The Fault-Finding Machine

The Fault-Finding Machine

The Fault Finding Machine on the corner of 2nd Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue.

Let me set the scene. I was spearheading a new site aggregator, I had brought all the players to the table. It was the leanest start-up I'd done and we were creating value fast. We needed 5K more and an investor that might be able to scale with us. We found him and the deal was done, signed and packaged.

Two days later my phone rings, “Hey I know I agreed to get 20%, but I want 50%.”

Me: “That wasn’t the deal.”

Him: “You’re the wrong color to be challenging my desire and I’m pretty powerful, so the deal has changed.”

We tried to fight back but lost all traction. Now employees' paychecks were on the line.

I’d spend 3 months on this news aggregator and at this point I had to walk away. There were too many salaries on the line and too much bad blood in the shareholding structure. It was too early to get into a legal battle and the person I’d be fighting just wasn’t worth it (I was familiar with that road). I realized then that there is no amount of money on earth that's worth having to work with someone that you hate working with.

Life is too short, but at the time I was mad—really mad and disappointed. I mapped out all the reasons that I was disappointed.

I had his fault noted down to a tee. I was an expert on his mistakes and could write an entire book about how he’ll never be happy because of his conduct, or why his wife was leaving him (which she was), and why I didn’t like his style of dress, but that’s a time waster.

Noting everyone else’s faults wastes time because...

  1. Most people don’t care when YOU point them out. If I called out people every time I saw a fault in someone, and sat them down to explain why in 5 years from now their decision to change the goal posts made life terrible for those around them, then I’d be even more miserable to be around than I already am. No one likes the guy telling tattles.
  2. You probably have similar faults of your own, you just hide them better.
  3. It's a full-time job with no pay and no long term benefits.
  4. Probably the best reason: more than likely, the fault-finder will never speak to the person they are finding faults with. They’ll just tell other people and make themselves look like gossip dumpers. So when people note the faults of someone else, they’re actually destroying their reputation.

Fault noting works only when you’re willing to talk to someone about it—you actually want them to succeed. When they like you or give 2 cents about your opinion, and when you’re ready to get a kickback of someone else’s thoughts on you.

Don’t waste time noting down the faults of people that you never intend to talk to, or that won’t hear you even if you did. Use that part of your brain and time to create something worthwhile. It’s hard because you try to convince yourself that they're the ultimate bad guy and you were the martyr. The reality is no one cares. I’m sitting in a puddle of misery flinging mud on myself.

(photo via usaf)