Ass Chewing: It Leaves A Bitter Aftertaste.

If your job is to land jets on an aircraft carrier, it’s assumed that you are good at it.  That’s why you get a paycheck.

Say one day you have bad landing.  Your commanding officer witnesses this and gives you an ass chewing.  Your next landing is noticeably better, and your CO sees the difference.  He assumes that the ass chewing got you to raise your game, and now ass chewing is deeper in his leadership DNA.

Conversely, one day you have a particularly good landing – a textbook landing, and your CO sees it.  He’s delighted, so he praises your competence.  Your next landing isn’t as good, so he assumes his praise caused you to ease up on your attention to detail.  From this, he chooses to avoid praises in leadership style for its obvious detriment to the cause of landing jets safely on deck.

Here’s the thing; you’re there landing jets on small spaces because you’ve been proven competent at doing so.  On average, you always get the job done within the scope of expectations.

Truth:  An exceptional landing will almost always be followed by a lesser one.

Truth:  A poor landing will almost always be followed by a better one.

It’s the law of median effect.


Yet much of our institutionalized instruction is rooted in the discipline of ass chewings.  Academia, sports teams, our military and so-on depend on ass chewings to raise their game.  Praise though, is used all too sparingly in these environments.

Turns out that in the big picture, praise may not raise one’s game all that much.  Still, praise contributes to a positive environment.

It also turns out that ass chewings don’t do too much to raise one’s game – and very often make for a demoralized environment.

One more truth:  Success in anything is rooted exclusively in intelligent training, and consistent practice over long periods of time…  Jhciacb


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7 responses

  1. When things start to get rotten,The Fish stinks from the head down. Leadership must have balance. And give credit where credit is due, pumps up the crew Moral boosters. Good Word tickling the key board.

  2. Love it – I will say that a little constructive criticism isn’t bad though. I still remember the day I was whining in your gym and you looked at me, then looked at the door and pointed to it and said, “if you don’t want to be here there’s the door.” 🙂 I zipped up and got back to business. Why could I receive that from you and not be offended in any way? We had the same goal, I knew you knew how to get me where I wanted to be, and I acknowledged in my head it was going to take me to get out of my comfort zone to get me there. Of course, out of all the time we trained together I think that was the one and only time you had to say that. Once was enough. Glad you cared enough to speak the truth in love.

      • I don’t know, I’m glad you did it. I can get into that “victim mode” sometimes and wine that I just can’t do something when the reality is, there’s very little I can’t do when I put my heart to it. Sometimes we just need someone to show us our potential – for me when someone tells me I can’t do something – it only motivates me to make them wrong. 🙂 lol But yeah, I have grown and now don’t need that as much. I’m still glad you did it for where I was at then though! It worked!

  3. It seems that the more militaristic the organization the more your example holds true. Special ed teachers, with arguably the most difficult students of all to deal with, know that positive reinforcement works best.

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