- May 3, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Business, Management
“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
I’ve always been a big fan of Winston Churchill, and as I was growing up, I adopted several of his quotes as philosophies to live by. This month, I’ll discuss four quotes that have guided me over my professional career.
Imagine working toward a distant goal your entire life. You start your own business, or you have a career goal. Everything you’ve done was to take you to that point. You studied, you networked, you worked late hours, you made sacrifices, and then you flushed it all away with one stupid decision. That has to be one of the worst feelings in the world.
I’ve had to terminate employees because they made one poor decision. I once fired an employee who ran across a moving conveyor because he didn’t want to use a catwalk. It was a hydraulic conveyor that would never have stopped if he had slipped; he would have been cut in half.
I’ve had to fire employees who I found sleeping on the third shift. They were clocking in and then sleeping during their work time. Another time, I fired a couple that had been caught in a compromising position among the inventory shelves.
In these cases (and many more), we had worked for years to build the business up, and were in danger of having our work undone or damaged because one person didn’t think things through. Whether it was an injury, mismanagement, or even ill-advised relationships, years and years of hard work could have been hurt by someone else’s poor choice.
Undoing a Political Career With One Word
Frank Artiles was elected to the Florida Senate in November 2016, after serving three terms in the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 to 2016. Artiles is the son of Cuban immigrants, and devoted his entire life to serving his country and his state.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1998, and served overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, as well as part of a drug operation with the Drug Enforcement Agency in Spain. He became a lawyer, and also earned his Master of Laws degree.
And he undid it all on Monday, April 17, 2017, just six days before his 44th birthday.
Artiles was at the Governors Club, an exclusive club in Tallahassee, with several other people, including fellow senators, Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, both of whom are Democrats and African-American.
During the conversation, he called one of them a “b*tch” and a “girl,” and referred to some fellow senators as “N-words.” He later said he that used a slang term for the “N-word,” but that didn’t lessen the damage.
After the not-unexpected national uproar, Artiles mad a public apology from the Senate floor on Wednesday the 19th; Senator Thurston requested an investigation and Artiles’ expulsion.
But before the investigation was even compete, Artiles resigned on Friday, April 21, five days after he insulted his fellow senators, undoing what had looked to be a promising political career.
Frank Artiles had studied law, fought for his country, and then worked for the citizens of his districts. He built through “the slow and laborious task of years,” but he destroyed it in a thoughtless act of a single
Just one use of a word most of us know to never say ended Artiles’ political career, possibly forever.
This is why leaders need to be thoughtful and judicious. They need to carefully consider their decisions and even their words, because what you say in anger, can undo everything you’ve worked so carefully to create.
As a leader, you need to remember this advice for yourself, but you also need to watch out for it in your own business, in case some thoughtless person can possibly undo all your hard work with their own thoughtless act.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Florida House of Representatives (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)