Deserving to lose in business, school, sports, and politics.
August 25, 2004
In my fiction-writing mode I once imagined a prep school with a straight-forward disciplinary policy: severe penalties, if not expulsion, would follow if a student’s behavior were of the sort that would get him arrested or fired in the adult world.
I never wrote the story, but I find the theme useful for today’s column.
One gets arrested for crimes and misdemeanors as defined by the community. We are all expected to abide by the laws while they are in place, with the understanding that we may work to change those we consider unjust.
Firing offenses are more subjective. I’m using the the word "fire" in its pejorative sense. Getting laid off because the work has run out, or the business has changed, may feel like getting fired; but the language of "firing"(or its equivalent in education, sports, and politics) applies only when the worker, student, player, or candidate is at fault. They are fired, expelled, kicked off the team, or fail re-election because they deserve to lose, not because their competitors are better.
In my list of firing offenses I’m not including the massive blunder (unless it is massive theft!), which may or may not be an offense.That would depend on its consequences and on whether learning from it will compensate for it over time. Bosses who never give a second chance or who always give a second chance are equally inept.
Laying aside the massive blunder, what's left are habitual behaviors with consistent negative impact on the business, school, team, or political community. These behaviors, alone or in combination, signal to the employers, faculty, coaches, or electorate that they cannot afford to retain the offender.
So here’s my list, broad enough to cover most situations.
There are no doubt more, but these have come to mind for the space of this column. In conclusion, three further notes:
About the Author:
Barnabas is a partial observer, commenting on what he thinks he knows.
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