Disappointment Correction

Photo of giraffe sticking tongue out
Photo copyright ©2017 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

Have you ever been disappointed? What did you do in response?

During a recent meeting with our financial advisor, he said there is a high level of expectation among financial experts for a “disappointment correction” in the stock markets. I’d never heard the term before, but he claimed it is a well-known term in the financial sector.

Here’s one story about the concept.

The gist of this is that investors are disappointed by things not going the way they had anticipated. As a result, they will make adjustments, or corrections, in their holdings and strategies.

The term struck me as being apt for describing what happens in the workplace.

The company promises certain things, setting expectations for the employees. If done right, the employees get all excited about these promises and new ventures. They have renewed energy and focus. They work harder. Then, if things don’t pan out as expected, people become disappointed. Sometimes they will become so disappointed that they make drastic corrections, like moving on to another employer.

It’s a difficult road to travel for leaders. You want to paint a rosy picture, share possibilities, get people excited for what is yet to come. But, if you paint too rosy of a picture, or can’t follow through on those promises, you have to expect some level of frustration and disappointment among the staff. You have to be ready for the corrections.

Then there is the issue of hiring someone who turns out to be a poor fit for the position. The new person starts, everyone is excited, and then disappointment sets in because, well, they aren’t actually qualified for the position. Or, perhaps the job duties were not clearly explained during the interview process. Or, maybe the true nature of the work environment was not clearly articulated. There is a mismatch in expectations. The result is that the hiring manager needs to make a correction.

This can happen on the other side as well. I once started a new job full of eager anticipation. By the end of the first week I realized the job was not what I expected. I was disappointed. I needed to make a correction. It took me a full year to make the correction by changing jobs. The second time this happened, it only took me 5 weeks.

A workplace correction is not always a major deal. Sometimes it only requires a minor tweak to the environment, like a change of your office layout, a new computer, or bringing in a pair of headphones to drown out that annoying gum cracking in the cubicle next to you. Sometimes it means changing the people assigned to a project, or their specific roles within the team. It doesn’t always have to end in parting company.

Disappointment can show up in so many areas of our lives. When it happens, we have a choice. We can be sad, or we can take action – make a correction.

Be aware of your disappointment. Let it motivate you to do what needs to be done to move on. Sometimes a mental shift is the only correction needed, while other times serious changes in lifestyle are needed.

Where are you now? Are your expectations being met? Are you disappointed? If so, it might be time for a correction.


Start Here

Photo of sock puppet
Photo copyright ©2017 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

Do you have a vague concept of something rattling around in your brain? You don’t have all the details figured out, but you feel there might be something there. How do you determine whether it is worth pursuing? Where do you start?

Simple. Start here. Right here. Wherever you are right now. With whatever you have on hand at the moment.

You’re probably familiar with the term, “proof of concept”. Or, maybe you prefer the term “working prototype”. These are generally good things. But, when you are doing something really new (to you), there are many unknowns. You might not even be able to fully define what it is you are contemplating. In those cases, these methods ask for too much up front. Too much time, too much money, or both.

Here are two examples.

I had this idea for a new character in my act. It was to be a man who by day is a typical office worker, probably an accountant or some other data-focused desk-sitting cubicle worker. A guy who most people in the office ignore. He comes to work, does his 9-5, then goes home. Nobody in the office has any idea, or interest, in what he does outside of work. This is where it gets fun. What he does in the evenings and on weekends is take to the stage as a female impersonator. And not just some shmucky horrible impersonator, but a full-on diva singing voice, holy cow that’s amazing female impersonator.

I decide that to fully pursue the idea, I needed to have the physical character in hand. I purchased a relatively expensive “dummy”, played around with the character, had his daytime voice and personality down, figured out the basic logistics of how to have him go through the transition to nightclub singer, picked out some songs I thought would work, took voice lessons… And discovered that I do not (yet) have the vocal chops to pull it off the way I wanted. I invested a lot of time and money into the project. I couldn’t do it. In the end, I decided to sell the puppet and put the idea on a shelf. (I still like the idea and hope to be able to do it someday…)

By contrast, I have another character in my act that started out as a sock puppet – literally. His voice popped out one day, and I thought, hmmm, I wonder what I can do with this? His first appearance was at a campout with my youngest daughter. (See photo at the top of this post.) After that campout, I continued to play around with the voice and develop the character over the span of several months, making sure there was something there. Once I was pretty sure it was going to work, I made the final puppet. (Side note: This the only puppet in my act that I have physically constructed myself.) That character has played out extremely well and is still a mainstay of the act 12 years later.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken the “let’s see how this might work” approach with my female impersonator character concept. I didn’t need a puppet to try singing and to develop the voice. I didn’t need to make that monetary investment. Fortunately, I was able to sell the puppet (also called “figure” in the ventriloquist business) and recoup most of that financial outlay. But, that isn’t always the case when we jump into something whole hog before testing a few basic things first.

I’m sure you’ve been there. You’ve bought expensive tools, components, etc., only to later find out that the original concept was horribly flawed. Money down the drain. Notice I only say money down the drain. Time spent exploring new ideas and concepts is always time well spent. Even if you end up going a completely different direction or abandoning the idea, you’ve still learned something.

My preferred approach to wild and crazy ideas is the “mock up”. A mock up is a drastically pared down version of a proof of concept or working prototype. It doesn’t have to be fully functional. It doesn’t have to look like what the final product might look like. It might be a simple sock puppet. All it needs to do is allow you to go further into the concept. Explore. Test.

It is so easy to become bogged down in the process of creating the prototype that we lose sight of the original idea. Or, we give up because there are pieces we can’t figure out how to model. Don’t worry about it. In the early stages, it’s just an idea. Give the idea room to grow and develop. Let it go where it wants to go.

Start with what you have. Start now.


Intelligent Disobedience

Photo of dog giving a raspberry
Photo copyright ©2017 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

Do you know when to say, “No!”?

Have you ever seen a blind person with a guide dog? I am fascinated by helper dogs, and guide dogs in particular. Columbus is the home to Pilot Dogs, a training facility for these four legged partners.

I heard a presentation by Pilot Dogs at a recent meeting of the Lions Club to which I belong. We heard a brief overview of the intense training regimen involved in taking a dog from birth through full employment as a Pilot Dog. One thing in particular jumped out at me – the concept of intelligent disobedience.

Our presenter explained that the dogs are trained to say “no” to the person they are guiding when the situation warrants it.

Imagine a blind person with a guide dog standing at a street corner. The person wants to go and starts to step off the curb. Meanwhile, the dog sees a dangerous situation and resists. Despite the person urging the dog to go, the dog refuses. They disobey. The person might become frustrated, but also must trust the dog.

Our presenter indicated that this has become an increasingly important behavior due to the increase in all-electric vehicles that do not provide the audible engine noise clues of traditional gasoline vehicles.

Does your company culture support intelligent disobedience? Does your boss allow you to say “no” when you know that what you are being asked to do is wrong? Maybe it is unsafe. Maybe it is simply stupid. Maybe the results of doing what you are being asked to do will be counter to the objective.

Being willing to stand up and say “no” to something you have been asked to do is a valuable skill. It requires confidence, courage, tact and a strong working relationship with the person you are saying “no” to. It also requires a culture that makes this behavior acceptable.

As a leader, fostering a culture that allows intelligent disobedience requires effort. It is not a natural behavior. It is critical to avoiding costly and even dangerous mistakes. And it is totally worth the effort.

Learn to say “no” when the situation calls for it – and be ready to explain why. Learn to accept “no” when you have asked someone to do something – and be open to a discussion about why.

Practice intelligent disobedience.