Nonsense At Work

#82: April 2014 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


April 2014

Bossy Bites Feed Short-Sighted Resentment

Boss is boss is bossy

boss-is-bossOh, for Pete’s sake. Someone out there wants to ban the word ‘bossy’. I think it’s to stop little girls being labeled. Well, guess what, I want my daughter to be bossy. I don’t want men to boss her around; I want her to do the bossing. And get paid for it.

Do you know how much real bosses get paid? Way more than those play-nice leadership types. After all, bosses make things happen while leaders envision things somehow happening. 

To drown out the ban bossy campaign, I played “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who, just to hear these lyrics loudly: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

That’s right! Boss is boss is bossy. If you don’t like it, go find a different job. And good luck finding one without a boss attached.

Hm, for the record, I am one of those play-nice leadership types. I need a boss’ help. A boss with bite.


The March of the sound bites

March-madness-dailymail-ukI arrived in the USA 12 years ago at the start of March Madness. This did not bother me. March madness is simply the breeding month of the European hare. Hares breeding madly, or rabbits rutting, held no interest for me. And, of course, I had landed in the USA, not Europe. I was safe.

Safe, but bewildered. March Madness, I found out, involves very tall men running backward and forward bouncing a ball back and forth. This rapid to-and-fro somehow results in each team collecting more than sixty points each. And all this lasts only 40 actual minutes.

Indeed, total madness to me. You see, I come from a world where a game of cricket can last 5 days without either side able to claim victory. 

No wonder it took me years before I understood my first simple sound bite.


Stop flowing to feed yourself

dead_fish_by_marcel67Still talking about bites, I am confused. (Again. About something completely different.) I read something on the internet recently that has me questioning one of my favorite Seven Rules to Easy Success. I have to take it seriously, because, as we all know, if it’s on the internet, then it must be true.

Here’s what I stumbled onto: Only dead fish swim with the current.

Wow! If true, this destroys my belief that easy success comes from going with the flow.

My limited biology knowledge had me admitting to some logic in the statement. Plankton drifts on current; fish swims against current with mouth open; fish feeds. Trusting the internet as I do, I immediately searched for The Truth. But the only answer I could find is “yes and no.”

To counter my confusion, I have now modified my success rule as follows: Go with the flow until you are hungry, then turn around and make a little effort to feed yourself.


Your short-sighted hierarchy

hierarchy nawI also learned that fishes feeding is hierarchical: minute eaten by tiny eaten by small eaten by big eaten by bigger eaten by biggest, ad nauseam.

As to humans eating, what is the operating hierarchy? Organizational! The higher your plate (the one with your name and title), the bigger your feast.

And what is the organization’s hierarchy? Those at the bottom feel it as the ranking of power and authority. Those more than half way up (with ambition unfulfilled) know it as the order of status and rewards. Those at the top expect it to reflect relative importance.

We forget that the hierarchy also represents time. The closer you are to the bottom, the more your actions create results that matter today. The closer to the top, the more your decisions trigger effects that matter in the future.

Obvious, isn’t it? What’s not so obvious is how fear on the hierarchy makes us short-sighted.

If the reason you manage to hang onto your job only becomes clear years down the road, how will you behave today? Do you have enough self-confidence and backers in high places to stay focused on the future?

Or will your insecurities and enemies force you to micro-manage in the present?


Resentment from earning too much

pay-too-muchSometimes insecurities lead us into strange decisions which trap us. For example, I have clients who pay their staff too much, while others agonize over the economic cost of low wages and the injustice of income inequality.

And rightly so, because earning too little can lock you into a condition that undermines your self-confidence as it limits your upward mobility.

Yet, earning too much can also trap you and trap your employer. If you earn more than your peers in your industry or in your region, then you will stay where you are, even if staying keeps you unhappy. And poor performers, unhappy or not, won’t leave because they cannot afford to.

Furthermore, being trapped in a well-paying position will undermine your willingness to speak up and against when you should. Ultimately, the organization’s performance will suffer.

So be warned, paying too much can be as damaging as paying too little while creating resentment on both sides.



Willing to pay me too much?



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