Stubborn Leaders Get Stuck

Two men are walking towards each other. The first guy thinks “That guy needs to step away from my path”. The other guy thinks “Looks like I need to step aside.” No conflict. The other guy steps aside, goes work and lives happily ever after making games.

The other man continues walking on his path. His philosophy is that he will never step aside, because it’s a question of principle. He knows that tough guys won’t step aside. He encounters many people on his path, but manages to make others step away from his path.

Until one day.

He encounters equally stubborn man – and they both stop walking. Neither one steps aside. It’s a question of principle. Both of them wasted time, grew a very long beard and felt really bad for the rest of their lives.

The end.

Do you know leaders like that?
Do you know people like those in the story. I’ve met some – actually quite very – who are “stepping aside” when needed. They are not avoiding everything. They will negotiate when needed, but they won’t get stuck or waste time because of stupid principles.

Then I know some people who waste great amount of time because they just don’t know when it’s good time to be flexible, and good time to be strict. They think being strict always is the best strategy (and to be honest, I also personally sometimes have this problem in certain situations. For example, sometimes I cannot stand waiting just a few minutes…).

The problem with being strict always is that it’s not a flexible strategy. It will get you stuck. It will mean wasted time on small details that have no real value compared to bigger objectives. It might mean you get stuck on doing timetables in a certain way when in reality you should be focused on working the project. It might mean that you don’t get the right talent in your team, because he might be doing work in different way than you expect.

Being stubborn is not a good strategy. Not for anyone who wants to make progress.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Jake: Heh, thanks – but It’s not *that* much of a problem… ;)

    @Rodrigo: Great to hear that :) And Nintendo DS… if the problem gets bigger I’ll promise to consider that. At this point I can deal with it ;)

  2. Nice article! It helped me make my point in an argument with my wife.

    I believe I’m like the guy who steps aside, but there’s also a bad side of being like this. People usually look at someone who avoids conflict as if he is afraid of sticking with his principles, or just too lazy to care. It’s like your boss blaming you for not sharing your thoughts in a meeting when you know that saying what you think would made him look like an idiot.

    As for your waiting problem, hey, that’s why they invented handhelds like Nintendo DS :)

  3. Autobiographical story from the streets of Helsinki?
    Book recommendation: “Notes from the underground” / Dostoyevsky.
    There’s a part dealing with this two men street bumping – problem.
    Brilliant book, not as long as other works of D., too.

  4. Hey if you get fed up waiting for a few minutes try looking around you and seeing “abundance” in everything, like maybe plants, or cars, or people or fag butts, whatever it doesn’t matter. Let the Universe know that you appreciate abundance and then you’ll get more of it, you are also training your mind that there are no limits that you can tap into infinite potential.

    If that ain’t your bag try deep breathing right down into your gut. As you breathe out imagine emptying body of toxins and mind of negativity and feel all worries leave your system. Then when you breath in feel healing energy revitalise your organs and mind and spirit. Repeat. You can do this fairly subtly if you are worried about looking funny.

    Or if that ain’t your bag, think about what you are going to code next and visualise it done and looking good and then work out paths to get there.

  5. Well all be damned – I’ve never heard of Dr. Seuss. So… this my story was similar to childrens story? Looks so. :)

    This actually reminds me what Dilbert wrote in one of his cartoon books (Dilbert’s future or something in English). He said he came up with an idea that had a witty word fun regarding Placebo (I can dig the story if you really must know) and had already sketched the strip. Before finishing it, he saw exactly the same joke in some magazine – and decided to trash his because he knew that he couldn’t use a joke that was already used by somebody else.

    It happens. :)

  6. Oh, stink. I didn’t even read the other comments. Lol.
    So owned myself.

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