See me when the “ing” stuff is over

I ask myself ‘do I want permission so I can have someone on my side when it fails, or so they know it was my idea when it works?’ —Ken Smith

If it’s done the right way, no apology is necessary – you are right, it is irrelevant. —Terry Starbucker

Love description of approval. Have starred this one – it’s a keeper! —Jen Parke

Those are snippets from the conversation continued on Twitter about permission (or approval) versus forgiveness (or fessing up with an apology!) after I told my Twitter Village about the posting here yesterday: Get permission or ask for forgiveness?

The words we choose can indeed give us some immediate context.

I also got some private push-back in regard to the caveat about “great bosses” versus “run-of-the-mill managers” with one gentleman writing me that,

“my boss’s favorite line is, ‘don’t come to me when you are doing it, just after it’s done.’ Problem is, it’s a crap-shoot for me on if he’ll like the done or not. I just never know.”

Which goes back to the second caveat:
“If you are the manager, make your expectations clear in regard to how people should best work with you”” If you are the boss, you should expect your people to do well, I agree with that, however you also have to set them up to succeed with you and not wait for them to hang themselves! (That is true jerk-dom). Talk story with them, and get more clarity to happen between you.

If like my emailer you also have a boss stuck in jerk-dom, you will have to get brave and talk to him (or her) about it being a challenge for you to meet their expectations. Not easy, I know, but something you will just have to do. It is either that, or risk getting hung.

I once had a boss that was a bit similar, but he did go the distance making sure we completely understood what was expected. His line for us was, “see me when the ing stuff is over.” It was a way he made his expectation clarity pretty easy for us to remember. What he meant, was that we needed to think twice about coming to him when our work could still be described with “ing” ending words, like:

  • Planning
  • Reviewing
  • Analyzing
  • Budgeting
  • Organizing
  • Strategizing
  • Brainstorming
  • Scheduling

As far as he was concerned, all those kinds of words were still stuck in the doing and not in the “done” of accomplishment.

In contrast, he loved “ed” ending words (and certain ones):

  • Executed (was way better than planned)
  • Decided (was way better than analyzed)
  • Financed (was way better than budgeted)
  • Collaborated (was way better than strategized)
  • Prototyped (was way better than brainstormed)
  • Reinvented (was way better than reviewed)

You get the idea. This gentleman was my boss well over a decade ago, but his expectations were so crystal clear, they stayed with me long after he was out of my work picture.

He had a related phrase that always stayed with me too, which was, “Wishing and hoping is not a strategy.” This one pretty dramatically affected the way that I view Ka lā hiki ola, our value for the month of June, which you’ll recall is the value of hope and promise. I still have a lot of cautions about wishing and hoping (frankly, I feel pretty wimpy whenever I catch myself using those words), but drop that “ing” and HOPE is pure gold.

I talk about hope today in my last MWAC Tuesday essay about Ka lā hiki ola: Hope, thy name is Optimism. The article also shares the Legend of the Wiliwili Trees. Check it out. 

(How was that for a segue between the two blogs, hmm? Yeah, kinda pleased with myself… classic example of what writing morning pages can do for you :)

Hope is the Color Orange

“I once heard it said that “hope has nothing to do with what is going on in the world.”

More at MWAC today” it’s the wrap up for Ka lā hiki ola.

A new month begins next Tuesday.

Hope, thy Name is Optimism

Reading here on the site?

Another mini-lesson on Context is in this Post Extention: open her up…

Think about reviewing context as you think about expectation clarity. Take a look at this book review I had done for Joyful Jubilant Learning back in March:

Are you ready to Trade Up?

If I were you I would wrap up Ka lā hiki ola first however… so here is a JJL content box on context to remind you about this added mini-lesson later.

1. Reveal your context: what do you believe about yourself? What holds you back? How do you impact others?

2. Own your context: take stock of the upside and downside of your context, and examine the intended and unintended consequences of it!

3. Design a new context that gets you what you want: begin by asking yourself “how good are you willing to have life be?”

4. Sustain your new context: develop new practices to get this new context to stick!

5. Activate your context and engage with the world: move out of your own concerns and into partnership and community with others to help change the world around you!


  1. says

    It’s RFL Time: Rapid Fire Learning for June

    Today is the 25th of the month: You shouldn’t be here… You should be at Joyful Jubilant Learning for RFL! Wow, this was a great month. And Talking Story readers, I love the JJL RFL exercise as one that you

  2. says

    Who’s doing the thinking right now, and what do they have to say?

    I have been reading a book manuscript which covers the basics of systems thinking, and the author has done a great job with a pretty dry subject. His book will be extremely useful, for it covers concepts all business organizations