A new year has arrived, and with it the hopes for a better year than the one preceding it. It has long been a custom to make resolutions to better survive what is coming based on the lessons learned from what has passed. The usually practice is to write them for ourselves. The list I offer today is as much a wish for others as it is for myself, although I am not free from the need to improve in all areas myself. Here they are:
- Use common sense in place of statistics. Inevitability, all data is compiled by a person with a mission or a point to which he or she is already committed. Neither may prove to be my own. Besides, amateurs lie; professional liars use statistics. Well, 90% of the time anyway.
- Collect data and then form an opinion, not the other way around. I have spent too many hours listening to the arguments from people who first formed an opinion, and then sought data, obviously ignoring all data that refuted the opinion.
- Pay closer attention to the past; it is merely the future is disguise. History repeats itself more than a cheap refried bean burrito. Yet we continue to be surprised by events that have occurred in the past.
- Assume that “general consensus” merely means that the chance exists that the majority of people may be wrong. Do not assume that they are automatically correct simply due to their majority. The general consensus was once that the Earth was flat and that monsters lay beyond the edge of the world to eat the unwary. The general consensus was that you should always take stock options in lieu of cash. The power of a group lies in the IQ as an average, not the group’s combined total. Following the group consensus only guarantees you company, not correctness.
- Avoid using “hypothetical examples,” as all real problems have real examples. The absence of real examples calls into question either your ability to find real examples or your unwillingness to reveal them. Through the use of hypothetical examples it is possible to prove the need for elephant detectors in movie theaters to prevent peanut theft. Hypothetically speaking, of course. The use of the hypothetical always calls the existence of the problem into doubt. Hypothetical examples are the tool of those with less a problem to solve than a point to make.
- The only absolute is the absence of all absolutes. All the time, without fail, ever.
- Whenever possible, avoid the use of the word “but” and it’s equally sinister cousin “however”, when making a statement. It usually indicates that everything to the left of the word was not true and that your real feelings are revealed to the right. For example, “I do not mind investing in our employees, BUT we must consider cost savings in these difficult times.” Save everyone time and get to the point without the disclaimer.
- Quit smoking. (I already did that eight years ago, but I figure this way I have at least one resolution already on the plus side.)
- Assume that if I form my opinion regarding another person’s comment before they finish saying it or before I finish reading it, my enthusiasm may indicate a serious lack of objectivity or excessive and possibly unwarranted self-certainty.
- Make no lists with exactly ten items.
- Never use the expression, “Let’s agree to disagree.” If you have a valid point of view other than my own, you do not need my permission, nor I yours, to retain it. All movement causes friction, hence the absence of “perpetual motion.” In the absence of movement, there is only stagnation. To me this cliche is the banner of those who seek consensus above all else, including change.
- Avoid the use of CAPITALS in sentences when trying to make a point responding to someone else’s comments. For example, “I REALLY feel you are NOT correct in your assumption!” It looks silly, appears pompous, and is self-defeating. I have always felt that a good argument stands on it’s own merits, WITHOUT capitalization (oops!).
- Accept all criticism without anger, resentment, or the need to retaliate. No matter how big a jerk the ungrateful person is who made the unfair and unsubstantiated assault on, you taking advantage of your good nature ó who, I might add, will regret the day they opened their stupid mouth (hmmm, maybe I need to work on this one).
Celebrating the New Year as an opportunity for change and improvement is a good thing. Success in all efforts is not a prerequisite to victory. In recognizing the need to improve and in identifying those areas to make an effort is to be found a success unto itself. So, Happy New Year to all of us and the sincere hope for a better year ó and the hope that we make better use of it in our professional and personal endeavors. Have a great day recruiting! P.S. The unwritten resolution is to lose 20 pounds, but that has been a given ever since I turned 40.