Posted on 5th January 2021 at 10:23
Well, off we go then...2021! The year that we all hope is better. “Tuning in” (yes we are quite old at Massie&Butler and use old phrases, and we like to think wise too, but that’s debatable!) to Linkedin I see platitudes. Hundreds of platitudes. Some have argued that one man’s platitude is another man’s proverb. The information contained within is sometimes helpful. Some of them are motivating. Many are annoying! Do they serve a purpose and have their place?
Before they became, well “platiginous” (which clearly isn’t a word!) someone, somewhere had them as an original thought. Okay, the definition of a platitude is, “a trite or banal comment or statement...lack of originality...insipidity of thought,” along with other uncomplimentary descriptions but we think we’d all be liars if we hadn’t at some point felt empowered or motivated to at least try to be more of whatever the platitude is calling for, at some point. And let’s face it, they are EVERYWHERE! However, there is indeed a fine line between banality and usefulness.
The footballer who states, after scoring a hat-trick ,”it doesn’t matter who scores as long as the team wins,” can be the mouthpiece for teams in any walk of life, but of course, experience tells us that this isn’t always true. The star footballer who knocks them in, is rewarded by a larger wage packet, as is, in all likelihood the star salesman. Yes, it doesn’t matter to the football club who scores, as long as the team wins, in the same way that it doesn’t matter to the bottom line of any business as long as the requisite sales are taking place, by someone.
Look a little deeper though and what really matters is the team spirit, cohesion and the continuity this can bring. And isn’t team spirit enhanced when all members are motivated equally, accordingly? You can have the best number 9 (that’s generally the main goalscorer in a football team to the none football folk among us!) but their achievements will usually only stack up if the rest of the team are functioning as a unit. Usually...
Apply this to the workplace and the parallels are obvious. The top salesman is only likely to perform optimally if the support apparatus functions well. Leads, market knowledge, support staff, hardware, good product. Yes yes yes, we all know the saying, “He could sell snow to the Eskimos,” and of course, there are number 9s who’ll score for fun in a struggling team, because they have the talent and many of us who have worked in a sales environment have stories of that legendary person, whose sales seemed other worldly.
They won’t stay at that team for very long though...and therein lies the point. WHY does the star footballer feel the need to come out with the platitude? Why doesn’t he just say,”I’m bloody amazing despite all this rubbish around me!”? Is it because it is the human way and while privately and to close friends, he may well say this and to the rest of the world it may be obvious, what we, as humans, are usually trying to do is bring harmony, spirit and togetherness, even when, in reality that may not be present?
The star goalscorer may always be thinking how many more goals would he score in a better team. The star salesman likewise! And so to another platitude,”The grass isn’t always greener..” This is a cautionary warning. Will the support really be better elsewhere? Will I score as many goals? Will I make as many sales? Humans are creatures of habit and arguably we all love familiarity and so making a move is often fraught with concern.
Perhaps this is why, right now, in 2021, social media is awash with more platitudes than ever. Changes have been forced on us and many of us are out of the comfort zone and having to move onto pastures new. The acceptance of comforting platitudes is spiralling out of control! Can something banal be comforting? Of course it can. Can something unimaginative and unoriginal offer respite from the current situation and actually be inspirational? Of course it can.
I’d had a few drinks when I copied “Stay Positive, Work Hard and Make it Happen,” to my phone’s homescreen over the Christmas period. It seems I am a sucker for platitudes! Where exactly is the boundary when a platitude becomes the proverb? Is that even a platitude or just ordered words in a sentence? I think it can be only the reader who decides.
My Grandfather had his very own platitude (he’d argue it’s a proverb but it doesn’t really matter!). I don’t think he actually invented it, but it certainly seemed like he did and even now, over 20 years since his passing, our family will always say it when he is fondly remembered. He lived by it, as did his children and I like to think his grand children have and that his great grand children shall. It’s quite basic and to the point and is kind of beautiful in its simplicity, if of course, a little banal. “Work hard and play hard and you won’t go far wrong!”
It doesn’t assume you won’t be successful if you don’t work hard, which can be so annoying in many platitudes. It definitely gives the impression that you should work hard, while also encouragement not to forget to have some down time and fun too! However, the really good bit, which I think raises it above a bog standard platitude, is that even if you do work hard and play hard, you still might go wrong, we just don’t know to what degree. It assumes not too far, but it is still anyone’s guess.
In as far as a typical platitude may make a claim, which may not be true, this one at least has the decency to be vague in the results you may achieve if you both work and play hard. However, my take on it is that it is at least worth trying it!
So, I’m going to stick to this mantra as 2021 progresses and see where it takes me. We still have to find the time to play hard, because as they say, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”
And whatever happens...”life is for living!”Oh heck....let’s not get into cliché.
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