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Holten: Micro-mismanaging your life

Are you a micromanager? Do you have to do everything yourself? Are you unable to trust anyone with anything?

I’ve worked for that type of person before. They hire talented people and then never trust them enough to do what they do best.

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What is the end result? The result is failure for everyone.

Kevin Holten

The hired people fail because they never get to do what they do and the micromanager fails because he or she can’t possibly do everything he or she doesn’t let anyone else do. That’s right, it might take a while but in the end the micromanager is doomed to failure.

You might be the most talented person in the world and cancel all of that out with your over manipulation. You see, you are always going to have to rely on other people because that’s the way the world is put together and, believe it or not, that’s the better way anyway. Other people are often times more talented than you. Even though you think you know everything.

That’s because this planet and galaxy is made up of many parts but ultimately it is trust that holds it all together. That’s why the best thing that you can be is someone who everyone else can trust.

Mr. Dictionary says that to micromanage is to control with excessive attention to minor details. In other words, you’re the type of person that can often be heard saying, “It’s hard to find good help” or “I’ll do it myself.” Well, good luck.

I was once told that in designing a newspaper that I could only use two typestyles and never start a sentence with the word “and.” That’s an example of micro-mismanaging. And why is that important? Because it adds a whole lot more work and kills interest, enthusiasm and creativity and ultimately it kills the project.

Now the website says that, “In the past, English teachers used to preach that one should never start a sentence with conjunctions like (and) or (but.)” Then it goes on to say conversely that “for some cases, conjunctions will do a better job than more formal constructions.”

In case you do not know, a conjunction is a word such as and, but, because, while, until, although or if. They are a class of word used to link sentences, clauses, phrases, or other words.

According to Catherine Soanes, an ex-lexicographer and English as a foreign language teacher, the argument against using “and” or “but” to introduce a sentence is that such a sentence expresses an incomplete thought (or fragment) and is therefore incorrect.

However, she goes on to say this is a stylistic preference rather than a grammatical ‘rule.’ If your teachers or your organization is inflexible about this issue, then you should respect their opinion. But ultimately, it’s just a point of view and you’re not being ungrammatical. If you want to defend your position, you can say that it’s particularly useful to start a sentence with these conjunctions if you’re aiming to create a dramatic or forceful effect.

I bring up the “and” example for one reason. It reveals a micro-mismanager and, if you’re lucky enough to hear someone cite the example in a job interview, don’t just run the other way. Duct tape them to a tree and post a “micro-mismanager” sign above their head so that those coming along later will not have to find out for themselves.

Furthermore, what would life be without a few grammatically incorrect sentences sprinkled here and there? Without them we’d have never heard the phrases, “To boldly go where no man has gone before,” “This was the most unkindest cut of all,” “Well, back to the old drawing board,” or “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

I think Bronson Alcott, the American teacher, writer, philosopher, and reformer summarized it best when he said, “Devotees of grammatical studies have not been distinguished for any very remarkable felicities of expression.”

In other words, they tend to be undistinguished. Just like micro-mismanagers.

Holten is the manager of The Drill, is the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and writes a weekly column for The Dickinson Press. Email him at