What’s the meant in Management?

When I look around me I notice: Management is everywhere.

It’s in a President deciding if he should go on vacation as scheduled, or keep working.
It’s in a European country deciding if it can handle bailing out another country.
It’s in a father and mother thinking about becoming car-less and walking more, moving their family where jobs may pay more (or be found at all).
It’s in a shopper wanting to celebrate the holidays with gift-giving, yet hesitating with the realization that ever-deepening debt is the real price paid… She’ll try to make something instead, using her own two hands.
And it’s in a high-school graduate who wonders how society can declare he is now an ‘adult’ when he should know better than anyone else if that’s true or not.

Management is something we all do, for we all need to.
We get drawn to it in spite of ourselves.
Sometimes we’ll plunge into it, sometimes we’ll fall into it, but we always find ourselves there, a place where we ask ourselves, “Now what?”

We manage by thinking, by weighing our options, and by making a myriad of daily decisions, big and small.
We manage by looking outside, by feeling inside, and then mixing the two, whether they mix like oil and water, like red blood cells and white ones, or in layers — like paint and primer.

Curbside Paint

The whole process can get fairly messy, but the time will come where we decide, and we do something (or we don’t, a “nope” word which isn’t really a “stop” word, for it has its own results as well).

Funny word, ‘management’ in the starchy formality of it.
You’d think we’d personalize it more than we do, as steeped into it as we are, and as pervasive as it is.
We talk about a whole plethora of what we manage: Work, budgets, resources, causes, values, ideas, and yes, others, when fact is, all those things are grouped under one umbrella — the one we know as our own life. All that other stuff make up a life and its moving parts.
It’s a case where the smaller moving parts constantly seem bigger than the whole because they are seen as more tangible. Weird.

Which is why we have to find (or figure out) those last four letters of management, the ‘ment’ part, somehow getting them to stop dangling there as an after thought, and get in front for a change.

I think, the ‘ment’ part has to do with intention — with our why, and the journey we each take to discover it, or to magnify it.
Our why is the part which ultimately, will make everything else (what, where, how and who) make sense, make worth, make good, make right.

Our why is what makes us feel everything else matters. When we feel our why is good and right for us, plugged into our spirit, we feel like decent human beings.
Our humanity is something we need.

Far as everyone else is concerned, they believe our why makes us more trustworthy: They want our why to get trumpeted louder, for they like when it’s clear — shiny and more transparent.

So I have a small fix to help: It can help in a big way.

Forget management in the old starchy formality of it, and begin to think of it as managemeant; managing meant that something connected to your why.

Give all those decisions you’ll be making your white magic.
Make managing meaning-full, and get self-managing to be self-managing meant something personally wonderful.
You can even plug managemeant into the auto-correct of your word processing, and have today’s digital wizardry help you, keeping you on track.

Turning management into managemeant will help you keep your managing intentional.

We’ll always just do the manage part, whether deliberately or instinctively.
We kinda have to, in the way we keep going with life.
However, it’s the meant part which will keep us human, and make us happier.

Plumbago skyward

If you feel you’re ready to do even more, tackle this with me.


  1. Jonathan Mwaba says

    Rosa talks about something so simple yet so misplaced. “It’s a case where the smaller moving parts constantly seem bigger than the whole [i.e., our life] because they are seen as more tangible”. I do agree that the ‘ment’ in management has everything to do with intention. As noted, our why is the part which ultimately, will make everything else (what, where, how and who) make sense, make worth, make good, make right.
    To figure out those last four letters of management, and turn them into ‘managemeant’ we need to stop living what I call ‘Scripted lives’. A Scripted Life heavily owes to having a compartmentalized management style outlook towards life and everything that proceeds from such efforts.
    I define a scripted life as one where an individual goes through life basing their decisions on a set of mechanical platforms. These platforms are defined by what society in general perceives to be acceptable. Thus, the standard of acceptability and what is regarded as success are dictated by an outlook often in conflict with an individual’s own values, vision and mission outlook towards life.
    So an individual forgoes any attempts at pursuing an unscripted life for the scripted life because the scripted life offers ‘guaranteed’ returns on success. This ultimately is ‘second-best’ because the individual often times lose sight of their values.
    JBU – MSLE 2012 Candidate

  2. Rosa Say says

    Exactly Jonathan!

    Your description of the “scripted life” is what we’ve referred to in the past as ‘should-ing.’ [More about it is in this post: A Good Ruthlessness x3.]

    One of the reasons it’s so difficult to break away from, is that the scripted life is usually forged (or fortified) by people who truly do care for us, and believe they are giving us good advice: Our parents and siblings, our teachers, our coaches and other mentors. We need to say, “I know you care about me, and please know I have listened to you, and have heard you, but I need to explore more possibilities for myself: Can you trust me, and have faith in me as I do so?”

    Mahalo nui for commenting Jonathan.
    And can you tell me what “JBU – MSLE” stands for?

    Update, for any readers who may be lurking, equally curious: Jonathan answered me via email, and JBU is John Brown University. He is currently finishing off his graduate program i.e., Masters of Science in Leadership & Ethics (MSLE).