Poor Richard’s Almanack

On December 19, 1732 Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanack. This book was filled with proverbs and advice, and was so popular that it was continuously published for 25 years, selling an average of 10,000 copies per year. 

Many of the proverbs and pieces of advice dealt with time, particularly time management. Some of the best known time proverbs from this book include:

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Lost Time is never found again.

He that wastes idly a Groat’s worth of his Time per Day, one day with another, wastes the Privilege of using each Day.

If you have time, don’t wait for time.

Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.

Ah, simple Man! When a boy two precious jewels were given thee, Time, and good Advice; one thou hast lost, and the other thrown away.

Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that’s the Stuff Life is made of.

Shake up Harmony

Wall Street Journal, February 2014. “The High Cost of Avoiding Conflict at Work.” Joann S. Lublin

David Dotlich, a leadership and succession coach, has identified eagerness to please as one of the top reasons that executives fail.

Keen to innovate faster, employers increasingly choose bosses astute at dealing with conflict rather than ducking it, says Judith Glaser, an executive coach and author of the new book, Conversational Intelligence.

It’s not that firms want contentious leaders, but those who retreat from confrontation tend to postpone hard decisions and allow problems to fester, according to Ms. Glaser.

And with more businesses relying on teamwork, top managers’ conflict-resolution skills are in greater demand, adds Theodore Dysart, a vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a major executive-recruitment firm.

Southwest Airlines Co. leaders wanted to shake up what they viewed as a culture of artificial harmony among staffers. The company now promotes middle managers to executive positions partly based on their ability to spark conflict among staffers.

The wound a word opens

“A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.” Jessamyn West – librarian and blogger.

“It is typical of women to fester and ferment over disappointments, slights, annoyances, angers, etc.” Laura Schlessinger – American author on relationships.

“Too often, a problem is allowed to fester until it reaches a crisis point, and the American people are left asking the question: what went wrong and why?” Darrell Issa, Member of the U.S. Congress.

Fester

Americans – both team leads and team members – almost always prefer a suboptimal conflict resolution reached in a timely manner over an optimal resolution arrived at late. Americans refer to conflicts which fester. 

fester: to become painful and infected; to become worse as time passes; to cause increasing poisoning, irritation, or bitterness; to undergo or exist in a state of progressive deterioration; to make inflamed or corrupt; “We should deal with these problems now instead of allowing them to fester.”

First known use 14th century. Synonyms: break down, corrupt, decompose, disintegrate, decay, foul, mold, molder, perish, putrefy, rot, spoil.

24/7

The term 24/7 refers to something that is available all the time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was first used in print in the November 1983 edition of Sports Illustrated: “Jerry (Ice) Reynolds, one of the SEC’s two best freshmen by the end of last season, calls his jump shot ’24-7-365′, because ‘It’s good 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year’.”

These days, the term 24/7 is largely used in the business world, especially for customer relations departments. Any business or service that is “24/7” is available for use at any time on any day of the week. In addition, in order to appear more “customer friendly,” to convenience, and sell better, many American businesses, organizations, projects, and books have even started including “24/7” in their name. Some examples include: 24/7 Wall St., America 24/7, and 24/7 Prayer International.

This was not the first time that stores used their opening hours in their names to attract customers. In 1946, the convenience store “Toe’m Store” changed its name to “7-Eleven” in order to reflect its new, unusually long hours – 7am to 11pm. 7-Eleven was also the first convenience store to stay open 24 hours on weekends. It did this in order to accommodate students at a local university.

Additionally, there is a website, 24-7stores(dot)com, which includes a store locator, so that people can find 24/7 stores near them, anywhere in the U.S.

Time Magazine

Time magazine was created in America in 1923 by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden. It was the first weekly news magazine in the US and its founders originally intended to call it Facts. However, because Luce and Briton wanted to keep their magazine brief (something that busy people could read in about an hour), they decided to change its name to Time and use the slogan “Take Time – It’s Brief.”

Largely thanks to its brief format, Time almost immediately surpassed its closest competitor, The Literary Digest. In fact, the magazine was so popular that in “History of Time Magazine” David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace wrote “if Time liked them, they marched or strode; if not, they shuffled, straggled, shambled, plodded, lumbered, barged, swaggered, wobbled, or slouched.”

These days, Time magazine is still the most popular weekly news magazine in the US, and has been since its creation, with the only exception of Newsweek, which briefly overtook Time during the Vietnam War.

Speedy Trial

Again, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states clearly what Americans expect: „In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial“

Various U.S. state and federal laws guaranty a more specific right to a speedy trial. In New York, for example, the prosecution (accuser) must be ready for trial within six months or the charges are dismissed. The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 established time limits for completing the various stages of a federal criminal case.

Americans anticipate that there team leads not only hold a first hearing promptly. They want the conflict resolution process to come to a conclusion, to a judgement, promptly as well. A manager who is slow to decide – to make the „judgement call“ – is seen as someone who has weak resolve. To have resolve means to deal with something.

Americans believe that maintaining forward movement is critical to the success of every team.

“Patience is the strongest of weapons”

Max Weber described politics as “slowly drilling through the thickest boards”, meaning it demands patience and perseverance to reach one’s goals.

Konrad Adenauer – West German chancellor form 1949 until 1963 – had the same thought in mind when in 1946 he said:

“Patience is the strongest of weapons, of a defeated people laid so low.” Germany after the Second World War lay in ruins. And due to the crimes committed by its Nazi-regime was an occupied pariah state. 

Because Adenauer knew it would be many years before Germany would be reunited, he stressed patience and perseverance not only to the West Germans, but also to the Western Allies – the occupying forces. 

Adenauer referred time and again to German history, to the two world wars and the centuries further back. His approach, his long-term perspective, his stamina, proved to be right. Twenty years after his Adenauer’s death the two Germanies were reunited and has become one of the great forces for stability in and for Europe.

Sigmund Freud

Although Sigmund Freud was an Austrian his methods of psychoanalysis to resolve personal conflicts had tremendous influence in the entire German-speaking world, and eventually beyond. Psychoanalytical therapy involved up to three hundred individual sessions.

For Freud, as the founder of psychoanalysis, it was essential to identify unconscious emotional developments in order to understand human behavior. The earliest years of childhood are especially relevant. Psychological problems – conflicts – can be traced back to those earliest of years. 

Understanding developments over very long periods of time are fundamental to Freud’s approach to conflict resolution. Tracing psychological problems far back into one’s personal history, making the unconscious conscious, is the opposite of a quick (hasty) resolution of conflict.

Conflict Resolution Training

Anyone in Germany who has ever attented school knows about Schlichterausbildung – Conflict Resolution Training. It is a workshop in which high school students learn how to defuse and resolve conflicts peacefully, how to reach a compromise which both conflict parties can accept.

There are also Schlichter – conflice resolution experts – in the German court system, and in many public organizations. Often they handle conflicts at the national level, such as the one surrounding the total remodeling of Stuttgart’s Main Train Station.

The conflict resolution method taught in German schools has several steps: 1. Calm down the conflict parties. 2. Communicate in the first person (“I”). 3. See the conflict from the viewpoint of the other party. 4. Admit to you are a part of the conflict. 5. Look for a resolution via brainstorming. 6. Agree to the resolution. Apologize. Thank.

These straightforward steps are representative for the German need for harmony and mutual respect.  Conflict is not resolved when one party gets his or her way. Instead, conflict is resolved when a compromise is found which is equitable and acceptable for both sides.

Both sides in the conflict should have the impression that their viewpoint, opinion, position have been listened to, understood, respected and considered in the resolution. This desire for harmony is in stark contrast to the cliché that Germans are authoritarian, that they rely on strict structures of hierarchy.

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