Over the last month alone, I had to make three very tough calls (not continuing a senior executive, saying no to a cohort, and meaningfully changing the setup of another).

Ultimately, those were, I think, the right calls, and yet I felt uneasy having to make them.

Let's explore potential narratives about why :

  1. While right calls, they hurt the ego of the recipients and it is hard to do it because our brains are hardwired to evade confrontation (social animals and all). My rational brain was right but my mammal instincts were hurting me ;
  2. While right calls, it was my responsibility to hire the right people and setup good conditions, and I failed at that. Hence, those tough choices for the recipients are also my responsibility and yet they are the ones disproportionnaly hurt by those, hence feeling uneasy ;
  3. Those were wrong calls.

On 1, there is an indisputable ego part. It's strange how certain situations (hiring/firing, go/nogo) are so one-or-the-other and not a specter. No, John, you're not the right cultural fit for a full time position, but let's have you as a consultant for 1 day a week. Ego is a natural thing and I guess having to witthstand those kind of attacks comes with the job desc, and one ends up just being the recipient of something that is internal to one's counterpart.

On 2. , I'm divided between my (somewhat toxic) tendency to think everything is my fault/responsibility and thinking I've gone to great lenghts to try and create an environment where individual responsibility is magnified. Yet, I find myself repeatedly in positions where I have to make the calls, usually based on people behaviours and skills, backed by facts. The fact I'm torn in making it makes me infer that I don't like doing that (i.e not being a psycopath), even if an unconscious bias to do it remains a possibility. Yet, still not what I think. However, responsibility for those kind of calls are always mixed, and they obviously hit asymetrically, so there's merit in this.

On 3., time will tell. Those kind of "what if" scenarii are never clear, so maybe the info won't be available properly.

On a more general level, and as hygiene, I should strive for sound decisionmaking and quick, genuine reactions to deviation. Total and perfect information is not available, especially on people matter, so the best you can aim for is perfection of process and genuineness, but not absence of hiccups along the way. Kind of like the perfect japanese society that has thieves, police and jails : perfect situation has coping mechanisms because the world is imperfect and future is uncertain. In this world, avoiding conflict and those situations is the proof you never tried, which is equivalent to not taking risks, which finally leads to status quo and the void.

Which brings one of favourite topics for another journaling entry : our complete modern western hatred for sound confrontation in modern democracy ultimately leads to self destruction, because total consensus is zero entropy, which is the "cold death".

Time to build.