Sunday, November 27, 2011


A balmy post-Thanksgiving late afternoon had me outside stringing Christmas lights on our Charlie Brown tree on our front bank. It felt more like a great mid October day than late November – pleasant afternoon air and a pleasant seasonal chore. I could hear a group of boys yelling and hollerin’up the street having a good time at some outdoorsy game – maybe kickball, I couldn’t be sure. I could hear one boy louder than the others and at one point amid the leisure-time mayhem, I heard him pronounce with gusto, “You can’t do that – it’s against the rules!” I chuckled because it reminded me of playing with my friends as a boy, and I thought, “Rules?” If I recall correctly most of the games we played had no hard and fast rules. The rules were usually determined by whose ball we were playing with or whose yard we were playing in. Or more often than not, who was the largest or most powerful sole in our pack of kids. Fluid rules. Rules to suit the occasion and our king-of the-hill male attitudes. That seems natural. Life wasn’t an even playing field we learned. Deal with it.

It got me thinking about more adult years when my career choices had me working for one-owner companies. Interesting organizations they could be. I put in 19 years with two separate one-owner consulting firms. How many times did I run into a situation where the owner decided the “rules?” Often arbitrary and ad hoc. And more often than not with me on the bottom of the pig pile when the dust settled, not the top! “Wow,” I thought as I finished my light stringing and headed back up the driveway in the rapidly dimming light. The Charlie Brown tree looked good.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

A lot of game time is lost among boys arguing about the rules. I think learning the arguing, and what techniques prevail, short-term and long, may be the more important lesson. As your experience with one-owner companies would suggest.

Evolution selects for persuasiveness more than intelligence. That is, having a good idea is nowhere near as important in garnering resources as appearing to be right.