Bob Sutton on Work and Life and Balance

Stanford professor Robert Sutton offers an updated (2018) list of "15 Things I Believe" that he shares with his organizational behavior students on the last day of class. Including the naughty words:

1. Sometimes the best management is no management at all -- first do no harm!

2. The best leaders have "the attitude of wisdom," the confidence to act on their convictions and the humility to keep searching for (and acting on) evidence that they are wrong.

3. Indifference is as important as passion.

4. The best leaders know what it feels like to work for them. They overcome the urge to focus attention on powerful superiors rather than their followers. They also resist the temptation to believe and reward those who butter them up with flattering bullshit (And make it safe for followers to tell them uncomfortable truths).

5. Fight as if you are right; listen as if you are wrong.

6. Fear the clusterfuck (or "clusterfug")--those debacles and disasters caused by a deadly brew of illusion, impatience, and incompetence that afflicts too many decision-makers, especially those in powerful, confident, and prestigious groups.

7. Big teams suck.

8. George Carlin was right. Too many people behave as if "my shit is stuff, and your stuff is shit." It creates a lot of unnecessary friction and frustration.

9. Hierarchy is good. Hierarchy is essential. And less isn't always better. Giving people orders, watching them work, and making decisions are things that ought to be done with care, caution, and compassion. But organizations and teams need hierarchy (and other bureaucratic trappings) to function.

10. If you are a winner and an asshole, you are still a loser in my book because you are harming so many other people in your lust to build something, make money, or dominate that competition.

11. Kurt Vonnegut was right. It is often more constructive to tell yourself "I have enough" than to keep asking how you can get more and more and more. I don't believe that people who die with the most money, fancy stuff, power, or prestige win the game of life.

12. If you are plagued by an asshole--or a pack of them--make a clean getaway if you can. If you can't, develop a strategy for protecting yourself and fellow victims from the onslaught, for preserving your dignity and spirit, and for fighting back.

13. "Am I a success or a failure?" is not a very useful question. It is better to ask "what am I learning."

14. Life is always going to be a bit messy, especially if you are doing something interesting and new. Try to create as much simplicity and clarity as you can, but embrace (and enjoy) the inevitable confusion and messiness too.

15. Jimmy Maloney was right. Work is an overrated activity.

(cf Family and Career (2005-11-30), Work of a Lifetime (2009-02-01), Nigel Marsh on Work-Life Balance (2011-02-25), Right Attitude (2013-08-03), Work as Practice (2014-09-05), Moments of Mindfulness (2016-09-15), ...) - ^z - 2019-10-30