Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 238, June 2019)

A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Past copies are archived on our website.
Copyright 2019 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1934-3116 

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.

Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. I'm Just Sayin'...

2. Musings

3. The Human Condition: Fandom


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• I don’t know more about my client’s business than my client does, so why would the client think he or she knows more about consulting than I do?

• Send your letters elsewhere, but women on Linkedin and YouTube attempting to talk about their expertise who are wearing low-cut lace tops, and showing all kinds of skin, don’t impress me as sophisticated and professional business people.

• When you’re attempting to parallel park (a dying art), and you don’t move your wheel at different angels but just go back and forth, you’ll get no closer to the curb and probably require an Über to get you to the sidewalk.

• Why is it that some doormen in private buildings dress like rear admirals?

• When times are great, owners of small businesses often don’t return calls or bother to look after their best customers. When times are bad, these same owners bemoan their fate and can’t figure out why no one is calling.

• People who run up the aisle at the final curtain of a play to get out quickly, and don’t stay to applaud the actors, strike me as having really shallow priorities in life.

• You cannot fund a geopolitical unit primarily on gambling proceeds and marijuana sales, sorry. The legislature has to attract and nurture small businesses. Of course, that takes talent and brains.

• I love taxi drivers and companies which want to sue Über and Lyft for coming to town. That’s like pencil manufacturers suing the computer industry.

• Netflix, Hulu, Prime, CBS All Access—okay, some great choices and variety for entertainment. But is it so hard, technologically, to simply allow me to key in what I want and not have to navigate through ten screens?

• Vindictiveness has never endeared me to anyone, including politicians. Justice, yes. Retribution, no.

• If European airlines can serve a meal in business class on a two-hour flight, why can’t American serve one in three hours in first class?

• People who scream rather than speak in a normal tone of voice always seem insecure to me. It’s as if they were ignored in their homes and work and had to make a fuss to be heard.

• I’ve overheard some of the dumbest business resolutions and suggestions from people on their phones on the Acela than I can recount. I want to say to them, “Are you out of your mind? And you’re saying this out loud so others can hear you? Do you want some good job advice?” I don’t, of course, because they wouldn’t listen.

How can the two major political parties field, on the one side, 20 people for the nomination, none of whom impress me or seem remotely connected to reality, and on the other, someone whose coat of arms should be a shield of bombast on a field of pomposity? Even if you approve of Trumps’s policies, his ravings are embarrassing, and every one of the Democrats seems to have fingernails grasping some impossibility: forgive all college loans; free healthcare for everyone; unrestricted immigration; banning fossil fuel use; reparations for slavery from 150 years ago, without knowing who deserves it and who should provide it.

If I’ve offended your sensibilities I’m not apologizing because my job is to make you think. A woman wrote me to tell me that if I didn’t publish more articles consistent with her thinking she’d have to unsubscribe—from my free newsletter! That’s quite a threat! She did unsubscribe when I replied telling her I wasn’t writing for her, I was writing for me.

This isn’t a partisan column. I’m an independent voter and I despair over the two-party system as it exists today. The root of my despair is that we cannot produce outstanding candidates for office (and not solely at the federal level). Outstanding people eschew political candidacy because of the beating it involves from the media, the hawkish pursuit of negatives, the low-lifes who scramble through ancient yearbooks to turn up a youthful indiscretion, as though no one can change, mature, improve, or learn.

The system produces, well, politicians. And I don’t believe three consecutive words they utter, and that includes “hello.” They obfuscate, bloviate, and recriminate. They are seeking personal power, without term limits outside of the presidency, and they serve themselves first and best. We have no “statesmen” (or stateswomen) anymore.

The last election was a contest between two deeply flawed candidates. We tend to vote on single issues today (abortion, immigration, gun control, etc.) or the dreaded “identity.” We don’t vote for a person holistically, perhaps because the people running are so one-dimensional. In Rhode Island, members of the legislature, senate, supreme court, and executive branch have gone to prison at nearly twice the average rate of the general population of the U.S.

I’ve often observed here and elsewhere that we live in a system created by geniuses which can be run by idiots. That’s impressive in terms of the forefathers’ planning, but just once couldn’t we have some geniuses running the system in our lifetime?

Santayana defined a fanatic as someone who loses sight of his goals and consequently redoubles his efforts. “Fan” is a derivative of fanatic.

While I enjoyed the original Star Wars immensely all those years ago, I’ve found an increasingly attenuated storyline and meagre content as the producers continued to grind out successive sequels and prequals to milk the revenue potential. I got into an argument with my son who claimed that it was a consistent series and you had to be part of the culture. He grew up with it at a younger age than I.

I don’t think so. Star Wars became quite boring and predictable, with special effects that were no longer so fascinating. Yet the bizarre conventions continued, the lemming-like journey to the theaters, the fans in costume seeking autographs from mediocre actors.

"Jaws” was the same way, a brilliant, terrifying, original idea spoiled by too much emphasis on squeezing out the last drop of profit, and ultimately resulting in the theatrical phrase “jumping the shark” meaning the writers were desperately dry of ideas and resorting to the nonsensical to try to continue. Even the great Seinfeld series jumped the shark when George’s fiancée died from licking wedding invitation envelopes, and the final episode, in jail, was hugely disappointing.

Now we have Game of Thrones, which has become so awfully lugubrious that I was just rooting for some cataclysmic ending that destroyed all life. The special effects are boring and often poorly done, the battles predictable, the philosophic conversations laughable. Yet people watched to the bitter end fueled by the happy momentum of its better days. (This habit of simply existing too long applies to The Walking Dead, How to Get Away with Murder, Fear of the Walking Dead, and a raft of other TV shows which are simply out of gas but coasting downhill on writing fumes.)

I understand people acting out The Rocky Horror Show at midnight in the theaters. That’s an interactive kind of complimentary mockery. I can’t understand, though, being so fanatically loyal to the origins of a story that you pay money and/or commit time to desultory continuations designed just to fleece the customers.

I would pay to watch Jabba the Hutt meet Cersei and root for them both to lose.

We were staying at the beautiful Hotel Ashbee in Taormina, Sicily, where I also had a couple of days of meetings. During our first break I headed for the men’s room in the nearby hall, which was all marble and glass. However, upon entering I immediately bumped into someone entering on my right who I had failed to see. As I hastily said, “Excuse me!” I recognized something familiar and realized I had bumped into a floor-to-ceiling mirror bearing my reflection.

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Balancing Act® is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing the blending of life, work, and relationships, based on the popular Balancing Act workshops and writing of Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Contact us for further information at: [email protected].
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© Alan Weiss 2019

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.


See Writing on the Wall, featuring Koufax the Wonder Dog.




Not all people can be, or want to be, helped. Focus on the ones that do. You’re an expert, not a saint.

Alan Weiss