Beware of the Cute and Funny

Here’s an embarrassing, but true story with what I hope is a valuable lesson or two for you.

Last fall my wife, Barb, and I decided to wash the glass panes in our night lights outside of our garage and our front door. In cleaning them we accidently broke one of the panes. So we decided to leave out the back pane for the light outside our front door. We figured it was under the overhang and it wouldn’t get wet.

A few months later we noticed there were some twigs inside the lamp, and we realized that a bird was building a nest inside the lamp. We thought that was cute and funny. A few months later there were hundreds of twigs inside our lamp and we figured the bird was going to lay some eggs there so we didn’t want to bother it. Of course, we just had to remember not to turn on the light because that might hurt the bird.

One rainy night my neighbor came over to pick up his daughter. So I turned on the outside light to talk with him while our daughters wrapped up their night together. After about five minutes of chatting he said, “I smell something burning.” I ran to check the stove and the toaster oven, but they were off. He said, “No, it’s coming from out here.” I immediately remembered the nest, and it was starting to burn. I turned off the light, undid the lamp, and took the nest out.

What we thought was cute and funny could have burned our house down.

What in your organization do you think is cute and funny? Is there someone who gets teased all the time and everyone thinks it’s all cute and funny, except for the person being made fun of? Is that person’s anger simmering underneath in a way that can ultimately damage the organization? Do you have a cute and funny supplier who seems to be the absent-minded professor, but who is really making customers mad by always being late? Do you have a cute and funny habit that is really hurting your career, but no one is willing to tell you?

Watch out for something that is cute and funny, but is really very dangerous.

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