Being Dave. And Robert. And Lucy.

Carrying on the theme of whimsy from last week I had an interesting week this week where I did almost no development at all. You see this week I’ve been only answering questions. Why? Well I’m trying to be Dave and I think I might have gone too far.

Dave – a go go

Let me explain. Dave is a person, yes. But Dave is more than a person. Dave is a way of life. A way of life that could make you popular and respected where you work but at tremendous personal cost.

I first met the real Dave about 4 years ago. A couple of years younger than me he was quite the most dynamic and down-to-earth person I had ever met up until that point. He was also well respected (by technologists and business people), well liked and quite successful.

If you could try and categorize what being Dave is about into a well-known personality type then I think he’d be an incrementalist, but beyond that Dave somehow knows everything, is very easy to talk to, and eager to help. This combination of traits means Dave ends up answering a lot of questions.

The most interesting thing about this combination of traits is that once you decide on being Dave you will end up being involved in a lot of things. The more things you’re involved in the wider the knowledge of your Dave-ness will spread. It’s a vicious circle.

American-slang has a great word for Dave he’s the go-to-guy. It sums it up very neatly, but it’s a bit Ronseal. I prefer Dave. It’s more about a person, which is exactly what being Dave is all about.

Robert – do do do

But the garden of Dave is not all roses. Eventually you know too much. Too many people know-that-Dave-knows and that Dave will help them if Dave doesn’t know. In short, every one will want a piece of your Dave-ass.

The late Robert Townsend in his excellent book says:

The world is divided into two classes of people: the few people who make good on their promises (even if they don’t promise as much), and the many who don’t. Get in column A and stay there. You’ll be very valuable wherever you are

Being Dave is counter-productive to this noble aim. As word spreads that there’s a new Dave in town your personal productivity will nose-dive and you can’t promise shit. You’ve stopped doing your own work and you’ve become the grease that keeps the company moving, a facilitator rather than a producer.

Lucy – no no no

This is where you have to sprinkle a dash of Lucy. Lucy Kellaway is a columnist for the FT and is a commentator on managerial and workplace cults. Her advice is probably the sagest of all. Sometimes you just have to say no. A lot of time and effort can be saved by saying ‘No’. The trick is to say ‘No’ without actually ever saying it.

Indeed in our insane ‘Yes’ culture the only way you can be Dave and Robert, and hold your sanity, is to be Lucy too. Just as long as your remember who you are you’ll be just fine.

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