New Years is an Artificial Constraint

Seriously ! Thank you Switch & Shift for hosting my (anti)-New Year's post!

"Ah, New Years hype! New resolutions, habits, goals, priorities. We make it so grand and complicated that we set ourselves up for failure. Seriously, what’s the difference between December 31st and January 1st?  Is it really different than June 30th and July 1st or October 31st and November 1st?  And really, January 1st as the New Year is a bit artificial"
...read on.. 

Tiptoe Through the Tulips No More

Well, last week’s post got some great responses.  I find it very providential that Jessica Esch has been reading myJessica Esch "#58 At Last" mind as she’s creating her book ;-).  The horrors of last Friday are very fresh for all of us, and sorrowfully, will be permanently fresh for many families in Newtown.  I can’t even fathom their pain and anguish.  It truly is beyond comprehension.

This is the season of merriment, peace and goodwill where we are all smiles and happiness.  Perhaps this should also be the season of taking a stand.  And this is not a paradox!  If we are to truly lead a meaningful, bountiful life that wonderfully makes a difference in the lives of others, then we cannot be the silent majority.  We need to look political correctness in the face and tell it where to go.

We’ve blurred the lines between freedom and license, between having the right and it being right, and between output (a vehement disagreement) and outcome (a solution achieved through work, compromise and promise). Our fear of offending others can have a very high price – life itself. 

So, in this season of joy and blessings, as you prepare for time with family and friends, as you put on your smiles, real and manufactured, find time for a little reflection on what you will stand for in 2013.  What will you refuse to tiptoe around and finally address – with wisdom, firmness, and compassion?  When you look in the mirror, who will you see? I pray it will be someone who has made a significant and powerful impact on and for others…by not staying silent.  Tiptoe no more! Let 2013 be a year of making a difference!

It's not High School Anymore Guys!

It seems I’m spending more and more time in high school these days.  No, not my kids’ school, the business 21 - Sheesh! by Jess Esch world.  Perhaps the economy has increased insecurity, doubt and lack of trust in business; perhaps adolescence’s creeping into the 30’s is why its taking longer to grow up and be professional; or perhaps we’re so politically correct, or conflict avoiding, that we are sacrificing accountability and productivity for fear of offending.  

There are times I feel so “old-school” with my kids’ friends and and in the corporate world.  I see behavior that wasn’t tolerated in ‘my day’ and I’d never tolerate…from my kids let alone colleagues, including the C-suite.  The Harvard Business Review even ran an article “Rudeness at Work: What’s Your Story?” What the heck is going on? Are permissiveness and indulgence endemic everywhere?

Increasingly, the virtue I see that is most needed, aside from Courage, is Temperance.  I love that word.  It comes from Greek sophrosyne (moderation), which Cicero translated into the Latin temperantia.  By the mid-14th C, it evolved from the Anglo-French temperaunce to mean “self-restraint, self-control, moderation.”[*]  I think we need a heavy heavy dose of Temperance today – in any business, be it for/not-for profit, ‘social’, entrepreneurial, etc.   We need to balance protecting wealth with creating wealth, efficiency with effectiveness, and yes, compassion with responsibility. 

Many workplaces are enclaves of aiding and abetting immature, disrespectful, even harmful behavior.  People end up spending more time working around or with these people instead of doing the jobs at hand. Physical and emotional energy is sapped; time is spent in the weeds providing unnecessary levels of detail and hand-holding because people want to be told exactly what to do instead of taking the initiative; and employees are not asked to step up their game, limiting their professional growth and burdening the entire organization culturally and productively.  Trust declines, morale declines, and the company’s ability to attract and retain talent erodes.

What is the outcome? Increasing risk in delighting the customer.  Plain and simple.  At the end of the day, that’s what matters, because otherwise there is no business.  While it may be ‘easier’ in the short term to aid and abet, it will destroy your organization in the long term.  At some point, it’s very difficult to prevent this behavior from affecting your customers in some shape or form.  And let’s face it, we’re not helping anyone by avoiding the issue…we’re kicking the can down the road. 

So, please think about how you can apply Temperance in 2013.  Apply to yourself first, your team, and your organization. As the leader, you set the tone. This may not be easy, but it is so important to create and sustain a culture that continually delights it customers…because of it’s people, it’s culture.

A special Thank You to my friend, Jess Esch, for letting me use her fabulous sketches in my posts! 


[*] temperance. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/temperance