smart enough to help you survive stupid enough to get you killed
Stupidity is a force unto itself.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Leon C. Megginson
“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
The Princess Bride
Today’s thought is about who you surround yourself with. Business is rarely, let’s say maybe 90% of the time, not an individual effort but rather a team/group effort.
I dug around in notes I have jotted down and found a thought I had scribbled down, an almost verbatim thought from someone I respect, and consider a good friend, a Christian military veteran who received 12 decorations in 2 tours in Vietnam <including several Purple Hearts>:
“I am fairly sure I served with heathens, homosexuals and a number of others who my faith would consider sinners. I do know that being in the field highlights the flaws & sins of everyone which, in an odd way, brought us together as flawed Marines trying to survive. But, out there, there really was only one line, one distinction: those who were smart enough to help you stay alive and those who were stupid enough to get you killed. Nothing else mattered.”
The main thought?
“Smart enough to help you stay alive and stupid enough to get you killed.”
To be clear. This doesn’t really mean someone intellectually or educated smart versus some less-than-intellectual “stupid’ person. This is about the ones who have the smarts & savviness to be alert to the things that need to be done, and can do them, to survive versus the ones who can be oblivious to the things that can kill you <and a shitload of faux intellectuals fall into the latter camp>.
That said. That pretty much summarizes the business world.
Insert “idea” and, well, there you go: “smart enough to help your ideas stay alive and stupid enough to get your ideas killed.”
<I imagine I could also suggest the thought works for getting fired too>
The point is, in business, if you have any desire to do good things you know you will not be able to do it alone and you learn pretty quickly who you want around you — especially when bullets start flying.
You don’t care if they are black, white, yellow, green or any Crayola color you can think of.
You don’t care if they are gay, straight, lesbian, Furrie, zygote or a transgender.
You don’t care if they are Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, pray to Zeus, Christian or Buddhist.
All you care about is surrounding yourself with those offering the highest likelihood of survival. You also care about insuring those around you represent the skills and savviness needed for survival.
Look. Business certainly has aspects of battle and military strategy.
Especially so if you think about ideas and having winning ideas. The metaphor seems appropriate because good ideas, shit, even great ideas, do not “win the day” all on their own. 99% of the time they need to battle their way through a variety of well-placed and ill placed obstacles.
I think I was really lucky that I learned this lesson very early in my career.
I learned by watching others, who had good ideas, champion them alone seeking personal glory … and watching a good idea die.
I learned by championing what I thought were good ideas with the wrong people … and watching a good idea die.
I learned by watching others, who had a good idea and a good team, champion an idea and defend it, fight for it and see it stand at the end … alive & kicking.
My sense is that this learning affected how I hired people when I was a group leader. I wanted people who had ideas and who wanted to champion ideas and who was willing to set aside some personal glory for the sake of insuring the idea didn’t die.
I know many military people, but have never been in the military.
I imagine when you are on the battlefield you are standing as close to the one who can shoot the straightest and will shoot when needed regardless of whether they look like me or not.
I imagine when you are on the battlefield you are more likely to be saying to your fellow soldier: “stay away from Jack, he is one crazy motherfucker and is gonna get us killed” than worrying about whether some person has some quirk, or looks funny or lusts after Little Ponies when they go home at night.
I would suggest that survival, in general, has a nasty habit of eliminating distractions and having you focus on ‘who can do the job.”
I would suggest that if you care about ideas in business that survival of your ideas, in general, has a nasty habit of eliminating distractions and having you end up focusing on “who can do the job.”
As a person I don’t get (** see note) racism, I don’t get xenophobia, I don’t get misogyny, I don’t get discrimination, I don’t get any of that stuff. I just think anyone who gets caught up in all that is caught up in some bullshit. And bullshit has no place if you are interested in progress let alone surviving.
As a business person I don’t get racism, I don’t get xenophobia, I don’t get misogyny, I don’t get discrimination, I don’t get any of that stuff. I just think anyone who gets caught up in all that is caught up in some bullshit. And bullshit has no place if you are interested in the progress of your ideas … let alone the survival of your ideas.
If you want to succeed in business, well, there really is only one line, one distinction: those who are smart enough to help you stay alive and those who are stupid enough to get you killed. Nothing else matters.
Note: I ‘get’ that all of these things exist and I ‘get’ that we need to actively address these things and I ‘get’ that I have a personal responsibility to actively try and help make these things better. I just struggle to understand, as someone who believes ideas is what makes the world better, why anyone would elevate any of these personal beliefs to the detriment of ideas.