The board ordered that the Number Two Executive be fired. But the chief
executive wouldn’t do it. Not because he thought it was a bad idea. He
thought it was a good idea.

He hesitated because he was avoiding that conflict.

I was the chairman of the board.

Month after month, the board demanded and the CEO hesitated.

Finally, a teacher of mine, Bill Oesterle, leaned over and said,
"You know, there’s one thing that each of us can’t do. And it’s silly
to ask anyone to do the one thing he simply can’t do. This CEO can’t
handle large conflict."

Yet we keep asking
We spend much of our lives asking people to do the one thing they simply can’t do. We do this to our children. To our spouses, friends, and co-workers. We do this to the person in the mirror.

It’s futile and frustrating. Each of us simply can’t do one thing.
That something differs, person to person. For some, it might be
handling conflict. For others, it might be speaking succinctly. For
others, it might be quitting smoking.

While I’m an optimist – and like to think that anyone can achieve
anything – life continuously demonstrates that it’s best to recognize
when a person can’t do that one thing.

Perhaps this is the opposite side of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 argument. They say: "Focus on your strengths."

Bill Oesterle taught: "Don’t keep asking someone to overcome his greatest weakness."

What’s your one thing?
What can you simply not do?

If it doesn’t break the laws of physics, I’ll bet you can do it. But I’m not going to ask you more than twice.

So what happened to Number Two?
As Chairman, I offered to
step in. The CEO said OK. So I met with the Number Two and terminated
his employment. It was miserable. Number Two is a Good Guy.

And I wasn’t the right person to do such a thing. My action won me
hate mail and landed my name in the newspapers as a Bad Guy. But it had
to be done.