Pushing Things Too Far

I'm well aware that I have a propensity to continue battling for projects, programs, and policies that I believe in -- a propensity that sometimes goes beyond the bounds of common sense.

And, based on plenty of observations, I know I'm not the only one.

The question I find myself asking about this is:  Why?  Why do I continuing to push when it's clear I'm burning political capital, and possibly credibility, in the process?  What deep-seated psychological need am I meeting when I continue to fight?

Ego?  Self-confidence?  Over-confidence?

I picture myself as the lone voice of reason in a sea of illogic.  I'm the underdog, forging ahead trying to accomplish what is right and what is good against the forces of politics, personal prejudice, and apathy.  And we all know that everyone loves an underdog.

But why do we?  Because we see the underdog obstinately sticking to their principles, confident in the righteous virtue of their position.  We all envision ourselves and our crusades in this way.  Sometimes, we need to take the fight all the way to the end.  Even when we know we're going to lose.

It's a matter of self-respect.  It's a statement that we will fight for what's right.  It's a matter of principle.

It can also be more than a bit stupid.

I found myself in just this position with a joint venture proposal.  The basic idea was something my boss didn't like and didn't agree with.  After he rejected it the first time, I went back and renegotiated the deal to remove those things he said were deficiencies in the agreement.  It was again rejected.  Oddly enough, however, I felt okay about the situation at that point.  I realized that I'd taken it as far as I could.  Pulled out every stop.  I'd fought the good fight and lost.  I retained my self respect.

In another case, however, my extreme perseverance carried the day.  This was an acquisition that I had been championing long and hard, and by force of personality , I was able to somehow push aside objections (a few of which were actually sensible) of my detractors, and "win."  The project was approved (Yeah -- I briefly celebrated).  The only problem was "winning" this battle ultimately resulted in losing the war.

Things went wrong almost from the beginning -- an over-reaction by a key competitor, a plant that was performing far worse than I'd been led to believe, a challenging management structure and a dose of suspicion all around.  Then the bottom dropped out of the market.  It wasn't as if those issues (other than the plant problems) had been identified up front, but suddenly I found the weight of the entire, struggling project on my shoulders.  I was alone, and I'd made sure I'd be alone by pushing so hard.

Given enough time, everything was fixable, except for the overall pathetic market demand, but ultimately the project was judged as a mistake.  And as a result I received two black eyes that contributed heavily to my ultimate departure from that job.

So while it may feel satisfying to push things to the limit, just be careful what you're asking for.  You should be absolutely, positively certain that you can convert the proposal to a success before you make it a "ditch to die in."  14.6

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If you are intrigued by the ideas presented in my blog posts, check out some of my other writing.

Incentivize audio cover.jpg

Novels: LEVERAGEINCENTIVIZEDELIVERABLES and now HEIR APPARENT (published 3/2/2013) -- note, the Kindle version of DELIVERABLES (a prequel to HEIR APPARENT) is on sale for a limited time for $2.99.

To the right is the cover for the audio version of INCENTIVIZE.   This novel is about a U.S. based mining company, and criminal activity that the protagonist (a woman by the name of Julia McCoy) uncovers at the firm's Ethiopian subsidiary.  Her discover sets in motion a series of events that include, kidnapping, murder and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

These novels are all based on extensions of my experience as a senior manager in the world of public corporations.