Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trust first, ask questions later...

I know all too well how often I seem misunderstood. I am well aware of my differences. It is those differences that I seek to share. It is the differences in others that I love. This gets into the Erotic Irony concept again. I love the "faults". As for my own differences, they are part of what I have come to peace with myself, except when they keep me apart from people in life...

I am not trying to play some act of a "misunderstood genius" that "knows more than everyone else." I am not acting, it isn't fake. If I had to explain what I am today, I would say this: I believe we are all unique, that the differences between us as individuals are vast. However, society and common culture requires us to wear a mask that washes away many of the details. I have spent much of my life with the freedom to explore myself and culture, to find out what I feel inside and contrast it to outside. Further, in the past three years, I have taken the time to study past cultures, primarily through the teachings of Joseph Campbell. I find that these 'masks' that individuals wear differ greatly throughout history and even other parts of the current world.

It's not an act or game. It is me. I have lived a rather unique life: my travels, working at home for over a decade, my learning-centric career. Alas, my unique style seems to be unpopular with many people who get to know me closely. To me, based on my own personal observations of life, the concept of "trust is earned" seems backwards. I know why people do it, but I don't personally agree with it. I am only trying to follow my own heart. For me personally, "earned trust" in relationships is living in fear.

I was in conflict with a friend who just told me I was going to get into trouble trusting people blindly. I don't trust people blindly, but I do trust those I consider friends and romantic interests. This friend was 100% on the "trust is earned" approach. I have come to terms that in my heart this was 'me', a part of me that I had wrung out thorough life's experiences and found to be true. Later, reflecting on the contrast with my friend, my creative mind thought of the phrase "Trust first, ask questions later". I decided to put that phrase into Google and search for it.

I found a book that uses that phrase. Most interesting, the book summary gets into much of my life and ideals.

Unnatural Leadership: Going Against Intuition and Experience to Develop Ten New Leadership Instincts. I quote:

Dotlich and Cairo challenge conventional wisdom about leadership such as "be in control" and "hide your flaws." Instead, they identify ten "unnatural acts" that effective leaders regularly commit and are, in fact, the best response to an "irrational, chaotic, and unpredictable universe." These include: Refuse to be a prisoner of experience. Expose your vulnerabilities. Create teams that create discomfort. Trust others before they earn it. Coach and teach rather than lead and inspire.

Unnatural Leadership is a realistic and truthful road map that provides a practical manual for anyone who longs to be both authentic and effective.

The authors' ten unnatural traits challenge other traditional assumptions such as:

* Rely as much on innocence as experience.
* Surround yourself with people who create some discomfort.
* Acknowledge the "shadow" side--your failings--publicly.
* Connect instead of create.
* Trust first, ask questions later.
* Grapple with right-versus-right decisions.
* Coach and teach rather than inspire and lead.

That list really hits home to me. That gets into the concepts I posted earlier about the outer garment ("effective") and inner garment ("authentic").

I don't really wish to be a leader of a 300 person company. I have never wanted that, I just don't have the social grace for that. I also favor a peer-to-peer approach, more like one finds in the Open Source software community

More to the purpose of this blog, I want to lead my own life and find a partner who understands this aspect of me and accepts me for who I am. It seemed like any parter close to me might benefit from this book. I haven't read it yet, but that summary page and chapter listing sounds like exactly what has been evolving in my head and life the past 15 years. I don't feel the need to lead, I just want to share mutual/us/we/unity.

Perhaps I am destined to be a loner and more isolated most of my life. I am reaching out. This blog is an attempt to give away what I have to offer. I'm not out to hurt anyone. If you can't tell, I take all his rather seriously.

Two years ago, I was President of the Austin Linux Users Group. I was a relative newcomer to the group [& Austin] and could sense that I likely wasn't going to make lasting changes. I had been an effective president of several groups in the past, but Austin seems different to me. Yet, I tried to make change anyway. Nobody really wanted to lead the group in new directions, as many had failed in the past. So, I was elected. I felt there were some new directions to explore, regardless of the outcome. I used the phrase "A leader without followers is just a guy taking a walk" (not my original phrase). It rings true to me in many parts of my life.

In my personal life, I'm not even trying to be a leader. I am just being me. I am inviting you to walk with me. Two independent individuals who choose to come together. The only real changes I ask you to consider are changes that help us get closer, to become we/together. I'm not after a clone of myself, I see no purpose in that. I am after someone who helps me grow by sharing what they have. I am trying to share what I have.

Share what is under your mask. My mask is already off. This is why I describe myself as "open". And yes, I'm a trusting fool.


  1. Trust involves risk, technically oriented people consider risk as an avoidable evil, they talk on "calculated risk" instead, which is a perfect oximororn, if you can calculate it, it is no risk at all.

    To take big risk is more usual in gamblers, salesmen, businessmen, they are seen as "crazy" or "losers" unless they suceed -which happen in rare ocassions- all religions and moral leaders claim for caution, an ordered life, well planned, assured. That is why insurance companies make so much money.

    I guess that one of the most important strategig choices in life is what risks we are willing to take, the most risky our life more chance of failure but also bigger reward if we suceed. Probably is related with our resilency capacity, how able are we to stand up again after every fall, people with small resilence better take low risk and vice versa.

    Mao had a beautiful line on that: "to fight, to be defeated, to figth again and again to be defeated, back figthing and defeated once more, and so, to the final victory"

  2. Your open-ness has a beauty all its own and is to be ME. I have found time and time again, regardless of past fear, that I trust first without present fear and love every moment of it. My autistic son teaches me this. He loves unconditionally and without fear. Most would say that it is unnatural but for him it is completely natural and it is so beautiful!

    I enjoy learning from others and finding out more and more about me, and this I do when I read your words. So....thank you for being YOU! Hugs!!!!

  3. I think the fear comes after adult maturity... or nearing it (age 16). As parents aren't there. But I think the key is to hold on to that lack of fear later in life. It isn't easy, but you have to go back to it.

    that's my thoughts.