managing care

I have been in middle management for about a year and a half now, and there are still times when I wonder if I’m doing this “managing” thing right, or if I’m really cut out to be a manager. But I guess the day I stop wondering how to do things better is the day I stop improving (and there’s always something that can be improved on).

When new people start work in my department, there are a few things I tell them, regardless of their role or their previous work experience:

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Meditations: prove me wrong

For several weeks now, I have been thinking of this quote from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and I’ve been meaning to find it so that I could blog about it, but I either haven’t had time or, when I did have time, I just couldn’t find it.

During my first reading of Meditations (now a few years ago), I used some scrap paper to jot down some notes regarding noteworthy passages. For some of these, I copied out the passage (if it was short), and for some I simply noted the book and chapter numbers. I kept these scraps of paper as reminders — some within the pages of Meditations, and the rest on my bedside table. I had hoped that the quote I was thinking of would be on one of these but, alas, no luck.

But, no matter, I thought, there is a helpful index in the back of the copy I own, which can be used to find passages relating to various subject matter and concepts, so I tried this next. I pondered over words that might lead me to the passage, but these either did not take me to where I wanted to go, or they did not exist in the index.

As a last resort — or perhaps just a despairing effort — I flipped through to random pages, hoping to find it by pure luck or coincidence. (Keep in mind that I didn’t do all this searching in one day; it was spread over several weeks, whenever I thought of it and had time.) Unsurprisingly, this tactic proved fruitless too.

Last night, however, I was really determined to find it. I was so determined that I resolved to go through each entry in the index that was even remotely relevant, starting with A and working through the entire index to Z.

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monkey-ing around

Ok, so I kind of thought that maybe a two-sentence post might not really cut it as a proper post for my post-per-week thing, so I’m writing another post…

Fortunately, I came across this rather interesting post on the very appropriately named site

It’s a great site for wasting time, but you can also find funny and interesting things there. It’s also very useful for when you’re bored and/or have a few minutes spare that you need to get rid of.

I’m kind of hoping that that hyperlink will work forever, but in case it doesn’t, I’m going to quickly summarise the monkey experiment: Basically, you put five monkeys in a cage with a ladder and you hang a banana at the top of the ladder. When a monkey goes up the ladder and gets the banana, you spray the other four monkeys with cold water. Eventually the monkeys learn that it’s bad for another monkey to climb the ladder to get the banana, so if anyone attempts it, they attack them.

Next, you replace one of the monkeys with a new one. When the new monkey goes to climb the ladder to get the banana, the other monkeys attack it. The new monkey doesn’t know why, but it learns that this is just how things work in the cage. Replace another monkey, and the first new monkey joins in the attacking of the second one. Then you replace the original monkeys one by one until all five monkeys are new. These monkeys weren’t ever sprayed with cold water, but they attack any monkey who attempts to climb the ladder because that’s what they’ve learnt to do.

So, yeah, it’s pretty interesting in how it teaches people to not keep doing something just because “that’s how it’s always been done”. There was a line at the end making a comment about the Marine Corps, but I don’t really know what’s going on there, so I’m not going to comment on it. Besides, it’s a good general lesson, anyway.

I’m not really keen on (unnecessary/sudden) change, but I like knowing there’s a purpose/reason behind something. I think a friend or someone once wrote this quote-type thing along the lines of “I am good, but I can be better. I’ll work hard to become better. And if I become the best, I’ll keep working hard because I’ll know that I can still be better.” Something like that. Anyway, that’s kind of resonated with me, since I’ve graduated and passed my internship and seem to have reached the top of the mountain, so to speak.

But this isn’t the end of the road. I know that there are always improvements that can be made – for myself, my workplace, the people I work with, for my home and relationships. It just takes a bit of courage to help put some changes in motion.