Archive for the ‘Workplace’ Category

Grim Professionalism

June 18, 2009

In his last address to a graduating class, former Yale President Kingman Brewster warned against grim professionalism. That was in the late 1970s. By the 1980s, the American workplace had degenerated into a sink hole of posturing and preening.  True competence was replaced by the sphincter-clinching grimace of the so-called “professional.” Look around your own workplace and ask yourself if any of this seems familiar.

The Spectre of Grim Professionalism

We had been warned;
some took heed,
but the numbers
were overwhelming.

The Spectre of
Grim Professionalism
grabbed a choke-hold on the
throat of a generation,
forcing us all to grit our
teeth while small
bursts of air
squeaked out
as if through the
neck of a balloon.

The joy of living died,
leaving no room
for imagination.

We were left with
blank bubble-headed stares,
while a lone refugee
brain fragment rattled
around in our skulls
like a marble in a milk can.

What passed for ideas
seeped out from between
our lips
like so much balloon spit.

This gruesome horde
of buffaloed zombies
thundered across
the fruited plain,
trampling out the
last flickering
vestiges of humanity.

I can still see
smoke rising from
the scorched earth
as the
tide withdraws
to gather strength for
the Final Assault,
leaving a high-water mark
just short of
where I stand.

I’m afraid to turn
around and look.

I may be the
last one left
standing on this hill.

So maybe I’ll just
call out:


If there’s
left back there,
let me know!


I’m waiting!


Let the Facts Speak for Themselves

June 16, 2009

Res ipsa loquitur — The facts speak for themselves.

This is good advice, especially when writing about oneself. Show the reader through examples and anecdotes. Do not tell the reader by making unsubstantiated assertions.

“I am a hard worker who always perseveres to the very end.”

Everyone sees themselves as hard workers who persevere. Have you ever known anyone to describe themselves as a lazy quitter? Probably not, at least not in writing, even if they are lazy quitters. Especially if they are lazy quitters.

Rather than a slurry of empty assertions, simply state facts. For example, a college student who worked 30 hours per week to earn money for tuition, volunteered 5 hours per week at a hospital, and graduated with a 3.9 GPA is obviously neither lazy nor a quitter.

Res ipsa loquitur. Enough said.