Aesop’s The Boy and the Nettle*

Posted by jlubans on June 13, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Nettle Bread

A Boy was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told his mother, saying: "Although it pains me so much, I did but touch it ever so gently."
"That was just it," said his mother, "which caused it to sting you. The next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you."

Whatever you do, do with all your might.


Well, sure when it comes to nettles.
But, there’s no one way for all “whatever(s) you do”.
The wise person knows when to be gentle and when to be strong and assertive.
It’s situational and it takes experience and skill to know what you are up against and what your approach should be.
Emulating others who have had success (like the mother) and also practicing different techniques will help you build your arsenal.
Be multi-faceted in your dealings.
Unless it’s imperative, it might be best to stay away from nettles.
But, if you are collecting nettles to make nettle bread, then follow what Momma says.
I recently had some nettle-seasoned sourdough bread, baked in the Latvian countryside. I bought it an outdoor crafts fair. How did I know to buy bread at that stand among dozens of other bakers? The long line!
My purchase stayed moist for days and had a subtle, likable flavor to the very end.

*SOURCE: Aesop's Fables: A New Revised Version From Original Sources” WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
AND OTHERS” New York : Frank F. Lovell & Company, c1884


Copyright. John Lubans. 2022

Defect or Effect, That Is the Question

Posted by jlubans on June 08, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Mosaic Tile by Gaudi.

My attorney cousin related to me her participating in a discussion while she was touring a new corporate property in Barcelona.
The tour group consisted of the builders and architects and, my cousin, representing the corporate client.
She noticed a wall with several holes and asked why this was not finished, you now, like patched, sanded, smoothed and painted over to blend with the rest of the wall?
The group erupted (in Spanish) into a debate about whether these holes were indeed defects or, more likely, desirable and fitting effects, appropriate to the design of the space.
Obviously, the client’s wishes take priority, but the aesthetes in the group felt obligated to protest that these holes were effects as in “something designed to produce a distinctive or desired impression.”
Well, OK. Barcelona is the home of many iconoclastic and magnificent works by Gaudi (depicted tile). And, let’s not forget Salvador Dali’s limp watches! Nor, Picasso and his incoherent, at times, outpourings.
And, if we want to get any more quixotic, there’s my hero the Don, and his sidekick, Pancho Sanza who may still be wandering around Andalusia battling windmills.
So, I get the impulse.
In my career, I’ve worked in places where arguments over quotidian points would consume weeks.
Like a dog chasing its tail, there was no sense of urgency – other than for catching the tail.
Instead of resolution, there was yet another argument, yet another reason for more exploration and discussion.
What’s the leader’s role?
Surely, there is one. Or, is it to await a group’s decision, however interminable the wait?
No, a leader’s role is to make things urgent.
There is a time to call a halt and declare:
“Basta! Vote!
Hands up for defect. Hands up for effect.
If you do not vote, I will make the decision.”
I do not know the outcome of the Barcelona imbroglio but am hopeful the wall got painted.


Copyright. John Lubans. 2022.

Lessing’s THE OSTRICH*

Posted by jlubans on June 06, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

THE arrow-swift Reindeer once saw an Ostrich, and said: "There is nothing remarkable about the way in which the Ostrich runs.
But it is quite likely that he flies much better."
At another time the Eagle saw the Ostrich, and said:
"To be sure the Ostrich cannot fly, but I dare say that he may run rather well."

How often do we see this in the workplace?
When I mentioned how something I did was well received one supervisor responded: “Oh., yeah, what you do there is notable, (adding sotto voce) but not much else”.
The hand writing was on the wall, as they say and it was more like what you find on the side of passing boxcar than on a certificate of merit.
In the theater of the absurd which we call Performance Appraisal, there’s even a label for this systemic error: Self Serving Bias.
Generally, I’ve used the term to describe the not unusual phenomenon in which the evaluator inflates the evaluation scores of his employees to gain credit himself for their performance. “See, my team is really hot stuff”
Lessing’s high-flying eagle - seeing as how the ostrich can’t fly - is magnanimous in suggesting the ostrich runs well.
But, the swift (and jealous) reindeer minimizes the ostrich’s excellent running speed, instead, suggesting the ostrich “flies much better” even though he can’t.
Self-serving bias on display.

*Source: Lessing, Fables, Translated by G. Moir Bussey in Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.


And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022