Bob Scanlon was interviewed on October 29, 1992, in Atlanta, Georgia. At that time he was Director, Quality and Reliability Engineering for Southern Pacific Transportation Company. Scanlon got to know Dr. Juran during the sixteen years Scanlon worked for Caterpillar. Here he recalls asking Dr. Juran something different: advice on raising children.
SCANLON: . . . I recall one conversation, as we were driving up to Aurora . . . I have three daughters. And I was interested in getting a little advice on child rearing . . . I asked Dr. Juran . . . what advice would he give me on raising kids or . . . through his experience, looking back, what was important, what wasn't?
And he just said: “Don't get hung up on the little issues. On the big issues, you'll know when it's time to take a stand, but don't get too inflexible. I guess the word would be, on the little things. Life's too precious to be fighting all the time.” I'm not articulating that very well but it was an interesting conversation. I enjoyed hearing his perspective on those kinds of issues.
This is great advice for leaders. “Don’t get hung up on the little issues . . . know when it’s time to take a stand, but don’t get too inflexible.” This theme is oft repeated but how well do we heed this advice? Consider:
"Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and concerns and blow them way out of proportion" Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn't measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It's not winning battles that makes you happy, but it's how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.” C. Joybell C.
“Learning to choose our battles wisely is not only a smart thing to do; it is a requirement to guard the sanity of our lives. As humans we have limited time, energy and strength, which means we cannot engage ourselves in all the battles that come our way.” Rev. Francis Burgula.
“Any fool can criticize, complain, condemn, and most fools do. Picking your battles is impressive and fighting them fairly is essential.” Dale Carnegie.
What issues do we embrace? How much energy and time should we invest? How successful are we at making the right choices?
Burgula, F. (2007, August 2). Choose your battles wisely. Retrieved from http://www.fuelforfaith.com/fuel_for_faith_vault_articles_view.asp?ID=9
C. Joybell C. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/choose-your-battles-wisely
Carnegie, Dale. Cited by Judy Goldman in http://www.careerprofiles.com/career-coaching/blog-pick-your-battles-in-the-workplace/
Carson, C. (1996). Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff. New York: Hyperion.
Image by Geralt. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/road-sign-attention-right-of-way-63983/
Modified from my blog of 4/10/2013. © John Ballard, PhD, 2020. All rights reserved.
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