Crying won’t help

IMG_1448A couple of weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots in an AFC match-up. (Sorry folks, but here comes another football metaphor.) There wasn’t a lot about the game that came as a surprise–the Pats were expected to win, after all. To the Fins’ credit, the score–23-16–ended up fairly respectable.

Unfortunately, respect is exactly where at least one Dolphin took issue.

In that game, the Pats found a play that worked, and they used it. Over and over and over again. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel felt that disrespected him and his teammates.

Wait, what?

Yep, it’s true. Here’s what he said: “It really [ticked] me off… It was disrespectful to us to run the same play over and over and be successful”, he said, via Brian Briggane of the Palm Beach Post. (H/T PFT) “Normally when somebody’s driving down the field you just think, ‘Well, they just had a good run there,’ but you run the same play over and over, as a competitor that [ticks] me off.” [emphasis added]

Here’s the deal, Tony. Football is your job, and it’s theirs, too. You all get paid to get results, same as I do in my desk job. If I find something that works, something that helps ensure my success, why wouldn’t I use it? In fact, why wouldn’t I use it over and over, as long as it still produces results? Or until I find something better? That’s not disrespectful; that’s just smart.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, Tony. Or in your case, if it IS broke, do something about it. Something besides crying, that is.

Paying dues

The problem with the concept of paying dues in a job, in a career, in life is that it implies that once a person has proven herself, she never has to put in the muscle again. I beg to differ.

The minute I become “too good” for something, I begin to lose touch with the people on my team. That doesn’t mean I have to do every job, every time, but it does mean that I need to be willing to roll up my sleeves just as much as I expect everyone else to do it. It keeps me plugged in, it helps me understand how the work gets done, and it underscores my credibility.

Surprisingly (or not), football got me thinking about this. Following last Sunday’s Patriots-driven embarrassment of my Indianapolis Colts, the winning coach took a lot of criticism for leaving one of his star players in the game too long. Very late in the contest, that player suffered a broken arm in a special teams play. Critics say that with the outcome of the game already firmly decided, the guy should have been sitting on the sidelines to preserve him for future match-ups.

I think that’s hogwash, and clearly so did his coach. One sports writer put it this way, and I agree completely: You’re not special enough to NOT play special teams. (Emphasis added.)

If you think you’ve paid your dues, be sure you don’t let them expire. You’re not that special.

Note: Like any good Colts fan, I HATE the Patriots. As much as it pains me to admit, however, they got this one right.

The best policy

I observe how people act, as well as how they talk. I offer my honest opinion, Gilbert. Formerly, you thought that a sign of respect. –from City of Darkness, City of Light, by Marge Piercy

That passage stopped me in my tracks yesterday as I was slogging through City of Darkness, City of Light. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m enjoying the book, but it’s a fairly heavy read.) I really identified with the first two sentences–I do exactly the same thing, and I think I’m pretty good at it. It was the link to the last sentence that set my mind a-whirl.

The character to whom this statement was addressed, Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette (yes, THAT Lafayette), was trying to trade favors with the speaker in order garner support in an upcoming election. The speaker wouldn’t make a trade and told Lafayette he’d consider his own vote at a later date. Frustrated, Lafayette essentially told him, “You’ve given me nothing!” The speaker, of course, saw it differently.

And here we land on the pivotal point: a straightforward, truthful, no-strings-attached assessment is, indeed, something. It is, in fact, a gift.

Think about it. When someone offers an observation wrapped in platitudes and qualifications, he’s trying to protect the other person or himself from something, whether that’s a negative reaction, an ego blow, or something else. For whatever reason, he isn’t comfortable “telling it like it is,” or he wants something in return.

On the other hand, a person generally has to hold another in fairly high regard (doesn’t mean he has to like her, though!) to tell her what he thinks, politely but unabashedly.His opinion is part of himself, and he’s trusting the other to treat it with respect when he hands it over.

My boss once told me a story about a technology someone wanted to adopt in another company. The guy in charge thought it was a great idea, and the people involved in meeting after meeting kept the project moving forward. Everyone was on board: finance, engineering, marketing, operations. When the factories were finally switched over to the new technology, productivity plummeted. The company tried making tweaks, but nothing helped. Finally someone asked the operations guy what was going on. He quickly identified the issue and explained it to the guy in charge. The disconcerting factor was that the operations guy had known it all along, but he had never spoken up. He let the whole company make an expensive mistake because he hadn’t respected the guy in charge enough to give his honest assessment. He just smiled and said yes.

Maybe you think that respect is the wrong term. I could argue that, but it’s not really important. The main thing to remember is that when someone offers you an honest exchange of ideas, accept it for what it is. Don’t search for the quid pro quo; it’s a gift all by itself.

Yes, indeed, an honest opinion is a sign of respect.