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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Harper's Black Dog

This interests me.

There's no shame in suffering from depression - some pretty impressive leaders have done so.  Churchill referred to his as the "black dog" and would similarly go into funks that would last for days or more. Abraham Lincoln also dealt with issues of depression.

I think there's more to the story than just this, but there is definitely a great deal about Harper that becomes clear through the lens of his sense of social estrangement and the persona/beliefs that have formed in response to it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Stephen Harper would gain a great deal as a leader if he were to face his own cognitive reality head-on.  Depending on what else is in his mix (but assuming he's not beyond empathy, given his reaction to the Ashley Smith detention tapes), making peace with himself could serve as a catalyst for Harper the Mental Health champion - something he's already flirted with in minor keys over his time in Ottawa. 

Imagine a Prime Minister not fixated on defeating those who may challenge him and make his world uncomfortable, but a leader determined to empower and effectively emancipate individuals who struggle with mental illness or alternative cognitive abilities, like autism.

A leader who can look back on a successful career and say "these things define me, but they didn't suppress me, either - they aren't weakness and they can be a strength."

Harper still has an opportunity to define himself as a leader worthy of remembrance, rather than a footnote.

I'd love to see him make the right choice - I'd be supportive if he did.

But then I've no interested in tearing down others or wresting wins.  I want everyone to do well.

If Harper Rode Motorcycles, what would his diary look like?


Wednesday 29 July 2015

If Only Non-Cinematic Life Were Like This...


Pilot Officer E Carter-Edwards

The Darkness... and the Light


"What happened at Abu Ghraib was inexcusable, but it was not inexplicable. I cannot repeat this caveat enough: to explain something is not to excuse it." 

I've written about this sort of thing at length - limbic drives, the dehumanization process, why psychopaths get ahead (and shape work cultures), etc.

Fact is, our increasingly-competitive mainstream culture is in many ways exacerbating the wrong kinds of attitudes and behaviours.  In competition, success is determined not by having the better product, but by beating (or beating down) the other guy.  Doing that effectively, especially with short timelines at play, involves the dehumanization of that Other (unless they already aren't human in your eyes).

At the same time, mind you, the exact reverse is happening, at a smaller scale; a rise of altruism, an emphasis on supportive cultures, etc.  No surprise this sort of trend is more prominent in social innovation, creative industry and other related spaces.

The two trends can and will exist in tandem, but there's a big shift coming, as big as the Industrial Revolution.  Culture will change entirely as a result.

It's happening already.  And the transition won't be entirely smooth.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Tactics vs Strategy vs Culture

Harper is a tactician; that's why he wins.  We hear that all the time.

Strategy, however, isn't so much his forte.  He hasn't managed to make the CPC the natural governing party of Canada - instead, it's been a constant tactical game from his team, with tactics increasing in severity and questionable nature as time goes on.

Culture?  Forget culture.  Harper's culture is "my way or the highway", under the assumption that there's no real such thing as culture at all.

As a result, Harper's approach has resulted in policy misfires, avoidable battles and added significantly to Canada's structural deficit.  
Nothing he has done is permanent; we've already seen that a lot of his shrink-government initiatives are being ignored by lower tiers that are simply filling in the gap.

Harper set out to re-engineer Canada to fit his ideology.  It hasn't happened.  If anything, Harper has only served to pour gas on citizen-led collaboration and institutional disruption.

Which just goes to show you - tactics and even strategy in the absence of culture is low-hanging fruit-picking on a withering tree.

It's not about winning battles; it's about conversion.