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Views from the Prairie

May 20

Hang together

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin supposedly said that "we must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we will all hang separately." That saying has passed down as an affirmation of how we need to work together as a nation or the nation will fail. The same is true in business. It is especially important when everyone has fears.

Fears are common today. The pandemic is striking seemingly at random. As we isolate, the fears get worse.

At these times, it helps to look at how people go into battle. In the military, people rarely volunteer to do solo missions but a troop will take on the same mission. When we are surrounded by people we trust, we can face our fears and take actions.

When we stand together, we can face our fears together and get through. Most employees want to be part of a successful company. Most people want to work together to help us all succeed.

To work together, people need leadership. Leaders are those who speak the truth, own the issues, and have a plan. Employees want to trust their managers. Our country wants leaders we can trust.

Business always has challenges which often lead to conflict between departments and between people. In times of extra stress, how managers resolve the internal challenges can often determine the success or failure of the business.

When managers fail to recognize and deal with the internal stresses, that company is in trouble. When managers show favoritism or fail to work to bring the company together, people stop thinking of themselves as part of the company. Instead, they start taking actions just for their own interests instead of those of the company.

It is common for "hot shot" sales people to rank other people in the company based only on their compensation. When such sales people dismiss those who make less than they do, that often leads to resentments from the people who are necessary to do all the support. Over and over, a "hot shot" sales person will shoot up to the top, only never to reach that height again for lack of support.

When we work together and recognize the value of each person in the company, the company does better overall.

There are other ways to divide a company. A major challenge for leaders is how to balance what needs to be kept secret for a while and telling the truth. History shows that nothing remains secret. Telling one message to one group and another message to another is a sure way to lose trust. The different messages will reach the other group.

Another way to divide a company is when rule infractions are tolerated by top management. The daily injustices can build resentment that slowly boils.

In short, there are many ways to destroy a company or a country. Leadership is pulling people together.

Survivor Pride

When some of the first colonists reached the Americas, they found recently empty villages. Others met the Native Americans and watched them die of imported diseases. We know of "survivor guilt" which happens when people watch others die in a battle or epidemic and they lived. The other extreme is those who see others die and figure that since they lived, they must be someone special and deserve special rewards. This is "survivor pride".

“Survivor pride" tears down our community. It separates us into those who have survived and everyone else. It separates us into those who should get government help and those who should not. Some with "survivor pride" even feel that they should live as princes off of tax money.

There are many examples of "survivor pride".

There are those that claim that since they survived an illness, that means that everyone can live the same way they do and survive. Those who still have fears are discounted, belittled, and told to change. In war, there are those who cannot understand the emotional toll that others have in the battle.

In the Plymouth Colony, John Winthrop defended the colonists taking of the land from the Natives by claiming that "God hath consumed the natives with a miraculous plague, whereby the greater part of the land is left void of inhabitants."

Down in the South, the death toll in the colonies from disease was quite high. Missionaries died within 5 years. Of indentured servants, a third to half of them did not survive their indenture period. Some of the people who survived and thrived felt that they were marked by God as special.

Survivor pride harms our country.

Risky World

Mosquitoes adjust their flight based on air movements around them. Several university researchers are using those concepts to help make drones better able to handle uneven wind actions around buildings. It is nice that we can get some value out of mosquitoes.


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