In the Financial Times recently, there was a fantastic quote from Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi. He said:
“Moaning is not a management task. We can all join in the moaning, or we can make a virtue out of the plight.”
It’s a good reminder.
The worse things get (and if you believe the “Chaos Scenario” from Bob Garfield at Ad Age, we ain’t seen nothing yet), the more it pays to adopt the old Swedish proverb: “whine less, breathe more.”
This goes double for those of us in management. One of the best pieces of management advice ever is from “Saving Private Ryan”. Here’s a clip (warning: language NSFW). The relevant part starts at 2:06.
It’s brilliant. But if you don’t have time sit through it, here’s the dialogue:
Private Reiben: “So Captain, what about you? I mean you don’t gripe at all?”
Captain Miller: “I don’t gripe to you Reiben. I’m a captain. There’s a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down, always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on and so on. I don’t gripe to you. I don’t gripe in front of you. You should know that, you’re a Ranger.”
Private Reiben: “Well I’m sorry, sir, but let’s say you weren’t a Captain, or maybe I was a Major. What would you say then?”
Captain Miller: “In that case, I’d say this is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir. Worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover, I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down my life and the lives of my men, especially you, Reiben, to ease her suffering.”
One last piece of useful management thinking, from a very unlikely source:
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
Milton Berle said it. Pretty great, isn’t it?
Today can be the start of something better. Let’s go build some doors.
Photo Credit: Jen Joaquin