Intellectual Rug Burn (IRB)

At the #SMFUSION13 Conference, I had a scary allergic reaction to some food at a restaurant. Three Benadryl later—no kidding—my team put me to bed. The next morning I was more than a little foggy when I attended Glenn O’Donnell (@glennodonnell) session, and I heard him say, “Intellectual Rug Burn”. That peaked my interest so much that I tweeted it, quoting him, and asked to share a frosty beverage that evening to learn more.

After the session, I asked Glenn about it. Here’s how that went:

(Hugs all around and my hearty congrats to Glenn for knocking it out of the ball park and then…)

Lisa: “You really intrigued me with that expression, ‘Intellectual Rug Burn,’ what did you mean by that?”

Glenn: “Excuse me”?

Lisa: “When you said, ‘Intellectual Rug Burn,’ what did you mean?”

Glenn: “Lisa, I said intellectual grunt work.”

Lisa: “Well, I heard what I heard…and then I tweeted it.”

No, that’s not embarrassing at ALL to have had that conversation with a lead analyst at Forrester…

To which Dhiraj Gupta (@dhiraj4772) quipped, “You have to come to the Cleveland LIG and present on Dirty ITSM.”  Sidebar, we are actually thinking of doing that, but in a way that’s humorous and informative without being offensive or too risqué – so if you have ideas email or tweet (@ITSM_Lisa) me.

Of course, we laughed a lot about my new favorite Fusion expression. Since I am an above average idiot, I shared the story with many of our industry friends. We are all in agreement, it’s a great expression, but what does it mean?

I’ve been thinking a lot about it. So I Googled it…I don’t know if I was surprised or not, but there are zero results found on the phrase…but it’s Awesome, because I’m coining it, and seriously thinking of registering the mark on it—LOL.

I asked my husband, but he got all political in his response, so I’m not going down that path with you.

So, my (perhaps still Benadryl fogged) brain started really thinking about it…Rug burn is something that hurts later, but while you’re getting it, you are so “involved” that you don’t notice it’s bad for you.

Add the word Intellectual with that, and one definition could be any conversation you have, with yourself or others, that feels good while you are doing it, but hurts later…

When put in that context, the first thing that comes to mind is gossip, whether it’s grousing about a co-worker, a competitor or an organization. It might feel cathartic to have the conversation, but what good ever comes from negativity? Wouldn’t it be better if our conversations centered on identifying problems, dissecting possible reasons, suggesting solutions and taking actionable steps to resolve the issue?

And I guess that’s my take-away from all of this. The next time I find myself having a conversation that I will later categorize as IRB, I’m not going to do it. Instead I will identify, dissect, suggest and take action! And I challenge all of you to do the same.

Because #ILoveMyJob, I don’t want any negativity in my culture, and let’s face it people, “The fish stinks from the head down.”

Until your next trip to LisaLand…Happy Conversing!

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