Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When "Idealism" means something else ...

"Adam, you're very idealistic."
Lately, I'm much more aware of people and what they mean -- as opposed to what they say.

My epiphany today is people usually aren't being positive when they say this. It's kind of like saying "thank you", but not meaning "thank you" (watch the edited-for-television version of Goodfellas, if you need help with that concept).

At best, they mean,
"Adam, you're being naive."
Or the slightly more derogatory,
"Adam, I think that's very Pollyanna."
The wake up I had, though, is it's usually a bigger deal than this. When someone uses this phrase with me (particularly at BigHugeCorp), it's when I'm taking an ethical stand.

For example, OneWhoHasPower at BigHugeCorp once sat me down to say, "Your doing the right thing is much admired. However, 'Doing the right' thing can be a little subjective." (Note: It wasn't at this little sit-down.)

So, assuming I am in the right, they're not praising me for my idealism -- they're marginalizing my stance to justify their lack of one (or to justify their stance on the "wrong" side).

Put bluntly, if I'm doing right, and they don't want to invest the effort or burn the political capital, they minimize my stance as being "idealistic" -- and implicitly unrealistic, and therefore not valid.

Well, thank you ...

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