The first time I heard the statement, I don’t do stupid, I burst out laughing. A young man in his late twenties was expressing his exasperation at the stupidity of an individual who was attempting to enforce a set of ridiculous proceedures and methodology in the workplace.
The scene was a large automobile dealership. As a relatively new employee, the obviously intelligent young man asked a simple question:
Why do we do things this way, when there is a much simpler and easier way to go about it?
That is when the cow manure hit the proverbial fan. After all, new employees, especially young people, are not supposed to ask questions and challenge the holy grails of methodology and procedure in the workplace.
This is the way we have done it for thirty years…just shut up and do what I tell you to do!
The young man looked at his manager straight in the eye and said, “I don’t do stupid“. A week or so later, he handed in his resignation and went to work somewhere else.
Of course, this young person was correct in his idea(s), but could have used a little more finesse in his approach. Unfortunately, management did not see it that way. They were stuck back somewhere in the dinosaur age and were still micromanaging their employees like the 1950’s. Later, this young man was smeared as being lazy, unreliable, and insubordinate. In reality, the top-down management style of this particular dealership had just been put in its rightful place – stupid is as stupid does.
It was not much longer after that I began to signal my own intentions of leaving and my dissatisfaction with the high school mentality of some of the dealership management and many of its relatively uneducated employees. I felt disappointed in myself that I had put up with this nonsense for four years of my life, four long years that I could not get back. Being educated and underemployed in a situation where management and many of my co-worlers had barely got out of high school was NOT a fun situation to be in. This is NOT an expression of arrogance or elitism – it is an expression of frustration of having to work side by side, shoulder to shoulder with CAVEMEN 🙂
My father, a former high school teacher, once said to me, “Ignorance is no excuse”.
What he meant was that instead of wallowing in ignorance, making excuses as to why I couldn’t do something – figure it out. If I do not know how to do something correctly, instead of hanging on to “I don’t know how”, get out there and learn how to do it right.
I think I kind of went overboard on the “learning” part of the equation, spending some seven or eight years in post-secondary education, much to his chagrin 😉 Nevertheless, I do not regret taking the necessary time to get an education, as it has greatly enhanced my understanding of the world I live in. I am not referring to the mass of information that colleges and universities disseminate into the minds of the relatively young. I am talking about the ability to think critically, debate, and to research continually. If anything I have learned through all those years of learning, it was to be a life-long learner.
Unfortunately, for some, learning almost stops after high school. People may adapt to their chosen field of work (and obviously learn new things) but they often remain immersed in the same narrow social and cultural situations as they did in high school. They do not venture outside of that which is comfortable to them, and thus, they never really grow intellectually and often spiritually also.
Of course, one cannot apply this kind of generalization to all people everywhere, but it is certainly true in much of western society.
I have often heard the statement,
Who needs an education…I have street smarts!
Well…what can I say to that? I have street smarts too, and an education! I went back to pursue a post-secondary education later in life BECAUSE of what I learned on the street.
Sorry bud, but street smarts alone do not cut it in the real world.
Again, this particular individual is justifying, for whatever reason(s), that education has no value and that learning on the street, including experiencing the hard knocks of life, is the best approach. I just happen to disagree.
One of the things I learned while working in a far northern health district is that former addicts do NOT always make the best drug and alcohol addiction counsellors. It was a cultural norm and acceptable social reality in the North to hire former addicts with a minimal educational background (certificate or diploma) to serve as addiction counsellors to their own people (the Metis and Aboriginal or Indigenous people of the North). The reality was that a few of these counsellors had an extraordinary high rate of absenteeism in the workplace. When a formal inquiry was made as to why this was happening, nine times out of ten the individual(s) concerned had fallen off the wagon and were once again deep in the grip of their alcohol or drug addiction. The pressures of the workplace, including the normal expectation of the counsellors fulfilling the requirements of their job was too much for some. As soon as management would zero in on a problematic employee, they would go on stress leave for six months costing the health district and the taxpayer a disproportionately large amount of money – only for the cycle to repeat itself over and over again.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I feel great compassion for many of these individuals – one or two of which I would consider to be friends. Addiction of any kind is a horrible thing to overcome. But, the decisions the health district made in hiring and then carrying these ineffectual employees over a long period of time was just plain STUPID, in my opinion. The concept that a supposedly recovered addict with street smarts and a minimal education is ideal as an addiction counsellor is ludicrous to me. The best counsellor we had in the entire health district was an educated young person from another country half way around the world. To the hiring managers and board who held to the old and ineffectual ways of doing things, this came as a great surprise. This person’s success as an addictions counsellor only seemed to amplify management’s own ineffectiveness and narrow point of view.
There is so much more that I would like to write about publicly, but unfortunately I am bound in perpetuity to privacy and procedural contractual obligations, not to mention personal ethics. There is much we can learn from life and living. If we possess a broader framework to comprehensively understand the philosophical, cultural, and religious underpinnings of society, we will do even better. Does any of the above necessitate that everyone should pursue some sort of formal post-secondary education? Of course not! But I can highly recommend venturing out of that which you are accustomed to and comfortable with, in order to truly become a life-long learner – a seeker of truth. Consider developing critical thinking and debating skills, and taking the necessary time to develop research skills – that alone will serve you well your entire life.
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