Happy New Year ... Now Shut the Hell Up!

Posted by: Dave Vandenbout 5 years, 10 months ago

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By now, everyone else has given their New Year's greetings. But the first workday is the beginning of the real New Year. And my resolution is to shut up and solve problems.

Back in the 90's, I worked for nine months as a contractor at ABB. It was the longest ten years of my life. What I remember most about it was the constant complaining within my group about how the other groups just didn't "get it". (If they had, they would have been doing things our way.) I would come home from there and think "I just spent eight hours: worked for two, complained for six." It seemed that nothing ever got done. It was like pushing a rock around all day, but at the end of the day the boulder was still in the middle of the yard.

Flash forward to the present and I'm still hearing (and doing) a lot of complaining, but now it's mostly on blogs, Twitter, Google+, etc. That's fine if it's about a unique problem, but 99% of it is just random rehashing of common shit that people have been dealing with for a thousand years. Here are a few of those common complaints, so let's just agree these problems exist and move on to more useful things: 

  • Yes, your true worth is ignored for superficial reasons.
  • Yes, management could not find their asses with both hands and a flashlight.
  • Yes, marketing and sales could not find their asses with both hands, but they do get to hold the flashlight while management looks for their's.
  • Yes, men are looking at your boobs.

These particular rocks will always be in our yard unless there's a massive change in human nature, which is about as likely as me crapping out a toaster oven. For all other problems, I'll now try to handle them like this:

Blow up the rock. It's great if I can actually solve the problem, but there's usually another group that likes the rock just as it is and keeps pulling the fuse out of my dynamite solution. 

Push the rock into a corner of the yard. If I don't have to go to that corner very often, it's almost as good as blowing it up. Of course, there are others who view the rock as a centerpiece and keep trying to put it back into the middle of the yard.

Paint the rock. If I have to live with it, maybe I can make it more attractive. You know, give it a nice user-interface. Or paint it all pink and put "Hello, Kitty" on it.

Find a new yard. It's almost always faster and easier to go find a new yard that doesn't have a rock to begin with. (Well, at least it doesn't have that particular rock.)

To remind myself to complain less and, instead, address actual problems this year, I made this handy reminder:

If I can follow this plan, I might be able to pay myself the ultimate compliment at the end of 2012: "Dave? He's a great guy. He wouldn't say shit if he had a mouthful."

(P.S. The real reason this is appearing on January 2nd is because I didn't have it ready on the 1st. Procrastination. I'll work on that next year.)

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