Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why do we hate the word must?

Usually a Google search reveals plenty of hits, whether useful or not. My search for “why do we hate the word must” did not give any link. Apparently, people do dislike / hate the word “moist” however. Perhaps, my dislike for the word must is rooted in my character. I am not unique though as I do know other people having a similar dislike.

Even in my writing, I restrict myself from using the word must unless on purpose. I prefer using should as that word at least offers some kind of a choice. The difference between those words is a penalty (eg, speeding ticket). Must implies that there is no choice. There is always a choice. Your risk appetite is leading in that choice.

Possibly the dislike / hate for the word must is cultural. A new Google search in the Dutch language does reveal a useful link, although only one: “Je moet helemaal niets“, which roughly translates in English as “there is no must”.

It strikes me that I’m familiar with the site posting that article: soChicken. That Dutch (sic!) site is about positive psychology and improving the happiness in your life by taking small steps. Hence, my dislike / hate might be related to my 2013 burnout and depression. Nevertheless, I’ve “always” disliked the word must as far as I can remember.

There is a reason why I mentioned that the dislike / hate for the word must may be cultural. I remember articles in which German soldiers complain about “disorderly” Dutch soldiers (eg, LA Times-1989). Nevertheless, the Dutch and German armies work well together as cultural differences are limited (eg, NYT-2019). The Dutch army was once highly rated, despite the “look and feel” of its soldiers (eg, CSM-1983, Carnegie-2018).

This cultural background is (probably) rooted in fundamental Dutch principles like egalitarianism and Dutch consensus decision-making, also known as “polder model” (eg, BBC-2018). In other words, the Dutch consider themselves equal. Equality and authority have a complicated relationship. You can earn authority – and respect – in the Netherlands but you will be challenged when authority is given to you.

Hence, being a boss or a manager in the Netherlands isn’t that easy. Dutch employees typically have their own view on how to solve issues. As a manager, you better come with convincing arguments. Nevertheless, Dutch trade unions are slowly dying (eg, DutchNews-2018).

“What must be done must be done, whatever the price, the cost, the pain. One day we all must walk through fire.” A quote from Macbeth: A Novel by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson.

Must’ve Never Met You (2018) by Luke Combs

artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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