Learning nothing from Einstein

Steve Boese HR, Organizational Development, Steve Boese, T+D

Listen, you are a smart and talented and cutting edge Talent pro, I mean you’re reading FOT right? But like everyone else, there are still likely things to learn, areas of your craft you can improve, and new ways to extend or enhance your capability. And hopefully, after you finish reading this post, you will quit goofing off and set about learning something.  I kid. Kind of.

In fact, this post probably won’t help you learn much of anything, but it will do the next best thing – let you know one source from which you can’t possibly learn anything that will be of direct and practical value to you in your HR role – that is the compiled wisdom of the (arguably) smartest person to ever live, Albert ‘E = MC2’ Einstein.

Even though Einstein was a documented genius, invented stuff that no one hardly understands, and is recognized as a virtuoso of the highest order, and it seems likely that anyone, no everyone could learn a thing or two from him, I am here to tell you Mr. or Ms. HR pro – ‘ol Albert has nothing for you.

My proof? Well, let’s just say it isn't scientific, (who has time for that), but with a close examination of a few of Al’s most memorable quotes viewed through a HR/Talent lens, I  think you’ll agree with me that your quest for HR immortality should avoid the shaggy eyebrowed one at all costs.

Quote 1 – “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Some of this quote might make sense – the hope for tomorrow bit, although if you answer your CEO’s question about that Workplace Compensation suit with ‘Let’s hope!’, you are probably in trouble. Einstein or not, this is the kind of drivel that has no real meaning or value. It makes for a nice caption on a 'Successories' poster, but that is about it.

Quote 2 – “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over a

gain and expecting different results.”

The new truth in the emerging metrics-driven world of HR we all are supposed to embrace is to actually try and do the same thing over and over again, once we have any inclination, (I mean data),  that it worked in the past. Scored one decent hire from last year’s big job board contract? Then keep riding that until the wheels fall off. Get a new piece of software to help you analyze all that Big Data you've been stacking in the storeroom not knowing what to do with, and you’ll know exactly what to do, every time, and you will know the results in advance.

Quote 3 – “There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle; or the other is as though everything is a miracle.”

This is clearly insane, (why didn't Al figure out how to merge Quotes 2 and 3?). Clearly the experienced talent pro knows that the world doesn't break down quite that simple. In fact, the savvy pro knows that 99% of everything in HR is definitely not a miracle, the other 1% being that Holiday party in 1998 that actually did not result in any charges being filed – criminal or otherwise.

Look, I hope that the 4 minutes it took you to read this post you felt were well spent.  In truth, there aren't many 600 word articles that can have much of a real impact or truly articulate an idea that can drive meaningful change. And this one is certainly not one of those.  But if nothing else, if this piece will make one, just one person out there reconsider updating one of their social network statuses with one of these gems from Einstein, then I will declare a small victory.

There are about a million ways to get better, but none of them start with reminding everyone on Twitter that anyone who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

Hey, wait a minute – I think that one makes sense….