Hot Tub Math or Style – Why Leader’s Should Know the Difference.

We have a hot tub, it was here when we bought our home. It’s a nice feature to warm up in or to relax tired muscles. A few years ago my husband and I were in the hot tub and we were discussing WestJet’s new rewards and points program. We have had trouble with Air Canada so we were excited to hear that WestJet was now in the game. 

So we calculated, what we felt we could gain in a year. We came up with around $2400.00. Wow! We were wrong, very wrong. But we didn’t realize that until later when we both had come out of the hot tub coma and realized our math was poor at best.  We laughed and named it ‘hot tub math’. Every so often we bring up hot tub math when we realize we have once again miscalculated something. And the good part is it helps us acknowledge our mistake in a comical way but it also helps us check our work.

How often do you check your work or have someone else check it? How often do you send it for review and then get offended that someone changed something? I write for our local paper and I’m lucky in the sense that they don’t edit much material besides article titles. But my last column they didn’t capitalize three words that I had been deliberate in capitalizing for specific reasons. Of course, I hadn’t shared with them why I capitalized them, which may be the reason they changed them or maybe they just like it better their way? 

It is part of the deal with Editors, they can change it and I won’t know until I read it in the paper. I don’t necessarily like that, but it’s the rules of their business so I respect it.

It’s hard to not take things personally when people seem to change things for the sake of changing things and the changes don’t really add value. They make it different so that it’s not what you presented – they make it different because they can – and it’s demotivating. 

Having your team check their work is positive. Even going so far as you checking their work is positive because sometimes due to our environment or other factors we miscalculate and proceed on a very wrong path.  But, and this is a sizeable but, don’t check everything and don’t change things that don’t need to be changed. As the leader it’s your job to coach them towards improvement and evolution, it’s not your job to do it for them, it’s your job to teach them so they can do it themselves.

It important that you recognize the difference between ‘hot tub math’ and style. Let the control be in the respect seen through their efforts. Let go of the small things that are subjective and make a decision to encourage them to try new things, to fail, to recover and to rebuild. 

After all, a few instances of hot tub math just may result in some extraordinary solutions or outcomes.  Believe that the possibility of genius exists in error. Believe their may be a new or different way that is better than your way. Believe that you can learn something, every day. And then step back and realize what a gift that is…because its what you learn after you know it all that counts.
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