When I learn something, or when I witness someone else learning something, I sometimes wish I had learned it long ago. If it could have saved me trouble, or led me somewhere I find appealing, I write it down. Here's another installment from my growing collection.
- Professional relationships are like bank savings accounts. You can't make withdrawals until you've made enough deposits.
- We are all imperfect. All of us. Even the people we admire and respect most. And that imperfection makes them no less worthy of admiration or respect.
- Give slackers the room they need to fail. Helping them out of a jam just ensures that they'll be around long enough to depend on you to help them out of their next jam.
- Not everyone who breaks the rules is evil or dangerous. But steer clear of people who break the rules solely for personal gain.
- When it comes to disputes and confusion, one person is enough.
- Using past achievements as a predictor of future performance is a great way to build a team of has-beens.
- The birds at the bird feeder take turns, but the bigger birds get more turns than the smaller birds do. Seemed a little unfair, until I realized that bigger birds need more food.
- Some birds are just too big for some bird feeders. What seems like an advantage in some ways can come at a very high price.
- Even if you don't plan for Reality, Reality will happen anyway.
- I like podcasts, but they're pretty much the slowest way to learn anything.
- Withholding bad news leaves space for people to make up what they don't know much about. What they make up is often worse than any bad news you can withhold.
- Clutter isn't a reflection of the state of a person's mind. Some very confused people have really neat offices.
- The quality of decisions that affect lots of people is correlated with the regard the decision makers have for those same people.
- You You can't get a bully to stop
bullying by explaining
why bullying is badcan't get a bully to stop bullying by explaining why bullying is bad.
- When bullies understand that disciplinary action will result if they continue to bully others, they don't stop bullying. They just get cleverer about it.
- Loss may be painful, but sometimes it makes space in life for something new and wonderful.
- When someone you know is in the grip of an addictive substance, beware. You might not be able to determine who's speaking — the person or the substance.
- The worst thing about procrastination isn't that you eventually have to tackle whatever you deferred. It's that you lose the freedom to choose a good time to tackle it.
- Getting too much email can create an overpowering urge to unsubscribe from good stuff just because it takes too long to read. Resist that urge. Instead, use email filtering more effectively, or unsubscribe from the chaff.
- When I find myself doing something on a computer repeatedly, and very inconveniently, chances are good that I'm doing something either unnecessary or dumb. If it is necessary, and it's not dumb, there's almost surely a better way.
- Sometimes a difficult problem has a very elegant solution. When that happens, what made solving the problem difficult wasn't the problem — it was my biases, prejudices, fears, or blindness to assumptions I was making.
- Naming something is a long way from mastering it. But mastering something does require naming it. (See "The Nominal Fallacy at Work," Point Lookout for January 1, 2014.)
- Brilliant explanations of subtle concepts are often the result of many refinements of less-than-brilliant explanations. Brilliant explanations are rarely born brilliant.
You probably have a collection like this, but maybe it isn't written down. Something magical happens for me when I write them down. I tend to remember them when I need them. If you haven't written down your collection, try it. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Ethics at Work:
- Tornado Warning
- When organizations go astray ethically, and their misdeeds come to light, people feel shocked, as if
they've been swept up by a tornado. But ethical storms do have warning signs. Can you recognize them?
- Currying Favor
- The behavior of the office kiss-up drives many people bats. It's more than annoying, though —
it does real harm to the organization. What is the behavior?
- Devious Political Tactics: A Field Manual
- Some practitioners of workplace politics use an assortment of devious tactics to accomplish their ends.
Since most of us operate in a fairly straightforward manner, the devious among us gain unfair advantage.
Here are some of their techniques, and some suggestions for effective responses.
- The Costanza Matrix
- The Seinfeld character "George Costanza" is famous for having said, "It's not a lie if
you believe it." What if you don't believe it and it's true? Some musings.
- On Repeatable Blunders
- When organizations make mistakes, they sometimes acknowledge them and learn how to avoid repeating them.
And sometimes they conceal them or even deny they happened. When they conceal mistakes or deny they
occurred, repetition is more likely.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
- And on February 15: Four Razors for Organizational Behavior
- Deviant organizational behavior can harm the people and the organization. In choosing responses, we consider what drives the perpetrators. Considering Malice, Incompetence, Ignorance, and Greed, we can devise four guidelines for making these choices. Available here and by RSS on February 15.
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