The Sayings of Little Dickey Carroll

“You don’t always get what you pay for, but you very seldom get what you don’t pay for.”

“People say I’m arrogant. That’s incorrect. Those who say that are just jealous because I’m better than they are!”

OK, OK – I stole this one. But it’s pretty much spot on!

“People say I’m sarcastic. I’m not sarcastic. I just have a well developed and highly refined sense of irony.”

It’s strictly coincidental that my favorite book is The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm – A Lexicon for Those of Us Who Are Better and Smarter than the Rest of You

“People think I’m funny. I’m not. I’m just really mean and they think I’m joking!”

OK – I stole this one, too.

“My people skills are actually great. It’s my tolerance for idiots that needs work!”

Yeah – I also stole this one. If you think you’re detecting a pattern, it’s probably autocorrelation or something!

“What’s the difference between a War Story and a Fairy Tale? Well, a Fairy Tale begins with “Once upon a time…” A War Story begins with “Now, this ain’t no Bulls**t, there I was…” The Huey Pilot’s version goes: “Now, this ain’t no Bulls**t, there I was, on short, short final, knee deep in hand grenade pins, when…”

“Some people say ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life.’ Well, not necessarily. My take on this is: ‘If your wife is happy, you may or may not be happy. But if your wife is unhappy, I guarantee you’re gonna be unhappy!”

“Numbers… If you torture them long enough and rigorously enough, you can get them to tell you anything you want to hear.”

See also “…Darrell Huff’s book How to Lie With Statistics (1954). ProverbEdit · if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything”

“Motivation is a self-induced phenomenon.”

Kinda like the old phrase “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The leader can only control the environment and set the conditions – at least to an extent – to make it more likely or less likely that the individual will internalize the organizational goals. The actual decision to perform can only be made by the individual.

“As a leader, it is far more important to appear as though you know what you’re doing than to actually know.”

If the leader is confident and appears competent, then the subordinates will follow, whether or not the leader knows what she/he is doing. (And if the leader doesn’t know, hopefully he/she is relying upon subordinates who DO!) But if the leader does not display confidence and competence, it matters not how much she/he knows or how correct the decisions and orders are, no one will follow!

“On the sands of hesitation
Lie the bones of countless millions
Who, on the brink of their success
Lay down to rest, and resting, died.”

This particular vignette entered my lexicon one Autumn 1962 morning in a 9th grade Honors Organic Chemistry Class after the class as a whole failed to live up to the teacher’s expectations on a test the day before. Obviously, it made a lasting impression on me! I have no idea where he got it from, but I’ve seen different versions of it variously attributed. This particular teacher, whose name I do not remember, came to McKnight Junior High School, Renton (Washington) School District, for a single year. Most of his prior experience had been in private schools where the standards were a bit higher than (or at least different from) the standards in the public school system. He received much flack from his peers because he always had a pack of non-filter Lucky Strike cigarettes in his dress shirt pocket. Sadly, I believe he only stayed that one year and went back to the private school environment the following year. But I was truly lucky to have him as a teacher that one year!

“There are two sets of organizational values.

  • First, there are the stated organization values, as published in various mission and value statements out there for the world to see, and which the organization will always publicly espouse and defend.
  • Then, there are the actual organization values, which can only be learned by observing what behaviors are rewarded, and what behaviors are punished.

All too frequently, the two value sets bear little relationship to each other.”

This is from lessons in the Military Ethics and Law classes I taught for 4 years to my MS IV (Senior Class) ROTC Cadets, and was the last course prior to graduation and commissioning.

The Army teaches (or at least taught at one time) that there are three basic leadership styles.

  • First, there is Delegative Leadership.  With this style, the leader delegates authority to his/her subordinate, and then backs the subordinate in the decisions that are made.  This is commonly the most recommended style for new leaders who lack practical experience – such as brand new Second Lieutenants, who must learn from and be guided by their experienced Noncommissioned Officers.
  • Second, there is Participative Leadership, where the group leader involves members of his group in analyzing the task at hand and determining the best way to accomplish that task with the resources available.  This is the preferred style of leadership in most instances, where time is not a critical issue, because the group will most likely consider a wider range of options, and, because the group is involved in the process, they are much more likely to internalize the goals and more actively pursue task accomplishment.  It’s critical, however, that the group understands that even though they are participating in the decision making process, the final decision always belongs to the group leader.  It’s NOT a democracy!
  • Lastly, there is authoritative leadership, where the leader, without input from his/her subordinates, dictates what is to be done, and who will accomplish which subtasks.  This style of leadership is most commonly used when critical task parameters are pretty clearly specified from above, and/or there is insufficient time to use the Participative style.  (Basically, we gotta take that hill, and take it right now – follow me, and Charge!)

I always told my Cadets that they should not be afraid to use Authoritative Leadership when it was necessary.  That’s why they were gonna be wearing that bar.  But that they should only use it when it was necessary.  They needed to consider that every leader’s Authoritative Leadership was like a little black box.  They never knew how much they had inside the box (and the “quantity” could vary for any number of reasons), and they never knew when the box was gonna come up empty.  But when it ran out, people, including themselves, were likely to start dying.

At several of my last employed positions, I may have been known to display a poster or two with my thoughts on a particularly ironic event or condition. Some of my former co-workers may have seen some of these before…