Dale Dauten authored “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo,” who, alongside Robert Fulghum, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” have taught me much about the sword and shield of humor. Humor is a tool; it is the best tool in a leader’s toolbox, and “Dad Jokes,” especially those that are “a parent,” work the best. Interestingly, when killing the status quo, one must first become creatively useful.
Creative usefulness is a term coined by Dale Dauten (2003), which reminds us of a quote by Conrad Schneiker, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get it to float on its back, you’ve got something.” Humor creates creativity in other people, allowing that humor-inspired person to do a job. It makes them useful first to themselves and then to others. As a result, humor and usefulness break out like sunshine after a moonless night!
How does the man in the moon cut his hair?
Dale Dauten (2003) nailed creative usefulness by changing the language of success.
“The Old Language of Success:
Persistence, Goals, Numbers, Positive Attitude
The New Language of Success:
Smiling, Laughing, Feelings, Saving, Helping”
Dauten (2003, p. 10-11) went further and added that creative usefulness is also ambitious helpfulness; this motivates people. When your employees creatively use their talents, skills, and abilities, they become helpful to the whole brand, the full organization, and guess what, you never have to talk about employee morale or engagement. How many fewer meetings would executives have per day if they were not discussing just these two items; a lot. Meaning they could be on the floor listening, helping, and enjoying what they created: ambitious helpfulness and people’s growth. Just remember, mediocrity is okay!
What happens when you squeeze a smurf?
You Papa smurf!
Mediocrity is acting in a mediocre manner. Mediocre is nothing special; in fact, mediocre happens. Mediocre is indistinguishable, lacking quality, indifferent. In being indifferent, mediocre becomes deadly. Avoiding mediocre attitudes and mediocrity in actions is not a perplexing problem; embrace mediocrity. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it. The whole world wants us to chase quality, nag people into higher performance, and organize differently into success. Guess what; none of those things will bring happiness to ourselves, success to our organizations, and fulfillment to the employees around us. Our brains will go on full alert in embracing mediocrity because we have been taught that mediocrity is dangerous. Guess what; mediocrity IS dangerous. Why embrace mediocrity; because therein, we find the problem with hierarchies, organizational designs, and strategical goals; we forgot the people! Psychologists and geneticists find that the best way to reach people and get the best out of them is to remind them of their weaknesses.
What do you call a belt entirely made out of watches?
A waist of time!
Mediocrity is the safe spot, and people and institutions will invariably fall back to this spot as a personal safety zone. Thus, stop criticizing yourself and those around you for being mediocre. It is okay to be shy and to tell the world about your problems with being shy. Business organizations bring out the worst in people, be liberated by that knowledge, and you can then begin to understand how humor and a laughing warrior mindset can help. Use eyes that encourage.
What happened when prison wardens allowed inmates to take pictures?
Looking Through Eyes that Encourage
During my MBA, the current buzzword for improving people was “Management by walk-around,” and this philosophy has been incredibly popular while also being fantastically useless! Why; because getting out and taking a walk helps only the manager, not those managed! Worse, management by walk-around brought out the worst egos from their offices, and employees tuned out, turned off, and fell into mediocrity as a shield of protection from “know-it-all” leaders. Want to change that; embrace a “learn-it-all” mentality. When you walk out your door, ask the first person you see to teach you something. Repeat for as many people as you encounter.
There are three signs of senility.
Loss of memory is the first one.
… I forget the other two!
When asking for help, take notes. The action of taking notes reflects the seriousness of your desire to learn. Plus, with a notebook in hand, you can remember to tell that funny joke you just heard after training completes. Never forget, in fact, teach this to your employees through example, “Empty hands; Closed Mind!” Dauten (2003, p. 40-41) quotes Shashi Gupta:
“If you want to implement an idea, you must be able to answer three questions.”
“What are the three questions?”
“The answer: “NO ONE KNOWS!” (By the way, this includes the boss!)
Which would be more preferable, employees who ask questions or know answers? How you answer this determines a lot about you and speaks volumes about what a consultant will find in your operations, employees, and customers. As a consultant (since 2004), the number one expression I have heard consistently across the lower 48-states has been “No Way!,” followed closely by “Impossible!,” and “You are out of your mind!” Why; the first excuse, “That is the way we do things here.” Announcing for the world that processes never change, procedures never flex, and customers never change, so why not just keep doing what we have always done, ad nauseam ad infinitum. When reality bit, all of these organizations saw stars, all lost tremendous amounts of capital, shrank operations, and many went bankrupt!
Overheard in a bar.
Patron 1: What does “IDK” mean?
Patron 2: I don’t know.
Patron 1: I cannot believe this; no one knows!
Looking through encouraging eyes is refusing to do the same thing over and over, expecting no changes ever to result; not looking through encouraging eyes is a short bus to insanity! Looking with encouraging eyes is all about asking, “Why Not?” Repeatedly. Consciously. Then looking at the answers and still stepping into the unknown with confidence. Why not; when faced with a problem, ask your employees for solutions, input, and ideas; this leadership style uses “Appreciative Inquiry” to the fullest extent possible. Why not; shake off the status quo, laugh, and enjoy the human element as a tool for creating great people dedicated to your brand. Why not; ask the impossible, explaining the why, and see how the results occur.
True Story: Whenever I have a problem, I sing…
Then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problems!
I am asking you to choose to become a laughing warrior, slaying the dragons of status quo one idiosyncratic obstacle at a time. Having fun, growing people, improving business, and being adventurous. Never forget, dehydrated water, in a can and pet rocks, sold like wildfire!
What do you call Security guards at the Samsung Manufacturing plant?
Guardians of the Galaxy!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.