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“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hoist the black flag tumblrhands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

 

H.L. Mencken

 

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So.

 

This is about standing up for what you believe in <not really about being a pirate>. This is about business. And, sometimes, I imagine some of my thoughts are also about Life.

 

In fact.

 

This is about several things:

 

 

–          Not always being politically correct

 

–          Possibly not ‘playing nice’

 

–          Sacrificing some ‘art of compromise’

 

–          Being a pirate <yeah … I lied … it is partially about being a pirate>

 

 

Alrighty.

 

Before I get to the fun part <slitting throats> … let me tell you how this quote is about business. Because the quote suggests that everyone … even a normal <or quasi sensible> person … is tempted to become a pirate <raise the black flag> and kill <hopefully not literally> conformity, the status quo and those things that may dull the edges in business <and life>.

 

Now.

 

This isn’t about making being a pirate a living/career, or a way of life, but rather this is more about suggesting some situations in which you are tempted to pillage all that around you, take no prisoners and get it done your way. Ok. Maybe some situations where being ‘pirate-like’ can benefit you in business.

 

That said.

Here are the things to think about.

 

Not being politically correct

 

Hoisting the black flag in business means you are gonna say and do some things that well behaved polite business people just may not like. In fact … it even means going out on your own, hopefully not on the plank, and sailing independently outside the conformity of what is said to be ‘right.’

 

hoist the black flag rulesWell.

 

Pirates were entrepreneurs.

 

Pirates got things done fast <or faster than going through bureaucracy of some management>.

 

The prizes were great.

 

The losses were mind numbingly abrupt and conclusive.

 

It is often a business truth that wading your way through all the politically correct steps takes time and can sap energy. Sometimes you gotta simply say “I am a pirate … my crew will look motley … and I am abrasive myself … but this ship is gonna sail today with all those who want to hoist the black flag.”

 

Now.

 

You cannot be politically incorrect all the time … that would make you a bigot, ignorant, an asshole … and/or simply stupid <in other words … a bad pirate>.

 

However. Selectively avoiding correctness can cut through bullshit and get the ship out of the harbor.

 

Oh.

And put you in a position to win a prize.

 

Or get sunk.

 

But that’s the risk a pirate runs.

 

 

Not playing nice.

 

Being a pirate in business isn’t like playing cricket <as the British would say>.

 

Hoyle isn’t giving everyone the rules.

 

Pirates cared about one thing … okay … two things.

 

  • Booty <winning the prize>

 

  • Not dying.

 

Good pirates constantly balanced between the 2. This insured they didn’t do something so incredibly stupid that their <your> own throat wasn’t slit but also insured enough risk to get what you wanted.

 

It also meant rules were vague at best.

 

I am not suggesting someone be immoral or so ruthless that the integrity of the organization is compromised.

 

But.

To win there is a loser. And pirates didn’t let the feelings of the loser affect how they played the game. They didn’t care about playing nice.

 

They played to win, get some loot and not get killed. This kind of attitude threaded into how you approach business just ain’t a particularly bad thing.

 

 

hoist the black flag no compromiseSacrificing the art of compromise.

 

Pirates don’t compromise.

They cannot.

 

It is about winning on their terms or losing on their terms.

 

Why?

 

Because if they don’t win they hang.

 

So what does that mean?

 

Hang compromise out to dry. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to win the battle. Uhm. Sometimes. This advice is a contextual ‘pick your battle’ thought.

 

I am not suggesting cheating.

I am not suggesting lying.

I am not suggesting anything nefarious.

 

I am simply suggesting that negotiating and compromising may need to be sacrificed <on occasion> in order to do what is right.

 

And sometimes it is a truth that there is a better, if not actually best, way of doing something.

 

Slit the throats of compromise and do it ‘your way.’

 

It is kind of an all or nothing plan of action.

 

Oh.

 

Kind of like being a pirate.

 

 

Being a pirate.

 

No … I am not suggesting you get to wear the cool looking black eye patch or say “aargh matey” but this is about sailing the open seas, being swashbuckling and seeking booty <gold and jewels … not the other type>.

 

Let’s call it … well … maybe independence.

 

And gathering those around you who want to sail off alone just this once <at least>.

 

Great leaders are often like the great frigate captains of the old British navy <who were kind of like pirates within a larger organization>. They showcased an ability to effectively participate in the larger organizational activities when required … and an ability to be effective taking off on independent campaigns.

 

Oh.

 

And choosing when to be independent.

 

No one can be a pirate 100% of the time <I don’t remember reading of many old pirates> but being a pirate every once in a while can be healthy <and fun and productive>.

 

Individually as well as to a business and organization.

 

Ok.

 

 

To be clear … H.L. Mencken was an extremely cynical person, disgusted with conformity, and firm in the belief that the majority opinion was pretty much always wrong.

 

He also tended to believe the status quo <customs and traditions > was pretty much always silly if not stupid.

I don’t agree.

 

Selectively … all of those things are healthy.hoist the black flag obey rules

 

If you are a pirate as a standard operating procedure … you are simply an outcast <if not a bitter contrarian>. I tend to believe the type of pirate I am discussing <not a greed driven corporate blood sucking leech> is needed in today’s business world more than ever. Organizations do not encourage individuality and controlled conformity <under the guise of ‘team’> is the typical guiding principle. Boring and stagnant. That’s what I think of when I read what I just wrote.

 

Lastly.

 

While I don’t recommend being a pirate and hoisting the flag all the time … I guess I would like to remind everyone that Life is awful short … and you either have to have some fun <in business> or you have to stand up for something at some point or you are just marking time.

 

Being a pirate now and then can remind you that individuality, or non conformity, can define you to yourself a little. It can provide some personal clarity.

 

Something I think we could all use a dose of on occasion.

 

Anyway.

 

I can guarantee only one thing … if you hoist the black flag at least once you will certainly have one memorable moment.

 

Oh.

And you get to be a pirate for at least one moment.

 

That is pretty cool all by itself.

 

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Written by Bruce