"Cubicle Slaves ... hack off your ties ... flip off your heels ... the Work can be Cool!" Tom Peters
A friend "gave" me advice about a carpentry project. He is an inveterate, habitual advice-giver.
He is my good friend. But I sometimes think I could do him bodily harm..
I am curious. I am an inveterate learner. A perpetual student. (It's one of my professional strengths.)
But I don't want "advice." NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE I KNOW. (Though lots of us ... me included ... say we do.)
So ... how do I/we learn?
Short answer: WE MUST BE GUIDED TO PERCEIVED SELF DISCOVERY!
When I screw up at, say, cooking ... I want an ATTABOY for having tried and a couple of modest suggestions along the lines of, gently, "You know what I once tried that helped ..."
Or, better yet: "Here's a neat trick that [respected friend] showed me ..." I most definitely don't want to be told, "You've ruined the pan!"
(Or some such.) (Translation to my ears: YOU DUMB SHIT. I SHOULD NEVER HAVE LET YOU NEAR THE NEW COOKWARE; INCIDENTALLY, THAT'S AN $80 PAN YOU TRASHED.)
I dwell on this because it is the essence of leadership. Most effective leaders are impatient. (They are leading because they have an itch that they think needs scratching.)
But, paradoxically, they (the best of them) also understand that their followers must patiently be brought to understanding ... mostly at their own (followers') pace.
NONE OF US WANT TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO. MOST OF US SUFFER FROM LOW SELF ESTEEM. WE DON'T NEED TO BE BATTERED. WE NEED TO BE ENCOURAGED.
I'm not suggesting that you praise crappy, slovenly work. I am suggesting that you use a screwup as an opportunity to launch a GSDD ... or Gentle Self Discovery Dialogue. Does "it" take time? Yes! Is it a true art form? Yes! But ...
But ... what's the alternative?
Sorry for the complex address, but it's interesting:
This is within the Amazon Purchase Circles section of the site. It allows you to browse the Purchase Circles of various companies from the consultants Bain & Co. to ERP software star Baan to FedEx to the Gap.
I feel like a fool. At home in Vermont. Just back from the Grand Union. Came home with about 125 cans(!) of Campbell Soup. It's part of my conscious Y2K prep. (And I don't ... mostly ... care about the stares that followed my cart. As my wife said, "If nothing happens, we'll give it to the soup kitchen." How bad is that?) Also had a generator installed ... so the house will work without CVPS (Central Vermont Power Service, the local utility). I do think the doomsayers are over the top.
I have no inclination to buy guns and hang barbed wire. Fact is, I expect nothing ... major ... to happen. On the other hand, I feel that blissful ignorance is also unconscionable. So ... I've chosen the middle ground: Be prepared ... but not over the top. I did ... I heartily admit ... invest in those generators that'll keep the house powered as long as our gas tank holds out. (And I did buy $200 worth of soup.)
Philosophically speaking, maybe "all this" ain't all bad.
Doing without the "amenities" -- such as electricity -- might teach us all a little humility. In fact, as I think of "it" in that light. Maybe we'd be best off if things did crash for a while. Not long enough to induce true Anarchy. But long enough to remind us of the virtues of self-reliance.
Here's to Y2K! (I hope.)
I had been championing free-spirited types.
And the seminar participant rebutted, "But don't you need some foot soldiers?"
I went bananas.
The implication was/is obvious. A foot soldier doesn't talk back.
Doesn't make waves. Silently obeys.
It's a fabulous image.
At least it is if you've never served with "foot soldiers" in combat.
The reality -- praise be -- is quite to the contrary.
The platoon, or 8-man squad, goes into combat. Confusion reigns.
("The fog of war." -- Clauswitz) The lieutenant is down.
The sergeant takes over ... and soon he's down.
Next thing you know, the "foot soldier" -- a/k/a PFC -- is in charge.
He assaults the machine gun emplacement ... and takes home a Silver Star.
Which is all to say that foot soldiers ... in effective armies ... are anything but mindless automatons.
They are innovative. Thrive on chaos. And take home most of the revered medals.
I wouldn't want waiters in a restaurant I ran who are "foot soldiers" ... by the definition of my misguided questioner.
And I wouldn't' want "foot soldier" telemarketers in a Call Center ... by the mindless definition of my misguided questioner.
I do, however, want those PFCs who are masters of improv.
Who express themselves as unique individuals and take over when the shit hits the fan.
(It does at least a couple of times a night for every waiter. Trust me, I waited table for ten years ... as well as served in combat with the Navy's version of foot soldiers.)
Another seminar participant recently asked "how you deal with union guys."
The implication was obviously the same as that above. I said sharply that you couldn't deal with them at all if you pictured them as "union guys" ... some sort of damaged species.
Ah ... attitude. It really is everything.
The older I get the more I realize that.
I have a good friend who's a fabulous teacher.
She's been around, so she's no Pollyanna. But she always manages to see the specialness in every kid in her classes.
And her inherent respect invariably leads that kid to blossom.
Parents will try any strategy to get their child into her home room.
No, questioner, I do not want any "foot soldiers" of the sort you imagine in my joint.
I want 100% spirited folks ... who park neither their personality nor their curiosity nor their brains in the employee parking lot at 8a.m.
How about it?
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.