When Good Looks Bad

This past month, I authored a leadership article in Today’s Hotelier Business Magazine entitled When Good Looks Bad. It’s not the first time I’ve used the phrase or written about the notion. Not only did I title one of the chapters in my book the same, I and Garry frequently live out this idea in our daily lives.

So what is When Good Looks Bad?

Simply, WGLB is the phenomenon of people ascribing wickedness to your good intentions. Most often WGLB happens when you speak the truth.

Most often WGLB happens when you speak the truth.

I live with a teenager with autism, and his black-and-white thinking got him nearly kicked out of school. The administration understood his honest appraisal of their teaching performance as disrespect but, in most cases – he was rarely wrong.

In the adult world, the same happens. Garry often begins difficult meetings by announcing “This will be an adversarial discussion” and is met with blank stares. He knows that robust dialogue must be encouraged, and disagreement should not equate disrespect. This is how things get done in our world.

Most people avoid such tactless pronouncements, but Garry believes in setting the stage for honesty, which results in less wasted time dancing around issues and more effective leadership and results. In the beginning, what looks like a bad conversation ends up being most productive. Still, he gets some hate email. WGLB.

My WGLB usually involves one of my children, whose backgrounds lead them to be less than well-mannered at times. While I do train them to be kind, I don’t often restrict them from being incredibly active and wildly free in their physical, emotional, and verbal selves. I think it’s OK to walk the wall and climb the tree high—and even to get a bruise or two, as long as they give others a turn. I don’t mind if they jump on the couch as long as they invite their sibling to share in the laughter.

In fact, if they show kindness—they can eat lollipops, stay up a bit later, skip their veggies, and wear shorts to church. WGLB.

The Vermaas kids in action!

Here’s a few other ways we live out WGLB—which we will explain later:

  • Adopting 10 special needs children after we had 2 children already
  • Firing mediocre team members
  • Advocating/fighting for our special need’s children to unrelenting schoolboards
  • Refusing to tithe
  • Moving frequently (22 times)
  • Spanking kids- with love
  • Wearing sneakers– all the time
  • Eating dessert every night
  • Aggressively taking on various government agencies
  • Being a fiscally conservative and social activist
  • Allowing our kids extra “screen time”
  • Expecting our foreign missionary recipients to work
  • Questioning the value of going to college
  • Saying “no” to NGOs
  • Saying “yes” to doing it ourselves
  • Choosing to make as much money as we can

All of these topics have earned us various reputations involving some form of “not good.” I agree that- on their face- many of them don’t seem so good. But we’ll get into all that later. For now, let’s talk about choosing to make as much money as we can in order to do good. It’s a decision we made about ten years ago and one we’ll dive into next week in great detail…

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