Aesop & Management of Self
Caption: Aesop. Born around 620 BC, died ca. 560 BC.
I have several goals for the Democratic Workplace class I will teach this winter in Latvia: “to explore and engage the democratic work place, teams and teamwork concepts, group dynamics, self-management, leadership and effective followership.
“Self-management” deals with becoming an effective follower, someone who stands out because she is pro-active and thinks critically for herself; she is more leader-like than waiting-to-be-led. An effective follower has a good idea of who he is and is not afraid to speak the truth. He has a strong professional purpose and values to match. Andrew Rowan is but one example touched upon in this blog.
Barbara Kellerman’s book on Bad Leadership offers advice on what followers can do when working with a bad leader. That same advice helps define self-management:
Be loyal to the whole, not to any one individual.
Take a stand.
These concepts may be difficult to instill - if you are not already inclined that way from experience or gene pool - but I still think a person can evolve and gain more knowledge about who he is.
Experience helps us acquire lessons, to find courage for the “next time”. If we regret our performance in one situation, how will we do better the next time? If we backed down from an abusive boss or if we were abusive to someone, what will we change about the next time?
Caption: New cover, same excellent book.
I have been reading an engaging new translation of Aesop’s some 600 fables.
It is by Laura Gibbs, a professor at the University of Oklahoma.
Here are two of her translations I’ve selected for their relevancy to how we manage ourselves.
Caption: Bust of Athena, Goddess of War and Wisdom.
The Shipwrecked Man and Athena
A wealthy Athenian was making a sea voyage with some companions. A terrible storm blew up and the ship capsized. All the other passengers started to swim, but the Athenian kept praying to Athena, making all kinds of promises if only she would save him. Then one of other shipwrecked passengers swam past him and said, “While you pray to Athena, start moving your arms!”
(I can apply the lesson to myself; but economically hapless Greece leaps foremost to mind.)
The Kite and the Partridges
One day the kite happened to consider his wings and feet and talons. ‘Indeed,’ he exclaimed, ‘am I not just as well armed as the hawk and the falcon? Look at what wings and what feet and what talons I have! Why shouldn’t I go and catch some partridges?’ The kite knew a place where he could find many partridges so he went there and launched his attack: he seized one partridge with his beak, another with his wings and one more in each foot. But the kite couldn’t keep hold of that many partridges, so in the end he had none. Hence the saying: Seize all, lose all.
From then on, the kite never tried to hunt wild birds again.
Note: compare the Roman proverb, ‘the man who chases two hares does not catch either one’.
Caption: The Hare about to get worked over by the tortoise.
(Multi-tasking might sound like something the "cool" among us are doing, but it is best avoided. Common sense and research show that an absence of focus leads to superficial results and errors. So, quit chasing two hares!)