Bearer of Bad News

I was recently watching Nova scienceNOW, and the host said something that really got me thinking:

Many people fear new information that might contain bad news beyond their control. But to fear bad news, by hiding from it, forfeits any opportunity to solve the problem.  –Neil deGrasse Tyson

It was like the doors from heaven opened up, and the light was shining on me!  I could not have said it better!  Neil’s comments reminded me of my work at a former employer.

At a previous employer, I was always finding problems that prevented our business from running efficiently.  Whether it were business process that were inefficiently or incorrectly designed, incorrect transactions that were being entered, or any number of other problems, there was always something on my mind.

I always felt like the guy that argued with everyone; someone that was never happy with the way things operated. I felt like an outsider.

Was it my constant search for efficiency?  Was it my nonacceptance of the status quo?  Why did I always feel like I was not appreciated?

During a discussion with a former manager, I was told I was frequently the “bearer of bad news”.  He told me he believed I always made valid points, and frequently solved problems, and ultimately was a valuable and talented employee.  But, he said, the “bearer of bad news” gets a bad reputation in many people’s minds. The bearer of bad news is always creating more work.

I thought about what he said for many days.  What he told me changed the way I think and act.  To this day, I think about my former manager’s comments often; I believe what he told me was very important to my professional and personal development.

My passion for process improvement and problem solving still persists.  But I have learned to prioritize problems/solutions, and only bring the most pressing ones to the attention of my managers and clients.

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