SUBJECT: Urgent! Important To Do item

17 07 2013


The email read:


I’m on the plane and just finished reading Leadership and Self Deception. I’d like you to read it over the next 2 weeks, so I can discuss it with you when I return. It will help you deal with me when I’m driving you crazy.

It’s an easy read and written in the “story” mode.  Please order the book by Monday.  Enjoy the upcoming holiday!





B#(!  $#!+

When Bill addresses you this way, you must oblige.  However, you are unable to send the reply until you had read the email about 30 times.  By the end, you had it memorized.  And you were muttering the words to yourself as you went about your day. “It will help you deal with me when I’m driving you crazy.”  Talk about reverse psychology!  C’mon. What is Bill thinking?  He is talking to YOU!  You can see right through that one.  So while Bill is enjoying himself on vacation sipping a cold frosty, you will reluctantly and defensively read the book! (great attitude, right?) Of course not!

You consider yourself a student of self- improvement.  you pride yourself on personal reflection coupled with an honest assessment.  You have read dozens of books, spent countless hours with your business coach and performed mental yoga to get where you are today.  You are an Eye-Cubed Leader with the ability to inspire, innovate and implement with the best of them.  “Self-Deception” my @$$!

But why did this email flatten you the way it did even before you opened page one of the book?  You were not in the mood for the lessons but had to think.  That is what Eye-Cubed Leadership is all about.  You would have loved the book from the outset if you selected it yourself and read it in the comfort of your bed, the privacy of your plane seat or on the cushion of your couch.  You didn’t want anyone thinking that you were leading in a world of self-deception.

So on Monday, having read the book, you stormed into Bill’s office,  didn’t say good morning to anyone and then saw him for the first time in over two weeks.

“Welcome back!  Good to see you”  You were hoping your boss couldn’t see through your anxiety and frustration.

“I have one question for you that will clear up everything for me and set me in the right direction for the rest of the day.  That book……something about self-deception…….Did you have our entire Sr. Management team read that or was that just for me?”  Could Bill see the vein in your neck pulsating?

“No.  Not at all.  I got that for all of my direct reports.  I loved the book and was wondering if others felt that way as well.  I don’t push books out to the entire management team anymore unless I get positive feedback first.  Why do you ask?”

Your heart calmed down.  The heat behind your eyes chilled.  Your anxiety disappeared.  And now you could laugh!  And you did.

As you were about to walk out of Bill’s office, you contended, “Bill, you have no idea what I went through since you sent that email.  I bet all of us felt that way.  While I haven’t heard from anyone about this book, I can imagine that each of us have been stressing about this over the past couple of weeks.  How funny is this!”

“I guess I blew it.” Bill exclaimed. “ Now you know that I need to read more of these books!  I have a lot to learn.”  He said with that grin going ear to ear.

“So do I!”  You thought to yourself.

It was all cool now.  You found out several of Bill’s reports felt the same way you had when you got the email.  Each of the direct reports handled it a little differently.  However, in the end, Bill simply wanted to expose his team to an interesting way of thinking.  He never would have predicted the outcome.


  • LESSON 1:              Be careful about the email directives that you send!  Eye Cubed Leaders consider the audience as well as the possible miscommunications that may arise.
  • LESSON2:            The most” URGENT:  Important to do item” may be to pick up the phone and ask what is going on.  Eye Cubed Leaders control their frustration by communicating openly and directly keeping it far from the boiling point.



5 responses

17 07 2013
Jim Kerwin


Great story. Thanks for sharing. This type of miscommunication happens every day causing undue stress between management everywhere.

Well done

PS – I’ll pick up the book



17 07 2013

Great post David. It is vitally important to keep in mind how your message will be received. Ignoring this is the short path to scorched earth – intentionally or unintentionally. Also what did you think of the book?


17 07 2013
Sean McGinley

That is a funny story. Unfortunately, my experience wasnt so perplexing! I jusat read the book. Although the point about emails is true, when there is some hint of a miscommunication, people should pick up the phone to clarify. The human voice is still the best communication tool out there. Sean

17 07 2013
Jessica Cruz

Too funny, but true. great story.

17 07 2013

Your story is a classic “I heard what you said, but do I really understand what you mean” moment. We are all guilty of brooding about someone’s unclear message and creating our own storylines from the words. I absolutely agree that the best way to avoid buliding ourself into a frenzy is to just ask for clarification – sooner rather than later!! And I’m comin’ over to ask you for a copy of that book!!

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