How to be emotionally intelligent leaders (and Jerry Seinfeld). Do not refuse to believe in quality time

A truck driver drove a trailer full of people over to the lot at the plant, where I was working my way through college. Being the lowest person in the hierarchy, I was sent out to help untangle and unload the cargo.

The plant manager appeared in the trailer an hour later. He was expected to remind me about the importance of this task. To ask about a time estimate. To tell you a better method to do the job.

He replied, “What are you asking me to do?” We spent five more hours loading the truck.

At first, it was strange. It was strange at first. I am used to structure and hierarchy and clear roles. Although I was aware that bosses could perform physical labor, I never had the opportunity to see it in action.

However, I grew to be more at ease as we didn’t speak much. He wasn’t trying to be a friend. He did not ask for any input that he would even consider.

Actually, the only thing I remember is what he said. After clearing a mess of pallets and boxes, we found that the trailer’s front was even more cluttered.

He said “Well”, and placed his hands on his hips. This f-ing stinks. Then we went back to work.

A coworker shouted at me as I entered the locker room after the work day was over. Quality time spent with my boss!

It wasn’t quality time. It was not planned. It was not “special.” These hours were “garbage time,” as Jerry Seinfeld refers to them.

The ordinary and the commonplace are what I believe in. The guys who talk about quality time — it’s always a bit sad to hear them say that they have quality time.

Quality time is not what I want. The garbage time is what I need. It’s my favorite thing. It’s just like you see your child in his or her room, reading a comic book. You can watch them for about a minute. Or maybe they’re eating Cheerios at eleven o’clock night. That’s why I love the garbage.

Real life is only then.

Garbage is when something happens that isn’t planned or optimized within a second of its time. A conversation that lacks meaning or purpose. If an event or interaction isn’t filled with expectations and the associated pressure to meet those expectations.

The plant manager organized regular all-hands meetings over the following years. A lot of preparation and planning was done ahead of the meeting. These were meant to have an impact. To create a sense and purpose. To feel special. Plant-wide meetings were “quality times.”

They were also a complete waste of time.

After that, we never did anything more hard. Or smarter. As a group, even more. The charts, graphs, and management talk were too distracting and demotivating.

However, I left that trailer determined to do better. Willingness to be able to do more. Willingness to assist the plant manager in achieving the goals that he has set. Willing to assist him, two decades later when our roles had been reversed, and he required a job.

He said nothing.

Because we’d spent time in garbage together.

It’s garbage time. Coworkers. With coworkers. With family and friends. __S.59__

A moment isn’t weighed by expectation of a memorable and special experience.

Garbage Time Is

When you get to know people better, garbage time is when it’s time for some fun. They learn more about you.

Relationships are formed naturally, not by force. Relationships are not forced, but naturally formed.

Inc.com columnsists’ opinions are not the views of Inc.com.

Publiated at Wed 25 August 2021, 13:45:23 (+0000).

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