Based in Chicago, Omerisms is a blog by Omer Abdullah. His posts explore Ideas, perspectives and points of view across business, sales, marketing, life and (sometimes) football (the real kind).

Good is Contextual (or "Get Over Yourself")

Good is Contextual (or "Get Over Yourself")

If you went to Mick Jagger and asked him to conduct specific analyses using a spreadsheet, and he wasn't able to do what was needed, wouldn't you say he isn't very smart? Or let's say you knew Warren Buffett and required him to produce a logo for one of his portfolio companies, but he wasn't able to pull it off, doesn't that make him stupid? Or perhaps you spent time with Michael Jordan and needed him to sort through the supply chain bottlenecks for one of his key products, but, for god's sake, he didn't know what he was talking about, doesn't that make him a chump?

Of course not.

Because we don't expect them to do anything other than what they are good at. They focus on what they do well. Everything else they need, they work with others (they trust) to make happen. 

This is the case whether you are the "star" or "leader" of the organization, or if you are a key part of the overall enterprise. We all need to work as a team, trusting each other and respecting each other's abilities to do what they do best.

So why do we throw those same labels ("He's good", "She's smart", "He's an idiot", "She couldn't find her way out of a sandbox") on folks within our own organizations, the people we interact with everyday?

Quite simply, it's because, whether we like it or not, we have predefined views of what constitutes "good".

These views are shaped by our experiences, our education, our immediate communities. Probably as critically, they are also shaped by our leaders. And while all of these influences can be helpful, and useful, many times they are myopic.

The reality is that "good" is contextual.

You and I will be "good" at certain things, but not at others. We may have strong creative skills but poor financial analysis skills. We may be great presenters and communicators but terrible operational thinkers. We may be strong generalist leaders but not know our way about the logistics of how our products move through the supply chain.

And that's fine. If that seems like a problem, ask yourself why.

Sure, there are universal 'goods' that we should all consider non-negotiable. Honesty. Integrity. Respect. Responsibility. Justice. Commitment. (Among others.)

Beyond these, though, there are no absolutes. There is nothing where you can say that it's definitely good to be one way versus another. 

But, practically, we tend to get caught up in our own peculiar definitions of what is and what isn't good. And we translate these into our own organizations.

That sales guy is really dumb because he doesn't get the nuances of how this work is done. 

That operations leader is pretty stupid because she has no ability to position the value of this offering within the context of the client's strategy.


Take a step back. 

Ask yourself why you think that way. 

Sometimes, this happens because the immediate leadership also believes the same things and hasn't done their job in broadening the individual's world view, in ensuring we all operate as a team. This is what causes the "Us versus Them" mentality. (If you, as a leader, will stand for it, even implicitly, so will your team. If you work for a leader who has said this to you, then think twice about that person.)

But other times, it's down to you. You always have control. You can still think independently. Be thoughtful of the totality of skills needed to succeed. Be considerate of the complexity of capabilities needed to deliver success. Exercise your judgement thoughtfully.

The buck stops with each and every one of us.

Get over yourself.

Focus on the team.

We Should Argue...

We Should Argue...

Omerisms Turns One

Omerisms Turns One