The Paranoid Pragmatist

I gave myself this moniker several years ago, after I realized that what often drives my actions as a business owner is readying for that worst case scenario.

If I prepare for the worst and hope for the best – I’m ready.

And while I would like to be that carefree visionary, at my heart I think I’m more pragmatic. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you surround yourself with optimists and cloud thinkers. Just like you need introverts and extroverts, optimistis and pessimists to make the world go round – you also need both realists and pragmatists.

So, when I wanted to dabble in Tumblr to kick the tires on the platform, I setup the Paranoid Pragmatist blog: Stumbling forward through life as an accidental entrepreneur – learning as I go, aspiring as I am able, being paranoid and pragmatic as a matter of course.

As I consolidate where I post my musings, I’ve abandoned that site (I orphaned my Tumblr :(  But there are a few sentiments, quotes and links on it I’d like to keep with me.

Here they are, in their random glory:

BusinessWeek: Let Reality, Not Fear, Be Your Guide

“Give up trying to be positive and optimistic. Self-help literature often enables wishful thinking and illusions of quick fixes. If your gut feeling is positive and optimistic, that’s enormously beneficial, but trying to be positive can waste a lot of energy that you could put into talking through solutions and taking neglected actions. Being honest with yourself might mean accepting fear, concern, or complaints and sincerely focusing on resolving them.”

Fast Company: How to Appear More Authoritative on the Job

The person with the most authority and credibility is not the one who is most confident or forceful in today’s workplace. We have become immune to force and many find that the more you attempt to convince, the less convincing you become. Work instead to find the ultra solution—the one that moves beyond all those on the table that are usually presented as mutually exclusive options. Gain authority by replacing the “or” that is stamped between different ideas with an “and.” That way you can suggest ideas that take the entire group to a higher level where many things are possible and many things can be true at once. Something such as, “Do we want to cut cost or increase quality?” becomes, “How do we cut costs and increase quality at the same time? Here is an idea.”

Effective Leadership, Managing People – 10 Timeless Principles

2. Follow through. Always do what you say you’re going to do. Otherwise, your credibility is destroyed. As the saying goes, they remember your last act.

Terry Starbucker: 10 Ways to Freshen Up Your Leadership

#7) Ask Your Staff for “5 Things That We Should Stop Doing” – We’re always asking what we SHOULD be doing; when do we ever ask if there are things that we should STOP doing? This is a great time of year to do that, and it will always elicit some excellent and actionable feedback. (We started doing Start. Stop. Continue in our office after reading this)

3 Star Leadership: A Leader’s Oath

“I will remember that I deal with people, with all of their human strengths and failings, and I will treat them with respect and with care.

I will strive always to do what is right, even when it is difficult.

I will not be ashamed or hesitant to say, “I don’t know” and then seek the answer.

I will strive to prevent problems. When problems occur, as they will, I will strive to identify them as early as possible and deal with them then.”NYT Corner Office: The 5 Habits of Highly Effective CEO’s

“Passionate Curiosity:…It’s this relentless questioning that leads entrepreneurs to spot new opportunities and helps managers understand the people who work for them, and how to get them to work together effectively. It is no coincidence that more than one executive uttered the same phrase when describing what, ultimately, is the C.E.O.’s job: “I am a student of human nature.”

The C.E.O.’s are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they are the best students — the letters could just as easily stand for “chief education officer…

But “passionate curiosity” — a phrase used by Nell Minow, the co-founder of the Corporate Library — better captures the infectious sense of fascination that some people have with everything around them.

Passionate curiosity, Ms. Minow said, “is indispensable, no matter what the job is. You want somebody who is just alert and very awake and engaged with the world and wanting to know more.”

Though chief executives are paid to have answers, their greatest contributions to their organizations may be asking the right questions. They recognize that they can’t have the answer to everything, but they can push their company in new directions and marshal the collective energy of their employees by asking the right questions.”

A VC: Difficult is Good

“Sometimes we make money with brilliant people who are easy to get along with, most often we make money with brilliant people who are hard to get along with, but we rarely make money with normal people who are easy to get along with.”

3 Star Leadership: You Don’t Build People, Dammit!

People are living things and living things grow and develop. They are not designed and built. We don’t “grow” people, either. What really happens is that we allow them to grow. The best we can do is offer suggestions, resources, and opportunities. The rest is up to the person.

Terry Starbucker: 4 Things Every Leader Should Say to Their Team

“I will always tell the truth”
“I will not make promises I cannot keep”
“If you ask me for something, and I say no, I will always explain why”
“I will explain the context of all important policies that effect you, and why they are important’

Marc And Angel: 10 Simple Truths Smart People Forget

“The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready. Just remember that significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and development will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.”

All Hail Teddy (My all-time favorite ‘when the going gets tough’ go-to quotes)

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

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