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:
- Managing Personal Risk Management
- When we bias organizational decisions to manage our personal risks, we're sometimes acting ethically
— and sometimes not. What can we do to limit personal risk management?
- The Attributes of Political Opportunity: The Finer Points
- Opportunities come along even in tough times. But in tough times like these, it's especially important
to sniff out true opportunities and avoid high-risk adventures. Here are some of the finer points to
assist you in your detective work.
- On the Appearance of Impropriety
- Avoiding the appearance of impropriety is a frequent basis of business decisions. What does this mean,
what are the consequences of such avoiding, and when is it an appropriate choice?
- Counterproductive Knowledge Workplace Behavior: II
- In knowledge-oriented workplaces, counterproductive work behavior takes on forms that can be rare or
unseen in other workplaces. Here's Part II of a growing catalog.
- Appearance Antipatterns: II
- When we make decisions based on appearance we risk making errors. We create hostile work environments,
disappoint our customers, and create inefficient processes. Maintaining congruence between the appearance
and the substance of things can help.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 11: The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect
- When we speak or write, the phrases we use have both form and meaning. Although we usually think of form and meaning as distinct, we tend to assess as more meaningful and valid those phrases that are more beautifully formed. The rhyme-as-reason effect causes us to confuse the validity of a phrase with its aesthetics. Available here and by RSS on December 11.
- And on December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
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- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.