174. How to Get Your S*&! in Order
Every Monday I post an article about leadership in By Title Only. But today is a holiday. It’s National Hole In My Bucket Day. In honor of the bucket - and the hole - I will post it tomorrow (Tuesday). In the meantime, here is a little ditty about one of my pet peeves.
There are a million areas of life in which you have the freedom to do whatever you want. The numbering system for an outline is not one of them.
I was in a meeting recently in which the presenter displayed an outline for something he was doing. For the record, the presenter was a Director-level employee at a public company. He is educated, he is smart, he is far from illiterate. He probably scored above 1400 on his SATs.
Truthfully, I don’t remember what he was presenting. Actually, I wasn’t even paying attention. I was too distracted by his flippant disregard for common outline numbering decency.
Let me describe what I saw. You may want to grab yourself a stiff drink and sit down for this one.
I. He started off fine. The root level of his outline used the proper upper case Roman numerals, a commonly accepted first move in outline numbering. This didn’t cause any alarm. That is, until I read on...
1. When I got to the second level of the outline, I.... wait...what? Common numbers for the second level?! What the Helen of Troy is going on here?! This is about as large of a social faux pas as one can find in the modern age.
2. I began questioning the level of abuse he must’ve suffered as a child. Was he dropped on his head? Was he on the wrong side of a game of javelin catch, or was this just a silly typo?
3. Then I looked at the third level of his outline.
a. He used lower case letters.
b. I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth.
c. Behavior like this is a felonious crime in most eastern countries, as well as certain parts of Utah
d. Needless to say, I was utterly flabbergusted (flabbergasted and disgusted all at once). With significant trepidation, I continued to the fourth level of the outline.
I. The fourth level. Oh the fourth level. This chap certainly has a large pair of kettlebell cajones in his Wranglers.
II. In this fourth level he actually - <gulp> - he went back to the same goshdarn capital Roman numerals he used in the root layer! As if nobody would notice that the fourth layer numbering is the same as its great-great-grandparent.
III. Wars have been fought over lesser shenanigans than this. People have given their lives to ensure this type of behavior doesn’t happen in civilized societies. Has this man no shame?!
I have no recollection of the rest of the presentation. I must’ve blacked out. The human body tends to shut down during traumatic experiences.
I have now recovered and am posting this as a public service to everybody.
If you are considering creating an outline at any point in the future, there is a standard numbering system. It’s pretty simple. It’s recognized at all levels of society and the good news is that it’s only got two rules:
2. Capital to lower case.
Here is what it looks like in action:
You’ll thank me when you put together your next presentation and somebody as annoying as me is in the audience.
BTW, if you don’t know about my grammar skills… this.
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