(Context is the general that lends meaning to the specific.)
Sound bites. Headline grabbers. Head-turning quotes. All in the hope that the content goes viral. This is what drives today’s “news”.
While these dramatic, if not misleading headlines might pull eyeballs, turn ears and gain air time with their shock value, they do a huge disservice to those of us trying to find news where we can get facts, figures, as well as interpretation and analysis by an ‘expert’ in the field. [Of course many of us know enough to understand that bias always plays a role, and you must always consider the source…as discussed in my previous article about bias and fact vs. fiction].
In a day and age where Russian bots influence what’s trending, spin gets typed up in 280 characters or less, and the term ‘fake news’ is bandied about when someone doesn’t like what they are hearing, it is refreshing to see reporting that is grounded in fact, understands historical context, and attempts to acknowledge the culture.
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This article is about a storytelling device known as a macguffin. As you enjoy reading about how film directors and writers have used macguffins for years, possibly in some of your favorite movies, try to keep track of how many times I use the word “good” in the article below.
A Storytelling Device To Move the Plot Forward
A macguffin is described as a plot device that propels a story forward. A macguffin can be an object that is valuable in and of itself such as a diamond, an artifact or an expensive piece of artwork. Or the macguffin can be valuable in that it is an object or person of interest, such as something containing valuable data or secrets. A macguffin can also be an ideal such as power, love, or glory.
Examples of Macguffin
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We Seek Happiness, But Happiness, Like Success, is Elusive
Above any other goal, humans seek happiness. Aristotle came to this conclusion more than 2,300 years ago when he reasoned that happiness is sought for its own sake, whereas every other goal – health, wealth, power and others – is only valued because we expect that it will bring us happiness.
While much has changed since Aristotle came to this conclusion, one could argue that we are no closer to understanding and teaching the path to happiness than the ancients. That is Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s argument in a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-hi) states that happiness,
“…is not something that just happens. It is not a result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power can control. It is, in fact, a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person.”
To seek happiness is to grab water. Not only do we feel continually frustrated by our failure, we also feel miserable in the process. Another way to state this: happiness is a byproduct, not an end product.
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A case for more organizations to identify and grow leaders from within. How does one ever know their capacities until they’re tested?
A common complaint from senior-level management in many companies is the lack of leadership skills demonstrated by their employees, which they note as:
- independent thinking
- creative problem-solving
- analytical thinking
- effective communication
When I assisted a Los Angeles-based client with this issue, I began by looking for the future leaders within the company. I was looking for employees who might currently be underutilized, untested, underdeveloped or even unseen.
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“Understand that all of your emotions are based in either fear or love.”
– Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #2
“Know that you can’t experience hatred without also experiencing fear.”
-Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #35
When we understand that all of our emotions stem from either fear or love, we can begin to acknowledge how our insecurities and fears determine how we might respond to people or events in our lives. When we feel hate, or respond with hatred, it is always based in fear. This begs the question – what is it that we fear, and why do we fear it?
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Many business owners tell me that the biggest challenge they face is a “leadership vacuum” within their organizations. They usually identify the following problems at two different levels within the organization:
- Their senior level managers, while competent overall, are lacking skills in one or more critical areas: knowledge of the business, capacity to lead, or ability to create and/or implement vision and directives.
- The mid-level managers perform their duties quite adequately but fail to demonstrate consistent capacities to think strategically, and then communicate those strategic decisions with others.
While it’s true that “you can’t send ducks to eagle school,” it has been my experience that more often than not, the managers that lack a few critical skills can be developed into fine organizational leaders and strategic thinkers. However, the solution isn’t as easy as having them sit through a training course on strategic thinking or leadership. The real solution consists of changing the driving myths of the culture in which these managers operate.
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I recently had the honor of addressing 700 Navy attorneys (both civilian and military) on the topic of leadership in a time of change. Immediately before my talk, the Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, addressed the audience on the main context for the event – ‘Gamechangers: Transforming the Present and Future.’
“Don’t avoid risk. You’ll get nothing done. Understand risk and manage risk.”
–Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley
It’s difficult to talk about change without bringing up the concept of risk. Why? Because of our natural human tendency, based on the way our minds function, to operate in a sameness pattern. We resist change, which generally means we avoid taking risks. The well-worn pathways of our brain’s neural networks feel as natural as our most comfortable pair of blue jeans. Why change what is comfortable? Read more »
The Power of Losing Control eBook Offered to over 100,000 Navy Military & Civilian Employees
An e-copy of Joe Caruso’s bestselling book, The Power of Losing Control, has been made available to members of the Navy within the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment) domain for professional development.
The eBook is made available through Caruso Leadership to any member of the team of over 100,000 military and civilians who wish to download a complimentary eBook for both their professional and personal development, with a special focus on leadership. (Acceptance of the book is permissible under the Standards of Ethical Conduct pursuant to a gift exception for information materials.)
The book, subtitled “Finding Strength, Meaning and Happiness in an Out of Control World,” offers leadership lessons through stories, as well as usable tools such as The Four Rules of Engagement, to help improve every interaction with others, with the ultimate goal of creating greater success for individuals and teams alike.
The book has been published in six languages and consistently receives 5-star ratings on Amazon.
More about ASN EI&E
More about Joe Caruso and Caruso Leadership
When you were a kid, you probably had a few games you cherished as favorites. Chances are your favorite games were the ones you were better at playing, and given the choice, you would prefer to teach someone your game than to learn the new game.
In a lot of ways, we are kids in grown-up clothes. And millions of us in corporate America are facing the same dilemma:
- stick to the same game?
- or learn the new game?
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Joe Caruso Keynotes Training Event for Department of the Navy, Office of General Counsel
Joe Caruso, author, keynote speaker, and founder of Caruso Leadership, was honored to accept an invitation from the Department of the Navy (DON) Office of General Counsel (OGC) to address a team comprised of more than 750 civilian and uniformed attorneys at their annual training symposium. This team of attorneys provides a full range of legal services to Navy and Marine Corps clients worldwide.
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