Eye of the Tiger: Two HR Lessons From the 80s


There’s big news around here: it’s Friday and Survivor will be playing the Kalamazoo Ribfest. Oh yeah, baby, that’s right. Eye of the Tiger. It’s kind of scary how the 80s are back in vogue. I don’t have much use for a time in my life when my parents separated, I started third grade at a new school, and my grandmother cut my hair into a horrific Dorothy Hamill wedge. Don’t even get me started about rolling my jeans.

I look back on most of the 80s and cringe, but I did learn a few lessons that I would like to share.

Lesson #1

  • You can’t argue with crazy.

It’s tough to persuade the average person to abandon his point-of-view and accept your ideas — now go ahead and try it with an unemployed hypochondriac who drinks fifteen cups of coffee, each day, and thinks that the government is tapping his phone. See how far you get with someone who stays awake all night listening to AM radio and believes that Barack Obama is a black-power Muslim.

You have that person in your family, too, and you know that you can’t argue with him. He’s totes crazy.

The same rule of thumb applies to people at work who are clearly weird. That guy who always reads fringe political newspapers and mutters paranoid statements about the government? The woman who leaves religious materials in the bathroom? The secretary who insists on telling you to have a blessed day even though you’re Jewish and she doesn’t like the Jews?

Hey, what did I tell you? You can’t argue with crazy. Dismiss the insanity & dysfunction, and choose to move forward with your life. Spend your time & energies on easier goals — like solving the Mideast Peace Crisis. Schedule a session at Camp David with you & Jimmy Carter & Condi Rice. Go for it.

Lesson #2

  • Litigation is the refuge of stupid people.

Try to pass tort reform. I dare you. Your legal reforms are useless against stupid people who can’t hold a job but have easy access to Web MD. If you’re like me, you grew up with a relative who attended Thanksgiving dinner at your grandmother’s house, drank too much beer, and told stories about suing Sears because his Kenmore refrigerator was broken.

You naively asked, “Why don’t you call a repairman?”

He told you, “Repairmen are for suckers. I got a lawyer.”

Uh, okay, I know this isn’t just my family — and I know that tort reform won’t stop these people from hiring lawyers and making an effort to acquire money for nuthin. These relatives don’t have sore wrists; they have carpal tunnel syndrome. They don’t have allergies or a cold; they have mesothelioma. These are the relatives who are fired for performance-related reasons, yet they have the balls to sue their employer for creating hostile work environment.


So much time and effort is spent on creating alternative paths to litigation, but I would argue that tort reform hurts employees and consumers who have serious & valid claims to make against negligent companies. Instead of tort reform, I’m an advocate of teaching our leadership teams (& our family members) to apologize for mistakes before the shit escalates beyond control. Businesses & hospitals have proactively applied the art of the apology to avoid litigation, and I think it makes a tremendous amount of sense to create an accountability and ownership society — and teach our leaders, employers, and children what it means to be accountable and responsible — and then empower our judges to throw out frivolous lawsuits before they make it to trial.

[youtube www.youtube.com

UPDATED: Video courtesy of Jay Morrissey!

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