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“You’re A Pain In The Ass! Thank You”

by David Brock on July 17th, 2019

We should all be fortunate enough to have a few people that are “pain’s in the asses” to us.

Last week, I posted something on LinkedIn. My friend, Mike Webster, disagreed with me, and it was over one word.

I had used the word “but” in part of my “pontificating.” Mike challenged me on that, I provided a sloppy response. As he usually does, Mike didn’t let me off the hook. He challenged me again, then added, “Or am I being obtuse in my comments by focusing on your use of ‘but’?”

I realized that I had been really sloppy in my thinking, that if I had changed one word–but–to and, it changed everything and made the discussion much more powerful.

Mike cares enough, and consistently so, to be a pain in the ass. He expects me to be better than I often am, challenges me to think differently. He helps me to learn and execute at a higher level than I might otherwise.

I’m fortunate to have a few people in my life that call me on my BS. People who care about me enough, to help me be better than I might otherwise be. People, who are relentless, despite my stubbornness and blindness.

Often, it is uncomfortable. Often, I want to push back strongly–sometimes i do,, and they don’t relent. Often, I don’t like what people say, but I need to hear it.

I know it’s not about me, but it’s about ideas, clarity, learning and growing.

Leaders have the responsibility and obligations to be “pains in the assses,” to their people and to their own managers. Leaders have the responsibility and must care enough to be relentless in helping their people and their own managers grow, learn, and improve. Leaders must be committed to knowing that everyone can be better than they are, and committed to helping their people achieve that.

Please don’t misunderstand, being a pain in the ass is very different than being an asshole. Too many are the latter and too few of the former.

Each of us can and must be better than we are. We need to find people–managers, colleagues, friends, spouses/families–who care enough to be pains in the ass.

I hope you know who your pains in the ass are, I hope you pay attention to them, they are to you.

I’m blessed with having many, Thank You!

  1. Good article! Great perspective. Helps to keep those things in mind

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