By now you've probably heard of Richard Sherman's brief, yet heated monologue after this week's NFC Championship game. Unless of course you hate football and/or have been living under a rock; it has caused quite a stir in the news.
The Seattle Seahawks and the San Fransico 49ers are bitter rivals in the NFC West division. During the regular season they played twice, each winning their game in their home stadium. With the score close and time running out, the 49ers moved to win the game with a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. Richard Sherman of the Seahawks narrowly prevents this and Seattle wins the game. After the play, Crabtree and Sherman (who have their own less-than-friendly history) exchanged words and Crabtree gave Sherman a shove to the face. As the game officially ended, reports rushed to Sherman to get his comments. They got more than they bargained for[video]:
Well, I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get! Don't you EVER talk about me. Crabtree, don't you open your mouth about the best. Or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick.
The internet and social media erupted with much to say about this. Unfortunately, much of it was emotionally charged and less than honorable. In an effort to combat this, I propose a more rational approach. To help us, we'll bring in 18 century German philosopher Immanuel Kant and concept of the categorical imperative.
The categorical imperative states: "Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
It's often referred to as the philosophical version of the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do to you). An example that Kant gives in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Moral:
A person wants to borrow money, but knows he can't repay the money back. However, he can't get the loan unless he promises to do so (a promise he can't keep). So Kant defines the maxim of this behavior as "Whenever I believe myself short of money, I will borrow money and promise to pay it back, though I know that this will never be done." Kant says that this can never be a universal law because it would lead to a complete lack of trust. In fact this could undermine the entire lending system. Therefore, he should not do this.
So what is the maxim that Richard Sherman demonstrates? Let's say the maxim would be "Whenever I feel wronged by another person and presented with the opportunity to be on national television I will choose to voice my displeasure with that person at that time."
Now we ask, "What would happen if everyone acted this way?" I think a world following this maxim would be a worse place to live. Publicly calling out others so frequently would make understanding, reconciliation, and trust much harder to accomplish. So I think Kant would be against Sherman's behavior.
What do you think? Would you apply the categorical imperative differently or use another method like utilitarianism? Whichever method you use, you'll probably benefit from slowing down to think jumping to conclusions. Be civil, that's what this is all about.
Here are the top 5 posts from the blog in 2013.
In the top spot is my rogue attempt at personal development. Using what I learned about complexity in 2012, I try an alternative to traditional goal-setting.
Speak up, or let your work talk for you?:
A story about what might happen if don't define your value upfront.
Near, Far, and Full Context:
A Twitter conversation that started about semantics turned into the #3 post last year.
Analyzing Performance Problems:
Do you know someone who thinks training is the right remedy for every problem? Make sure they read this post!
Chasm of Complexity:
This was one of my favorites from last year. Why do we neglect the most important elements of organizational development? There's an imposing gap between easy complicated stuff and the complex stuff.
Did you have a favorite post from last year? Tell me about it in the comments.
Honestly, how many of us like New Year's resolutions? We love the idea of starting new, with a clean slate. But the goal-setting can easily feel like an obligation rather than enjoyment. No way that's going to inspire you to learn and grow through out 2014! Here are some ideas of what to do instead.
Chris Brogan - 3 words:
He uses 3 words as guideposts for his efforts the coming year. Each word works as a placeholder for a larger idea he wants to focus on to improve. The important thing is that one pick words that make you feel something rather than catchy, meaningless buzzwords. Read more here:
Ali Edwards - One Little Word:
If choosing three words seems daunting to you, why not just make it one word. Again, it has to be something meaningful to you personally. Use it as a lens to see view your world in 2014. Read about Ali's words here:
Leo Babauta - Just Wing It:
Who needs goals at all! Blogger and minimalist Leo Babauta used to be very goal oriented but eventually decided to live a life without goals. Read about his journey here:
James Clear - Focus on the journey, not the destination:
What if instead of focusing on what goals you want to achieve, you looked at the steps it would take to get you there? Take a simple habit and make that something you do everyday. It much less taunting, and you'll probably be successful in reaching your goal anyway! Check out this article on Entrepreneur for more:
The Personal Cynefin:
I'll end with a shameless plug for an experiment I've been doing this past year in place of arbitrary goal-setting. The Cynefin framework is a way to make sense of what's going on in your life and naturally allowing possibilities emerge to action on. According to the nature of these opportunities your next steps might be experimentation or consulting an expert. This idea is still in its infancy, but you can read the posts I wrote about it last year to get a feel for how it works and contact me if you have questions or want to try it yourself.
Part 1: Intro
Part 2: Narrative
Part 3: Mapping
Part 4: Wrap-up
Hopefully, I've given you plenty of alternatives to the same-old, unsuccessful New Year's resolutions that now over half of us don't even bother doing. The important thing is to stop setting idealistic goals. Instead, start with where you are, make sense out it, and take action on the opportunities to present themselves. If I've nudged you just a little to say "No" to the status quo this year, I'm happy to have helped. Which idea seems the most promising to you?
Jay Johnson writes to inspire unconventional thinking coupled with unconventional doing for a better tomorrow.