Sunday Best – April 9, 2017

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.    – Thomas Merton

What’s Your Jello?

I revisited one of my favorite talks recently: the New Grand Strategy by Capt. Wayne Porter and Col. Mark Mykleby. I first heard of their work at the PopTech Conference a few years ago, then read their initial paper on the Wilson Center site, then finally the book that most recently emerged from the same set of ideas.

This time through, the line that really hit home was one about squeezing Jello. One central shift that Porter and Mykleby cite is the need to move from a mindset of command-and-control to response-and-resilience. Easy to understand, but oh so hard to do.

Their advice applies at all levels, from micro to macro. Last month my challenge was my own health, in battle with the flu. Other times, it’s been a looming deadline, or not-quite-thriving relationship, or a policy decision with big governance consequences.

When something is amiss, almost always, my first inclination is to try harder, to squeeze tighter. And sometimes, when the issue is solid and tangible, that kind of focus and determination pays off. The book gets finished, the presentation gets done, the decision gets made.

But other times, the challenge is more like Jello, squishy and squirmy, and all of that focused squeezing leaves me with a mess on the floor and a handful of nothing. Turns out you cannot schedule the flu, or create a heartfelt shared vision through brute force.

Dear Honeybees, where are you holding most tightly?

Is it helping?


Jello is, of course, a branded product made by Kraft – and technically, yes, it is spelled Jell-O.


P.S. Did you see our big news from last week?


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