AD IMPOSSIBILIA NEMO TENETUR OH, YEH!
Time to catch up on your Latin! The phrase, AD IMPOSSIBILIA NEMO TENETUR, means no one is expected to do the impossible. How quaint. Because every boss is expected to do the impossible;
- You do not get to choose who works under you!
- You do not get to promote those you think worthy!
- You do not get to fire anyone without HR input!
- You do not get to pay people more or less money!
- You do not get to reassign people!
- You do not get to increase or decrease workload!
- You do not get to change the working conditions!
- And yet,
- A GOOD MANAGER CAN MOTIVATE ANYONE!
What this suggests is that most bosses work under AD IMPOSSIBILIAR NEMO TENETUR and, often, internalize it – they actually believe they can do the impossible. And this is, to be blunt, MADNESS.
In my younger days I ran workshops for very senior international consultants working for Royal Dutch Shell, at that time, the largest company in the world. And recognizing the difference between their experience and mine, I gave them an assignment: “Based on your experience, create a one flip-chart page answer to this question – WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING I HAVE LEARNED IN MY CAREER?” Many wonderful responses but the one that stuck with me was the phrase:“ WHY IS THERE NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, BUT ALWAYS ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT OVER.” Is that an AD IMPOSSILILIAR or what!
The work world is MAD, impossible, frustrating, mind-boggling, insane, crazy, etc., etc., etc.,
And so the question is – what to do about it?
- You can blame yourself: “I could/should be doing more!
- You can blame another: “My boss is an ass” OR “My subordinates suck.”
- You can rationalize: “there are thousands of reasons.”
- You can quote Latin ad infinitum –
- AD IMPOSSIBILIAR NEME TENETUR
- Which means to recognize the nature of a situation,
- Do your best! Have a sense of humor! Eat a good meal, drink some wine!