Some of the best business advice can come from the most absurd places. I must admit that watching the real news is depressing. Oil spills, nuclear disasters and Moammar Gadhafi do not make for an uplifting evening. The more serious life gets, the more I need the ridiculously sage words from sources such as Sigmund Marvin from What About Bob, “From all the horror in this world, what difference does it make?”
Unfortunately for most of us, Siggy Marvin makes us laugh, but we are forced to confront the horrors in the world at work or we risk going out of business or losing our job. Not long ago I spoke with a friend who is in the awkward position of knowing what is best for his company, but is forced to play politics to keep peace. As he described the position a colleague was taking the business, it reminded me very much of an article written by TheOnion.com. Take-Charge, Can-Do Guy Makes Horrible Decisions, is a must read for anybody confronted with overachieving numbskulls on a regular basis.
“Matthew Stuart, an enthusiastic 33-year-old junior executive at Boston Tea Market, Inc., gets things done quickly, confidently, and terribly…” So frequently when somebody is new to a team, they want to leave their mark and save the day even when they are in way over their heads. They want to be seen as the hero. They want to get the job done. Great goals, but as the old saying goes, discretion is the greater part of valor.
As I write this post, I think to myself, “Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, you are a self-admitted fanatical entrepreneur. Don’t tell the good people to play it safe. Any challenge can be overcome. No obstacle is too big. Encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and make big things happen.” Admittedly, I am an adrenaline junky, I take chances, I start new businesses and I make them work. However, I have found few people that are willing to take responsibility when things go wrong and even less people are willing to risk their own personal security for the sake of making the business work. If you are not willing to lay your salary on the line for mistakes that you initiate, rethink your strong positions.
What we typically see in most businesses is a person that comes to us with the façade of bravado who makes terrible decisions just hoping that the chips will magically fall into place by their hustle. A small sliver of experience is exaggerated into a career filled with successes. Can-do guy crawls into a metaphorical fetal position, analysis paralysis sets in, financial disaster ensues, time is lost and money poured in all the wrong places.
For you can-do people, who put everyone else in a bind, just learn from what people who work with Mathew Stuart come to think about him. “Because of his positive attitude and boundless energy, Stuart’s frequent errors in judgment are generally overlooked. ‘Everyone here really likes Matt,’ Jordan said. ‘You never really notice what an idiot he is until you’re cleaning up his mess. He loves to roll his sleeves up, get in there, and screws (I edited this word to get it PG Rated) all sorts of things up.’
Eventually Mathew will get fired if he can’t back up his hustle with results. Guess what, if you are a can-do guy that makes horrible decisions, you’ll be fired too, but not before you have waisted a bunch of time and money.
I was informed that I am not in the habit of leaving anything on a down note. Point well taken.
Business is rough and you can get bruised. Feelings can get hurt and finances dashed. However, part of business and life is willing to push yourself to new levels. I encourage my employees and clients to get uncomfortable and achieve more. There is nothing quite like overcoming your fears, just have the courage to confront your mistakes when you make them.