Category Archives: Work

To Be a Finisher

Life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy. This is a fact, and it is motive enough to change your career, relationship, and any other ongoing commitments in our life.

But there is value in finishing that which has a visible end. A project, a book, a video game. Leaving things half-done is bad for the soul, it creates the vice of jumping from thing to thing, of experimenting and never mastering.

When we bring something to a close, even something that we are no longer doing with the initial enthusiasm – and perhaps in such a case, most of all  – we fortify an inner narrative about ourselves, a narrative that says “I am a person who takes things to the end. I am a finisher.“

Is it more helpful to be that person, or to be the person who jumps to the next thing at the least sign of resistance, of boredom?

Painting: “Sloth and Work” by Michele Cammarano

Be the Dumbest Person in the Room

I always try to be the dumbest person in the room. Or the team. I have no interest in hiring people who are less intelligent than me. Why?

  1. If I’m the best at doing something, it makes sense for me to do it. Why pay someone else to handle the task, if I can do better?
  2. If I’m the dumbest, then I can learn from everyone else. No one is more likely to grow than I am. It’s a great position to be in.
  3. The true test of mastery is to know how to teach. When I know less than those who work under my charge, it forces them to explain things to me, to teach me. This may be slightly irritating to them at first, but by teaching me, they will be able to grasp nuances that had previously gone unnoticed. Having to explain things to me forces them to re-evaluate and improve their knowledge.

The relationship between master and apprentice isn’t unilateral; it is reciprocal and symbiotic.

If you are the most knowledgeable person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

Painting: “Fools Have the Most Fun” by Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne

The Rule of Two

There are always two: a master, and an apprentice.

It works for the Sith, but it can work for everyone.

The cycle is as follows: The master nourishes and benefits from the apprentice ’s talent. The apprentice, in turn, has the mission to overcome – and to kill, to depose – the master.

True, maybe the “kill” part is a bit extreme. Let’s leave that component aside.

As for the rest, having someone who excels us is good. It is good that the people who work with us, who are managed by us, are guided in the direction of becoming better than we, able to replace us. It is an added value for our companies, institutions and organizations. It’s a way to multiply your human capital.

The best leader is the leader who surrounds themselves with smarter, more capable people. If you can nurture your people to get to that point, that’s even better.

After all, when you can trust others to do your job, you can afford to take sick days, to take time to deal with personal issues, to go on a holiday.

Will not the apprentice end up deposing the master?

In my experience, there is always a better position waiting for a master capable of producing apprentices who excel.