Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Uncolorful

Residents of Phoenix, Arizona, when asked to explain their city, often define its attractions in terms of what it is not.

It is not hectic or dirty. You don't have to shovel snow in the winter. The people don't have the rushed unfriendliness that you encounter in many large cities. The local government, for the most part, is not corrupt. It's not as expensive as California or New York. Although in the desert, Phoenix is not very far from the pines or the beach.

It is a definition of an un-city more than its own distinct personality. Despite that, Phoenix is a very pleasant place to live.

Some individuals share that quality. Why should Jack or Maria be selected for promotion over the more colorful or charismatic candidates? They are not bold, but they won't get you into trouble with bizarre schemes. They won't turn in the stunning sales figures but neither will they turn in lousy ones. They may be bland, but they won't embarrass you. In short, they are steady producers. They won't let you down.

We should not underestimate those qualities. Just as baseball teams rely on the base hitters more than on those who can pop the ball over the fence, most organizations are built on the uncolorful. Compared to many of his successors in the Oval Office, Calvin Coolidge looks pretty good.

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