Enlightened Conflict

shared responsibility

April 17th, 2017

 generation think attitudes collective individual share

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We tend to hold ourself accountable for things we never did.

Hearts we never broke. People we didn’t hurt.

Souls we didn’t crush. “

 

coral-vellichor

 

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All these years I’ve been looking at the wrong side.

 

(via madelinemharris)

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Ok.

 

Accountability, or responsibility, is always a good topic. And, yes, I am a big personal responsibility person. But in business, within an organization, being responsibleresponsibility tends to be more shared responsibility than simple personal responsibility.

 

Oh.

 

To be clear.

 

I believe there is a strong relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility. The stronger the shared responsibility attitude & behavior within leadership & mentors & role models the stronger the development of personal responsibility muscle occurs in everyday schmucks like me. Conversely, if you are surrounded with lack of shared responsibility examples <or even those who espouse ‘selectively chosen shared responsibility’> the value of personal responsibility diminishes to an individual, therefore, they see less value in exhibiting personal responsibility.

 

We don’t talk about this relationship enough.

Far too often we flippantly suggest “people should take responsibility for their actions.”

 

Well … no shit Sherlock.

 

But if your roles models or leaders are constantly passing the buck when the shit hits the fan to save their own bacon <and image> then what the hell … why would you not do the same?

irresponsibility made easy

Yeah.

Sure.

 

Everyone has to pull their weight and do their job and do what they say they are going to do … but very very rarely does an individual perform in a vacuum in a business.

 

This happens more so even in management.

 

It drives me a little nuts when I hear some leaders discuss “delegating.”

 

Somehow delegating equals “absolved of responsibility.”

 

This is stupid irresponsible thinking.

 

My belief that it is stupid thinking is rooted in some common sesne I am fairly sure the US Military says:

 

 

You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.

 

 

In other words … you can give others the power to do things … you can delegate … but, no matter what happens … if something goes wrong … the final responsibility always lies with the one who has delegated authority.

 

Sticking with the military as my guidance … this means if your business has an initiative that has gone SNAFU <“Situation Normal: All Fucked Up”> the blame … and the ultimate responsibility for the mistakes <fuck ups> falls … uhm … up.

The leader assumes responsibility.

 

This is shared responsibility.

 

In other words … this is leadership.

 

Yeah.

 

Once you become a business leader past a mom & pop management style business you have to face the concept of shared responsibility <and some embrace it and some reject it>.

 

puzzle people connect shared responsibilityDespite the fact you have delegated authority that ‘authority’ does not represent a discrete event and period in time.

You bear the responsibility for the cascade of events, decisions and actions leading up to the ‘authority giving’ which means everything you have done up until that point provides the context for the delegating … yeah … you own the arena in which you have placed the delegatee.

 

But this gets exponentially worse <if you are thinking about becoming a business leader>.

 

You actually also share responsibility for the consequences … uhm … intended and unintended.

 

This is different than delegating authority <although it relates to it> and owning responsibility for the action … this goes beyond to the actual ripples from the decisions & actions.

 

Now.

 

Some leaders have a nasty habit of assuming responsibility for the decision and the effect of the decision — within a finite period of time. The weakest leaders try and tie “that was out of my control” or “I wasn’t there for that” as soon as they can to a decision they make.

 

The strongest leaders worry less about any carnage that has been left behind but rather start worrying about any carnage the decisions & actions could possibly create for the future.

 

The truth is that business leaders should take a moment and remember the wise words of … well … an American Indian.

 

Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota leader who led his people against the U.S. Army and later as his people transitioned from life on the plains to the reservation, stressed that when Indian people made a decision, it should be done with the welfare of the next seven generations in mind.

 

Whew.

world is yours ours share life

In a short term world where most business leaders are trying to make quarterly goals and just try and keep their job … thinking with the welfare of the next 7 generations seems … well … impossible.

 

I imagine the real point is that most good business leaders assume some responsibility for the generations to come.  Some people may call this ‘long term strategy’ and some others will call it ‘keeping your eye on the horizon’ or even ‘having a vision’ … well … I am no Harvard Business guru and all that high falutin’ stuff seems unnecessary. To me it is much more simple.

You make decisions accepting the burden of responsibility for what will come … and may arise from your decision.

 

You share the responsibility for what will, or may, come.

 

And if you do that? Damn. You will do good and be good.

 

And if you do not do that? Damn. You may get a shitload of attention and applause in the moment and a shitload of attention and anger in the future.

 

 

Why do I say that?

 

Because if you don’t really believe in shared responsibility and flit from one decision to the next in a transactional “responsible only to the moment” way you will end up rushing from issue to issue, reacting without a plan or a strategy or <worse> no care of longer term affect, creating carnage yet to be seen <because that type of leader tends to seek only the cheers in the moment>.

 

Uhm.

 

Innovative solution plan as a pencil trying to find way out of maze breaking through the labyrinth as a business concept and creative metaphor for strategy success and planning achievement.

Just to point it out … with no plan that means anything can happen and a leader can justify anything. Because with no plan to measure a decision against anything can look right … and unpredictable can be touted as ‘flexible to the situation.’

 

All of this fits a short term leader in a short term world.

 

The people are few and far between these days who weigh their responses and assess long term affects. In today’s world it almost seems a race to be the first to judge or comment on a decision or action and far too many leaders actually manage to the public race to comment rather than the longer term assessment.

 

This is scary stuff for anyone to do but a business leader? Dangerous.

Even the best short term decision makers, if forced into a gauntlet of short term decisions, will struggle to insure at the end of the gauntlet they have kept walking northwards as they had been looking down the entire time. More often than not North will not be the direction you are facing nor will you have actually moved any closer to the North star.

 

I am not suggesting this longer term shared responsibility attitude is easy.

In fact .. it is really really hard.

In fact … it almost means you have to embrace a little “impossible” into what you actually make possible.

 

Huh?

 

 

In general I have always liked logical thinking <no matter how random the logic may be> but I always love it when someone combines some unexpected logic.

Generally speaking the best unexpected logic actually comes from those who do the impossible … thinking of the impossible and seeing possibilities — the impossible being “knowing for sure what will happen in the future.” They make the spectacular leaps/chances, accepting responsibility and sharing responsibility, so that business can make the needed changes or just do the semi-risky things that keep a good business doing good things <things that may push against the borders of the status quo>.

 

Yeah.

Spectacular errors can only happen if you take spectacular chances. I am not fond of irresponsible risk taking and decision-making, but I am fond of doing ‘the right thing’ even when it may appear to be going against the stream. Sometimes that means a spectacular success, sometimes a spectacular error. But always something spectacular.

 

And I will tell you … what more could you want to say about your life as a leader but that you have done something spectacular? Especially if that ‘spectacular’ actually happens a generation later which permits you to sit back and say “I did the impossible … I viewed the future well.’

 

Anyway.

 

Shared responsibility is the burden of any good leader. They tend to be the leaders who understand they cannot really be sure what is going to happen to them over time, they weigh the risks to the best of their ability and let the chips fall as they may.

I tend to believe their attitude is one of “you don’t want to act more fearfully than you have to.”

 

Good leaders have a tendency to hold themselves accountable for anything, everything and everyone … in varying degrees depending on the anything, everything and everyone. And, maybe most importantly, I tend to believe they understand that there is a relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility.

 

And, practically speaking, you will never be viewed as a true leader if you do not.

 

Well.my life is my message duty

 

You know what?

 

To end this thing today … let me offer two other words, typically associated with responsibility, obligation and duty.

 

Obligation refers general to something you are compelled to do by regulation, law, promise or morality. I think good leaders feel obligated to assume shared responsibility.

 

Duty, more so than obligation, springs from an internal moral or ethical impulse rather than from external demands.

I think good leaders feel a duty to assume shared responsibility.

 

Shared responsibility … not only do I believe we should discuss it more often <because it will foster better value in personal responsibility> but I also believe we should be demanding it of our leaders more often.

yes

December 2nd, 2015

———-

yes yes yes yes

Why is the word yes so brief?

 

it should be

 

the longest,

 

the hardest,

 

so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,

 

so that upon reflection you could stop

 

in the middle of saying it. “

 

 

Vera Pavlova

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I am a self-admitted lover of “no” in the workplace. I am because I learned at a very early age in business the power of saying a clear cut ‘no.’ In addition I have an inherent distaste for ‘yes people’ and have built a healthy fear of yeses that create a false sense of positiveness in suggesting the impossible is possible.

 

stop

No has the power of stopping therefore it can afford to be concise.

In fact … in its conciseness it actually can often represent the sharp cleaver which cuts the cord to wasted energy and wasted actions.

 

 

And while ‘no’ in and of itself is incredibly powerful … ‘yes’ in its abruptness seems … well … too abrupt.

 

Too short.

 

Too simple for a word that does anything but encourage stopping … it more often is the initial push to movement <not necessarily forward but in doing something>.

 

 

Yes. <unstated … we should do something.yes type

 

Yes. <what?>

 

Yes. <as a statement … as an agreement>

 

 

Let’s face it … yes, just like thinking in general, is a quagmire.

 

 

It is a quagmire because far too often the majority of yeses are asked without either party <or one of them> truly understanding the problem therefore they have no right to be asking for a solution.

 
Business is all about choices – making them or agreeing to them or shutting choices off.

 

 

Simplistically every yes is a no to something else.

 

 

Saying yes as a ‘can do’ person or organization or simply because it is “the mantra” simply means you will continually fail to recognize limits.

 

Mostly the limits you fail to recognize are the “truth” ones you blast through as you blindly commit to something believing “you will figure it out as you do it.”

 

 

Well.

 

Sometimes you can figure it out.

 

But most of the time you do not … or at least not the way it should be done.

 

Of course the ‘yes sayers’ hold up completion at the end to justify the ‘yes’ ignoring the clumsy process on the path to completion or even the compromised solution which is represented in the completed action.

 

yes no hands

I tend to believe at the core of the quagmire is that there is actually more positive thinking & attitude in a ‘no’ then there is in the typical ‘yes’ … yet on the surface a ‘no’ appears negative and a ‘yes’ appears positive.

 

 

No’s … and I mean ‘non-lazy’ or ‘non irascible contrarian’ no’s are positive in their ability to sharpen whatever else is about to happen.

 

Yes’s are more about … well … the energy of obligation. An obligation or a commitment to a larger thing than a simple ‘yes’ often communicates.

 

 

And maybe that is where I think Yes fails us the most.

 

It should be longer, more complicated and less brief in its utterance. It should be reflective of the obligation, the responsibility and the choice of the moment.

 

It should be larger in its reflection of its overall impact not just on the moment of its utterance but also in the ripples of its effect as it reverberates almost infinitely through a business decision.

 

 

I do not have research on this but my guess, based on years of experience, is that more businesses fail and more businesses have lost money, people and wasted energy based on ‘yes’ more than ‘no.’

 

 

I am not suggesting we never say yes.

 

For god’s sake … the fundamental bedrock of a business is based on a ‘yes.’

 

Yes. Let’s go do it.

 

Yes. We will implement that idea.

 

Yes. We will hire that person.

 

 

But I am suggesting, even as you ponder the flippant three examples I just gave you that yeses echo in eternity. yes common area work

 

And while yeses embrace possibilities & opportunities & hope … they also are wrapped in cloaks of vulnerabilities.

 

 

Well.

 

After reading those last two sentences … kind of makes you think that yes “should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it. “

personal responsibility personal acceptance

December 1st, 2015

 

accountable point

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“You’ll have to help yourself.”

Lemony Snicket

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“It may be the wrong decision, but fuck it, it’s mine.”

Mark Z. Danielewski

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“More than anything, to me, he was dad. And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves.

—-

Justin Trudeau at his father’s funeral

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Personal responsibility is hard.

 

 

Much much harder than conceptually it sounds like it should be.

accountability actions consequences

 

I do not have any research today to show how people who have a strong sense of personal responsibility attained that character trait <although if you google it there are gobs of people with an opinion on it>.

 

 

 

For everyone who had great parents who taught them I can give you a dozen examples of people with crappy parents who have a strong sense of personal responsibility.

 

For every victim mentality person I can show different contextual situations that got them into that state of mind and, just as well, the path to a strong sense of personal responsibility is numerous and rarely a straight path.

 

 

But, even without research I will suggest a couple of things:

 

 

1. Personal acceptance.

 

letters to myself post it

To have personal responsibility you almost have to have a strong foundation of personal acceptance.

I imagine I could suggest that if it doesn’t than you are simply ‘posing’ in an attempt to look like you are responsible <and that rarely can stand the test of time>.

 

Regardless.

 

Somehow, someway people with a strong sense of personal responsibility have developed a strong sense of self. Not necessarily confidence … just self. They recognize ‘they is what they is’ and accept the flaws <and try to improve in some way> and accept their strengths <but never take them for granted>.

 

In their personal acceptance we, around them, see ‘solid.’ We love these people on our business teams and friend teams … as peers or as leaders … because regardless of their IQ or leadership skills or professional skills … they are lighthouse people in their own right.

 

These people can also be baffling to the perfectionists in the world because part of ‘personal acceptance’ is understanding, if not embracing, imperfections.

 

 

 

2. Lucky to be here but many others are just as deserving.

 

 

Let me suggest that people with an incredibly strong sense of personal fate waiters luckresponsibility will also most likely be the people who suggest they had a little luck along the way – lucky in life situations, lucky with mentors, lucky in opportunities – and even though they had worked hard they had done nothing to actually deserve the luck.

As a corollary to this thinking they would also believe, as part of the luck aspect, that there are many others just as deserving. This attitude creates a sense of responsibility for actions, behavior and attitudes. Mistakes are owned and successes are shared.

 

Some people may suggest that personal responsibility and accountability is a reflection of integrity or humility.

Well.

It may be.

But I rather believe it is more a sense of understanding that successes are more often than not a reflection of just hard work but also circumstances.

And, to that point, inherently someone with a strong sense of accountability balances success with the understanding that a portion of success is luck – luck of circumstance & luck of being the one where many were just as deserving if provided the opportunity.

 

 

 

Like I said in the beginning.

 

 

This is not based on research and you can toss this into your ‘Bruce bullshit bin’ if you want.

 

 

But I do not need research to state that personal responsibility and personal acceptance takes work. Lots of work. And lots of fortitude.

 

It is the kind of thing you spend your entire life working hard to not only ‘be’ but to live up to the character standard you have set for yourself. A standard which you will never measure others against because … well … it is personal.

 

You are accountable to your own standard and responsible to meet it. And everyone not only has the ability to set their own but they also have an unequivocal right to do so without anyone else telling them “how to be accountable.”

 

 

————

“It was instead something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.”

==

Spike Leeself unpronounceable

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Personal responsibility is actually one of Life’s lightest burdens if you choose to accept it. That is why I am so often surprised by how many people actually do not accept this burden.

 

But, in the end, personal responsibility is a personal choice. No one can convince you to do it or be that way. You have to help yourself on this one because no one else can.

strength is never solid

September 1st, 2014

struggle and virtue

—–

“I am a strong person. But every once in a while I would like someone to hold my hand and tell me things are going to be OK. “

=

Unknown

——–

 

Well.

 

 

We so often talk about ‘strong people’ as being these pillars of granite … solid and seamless in moments of need or challenge … unflinching in the face of whatever it is they face.

 

 

But more often strength is not a solid piece of granite.

 

 

It may be a shield or a shell … or it may be that the person has the ability to put stop handa strong hand forward … and stop what needs to be stopped.

 

But in all these cases … strength is neither a complete solid wall nor does it not have some weakness … or maybe some fragile aspects in which to balance everything.

 

———

“It is one thing to be brave in front of others, perhaps for fear of being branded a coward and becoming diminished in their eyes, but another entirely to be brave when there is nobody to witness your courage.

The latter is an elemental bravery, a strength of spirit and character.”

=

John Connolly

———-

 

 

 

 

Oddly … strength is … well … a paradox <or in some sense a contradiction>.

 

 

 

 

It is about setting unequivocal limits … and yet having no limits.

 

 

 

 

It’s about adapting yet unwavering.

 

 

 

So.

 

 

Let me discuss this limit thing for a moment.

 

 

 

Emotionally strong people do not really need constant action and excitement … or even a crisis … to define themselves and their lives.

 

 

This suggests they put some limits on things.

 

 

This is not to suggest that they don’t enjoy excitement in their lives … but they aren’t ‘doing’ junkies.

 

 

 

Strength is usually defined by some self awareness.

 

 

Awareness with regard to some character type things <which are embodied in actions and behavior decisions>.

 

 

 

Let’s call these our ‘limits’:

 

 

 

–           just don’t do some things

ignorance tiger sheep

Well.

 

 

 

Suffice it to say we all do things that we don’t enjoy doing … but we should never do things that we don’t want to do.

 

 

There is a nuance in that … but an important nuance.

 

 

 

The strong self aware understand that nuance … and almost always manage to figure out what they need to do … not at the expense of ‘what they don’t want to do.’

 

 

This translates into that when it comes to character defining decisions there is always a line.

 

 

The line isn’t about what you enjoy doing or what you like or dislike … it is about … well … character.

 

 

 

And being able to live with yourself and look in the mirror.

 

 

 

–        saying “no”

 

No complete sentence

 

Suffice it to say … if you can’t say “no,” you will get taken advantage of.
I will not suggest you won’t be taken seriously but I will suggest that if you cannot say no you will forever live on the slippery slope of credibility and trust.

 

 

 

 

Saying “no” reminds people that they cannot control you … only you control you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

–             it’s really about plateaus … not limits

 

 

 

 

Face it.

 

 

 

There are only plateaus, and they are not meant for you to stay there, but only resting places for someplace beyond.

 

plans patterns

 

Please note I did not say ‘someplace higher.’

 

 

 

“Up” is overrated.

 

 

 

It is more important to move anywhere <mentally, physically, career, Life> than it is to move ‘upwards.’

 

 

 

I’ve always believed in pushing yourself further and taking on new challenges.

 

 

 

 

I believe this because I tend to believe there is no such thing as that infamous trite cliché ‘being the best you can be.’

 

 

 

“Best” is a relevant thing … at least to the moment. Maybe it is better said that ‘best’ is contextual.

 

 

 

There is always room for growth and change and new possibilities of being the best you can be.

 

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

 

 

Strength is tricky.

 

 

 

It is partially inbred as an attitude … but it is also forged thru the furnace of Life.

 

 

—–

“Sometimes you don’t realise your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness”

=

we are mosaics

Susan Gale

——-

And maybe that is why strength is never solid.

 

 

 

Because strength is often about weakness.

 

 

The chinks in your armor define your strength … uhm … not your theoretically solid seamless armor.

 

 

 

Which leads me to my final thoughts.

 

 

 

Strength is nothing more than doing what it takes … with character.

 

 

 

 

In order to be strong we will inevitably embrace some different variations of our self. This naturally happens as we encounter knew things and new ‘weaknesses’ we never knew we had.
Within those variations are some aspects of solidness … but other aspects are adaptable and resilient in their ability to morph to the situation.

 

 

 

And, in the end, I imagine strength in a person can be defined one way:

limitations perfection

 

———

“I endure.”

=

E. Lockhart

 

————

 

 

corralling chaos (a management lesson)

August 17th, 2014

chaos control leadership

—–

“True freedom is where an individual’s thoughts and actions are in alignment with that which is true, correct, and of honor – no matter the personal price.”

=

Bryant H. McGill

——-

 

So.

 

 

I recently wrote about my college job, fake security guy with a company called Contemporary Security Company <CSC>, and it made me think about another good business lesson I learned.
I call it corralling chaos.

 

 

chaos team alignment

Maybe it is more simply managing people.

 

 

Whoa.

 

Comparing chaos to managing people?

 

 

Yup.

 

 

Look.

 

 

Unless you want to hire a bunch of clones or do some mind meld trick upon hiring someone … you are going to inevitably have a wide variety of specific skilled people, a mosaic of personalities and characters … and … well … humans being human within your purview.

 

 

I learned this very quickly as a youngster at CSC.

 

 

And, by the way, I didn’t learn this because I was some brilliant leader or insightful organizational behavior person at the age of 18 … I learned it out of simple survival.

 

 

Once I became a supervisor I definitely had a ‘Bruce team.’ A small group of guys who I always selected <or they selected me> to be surrounded by to manage and utilize.

 

 

In hindsight I was a little different than some of the other supervisors.
I liked using the same guys even though the assignment was different.

 

I liked tweaking each guy’s ‘comfort zone’ to show them how to adapt.

 

 

I think I subconsciously recognized that it probably helped me out under a variety of assignments in that these guys … and these guys were wired differently … wouldn’t take a cookie cutter approach to how they handled things.

 

 

Not only did they see that things could be done differently <than maybe what their first instinct was> but also they became comfortable with some things out of their comfort zone.

 

 

The best example I have is two guys who were with me whenever possible.

 

 

They were book end personalities.

 

CSC 4

 

Lamont.

 

 

African American. Sharp & smart. Took life seriously. Scowled a lot. Maybe 6’ 1” and 280 pounds of hair triggered whirlwind of aggression.
You only walked up to Lamont from behind very carefully.

 

 

I vividly remember walking up behind him and tapping him on the shoulder … and he spun around with a semi graceful martial arts form <… c’mon … how graceful can a 280 pound guy be> … crouched and coiled to part my head from my shoulders.

I also vividly remember his eyes were laser-like and seemingly completely clear of anything but ‘destroy.’ Without relaxing … he said ‘little buddy … you shouldn’t sneak up on me like that’ … and then he uncoiled.

 

 

 

Dave.

 

White suburban kid. Maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer. 6’ 2” and chiseled 220 pounds or so. Played defensive end at Orange Coast junior college.

Easy going … smiled a lot. The first time I met him on the job I saw him wade into a drunken brawl of maybe 6 guys and singlehandedly blow it up with maybe only one punch thrown by him <which admittedly put that guy out of commission>.

 

These two guys became the bookends that held most of my teams together.

 

 

Lamont was like an assassin.

 

Dave was like a bull.

 

 

Lamont I restrained.

 

Dave I released.

 

 

Both could intimidate in their own way … but their instinct was always to act with power of action … and not words.

 

 

My bosses struggled to understand why I always wanted them … no matter the assignment.
Lamont was often seen as uncontrollable <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in more ‘delicate diplomatic’ situations>.

 

Dave was often seen as ‘not too smart’ <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in situations where he may have to think on his feet>.

 

 

Beyond the fact I saw how these guys could be used effectively … I probably more recognized that situations my bosses ‘foresaw’ within an assignment more often became unforeseen actions & consequences.

 

 

chaos and safety

Security at some event with zillions of people wandering around <many drinking> all with an attitude that ‘hey … I paid to be here … so I can do pretty much whatever I want’ is inevitably one of much randomness.

 

Interestingly … that describes the business world fairly well <without the drinking>.

 

Managing people isn’t really about plans & planning … or even having a plan … it is more often about how to deal with what happens when the plan breaks apart.

 

 

Look.
Plans and planning … and all the things under those headings <business plans, contingency plans, succession plans> … are all good things … uhm … until they aren’t.

 

 

All the plans that once bring order, continuity, and control often become rigid obstacles to progress and adaptation.

 

 

Lamont, Dave … shit … whatever personality I was supervising … I found that most people are trying to do what they believe is in the best interest of the organization.

 

 

I also found the trouble was often they may not have the same point of view on what that is.

 

 

And, yes, that leads to some version of chaos.

chaos corral outcome and understanding

 

You can have two people conducting themselves with the best of intentions and trying to do the right thing.

 

Both options are valid.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

 

But the conclusions they reach end up in direct conflict with each other.  This creates confusion <with each other as well as those around them seeking cues on what to do>.

 

 

A lot of the supervisors around me did two things.

 

 

 

One.

 

Bitched & moaned about ‘the guys they managed’ and said ‘they just don’t get it.’

 

 

Two.

 

Picked guys for their team that they could ‘control.’

 

 

Me?

 

 

I guess I decided to take responsibility for getting out of the chaos.

 

 

I assumed from day one that it was me responsible for allowing chaos.

 

 

 

 

I also assumed I couldn’t control anyone … certainly not someone like Lamont or a number of other highly wired individuals I liked to have on my team … but I did assume I could point them in the right direction <with regard to attitudes & actions>.
I picked guys for my teams who could get shit done. And get shit done within some principled behavior guidelines.

 

chaos control game

I kind of assumed my role was to ‘be still amidst the chaos and active in repose’ <Indira Ghandi>.

 

 

Be a compass as it were.

 

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

I certainly didn’t understand all the real thinking behind good management and leadership at that age.

 

 

 

What I do know now for sure – good leaders provide a compass.

 

 

A good leader helps others think through implications that can impact the broader team’s goals and objectives.

 

 

Once people have orienting values and principles, their ability to think and operate independently accelerates.

 

 

 

Good leaders hold people, themselves included, accountable to a set of values and principles.

 

And leading is often measured by how you deal with the times which inevitably occur when the leader needs to confront a difficult decision that puts principles to the test.

 

 

Corralling chaos is all about getting comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable.

 

 

My guys recognized that always sticking to the plan without fail provided a false sense of security.

 

 

They knew from experience that there needed to be some flexibility with “how” the “what” is implemented.

 

 

 

They embraced the purposeful discomfort and I rewarded the purposeful discomfort.

 

 

I left room for serendipity.

 

 

I left room for what is called “interaction with an unintended outcome” <Scott Doorley, Stanford>.

 

 

Some smart guy, Atul Gawande, states there will always be people who excel and thrive in complex and chaotic environments.

 

 

People who “have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.”

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

 

I agree with that and I don’t agree with that.

 

 

 

I agree that some people are better than others at the ability to quickly assess situations and take decisive action based on their experience and instinct.

 

 

 

I don’t agree that anyone and everyone can become better and hone this ability. In fact … part being a good leader is trying to figure out how to maximize this ability within employees <because it enhances autonomy which increases organizational efficiency>.

women leadership

 

I have no clue if I am particularly strong with the ‘capacity to prepare for unintended consequences.’

 

 

 

What I do have a clue on is that no matter how strong I may be … I can’t prepare for everything and can’t solve everything and I can’t be everywhere at all times.

 

 

I liked having a variety of skilled people available … no matter how difficult they were to manage.

 

 

 

Why?

 

 

It increased the likelihood the team could handle any ‘unintended consequences’ as they arose.

 

CSC taught me a shitload.

 

 

It taught me very quickly that when supervisors complained that people are working against each other, that they are not aligned, that they don’t seem to ‘get it’ … that they are full of shit.

 

It taught me first & foremost that a supervisor needs to look in the mirror.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Is chaos a bad word to use when discussing people management?
Aw.

 

Probably.

 

inspire leadership

But here is what I do know.

 

 

I would rather corral chaos than ‘light a fire under someone’s ass.’

 

 

Is that a management style?

 

Sure.

 

 

I imagine so.

 

 

I imagine it is actually a management or leadership choice.
And when I look in the mirror with regard to management style I am okay with what I see.

 

And I thank my CSC job for helping me be okay with it.

 

—-

CSC becks

If interested, after you read this post, you can visit his past CSC ‘learnings’ posts:

<learning to say no>

http://brucemctague.com/big-fred

=

<practicing actually means more relaxed>

http://brucemctague.com/the-wall

=

<action has its time>

http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1

=

<gaining perspective>

http://brucemctague.com/what-you-do-not-see-at-a-concert

 

 

what you do not see at a concert

August 2nd, 2014

music points of view shakespeare

 

 

 

Ok.

 

 

 

This is about music … and my job in college as a ‘fake’ security guy <for a company called Contemporary Security> walking around in a cool yellow tshirt that said “SECURITY” on it … telling people what to do at concerts and sporting events and trying to only get into altercations I knew I could win.

 

 

To be clear.

 

I loved this job and loved the guys I worked for and with.

Good organization and, in general, good culture and fellow employees.

 

In addition.

 

On a professional “acquiring skills for later” level … I learned a lot at this job … some basics that if I had not paid attention to would have represented missed opportunities for learning. I learned shit i have applied in business to this day.

 

 

If interested, after you read this post, you can visit his past CSC ‘learnings’ posts:

<learning to say no>
http://brucemctague.com/big-fred

=

<practicing actually means more relaxed>
http://brucemctague.com/the-wall

=

<action has its time>
http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1

=

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

I hadn’t thought about this job in quite some time.

 

 

And then I saw that Steve Perry <ex-lead singer Journey> performed in NYC for the first time in a long time. it reminded me of one of the best moments that you don’t see at a concert.

 

In the good ole days there were things called stadium concerts. These were day long concerts where a full lineup of great bands would queue up and play one after another … and the best of the best would end the day.

 

 

Ok.

 

They still have these. But now they are events <like Bonnarroo or Glastonbury> when before pretty much every big stadium in America schooled these things.

 

 

 

The one I remember was in the Los Angeles Coliseum and Journey headlined <I think there was also The Babys – with John Waite and Johnathon Cain … who had not joined Journey yet, Aerosmith, The Motels and a couple other bands I cannot remember at the moment>.

 

Roadies old

 

Because I didn’t have anything else to do that day I volunteered to work the sound check the day before the concert as they set up the stadium <yes … they set up things the day before so that as the gates opened up on show day at some ungodly early hour the bands only needed to have their ‘set up’ put in place as they entered stage>.

 

 

On that day each of the bands just strolled in and did what they do to warm up and make sure the sound system was set up the way they liked it. And each band does it their own way.

 

 

That day I was standing at the sound system which was set up maybe a third of the way back in the stadium directly in the center of the field in front of the stage. A mass of confusing boards and little blinking lights and knobs and such all managed by maybe two guys chugging black coffee like they had been in a desert for three days and who looked like they should be in a homeless shelter.

 

 

Random people walked around the stadium and my job was to make sure any of the random people who did not actually belong near the million dollar valued sound system didn’t accidentally come by and twist a knob or something.

 

 

It was Journey’s turn to tune up and do sound check.music mr magoo 1956

 

 

Please remember.

 

I am old.

 

This was before they had wireless mikes so everyone was wired up and was limited by how far a cord could go and their ability to not get tangled up in their cord.

 

 

Neil Schon and the drummer just kind of got things started.

 

 

music point of views smellsAnd if you haven’t seen musicians playing nothing, and everything at the same time, you haven’t seen and heard music at its best.

It just this rambling incohesive brilliant musicianship.

 

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And then Steve Perry wanders on stage in jeans and a tshirt holding a mike just watching the other guys play.

 

perry and schon

 

And without saying anything all of a sudden the band eases into a song almost one by one … but all together … and Steve eases in with vocals in his distinctive clear voice.

 

It’s the kind of thing that is so stunningly easily beautiful that you just have to stop whatever it is you are doing and stare.

 

Time kinds of stops.

You are in the middle of a stadium and while people are still moving and there are the regular noises of people doing what hey need to do … and yet … there is nothing else but the music.

 

 

To be clear.

 

 

Even people who are used to this recognize special moments.

 

 

People around me stopped.

 

Even the sound guys, who you knew had heard his dozens of time, stood still for a moment as it all synced up on stage.

 

 

The moment passed but the band seemed to shift seamlessly from one song to another and on occasion stopping to tune something or just talk amongst each other.

 

 

They had been doing this for a while and me being me … had stopped paying attention and was kind of mindlessly listening.

 

 

And all of a sudden something felt different about the music and I started paying attention. The music sounded different.

 

 

I turned around and Steve Perry was standing maybe 10 feet away from me facing the stage … singing. perry singing

 

 

Now remember … this was before wireless microphones. He had been wired up to walk all the way from the stage, maybe a 1/3rd of the way into the stadium, with his microphone to the sound system and hear what it sounded like.

 

 

I don’t remember the song. I wish I did.

 

 

I do remember a nonchalant Steve Perry, his voice crystal clear, pitch perfect, watching as the rest of the band clustered on stage watching each other work their way thru the song … I remember Steve Perry stopping and watching as Neil Schon effortlessly worked his way thru a solo … and seamless picking back up with vocals as Neil slid out of the solo and back into the song.

 

 

I remember Steve Perry looking over at me <ok … maybe he was looking at the guys in front of all the knobs and boards> and smiling, as he sung, and give a thumbs up because he lied what he was hearing.

 

 

Hey.

 

 

With my CSC security job I saw a lot of shit that most people do not see at a concert … but this was a special moment.

 

 

I am sure warming up and sound checks created great moments that most people never see all the time.

 

 

But this was my little glimpse into what makes great bands and great musicians great.

 

<and, please, Journey was a great band with one of the greatest rock … ok … any genre … lead singers of all time>

 

 

 

So.

 

 

 

Professional learning? Beyond the obvious practice & rehearsal <for the musicians and the ‘support for the presenters’… perspective.

 

Yup.

 

 

Perspective.

 

How often in business do we fall into our own little groove and fall into sync with the people around us and … well … we think all is good. We think it is good because it feels good.

 

Perry stepped out of the onstage groove and got perspective. He wanted o see what the people saw … he wanted to hear what the sound guys heard.

comfort zone

 

Oh.

 

And he took himself out of what I would perceive is a good comfort zone. All by himself … away from the others he is most likely in subconscious sync with on stage … he sings … they play. He … well … disconnected from the comfort zone in a way.

 

That, my friends, is stepping out of the comfort zone for perspective.

 

I stored that learning away in my ‘futre professional thoughts to to remember’ in my pea like brain.

 

I still use it today.

 

Even when things are going right … and they feel right … and maybe even because they are feeling right … I like to figure out a way to gain some perspective.

 

And, frankly, we all need perspective.

 

 

Anyway.

To end this.

 

I wanted to share a clip of what this behind the scenes looks and sounds like from the good ole Journey days but I couldn’t find one.

<nuts>

 

 

But.

 

I thought I would share this fabulous clip of Stevie Ray Vaughn during a sound check. I was fortunate enough to see Stevie play maybe three times before he passed away.

 

 

Regardless.

 

This is a reminder of how good these musicians really are.

 Those were the days … a roadie in the 70s.

—–

 

 

“Stevie just waking up then warming up. Insane how good can you really be that tired? This was filmed Jan 1986 by Greg Savage of Savage Guitar Design.

How can that guy just walk up, plug in and play like he’s been playing all day long? The man was a natural.”

=

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Sound Check:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grBmQwLSlDw

=

——–

Hope you enjoyed.

farewell to a champion

September 19th, 2013

 

Well.norton banner

This is a quick note on Ken Norton … heavy weight boxer who just passed away at the age of 70 .. and a champion in the ring and outside the ring.

 

Let me say some things because I met Ken Norton.

First.

I am not a boxing fan … I don’t really understand the allure of watching two men beat the crap out of each other in a ring. But I imagine I probably wouldn’t have understood gladiators in the coliseum in ancient Rome.

 

Regardless.

 

Second.

Whether I ‘get’ something or not … I can respect greatness. And I can recognize a true champion <not just a winner but a … well … winner in Life too> I was a young adult at the time of Ali, Frazier, Foreman and Norton in the boxing world. Everywhere you turned heavyweight boxing was being discussed. And respected. It was a show with substance. And the substance was not only a reflection of the quality of the output <the boxing itself> but a reflection of the quality of the competitors as men. Sure … they were typical flawed men … but men with substance.

Norton was seemingly the pinnacle of character and substance.

 

Third.

How can I sincerely say what I just said?

<about his character and substance>

Well.

I can’t say I really met Norton but rather I can honestly say our paths crossed several times in the late 70’s and early 80’s. As a Contemporary Security Company <CSC> quasi-security guy working my way through college in Los Angeles I met Ken at several events and even sat a bar having beer with him by my side once. <I have shared some CSC stories before … an example:

http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1 >

 

 

 

He was quiet, a gentleman, polite … and while a world champion … he almost seemed like he didn’t want people to know. He certainly did not go out of his way to flaunt it.

 

Being a non-boxing fan … I didn’t even know who he was the first time our paths crossed. I was working backstage at some event <I am guessing a concert but cannot remember> when he casually walked up to me to gain access to the ‘private’ back stage area. I asked to see his pass. My supervisor happened to be walking by and stopped and leaned over and said “he’s okay … let him in” … and I stepped aside.

The gentleman that he was he said nothing to me but “thanks” as he walked by.

My supervisor told me it was Ken Norton <and I kinda felt stupid>.

 

Maybe 15 minutes later I felt someone standing behind me and I turned and it was Norton. I immediately apologized for not recognizing him and he simply shrugged it off and said “hey man … you are just doing your job.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmm … just a reminder. This is a past world champion heavy weight boxer talking to a punk college kid, standing maybe 5’ 8” at best, with a security job. As if I could have stopped him if he really wanted to get by me <answer: nope>.

And then he politely asked if it was okay of he could stand there while he waited for someone who he didn’t believe had a pass but was meeting him.

We chatted for a couple of minutes about nothing.

And then he left when his friend showed up.

 

I ran into him <not physically … or I wouldn’t be alive today> several times after that. Every time he stopped and said hello. He didn’t remember my name but he acknowledged that he remembered me.

Me.

A young punk college kid acting like a security guy/bouncer when he could have steam rolled me in 3 seconds or less.

 

You know what?

That kind of makes him a champion in my mind. Even more so than the belt he won.

 

Fourth.

Ah.

What I remember most about Ken Norton.

norton 1Beyond the fact that he treated a young college student acting like a security guard with respect … this guy was a frickin’ physical specimen.

 

He was almost 6’ 3” … maybe 220 pounds … and not an ounce of fat on him. I believe he had something like a 33 inch waist. Yes. 33 inches. Football players have thighs bigger than that. When he first walked up to me I vividly remember thinking “jesus h christ this guy is a stud <who could beat the living crap out of me if I am not careful>.”

note: we fake security guys actually thought things like that mostly out of self-preservation.

 

Norton was a stud.

 

The only gripe anyone had with him as a boxer was that maybe he was in too good shape … he needed more bulk. Well. I am not a boxing expert … but I do know that other than maybe 2 or 3 guys in the world … he coulda beat the living crap out of anyone else.

 

Lastly.

In 1973 Norton was awarded the Napoleon Hill Award for being an “outstanding positive thinker.” Norton was the first athlete and the first African American to receive the honor.

 

The guy was a champion.

In the ring and outside the ring.

 

It’s worth remembering someone like Norton cause I tend to believe the sporting world, heck, the world in general … needs more Nortons.

no mas (or how you win matters)

November 28th, 2012

“No mas, no mas …no more box.” – Roberto Duran 1980

 

 

 

So.

 

 

 

This is about winning … and deciding how important … ‘how you win’ is to you … versus ‘the win’ itself.

 

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

The quote.

 

Nothing much was happening in the eighth round of the Roberto Duran – Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match on November 25th in 1980 when Roberto Duran turned away from Sugar Ray Leonard and waved a glove at the referee in a signal he wanted to stop.

 

 

 

Interestingly … Leonard, only aware that the current champ wasn’t defending himself, hit Duran … and Duran did not respond.

 

 

“No mas, no mas,” Roberto told the referee.

 

 

“No more box.”

 

 

And he walked to his corner.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

As a boxer Roberto Duran was known as the most dedicated, intense warrior in the ring. His nickname was Hands of Stone <Manos de Piedra>. He was the lightweight champ and had lost only one decision in 72 bouts <or something close to that>.

 

 

 

It was said that he never thought he could ever lose.

 

 

And, yet, he walked away … and in the win/loss column he lost.

 

 

But.

 

 

 

Here is the deal.

 

 

No mas” didn’t mean ‘I quit.’ It just meant ‘fuck this.’

 

 

 

It was purely a comment made in disgust.

 

 

Yup.

 

 

 

Duran wasn’t hurt … he was just disgusted.

 

 

Once Duran realized Leonard wouldn’t play ‘quien es mas macho’ he just walked away.

 

 

Winning … if he couldn’t fight the way he thought a fight should be fought … well … it just wasn’t a fight to him.

 

 

 

Was he right or wrong?

Shit. I do not know.

 

In his head … right.

 

 

In may other people’s heads? Wrong decision … it made him a quitter in their eyes.

 

 

But this is all about winning the way you want to win.

 

 

His way of fighting? …

—–

“Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the guy more. A fighter takes a punch, hits back with three punches.”

Roberto Duran

—–

 

Duran was the champ. He probably was smart enough to figure out a way to win the way Sugar Ray was fighting the fight <which wasn’t fighting it was avoiding> but that wasn’t the win he wanted.

 

He wanted to know who the best fighter was.

 

He wanted to be hit and see if he could take it.

 

He wanted to see if Sugar Ray could take his best hits.

 

 

 

When Sugar Ray decided he wasn’t going to allow that to happen Duran just said … not only do I not want to play this game but I don’t want to win this way … “no mas.”

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

To us <because most of us are not world class boxers> we will all at some point have to make this same type of decision … in sports, in Life, in relationships, in business. We all have to decide how important how we win is to us.

 

 

Look.

 

How you win, or play the game, is a very personal decision.

 

 

 

It really ends up being your choice with regard to your attitude <which ultimately influences your own behavior … even when that behavior is within a group or business organization>.

 

 

Oh.

 

And when it isn’t your choice how to play <i.e., someone else is dictating how you play> … and you really do not want to play that way … well … there is trouble <in River City my friends>.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

Please note I am going to make some generalizations soon to make some points and I fully understand there are degrees within each generalization.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

Let’s say there are three types of wins and winners:

 

 

–          A ‘whatever it takes to win’ win

–          An intellectual win

–          An ability win

 

 

And while this is probably relevant to Life, in general, as well as sports <obviously> and personal … I am going to discuss this idea in a business environment.

 

 

 

Why?

 

 

 

 

Because I tend to believe this is one of the most difficult attitude & behavior decisions someone has to make in business.

 

 

Organizations ask, and demand, many things of you … and you have to reconcile all of it with your own attitude … and inevitably your actions <behavior>.

 

As a junior person this is very difficult to manage but my suggestion is that you get things set <with the best knowledge you have> in your own head … and then look to the leaders behavior. Watch the senior people and how they treat going after a win, the process in win decision making and then how they define & evaluate the win.

 

Make sure it matches up with what you have decided attitudinally.

 

If you do not, you run the risk of being constantly put in positions where you do not like what you are not only being asked to do … but what you are doing.

 

 

Senior business people have no excuses.

 

No if, ands or buts.

character stood up best

 

How they win defines them as a business person.

 

 

All I can say to them is … well … accept it <whichever type you are>. I know what I like in my head but that doesn’t make it the only right.

 

 

The only point I have to really make to leaders is that once you accept how you go after a win … then begin recruiting people who think as you do. If you do not then you will be forcing your attitudes & behavior upon others who probably do not want to, let alone like to, do it that way. And I can also promise you when it comes to evaluation time , as a leader, you will be continuously disappointed in their performance.

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

The three wins <my perspective> and how they are different aspects of ‘adept, adapt & adopt.”

 

A whatever it takes to win.

 

 

I actually refer to this as an empty win.

 

 

 

This is typically the type of win done by someone who says afterwards … “all that matters is the result” … or … “it’s not the journey it is the destination” … or “winning is everything.”

 

 

 

It is empty because the person runs a very large risk that how you actually got to the win is ignored and everything gets measured <in their personal character measurement> on a scorecard.

 

 

 

I admit.

 

I don’t like these types of wins.

 

 

 

 

But there is a personality type out there, and some very successful people, who take pride in how many checks are in the win column and could care less how they got to them.

To these people … all wins are quality wins because … well … it is a win.

 

 

 

Typically really competitive people fall into this group.

 

 

 

I call this “adept” winning. You compete because you are adept at reading what it takes to win … and doing it.

 

 

 

This person isn’t adapting because they understand winning is about lining up the necessary variables … each time. So they aren’t adapting but rather simply building each time to win.

 

 

 

And they aren’t adopting anything because while some things can be reused it is mostly one time usage winning.

 

 

 

These types of winners are very difficult to replicate through training.

And these types of winners have to be very careful in how far they will go to win.

 

They have bigger boundaries of accepted behavior because of the adept attitude … and because of that they can stray to the boundary margins of character.

 

 

 

 

But it is the win numbers in this group that is most satisfying.

 

Out of all three groups I have listed this one probably will chalk up the most quantity of wins in the end.

 

Next.

 

 

There is an intellectual win.smart kid point

 

 

You truly outsmart someone <or outsmart the problem>.

 

 

You out think or tear apart the challenge in such an innovative way that your competition can just look afterwards and say … “wow … that was smart.”

 

 

This is as good as a physical <ability> win … but unfortunately many people do not evaluate it that way.

In fact many of the intellectual winners kind of wish they had some other tangible contribution because thinking is … well … intangible.

 

 

This type of winning is ‘adapt & adopt” winning.

 

 

You compete by adapting your thinking to the situation and adopting new ideas/thinking <its a contextual win>.

 

 

 

These types of winners I tend to believe are just born this way. Yes. Some aspects can be trained but these types of winners just seem to have an innate ability to see things … assess what matters versus what doesn’t matter … and assimilate the “what matters” information into either unique, or refreshingly different, ideas and thoughts.

 

 

This is a very satisfying win because you out thought someone.

 

 

Next.

 

 

An ability win.

 

 

 

This is ‘mano y mano.’

You bring your best and I will bring my best and let the best win.

 

 

Here is the deal.

 

Sometimes your best isn’t the better. And you lose.

Oh.

But what a loss.

 

 

 

This one is near & dear to my heart.

 

 

 

And I admit that I got really really lucky early in my career in that I was encouraged to go for this kind of ‘no frills’ winning and use losses to make my best better … so that each consecutive ‘game’ I was able to stay true to what I was good at … and it got better and better. Maybe it was partially I was stubborn on my definition of best or maybe I figured out what I was good at <even if it wasn’t the best of the best … just good while still being my personal best> early on and figured that if this was what I was good at … well … then I would only rise as high as my ‘best’ would take me.

 

 

 

 

This type of continuous winning is “adopt & adapt” winning. You compete … learn … adopt some new skills <skill level or new skill> and then adapt within your existing skill set to the next challenge. This means your muscle group gets stronger and stronger <albeit it is just one muscle group>.

 

 

 

This type of win is extremely satisfying. I also envision this group has the lowest actual total wins. They are the highest quality wins just not a shitload of them.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

 

That is, of course, unless you are as good a fighter as Roberto Duran.

 

 

And that is the real differentiator in quality wins … how good you really are.

 

 

And I guess that is going to be my point having used one of the best boxers of all time.

 

 

He was one of the best.

 

 

 

“Manos de Piedra”, is true, Hands of Stone. Every punch, and I’m not exaggerating, every punch that he hit me with, from the body to the head, felt like bricks, stone, rocks”.

– Sugar Ray Leonard

 

 

And not all of us are of that level of ‘best.’ In fact … not many people are.

 

 

So you have to figure what is most important to you in the win. The numbers?

 

 

The intellectual win? The ability win? And embrace that is what makes you … well … you … in the business world.

 

 

 

And know when to say “no mas.”

 

 

Know when to say ‘fuck this.’

 

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

Do I give Sugar Ray credit for figuring out how to win by avoiding the Hands of Stone?

 

 

 

Sure.

 

 

Would I have done it that way?

 

 

 

 

Nope <and I probably would have lost>.

 

 

Do I give Duran credit for just saying ‘no mas’ after 8 frustrating rounds?

 

 

 

Yup.

 

 

 

He was the champ. He cared more about how he won the championship than the championship itself.

 

 

 

Now that, my friends, is a lesson that many of us should take to heart in business.

 

 

 

Figure out what you want … and how you want to do it … and find your place in the business world doing it.

 

big fred (and saying no)

July 25th, 2010

CSC 3

 

Ok.

 

 

Back to the security company job I had in college.

 

This one is about Big Fred.

 

 

That is what everyone called him (I wonder if his last name was really Fred. hmmmmmmmmmmmm).

Big Fred was a mountain of a man.

 

I am sure there was a lot of muscle hidden in there somewhere but he was Jabba the Hut before there was Jabba. I am not sure he ever had to actually take any action because he was so intimidating.

 

 

Anyway.

 

Big Fred’s job was always the same job at every event.

He managed the artist/players entry area backstage. He was the last line of defense to the performers. He said who got in, what got in and in general provided oversight for their well being. So when I was a backstage supervisor I was kind of de facto under Big Fred’s supervision.

 

 

I would say that everyone I talked to believed Big Fred had the sweetest job in the company.

 

 

And … well … he may have. But. As with most things … everything in life is a trade off and the grass always looks a helluva lot greener if you aren’t the one mowing it.

 

 

Regardless.

 

After a couple of months watching Big Fred in action I was pretty confident if I paid attention I could learn a lot and very confident you couldn’t pay me enough to do his job.

 

<by the way, while I didn’t follow closely I do believe he was recognized for ability beyond being big because I believe a number of bands hired him to manage their backstage tour>.

 

Big Fred had a big job that was easy to miss how big it was … because of all the glitz and glamor surrounding everything taking place.

 

Big Fred had a huge pain in the ass job with massive benefits.

 

Big Fred was constantly squeezed.

 

By those within <the performers> and those without <those who wanted to be near the performers>.

 

He had to balance all that and make it all seem like it was under control. I am pretty sure I never once saw Big Fred freak out <even as the oiled up dancers came racing out of the Van Halen dressing room>.

 

Let’s see.

 

 

So.

I have Neil Young at the back entrance wanting to be let in. I don’t have his name on the list <and you learn VERY quickly it doesn’t matter who it is if you don’t have them on the okayed list they don’t come in>.

 

So, me, capable of making many decisions, frankly ain’t gonna make this call.

 

 

“Hold on a second, will you Mr. Young.”

 

Back to Big Fred.

 

Explain situation.

 

 

Now Big Fred was a master of this crap.

He knew if he should ask someone, put someone on the list or just say no <all while he has one eye on caterers wandering in, random special guests and keeping riff raff out of the way>.

 

Here is where he shared an even bigger lesson to me (the kid).

 

Big Fred:“Nope. He can’t come in.” (‘Oh shit’ bubble over my head) … but he then says “Hold on. Let me come with you and we can tell him together.”

 

 

Look.

 

This may sound stupid, but to a 19 year old kid telling Neil Young “nope” was a big thing.

 

And Big Fred kinda had a great sense for how to defuse things as well as delegate and empower.

 

 

I know I say in my bio I have always been a collector of moments and Big Fred gave me some of the most thoughtful formative management moments.

 

I will tell you the biggest lesson he taught me.

 

 

To say “no.”

 

oh no 2

And to be fearless with regard to whom you said ‘no’ to.

 

You quickly realized in this position that it wasn’t a “power thing” but rather a clear decisions made that met the needs of the situation.

 

So.

19.

Maybe 20.

Into my 21 year.

 

 

I became comfortable saying ‘no’ to Sting, Stevie Nicks, Nick Nolte, a slew of people I don’t have time to list during Eagles shows because they never let anyone backstage, a governor, a senator and others who you would know but may not know because it was the decision of someone else.

 

 

This was not abusing power.

 

 

This was simply becoming comfortable saying “in this situation at this time I am going to have to say no to what you want.” And, frankly, I moved up in the organization because I wasn’t star struck and just dealt with it.

 

 

And, frankly, I probably moved up in my career because afterward I was rarely star struck and made decisions at had to be made.

 

And Big Fred gave me my first lesson on this.

 

I am unclear whether others saw the same thing but I hope Big Fred is still doing well.

 

He taught me some basics I still utilize today.

 

Do not be afraid to say no, to anyone <regardless of their title or stature or fame> if you are in the right.

 

That is the lesson for the day.

Enlightened Conflict