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:
- It Might Be Legal, but It's Unethical
- Now that CEOs will be held personally accountable for statements they make about their organizations,
we can all expect to be held to higher standards of professional ethics. Some professions have formal
codes of ethics, but most don't. What ethical principles guide you?
- 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?
- Some Things I've Learned Along the Way
- When I have an important insight, I write it down in a little notebook. Here are some items from my
- More Things I've Learned Along the Way
- Some entries from my personal collection of useful insights.
- On Standing Aside
- Occasionally we're asked to participate in deliberations about issues relating to our work responsibilities.
Usually we respond in good faith. And sometimes we — or those around us — can't be certain
that we're responding in good faith. In those situations, we must stand aside.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 5: Downscoping Under Pressure: I
- When projects overrun their budgets and/or schedules, we sometimes "downscope" to save time and money. The tactic can succeed — and fail. Three common anti-patterns involve politics, the sunk cost effect, and cognitive biases that distort estimates. Available here and by RSS on October 5.
- And on October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
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Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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