The moment of terror comes slowly at first, rolling under your subconscious before you really know it’s there. Only once it’s too late do you recognize the signs were there all along – the big stacks of papers that serve as fortifications and the large cups of coffee that can provision any siege. Everyone else knew it, why didn’t you?
It was destined to be one of those marathon meetings from the start. You walked right into a trap. All you can do now is squirm your tuchus (TUCK-us, Yiddisch for “backside”).
Life in Corporate of America is still, after all these years, one panel of a “Dilbert” strip after another. If you look closely at the work of Scott Adams you can see that the majority of the time is spent in meetings. It’s what we do in this nation, or have done for a long time. Your ability to rise in the corporate structure is based on your ability to stay without rising for as many meetings as possible.
A Meritocracy is a system where those with the most merit are rewarded. A Tuchusocracy is a system where those with the most tuchus are rewarded, and that’s what we have. It’s often about your ability to plant your bottom for many hours and say exactly the right amount of jargon to suggest that you’re not only down on your tuchus at this meeting, you’re down for the subject matter of the meeting. Being totally down is what helps you get up the ladder, after all – people who are up on their feet getting things done are usually put down.
Did you get that?
It’s not fair to pick on Corporate America like this, I realize. No, this is a major feature of government, nonprofits, and just about any other aspect of life in the USofA. We are the world’s first Tuchusocracy, a nation where the biggest and most stable platform to squeeze into a chair is the one that outlasts the others and is eventually recognized for greatness. You have to have a lot of bottom to have political gravitas, and that bottom is shaped, rather literally, by time spent in uncomfortable meetings.
Now, you may find yourself like me – incapable of sitting still through meetings. I try to be inventive about my excuses. After all, the last 3,000 years have seen comedies run rarely more than 90 minutes, and tragedies are 120-180 max. While that was enough for William Shakespeare, it’s hardly enough time for a decent middle manager to get warmed up, should it come down to this. I have yet to find too many people who’ve been to a performance of “As You Like It” or “The Taming of the Shrew” for this argument to look anything other than weak. No one wants to hear that the Renaissance tuchus was weaker than today’s.
The Tuchusocracy is more than just sitting through long meetings, of course. While you’re in these meetings, more than one person is showing off the enormous storage capacity that comes with today’s fashionably large tuchus by pulling an amazing amount of material directly out of it. Yes, today’s meetings are made up of things pulled from the tuchus, which is why they take so long in the first place. A fully stocked tuchus is an arsenal from which any new idea can be destroyed before it gets any further. It’s an amazing thing when you see it.
The only downside, to use an expression, of a large tuchus comes when it’s time to cover it. The larger your backside, the greater your management potential, and the larger you are as a target. There’s no getting “around” this problem.
Today’s Tuchusocracy is something we all have to live with. The only thing you can do is avoid being with people who are practicing it as an art form, at least if you are damned to lack sufficient bottom to get through a long meeting. It may not seem fair, but today’s world often belongs to those who can sit there.