idea Taleb puts forth often is how one should strive to be judged by reality rather than peers. Your peers will most likely not give you a realistic assessment of how you’re really doing. In fact, your peers will celebrate you, perhaps in the spirit of teamwork, without even knowing much about what you’re doing.

If you strive after the judgment of peers, you will tend to portray yourself in a way that generates positive reviews from your peers, even when those portrayals are less than true, which is most likely the case.

Reality will not treat you so kindly.

cannews

If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. -Code of Hammurabi #229

Taleb’s book Skin in the Game focuses on taking real risk in your endeavours, and if you have no skin in the game, you will build nothing worthwhile.

Over-eager politicians are very happy to usher in their version of paradise but will never suffer the consequences when their ideas fail. Their peers celebrate them and so they are encouraged. However, when reality proves them wrong, only those with skin in the game will pay the price.

A builder who is put to death if his building fails definitely has skin in the game. There is huge risk so he must be careful to be sure his construction is sound and safe and strong. He will be held personally responsible for his actions, no one else. Reality is a harsh judge, but it is a true judge.

I live and work in Cambodia and whenever a non-Cambodian tells me they’re going to come and build some new ministry in Cambodia, I ask them two questions: 1) How long are you planning on staying in Cambodia? 2) Are you going to train up Cambodians? If the person answers, “Maybe about 5 years,” and, “I’m going to focus on English speaking expats first, in order to build a core team, then focus on Cambodians after,” then I won’t pay much attention to them, and I won’t invest much or any of my time and resources into them. They have little skin in the game. They may be able to create an appearance of doing much in their short time in Cambodia, especially when posting creative photos on Facebook and being judged by their peers. Reality, however, will dissolve all their efforts in the long run.

Related reading:

Facebook Illusions

Like People, Like Priest

***