‘Let’s be real and aware of the current budget realities’ is a warning that leaders should give to their people only if they are unreal people and unaware people. Otherwise, particularly when repeated in every single discussion, it produces two things: lack of imagination and misery.
Lack of imagination because it accelerates our minds towards what we cannot do, instead of what we can do, could do. So, I am told, in a way, to stick to the basics, bread and butter, things safe and budgeted, why to think further.
I have written before about how ‘budget constrains’ that leaders think (naively?) that will lead to more imagination, often leads to ‘mind constraint’. I don’t have to think about X, and Y and Z anymore. No budget, not happening, oh dear, that’s it. Of course it could go the other way and spark some cleverness, smart alternatives and creative pathways. But, for each of these, I have seen ten of the opposite: collective anaesthesia.
Misery, because the air time is consumed in the negative, what is not possible, what was perhaps possible before but not anymore, how sad! Said once, ok. Twice, maybe. Starting every single meeting with ‘our budget constraints’ or ‘in the current budget situation’, or ‘let’s be real about the realities’, quite depressing.
In ‘current budget constrains’ (AKA cuts) the issue is not to ignore them or pretend that there is no pain. The problem is that talking about pain, referring to pain, discussing pain, lamenting pain and reminding everybody of the pain, does not take pain away. In fact, it multiplies it.
While we’re on the subject……
Extract from: The Flipping point – Deprogramming Management.
I RECENTLY FOUND THE MOST HILARIOUS AND POWERFUL CURSE, APPARENTLY YIDDISH: ‘MAY ALL YOUR TEETH FALL OUT EXCEPT THE ONE THAT GIVES YOU PAIN’. IT IS SERIOUSLY TEMPTING.
‘May all your teeth fall out except the one that gives you pain’. I learnt of this in a (The) New York Times article referring to the outstanding book by Fintan O’Toole, ‘The politics of pain’ (2019), about Brexit and new English nationalism.