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Assumptions Make Everyone Equally Unhappy

By William May
Published: 02/27/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0

Jerry Belson, Hollywood writer, director and producer is created with coining the phrase, "Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of you and me."

In the age of internet, instant information and fast communication there is no reason to make stupid rude assumptions. So why does it seem like there are more asinine assumers than ever before?

Could it be that the ability to write flame emails, make anonymous online posts, and assail people behind their backs knowing the target of their vile have no way to respond, as caused an explosion of insensitivity? Are assumers just cowards who would never have dared to confront people face to face?

Here are a few doozey's in the lodging managing business, all delivered with anger:

Guest: "I just assumed there would be Internet in this house, even though its 40 miles from the nearest town."

Property Owner: "I just assumed the guests would not mind if I remodeled the bathroom while they were there."

Guest: "I just assumed it would be OK to invite a couple dozen drunken friends for a party as long as they did not stay the night."

Property Owner: "I just assumed you would not charge me for looking for my lost phone, even though its an hour or two round trip."

None of these examples are terribly important but they are improperly presumptive and often delivered with an air of superiority all intend to make lodging, food and other service personnel like slaves.

So why do seemingly intelligent, professional adults treat others so badly?

Some feel a misguided sense of entitlement. Others take frustration in their lives out on anyone who is handy. Some blame others for their intellectual inability to solve problems. Some want to feel elite by making other feel inferior.

But mostly - assuming something before asking questions requires an emotional maturity that some people just never learned from parents, friends, spouses or coworkers. Until someone confronts them, they will continually increase their asinine behavior unabated.

So how to avoid making an ass out of yourself and others?

Follow the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.."

Get the facts before making assumptions. Ask questions before making assumptions. Never assume you are right, or the other person is wrong. It’s the adult thing to do. The courteous thing to do.

Jerry Belson would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln who said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."

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Author: William May, MayPartners Inc.
Blog #: 0491 – 02/27/16

The Genius Truck Mechanic

By William May
Published: 11/11/15 Topics: Boats, Self Improvement Comments: 0

At the age of 15, I was very sure that Mr. Stearns - a mechanic in the log truck shop my father managed - was a genius.

Although his first name was Jim, I would never have called him that because he was my father's age, he had a regale bearing and he was a legend in the industry. It's not disrespectful to say he was the only genius in the shop, because everyone who worked there knew it.

Repairing big rigs is not a simple job. Diagnosing such a large machine with so many parts and systems requires comprehension of physics, hydraulics, engineering, pneumatics, electronics, and internal combustion.

Before the advent of computers I marveled at the incredible precision which engineers and part manufacturers made things. How did they do it?

Mechanical Arts.

Many people are able to master basic mechanic skills with school training, on the job experience, and mentoring. (In those days, use of the word "mentoring" would have made everyone chuckle.)

Among mechanics there are echelons of knowledge. No one knows it all, and everyone must consult manuals and colleagues occasionally. Everyone except Mr. Stearns.

If you have ever visited a repair shop you would have noticed something odd about Mr. Stearns space. Unlike other mechanics, his area was immaculately organized. It was the only space that was never dirty, and every tool and part was just as it should be.

While other mechanics hustled about, Mr. Stearns seemed to move slowly. While others became dirty and grimy crawling in, around and under trucks Mr. Stearns coveralls remained neat and pressed just as if they had came off an ironing board.

Financial Model

Truck shops make money by charging a standard hourly shop rate for each of the mechanics. Today that fee often exceeds $100 per hour.

There are manuals that specify the numbers of hours that should be required to undertake many common repairs. Even major engine overhauls have a specific set of hours assigned. Jobs can take an hour, many days or even weeks.

Mr. Stearns never looked at those budgets and did not want to know what they were. Although there was a kind of hierarchy, he was left to his own devices - but the time he took for jobs was consistently half of the allocated time. The shop made lots of money allowing him to his own devices.

Focus Solves Problems

When my water-ski boat sunk (don’t ask) he volunteered to take apart the submerged motor that everyone knew would never run again. The engine was so antiquated that to put the boat in reverse required stopping the motor, and restarting it in reverse so that the crank shaft actually went in the opposite direction.

It was a morass of double electronics that would have perplexed Nikola Tesla. Mr. Stearns said he knew very little about boat motors but, one night after work he carefully took it apart piece by piece.

After removing the convoluted electronics he unbolted the cylinder head, carefully extracted the pistons, bearings, and valves, taking time to carefully clean and place every piece on clean white rags atop his tool chest. The pistons and valves were arranged together in order. Each piece was lined up perfectly with the other. It was like a work of art.

Just as carefully, he put all the pieces back into the motor block. Then, just as carefully, cleaned and put every tool back into the chest high tool chest. It was almost midnight now.

"Do you think it will ever run again?" I asked.

"Of course it will run. I put it back together perfectly, didn't I?" he murmured.

He turned the switch and the 75 horsepower behemoth roared to life.

Let Professionals Perform

As he turned off the motor, he turned and faced me square. "Because you are young and interested, I am violating the secret to my success. I have allowed you to help."

I was perplexed, so he continued. "See that sign?"

I looked above his work bench.

  • Shop Labor $30 per hour
  • If you watch $40 per hour
  • If you help $50 per hour

"You see young William (he always called me young William) talk can be a good thing. But customers need to allow experts to work, and to get the hell out of the way."

Old Fashioned Smarts

Today's concepts of co-working, team-building and the sharing economy can help people achieve and succeed. But there is much to be said for personal focus, study and concentration.

Over the years, I have seen similar signs and I follow their wisdom. I remind myself to not watch, not help and to allow that person to go about doing their best work for me.

I can only wish that clients would follow the same advice. Some feel that they can become experts overnight. Some have nothing better to do. Others just cant help but stir the soup.

Wise clients allow experts they hire to do their magic, to spend their time serving them instead of justifying their work. Wise clients judge only the outcome, not the methods.

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Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0460 – 11/11/15

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