05 April 2012

Manifesto of the Effective, Part III

So we've dealt with, in this space, the danger of becoming domesticated, and the erosion of the definition of what it means to be a man. All good, I reckon. However, there's something out there that deals indirectly with both subjects, but is the logical conclusion to the entire line of reasoning. It came to me after I submitted the last Bile last week, when a friend of mine (thanks, Jess) asked me: "Okay. I see it. I understand. WTF do I do about it?"

And that is where we find ourselves, isn't it? We've defined differences between the effective and those that are not. We've described various manners in which the ineffective manifest themselves, and the specific causality of how these people lose their ability to maintain a baseline of effectiveness. But, indeed, how do we deal with these fucking people?

Sean and Andy know the answer to that question, and I suspect that most of those reading this understand at instinctual level as well: you obviate their ineffectiveness by finding that shining diamond of an individual who: a) says what he can do; b) does what he says he can do. Sounds simple, no?

The difficult thing is that we find that there are ineffective people (in order to save keystrokes, we will call them "assholes") who have been appointed to positions which are clearly above their head, and these assholes defend their positions by inventing miles of red tape and bureaucracy in order to block any improvements to existing procedure by simple legerdemain --OR-- there are assholes who, given positions of authority, understand nothing of context regarding how procedures have been derived, but simply bull ahead with their own idea of how things should be without any understanding, nor caring about, why we decided to run things in a certain way many, many years before those assholes showed up and were given a job here.

We see this in the Marine Corps all the time. A 2nd Lieutenant shows up after his basic officer training and either completely freezes up and becomes a complete burden on the unit due to his indecisiveness (for this argument "type A"), or worse, he decides on day-one to change the dynamic of his platoon based on ten months of entry-level training and ten day's worth of experience (for the sake of this argument, "type B").

The effective ones will hold off and watch how personalities interact, and seek to improve operations based on recommendations from the SNCO who has spent the past twelve to fourteen years figuring things out and putting them into execution, or by a dialogue between him and his subordinates based on their collective experiences. The assholes will assume that everyone who came before was an asshole, and that he knows better. In any case, the poor bastards who work on the bottom wrung suffer, as in the first case; nothing effective gets accomplished due to inertia; and in the second case, institutional knowledge, born of years of trial-and-error, are disregarded due to ego and a misplaced sense of self-worth.

Yes, yes (Jess) I've not dealt with the question.

What is one to do?

I've spent years dealing with type A and type B of the above example. What I find myself doing is a few things:

1) Find the member of the Tribe of the Effective. Within most organizations, there is one individual who is the central point of success. You will often find him to be the busiest individual within the organization. There's a reason for this: HE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO ANYTHING. We see this often, and we often feel guilty for engaging him, because he is so busy. Don't feel that way. Engage. Bring him beer, when he helps you out. Befriend him. He is your counterpart in that organization who belongs to the Tribe of the Effective. You see this all the time, when you go out for a smoke with someone with whom you've found success in getting shit done with. There's a bond there. A recognition. Commiserate with the fellow. Cultivate relationships like this until you have a solid group of contacts who can help you get shit done. If they move, or get another job, keep track of them because they are priceless. Call them when necessary and ask them questions that you're dealing with. Because they belong to that Tribe, they'll shit you diamonds.

2) Dismiss the ineffective. They are legion. "98% of the population of this planet right now is simply inert. They can't react to anything, and you can't get them to if you were to set them on fire, or freeze them, or put them under pressure. 1% are bullshitters. They'll promise you the moon and never deliver. The last 1% are those say what they can do and deliver." (Paraphrased from Stephen King: The Dark Half. That is the best description of the Tribe that I've ever read, people.)

You'll identify these assholes of the 98% quickly. They speak in platitudes, grandiose statements that mean nothing. They will seek to replace the ethos of your organization with a dedication to themselves, seeking a personality cult whose existence replaces the need for effectiveness. As their ideas are confounded, assholes like this tend to try to blame "the system" and quickly circle the wagons around their intentions. When confronted, they will inevitably blame you. Yes, you. You poor bastard. If only you'd just gone along with their will, everything would be optimal. Fucker.

Your recommended reaction is to find reasons to avoid these fuckers altogether. Engaging them only encourages their sense of self-importance. If they are ineffective, they won't miss you. If they are a member of the Tribe, then they will seek you out to accomplish or codify their procedures. Simply put: fuck those fucking fuckers. (Thanks, Dan)

Remember one thing, in conclusion, my friends: The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College for a reason, and it wasn't because they had faith in the intelligence, effectiveness, and the ability of their fellow man to be able to identify shit from Shine-Ola. It was because they saw what you and I see: "Jesus, there are a whole lot of dumbshits out here! Don't let these fuckers be the deciding factor in the governance of this nation."

In like way, go about your bidness by being able to identify these assholes, and marginalize them. Then go find a fellow member of the Tribe and get shit done.

Immundus, in saecula saeculorum

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