Friday, May 21, 2010

Like a Penny Looking for Change....

The first instructor in my Masters program was a hysterically curmudgeonly character. In our first class, he described his many years of dealing with troublesome people. He detailed how these “people” caused for him a string of ailments from spastic colon to heart attack. He had developed a wonderful vernacular for leadership that could have filled a third or fourth volume of “The Portable Curmudgeon.”

My grouchy professor shared these gems with us:
  1. “Get your loving at home” – He wasn’t talking about “wide stances” in airport stalls or flying off to South America to some concubine. HEAVENS NO! (although it would certainly apply) He was referring to the fact that we had to be OK with people not appreciating us when we took a stand, when we said “no,” and when we said “yes.”
  2. “Like a penny looking for change” – Which simply referred to someone who was clueless about where they were, what they wanted, or how to go about getting it.
  3. “People you supervise are going to take out unresolved issues with their fathers (or mothers for women) on you” – So whenever I got a particularly undeserved and nasty response from someone to a decision, an evaluation, or anything else I did, it helped me to think about it that way, “What did your parents do to you?”
  4. “When you’re getting run out of town, get out front and present you’re leading a parade.” – Now this he admitted was Abraham Lincoln’s statement but he put it to good use and reminded us that as leaders we could run afoul of the politics of the situation and to be aware of our surroundings.
  5. “Don’t pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” - Another great quote borrowed from someone else. In other words, make friends of the media. Today it should be something like, “Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys bandwidth by the terabyte.”
I wish I had video tapes of our classes, or at the very least my notes from the class so I didn’t lose any of his sayings. Unfortunately, these 20-plus years later, I don’t even remember his name; but, his amazing crusty personality stuck with me, as did many of his quips and barbs. His cranky sayings spring to mind at times when I run into people with an unresolved daddy complex, or are an aimless and wandering penny.


You might also enjoy Bless His Cotton Socks, another post by Derek.

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