I’ve never been much of a fiction reader, so my book preferences have slanted toward history, biographies, business, etc. Of course, I’ve read more than a few business books that could rightly be categorized as fiction.
There are quite a few who have studied, analyzed, and taught business principles without ever, well… having worked in business, or managed people, or dealt with actual customers.
Much of their advice works great in a classroom.
But not many of us run our businesses in a classroom.
It’s in that context that comments I recently heard from unlikely management consultants had me giggling. I was listening to an Adam Carolla podcast. Carolla was talking with Penn Jillette of “Penn and Teller” fame.
He was surprised to hear that Penn and Teller have been together for 38 years.
Carolla suggested that they must really be close friends after such a long time together. Jillette said, “Well, not really.”
He went on to say that they obviously have a solid working relationship after decades together… but they don’t hang out. They’re not “best buddies” or anything.
He said what was far more important to their relationship is that they respect and trust each other. He knows that Teller never misses performances, shows up on time, works hard, and is a consummate professional.
And Teller expects the same from him.
He and Carolla went on to discuss why it’s far more important to respect and trust the people you work with than to be “best friends”. Clearly, their point wasn’t that coworkers shouldn’t be friends.
But in the real world, friction inevitably arises between even the most genial of co-workers. And if your work output depends on how you “feel” about co-workers this week, you’re going to be inconsistent at best and dysfunctional at worst.
That’s true whether you’re a manager or a magician.
I found Carolla and Jillette’s comments in agreement with one of my favorite Peter Drucker (a slightly better known management guru) quotes. Drucker said, “Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.”
When coworkers consistently treat each other politely and respectfully, all “personalities” can work well and productively together.
It’s nice if coworkers like you. It’s far more important that they respect you.
Are your actions showing and earning respect this week?
My sons had a Tae Kwon Do “belt testing” on Saturday. This particular test was to move within one level of black belt.
My older son was a ball of nerves the prior evening and Saturday morning. My younger son likely forgot where we were even going as we drove to the testing.
Let’s just say they have different levels of intensity.
I tried explaining to my older son that “nerves” were normal. I told him of sporting events as a kid in which I was nervous as a cat. I also shared situations today that can make me nervous.
He humored me by saying, “Uh, okay,” but I obviously wasn’t having much of an impact.
As we arrived at testing, our favorite instructor, Sammy, (a 20-something-year-old kid with an Alabama drawl out of central casting) walked over to my son with a smile on his face and gave him a fist-bump. He asked if we were ready, and I told him we were dealing with nerves before an event.
Sammy lit up and put his hand on my son’s shoulder. “Let me tell you about my test last week!” He went on to say that he had to test for his 5th degree black belt at an out-of-state event.
(Yeah, this kid is the nicest guy who could ever wipe the floor with you.)
He said that as he sat there waiting for his turn he could barely control his shaking. He smiled, “I’m not kidding. My teeth were chattering.”
Then he looked at my son and said, “And that’s how I knew I was ready. You’re supposed to be nervous… until it’s not time to be nervous. You’re ready. Enjoy that feeling.”
My son smiled and said, “Got it.” I thanked Sammy and half-complained to my wife that I had said pretty much the same thing.
She replied, “You don’t have a belt. Why listen to you?” Nice.
Both boys did great (and advanced) and we’ve since revisited the “nerves talk” a few times. (Mostly, I like reminding my kids when I’m right.)
I was reminded that nervousness is not our enemy. If you think about it, most of our greatest athletic, business, and even personal development accomplishments were preceded by nervousness.
In fact, if we haven’t put ourselves in a “nervous situation” lately, we’re likely not growing.
We overcome nerves to walk into businesses to introduce ourselves, or pick up the phone to follow-up with a prospect, or take responsibility for a new project, etc.
As Sammy says, “You’re ready. Enjoy that feeling.” (Listen to him. He’s got a belt.)