Speaking Butterfly to Caterpillar People — 7 Takeaways No. 86

Butterfly & Caterpillar
(Image: canva.com)

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1. “I will not tolerate that kind of behavior anymore.”

A New Generation of Leadership – Dan Rather & Elliot Kirschner – (Steady newsletter)

I tend to shy away from politics, both here and in general, but Rather’s commentary on a story I’d already heard much about spoke to me. It’s that of Olivia Julianna, 19-year-old reproductive rights activist who was publicly and inappropriately mocked by an anti-rights Florida politician. She took the resulting publicity and turned it into over $2 million (at this writing) of funding for reproductive healthcare.

While the story is inspiring, and even leads to some hope for our future, what I find illuminating are Rather’s comments on the red/blue divide.

… “red states” and “blue states,” a generalized catch-all for the American political divide that arose on presidential election nights but has since evolved into a lazily imprecise shorthand for a complicated, conflicted, and very heterogeneous nation.

There are no simple answers. Yes, states might have a higher percentage of red or blue voters, but the reality is significantly more granular, and includes shades in between.

Do this: Try not to lose hope.

2. “Be the only one of you in the whole world.”

This Is The Best Career Decision You Can Possibly Make – Ryan Holiday – (Blog)

Holiday positions this as a career decision, but really it applies to the rest of your life as well. We spend so much time trying to mimic or be like other people that we side-step being ourselves. In the process, we miss being, and contributing from, our own uniqueness.

That’s where the fun is (without having to fake it). That’s where the money is (you can name your price). That’s where the value is (you can’t be replaced).

Do this: You do you.

3. “I am, of course, open to changing my mind with evidence.”

Hi, I’m an Atheist! – David G. McAfee – (ebook)

The statement, of course, is made in the book in the context of not believing in a deity. I’m taking it in a larger context.

Think about it: isn’t that what we might profess for just about anything we believe? Not just scientists, who hopefully base their careers on this statement, but everyone: politicians, philosophers, business folks, and everyday people like you and me. When faced with objective evidence, we should be willing to change our minds.

And yet, the past few years would seem to indicate otherwise.

Do this: Always be open to evidence.

4. “In an effort to avoid the bullying, the majority become silent.”

Our drug of choice right now is knowing who we’re better than. – Nadia Bolz-Weber – (The Corners newsletter)

The takeaway is literally the last line of the last footnote to this essay, citing a concept taken from “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt. It spoke to me because avoiding potential blowback definitely keeps me silent on some issues. (Though 65 Thoughts is, in part, my testing the waters a little.)

I know that there are cases where creating a distance between ourselves and family or friends makes sense for the purpose of survival and self-preservation. I’m just saying it feels like this is happening more due to another person’s stance on an issue and what we are being told that MEANS about them, rather than it happening due to how that person actually treats us and others.

The upshot of the essay is our constant comparison of our moral stance to our perception of that of others, and how so many are taking advantage of our propensity to compare to stoke the flames of division.

Do this: Beware comparisons. (If you have the time, I encourage reading the essay.)

5. “Stop trying to speak butterfly to caterpillar people.”

I turn 50 tomorrow. Here’s my birthday wish for you. – Peter Shankman – (email newsletter)

Sadly, I don’t believe this is archived online yet. Here’s last year’s version, and the (new) number 10 item from this year’s list:

Stop trying to speak butterfly to caterpillar people. Not everyone is ready for your special kind of magic, and that’s OK. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that some people will never be ready for your kind of magic. But again, that’s OK. Spend your precious time focused on the people whose magic vibes with yours.

I love the metaphor. And while it’s targeted at business/entrepreneurial types, it really applies to just about everything.

Do this: Watch your language, choose your audience.

6. “A perfect storm of cognitive degradation”

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen – Johann Hari – (The Guardian)

Our dwindling attention spans are obvious to most. No matter what steps we take, it seems like we always return to a lifestyle that encourages it, and even fosters continued degradation.

It’s so much more than any specific technology or social media algorithm, though of course those all play a crucial role. It also involves stress, and sleep, and even food and air. We need a concerted effort at the societal level to restore what we’ve had taken from us.

The more our attention degrades, the harder it will be to summon the personal and political energy to take on the forces stealing our focus.

Do this: Watch where you spend your attention, and for how long.

7. “The decline of local quality journalism”

Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales on 20 Years Of Tech – David M. Ewalt – (Gizmodo)

While the interview naturally spends most of its time discussing Wikipedia, Wales surprised me. In response to a question about “fake news” and its impact on Wikipedia, he included this:

Where I do see a deeper problem is in the decline of local quality journalism. In some ways, it’s easier to write the history of my hometown, Huntsville, Alabama, during the seventies, then it is to write the history of the last five years, because there used to be two local newspapers, now there’s one, and it only comes out three times a week. It’s largely the AP newswire, and it’s edited from 100 miles away. They may have two journalists locally when there used to be ten. So I think that is a real problem. It’s not as exciting as fake news, but it’s deeply important to society.

Local journalism has really been suffering in recent years. It’s good to see someone as high profile as Wales acknowledge the problem.

Do this: Support local journalism, however you can.

8. “Offense is taken, never given.”

On Being Offended – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal Blog)

This week’s selection from my 65 Thoughts project begins:

Being offended is a choice.

Offense is taken, never given.

Oh, someone might try very hard to offend you, but actually being offended is your reaction. It’s not something foisted on you by someone else. It’s a choice.

Make better choices.

Do this: When something or someone gets your dander up … pause. Notice your reaction.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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