I got a charming email from K.P. Springfield about his book "The Five Habits of Highly Successful Slackers." K.P. wrote approvingly of my suggestion that "Indifference is as important as passion." I made the suggestion on a serious note, as there are times when a bit of emotional detachment can help people cope with stressful situations. K.P.s book and his website take the idea of not caring -- and goofing-off -- much further. And do it in a much funnier way (well, at least the website is funny, I actually haven't read the book). I especially recommend the Slacker Quiz on his website. Consider a sample question:
3. If you are in a situation where either a co-worker or a
manager is trying to blame you for the failure of a project or other
assignment, and you have proof that you are not to blame, do you:
A) Go over that person’s head and prove with the information that you are innocent.
B) Send the accuser an email with a subject line that says “Herpes Test Results” while they are in a large meeting with their computer screen on a projector.
C) Sit down with the individual and try to work out the conflict.
D) Take the evidence, throw it up in the air and say “Whatever!”
K.P. tells us that the right answer is "D" because "Successful slackers never stand-up for for what they think is right, because in the corporate world, it doesn't matter who is right."
Alas, this strikes me as too true in too many organizations that I know. There are far too many organizations where speaking-up just gets you in trouble, and has little effect on the organization. This isn't just an opinion, research on whistle blowers and people who "speak-up" documents the dangers -- see Fred Alford's book Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power for an example.
As for the slacker book, I feel obligated to order it, even though KP wrote me that: "I had The 5 Habits printed with the absolute highest quality paper, giving it exceptional burn qualities. So at a minimum, if the book fails to entertain, I can assure you that it won't fail as effective fireplace kindling this holiday season."
Frankly, in a world where too many people take themselves entirely too seriously (I plead guilty), K.P.'s attitude is refreshing. Perhaps my reaction is fueled by the two days that I spent at a creativity conference at Harvard Business School last week. It was a splendid conference (Diego blogged a bit about it), but HBS is a VERY serious place. Everyone always seems too earnest about things there, and I find myself acting that way there as well. K.P.'s book reminded me that I need to lighten-up a bit.