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  • Confidence in the System

    There is no more common response, when we take our ideas out into the world, than to hear a ‘no’ in return. We develop a proposal at work that seems pretty good to us. We do some research, put together strategic options and hand it to a senior colleague who agrees to give it some thought. Then, after six weeks, a message comes back: the firm is grateful for the suggestion, but won’t be interested in taking the idea further. There’s no very precise3450156080_4bd3ac7139_z
  • Be the Change You Want To See

    We spend a lot of time trying to change other people. There is, after all, so much wrong with them: they're selfish, arrogant, bullying, weak, cold, needy and so on. So we try to point this out - and often meet with resistance, denial or sheer indifference. This can be very agitating and hence renders us cross and severe. Why won’t people take our lessons board? In our behaviour, we tend to be making an implicit distinction between two projects: getting
  • The Sorrows of Colleagues

    One of the most frightening aspects of working life is that we will, unless we are the beneficiaries of extreme good fortune, be required to have colleagues. The colleague is a creature who, endured over any length of time in situations of high stress and procedural complexity, presents one of the greatest threats to calm, composure and soundness of mind. It is a noteworthy that, in the nineteenth century, one specific working environment developed into a
  • The Sorrows of Competition

    At the heart of how modern individuals work, there is a dream of security: security from humiliation, penury, dependence, arbitrary dismissal and uncertainty. At the heart of how a modern capitalist economy works, there is a dream of competitive advantage: one based on the intelligent maximisation of invested capital, on the effective deployment of technology, raw material and labour to reduce costs and improve quality and the triumph over competitors so as to4412696034_0cecb21151_z
  • The Sorrows of Commercialisation

    A complaint regularly aired around many careers is that, in order to succeed at them, there is no option but to ‘sell out’ or ‘dumb down’. It appears that we will inevitably face a choice - between authenticity and penury on the one hand, and idiocy and wealth on the other. We are familiar with the complaint in the arts, of course. But the same dilemma shows up when an interesting restaurant seems unable to make a profit; when a specialist bread company
  • How Thinking You’re an Idiot Lends Confidence

    To boost our confidence ahead of challenging moments, well-meaning people often try to draw our attention to our good sides: our intelligence, our competence, our strength. But this can - curiously - have awkward consequences. There’s a type of under-confidence that arises specifically when we grow too attached to our own dignity and then become anxious around any situation that might seem to lower our prestige. We hold back from challenges in which there is any636px-holbein-erasmus

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