Thursday, September 10, 2009
Meditations on stubbornness.
There are a lot of things you shouldn’t be or do in the work-world if you want to survive. Perhaps at the top of the list of corporate taboos is stubbornness. Nope, being stubborn only gets you in trouble.
Maybe what I’ve written above is not quite precise. Maybe it’s better to remark that to survive in the modern corporate state you need to be docile. You need to (as it says on 360 review forms) be a bridge-builder, a collaborator and a team-player. That’s how you hold onto your job. If you are treated badly, don’t protest. Meekly say, “I guess I’m just lucky to be working.” When they ask for 10% of your salary back, or insist that you take an un-paid furlough—how’s that for a euphemism?—accept it graciously, say you understand. When productivity goes up and salaries go down, when the salary gap between the C-suite and the workers widens, widens, widens, grin and bear it. Be docile.
If you are in advertising, don’t dig in your heels over an idea. Or even a set of standards. If the client wants to cheapen their brand by using cheap stock photography, if the client wants to dumb-down their brand by forcing you to use jargon and nouns as verbs, if the client wants to destroy their integrity by making you spout their party line, go gentle into that goodnight. What’s the alternative? What can I do? The agency won’t support me. I’m just lucky to have a job.
Be pliant and compliant and never defiant.
This is what we are told today in a thousand different ways. We are meant to be scared, appreciative, loyal. We are meant to fold like a shirt in a Chinese laundry.
Well, don’t do it. Because doing it means giving up. And giving up means you’re essentially dead.
For every person who sticks to his guns, there are legions who cave. For every Steve Jobs there are dozens of “low-cost providers.”
As George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Stubbornness is creativity. Stubbornness is innovation. Stubbornness is success.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 9:48 AM