Zen Mischief


The Tao of Life and Work

The uncollected sayings of the wise master


The Tao of Life

Home is like a geranium: look after it well and it will flower and give you eternal happiness.

There is no such thing as common sense.

If it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Corollary: If it works for you, keep doing it.

If you don't enjoy it, don't do it.

If you find it stressful, don't do it.

Try anything twice: the second time to be sure your first impression was correct.

Marriage is like a bed of roses: it looks pretty, but also has thorns.

All relationships (sexual, friendship or working) are a continual exercise in making compromises.

If you see anything God didn't make, heave a brick at it.

Nudity is normal – after all, we're all born that way!

Sex, too, is normal – it's part of our biological programming; without it we'd not be here.

Is seminal fluid a meat by-product?
Corollary: Do vegetarians have oral sex?


The Tao of Un-Life (aka. Work)

The wise master he say that work is like a cactus: it has many thorns and sucks the ground dry, yet rarely flowers to bring pleasure to those who observe it.

All work is prostitution.

If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. (cf. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

Management is the skill of making decisions based on too little information, and getting most of them right.

The basic rules of management:
1. Don't commit to anything.
2. Never put anything in writing.
3. Look after the people and the work will look after itself.

If you're not making occasional mistakes, you're not taking enough risks to develop the business.

You cannot take an organisation which is out of control and reorganise it to bring it under control. Even in organisations which are out of control, people know who does what so the work gets done. Reorganisation results in people not knowing who does what, and hence is itself an inhibitor to efficiency and control. First you have to get some control into the working organisation, even if that organisation is not structured as you would wish; only when this is successfully implemented can you reorganise to achieve the benefits of improved structure and improved control.

Conflict between boss and subordinate arises when they are working in different styles (see below).

There are three basic styles in which companies or groups work:
Process Style: Everything is done according to a procedure, which is monitored because no-one is trusted to follow the procedure.
Audit Style: Everything is required to be numbered and in it's place at all times, which is monitored because no-one is trusted and we always expect an auditor.
Marketing Style: I don't care what you do, or how you do it, as long as the job gets done.
Of course there are organisations which want so much control they combine the Process and Audit styles. In my experience this is a recipe for disaster: the guys on the "shop-floor" are eventually forced to switch into Marketing Style in order to get anything done, and hence very quickly the whole organisation is out of control.

According to recent surveys (for example see here and here) the top workplace stressors are:

  • Workload
  • Feeling undervalued
  • Deadlines
  • Type of work people have to do
  • Having to take on other people's work
  • Lack of job satisfaction
  • Lack of control over the working day
  • Having to work long hours
  • Frustration with the working environment
  • Targets
  • Fear of redundancy
  • Exposure to traumatic incidents
  • Inability to say "no"
  • Constant change
  • Workplace bullying
  • Poor prospect of progress/promotion
  • Lack of communications, up and down the chain of command
  • Unclear policies and no sense of direction
  • Mistrust, unfairness, and office politics
  • The treadmill syndrome