"Horrible Bosses" and the Fallacy of Productivity


I have to tell you that the trailer for this movie does not do it justice.

The entire theater was laughing so hard I think you could have heard us in the street.

All of the actors were good but the "bosses" themselves - Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston - really took the cake. They were perfect caricatures of the power-hungry, irrational, harassing boss who lives to drive their workers crazy.

Which is why the whole lot of us at the matinee were in stitches.

One has to ask: 

If everybody recognizes the grain of truth in the narrative, why do we put up with abusive bosses at all?

The answer, I think, lies in two other stories.

I once had a friend who told me her boss was abusive. Seriously bad. The kind that leaves you shaking in your boots with fear.

The friend told another friend about the situation. Both of them were in the same workplace.

Listener responded, "Oh, I know ___. He does get a lot done though."

My friend was completely dumbfounded. It was as though the listener was saying, I'm sorry for your situation, but it has nothing to do with the abuser's level of competence.

Another story.

When I was a kid there was a teacher who was a creep. There was something wrong with him. Everybody knew it.

There were people who complained about it. But nobody in the administration of the school would listen. Because to all appearances, the teacher was doing their job.

Until one day, a wiseguy in the class rigged a bucket of cold water just over the classroom door.

Creepy teacher opened the door, walked in, bucket dumped a lot of cold water on their head.

Teacher turned around fuming. 

Teacher found the culprit easily by the look on his face.

Teacher proceeded to smash face of culprit right across said face. Right in front of my eyes.

Only then was the teacher fired.

Analysis of above:

Our society remains mired in a worship of money and power.

We therefore justify the behavior of abusive rich and powerful people by telling ourselves that it is people like that who foster productivity.

What we don't see - I don't know why we don't see this - is that the era of money is over. We have enough money.

What we lack is creativity. We lack the ability to innovate our way out of the messes that we are in. And the reason we lack that creativity is because we are forever squelching the quiet but brilliant voices that could help us to overcome.

Another story.

Last night on "America's Got Talent" Piers Morgan dressed down one of the acts pretty sadistically.

It was a cowboy act and it involved a horse. On stage.

I don't understand why you would put a horse on stage in front of people and expect it to do anything, but apparently the horse had done well several times before and this was Round 3.

Last night the horse wouldn't cooperate.

Piers was ruthless in his criticism of the entertainers.

The entertainers, for their part, took responsibility for the act not working. "You're right," the guy said, "It didn't work."

Piers wouldn't stop, asking basically, "So why did you waste our time?"

The entertainer explained.

But none of it was good enough for Piers. Who later justified his cruelty - his outright sadism - by saying that it was Round 3, there was a lot of money involved now, and so the judges had a right to be "crotchety."


There is no justification for abusing people, ever.

It doesn't make them more productive or productive in the first place.

And the people who act abusive are known to everybody else. Increasingly, we aren't going to tolerate it. And the system will self-regulate, for the sake of survival, to promote gentle, constructive, creative people to the point where they can lead us forward.

Until then, I think, it's a good thing to talk, raise our consciousness, and think about this issue collectively.

Because a nation of traumatized people is at a definite disadvantage when it comes to any kind of survival - economic, emotional, spiritual. 

There is a German saying to the effect that G-d sees everything. 

Whether we know it or not, the blessings come from Above, and they can be taken away just the same way.

Whether you believe in G-d or not...think about it.

Have a good day, everyone - and good luck!


Image source here.