The greatest staffing problems today aren’t about a lack of workers, but about a lack of competent workers.


Balancing Act®: The Newsletter

(No. 279, November 2022)

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Balancing Act® is in four sections based on famous quotations:

  1. Post-Post-Post-Pandemic
  2. Musings: Surrounded by incompetence
  3. The Human Condition: Regrets
  4. ORTIYKMWOYBNT-O Department

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  • Anything you write or speak about using pandemic lessons is already dated. But for the record….
  • Strong organizations become stronger in crisis, weak ones disappear.
  • It’s astounding that most businesses are hiring yet the people applying are not exactly the brightest bulbs.
  • I don’t care if people wear masks or not, and we shouldn’t have to ask people to “respect” others’ choices.
  • It seems we’re experiencing a permanent decline in shaking hands, hugs, “air kisses,” and so on.
  • I have the two primary shots plus three boosters, one directed at omicron. I think these help reduce the likelihood of something. It’s called “death.”
  • People who traditionally speak lowly, or rapidly, or with a profound accent, are that much harder to understand speaking through a mask, but they seem to resent it when asked to repeat something.
  • The ability of Amazon to send a purchase to you the next day—or, sometimes, even the same day—is irresistible and the future for online retailers.
  • Telehealth, as a process, has huge potential for most professional services.
  • Enough said, now it’s time to move on.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Surrounded By Incompetence

The greatest staffing problems today aren’t about a lack of workers, but about a lack of competent workers.

We’re swimming in incompetence.

At a walk-in clinic—a health facility—a very obese woman opens up the office a few minutes late, then explains we’ll have to wait while she gets her computer ready. Apparently, it’s not important to be ready to begin at 9, only to unlock the door around that time, which she does without opening it for those waiting and without any greeting at all. She insists my Blue Cross card is for dental only, even though it say “plus dental.”

At a CVS pharmacy, in LA, we’re asked to wait 20 minutes while a prescription is prepared, only to learn later that they’re out of one of the medicines.

At Amex (I’m a Black Card member) a woman who sounds terribly confused tells me she’s changed our flight home. So we then make plans for the new flight. When I don’t receive confirmation I call back and a man tells me she never completed the reservation and the seats were gone.

This isn’t “quietly quitting” or any other such nonsense. These are people without the basic mental acuity to do the job and who haven’t been adequately screened or trained by their employer. (I find that Amazon Prime drivers are generally awful. They drive recklessly, leave packages in the rain, and don’t respect people’s property.)

I think the answer here is to pay what’s required to attract and retain competent help. I don’t want the cheapest airline pilot, heart surgeon, or attorney (or consultant). But I’m wondering about the lifeguards on the beach, the limo drivers on the road, the baggage handlers in the airport.

And the people teaching in the schools.

Employers are scratching to find people to fill positions—“bodies.”

It’s time we searched for and paid for brains.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself


Sinatra sang in his Anthem “My Way” (written by Paul Anka), “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….”

I was talking to my chum Dan Pink recently in a discussion for my podcast, Alan Weiss’s The Uncomfortable Truth®, about his newest book, Regrets. I find Dan to be terribly bright and inquisitive. He tends to write about that which he wants to learn about himself (To Sell Is Human, Drive, and so on).

We talked about the different kinds of regrets people have and how to deal with them without absorbing and suffering under guilt. Briefly, we have to make better and correct what we can, apologize when appropriate, and move on. We need to learn from the regret. My example was pulling a blue fin tuna out of the water 20 years ago when reluctantly going deep sea fishing with a client. I regretted it too late, but to this day I’ve been a staunch supporter of animal rights and I’ve never hunted or fished. Those are my decisions, I don’t expect they would necessarily be yours, but it’s what I choose to live by after that moral regret.

There really is no sense regretting what we feel we should have said to people which we can’t correct any more. No sense regretting foolish actions or omissions. If we’ve improved our behavior as a result of them, then we’ve made legitimate progress.

I’m a Sinatra afficionado. I have most of his recordings, and I consider him to be the finest singer of the American Song Book ever. But he made foolish choices is his love affairs, in his arrogant expectations, and in the whole “rat pack” zeitgeist. I doubt his regrets were “too few to mention.”

Read Dan’s book. He has learned a great deal and he’s shared it with his readers. And watch for my chat with him on Alan Weiss’s The Uncomfortable Truth® on my blog (on

I'm an Old Cowhand...

I go to a local walk-in clinic because I have a bad cough. The doctor takes a series of tests, says I’m both covid-free and flu-free, but wants a chest Xray before she decides on a treatment.

The Xray guy is a hundred years old, somewhat unsteady, and takes forever to position me in a very modern device. After he takes two pictures he says, “Have you had chest surgery?”

“No!” I tell him.

“Well what’s this, then?” he says as he ushers me over the electronic photos. And there’s some kind of growth, but to me it’s clearly outside my chest.

He starts patting my chest to find it and says, “Here it is!”

It was a metal snap in the pocket of my shirt. “Now,” he says, “we’ll have to do it again with your shirt off.”

When the doctor finds everything is okay and is prescribing medicine she asks if I have any questions.

“Yeah,” I reply, “are you related to the Xray guy?”

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