Anybody who has ever managed me, and any job where I’ve worked, has no doubt experienced the frustration that comes along with lack of control. They could never control me. No one could then, and no one can now. My parents learned this lesson the very hard way, a number of times. Now they will be the first ones to tell you, “don’t bother trying.” I’m stubborn. I won’t listen. I need to find out for myself.
When I first moved to California, I worked at a hedge fund for a short time. This was through a temp agency, and the woman I reported to directly, was an awful person. I have no doubt this was exaggerated by her frustration with her inability to control me.
One day I made a mistake! Imagine that! ME! Of course I make mistakes every day. Shila (the one I reported to directly at the hedge fund) caught it, and told me not to correct it. But I felt awful that she was going to have to fix my work. So I disregarded her instructions and got to work right away correcting my errors. I was hoping to have it done before she got around to fixing it. I lost the gamble. She caught up with me, before I could finish. She was pissed. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, that she was frustrated, because she could not control me.
Shila’s frustration was only hurting her. Admittedly it made me feel bad. I had my own lessons to learn about not worrying so much about what others thought of me. I was desperately trying to please her, as so many people do with those that express clear disapproval of them. Some would characterize that as an “abusive relationship.”
Shila was a terrible leader. A good leader would have taken the time to (a) make sure I understood the mistake, and (b) how to do it “right.” Then finally they would WANT me to fix it to make sure I am learning. This means that the good leader spends more time up front on training, so that as time goes on, they can spend less, and less time, with me, as they can also depend more, and more on me.
At lunch time, Shila would kick me out of her office. She would go to lunch with Bill, who also worked there, as an analyst. They didn’t invite me to join them, and explained that they had a policy, that no one could be alone in the office, if they weren’t an actual employee. It was bullshit.
I was a month out of rehab, barely more than six months sober, with no money. I literally sat on the steps outside of the office on the corner of 5th and Santa Monica eating my brown bag lunch. With tears in my eyes one day, I offered a homeless guy, who approached me and asked for help, half of my sandwich. He graciously accepted. When I shared this experience with my therapist, he suggested that I did a good thing by giving him food, instead of money. Then he suggested that I could try and find a local deli, give them $20, and ask them to help the next person I sent in.
Meanwhile, a good leader would offer to take the new prospect out to lunch. Get to know them. Groom them.
Good leaders inspire and educate.
Bad leaders berate their subordinates…
…and send them home feeling like shit about the job they’re doing.
Shila couldn’t control me. She could only control herself (and she did a terrible job of THAT). Had she taken the time, and shown an interest in helping me develop, that probably would have inspired me to want to do a better job, and get more involved in the company she worked for. It ultimately would have made her job easier, because she could have handed off more responsibility to me.
When you have a real understanding of what you can and can’t control, then you have a powerful tool in your hands.
This is an understanding that will help you invest your time wisely. This means you will know what is a good use of your time, and what isn’t.
When I catch myself doing something that I recognize is not a good use of my time, I can stop and re-direct. I can begin to define what is or isn’t a good use of my time based on where my efforts are spent on things I have no control over. Those things are not a good use of my time.
I have no control over other people, places, and things. I have exclusive control over myself. When I exercise that control properly, I can be 100% more effective in everything I do. I can only lead people. I can inspire and educate. If someone isn’t open minded, and willing to learn, then I can’t help them. They won’t make it in my organization. I never have to berate anyone. It’s much simpler than that. Either you’re going to learn and grow WITH me, or you’re going to grow apart from me. It takes very little energy on my part when it comes to dealing with anyone who doesn’t have the willingness. They simply won’t make it. I don’t need to do anything.
When someone is open and willing to learn, then I can focus on them. This is how Nerd Enterprises, Inc. is being built, and this is why we will succeed. This is why we have succeeded. This is why we will continue to succeed. Internally Nerd Enterprises, Inc. is not a company, in the traditional sense. We are a learning institution. When someone makes a mistake, we don’t berate them. We educate and inspire them. The more I do this, the more I can scale my business, because there is less I have to do myself.
Now I can focus on the bigger picture. Running and growing my business