Are You Kidding Me? Again?

Okay, this is another of those posts which I’m not supposed to write, social media “experts” tell me I should stay on topic, which would be leadership. But I could make a case that this post IS about leadership although it could also expose me as politically incorrect to those who don’t know me. For those who do know me, well, they won’t be surprised at all. I’ve long thought we (both Americans and most of the rest of the world) have gone over the cliff with political correctness and now we have further proof that my thoughts are correct.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has sent an email to athletic directors with a list of “cheers” that have been deemed contrary to good sportsmanship.

Now I’m all for good sportsmanship. I think youth sports can teach kids a lot about life. It teaches them the importance of teamwork and it demonstrates that passion and commitment can lead to success. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches them that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. They learn that there are usually rewards for extra effort and that lack of effort leads directly to failure. 

Apparently the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has some other lessons in mind. I can’t imagine what those lessons are but I’m sure their intentions are good, no matter how misguided they are.

So what cheers have they decided to ban in the name of sportsmanship? Here’s the list from the email: 

“Fundamentals”

“Sieve”

“We can’t hear you”

“Air ball”

“You can’t do that”

“There’s a net there”

“Season’s over”

Now to be fair, “season’s over” is only banned during the playoffs of whatever sport you might be cheering for. 

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association stated in their email that these chants, when directed at the opposing teams and their students were meant to “taunt or disrespect.”

Ya think? My answer to that would be “so what.” 

If you’re a basketball player and you don’t want people yelling “air ball” at you then I’d suggest that you don’t throw up an air ball. I was a goalie on my high school hockey team (for a very short time) and I heard “sieve” yelled in my direction often (why it was a short time) and yet I somehow survived. I never figured they were supposed to respect me just because I was on the ice, I assumed that I needed to earn their respect by not letting them slap rubber past me all night. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if next we heard that beating the opposing team is the ultimate in disrespect so scores should no longer be kept and we’ll just give everyone a trophy for participating….. oh wait, never mind on that last point, I’m too late.

In my not so humble opinion, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association is looking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. They are making babies, perhaps permanent babies, out of kids who will one day not have well-meaning adults protecting them from vile chants like “you can’t do that.” 

Parents who protect their kids from every consequence of life had better be prepared to live a long time because their kids will always need protecting. 

Can we just apply some common sense and let kids be kids. Punish them when required (and I understand that it often is) but don’t punish them for learning to live life. Don’t punish kids by over-protecting them, their peers and “former” friends will do a fine job of showing them what they can say and what they can’t. 

Why, I’ll bet they will learn right from wrong just like us old folks did.

Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?

Like many Americans I watched the first Republican Presidential Debate. Also like many Americans I watched it to see what kind of outlandish things Donald Trump would say.

He did not disappoint. 

Whatever you think of Donald Trump you have to give him this…. he knows how to get the attention of people. In a particularly testy exchange with one of the moderators Mr. Trump stated that “frankly, he didn’t have time for political correctness. He said that our (the American people) concern with never offending anyone is limiting our progress, or something to that effect.

On that singular point he may be right!

I have long said that if you’re speaking to a large enough group of people that virtually anything you say can and will offend somebody. I now have proof.

First let me acknowledge that I have indeed said some stuff in front of groups that I wish I could take back. I suppose I should also acknowledge that I have also said some clearly politically incorrect things simply because they were funny. If people were offended I just figured they needed to get over themselves because it wasn’t meant to offend, it was meant to be funny.

Which brings me to a recent presentation. I told I joke that could not, that could absolutely NOT offend anyone. 

I told a joke about the rancher who came out one morning to discover that someone had cut the tails off of all his cattle. He knew immediately that he would have to wholesale the cattle because there was no way to retail them. 

That’s it. That’s the whole joke. It’s like third grade humor. It’s just dumb, the fact that it’s so bad a joke is what makes it funny. People groan about the joke and then share it the first chance they get. (Yes, you’re going to share it too, you just can’t help it) 

The group I was speaking with was not especially large, maybe 100-120 people. There was just no way that dumb joke could offend anyone…. Except it did.

At the end of the presentation I was approached by an individual who actually had tears in their eyes. They were very emotional in telling me that animal cruelty was nothing to joke about. They couldn’t believe how insensitive I was to animal lovers in the group. They told me that even though they were the only one complaining there were many others in the group who were equally offended. (Nope, I wasn’t at a PETA convention) They told me that cows have feelings too. 

I may now try to find a way to insert that joke into every presentation that I do. I just want to see if there is another person on this planet who is offended by the joke. (being offended because the joke is so bad doesn’t count) 

I agree 100% that we should show respect in all of our interactions with people. There is nothing wrong about being sensitive to the views and opinions of other people…. but that’s a two-way street. 

Maybe EVERYONE needs to lighten up a bit. Maybe we have “over-corrected” with all the politically correct stuff. Maybe, just maybe, something can be funny… just because it is.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop sacrificing the truth in the name of political correctness. 

This much is certain, no matter what anyone says to me it can only offend me if I let it. I don’t need protection from the politically correct police. If I’m tempted to be offended by something someone said I just need to consider the source and the context and then I can CHOOSE to ignore it. 

I’m wondering if we can apply some common sense here but I suppose I’m going to get ripped because this whole post is politically incorrect. 

The Duck Dynasty Debacle Continued

OK, so I wasn’t sure I should write the first post on this topic but I was pleasantly surprised with many of the comments I received. Yes, there where some who said I should die and others who said I was every bit as hateful as Phil. But most comments were serious and thoughtful and added a lot to the discussion. 

I received a tweet this morning about a high school teacher in southwest Ohio who has been suspended from his job for something he said. The person who sent me the tweet said he would like to see me defend this guy’s right to free speech and expressing his opinion.

A couple of things. First, I didn’t defend Phil’s right to free speech on the first post. Second, neither what Phil said or what this teacher is reported to have said are free speech issues. 

It seems a lot of folks don’t really understand the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It says and I paraphrase here, that you can say whatever you want. It’s doesn’t say anything about protection from being fired from your job for saying anything you want. 

The fact is, you can be fired for saying the sky is blue if your employer doesn’t like you saying it. So long as they fire everybody who says the sky is blue they have no problem.  All the First Amendment guarantees is that you won’t go to jail for saying it. 

Now, back to the tweet that put me on this topic. 

A high school teacher who allegedly responded to a black high school freshman that the nation doesn’t need another black president has been suspended. He responded to the freshman’s statement that his goal was to one day become President of the United States. The teacher’s board of education has indicated that the suspension is the first step in the firing process.

Since we already know this isn’t a freedom of speech issue let’s talk about his “right” to express his opinion. Many of the same people defending Phil’s “right” will be defending this teacher’s too but the situations are completely different.

Phil did what Phil is paid to do. He expressed how he felt, which is fine, and then he supported it with some outrageous comments. That’s reality TV. His network suspended him while taking what they described as the morale high ground and then caved like a cheap tent as soon as it became apparent that their position might cost them some money. 

The teacher did exactly what he isn’t paid to do. He isn’t paid to dash the hopes and dreams of his students. He is paid to teach, support, and mentor them. 

To be fair, I have no idea what the teacher really said, he claims the student has “misquoted” him. The only good thing for the teacher to have said to any student expressing such a worthy goal is something like this: “Well, good for you. Continue to work hard and you too can accomplish great things. I’m here to help you achieve your goal anyway I can.” 

I don’t know how that turns into anything near “we don’t need another black president” so the whole “misquoted” thing sounds weak to me. 

If it sounds like I’m holding the teacher to a higher standard than Phil you’re exactly right. If you don’t like what Phil says just change the channel. The student can’t change the channel. He is required to be there; the teacher is in a position of authority. The teacher is a leader and leaders willingly sacrifice certain “rights” in order to lead effectively. 

I don’t care what the teacher believes, he can believe and think whatever he wants. But   because he is in a position of authority he is also in a position of “imposing” his opinions on others. Because the student can’t “escape” the opinion of his teachers, the teachers should not be expressing those opinions while in the presence of their students. 

I hope this doesn’t become a big controversy because it shouldn’t. If what the teacher is alleged to have said is true, then the teacher said something really stupid. Does anybody really want a teacher like that teaching their kids? 

Maybe the teacher could start his own reality show, there are plenty of networks that could use one. 

Try Not to be a Wimp!

PCI believe in treating other people with respect. I think being honest is important, very important. Where there is no honesty there is no integrity either.

Absent integrity, there can be no leadership.

This is a post about political correctness. PC as it’s known has been so important that it almost seems more important than honesty and integrity. It’s “better” I’m told, to tell a little white lie than to risk offending someone.

That’s a load of you know what. That’s the kind of nonsense that weak, lazy leaders say to keep from dealing with real issues. It’s the kind of silliness that lets people think they are doing better than they are right up until the time they are told they are fired.

I remember doing some work with one of the top MBA schools in the country. I taught a day-long sales training program and then these very bright students worked as teams to prepare sales presentations based on the content of my day long session.

A team of marketing and sales executives from Fortune 500 companies was assembled to judge and rate each team’s presentation. As the judges were discussing the presentations one of the professors from the business school stopped by to see how things were going.

The executives told him some of the students were exceptional and some, not so much. On a scale of one to ten some would receive 9’s and 10’s and others only a 5 or 6. The professor was upset by the low scores and urged the executives to raise the scores. He explained that the students were the “best and the brightest” and they would not be able to handle a mediocre score.

I remember one of the executives from 3M telling him that it would be better to learn from a “5” here than out in the “real world” where the low score would truly be costly. He then said the scores would stand.

When we were all gathered back in the main auditorium the professor stated that the students should accept the scores “with a grain of salt” because the executives just “don’t know how we do things here.”

No kidding.

The school was so concerned about “offending” the students that they deemed it better to send them out into the business world thinking they were awesome rather than with realistic expectations as to their skill level.

That’s what it’s come to. Rather than risk offending, we lie. We shade the truth. We tell ourselves “we’re protecting someone”.

That’s not leadership.

If you’re going to build tomorrow’s leaders you’re going to have to put the PC junk away. You need to start using good old fashioned Human Relations Skills and tact to tell the truth. You need to tell it in such as way that the person can accept it in the caring fashion that you intended it.

YOU need to find the courage to lead. You need to risk offending someone to help them. You need to risk that they might take it wrong in order to do what’s right. You need to decide that integrity and honesty are more important than Political Correctness.

You need to lead!