We hear a lot today about “compromise” in the political world. We also hear about it in the employment world. Ludwig Erhard was Chancellor of West Germany in the mid-1960′s. He’s given much credit for postwar economic reform in Germany. He had to seek compromise to accomplish what he did. Though I’m not sure that American politicians have a clue about what compromise means, Erhard knew what it meant and had a way of explaining it so anyone could understand:
Some candidates are rejoicing over the results of yesterday’s election. Some are licking their wounds. Some don’t know yet whether they’ve won or lost. One thing that becomes more clear with each election is that it takes a lot of money to run for political office. Will Rogers knew that quite some time ago, although even Rogers would be astounded at what’s spent today and would probably modify his following quote to be even better:
Freedom of speech is one of America’s tenets. It’s always discussed during political campaigns, and the firing of Juan Williams by NPR for saying something he believed has focused additional attention to the subject of free speech. Although the freedom of speech is part of the American foundation, it’s not absolute. So, for example, Juan Williams could be fired for saying something his employer found offensive. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is often quoted from one of his opinions while he was on the U.S. Supreme Court that free speech does not give one the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre even if it’s true. Samuel Johnson, speaking figuratively I’m sure, put it another way:
China is much in the news these days and has been for quite a while. It’s a major world power, and what it does or doesn’t do affects the global economy. There are Chinese workers in this country, and there are American workers in China. Almost any global decision takes China into consideration, whether we know it or not. Long ago, Napoleon Bonaparte said something about China that resonates today, for China has awakened.
For over two months, 33 miners in Chile have remained trapped well below the surface of the earth. Incredibly, it has been possible to communicate with the miners, as well as provide them food and drink. More incredibly, as a result of an expertly engineered steel rescue capsule, the miners are now being lifted to safety. Though danger still lurks for those miners still underground, this story has given the entire world something to celebrate at a time when all news seems bleak.
I regard a statement by Socrates that I posted quite some time ago as one of the best, perhaps the best, quote I’ve ever posted. So, I decided to return to Socrates’ philosophy and wisdom for this week’s quote. Integrity or honesty has been a consistent theme on this blog. And, of course, integrity or honesty — or the lack of it — appears in various media sources almost every day. What is it? Socrates boils it down to something simple.
Albert Einstein is known as one of the smartest people who ever lived. He had a few flaws, but he led a remarkable life. Sometimes, it’s difficult to imagine where the world would be if Einstein hadn’t come along. Like all extraordinary people, Einstein was aware deep down of those important things that made life worthwhile. He spoke of ideals we should all consider, no matter how smart we are, no matter what our jobs are.
Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th century German philosopher. He rubbed some people the wrong way while he was alive and still rubs some people the wrong way because of his opinions and writings on religion, morality, and a host of other subjects. He seemed to enjoy controversy. He said something that’s not only free from controversy, but meaningful in any context. It’ll make you think, and it’ll make work and life more meaningful.
Religion has been in the news a lot lately. As discussed before on this blog, employers have to be careful about letting religion be too much involved in day-to-day workplace activities. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act could be implicated and be the basis of a religious discrimination charge. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said something that should provoke careful thought about the religious debate fomenting in our society today.
If there’s one thing we’ve heard plenty about lately, it’s jobs. We’re likely to keep hearing about the subject for some time into the future. Playwright Oscar Wilde said something in the 19th century that hits home quite clearly today.
Hurricane season, with all its potential destruction, is upon us. When we refer to someone in the workplace blowing through like a hurricane, that’s not a compliment. Shelby Foote, southern writer and Civil War historian (The Civil War: A Narrative) and prominent analyst in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary The Civil War, was a person of wit and wisdom. He knew that hurricanes were to be avoided:
Between the Jet Blue Flight attendant (who quit with a flare) and Brett Favre (who won’t quit) and all employees somewhere in between, quitting a job has been discussed quite a bit lately. Today’s quote is about quitting and comes from an unlikely source (until you read what he said) W. C. Fields:
Bipartisanship is a word used frequently in the world of politics. Sometimes, “ship” is omitted, and the word is bipartisan. It’s a word that’s become pretty much meaningless. The word isn’t used much in connection with the workplace, but it could be. It’s not uncommon for two or more groups to be at odds on an important issue, and it seems that each group is intent on obfuscating rather then solving the issue. There are those who think that bipartisanship is overrated or misunderstood. The hilarious and irreverent stand-up comedian George Carlin was one of those people.
Honesty is often said to be the best policy. It’s still difficult to define honesty, even harder it seems to be honest, no matter the definition. The HP and Mark Hurd mess has hopefully caused a widespread discussion on the subject. Not surprisingly, Mark Twain had things to say about honesty:
Arizona has been the center of tension, protests, lawsuits, uncontrolled tempers, ignoble words and downright mendacity for quite a while now. I wondered if there was more than the issue of immigration causing such extreme upset. I think Mark Twain may have found the answer when he spent some time there.
The news has been dominated recently by the leaking of at least 90,000 documents and/or pages of classified information on the war in Afghanistan. Neither the government nor an employer is pleased when secret information is leaked. I’m not sure he had leaks in mind when he made this statement, but the wise and often witty Winston Churchill may have had a splendid solution for minimizing the harmful impact of leaked information.
The death of George Steinbrenner has brought a deluge of news coverage and opinion about the New York Yankees’ long-time owner. He was controversial and sometimes hated. He was also successful. His view of management was simple: results first, people second. One wonders if he would have been just as successful had he used a more employee-friendly approach to management. We’ll never know, but I’m inclined to think that with the kind of money he was willing to spend on talent, he would have been successful no matter what. In any event, the following quotes from Steinbrenner shouldn’t become the mantras for most people who seek to lead, as they represent BS rationalization for someone who likes to abuse people over whom he has authority.
I don’t know whether President Obama considered how President Abraham Lincoln dealt with his generals during the Civil War in deciding how to deal with General McChrystal. Lincoln would have been a good resource, since he had more than his fair share of trouble with generals. And this is what he concluded:
All year, we have been bombarded with extraordinary events. Unfortunately, these events have begun to impact adversely things we usually view as ordinary or perhaps take for granted: the marshes of Louisiana; the beaches of Alabama and Florida; fishing as a way of life; going on a camping trip; buying a house; getting a loan; having a job; etc., etc. etc. We are fascinated by the extraordinary. The great Southern writer, Walker Percy, thought we had it backwards and had some very simple advice we perhaps should seriously consider now and in the future:
President Obama can’t catch a break right now. He’s accused of not showing enough emotion. So he ramps up his language a bit by talking about kicking someone’s rear-end, except he uses the a-word. Then he catches grief for that. I’ve had a few posts on cursing in the workplace. Generally speaking, it’s not a good thing. I wondered what kind of advice our first president would give our current president. I think George Washington wasn’t limiting this quote to government officials. I think what he said was meant to apply across the board. Of course, it was a long time ago.