Circling Back To The Power and Blessing of Conflict

Good TimberRecently I was asked an interesting question that needs further elaboration, than the 30-seconds I could devote to the answer.  The question, “As a disabled person, in a professional setting (workplace), do I expect others to accommodate me?”  At the time, I used pieces of Douglas Malloch’s poem “Good Timber” as an analogy to help answer this question, stating that a tree in a forest does not demand another tree stop growing in their direction for sunshine, air and water.  Thus becoming a forest giant through individual growth, adaptation, individual choice, time, goal setting, and working with other trees.

Here is Douglas Malloch’s poem “Good Timber” declaring the natural law, “Conflict is Good!

Good Timber
by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing
.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began
.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow
.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life
.

Discussion

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1True story, I learned to swim by being thrown into the deep end of a lake and told to get back to shore on my own; my mother was never one for “easy lessons.”  The conflict made me understand and learn how to coordinate movement, and I learned to swim.  Not well, and to this day, I swim like I am beating the water into submission, not in a manner that is conducive to smooth and flowing coordinated movement.  The conflict of motion and resistance, movement and flow has taught me a lot about science, engineering, hydraulics, and much more; but I do not thank my mother for this “swimming” lesson!

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow
.

Conflict clipart resolved, Conflict resolved Transparent ...As a process of learning and developing, conflict has been the driving factor in all of our lives.  Conflict is a tool, and like all tools, when used appropriately, it can build, enhance, strengthen, and create.  Whereas, if the tool is improperly used, destruction, damage, and chaos are spawned.  Regardless, life lessons can be learned in both uses of conflict when two additional tools are added, self-reflection over time.  It took a long time to realize the value of science in the lessons of swimming taught in almost drowning.  Remember, the forest giant in Douglas Malloch’s poem did not become a forest king without scars.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.

Conflictpreventie en -management voor zorgverleners ...Conflict happens; what a person chooses to do with that conflict and how that person considers conflicting occurrences is how the labels “good,” “bad,” “valuable,” “beneficial,” etc., are applied.  McShane and Von Gilnow (2004, p. 390) postulated, “conflict as beneficial [when] intergroup conflict improves team dynamics, increase cohesiveness, and task orientation. … [C]onditions of moderate conflict, motivates team members to work more efficiently toward goals increasing productivity.”  The sentiment regarding conflict as a tool and beneficial is echoed throughout the research of Jehn (1995).  Jehn (1995) reflected that the groups researched labeled the conflict as beneficial, good, bad, etc. based on the group’s dynamics and the conflicts faced and settled, the groups formed an integrated model for organizational conflict.  Essentially, how the conflict is approached and used by the team members individually and collectively dictates how beneficial the conflict is for the team and the organization.

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow
.

Rao (2017) built upon previous researchers’ shoulders, perceiving conflict being a tool, and provided vital strategies for leaders to employ if they choose to minimize conflict; however, if conflict is minimized, a caution is required.  Minimizing conflict just to minimize conflict is not the road to success, but the road to ruination.  Douglas Malloch was quite clear on this point and it must be understood.

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing
.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began
.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow
.

PPT - Developing Your Conflict Competence PowerPoint ...Thus, it cannot be stated enough, nor without sufficient emphasis, the leader who chooses to minimize conflict is leading their team to destruction, ruination, and despair.  But, isn’t the path of less conflict more restful and peaceful?  What about all those people who claim conflict is bad, fighting and war are terrible things and should be avoided at all costs.  Let us examine Douglas Malloch further:

Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.

Good TimberAs a child, I had the privilege of examining up close and personal a forrest giant.  The closest branch to the ground was 35’ in the air, the trunk had a girth of more than 25’, and the tree stood on the edge of an embankment.  Gloriously large specimen of a maple tree.  The tree hosted several families of squirrels, birds, and who knows how many other woodland creatures.  When the tree was permanently damaged by a hurricane in 1989, a company paid my grandmother a princely sum to harvest this tree for the hardwood.  My brother and I counted the rings to know the age of the tree and got to over 200 years.  A true forrest giant indeed.  As the tree was harvested for lumber, it was discovered the tree had been shot and wounded, several branches had been damaged by fire, multiple branches had been broken off and healed over, barbed wire was embedded in the tree and some wood was poisioned by the iron, and the harvester told us a lot about what the tree had experienced during its lifetime.Managed Quotes | Managed Sayings | Managed Picture Quotes

Rao (2017) intimated that “conflict builds character, whereas crisis defines character” [p. 93].  Recognizing that conflict labels are an individual choice, and character building is a choice left to the individual to onboard or shun, one is left with several questions, when conflict occurs, and crisis happen, what do you choose, fold or grow?

Kipling writes a “Just So Story” titled “The Tree and the Grass.”  The tree boasts about its strength, its height, its ability, and strength, and one day the tree falls prey to the wind and falls.  However, what is not clearly delineated, is that the tree is not in a forrest, but on a plain.  The moral according to Kipling was that, one should “never condemn others looking at your greatness as nothing exists for ever.”   While the moral is correct, and the lesson important, the fact that the conflict and crisis the tree faced, the wind, was on this occaision crippling and life shattering, is the cogent point for focus.  Douglas Malloch points out another very important point:

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing
.

The tree on the plain is never prepared for crisis and conflict, and falls prey to both due to a lack of preparation.  The tree that is born into conflict and crisis is prepared from day one to understand the role of conflict and crisis, and then face both as friends and tools.  Thus the problems with leaders who choose to avoid conflict and why these leaders will flail, fail, and lead their teams and businesses into failure and ruination.

Avoid Workplace Conflict Through Better Collaboration ...Thompson (2008) calls those who actively work to avoid conflict as those taking “trips to Abilene;” included in those making trips to Abilene are those who take conflict personally and choose to become offended, as well as those who choose not to see conflict, as a method of ignoring conflict.  Thomas (1992) captured how individual choices about the valuation of conflict open or close the door to the productive use of conflict.  Ignoring conflict, avoiding conflict, and other strategies to avoid conflict form the most dangerous people to be around, for when conflict grows beyond a point where it can no longer be ignored or avoided, that is the conflict that can destroy people, places, and things.

Thomas (1992) is echoe in Jehn (1995), Lencioni (2002), and Thompson (2008) declaring the distinction between conflict as a process and the structure in which the conflict process occurred is critical to how beneficial the conflict will be for the team, business, or society.  Conflict is the mental thinking, adherence to operating procedures, and individuals working become the instigating factor, which is a threat to what is known or done at the current time.  Hence, Thomas (1992) provided a keen insight into conflict as a tool, purposeful initiation of a process (conflict) to improve a structure (organizational environment).Cheryl Richardson Quote: "If you avoid conflict to keep ...

When people recognize the power of conflict and purposefully employ conflict, everyone receives the potential to improve through conflict (Lencioni, 2002).  Thus, conflict continues to be a tool, nothing more and nothing less.  The disparities between organizational conflict labels are critical to understanding the chasm between teams evaluating conflict as the process and business structure. The gap in understanding conflict’s results can create inhibitions to future organizational conflict and create unneeded additional conflict processes while undermining the organizational structure.Conflict Quotes - Famous Disagreement Quotations & Sayings

How will you choose to use conflict?  Will you grow or fold?  Will you break yourself to become better knowing that the deadwood you cast off is healthier long term than holding onto the past and pretending you are still able to hold onto everything?  Will you keep an open wound instead of allowing time and healing to form a scar and a callous to protect you from additional injury?  Is the injury worth growing or is the injury too much and it is time to fall and die?  Conflict and crisis will define or defeat based solely upon the choices you make.  How will you decide?

References

Amason, A. C. (1996). Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams. Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148. doi:http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.2307/256633

Baron, R. A. (1991). Positive Effects of Conflict: A Cognitive Perspective. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 4(1), 25-36.

Brazzel, M. (2003). Chapter XIII: Diversity conflict and diversity conflict management. In D. L. Plummer (Ed.), Handbook of diversity management: Beyond awareness to competency based learning (pp. 363-406). Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Du, F., Erkens, D. H., & Xu, K. (2018). How trust in subordinates affects service quality: Evidence from a large property management firm. Business.Illinois.edu. Retrieved from https://business.illinois.edu/accountancy/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/03/Managerial-Symposium-2018-Session-IV-Du-Erkens-and-Xu.pdf

Jehn, K. A. (1995). A multi-method exanimation of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256-282.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons.

Lumineau, F., Eckerd, S., & Handley, S. (2015). Inter-organizational conflicts. Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, 1(1), 42-64. doi:10.1177/2055563614568493

McShane, S. L., & Von Gilnow, M. A. (2004). Organizational Behavior, Third Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Moeller, C., & Kwantes, C. T. (2015). Too Much of a Good Thing? Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Conflict Behaviors. Journal of Social Psychology, 155(4), 314-324. doi:10.1080/00224545.2015.1007029

Rao, M. (2017). Tools and techniques to resolve organizational conflicts amicably. Industrial and Commercial Training, 49(2), 93-97. doi:10.1108/ict-05-2016-0030

Thomas, K. W. (1992). Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 265-274.

Thompson, L. L. (2008). Chapter 8: Conflict in teams – Leveraging differences to create opportunity. In Making the team: A guide for managers (3rd ed., pp. 201-220). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.

The Power Found in Restraint – Appetite Control is Freedom!

Exclamation MarkThere is a principle in life, “If you are not whole without something, you will never be whole with it.”  Modern psychology will not teach restraint to gain freedom.  It will often try to encourage a person to continue to do self-harm through their lifestyle while at the same time trying to find inner peace through the same lifestyle causing inner turmoil.  Yet, natural law and common sense declare if what you are currently doing is causing you distress, stop what you are presently doing first.

Several times in my life, I have had the pleasure of working with people who have been in this crisis.  All of these people are good people; I make no judgments about their lifestyle choices, moral codes, or desires.  Simply making observations as compared to the principle under discussion.Bait & Switch 2

Person 1, male, arrives onboard the USS Barry, an American Aegis Destroyer about the same time as I.  Works as a cook.  A hard-working person expresses his innermost desire is to obtain a tattoo. It has always been his dream to have a single tattoo.  He thinks it will make him tough.  Upon return to America, he gets a tattoo, then another, and then several more.  He gets off on the pain, but with every tattoo, his soul becomes more and more distressed and anguished, and he begins to hate his appearance simultaneously and desires more tattoos.  Because he was never a complete person mentally, he will never be complete with a tattoo without a tattoo.  He does not understand why something which gives him pleasure through pain is also causing him more mental and spiritual anguish.combatindex.com: DDG 52 : USS BARRY

Person 2, female, sailor from the USS Barry, born and raised in a Christian home, always harbored doubts about religion but never voiced them.  She always considered religion to be a restraint on freedom.  She joins the US Navy, cuts ties to the religion of her youth, and claims she has never been freer.  Her promiscuity is the stories of legends told in the engine rooms and back passageways of the ship.  Her friends on board are scared she will crash and burn on some port visit and find a dead body where their friend used to be.  This sailor thought sex would be the ultimate expression of freedom.  Instead, it became the chains of her demise mentally, physically, and spiritually.  When  I met her, very little remained of the modest and good person she had been as she was growing up; by the time I left the ship, she was unrecognizable.

Two very good people, quick to help, hard-working, people of different backgrounds, but essentially the same.  They discovered the same truth through two very different means, and the truth had nearly broken them when I left the ship.  I grieve for my colleagues and their friends.  By not knowing who they were and understanding their potential, the added freedoms and responsibilities of becoming adults were not the freedoms they expected but chains by which they bound themselves to paths of pain and destruction.

The Paradox

Carl R. Rogers Quote: "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can ...A paradox is anything that initially appears to be two opposing forces, but when studied, they are not opposites but are closer related than opposites.  For example, one of the principles in understanding oneself and enjoying freedom is accepting restraints.  Case in point, using person 2, had she exercised the modesty discussed in the religion of her youth, she would have found that sexual relations are improved with restraint, not ruined with discretion.  Lies spread in society since the 1960s have claimed that sex is free, has no consequences, and can be engaged in without concern.  All of these are absurd lies leading to the destruction of everyone who listens and becomes engrossed in the lifestyle of free sex.  Hence, sexual restraint is a paradox; practicing restraint in sexual relations improves sexual relations, not hinders them, a contradiction, and freedom is found in restraint.

Person 3 has been observed the longest and is a family member, one of my younger brothers, to be precise.  He has lived his life in a manner that has seen him restrained by external forces because he refuses internal restraint—losing good companions as wives, relationships with children, friends, and colleagues along the way.  All of which has been difficult to witness, but the real tragedy has been the hero-worship heaped upon my younger brother by other more youthful siblings, leading them into dangerous and difficult paths.  Hence, you could call Person 3 an amalgamate of four of my younger siblings, all of whom have chosen paths of appetite fulfillment instead of appetite suppressant.Remember

By choosing to engage in appetite fulfillment, each of them has chased his one preferred appetite, to the exclusion of other all else, usually to the detriment of spousal relationships, children relationships, familial bonds, and responsibilities to society and themselves.  Worse, the shell of these people forms a prickly wall around genuinely good people, who, if they would choose to learn, could be taught appetite suppression.

Training is Contingent Upon Choosing to Learn

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned is that those who choose to learn will, and those who choose to refuse to learn will as well.  Nothing a teacher can do will change a student’s mind once it is made to refuse to learn.  Unfortunately, this means that the teacher will witness a lot of struggles in the student, watch the student experience consequences, and be harmed physically and mentally from the choices made to refuse to learn.

Andragogy - LEARNBelieve it or not, appetite control is a choice and begins with a desire to learn.  The paradox in training is that when the desire to learn is stronger than the appetite to remain ignorant, the learner will produce the effort to change through learning.  This is why appetite control is such a critical and fundamental topic for understanding.  Desire is appetite, an appetite is a tool for good or ill, and bridling an appetite is every person’s job if they choose self-mastery as a means of self-regulation and self-improvement.  When we choose self-mastery, we choose to become free!

Freedom is a paradox of bridled appetites to the greater realization that through suppressed appetite and controlled desires, a person can enjoy more, not less.  Can learn and experience more, have more, become more, and realize more potential.  Long have I been fascinated with racehorses, and the story of Black Beauty is one of my all-time favorites.

How Black Beauty Gave Animals a Voice - ilovehorses.netHow are the best racehorses made?  Sure, breeding helps.  But, training is as, if not more, crucial.  A good animal does not become a great animal until they are placed into the hands of a good trainer who puts restraints upon the animal.  A bridle, a harness, a saddle, wrap their legs to protect against ligament strain, shoes on their feet, and much more.  Then over time, the animal learns that the restraints, which at first were chafing and fought against, become the tools by which the horse achieves greatness.  The same is true for humans, every human, and those who, throw the restraints, never achieve freedom, never achieve excellence, and refuse their potential for momentary happiness, all because of appetite.

Living in a representative government, the citizenry needs to understand this lesson and monitor those elected for people who refuse restraint.  Those who refuse restraint will gather everyone who chooses to take a lazy route to their side, and in doing so, will ruin the representative government and destroy liberty for all.  The debt so many representative governments face right now, which has reached critical mass stages, is due to unbridled appetite and appetite fulfillment for the masses when the government needed appetite restraint instead.  The world’s problems in Afghanistan where rampant appetite fulfillment for the masses when appetite restraint was required.  Terrorism is nothing but an unbridled appetite mixed with modern weapons and a desire to watch the world burn, more unbridled appetites.

Knowledge Check!Do we understand that only through restraining our appetites can we personally enjoy freedom?  Do we teach appetite restraint to our children, knowing that when they control themselves, they can enjoy freedom, and help them to understand why appetite restraint is a good thing?  Do we exemplify appetite restraint in society in speech, clothes, manners and encourage others to do similarly?  If not, why?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.