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April 2018

Leadership and Qualifications? Oh the Irony!

I'm writing today just to reflect on a few things that I find extremely pathetic and boring, the kinds of things that are just tiresome and ridiculous. This is just me having an informal conversation with you. First of all, when someone is qualified to do the work, then he or she should get the job without any question. The boss should put on his or her biggest set of underwear, grab a dose of courage, and just lay down a set of rules to the whiners and the uninspired. The reason that workplace hostility and bias is allowed to fester is because leadership can't do what needs to be done, or can't see what needs to be seen. This inability to do or see is the cornerstone of our problem. 

In my own unimportant, but brave, corner of the world, I can see what needs to be done. I see some big underwear that should definitely be taken back down to small. I see this metaphorical big underwear almost everyday, sometimes on the television or social media and sometimes right there in person. From my own unimportant position in life, I observe a ton of people putting the cart before the horse, and it saddens me.

This weekend I've been reading James Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. I'm not that far into his nicely written and rather shocking book, but it appears that the overriding theme is courage versus cowardice. He discusses how maladjusted leadership has a tendency to wrap itself with sycophants and chronic liars, and he discusses how he worked to solve that problem in his own offices. I know we tend to look to Washington when we think of this kind of moral decay and pandering favoritism, but what about right there at our own job, or in our local politics? When people are getting fat off of the land, then they don't want change or any real effort to present itself in the form of a new and truly qualified person because that would interrupt the flow of daily nonbusiness. Mediocre outcomes are okay as long as they can successfully destroy any outside competition. Mean-spirited people tend to take decent people by surprise, and that gives them an unfair advantage. At the end of the day, profits and scores are lower for everyone because the sycophants have out-politicked the unsuspecting competition. Now everyone is just mediocre...but no fabulous gains are made. But the threat of having to do honest hard work that takes qualifications, instead of self-improving and self-monitoring, is at least partially contained. The big britches crowd works hard at what they enjoy most (gossip, lies, and manipulations). Slandering and destroying somebody that might change the status quo equates to a fun day on the job.

We always talk about the sin of low expectations, and I really believe the concept should apply to everyone, even if they are not a student. If you've been promoted without any qualifications, then shame on you. I have been working my rear off for nearly three years on an advanced degree. My degree is not from Harvard, and it is not in rocket science. But my degree is more than what the majority of people can achieve, and it does make me qualified, even if it is not complete. My degree makes me qualified to take on the job I want, a job that doesn't pay much. My hard work should buy me an opportunity to remain in poverty, to remain where I belong, even if it isn't what other people might think is good for me.

Which brings me to another topic, irony. I've been studying irony quite a bit lately. It is so complicated; and if you think irony is simple stuff that's because you just don't know what you don't know about writing in general or the relative problems and glaring importance of irony. I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you haven't really thought about it before, but neither does irony if it's done wrong. Anyway, what I learned from all of these months of studying the subject of irony in depth and acquainting myself with all of the theories around it, is that whatever is happening on the ground with you is the most important factor. If you are having a problem with what is taking place over your head, but the situation on the ground is temporarily livable, then you will eventually have to deal with irony. Stick with the situation on the ground; ironically, something unpredictable will happen to the situation overhead. 

I want to leave you this weekend with this very meaningful quote from an important writer, and a not-so-random political thought that circulated for quite some time on social media. The quote is important because Rachel is implying that issues of sensitivity and the processing of exclusion are tough on people of an artistic nature within the business. But, ironically, her quote really says more about the people that engage in the exclusion of others than it does about the art world itself or some notion of weighing in on rejection slips versus published materials. She can, admittedly, rise above the harsh cruelties of an insecure art world because she is independent and fearless. What does the subtext of this say about those who exclude you? Do they even have one piece of art to stand on? Probably not! 😊🌹

I like the social media posting because it clearly demonstrates the large scale consequences of failed leadership.

Anyway, have a happy week!

I think the art world heightens the intensity of desires for inclusion, and the humiliations of exclusion, which is why it's a great place to circulate when you are in the lucky position, as I am, of not wanting or needing anything from anyone. ∼Rachel Kushner