Reflections

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

The timing of this may suggest that I want to spend some time reflecting on the year that was 2014 or even on a larger scale looking back on one's life... nothing so grand. I wanted to spend some time just reflecting on an evening with three of my oldest friends. Will any of this be particularly profound, have any insight into life, business or satisfaction? Maybe, maybe not... but I did have a wonderful evening.

Let me offer a quick back story for context - Like all of us, I have a group of close friends and I suspect, like all of us, there are logistical cartwheels you must entertain to try and co-ordinate getting together. To solve this, as well as the frustration of trying to herd the OCD kittens, a buddy and I decide when we want to have a drink and then I send out one e-mail (just one), letting everyone know when and where. A few nights ago four of us got together with invitations in hand to meet at The Libertine. For the sake of anonymity, let's name the three that joined me as Huey, Dewey and The Duke.

Reflections:

We are all grown up here, so look after our own calendars. (i) 

Adapting to a change in circumstance leads to untold surprises including a seedy pool hall where they only speak Portuguese. (ii)

 "Life is too short to be buying beer from a bottle." (iii)

If you are going to have a shot of bourbon, do not put ice in it. (iv)

Pay attention to your bill or it will be $33 and not $25. (v)

Imagine the good time you would have missed because it was more convenient at the to go home rather than walk up the street. (vi)

"You would think the Fortune teller would know she was going to be sick and tell us in advance". (vii)

Even though you have a law degree, maybe it's better to be in a band and in love. (viii)

"The Lisgar" is a confusing drink but I am glad I had it. (ix)

"You need to live outside of your comfort zone" (x)

With some friends, what you have in common is a lifetime. (xi)

So there you have it, the reflections from one night out. We all have them. Night after night, year after year, until a lifetime has been forged. Here is to a Happy and Healthy 2015 and I hope your reflections are grand. 

gpe

PS: Huey asked me if I was going to blog about the night and now he has the answer.

Footnotes (as interpreted by the author)

i) In your world you may have admins to manage your calendar, but in my world I'm not your admin, so figure it out yourself. Stay independent.

ii) The Libertine is changing and even though the internet says it is open at 7:00 and/or 8:00, it really opens at 10:00. Change can lead to very cool, unexpected things - Plus The Libertine did eventually open.

iii) Huey said this about the beer he drinks; it is profound... why would you have something generic and stale, when you can easily find fresh and real.

iv)  If you are going to have a shot, have a shot - Don't pretend by diluting it down and sipping it.

v) Things can cost you if you don't pay attention...through no one's fault  but your own.

vi) After dinner, Dewey wanted to go home instead of walk up the street to see if The Libertine was open (as it was out of the way for him if it wasn't open). Remember, sometimes, more often than not, you do it for the journey and the camaraderie.

vii) The Libertine has a Fortune teller on site. She was sick and the bartender said this - I thought it was funny.

viii) An example of "what you can be" versus "what you want to be". I think the bartender is doing the right thing, but that could be me. 

ix) a combination of Johnny Walker Red, Campari, Sweet Vermouth and hot sauce. It was a party of taste confusion in the mouth.

x) Dewey kept saying this - In 2014, he travelled to Argentina to see the Red Hot Chilly Peppers, scuba dived 15 times (including a tunnel dive), rode his motorcycle everywhere (deciding to collect them) and walked up the street to The Libertine. I think he's doing just fine with respect to stepping out of his comfort zone.

xi) It has been an honour to have Huey, Dewy and the Duke as friends - I have cherished our lifetime camaraderie, as I am better for it.

Good People Find a Way...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

During one of my professional "iterations" there was a complete executive retooling within the organization and with it came a number of very capable business people... you know, the people that have Harvard, Wharton or General Electric somewhere on their resume; the type of people where in a meeting it can sometimes be analogous to "watching a tiger play with a puppy" (as an aside, I love using pithy sayings like this). This was a particularly fulfilling time for me at a professional level - I learned so much.

An adage that started to get bantered about at the time, which to this day echoes mixed emotions  for me, was "Good People Find a Way". But why, I've asked myself? It obviously is a truism... isn't it? Someone who is able to get it done, make it happen or create something never seen before is by definition good - This of course is true. But if they are unable to find a way, are they then bad?  Lets talk it out and let me start here...

Good People Find a Way

Good People Find a Way

I knew a VP of Sales and Marketing named Roger Cooper (may he rest in peace), who once said this about selling, "Intellectually you know you can't win every sale, but emotionally and in your heart you know you will win them all". This has resonated with me for years as his point was you need to believe that you will win it all and align your thinking and activity to that - There was no plan B* for him. This has to be at the core of "Good People" when defining them and ultimately making "Finding a Way" possible. This is how you move into a place where you can think "outside of the box", tear down barriers and accomplish what people said can't be done. Obviously you have to have the ability to "find a way"... be it knowledge, skills, endurance or that nebulous special quality. I should point out that depending on the situation, "finding the way" may include an iterative failing and learning process, environmental situations that need to be managed through with resources that need to be secured - All of which you may be in the midst of being worked though when someone decides to measure you with this adage. The rub for me begins to take shape.  

So lets say "Good People Find a Way" is a valid truism and yes you are good when you solve for the situation...very objective. I will also suggest that being "good" is also applicable when you are emotionally engaged, skilled and working through the situation - Doing the right things... maybe a little subjective but "you know it when you see it"**. Where I struggle, is with the context and leadership of when and how the term "Good People Find a Way" is used, not what adage itself represents.

I want to back up here for a minute to clarify the context of when the adage "Good People Find a Way" is applicable. We are talking about addressing complex situations, unknowns or "unexpected surprises" and solving for them. We are not talking about administrating an established process or practice that should be considered table stakes -  If a person can't find a way to manage this out you have a training issue or a miscast. The adage is out of place here.

So what do I mean when I say I struggle with the context and leadership regarding "Good People Find a Way"? Contextually there are two ways that this adage can be used - To re-enforce the "truism" or as a motivator... and it's as a motivator where I struggle.

Let me get the easy one out of the way - If a leader is using the adage as a truism to set the bar and develop expectations, it is a "good ol' rally cry" to anchor people...it then can be workable. It allows for the articulation of "Good People", the qualities (both hard and soft) and what it takes. This is a very valid way to set the bar for expectations, values and culture but it still needs to be clearly articulated.

I will concede that in theory, as a motivator, "Good People Find a Way" could be used to re-enforce that a person is good, has what it takes, and sets the stage for discussions involving what is needed to work through challenges and "find the way". My experience though, more often than not, is the adage gets introduced when the results are not as expected and it becomes a challenge for the person (or team) to pull up their proverbial socks.

I have seen it disastrously used when a leader uses the adage because he really does not want to accept the situation and that their initial expectations may be flawed; putting blinders on with regards to a bigger, possibly more difficult situation than initially thought. Worse still, uses the adage as a method of blame and deflecting ownership and responsibility. Not only does the leader miss the real situation but demoralizes the people who can solve for it.

"Good People Find a Way" is a truism and should be treated as such; it is how the impossible is made possible - If you want it to happen, get the right people and foster the right environment. As a leadership and motivational tool, as well as a performance indicator, it needs to be considered with great caution...more often than not, when used, it reflects poor leadership, deflection and blinders.

I write some of this with fond memories of an old colleague of mine, who unlike me with my mixed emotions, simply hated the adage. 

gpe

* I will never say you shouldn't have a back up plan but I will also say that if you are not careful your Plan B will become your Plan A. (a future blog topic in the making)

** If it's good enough to be used by the U.S. Supreme Court it's good enough for me. (Obscenity in Jacobellis vs Ohio)

A Story for the Season...

In the holiday spirit, I wanted to share something with you.

Up front I will tell you that Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) is one of my favourite authors. If you have a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas stop reading this, go get it, gather the family around and share*. I personally would grab a glass of rum and egg nog, but that's me. Now, if you don't have a copy, please settle in (with the suggested beverage) and continue reading-

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot...

But the Grinch,
Who lived just North of Who-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But,
Whatever the reason,
His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistleoe wreath.

"And they're hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!"
For, tomorrow, he knew...

...All the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
And they'd FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!

And THEN
They'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!

They'd sing! And they'd sing!
AND they'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
"Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming!
...But HOW?"

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
THE GRINCH
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

"I know just what to do!" The Grinch Laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
"With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!"

"All I need is a reindeer..."
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...?
No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.

THEN
He loaded some bags
And some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max.

Then the Grinch said, "Giddyap!"
And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos
Lay a-snooze in their town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
"This is stop number one," The old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.

Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
"These stockings," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos' feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!

Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!"

And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.

The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter
Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,
"Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?"

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,
"There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side.
"So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
"I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here."

And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!

Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.

And the one speck of food
The he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

Then
He did the same thing
To the other Whos' houses

Leaving crumbs
Much too small
For the other Whos' mouses!

It was quarter past dawn...
All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch,
"That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...?
Well...in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...

...HE HIMSELF...!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

I hope you enjoyed it. It's not too late to run out and get a copy for your home... the stores are still open**. For all of you in Who-ville, please have a wonderful Holiday Season, be safe and thank you for reading.

Happy Holidays!!

gpe

* If you have the movie it is not a worthy substitute...  this is old fashioned story telling I am talking about here.

** For me every household should have a copy... and yes, the irony is not lost on me.