POINT TO PONDER
Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision.
-Darren L. Johnson
STORYLINE by Rajiv Shah
In the year 130 B.C. a Roman consul, Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus (say that three times fast), stood with his army at the town wall of the Greek city Pergamum, devising a way to get in. After staring at the wall for a time, Mucianus decided that he needed a battering ram to smash through the town walls, and he needed a big one.
Having passed a shipping yard in Athens only a few days prior, Mucianus ordered that the largest mast be sent to him immediately to be used as his weapon. The command was sent out.
The military engineer who received the order was an accomplished, learned, and intelligent engineer. One of the brightest in Rome. The engineer deduced that the best mast to use in destroying Pergamum's city walls was not the largest, but a smaller one that would generate enough speed and force to demolish the wall.
The engineer argued endlessly with the soldiers who had brought the request. The soldiers warned that Mucianus was a proud man that shouldn't be argued with. Finally, the engineer reluctantly agreed with the soldiers to send the largest mast.
Alone with his thoughts and going over his reasoning again, the engineer decided that it was foolish to send a mast that was so obviously inferior and that he believed, would not work. So when the time came, he sent a smaller mast against the wishes of Mucianus.
Upon receiving the smaller mast, Mucianus flew into a rage. Seething that his orders were deliberately disobeyed, Mucianus ordered that the engineer be brought before him.
The engineer argued his case and explained his reasoning for sending the smaller mast. Mucianus ordered to put the engineer to death by stripping him naked, flogging him, and lashing him with rods until he bled to death. The engineer was executed.
But in the end, the engineer was right, the smaller mast was the one to use. Mucianus ignored the engineer's analysis and went ahead with his plans. Eventually Mucianus lost the battle and his life, having died at the hands of his Greek enemies, while retreating his armies from Pergamum's walls.
This story has ego leading to the downfall of two people. Ego destroying them both in two very different ways. It begs the question of who really was right?
The engineer of course, as his data was accurate. But was he really? He did lose his life in the process. What he didn't take into account was Mucianus' own ego. So he pushed the issue, neglecting to recognize that people often don't like being wronged or disobeyed. So the engineer pushed his data, his correct analysis, and it led to his execution.
On the other hand, we have Mr. Mucianus who wouldn't allow himself to hear another person's point of view. The engineer's analysis was correct, validated by experience and knowledge that he himself did not possess. However, he was the leader and Mucianus would have his way no matter if data or evidence proved otherwise. So he proceeded as he wished and inevitably lost the battle, and his life, because he refused to acknowledge the engineer's experience.
I assume I need not highlight how this storyline is applicable to today's corporate world. I suspect we still deal with similar issues and power struggles in the workplace. It's a damn shame because it seems if we checked our egos at the door we could do so much more work, and do it correctly. The upside is we aren't put to death in the workplace today for acting out of our own egos.
At least I hope not.
Repeat from the original reflection of August 25, 2011. Comments from original reflection are reposted.