Crying Crocodiles

Posted by jlubans on January 17, 2023


Something in this cartoon captures, for me, not only that frequent fakery found among those crying crocodile tears – that weeping of the “false or affected” variety - but also to be found among some disingenuous life and leadership coaches, advisers and counselors.
We are told that crocodiles have lachrymal glands (for keeping their eyes lubricated) and that were centuries ago observed: “Theise Serpentes slen men, and thei eten hem wepynge."
The depicted life coach crocodile, in empathizing with the fake tears, is perpetuating victimhood.
Telling someone “I feel your pain” is not as good as “I feel your pain and let’s do something about it.”
Some advisers, consultants complicitly encourage you to think “you are victims, to believe that you have no agency, to believe that what you must do to improve the world is to complain, is to protest…” instead of working to create alternatives.
It’s very much job security for the paid grievance adviser.
In commenting on Odo’s Fable on “The Weeping Bald Man and Some Partridges” I referred to Alice in Wonderland who “remarked after the Walrus and the Carpenter scarfed up all the little oysters: (Of the two), "I like the Walrus best," said Alice, "because you see he was a little sorry for the poor oysters."
Odo’s story reminded me of a boss who fired a worker and then waxed solicitous about the ex-employee’s wellbeing. It was meant to come across as a magnanimous gesture, shedding rays of empathy and (crocodile) tears upon the displaced and downsized!
It was a scam, a persona cultivated for the environment in which this boss worked.
For me, the Crying Crocodiles cartoon is about the "grievance industry", as some have called it in the USA.
I have seen the "culture of complaint" in my native Latvia when remembrance of bad things immobilizes its leadership from moving forward.
I recall my father (and other Latvians of his era) dwelling on the atrocities of the communists but rarely mentioning the heroic efforts – including his own - of Latvians past and present.
Today, I believe Latvia's unprecedented financial and physical support for Ukraine in its fight to win against Russia’s brutality is a move away from historic victimization or as one of my Latvian cousins put it: (to no longer) "feel as a nation of servants.”
I have never before seen so many Latvians doing so many positive things for others.
One of Latvia's most admired presidents, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga,
gave - during her presidency (1999-2007) - a much needed pep talk to the recently post-Soviet nation she was leading:
We are a strong nation! (say, please, all together – we're strong!) We are sublime!
We're productive! We're beautiful!
We know what we want! And what we want, we can!
And what we can, that's what we do!

This January, the New Year's speeches by the Prime Minister and the President of Latvia boldly echoed Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga’s inspirational outlook.

My book, Fables for Leaders – absent crocodile tears - is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text by John Lubans 2023

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