Different Posture, Same Result

Quite some time ago I read The Art of Possibility and it gave me a lot of very interesting points that I think have helped direct my life differently and positively.

One point that was very poignant to me came from one of the co-authors, Benjamin Zander, a conductor and director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He recalls a cello student who would, as I recall and paraphrase, slump in their chair, hold their bow in an odd manner, and just seem like they weren’t paying attention. However, when they played the piece they performed beautifully; far better than anyone else in the line.

The point Ben was making is the idea that we may make judgements about how something is being done because it’s unusual to us but at the end of the day as long as the desired out put is being produced, why do we care?

I recall in previous jobs being lightly scolded for doing things differently, and I have to be honest that I judged others for doing things in a different manner. Some people shut their computers at 5PM and don’t answer an email until 9AM the next day. Some people do little bits of work at all hours of the day. At the end of the day, if the work gets done and is high-quality, why should I care about how it gets done?

As I study up on Agile and Lean methodologies, one component that comes up relatively consistently is empowerment of the employee. Managers sometimes make presumptions about how to get things done and impose new methods on employees, then scratch their heads when performance doesn’t improve. While it definitely helps to understand these things, it helps to take a step back and realize that it may be more important to give the employee autonomy and freedom.

On another side, perhaps you have been in a meeting and presumed that someone doesn’t care because they don’t seem to be paying attention. Who are these people? In my experience, these people are the ones who probably care the most, but also know the most. Why should they sit there and listen to what they already know? I’ve found it more important to ensure these meetings do not rely on rote listening of a lecture but rather are more focused on utilizing the expertise of everyone in a room to solve a problem through engagement and questions.

So take a step back and think about a time that you were judged for doing something differently. At the same time, think about a time when you judged someone else for doing something differently. Different posture, same result.

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