Adjusting Your Threshold for “NO”

Just Say "No"

Suppose you and your colleagues are at a business dinner with the boss. Everyone has done well to stay within their budgets by not ordering the most expensive items on the menu. On the other hand, the boss has had an aperitif, escargot, Caesar salad, Lobster Thermidor, chocolate torte, cappuccino, and Courvoisier when the bill arrives. Grabbing the check he suggests authoritatively, why don’t we just split this evenly.  …. ‘I don’t think so’.

Suppose you belong to an organization where there are long standing procedures for gaining admittance in order to reap the benefits of membership. After a while the club chairman and the membership committee look the other way while rules for admittance are ignored. Over time the organization becomes overrun with outsiders that weren’t subjected to the same scrutiny or criteria for membership and proceed to take advantage of all the rewards and benefits without paying any of the dues.  ….’Over my dead body’.

Once again you’re at dinner with 10 friends, with a little different twist. This time let’s suppose you’re at a restaurant with a fixed price menu. Unfortunately, there are several in your party that seem to have come up short when the bill arrives even though they knew the price before anyone sat down to eat. You, being the good friend and by virtue of having more abundant resources than the others, generously pay for the meals of at least four of your friends. When there is still not enough money to cover the bill the restaurant owner arrives at the table and singles you out as not having paid your fair share. …. ‘I beg your pardon’.

Suppose your company is dealing with a difficult financial issue and a large consensus of the employees stock holders, and the consultants hired to consult on the matter believe that the wisest resolution exists with Option A. The CEO and his inner circle have been lobbying hard for Option B even though it has been tried elsewhere with lackluster results, poor returns on investment, and expensive cost overruns. Following numerous appeals to employees and stockholders for his plan with diminishing results the CEO maneuvers behind closed doors within the Board of Directors to obtain the requisite amount of votes to get his Option B passed. ….’No way’.

Suppose after years of spending frivolously you had taken great pains in disciplining yourself to become debt free and financially responsible. Imagine your response if your spouse then made a financial decision against your wishes that saddled you with a large, long term debt thus wiping out any gains on living within your means. …’Are you kidding me’? 

Suppose you had a good friend that lived on the other side of town in a bad neighborhood. You’ve shared friendship and similar ideals for several years while acting as a big brother in his defense many times when the bad actors in his neighborhood threatened or attacked. Recently however, the authorities and the media have acted as if your friend is an instigator and any trouble taking place in his neighborhood is solely his fault. You know this does not mesh with what you know about his disposition and the ugly nature of his neighborhood. What’s worse is that the authorities seem more inclined to appease his enemies who have long threatened to do him great harm. ….’Wait a second’.

Immigration, healthcare, progressive tax rates, federal spending, Middle East foreign policy all have similarities to smaller personal issues we face in our own lives. The boss,  CEO, restaurant owner, chairman, the spouse, and the authorities are simply metaphors for all those in our political structure that seem to think they know what’s best for you based on the world they want to create.

When we put things on a personal level sometimes they make a complex scenario easier to understand. Most of you reading this would have trouble standing for any of the six situations outlined above as they relate directly to you. Yet we feel a sense of utter helplessness and a certain civic temerity when inequities and outright dishonesty is dished out by our own government.

The good news is that, more and more, we are pushing back against this type of sociopolitical behavior. The Tea Party has the political establishment on both sides of the aisle pulling their hair out; and for good reason.

When you hear something in the media or read something on the internet that just doesn’t smell right …  > break it down and make it personal. If after analyzing it you wouldn’t do it as a parent, spouse, employee, executive, or business owner, why would you ever support similar fundamental behaviors proposed by some politician, pundit, or expert du jour?

If you are confused about national and world events, it’s not surprising. Confusion is a well used tactic of those that have things to hide.

“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood”.     (Henry Miller)

Even though we were chided into believing there would be greater political transparency, one must remain confident in knowing that what they do (for us and to us) in DC is not brain surgery. It’s not hard to see that they count on our confusion of the issues (“we have to pass the bill so we can see what’s in it” … Nancy Pelosi, 2010) and the laziness we have displayed in the past when we failed to connect the dots. Basic logic at the personal level is essential to unscrambling the every day  nonsense that dribbles your way from our political leaders.


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