Monday, January 17, 2011

Following the Rules and Zero Tolerance - The ZT Zombies

A Happy Martin Luther King Day to you all. In that vein....

Zero Tolerance. Following the Rules. Fear.

Reasonable Rule breakers. Intelligence. Bravery.

Diametrically opposed concepts.

Sure, rules are there for a reason; because some people are too damn stupid, or too ignorant, to be able to make a conscious, intelligent decision. But also because, in the paradigm of hierarchy, the intelligent are too challenging to the oligarchy. Those in charge want things to run smoothly, but also, they don't want to waste time, or have to do more work than necessary, or to have to think, to administer appropriately or with divergence.

Fear governs much of this Zero Tolerance nonsense. The powers to be are too afraid of one saying they were treated differently than another, when in reality, they should, many times, be treated differently. I have seen far more laziness in business on this topic, than I have reasons indicating those in power are most concerned about productivity; mostly, they are afraid of being challenged, being shown to be ineffectual, inefficient, incompetent.

I have been a supervisor in the Military, in business, in search and rescue. I have built highly loyal and effective teams. I had shown to get more from employees than fellow supervisors, much to their chagrin. And much to my embarrassment, when employees wanted only to work for me and not others; vying for a position under me. I was embarrassed; not only for the complement, but also at the average-ness, or incompetence of other to manage people who have feelings and minds. What I have noticed over the years is you have to be a kind of therapist, a manager, an organizer, a motivational speaker. If you think you can simply manage resources to be a good manager, you are a fool, or at very least, you are fooling yourself.

In recent years, I have noticed that many things in our lives that are dysfunctional have to do with concepts such as Zero Tolerance (ZT). That is a perfect example of applying a theory that is perfectly functional in one realm of thought, to another, where is rapidly becomes completely ineffectual and damaging. People drawn to things such as ZT and full adherence to following the rules become ZT Zombies.

Don't become a ZT Zombie!

So why, do we continue to apply principles such as zero tolerance to so many areas of our lives? Partially, its because we have pushed ourselves to the point of having not enough time to exist as Humans. To have a need, to get things done quickly, as superficially functional as possible, then expect others to follow that dysfunctional path, and expect them to achieve what you have yet to notice hasn't really worked for you either. And so on, down below you, and them, and theirs.

In the end, it leaves us sitting around wondering: "Why, is the world falling apart all around us?"

A child bring a G.I. Joe toy guy to school. The toy is like an inch long, plastic, no moving parts. But that very young child is sent home for the day, or the week. Why? Zero Tolerance for weapons. But its not a weapon. Is it. It's a toy. Its not even a functional toy gun. Its a hunk of plastic.

Third time a guy is brought before the courts on breaking the law. This last time its for being caught with a Cannabis cigarette. Or, even a gram of Pot. Its their third infraction. They go to jail for a long time. But, they are not a violent criminal. But, they are not put in a prison with violent criminals. Perhaps, after trying to protect themselves, in the hopes of getting out of prison alive, or unviolated sexually, they become a violent leaning individual. Why?

Yes, cannabis is illegal, but think, should it be? That is controversial, though it shouldn't be. But what about a kid and a piece of plastic? Why can't we simply deal with things in a "small is beautiful way", rather than defer responsibility to say, I am only following orders?  Take the responsibility and deal with things appropriate, as each individual incident warrants. Tell others to think for themselves, correct them to train them, not punish them.

I have heard an argument for years from managers and supervisors, "If I let you do it, I have to let everyone do it." Well, not if you are a good manager. What they are really saying is, I don't want to be troubled, I don't have the time, I don't want to deal with it, I don't know how to deal with it." None of those are good excuses. If you treat one employee differently, you must have a reason, but it should be a reason that is able to be aired, open to all, and reasonable. If some one else is treated less preferred, they shouldn't be able to say anything against your decision, because it would be obvious they don't deserve it, or you need to be trusted in your decision, that it was correct.

Yes, its taking a chance. More of us need, to take chances in life, to do what is "right". Like the Buddha said, you should know what is right when you see it. Trouble is, too many of us haven't taken the time to think, what really IS right.

Following the Rules. Zero Tolerance. Sounds good doesn't it? Quick. Easy. Little thought. Just slam someone for doing what was designated as not to be done. No thought. Just action. Quick. Easy. Push button. Short attention span. Fast.

We don't have to consider the person, their situation. We just do. Head down, bully right ahead. Do not think too much, power through it. Don't think to open the door, just put your head down, slam right into that wall, that situation; don't worry about damaging the wall, or your head; just push through, get done, move on to the next crippled individual.

Zero Tolerance, and worrying too much about people's personal freedoms, bordering on thought police sometimes, is a dysfunctional paradigm of social management.

There was an example in a movie recently, during a war in Israel, of a guy that was an officer, a leader. He had to manage his people out of a dangerous situation, but he followed the rules. He didn't look around and think for himself, he just let those above him think and he followed their rules; rules that didn't fit the situation. But, they were the rules and since he was a "good" soldier, many would die and there in lay the drama of the tale. He was a perfect example of a bad leader. Sometimes you simply need to throw the book out and make new rules. Think. Consider each new change as a new situation and govern appropriately. Those types of individuals are our best leaders.

I've always taught my kids that sometimes in life, you have to break the rules to do what is right and then, you may very well be punished for it. So, if you can, avoid getting caught when doing what is right.

I cannot count the times in my life, in business, that I have "taken the reigns" at work, sometimes from others, and completely ignored the rules, gotten the job done, had the undying thanks of my superiors, because I had the foresight, the lack of care for what the rules were, to do what had to be done, be clever enough not to get caught, and make things work. I gained the respect of those around me, below me, next to me, above me, but not too far above me, because those up there in the lofty heights would have been forced to come down hard on me for getting the job done.

This, is not a paradigm for a brokerage house, necessarily, not where you are screwing over people who have entrusted you with their life savings, just so you can make the company money. You have to have a brain, work out all the details. Doing what is right, is complicated. You have to weigh the common good, the individual good, you have to know right from wrong; and so many today, are clueless about what that is.

And so the child gets sent home for having a toy. Instead of simply taking the toy away, explaining to them what is what, GIVING them the toy back at end of day, and dropping it. Instead of the cop on the street realizing that the guy that has the cannabis cigarette, really just needs to be ignored because, if that cop doesn't have better things to do, then he needs some proper training.

Does ZT ever have a time to be practiced? Possibly. Victim crimes. Bullies, rapists, murderers. But what does that really have to do with someone smoking a joint, drinking a beer in public, having a plastic toy, these victimless crimes have little to do with serious crimes.

For people who think that banning a child who brings a toy gun to school, ever one that actually shoots, to push the limits of this topic, have little to do with a kid that actually shoots the toy at someone; but even then, its a TOY. Should the child be dealt with? Absolutely. But appropriately and not as if it were a real gun, that only confuses the child and indicates that you, the authority in charge, are unreasonable, unintelligent, and hysterical in your behavior. Have you considered THAT? What message are you REALLY sending to kids who are told a toy, is real?

Rules, like the bible, need to be followed, as a guide. That's it. The Law, is the same thing. These are things that are there as a last ditch attempt at keeping order, but really, they do not need to be applied so many times, they just need to be thought about, used when necessary, but not applied 100% of the time.

You just need to think. Use your head. Make a decision. Don't worry so much, about applying rules so evenly. Sometimes, you need to come down hard on one person, soft or not at all, on another. We have become so fearful of getting caught, not being perfect, or fast, or Politically Correct, that we have become a part of the problem.

I know, part of the problem is that there are very many people in the world who do not have the brain power to push a pencil. But if we apply pressures to those around us, those people who should never be in positions of authority, will stop so many times, being the ones in power. Make it known, don't hide their failures or others will suffer. If we start trying to make people accountable for their bad decisions, at least in the areas of what the common thought is considered to be "good" in the ares of things such as Zero Tolerance and always following the rules, life will get better.

Break a rule or two. Ignore Zero Tolerance. When they, a community, votes on something as stupid as ZT, vote it down, scream, stamp your feet, point out how they are being ignorant at very least, stupid at worst. Tell them that being stupid is a choice to be ignorant. Tell them that people will suffer by way of ZT policies.

So, start coming down on those that apply Zero Tolerance, who always follow the rules. Push people to think. Push them to consider the whole picture. And NOT the WHOLE picture, because, sometimes? Sometimes, the whole entire picture is completely irrelevant. Consider what is appropriate. Force intelligence. Push people to be thoughtful. To make not the proper by the rules decision, but the Right decision, the Correct decision.

If we all started doing this, the entire world would start to be a better place.

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