THE TYRANNY OF THE OR vs BOTH/ AND
I am going to assume that you have never heard of the phrase, “the tyranny of the or”, and that is OK because I had never heard of the phrase either. Though you cannot imagine how a two letter word can cause tyranny, I will attempt to provide you with a few examples of how strong these two letters can be when used negatively. The obvious definition that comes to mind when we hear the word tyranny is similar to a cruel and oppressive government. However, the second definition of tyranny is “cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control.” You may be thinking that you are not cruel, that you do not use your power to control someone or that your request is usually not unreasonable. I understand your thought that tyranny does not apply to your life. I am sure you are led to believe that you are justified for the greater good. We all have used the word “or” ourselves and have heard the word “or” said to us at some point As a parent, you tell your child to be home by 10:00 pm or he/she will be grounded. As a coach, you tell the team at halftime that they better start playing better in the second half or you will run on Monday. Your boss may have told you that job better be done by 5:00 pm or you will stay later without overtime pay. When the word, “or” is brought to someone in a negative fashion, the attitude of the receiver is never positive. In each case listed above, the person stating the “or” was more interested in the results than the person who’s listening. The line that fluctuates between people is sometimes gray. The parent, the coach and the boss may have lived under the tyranny of the “or” when they were younger. They may live under that tyranny currently and when they choose to carry the “or” flag it only hurts those who listen. When someone demands results and results only, there is always a price to pay. The teenager may walk in the door at 10:00 pm exactly, the team will win and the product will get completed. Yes, the results were achieved but at what price? The teenager will go to his room without saying good night, the players will not want to listen to the postgame speech and the customer will receive a subpar product. When you are focused on results ahead of people you are waving the flag of tyranny and people close to you know it.
Even if you are not a parent, a coach or a boss, you are still a leader. Our responsibility as a leader is more than just results. We can get our results when we replace the word “or” with words like both/and. It is our mission to elevate the growth of those we serve and the development of each person. When we treat people like human beings with a both/and philosophy the results will happen and our goals will be achieved. We can love the teenager so he comes home on time without the threat of being grounded. We can identify what the players do well and value each of them on the first day of practice where they will police themselves at halftime. The boss can reinforce the importance of the employee to the process of a product and that item will not only been completed by 5:00 pm and it will be done with perfection.
I am all for consequences and understand that my growth and improvement as an individual comes from realizing the positive or negative effects of my actions. I just believe that there is a better way to change the consequences. We can get the results we want when we focus on the people over the results. Results matter, but more importantly, people matter more every day and every time. Beginning today, treat those around you with love and you will get even better results than you can imagine.