Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There

As I write this, I'm holed up in my bedroom while a DAR meeting takes place downstairs. I just know if I venture downstairs to the living room, even if it's just for a moment to snare a rice-krispy treat, they'll tie me up with their sashes, gag me with their white gloves and eat me. Or maybe not, but why take the chance?

Leave the Sword, Take the General Tsao's Chicken

A group at my office selects and then meets periodically during lunch to discuss management-related books. Titles and authors we've read in the past include Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," Rudolph Giuliani's "Leadership," and RFK's "Thirteen Days." Some of the selections have been very worthwhile, others less so, but all have been the kind of book you'd expect a management reading group to choose. We're currently voting on our next selection, and a book that seems to be getting a lot of support is Sun Tzu's classic, "The Art of War." (That word - classic - has become overused at times, but we're talking here about a book written in the 6th century BC - literally, Biblical times - that, in business circles, is still widely read and discussed today.)
If that book does get selected it will be interesting to see how some of its teaching - "Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve," for example - will be applied to the office setting.

Who Will Guard the Guardians?

Want to have some fun? The next time you hear someone railing about how idiot socialists in Washington have broken every law known to man and passed a health care reform bill that will turn the White House into the Kremlin, ask him/her simply to describe to you what's in the bill and see how many of them actually know.

And Another Thing...

Some years back, a movie was made of Thom Wolfe's great book about the Mercury space program, "The Right Stuff." As a movie it had its shortcomings - the Mercury astronauts themselves derided it as "Laurel and Hardy Go To Space" - but there was a great line in it when someone asked the Von Braun-like lead scientist if the German experts now in America were going to be able to out-do the German experts who were working for the Russians. He reassured them by saying, "Our Germans are better than their Germans."

With this in mind, I don't know about you, but I'm having a grand old time watching the right wing on television trying to explain why it's good when Republicans use the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation to pass a bill and a violation of every law and moral principle known to man when Democrats do the same thing.

These days it seems like the only thing Republicans and Democrats can get together on - aside from the fervent hope that Sarah Palin is the future of the Republican party - is putting partisanship and self-interest before leadership. We do it to ourselves, folks.


Big Mark 243 said...

Glad that you said 'it'...

'Art of War' is overused by management. Ironically, because I read it as something for an individual, only a few can actually apply it and make it work in their lives or lively hood. The other external factors of a person's life have to be affected... it is like a diet for your character.

Ooh and what you said about the Repubs and the hypocrisy about the reconcilation procedure is spot on!!

oldhousegal said...

Speaking of the Art of War, someday ask me to show you "fighting stance." I've been taking a women's cardio-kickboxing class. Great fun.

I'm enjoying the current political spectacle also -- that is when I'm not screaming at the idiot box. Somehow the meaning of that term has taken on a new irony. My favorite thing is those posters of Obama with a Hitler mustache... right next to the posters of Obama with a hammer & sicle. Does no one study history anymore????? Yeah, that Adolf, he was quite the socialist!

DB said...

I was once stuck in an elevator with sme DAR ladies and my advice is don't go downstairs.

And partisan politics is very simple. Whatever one side does is right and whatever the other side does is wrong, even if they are exactly the same thing. You see?


Lori said...

Great entry, Ben! I have actually never read The Art of War. I guess I should, hmm? I'm interested to see how it will be applied in an office setting too.