March 2007

Almost all the managers I’ve ever met are shitty. I mean, they might be good at their specific field, but they’re not good managers. A good manager is good at managing anything, more or less. Sure, there are specific skill sets. Some are better with the organization, others are better at being cool under stress. But the central duties of a manager never change:

  • Make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • Tell them when they’ve done a good job.
  • Ask them why they’ve done a bad job.
  • Do your part in getting it done.

Do that, and people will follow you into hell.

Reading Lolita is an accomplishment. Reading this month’s issue of Justice Society of America is not. Reading the whole Newspaper is an accomplishment. Reading nine blogs is not. Now, is reading all 1096 pages of New X-Men Omnibus an accomplishment*? Reading Paradise Lost is an accomplishment. Dirty Limericks are not. Is any of what I just said true? Why is reading one thing an accomplishment and not the other? Is it the quality of the work? What quality? Difficulty? Beauty? I have no intention of answering any of these questions in a coherent way.

Instead, I’ll side step the whole thing and say that once again, we’re all being far too binary in our thought if we believe that feeling something is an accomplishment is an either/or proposition. So step one is assuming that somethings are grander accomplishments than others. This does not nullify the more subtle accomplishments any more than the existence of large dogs nullifies the existence of chihuahuas. So, what gives an accomplishment weight?

Using capital “L” Literature as our guide (since, generally speaking, reading Jane Eyre would be seen by others as an accomplishment, and reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe would not, despite the former being stupid, boring and kind of awful, and the latter is fun, exciting and totally rad). So, what makes something Literature? It shouldn’t be genre: no sci-fi, fantasy, detective, adventure or any other weird stuff. It should be long. Novellas are not Literature. Other things that aid in L-status: being old, being hard to read or understand, being serious or depressing, being generally unfunny. Obviously, I’m being one sided here, but this is a worst case scenario, and it’s hard to disagree that all of those factors seem to help a book count as serious, and therefor an accomplishment. Why are we so proud of reading things that are unpleasant?

Here is where I totally blow your mind. Notice that rules for determining accomplishments in your life are similar. Generally, for people other than yourself or your family to recognize a success, it should have taken a long time, been a difficult journey, been painful and troublesome. Why do we tend to take so much more pride in activities we force ourselves through versus those we actually take pleasure in? Is it because the pride helps make them bearable? Is it some sort of culturally ingrained standard of machismo?

Remember, you can’t get your skin numbed before you get a tattoo. The pain is part of the experience.

*YES. It is excellent.