Wednesday 1 April 2009

The burden of change

There are often times when I trip and stumble along the path of the manifesto. Sometimes so much so that I wish I could get off the path and hide in the dark forests of stagnation and systemic discontent. There are times where my ego won't accept another's mistakes on my shoulders without saying it's so, times when I'm unable to absorb personal criticism and turn it to constructive advantage, and times where I allow the burden of other work to brush aside the pillars of manifesto thinking.

Whenever the melancholy from this difficult task looks to be winning the battle for my soul, I have to dig deep and re-find my conviction that the change I'm trying to make is a change that ultimately benefits everyone. I have to try to suppress the all too dominant ego and to absorb criticism, ridicule and blame, because I know that these are simply the pressures that have built up through neglect, and which burst free from the first outlet provided to them.

I've recently begun to contemplate whether any manager can have both the necessary emotional control to remain calm in all situations and also the emotional vigour to promote the cause of change. I know that I struggle continually to remain neutral in the face of criticism without losing the energy that created the need for change in the first place. In fact, I'd be ashamed to list the number of times I've told myself to just give up fighting for the manifesto because I've taken a hit or two.

As I considered what sort of person it would require, the words of the classic poem by Rudyard Kipling came to mind. I've always remembered the first two lines but that's about it. I looked up the poem and was shocked to find that the first two verses travelled so closely to the life of a manifesto manager that it could almost be a motivational sermon printed on the back of the managers' guide to manifesto life.

Here are the first two versus:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

Does this person exist? Can this person exist? I know that I wish a thousand times over that this person was me, and maybe if it was then the manifesto would be stronger and I would be a better manager. However, on the other hand, it could also be possible that the only way to be this person is to travel the journey of a manifesto manager, to be crushed almost flat by the pressure of failure and doubt only to pick yourself back up to take another step forwards. Maybe it's the journey towards this ultimately impossible goal that is the true purpose of the manifesto, and the resulting changes within the manifesto managers are the rewards.

Some say it's better to journey in hope than to arrive at a destination and if, after all, the journey turned me into a better manager with happier teams, then the scars picked up along the way will all have been worth while.


  1. As you mentioned... is it possible to stay clam in all situations, yet still have passion and determination to achieve your objectives?

    Are there any occurrences when the words "passion" and "calm" fit together?

    And if so, is it possible to put both of these to positive use in a working environment?

    Of course you can be passionate about your work and remain calm for the majority of time... but should someone confront you on a subject that you feel passionate about, even if it doesn't show to begin with, the calm gets nibbled at by your passion, potentially turning into frustration, stress and those other negative attributes we all try desperately to avoid.

    Everyone has a different level of tolerance, but does that directly relate to passion?

    Passion = Tolerance?

    Is a non-argumentative, calm and peaceful individual less passionate about their work than one might throw objection to changes?

    Can any clear lines be drawn here, or do the pros and cons of each level each-other?

  2. "Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities"
    Aldous Huxley

  3. Hi, and thanks for your comments. It does seem that our emotions are bands of feelings with blurred edges that overlap. I wonder sometimes though, whether I do actually have the ability to remain dispassionate and logical but choose to allow my passion to overspill, deliberately. If that's the case, I wonder what that says about me? Am I deliberately using my emotion to communicate more than the words because words aren't enough, or am I doing it because I think emotion will get me there quicker, and I'm too lazy to take the time to explain? Maybe it's a bit of both.

    As for good old Aldous Huxley, he wasn't just prescient, he was also very wise.

  4. I believe that where you have mentioned ego you are correct but not for the right reasons.

    It is the ego that can make one arrogant and blind to the opinions of others, especially when they deliver their point of view in a fierce fashion and you are made to feel defensive.

    If you believe in something so passionately it can be very difficult to be reasonable about others' points of view, especially when they differ or appear to differ from yours.

    Perspective can become very narrow and in the face of adversity, it is easy to get dragged in by your own passion.

    Often the best course is to take a quick step back and sometimes you find that people actually have the same passion for the same thing but their delivery clashes with yours.

    The lack of perspective from both parties due to their deep involvement and passion for their goals and beliefs can cause us to contradict our selves.

    It is not about tolerance of the non-believers it is about the acceptance and understanding of their points of view. Sometimes you might find that other people can see things from an angle that you cannot or had not considered and it can actually help you.

    These kind of discussions will enable you to better deliver your 'manifesto' to people
    and help them believe through understanding and empathy. After all is that not the idea in the first place?

  5. I like the angle of the last comment, although it is a little strong.

    When there is such a passion for what you believe in, it is very easy for perspective to be threatened.