Dolce far niente


AFPRG ends this Friday, my dears, and we’re looking back at the archive.  Monday and Tuesday’s posts were about grit and hard work, so here’s the opposite:

Dolce far niente is an Italian proverb created to justify spending an entire sunny afternoon at the espresso bar, watching people walk by on the Via Condotti. But there’s something in it for PR Girls too!

In my last job I worked at a big multi-national agency running a big multi-national account.  Down the hall from me sat a colleague who ran the agency’s other largest multi-national account.  Whenever something went wrong on my account I went into a frenzy of problem solving – conference calls, long e-mails, issuing mandates, going to the country – anything I could think of to solve the problem.  My colleague, on the other hand, was a man of very little action.  Things went wrong and he chilled.

Here’s the thing.  I solved maybe 60 – 75% of my problems with my frenzy of activity; and about 60 – 75% of his problems just went away on their own.   When I lifted my head up from my virtuous frenzy of action and saw this it blew my mind.  Inaction as a problem-solving method had literally never occurred to me.

Sometimes the best thing is not to answer that e-mail, or to let a situation stew and see if the locals can solve it themselves. Sometimes things change and the problem goes away naturally.   I changed my approach – less action, more observation. When necessary, I jumped in. But if it wasn’t necessary, I let things take care of themselves.


Leave a Reply