Insecurity vs. Security - by Russ Murray

Insecurity vs. Security?

Today, I read a brief article posted on Medium by Elan Gale entitled, “All Hail Insecurity” which I enjoyed and agreed with overall. It’s so brief you should read it before you read my comments and ideas below–click here to read in a new tab–my comments won’t make sense unless you read Elan’s post first…

OK, you’re back! What did you think of Elan’s post? I liked it, but I should point out that he focused mostly on how “bad” people are a subset of “secure” people, which makes it seem as if he’s saying insecurity is good and secure is bad. However, I think he really meant to say that insecurity is NOT bad, NOT a flaw, and may in fact be a good thing, an asset, quite often!

Anyway, perhaps you noticed one of the many comments on Elan’s post was made by a gentleman named Jakob (most likely a very secure fellow!) who began by saying, “I respectfully disagree” and offered quite a few more choice words from his point-of-view. I found myself respectfully disagreeing with Jakob, not because what he said was wrong–he said many good things about society, fragility and mental strength–but because I did not agree with his definition of insecurity, or conversely, security. If you want to read Jakob’s comments, and did not find them already, jump back to Elan’s article and scroll down to them. Beware: you may stumble across mine first! If so, ignore them, and read them below, instead…

OK, you’re back again, or never left, and have just scrolled down to read my views on Insecurity vs. Security!  Before reading my comments below, you should know my own fundamental point-of-view–my emotional makeup–from which I make them. I count myself generally as a lifelong optimist (just ask any of my friends for confirmation). However, life and experiences have caused me to become–in the second half of my life–a more cautious, and somewhat “insecure realist” now, who is unable to do anything blindly, without considering the input and ideas of others. That said, you may read my response to Elan (the post author) and Jakob (he who commented).

. . .

My response to Elan & Jakob regarding Insecurity vs. Security, etc.

Insecurity vs. Security - by Russ MurrayI respectfully agree with Elan. No, insecurity is NOT a feeling of inferiority, and it’s NOT about measuring your self worth, accomplishments, and/or successes to/by those of others. I suppose those might be the views of someone who is secure, or otherwise unfamiliar with insecurity. And it’s not always about feeling vulnerable either — that’s more fear, anxiety, and/or paranoia — it’s really about being unsure. Insecure people are concerned about making decisions without considering the ideas, positions and results of others. Secure people tend to need less, if any, input from others.

And, as Elan tries to communicate, those who experience life through the lens of insecurity, are more inclined to create and make decisions by evaluating their position and the possible results, with empathy and concern — they are unsure, requiring more input—rather than going forward based solely on their own ideas, thoughts and goals.

Insecurity is more like a guided missile that checks constantly if it’s on the right trajectory to its target, rather than just being launched into the air trusting — boldly and blindly — that it will hit the right target when it falls to earth. Some people will be guided missiles, , while others will be bold, blind rockets launched at a worthy target, expecting to hit it all or most of the time. Insecure people need to check, consider if they can/will hit the target, before they launch; secure people are more willing to launch, and launch again if they miss the target the first time.

. . .

Those are my simplified ideas and views on the subject of Insecurity and Security. Or at least it’s what poured out of my brain onto my keyboard and into the ether today. Why did I take the time to respond, then turn it into this blog post of my own? Because I count myself generally — per my own definition — as “insecure” and thought these things needed to be said, and reach a larger audience. But of course, I count myself as “insecure” by way of empathy, input and consensus-seeking, as opposed to inferiority, vulnerability, fear, anxiety and/or paranoia.

I am a guided missile, apparently.  🙂

 – Russ Murray

P.S. the “guided missile” bit is an adaptation of something I heard John Cleese say in a keynote speech made in 2000, at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. I’ve used it–in various forms–to parent both of my children, and often in my professional presentations. Just wanted to credit the source of the original kernel of an idea (since I adore John Cleese).

Impossibility and Risk

Regarding a working definition of “impossible” and “risk”

impossibility and risk - technology - business decisionsIn discussing a difficult, pending project, with many real and imagined obstacles, via email (an imperfect tool) with a partner and colleague. Business and product names have been [obscured] in the text below, to protect the [innocent] and/or [neurotic].  🙂

<I wrote> As the French writer Andre Maurois said, “the world progresses thanks to impossible things, which have been accomplished!”  I suppose this is my approach to life and business and [software name], but of course we have to be clear about what can and cannot be done, on the difficult schedule requested of us…

<He wrote> I like your approach. But to attempt the impossible is to take risk, and when you speak “software system” with  a model agency manager, well…risk is not appropriate. Are we here to attempt the impossible ? It can be dangerous (I like to philosophize at 1am 🙂

<I wrote> Regarding impossibility and risk…  I was joking, having a little fun, by sending that great quote, which I believe in, but would NOT want to live my whole life by!  The word “impossible” in this context really means, “has not been done before” or “has not yet been imagined or attempted”.  Of course, some things may be truly impossible, but as time goes by, technology and knowledge change, revealing new possibilities, and enabling new ways to do things which were previously impossible.  So it is fluid in definition, and possibility, over time.

Impossibility and Risk - definitions and go or no-go decisions<I continued…> To apply these ideas practically and appropriately to our business, I would say that we must SOMETIMES attempt things that at first appear impossible, but are really just very difficult, requiring great effort.  There is risk in this, and I have said before “nothing ventured (risked), nothing gained” but I would NOT want to live or work completely at or in risk, always attempting the impossible – we would all have heart attacks!!

<I rambled onward…> Risk = danger, and to undertake something risky requires caution, clarity and cleverness, with complete confidence in your abilities and knowledge, to find a solution and succeed.  But the risk of attempting the impossible, or very difficult and stressful, is sometimes appropriate, and necessary.  For the right strategic opportunity, we may decide to abandon the safety of our risk-free box, and work outside it…  [Client name] was such an opportunity, as it was presented to us suddenly, imperfectly, and seemingly impossible!  We did a VERY good job in attempting the impossible, enough to impress the client, so that now we can have the opportunity to do it properly on a more normal/reasonable schedule. Truly, if we had not attempted to do the risky/impossible task, we would not have the opportunity to do the big/proper one that is coming.  We passed the “test” and won their confidence – they know we are responsive and capable now….

So, now you know my views on “impossibility and risk”, at least in the related realms of business, software, and consulting (where I make my living).  Sadly, my colleague on the receiving end of this diatribe, on the aforementioned subject did NOT share my views, even after this eloquent and heartfelt email exchange. Not even the exquisitely apropos quote from the French (my colleague’s home language) writer was enough to sway him, and change his mind.

However, finally, ultimately, I DID accomplish my objective, and my colleague agreed to move forward with my idea and approach to the complex project we contemplated. How did I change his mind?  I didn’t.  But I DID overwhelm him with the passion, eloquence and tenacity of my arguments, so that it seemed to him there was no alternative but to go forward as I demanded (strongly suggested). Oh, and the project turned out to be a huge success, just as I knew (believed) it would!

I believe this is a common thing in business and life. That one person arguing to attempt the impossible – in spite of the obvious risks – may effectively “win the argument” without actually convincing, or changing the mind of, the other person.  Thus, the impossible may be undertaken, and becomes possible, because at least one person – alone, or part of a team – believes fiercely that it was possible all along.

This is something powerful and empowering to contemplate, as you consider undertaking your next impossible, risky task or project.  Or better yet, don’t think about it at all – just believe it to be possible – and make it so!!

Good luck with undertaking your next impossible (risky) task. 🙂

 – Russ Murray –