When diplomacy makes us dumb

I take a chance every time I write something.

A few might agree.  And a few might disagree.

Every time I write something, I might lose a future client or a future employer.  Or even an acquaintance.

But every time I write something, you know it’s me.

You don’t need to spend decades in corporate life to realize that most people toil somewhere in the middle, playing a pointless game of CYA, trying to pick the right words, and rarely expressing real opinions openly…just in case.  The tragedy of this game is the people on top are exactly the opposite.  The people who run the show are expressive, eloquent and opinionated.  They draw lines in the sand and they pick sides.  You may not like them, but you know where they stand.

You know when you were a kid, and you didn’t care if you were good enough and did stuff anyway?  When you drew a picture of a race car and it looked like a sneeze?  Or when you couldn’t throw the ball three feet but imagined yourself pitching in the World Series?

This is an M3 with carbon fibre everything and possibly ears.

What the hell happened man?

When you were a kid, you said all sorts of stuff.  You had all sorts of opinions.  Did stifling that voice give you everything you wanted as an adult?

As adults in the workplace, we conduct ourselves around what we can’t say rather than what we should say.  We talk ourselves out of potentially great ideas and we seek forced-harmony rather than real progress by speaking our minds.  In short, as adults we’ve convinced ourselves to play defensively.  We’d rather hang on to what we have than take a chance to go get something more.  My years in corporate has taught me that people with the smallest bits of territory defend it the most vehemently.  And they’ve convinced themselves the best way to defend what they have is to turtle-up and only poke their head out when it is absolutely safe; that they can speak when there’s no chance of blow back. It’s funny because low-level office politics only happens when people over-estimate their own importance.

Do I have it all figured out?

Yeah.  I do.

I figured out that the odds of me attaining astronomical wealth, fame and success is minute to none, no matter what my opinions are.

I figured out that the odds of me having modest yet sufficient means is very high, no matter what my opinions are.

Whether I’m watered-down and safe or not, the end game is likely the same.  So I might as well be me, attract people like me and be the guy you’d grill burgers with in the backyard.

My mentor reminded me, “you can’t catch ’em all’.


Less calories than a latte

If you feel that speaking in your own voice and claiming a tiny spot in the universe with your thoughts and opinions is too much of a risk, then you risk a life of wondering what ‘could’ve been’.


So why do I take this risk?

For my son.  Because I don’t ever want him to think he has to be quiet.



30th post / 30 days