Free of hubris

You need to be able to keep success and self-worth separated.

For two reasons.

First, because success is the outcome of many inputs, most of which out of our control. Luck, for example, plays a huge role. Others do as well, whether we recognize their contribution or not.

Secondly, because we need to be ready to maintain the same distance when success turns into failure. We are not worst human beings (or writers, fathers, marketers) merely because we are failing.

Understanding that success is not a reflection of how good we are keeps us grounded and maintains our horizon wide open. Ready to appreciate the complexity of things and continue learn from it.

Free of hubris.

Active break

Remember to take a break.

When things go bad. When you feel down. When the motivation is low.

Take a break and direct your attention away from what is not working.

Learn something, instead of dedicating one more hour to the project that’s sucking your life away.

Chat with a stranger, instead of repeating the same things yet another time to the friend that is hurting you.

Grab a book, instead of checking your inbox once more waiting for the message that never comes.

You can always go back to the problem later on.

Refreshed.

To feel dumb

Imagine this.

Most texts on writing style encourage authors to avoid overly-complex words. However, a majority of undergraduates admit to deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence.

As this.

Most texts on writing style encourage authors to avoid overly-complex words. However, a majority of corporate websites deliberately increase the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of expertise.

The paper introduced by the first text found that students using more difficult words actually end up giving the exact opposite impression: “needless complexity leads to negative evaluation”.

Using a very non-scientific method, I’d like to extend the findings to the situation I made up in the second text.

Nobody likes to feel dumb.

The opposite of command

In terms of management, the opposite of command is not freedom.

Freedom is an excuse beyond which many bad managers take cover. You are free to choose what you learn. You are free to come to the office or not. You are free to talk to whoever you feel like talking to.

Freedom, for most of us at least, is also a given. You are not differentiating your organisation by allowing me to learn, move, talk.

So, the opposite of command is not freedom.

The opposite of command is care.

I care, and that’s why we should talk about your strengths, ambitions, the opportunities we offer, the opportunities the market offers. I care and I will help you get there.

I care, and that’s why I have researched the topic and found that this is the most effective way to coordinate hybrid work. I care and I will guarantee your safety (physical and mental) and that of your colleagues.

I care, and that’s why I have prepared a list of people you should talk to regarding this project. I care and I will be with you as you seek buy-in to move this forward.

Care is what people seek. Care is what retains talent. Care is the differentiator.