The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts on Knowedge

Something came up the other day that has come up in conversations many times over the years. The best instance to illustrate the subject was a conversation with a new manager. He was brought in as an office manager. He was a newcomer to AT&T, a former Ford engineer. He gathered us all together in a meeting room and asked each of us, "Who do you work for?"

Most answered with the name of the their immediate supervisor before he elaborated on the question and his motives behind it. I am still not sure what was behind the question or what answers he was interested in hearing. It didn't matter to me.

When he got to me, I answered "Myself."

I have written about this before... in a post about leadership... but I want to dig into it from a different angle.

I am my own worst critic. If I could approach perfection in anything, you could call me a perfectionist. I have been called worse.

When I first went to work for the phone company back in 1970, I found myself under the tutelage of a man called  Charlie Flood. He was probably in his 50's but looked older. And acted older, I thought. The corncob pipe he smoked might have had something to do with that thought. Charlie was a good man who worked night shift (which is where I found myself about 4 months after being hired) and had done so for some 25 years. He resisted being made management for a long time  because it always meant that he would have to go on the day shift. They finally, shortly after I began working in the office, offered him the job of night shift supervisor.

I went on night shift the same day he became the supervisor. He mentored me. He showed me some tricks he had learned along the way and showed me how to become a good phone man. But he also showed me something that I should have known from watching my father. We (Charlie and I) discussed many things, both about work and about life. He talked about knowledge and he would say, "I don't have to know anything except how to read an index."

At the time, there was a set of books which were called the Bell System Practices, or "BSPs" for short. It was bigger than most encyclopedia sets. Everything you would ever need to know how to do on your job in the phone company was written in these books. I came to understand, eventually, that everything anyone ever needs to do is in a book somewhere.

I still believe that. I have always found a book which explains things to me and allows me to accomplish something I need to do. I should have learned this from my father, he followed the same path. Whenever he wanted or needed to do something, he would find a book on it. But Charlie not only followed that method, he communicated it to me in a way I could understand. Now, there are many books on just about every subject... the trick is in finding one which explains the subject in a way that you can grasp. That can take some time. But, trust me, that book is out there somewhere just waiting for you to pick it up. It becomes your boss, your supervisor. And your mentor.

And I become my own worst critic.

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