Words I am Unlikely to Say


I was recently researching a company online and that included having a look at the profiles of their senior management.  Each of them had “Words I am unlikely to say” at foot of their bios.  The answers were along the lines of “nothing is impossible”, “never”, “I can’t” etc. You get the drift.  Maybe these words do honestly sum up the personalities of those that they are attributed to, only they will know for sure.  I can sort of understand what it was or is they want to convey, yet it comes across as cheesy, all faux positivity and formulaic, straight out of a motivational seminar. and hardly likely to be consistent with a properly profiled personality.  It was as if they haven’t given it much thought or, thought it would be a good reflection.  Maybe they had some advisors that did it for them. Who knows?

Still it did get me to asking myself about the words I never say in the same context however.  I didn’t have to reflect, because they were there front and centre of my mind as I read.  I’ve lived by them for as long as I can remember.  Actually there are two such standards I’ve used as a yard stick to getting things done properly.

I suppose they may have been drummed into me in my early 20s when I moved from driving a keyboard working in datacentres to selling at a recruitment agency.  The Sales Director had a huge influence and has remained an inspiration to me. His name was Dennis Linscott.  Dennis sadly passed away 11 years ago, but many of the lessons he taught remain with me today. Chief among them is the attention to detail and thinking about what else can be done to get job done right.

Whether what I learned from Dennis moulded me or coincidentally suited my personality only psychologists can answer that one, but what I do know is I’ve always been one of those people that gives it all or nothing.  This can manifest itself in many ways; from total immersion into something, attention to the detail and form, tenacity, bloody-mindedness, belligerence and so on.

Slight deviation needed here. I am aware that I don’t always see typos or spelling errors. That’s not the attention to detail to which I refer above.  I refer to knowing, understanding, covering all the angles and perspectives, thinking what else can be done or needs doing, asking myself “so what?” That’s the attention to detail to which I refer. Dennis taught me that.

What I do now and how I go about it is governed by those principles.  I always ask myself “so what?” when putting a proposal or business case or project recommendation together; “what’s in it for them?”, “what would make a difference to them?”

So what are the two things you are never likely to hear me say when it comes to doing something well?

“That’ll do” and “It’s good enough”

Certainly not as a statement that I consider a task well done or indeed completed and if I do happen to use them when accepting work from others…….well the ambiguity of the phrases could mean I’m happy that all that can be done has been done, alternatively I might just be less than impressed.  I will let you guess, but a clue; Winston Churchill was fond of saying, “I am easily pleased…….by perfection”. I first heard that at school from a teacher drilling a similar thing into the class and that became a mental tattoo.

It’s an attitude and a way of being.  It’s me. I don’t even think them unless it’s to check what else I need to do, can do, should do etc.

“That’ll do” never does. Just by asking if it will do, you have abdicated caring about the quality. Likewise if you think something is good enough it very rarely will be and is an acceptance of a compromise to quality and to doing the job right.

It is always likely to be the difference between making something happen rather than just letting it happen by chance.

When I read the statements from the management of the company I was researching I could almost hear them saying “yeah that’ll do” and seeing the slight shrug of the shoulders as they said it.

So to keep the theme going what words are you never likely to say and why?

Oh and music of the moment – My Wave by Soundgarden

  1. I can’t see me ever saying “I’d like to try Morris Dancing”.

    • I hear Morris is a top bloke though

  2. Interesting thought process Gary – I’m trying to look into the Pareto’s Law where you say that often 80% of the effect is achieved by 20% of the work. Obviously those numbers are arbitrary but the point is that most of the work we do has little effect and we need to be concentrating on the 20% that does.

    Therefore, I think it IS applicable to sometimes say ‘That’s good enough’ in the context of ‘to get it any better will take a lot more time than the increase in effect merits’. I’m probably doing it a lot at the moment as I try and get a lot of policies out, where there had been none before. They’re not perfect or the best I can do – but the effect is getting us 80% towards where I want to be for now.

    One phrase I’m trying to stop saying is ‘I haven’t got time’ – if something is a priority, I can make time. If you’re saying ‘I haven’t got time’ you’re really saying that it isn’t a priority.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Gareth, although it seems you’re giving too much thought and missed the point a little. The principal here isn’t the analysis after the fact, it’s the general attitude. If you apply your kind of thinking then the only time that “good enough” or “that’ll do” should be taken as acceptance of a job well done is if the expectations about what good looks like are clearly defined up front. Rarely the case. It seems to be common human nature to take the path of least resistance and to do task the minimum notionally acceptable standards. We see it all of the time.

      The point I was trying to make is that if you are presenting yourself; selling a service or an image (which we are all doing with the work we deliver) there is no such thing as “good enough” and the “that’ll do” attitude is an assumption that whatever you are purveying will be acceptable. And in a sales environment you have no ideas what acceptable will be from day to day, so doing every thing possible and then a bit more is good practice.

      ……………..and don’t forget this is just me and how I roll

  3. Honestly, i read stories like these and i wonder what the hell we have done to deserve such a dependency on bullshit corporate mantra’s. “nothing is impossible, never, i cant” Oh please, pass the fecking testosterone…

    On a more positive note, things i can never imagine me saying:

    “not thanks, id rather not have a pint just now”

    or

    “Salary increase? Nah, I’m managing just fine thanks”

    Are two that spring to mind ;)

    • With you there Gareth, although your assumption that these particular comments are fueled by testosterone is a little misplaced. All the people in question were all female. Although……………….

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