Ignorance or Arrogance

Many of us are parents.  Many of us have parents.  Many parents have children.  Many children have parents.   I have selected these repetitive four sentences to eliminate any possibility of vagueness in my opening.  It seems that many of my faithful readers have become unfaithful to me by reading other things.  The feedback I receive is something about rambling incoherent openings that mislead the reader to false expectations.  Well this is primarily caused by my tendency to write while I am thinking.  What I begin with is usually a “great idea!”  That “great idea” ultimately ends up being a very bad idea, and consequently the beginning has little to do with the ending, as I do not like to edit.

The first paragraph is a perfect example of my issue.  You begin thinking that I might learn something about being a parent, when in fact all you have learned is that the writers should edit their work.

Currently I am in a state of shock at my ever-increasing cable, internet, cell phone bills.  The effect or is that affect ( I might edit later) of this expense has delayed my retirement date for the next few years.  As I tend to overreact to bad news, I thought that sitting at my computer to express my views on parenting would be a welcome distraction to online banking.   I also just put new batteries in my computer keyboard and want to confirm that I put those batteries in the correct way.

Some might suggest that no literature on parenting can prepare one for the toughest job we do.  Unlike other jobs, there are no interviews, your newborns do not demand to see your resume, nor is there a management team above you to conduct yearly performance reviews with that often ignored development plan.  There is an unwritten rule to parenting advice that people should write down.  Always, I mean Never tell other parents how to parent their children.  I may have mentioned this before in a previous blog, but not only do I not edit, I also don’t read what I write.

Since veteran parents cannot offer coaching to newer parents, and newer parents do not welcome advice from others about their parenting, I believe what we have here is a conundrum.  I believe it is a conundrum, but I don’t quite know what that word means. I often use big words I don’t understand to try to impress myself.  My dictionary suggest that I may have used an appropriate word as “an intricate and difficult problem: see mystery” is precisely what I meant.  Interesting the next word in the dictionary, was Conusarteriosus.  It seems this is “a prolongation of the ventricle of amphibians, a spiral valve separating venous blood going to the respiratory arteries from blood going to the aorta and systemic arteries.”  Good to know.

I will now predictably shift from my opening to address parenting without talking about parenting.  I learned many things in multiple management roles I had during my career.  Managing people is like parenting except you have to pay the people to play your children.  Conflict occurs often when managing people, though subordinates might suggest I was the architect of much of this conflict.  Since I did not study architecture in school, I am going to have to take their word on this.

A little late in my role as manager I did learn a very valuable lesson, that helped not only my conversations with employees, but conversations with my children. The painful lesson was simple.  Before you work on a solution to a problem, be sure you understand what that problem is.  Yes my early management career was splattered with brilliant solutions to problems that did not exist.

On a three hour ride home from Windsor Ontario, I performed a rare self diagnosis exercise. Traffic was slow, I had only 1 CD in the car and was tired of listening to Neil Young’s greatest hits.  In this surprising moment of self-reflection, I concluded I had made a coaching error in my approach with an employee.  Before giving my brilliant training tips, I should have understood the problem.  I was offering information that was never going to be applied.

The discovery was ignorance vs. arrogance.  I liked creating similar words to help me in my simplicity of understanding.  In my view, ignorance simply meant you ‘don’t know’how to do something.  Arrogance was a little more complicated to address as it  meant you “don’t care” how to do something.  There is a very dramatic different approach to managing a “don’t know”employee from a “don’t’ care” employee.  The ignorance can be easily addressed with hands on training.  When you get a new phone, it takes a little time to learn what you don’t know.  Apple employees are very good with the ignorant. There is a rare occasion when both occur.  When your grandparents Christmas present is the latest version of the IPAD, and two years later you see it still in a box in a closet, the exceptionally uncommon daily double has occurred.  They didn’t know and they didn’t care.

Arrogance is a more dangerous situation.  It is behavourial in nature, motivational in approach and answering the core question “Why”, are fundamental in exploration of long two sided conversations.  These conversations can take hours, days or weeks, to address the internal \ external conflict.  One must dive deep into the multi-issues to achieve “buy in”, “alignment”, transparency” “change agent” and other catchy corporate phrasing to allow bigger understanding with a “don’t care” attitude.  Running multiple training departments in my career, this ignorant \ arrogant assessment, helped me to accelerate solutions when other departments defaulted to “ it’s just a training issue.”

Now I will carefully  tip toe back into a parenting conversation, but I will be brief.  Before teaching, punishing or addressing a conflict with your offspring, it might save a little time if you consider what it is you are attempting to correct.  Sadly in our rapidly advancing technology driven world, your children might be assessing your ignorance or arrogance when patiently trying to help you with your new IPAD.

When you find yourself so frustrated you accidentally enter the “Don’t Care” zone , take a breath.  Let your kids remind that changing your password from “qwerty” to Z3$$an6zzu, will keep the Russians from automatic withdrawals from your checking account.  Transforming your “weak” password to “Super-strong” will help with maintaining a healthy account balance as your internet bills skyrocket.

It’s kind of like Conusarteriosus:  When your children demand a pet dog or cat because all their friends have pets, you might have to make a decision.  You have learned the art of compromising as your parenting skills develop. Your compromise will be a pet toad in a mayonnaise jar. You didn’t know and your didn’t care about random amphibious circulatory issues, but now you do.



Cue the Blong:  If I ever recorded an album this would be the title track..


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