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Stretching People to the Breaking Point

April 26, 2015 Leave a comment

You know that you’re successful if people ask for you by name when they need something important done.  When that happens it means that you have arrived at the point wherein people have a certain comfort zone – a strong confidence – that you are the best person for the job and you will do the needful to get it done.  Clearly the reward for such success and popularity is more work.  Unfortunately it’s usually more of the tough work that you’d rather not deal with, but here you find yourself in the middle of such a wonderful mess once more because of your proven capability to deliver.

A healthy sense of cruelty is important in order to operate a business.  You need the courage to sometimes make tough and unpopular decisions in order move the enterprise forward and ensure its success.  If you are weak in making and executing difficult decisions then you will miserably fail.  This includes asking people to do more even if they’re already doing a lot.

I think about the situation of a number of the people around me in these unusual days, and everyone is stretched!  People are getting pulled in many directions to help out in priorities that are happening all over the place.  On top of that, there’s no hesitation to pass and drop additional work for some of them to absorb, either because the people delegating the work don’t want to do the work for whatever reason (usually they don’t have capacity – just like these people who inherited their mess now as a result!), or they don’t have a choice since it’s most logical for these other people to take point for the work (they couldn’t find anyone better that could do it).

It’s insulting when you’re remembered whenever there’s dirty work to be done, considering how underappreciated you can sometimes get for the good work you do that you’re rarely recognized for.  It would have been preferable not to get any new work at all, but unfortunately that just makes things worse because it would put into question the existence and need for you in the organization in the first place.  In a way, people can get used, abused, and taken for granted, and it’s ironic and tragic that this needs to happen otherwise one could be in a worse position.

A good leader balances between business and people.  Too much focus on people and you lead them nowhere.  Too much focus on business and no one follows you.

 

For what it’s worth, stretching people does help them realize their potential.  Potential is useless if it remains just that and is not applied to something good.  Stretching a person forces him to go out of his comfort zone to do amazing things that will even surprise him.  It makes a person realize that he is bigger, better, and greater than he originally thought he is, and that he can go further than he ever thought possible.

Stretching people by foisting additional responsibility on their shoulders also gives them the opportunity to take advantage of the situation they find themselves in to set the direction and influence the outcome of events.  They have an opportunity to not just be a part of history as a spectator but to also make it, and thus leave their own legacy in doing so.

It’s a sad reality of life that if you want to get ahead in your career, it does help a lot to be a jerk about it.  The aggression is part of the job, even necessary, to get things done.  You won’t be successful and you won’t go very far if you won’t be pushy about your own agenda.  And sometimes (or oftentimes?) that includes pushing people to do more, because the 100% of their time working on tasks fit for more than one person and assigned to them isn’t enough.  Of course the deadline for all these newly assigned tasks was yesterday; it could not have been set any other way.

All things considered, be careful in stretching people, most especially when it comes to your best people.  They can only go so far before they break and burn out, which is the last thing you want because this leaves you in a very bad position.  With disgruntled people around you handling your work, it just makes the success of your project more precarious.  And in this day and age, it’s unfortunate that this needs to be said, because it’s no longer obvious to the ones who force people to stretch.

Stretch people if you absolutely must, but be wary not to break them; break them, and be ready to suffer the consequences.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Give the Young Huge Responsibilities

April 25, 2015 Leave a comment

There is value in giving huge responsibilities to young people.  I remember the sentiments I had with a now-former staff (he has since retired) not taking on work stress that’s likely commensurate with his experience with the world, having someone young to deal with it instead (and that would be me).  I did a risk-benefit analysis of sorts, and I think I understand why.

The primary reason for giving them huge responsibilities is because they have the energy that comes with youth to persevere in a task and see things through.  That’s not to say that the not-so-young anymore don’t have it within themselves, but let’s face it, when you’re young you have more of that and then some.

The young don’t have the benefit of wisdom that comes from experience.  However, ironically, it’s for this same reason that they don’t carry any mental or emotional baggage that can potentially weigh them down, a risk that can set their mind to have a narrow point of view of the world.  At least from this perspective, the young are more inclined to explore new ideas.

It’s in the course of carrying out these huge responsibilities that they learn and gain wisdom, too.  The caveat here is there’s the danger that they can get stressed out, disillusioned and even cranky sooner rather than later; this is something they need to learn to deal with somehow as part of the process of learning and maturing.  But they are young, and because of the resiliency that comes with youth, they should be able to bounce back, likely faster than older people.  And when they come out of a tough experience, they come out stronger, better, and wiser.

So, give the young huge responsibilities.  It’s good for them in the long run; it’s one of the best ways to grow in life.  They can handle it – or die trying anyway.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Passing Judgment, Needing Compassion and Mercy

April 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Let’s just accept the fact that it’s in our nature to judge and criticize people for their sins and what-not.  Sometimes we do this just because these people are “not one of us.”  It’s especially easy to condemn someone if we don’t know or have the time to bother to find out the full story behind him, and we have our own biases and assumptions coloring our perspective instead of the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Justice will always be important.  Sometimes the judgments we pass on people actually have strong merit, and for the sake of justice people need to be called-out and exposed for the evil that they do.  That being said, one common thread you will find in everybody, whether they be righteous or wicked, is that we’re all broken in our own unique and special way, and it’s for this reason that we’re all in need of compassion and mercy.

Imagine your particular judgment in front of the Just Judge as He reviews the story of your life.  Will you still be able to keep your head held up high due to virtue and righteousness?  Or will you bow your head down in shame due to your inequities?  Will you find yourself obstinate and impenitent that you got your way with things even if such was evil, out of misplaced pride?  In my opinion, I think one’s own judgment would be the most excellent time to humble one’s self, though I don’t know if this might already be theologically “too late.”  In the Final Judgment, all things hidden will be exposed for all of Creation to witness.  Keep your own judgment in mind whenever you judge other people.

If we’re courageous enough to be perfectly honest with ourselves, and thus find the time and strength to judge our own life by the same standards that we judge others, then we’ll be reminded how broken and in need of compassion and mercy we are, too.

This Divine Mercy Sunday and every day of our lives, let’s continue to pursue what’s just and right, but let’s not forget to also consider compassion and mercy.  After all, if other people sorely need it, then we need it just as much, too.

Categories: Religion

Tactics in Life: Use Underestimation to Your Advantage

April 5, 2015 2 comments

You know people have underestimated you when they’re surprised that you could do something that they never thought you had the capability or the will to do it.

To some extent it’s an insult when people underestimate you.  When this happens, your abilities are neither recognized nor respected.  Though, it’s entirely possible that people don’t know you enough to know what you’re capable of doing.  Either way when people underestimate you, this can be used to your advantage.

You have the element of surprise – This is your key advantage.  You can do perceptively great things and, done correctly, even get away with some nasty ones, because people were simply not expecting it from you.  The more people don’t know you, the more you can surprise and shock them.

When nobody is expecting something great from you and you deliver such, then your achievement will be even more magnified for the same reason.  Nobody expected something great to come from you; you are suddenly the dark horse that people now have to reckon with.  It’s easier to become an overnight sensation of sorts; to some degree it’ll be easier to reap greater praise and receive more appreciation for your efforts from people compared to those who are already expected to deliver great performances.

When you attack your enemies in a manner nobody thought you could do, then the shock and awe effect of your action is even greater because they never prepared to handle you at the level of pain you inflicted; it was as if you struck without warning, or something.  The damage is greater, and so is the fear you struck in their hearts, for the same reason.  If your enemies underestimate you so much then it’s even possible that they will be looking to blame someone else because they would find it incredulous that you could do such a thing.

There’s another advantage of sorts from suffering from the underestimation of people.  When you’re not known to be able to do a particular thing even if you’re more than capable of whatever that might be, then you’re not given the great and exciting opportunities related to it; this is obviously a bad thing.  However on a positive note, all such kinds of opportunities come with its own special kind of stress.  For what it’s worth, you’re spared from the pain that comes from such assignments.  Remember: The reward for good work is more work – and in this day and age, the work given to those counted in an organization’s list of “best people” only get more and more insane.  Sometimes, because people underestimate your abilities, you unwittingly avoid a world of pain – that’s always a good thing.

What is the counter-measure to the negative effects of underestimating people?  Find the time and make the effort to know people, and use that knowledge to your advantage.  Give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them the opportunity to surprise you by giving them the chance to work on difficult tasks.  Use and stretch their abilities to their breaking point, until they tell you they can no longer go any further.  And if you perceive someone as a threat then don’t take that person lightly no matter how insignificant a threat he seems to be – as appropriate, destroy him swiftly and completely.  The key point is this: Never underestimate people; aside from this being the right thing to do, it avoids a world of surprises, especially those that aren’t nice.

The next time people underestimate you, don’t feel too bad about it – use it to your advantage instead.  There is surprisingly a lot of power from being low-key.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

TPOV: People in a Lousy Job

April 1, 2015 6 comments

I heard someone raise his voice in impatience over another person handling phone inquiries on movie schedules.  This seemingly simple task felt like a painful chore to go through for that individual.  That got me thinking about the context of the job that the other person on the line had.

It’s bad when someone who needs to serve you in some way is unreliable or incompetent in doing their job.  With poor service you’re not getting what’s due to you.  However it occurred to me that these people are not completely to blame.  There could be any number of reasons why the service delivered isn’t exemplary, or at the very least satisfactory.

Some possibilities crossed my mind:

  • The job might not exactly be a life-or-death type of assignment and, hence, the people hired for it, with all due respect, aren’t exactly the best of the best out there.
  • The people hired aren’t paid at a level commensurate with what’s expected from them because of the job itself and / or because of their own abilities.
  • If it feels like they don’t care, then perhaps they’re literally not paid to do so – or at least they’re not paid to care more than the minimum required.
  • The job itself doesn’t have any real and threatening consequences for failure to do at least satisfactory work.  Getting fired would be of little consequence, all things considered.

With neither incentive nor punishment to be excellent in what they do, and with relatively no painful consequences to deal with, it’s not surprising that mediocre performance is sufficient and all that’s expected from people in such situations.

Don’t expect a lot from people working in a lousy job.  It’s a waste of time to be exasperated; just deal with them as best as you can and move on.  And perhaps, someday, they will need the service of someone in a similarly lousy job, and experiencing the same pain they inflict on others in their own line of work, open their eyes to their own error and do something to correct it.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Accepting or Rejecting People

April 1, 2015 Leave a comment

You should NOT change who you are for another person to accept you.  They either accept you as you are, or reject you for the same reason.  If you have to change for someone to like you then that person doesn’t deserve you.  Besides, being someone you’re not is one of the hardest things one can ever do.

Being exactly who you are, with all the brutal truth that comes with it, is the reason for me to accept or reject you, too.  I will not ask you to change for me.  And it’s for this reason that if I can’t handle you for whatever character flaw that you have then I don’t and won’t have to – I’m being very blunt but honest here.  It’s either I accept and deal with whatever it is about you that annoys me, or I leave you alone.  And if I don’t want to do the former then I will most definitely do the latter.

It’s for this same principle that I’ve learned to accept and, to some degree, even welcome rejection.  I’d rather be with someone who celebrates me for all that I am, weaknesses included, rather than tolerates me for the same, for that’s how I would treat that person, too.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy