Managers, Keep Your Wits About You

Frustrated doctor over isolated white background

In the office, the other day,  I mentioned a situation where a business acquaintance was at an event and they were “three sheets to the wind.”

One of my staff members asked what I meant by that phrase. I explained that it describes when a person is inebriated and many times depending on how inebriated they are the number of sheets goes up.

This started a conversation about words or phrases that are rarely or never used anymore, they are outdated.

One of the phrases that came to my mind was “You must keep your wits about you.”

The definition that I am thinking of is below, although I cannot find it in my paper dictionary it is in the online one:

  1. The natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence.
  2. Wits Practical intelligence; shrewdness or resourcefulness: living by one’s wits.
  3. Wits Sound mental faculties; sanity: scared out of my wits.

Several years ago I was at a conference and the speaker was saying that managers need to posses the ability to keep their wits about them. Her handout gave the following description for the word “wits.”

W – Willingness to listen and understand what the actual problem is.

I – Initiative – Step up and initiate a response.

T – Transition – Move from one stage to another.

S – Set – Set a fresh course.

Whenever I get that “I’m losing my mind” feeling, at work, I remember how to keep my “wits” about me.

Even though we do not hear this phrase often, we will have these types of manager moments where this can be a handy reminder of what to do.


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