Remember Rule Number 6

Ben Zander

Lighten up, Matt. Stop taking things so seriously. Relax once in a while.

I hear that too often.

General managers face the brunt of many things. Mislooted items, irritated players, you name it. Their frustration inevitably transfers over to me. Aside from that, I put up with random ribbing, name calling, insults and all sorts of flak that rolls in. On a day to day basis, my stress levels are being constantly tested. To the raid, it’s like a game. How shall we pop one of Matt’s veins today? Trains are dropped just to set me off.

“My love for someone is directly proportional to how much I make fun of them.” Says an officer.

Of course, at this point, I’m thinking the guild must really like me.

I have a history of being uptight. My friends are always telling me to calm down and relax. I hardly take any time to rest or relax (probably because my idea of relaxing is doing work). Have a glass of wine, they say. Except, I haven’t quite acquired the test of it. White wine I can handle. Red? Not so much.

A guildie recommended me a book by Benjamin Zander. I blogged about him before. His book’s called The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Rule number 6: Don’t take yourself seriously. Lighten the mood up.

Humor helps. Laughing can unite everyone’s personality, flaws, and mistakes. Especially when we feel like we are entitled to something, insulting someone, or just wanting to wring that other guy’s neck.

Here’s a funny story from the book that inspired the title of this post.

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so g—damn seriously.” “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Now I just need to remember this rule myself. In the end, it’s a game with real people people behind the avatars that you’re playing with. I can’t always approach problems with a scowl on my face.

Watch this other video by Ben about leadership. It’s a talk he conducted in 2008 in the World Economic Forum. It’s only 9 minutes long. Some if it overlaps with the TED talk I linked above.

How fascinating!

And he got a whole room to sing Ode to Joy. I think. Is that in German? I wonder if I can get my guild to pull that off.

4 Points of Crisis Management

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”
Chinese Proverb

As individuals, we’re exposed to conflict on a daily level. We get into arguments with loved ones. We curse at the guy who cuts us off on the highway. We become angry because of decisions made by other people that affect us.

One of the Criminology courses I’m taking in university is called introduction to policing. Today I wanted to share some important lessons I learned that day. It’s something that law enforcement go through often in their careers. It’s a great skill that benefits all of us regardless of what your jobs or interests are.

It’s about crisis management.

People need time


See that poorly drawn graph above? The shaded area is a person’s “rage” meter. This is when a person is at the peak of their anger. Give them time to calm down. Don’t rush anything just yet. Some people get extremely fired up at first and their judgment gets clouded. After some time has passed, the “rage” meter will start to decrease and come down.

Watch your tone of voice and conduct yourself appropriately

Many summers ago, I had a job as a carnie. No, I wasn’t the guy that dressed in the clown suit. I was the guy that had to make your kid wait in line in front of that Scooby Doo or Spongebob Squarepants bouncy castle. It continues to be my observation that when a parent’s kids are involved, all sense of logic and reason goes out the window. The supervisor on deck never stopped preaching to us to watch what we say and to not lose our temper. Direct any extremely flamboyant customers to the supervisor. But above all, don’t lose your cool. Because by raising your voice, you’ll only escalate the problem even further.

And no, I didn’t clean up when your kid peed in my ride either. I got people junior and I to do it. Hooray for seniority (and bless the guy that invented Fuh-breeze).

Reflect on what they’re saying and keep talking

Try and understand their perspective. Keep the conversation going. Try and find common ground. Learn to compromise. What exactly is the subject fired up about? Is there a way for you to help and resolve the situation?

Give them space and distance

When dealing with high risk offenders, keep your distance and give them a lot of space. It doesn’t hurt to have a lot of objects (or tables) in the way especially if the person in question is pissed off at you. It just means there’s more crap they have to navigate through in order to injure you. This also means not deliberately trying to set them off even more. You can tell when someone is mad. But you can also tell when someone is downright pissed. They start saying things they wouldn’t otherwise normally say. Their volume and tone reaches heights it wouldn’t normally reach. It’s not a cue to keep pressing their buttons. Its a cue to just stop.