What do you do when someone you depend on must be gone and you have to pick up the slack? Typical scenarios when this happens include termination, vacation, downsizing or personal crisis.
To read the rest of this article from the Business First of Columbus, see:
Surviving crises while that crucial someone is gone
For example, Brad and Harry had been partners for years and depended on each other daily. When Brad’s father had a stroke and went into a coma, Brad’s work life stopped but Harry’s didn’t. Harry had to do both their tasks. But how could he complain when Brad rushed to be at his father’s side? Brad knew Harry would understand.
As days stretched into weeks, Harry became overwhelmed. But he certainly didn’t want his weaknesses to burden Brad, who had “more important” things on his mind.
Amy Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” has gotten enough publicity to make her book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” a best seller. She’s clear that she uses the term “Chinese Mother” to represent a certain way of treating children that may be found in people from many, many cultures.
If many people adopt her style of parenting in order to make their children play at Carnegie Hall that would be a shame. Amy Chua is an abusive bully.
She beats her children into submission and claims that they’ll have great self-esteem as well as becoming successful in the competitive jungle of life because they can accomplish the very few things Ms. Chua thinks are important.
“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.”
“Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight “As.” Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best.”
“Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem…Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.”
“Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough. That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.”
There’s a grain of sense in what she says, but that grain is covered by a mountain of brutality that will be successful in creating only slaves or another generation of bullying parents, not in creating fully human beings.
What’s wrong with Ms. Chua’s ideas?
She lives in a kill-or-be-killed world of desperate striving for the most material rewards of success.
She’s rigid, narrow, and all-or-none with only two possibilities.
She allows only a few criteria for success – Stanford or Yale, violin or piano, maybe ballet. I assume only one or two acceptable careers like lawyer or professor.
She assumes that there are only totally slacking children (Americans) or totally successful children (with “Chinese Mothers”). If you give children an inch, they’ll become complete failures.
She thinks that the only way her children can be successful and happy and honor their parents is to be champions at her approved activities.
There’s almost no joy in their lives. Yes, there’s a moment when her daughter masters a difficult two-handed exercise. But the best that the rest of life holds is the thrill of victory and success at winning. There’s no possibility for joy in doing activities that thrill your soul and uplift your spirit.
Ms. Chua has only one value – compete and defeat; win at any cost.
This is a great and necessary value. It has made our society the first world. But if when the only value, when she ignores all the other equally great and necessary values she becomes inhuman – a barbarian, a torturer, no better than a Nazi or Communist or Fascist.
No wonder she’s aghast at all the personal attacks. She may be a brilliant law professor and accomplished writer but she’s completely out of touch with the world’s great traditions championing other values like great character, individuality, liberty, self-determination, love, beauty, compassion, spirituality and human connection. That’s why people take it so personally. Ms. Chua is attacking our most cherished values; cherished for good reasons. These values make us human in our most fundamental American, western ways.
Ms. Chua represents inhumanity justified by Darwin and Marx. She represents a revival of B.F. Skinner’s way of raising his daughter in a “Skinner Box,” as if she was a pigeon. When she grew up she sued him.
A better approach:
Have you observed your children individually and carefully? One approach does not fit them all.
Which children need you to provide more structure and which will be dedicated and determined on their own? Which children respond better when they’re encouraged and which respond better to having their imperfections pointed out? This is where expert coaching is helpful to design approaches that fit you and each child.
What are your children passionate about so they become energetic and determined on their own? Are following an artists path, playing the oboe, writing “silly” stories like “The Little Prince,” learning to program computers, studying bugs and strange sea creatures, mastering any sport, being a person who inspires others to be the best they can be, dedicating yourself to raising independent and creative children living rich and full lives, being a craftsman who makes great pianos or violins, coaching basketball teams at “minor schools” like University of Connecticut or UCLA to set winning-record streaks, being entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, making movies, loving children and a thousand other endeavors worthwhile to you? How can you encourage and nurture your child’s dedication and skill in those areas?
Character is critical. All of the world’s great literature points to the deficiencies of social climbers, bureaucrats and people whose only focus is to win at all costs. What would Ms. Chua have created if she could have gotten her hands on the children who became, for example, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens or Alexander Solzhenitsyn? Or great figures in the world from Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen and Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. or Aung San Suu Kyi, to name only five of thousands.
Don’t be a victim of your parents’ ideas about what constitutes success and how to achieve it. You can give your children the tools of the mind, will and spirit and let them create their own lives that they’ll love.
By the way, Ayalet Waldman wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response in the Wall Street Journal, “In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom.” In part she defends her children’s choices and her catering to those choices. In part she also defends her selfish desires to discourage her children when their activities would inconvenience her. That’s not the answer either.
All of the poles in this discussion are the wrong places to be – being a wimpy parent or an uncaring, selfish parent or a brute.
Don’t try to make all your employees happy. But do make your best employees happy.
Do you recognize who the best employees and managers are?
We can’t define who the best are, but we all recognize them. They’re the ones with inspiration – the inner drive to accomplish things and succeed. At all levels, they’re superstars and solid, steady, productive professionals. They’re the beavers eager to learn, develop skills and be competent and productive. They want to be efficient and effective. They take responsibility and they care.
They’re the ones who anchor a culture of success. They keep communication channels open and they get along well enough with other productive individuals in order to make their teams succeed. They take care of customers and teammates. They partner with employees on other teams when success depends on joint effort. They’re the low-maintenance people we can count on.l
It’s a pleasure to make them happy. They appreciate your efforts and respond with more of their own.
You can generalize by thinking that your organization has about 15% stars and 75% solid producers – all in that group of high quality employees you want to keep happy.
Don’t try to make them happy. It’s an impossible task. You’d have to cater to them and give away your organization to them. Instead, good leaders and managers help them go somewhere else. Maybe they’ll be happy at another company or maybe you can get them a job in a competitor’s organization.
Give your time, energy and goodies to your high quality employees. How? You don’t need my top 10 list to get started making your best employees happy. Maximize their chances for success. Give them all the training, equipment, operating systems and support they need to succeed. To high quality people, accomplishment is an aphrodisiac. Beyond that – ask them. Every individual will have an individual list of desires – training, opportunities for advancement, cleansing their environment of losers, more flex-time and money, etc. Then do your best to give it to them.
What if there’s more than 15% bottom feeders at your company, and management doesn’t care? Be one of the best employees. Try to get the attention of leaders. If that doesn’t work, go be a best employee at your competitor’s company.