“No pressure, no diamonds” – Thomas Carlyle

Ever so often I have people telling me about the different phrases managers use to rally them towards an objective. I have a friend who was annoyed (and rightly so) by the product owner (I think, in any case it was someone from the client side) using weird adapted NFL talk to thank him for a suggestion he had made during one of their meetings. It was something along the lines of “well done X, very good suggestion of you, we are glad to have this mind of yours on our team etc”. And while it made me raise my left eyebrow in a bit of disbelief while also making me laugh, slightly, it was far from the stupidest quotes I’ve ever heard.

The one we’re about to dissect I’ve seen people use as a motivational quote/excuse for either leaving projects to be done on the day before the deadline when in school or as a means to come across as phylosophical in their IM app or social media status (Skype, Facebook etc). And I’m pretty confident that somewhere on Mother Earth, at the very moment you are reading this, there is a project manager unnecessarily adding pressure to his team to overcommit and deliver the goods at the end of the sprint simply by having this quote in mind.

While not necessarily untrue, it encourages bad to very bad behavior like the ones mentioned above. I know that when you have a bit of pressure on you you tend to deliver the goods, but there is a very good chance that the end result is not on par with the quality you set out to have (or the quality that the client desires). There is also the fact that we are humans, and using a charcoal analogy on oneself might end up crippling one’s motivation and self-respect.

And don’t even get me started on parents who torment their kids to constantly perform or overperform on just about any area of their life because they want their little offspring to be the very best, like no one ever was. The effect that this has on a child over time is a very dangerous one, as I’ve seen a lot of college students simply crack under the pressure of meeting the standards laid out to them by the very people who gave them life. And while keeping your kid in line is something I condone, constantly wanting him to be the best in every area, maybe areas he simply dislikes and can’t perform in will lead to him breaking at some point. But hey, you’ll have a diamond to show off to others in the end, who cares how much damage you inflict on the original entity in order to reach its polished state, am I right?

So people, students, parents, managers etc…stop it with this behavior. You may think the end result is good, but you have to take into consideration the collateral damage that results from the constant chiseling done to those around you. After all, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


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