Pewter Bullets

While I was in Tasmania, I played golf with some locals, and we initiated the Mark Twain Tasmania-Texas Trans-Pacific Golf Tournament. I had such fun at ....Barnbougle... that I committed to obtaining an actual cup we could play for. ( I lost, btw.) I told Wendii to see what she could come up with. "Find us a sterling cup or salver we can engrave, maybe something trophy-esque."

We found some on eBay. The right one, beautiful sterling silver: 5,500 USD. Holy Crap. No silver golf cups.

But then, because I'm weird and only think about management, I thought:

No silver bullets, either.

One of the banes of my existence is people who want management to be easy. They want the one thing that will solve their problems. They want less drama, more performance. They want to have a job where they have the pay of a manager "without all the people problems." They're so busy with the "real" part of their job they don't have time for "the people stuff."

Amazing. Just the fact that they ask means they believe there really might BE such a thing.

Why would management be the one place where there would be such a thing? Why would there be a silver bullet for management when there isn't a silver bullet for anything under the sun?

You can't just get married and then quit at the relationship. Even a great budget spreadsheet needs to be updated, and sometimes those numbers tell an ugly story ;-). Even a great product needs marketing, and a plan, and support, and customer service lines, and an upgrade and a line extension. Even salesmen know there's always the next sale, and you have to work on the relationship. And believe me, sales people love the idea of silver bullets more than most. But they usually behave like they know there isn't one.

There's no place in the world where silver bullets are the answer because the whole point of silver bullets is that they don't exist in real life, any more than werewolves do.

And management is just a part of real life.

As Noah said to Allie, "we're gonna have to work at this every day." Even in fairy tales, they know there are no silver bullets!

Everyone who played with Michael Jordan didn't comment on his talent, silver-bullet-like though it might have seemed. They said he worked harder than everybody else. The WSJ golf writer, John Newport, wrote a book about trying to be a pro golfer. He was looking for answers, something to help, something extra to get him into the big leagues. He visited with a famous golf thinker and asked for help with HIS silver bullet. Here's what he was told:

"Long term practice leading to incremental improvement is really the only thing that works."

Just like marriage, just like budgeting, just like marketing, just like sales. Just like management.

Just like life.


We ended up with this lovely cup:

10 inches tall, and 50 bucks. PEWTER. One one-hundredth the cost of the sterling ones.

Looks shiny, like sterling, huh? It's been polished.

For what you'll spend trying to find silver, you can get a HUNDRED in pewter. Shine them yourself. Work at it.

A hundred real bullets and hard work beats just one magical bullet in any life that matters.

pewter bullet?

Hi Mark,

Can you give me the pewter bullet of management? I understand you can get a whole block of ammo for what one silver bullet costs...

Scott Delinger

DiSC: 5137

Great Point

So many young professionals think early on that if they can get the attention of an executive that is the silver bullet to get to management (before MT, myself included).  Great post reminding us that we just aren't naturally that good.


J. Michael Stahl, P.E.

DiSC: 2275

And even silver...

Would still need to be polished! There no silver bullet for that work, either! 


Mark and Mike, thanks for keeping my feet on the ground... 

Great point silver

Professionals think early on that they can get the attention of an executive that is the silver bullet to get to management.This is what it is all about.