January 30, 2019 All, International Business
Meetings and contributing
I was watching another of those reruns that I so love, from the Dead Poets society, and Robin Williams quotes from the poem “O me! O Life!” by Walt Whitman. It’s an appropriate question in context, as always:
“What good amid these, O me, O Life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
It got me thinking about all those meetings that we usually have, you know the ones. The ones when you discuss the work that you have to do, trying very hard to glamorize or gloss over the work already done (depending on how you are doing) despite an obvious lack of clarity on many aspects, because the idea is to push you through the uncertainty.
You always have the urge to contribute to the narrative in a serious discussion. Many times just by nodding in agreement. But if the matter is building up some steam or you seem to be getting excited about it,there’s always a Stop Sign person (borrowed from the book I Hate People) to halt your progress and push you to in a stop. This could just be a comment, “That won’t work!” from a respected member of the team that derails your whole pitch, the one idea that you thought was creative. The thought “Do you have a better way to do it?” comes to your mind, but you don’t say that out loud. You wait for the conductor of the meeting to say something. You wait for someone to give you a sign that maybe this might work but, “No!”
Congratulations, you have hit the stop sign in the meeting. The signpost whose whole claim to fame is the objection they raised, bringing their conversation time in the meeting to 5 minutes, and, as anyone who has sat in a case discussions during an MBA will attest, they get full participation marks.
But the verse got me thinking, “The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Do you want that verse to be a full stop on a possible innovative idea, quite possibly only exciting thing that you will work on that year? For the future to have some interesting and creative options, the way forward will be plans that have failed before. For that, you have to adequately break down every decision to its first principles and eliminate the failures in thinking. You’ll need a thorough understanding as to what and why the possible solution did not work. This then gives us a greater depth of understanding. We make better decisions by asking in what ways we could make our idea work for the Stop Sign Person. That should get him to truly contribute.
We know we want to contribute positively to the outcome. We want our words to make more sense in the overall scheme of things. We want everyone to contribute their best to bring out the best possible future for us all. Truth be told, we want a future that will be a lot better than today because we want many aspects of our lives to improve. The important part though, is that we have to play our part. We have to make a contribution.
Maybe only to contribute a sonnet in this Shakespearean play called life.
Jerrin James: Techie turned manager
Various roles in IT, currently a sales manager for BI Tools. Solutions expert. Follow him on LinkedIn.