Skip to content


Why is it unreasonable to expect that the job I have hired you to do is in fact done to agreed parameters before I pay you?  If I hire you to do a job within a certain time frame with clear guidelines and specs and you not only agree to them, but assure me that they are easy and attainable…plenty of time, no problem. Until we are close to deadline and the deliverables are not there or they are not what I asked for or fill in the blanks here because the end result and accompanying excuses get to be pretty wild.  So wild that I think this topic could make a great coffee table book. The title could be, “The dog ate my code.”

I have been thinking about the lack of accountability and personal responsibility a lot lately. I have run up against this quite a bit as a business owner and certainly just in the every day living of life.  I wonder if it is more prevalent in our society as a whole or I am just running up against part of the world where it is more the norm. If it is more prevalent why? Is it a lowering of standards/expectations?  Do we care less about the jobs we hold and how we do them. Is it generalized societal apathy?  Whatever it is, I find it disheartening and at times, when given a substandard product and told it is industry standards (I hate that one) and just down right shocking. And I do believe that is in fact apathy, pure and simple, just not caring.

I have always been accused of having standards that are too high. I remember my grandmother telling me I was going to be disappointed a lot in life if I expected to hold others to the standards I hold for myself (for the most part I have not been disappointed, Gran). That statement of hers made quite an impact on me, so I have been very careful to make sure I am being reasonable with what I am looking for in a job well done. I do believe that if you ask the Blue Moon team, you will find that I have done a fair job with this goal. (Do me a favor though, and wait to ask them until we are a few more weeks from the summit.)

What is wrong with having high standards and feeling good about the work you produce? Whatever you do—whether it is cleaning toilets ( I have done my fair share of this), growing things, building, programming, caring for children, tending the sick—does it not help and feed everyone involved if you do it well with all of you.

If you feel good about what you do does it not then go into what you are doing and does it not then come to me your customer, and I in turn feel good about what I hired you to do and then again it goes out into the world to all of the end-users, which in my business, are knitters who use yarn and computers, and they feel good and pass the word.  A full complete circle of quality workmanship that supports the whole. I will hire you again and again tell others to hire you. We both will feel good about working together, which will enrich who we are and how we walk the planet.

Since the Sock Summit we have been asked a lot about our business model and why we thought this was so successful.  There are many reasons why the Sock Summit was successful but underlining them all is accountability, to the project, to ourselves, to each other, to everyone we worked with and to our customers.

It is has been pointed out to us that this is not the easy way to go and we agree.  This week we resolved a working relationship that in fact was not…working, to our standards. I feel we were as accountable and responsible as we could be in this situation. I am working my way through feeling that this is in fact resolved for me. I am having a hard time processing this.

Maybe a walk on the beach will help.

  1. Janice in Camas #

    It sure couldn’t hurt.  I am thankful every day that I am so lucky as to live so near a lake, and several streams and small rivers, and the Columbia.  If I am troubled or if I want to revel in the fabulousness of my day, I go to the water.  It is definitely magic.

    November 30, -0001
  2. marcy #

    yes. enjoy the walk, beach and gross things you encounter. and btw, i agree. grin

    November 30, -0001
  3. Grab your camera, a cooler of beer, and come comfy walking shoes and go relax be inspired by the world around you.  The world may be full of idiots, but the beach is full of hope.

    November 30, -0001
  4. Hazel Smith #

    Do what you love and love what you do. Life may not always be “cakes and ale” or “beer and skittles” and, yes, people sometimes disappoint you. The walk and the water will help. Cheers, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001
  5. It is so refreshing to hear others have high standards and expect people to do and be their best. I have always set the bar high, and expected myself and others to live up to it. It was an honor to be a part of the Sock Summit and truly see and be a part of an event done right. I appreciate that each and every one of us was valued & treated accordingly.

    November 30, -0001
  6. Brenda Josephson #

    What you are asking of people is hard.  It requires focus, energy, and solid standards to serve as one’s motivator when the focus and energy aren’t there.  I think the key lies within those standards.  The key is obligation.

    I owe my client/employer a product as free of errors as I can produce.  I owe my friends and family my support and loyalty.  I owe my community my attention and willingness to help.  I owe strangers and anyone serving me graciousness.  These obligations are often paid in time, patience and sweat.

    Many of us don’t want obligations.  We don’t want to owe anyone.  I don’t know the roots of this cultural sentiment, but I feel it out there.  People want to do their own things their own ways, unfettered by expectations.

    I’m not sure how to reverse the trend, other than to do as you have done.  Set the standards clearly, for yourself and those you choose to have in your life.  Live up to the standards as best you can.  Discuss the standards with others when they fail to meet them and give them another chance to meet the standards if they’re inclined to try again.  Be willing to listen and make adjustments when someone feels you’ve missed the mark.

    You hit the mark so regularly, Tina.  I’m glad to use your products and proud to refer you to others.  I trust you.  Thank you for taking on the obligations attendant to high standards.

    November 30, -0001
  7. You are so very eloquent, and true to yourself – I think high standards should be the norm, and not the exception, as is more often the case, so am 100% behind you –

    and I find the beach cures all sorts of things…

    November 30, -0001
  8. Judi #

    Oh boy did this post hit the nail on the head for me.  When I was in the Army, I would hear folks (mostly civilians) say “Good enough for government work.” It sent my blood pressure to stroke levels as I replied, “No.  Good enough is NOT good enough for government work.  We are paid by the taxpayers and they deserve our very BEST work.  Needless to say, I was not anyone’s favorite boss.

    All the problems of our country today can be traced back to people not being accountable for their behavior/performance.  Not to the country, to other citizens or to themselves. And the worst performers are the worst complainers about how lacking everyone ELSE is.

    Can I join you on the beach?  I’ll bring the beer.

    November 30, -0001
  9. Having been a manager for a lot of years, I know how hard it can be to cut people loose who aren’t performing well. You work with them as much as you can to improve their performance, but in the end, they have to find the strength and determination within themselves to rise to the task. When push comes to shove and you have to cut them loose, it’s never a good feeling. Even if their behavior has been terrible, even when you know to the core of your being that it’s not a good fit, it’s still hard to say, “Sorry, I can’t employ you any longer.”

    Nine times out of ten, people go on to find something that suits them better and end up a lot happier and more productive. But that’s hard to see in the moment and knowing it doesn’t make the act of letting go any easier.

    And then there’s always that one person in ten who will stay negative and blaming no matter what you do.

    The beach sounds like a perfect way to unwind and let go and make room for new possibilities. Enjoy!

    November 30, -0001
  10. Judy #

    I have long said that we do not hold people accountable for their behavior- whether this is in business settings or in their personal lives. I laugh (sarcastically, mind you) that part of the problem with this country is that everyone has too much self esteem. We tell our children they can do no wrong- we award them medals for doing nothing, the list of false self esteem goes on and on. Children never being held accountable grow up and expect to be told that everything they do is wonderful. True self esteem comes from within- from having the inner desire to do the best possible job you can do (yes, I, too have scrubbed a lot of toilets- with a four year degree when times were tough in the 70s). Thank you for setting high standards and sticking to them. You have deserved the right to be proud of the work (and I emphasize work) you have done. It is (and I’m sure will continue to be) a job well done.

    November 30, -0001
  11. Theo #

    Do. Not. Settle. For. Less. If we constantly lower our standards everyone else will as well. It is up to each of us to be responsible.  Your example goes a long way and you are completely and utterly correct in having high standards.

    November 30, -0001
  12. Alice in the Heartland #

    It takes a village and that village has to expect and demand productive, engaged, responsible members. We aren’t doing too well with this right now or in the recent past (last 20+ years). Hopefully the pendulum is starting to swing back. I do think some villages have always had high expectations of their off-spring and friends/co-workers while others wait for some other village to do it for them. Some villages have been living with low expectations for generations. I’m so glad I had a high expectation village to help me through some of those tough times and hard decisions.

    Sending love and support and agreeing a walk on the beach with beverage of choice is an excellent way to get on with things. Enjoy and come back refreshed for another week in the mundane world you must interface with. Hope things improve now one of the clunkers is released to mess up someone else’s village.

    November 30, -0001
  13. denny knows it's hard.... #

    The beach followed with french toast, coffee

    November 30, -0001
  14. Paula #


    There are people living seeminly normal lives who are not in any way “normal”.  Personality disordered people are found in every walk of life and mostly they make the lives of those around them difficult, confusing and even hell at times.  Some disordered folk thrive on confusion – arising from their own internal confusion.  After a lot of suffering I learned that if I can’t figure out what is going on , if confusion arises and everything is cloudly, it is that the person is suffering a disorder that creates and encourages confusion.  Narcissists and borderlines are everywhere … running and sometimes ruining organizations … from PTA’s to knitting groups to high offices. 

    You have clairty and are firm in your values.  If you are encountering people whose behavior causes you to need a walk on the beach to clear your head, or think through something that happened, the event is NOT ABOUT YOU !!!  It is that the person is, very sad to say, disordered.

    I am thinking through a book for laypeople on this subject.  We need tools to recognize disordered people before they mess up our lives, our businesses, our relationships and our heads.

    Be strong and of good courage.  Hold fast to all that is good.

    November 30, -0001
  15. Pat Dixon #

    I am blessed to know people as you Tina, it is such a pleasure and heart warming to know someone else feels as I do..if your ears ring, it is because I am telling the world about you and Blue Moon Fiber Arts..ride on we need more people as yourself..your light shines so very bright..

    November 30, -0001
  16. Sarah JS #

    It’s sad that your business model for the Sock Summit (collaboration, treating people well, making decisions together, expecting the best from one’s self and others) is so difficult for many to grasp.  And it is hard – especially when this approach bucks our cultural trend.  But please don’t stop.  It’s one of many reasons that you & Blue Moon shine like stars.

    For a giggle (and in reference to “the dog ate my code”): my then-middle-school-aged child’s homework was to finish hand sewing a hankerchief.  She must have been having a snack while working on it – unfortunately left it out after going to school.  She came to home to find that the dog had, indeed, eaten her homework.

    She did not appreciate my gales of laughter when she called me at work to tell me about it.  Perhaps she needed a beach to walk on.


    November 30, -0001
  17. TMK #

    I totally get what you’re saying. I have extremely high standards for myself and those around me.

    I’ve had clients that cancel projects in the middle of the process, or put a project on hold indefinitely, and then be surprised that I expect them to pay for the time I’ve put into the project as stated in the contract. And then there’s trying to hire someone to help me out and having them not show up, not work when they are here, sit and talk on cell phones when they’re supposed to be working, etc. I’ve pretty much given up on having employees. I choose to work more hours with less headaches.

    You are not being unreasonable in expecting the people you hire to approach your project and business with the same amount of integrity and work ethic that you would expect of yourself.

    November 30, -0001
  18. Judith #


    I did not attend the sock summit, but I am a member of the rockin’ sock club.  I am always impressed with the product which includes:  a timely and well-packaged product; the clarity and quality of the instructions; the quality and quantity of the yarn; and the follow-up on questions and or comments.  As a result I have purchased other yarn and patterns from you.  You are successful for a number of reasons, but I would suspect that your commitment to accountability is a significant part of the success that you have achieved.  Thank you!

    November 30, -0001
  19. Maintain those high standards.  Stick to them like your life depends upon them.  No one is remembered for their average performance.

    November 30, -0001
  20. As a wife of an exceptionally good code monkey, I’d like to say I completely agree.  The trouble comes in when software managers/wheeler-dealers are overly optimistic, as software is so complex.  Very often it’s NOT the code guys who determine the timeline–it’s the business guys.  Even when a software guy gets to set the timeline, fixed bid work is dangerous gambling for software engineers.  Timelines are, at best, rough guesses.  It’s honestly a crap shoot as to whether or not a project will be done anywhere near time.  Sometimes pieces will get done in a day (when they were given a month), and others will take a month (when only given a few hours).  There are myriad ways to solve any given problem, and each of those ways are as varied in how much time it takes as the example I just gave.  And each way has its own consequences for the rest of the project . . . saving two days on an early piece of code can cost several weeks later in bugs, headaches, or additional code.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand where you’re coming from.  We’ve been on the other end of situations like yours when Vern was an employee, and it stinks for everyone, all around.  I have excellent referrals for experienced software contractors, if you’re looking for someone.  Independent contractors who don’t eat if they don’t do a bang-up job. And if the ones I know aren’t the best at what you need done, I’m sure they know of someone who is.  It’s all about happy customers and networking, if you want to make it outside of corporate America’s software game.

    Have a great weekend!

    November 30, -0001
  21. P.S.) I just remembered a helpful software development rule: the development triangle.  This article explains it far better than I could:

    Hope that helps . . .

    November 30, -0001
  22. Chris #

    The really insidious thing about software projects is that you are always convinced that if you try *just this one more thing,* then everything will work. No matter how many times you are proved wrong, that carrot dangling just in front of your nose means you will always be optimistic that you have this problem *almost* solved, really….

    My sympathies, I know how hard it is to tell someone “sorry, this is just not working.” Hope you find new folks that WILL make everything work like it’s supposed to.

    November 30, -0001
  23. Ann #

    Dear Tina

    first off, here is a *BIG HUG*!!

    Secondly…wow did this blog resonate!! From reading your blogs I sense you are really frustrated…and disappointed. I am so sorry, because I am such a fan!! (I recently used another sock yarn, and despite the fact that this “other” yarn is well respected in the knitting community, I was sorely disappointed. This yarn was constantly splitting, and did not knit up well. I finished the socks, but it was painful. How different from BMFA.)

    But I believe what you were talking about is more than sock yarn, or business/company/professional performance. I believe it has to do with personal integrity.

    We are of the same age, you and I, and I think we share many of the same ideals. Is this a generationsl thing? But then I remember when my grandparents used to say “I just don’t know what has gotten into young people..” Are we the old crochety elders now? I don’t think so….

    I have raised two kids on my own, and have put myself through 8 years of college. I have worked 24 hour shifts, because it was how I paid the bills. And during these long shifts, there are times when all I want to do is go lay down and sleep for a little bit….but I always treat my job as if the people I am caring for are my family members. And to this day I am still (fill in this adjective) saddened, angered, etc because not everyone plays by the same set of rules. Basically it sucks when you give 110% to what you do, and people do not return this in kind. I am not sure why this is… and it is true if you have “high standards” you will probably be disappointed more often than if you just accept what ever someone is willing to provide…..

    But what are our choices? I refuse to add to the world’s misery by becoming one of the “them”…the slackards, etc… So, dear Tina…know that we agree with you, and admire you, and love what you do.

    I don’t know of anything else you can do than be very plain in your expectations, and acknowledge that sometimes we misjudge people, or we are mislead. And continue to hold people accountable for when they fail to deliver. It’s all we can do…

    Wish I could be more eloquent….

    and yes, the beach is definitely the way to go….and then perhaps a little Bailey’s on the rocks… smile


    November 30, -0001
  24. Gail #

    Please keep believing.  If we stop expecting the highest of standards, it will only get worse.  I grew up with my father asking, “Have you done your best?” It’s quite different from those I have known who grew up with their fathers expecting them to be “the best”.  I think it is probably harder, because I’m seldom satisfied that I have actually done my best, only a close approximation.  So it always surprises me when someone thinks I have exceeded expectations!  Is the standard really so low, I think to myself?  It’s both a blessing and a curse, but I’m grateful for it, and I’ve done my best to pass it to my children.

    November 30, -0001
  25. linda A Reynolds #

    Thanks for helping us stop to look. I love the ocean too. I found it especially amazing when I was the mother of two preteen boys, frantically overcommitted and often a bit frazzed. I loved sitting in the sand and watching the ocean, here was this huge power always present and filled with great sounds and great sights. And guess what? I wasn’t responsible for any of it , now that was so good for my soul.

    November 30, -0001
  26. Go Tina. Amen.

    November 30, -0001
  27. Linda Sherman #

    I feel that it’s very beneficial to keep living with these questions.  Few look deeply to see that all we obtain, achieve, become, will eventually be lost, all relationships, possessions, knowledge, etc.  If one faces this directly, then one acts from love, service, honesty, as doing one’s best job, without expecting a future, is rewarding, in and of itself.  To do one’s best is to serve the whole.  None can be sure that one will be here tomorrow.

    To ask and expect others to do a good job is to honor them.  The best teachers and mentors demand the best of their students.

    We all need to work to bring back the perennial values back to our country and the world.  We need to use the words to ourselves and others: honesty, integrity, forthrightness, non-harming, simplicity, gentleness.  We need to make our decisions based on our values.

    November 30, -0001

Comments are closed.