Don’t mistake activity with achievement. — John Wooden
Being a boss, but not the boss, means I frequently think about leadership. My livelihood depends upon the performance of others. Sure, I could pretend there is such thing as control, I could micromanage processes, but I find more comfort in the acceptance that control is an illusion. That’s why I appreciate Wooden. He didn’t really coach during the game. He prepared his teams then got out of the way. It’s a difficult thing to do. The personality type most driven to management is also one that has difficulty not flailing around, taking credit for every success, and placing blame for every failure.
When observing and discussing leadership with others, commonalities appear. One such commonality that most of us who are macho business donkey wrestlers, regardless of ring, have experienced are moments in which we realized, “My boss has no fucking clue what he’s doing.” It’s the workplace analog to the eager-beaver single man. Being laconic is difficult; surveying the scene and making a staid decision lacks flair and panache. When a person honestly believes that activity was the key to his achievement, and ignores the confluence of timing and teammates, then setbacks and pauses become cause for doing something, anything, everything, kitchen sink.
These people always get promoted just far enough to inflict their itinerant brain waves on groups of varying size and shape. If there is one thing that foments trust and productivity, it is unpredictability. When it’s Jimmy James and his monkey-strong bowels, it’s entertaining. When your point guard doesn’t know what play you’re running, that could adversely affect your paycheck.
In tautological terms, inactivity is a form of activity. Sometimes it is the most productive activity one can choose. It isn’t flashy, but it can be effective. Don’t mistake flailing around with achieving something.