Nonsense At Work

#93: March 2015 MindShift

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


March 2015

Funny Pooh Sharing President Personality

A shared joke can yoke us

yokeCartoons and jokes have been in the news a lot lately. And always will be, because we like to laugh and be amused. But often humor can bemuse instead. For example, have you ever wondered about how the words yoke and joke look and sound so similar?

The word yoke means to join together to be able to do something together. Oxen are linked with a yoke so that they can pull a load together.

The word joke means a short story told specifically to cause amusement. Its purpose is to entertain and to trigger laughter.

When we share a joke we are joined in fun. Shared amusement brings us closer together. In effect, we are yoked by a shared joke.

But that only happens when we laugh with. When we laugh at, the opposite happens. Laughing at others unites them in hurt, often against the jokers. And that yoke really isn’t very amusing.


Fixating on the pooh side of a task

boy-dogHere’s something else that isn’t very funny. I live in a house with two big dogs. The house also has one teenage boy. Where I come from, both in time and place, dog plus boy means boy picks up dog pooh. Every day. The way I did when I was the boy.

What motivated me to face the daily pooh was Peter Paddle. If I did not pick up what the dog left behind, then Peter would paddle on my behind.

Sadly, I am not permitted to paddle behinds in this country. Paddling has stopped with the generation that caused the baby boom. Instead, I must use my management skills at home.

I tried to explain to my son that he should not fixate on the pooh side of the task. He should focus on outcomes, namely a clean lawn to play on. He replied that video games have no mosquitoes or humidity. Surprisingly, we finally agree on something.


Gain power by sharing power to empower

sharing-powerMany years ago the president of Zimbabwe ranted at a rally that the leader of the opposition in South Africa was a threat to all revolutionary governments in Africa. I remember thinking at the time, “Wow! With that silly statement Robert Mugabe gave Tony Leon far more power and recognition than Mr. Leon could have hoped to get on his own.”

I have never forgotten the lesson. Don’t give power to your opponents by arguing with them, or by defending yourself, unless you absolutely must engage with them. Using power this way weakens you.

Yet, it is possible to get more power by giving power away. The difference is in the giving. When you share love you don’t end with less love. Same with an idea. Love and ideas grow through sharing.

You will gain power if you share power to empower someone. You will lose power if you use power to diminish someone.


Precedent explains why presidents get so little done

president-precedentUnlike current politicians, Presidents’ Day in the USA has come and gone. It was the day on which we were supposed to remember all the past presidents. Well, in doing so, here’s what struck me about the title ‘president’. It explains why so little gets done by any one called President, whether of a country or of a company.

President’s Day serves to honor who came before. But the word president sounds a little too much like the word precedent. Precedent has to do with honoring what has come before. It implies that some past action should now be an example for current actions.

The real problem arises because we have had so many past presidents that it is difficult to pick a precedent to follow today. To put it differently, which president should now take precedent or vice versa?

Quite frankly, I’m not surprised that many presidents end up doing exactly what the word originally meant, namely to sit before.


Wanted at work: less personality and more character

character-at-workYears ago a South African rock star joked about his college days and how happy he had been when he failed his HIV exam.

Today I wonder how many job applicants are happy to hear that they have failed their personality test. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? At yet, there are many hiring managers who still think that you should submit to a personality test when applying for a job.

Basically, personality is that aspect of you that other people experience, those qualities that make you interesting and popular or maybe not. In the workplace, too much personality can serve the wrong purpose.

On the other hand, character has to do with moral fiber, with qualities such as honesty and integrity. And with the courage to do the right thing in tricky situations, even when no one is watching.

Surely it is now obvious that at work we need more character and less personality.



Are you sharing the pooh side of your personality?



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