Above or Below the Line?

Pic by epSos.de

Pic by epSos.de (license: CC BY 2.0)

I always love AAG (Agate Alliance Gathering), a quarterly meeting where all crews from my office and its alliances gather in one place… to speak up about their dreams, goals and plans. The theme of the latest AAG was Culture and Philosophies.

You see, Agate is an almost-4-year-old game studio. We are in ongoing process of building our own culture. The goal is simple: To build a company that stands for centuries.

Okay, it is not that simple, hahaha…

The CEO, Arief Widhiyasa, is a great leader. He encourages us to have ATL (above the line) mentalities and to avoid BTL (below the line) mentalities.

He opened his keynote in the latest AAG with a story about a cup of coffee that fell. It was a usual busy morning in an ordinary home of an ordinary family. Like mine. Or yours.

Mom prepared a cup of coffee for dad. She put it on the edge side of the table. Dad just walked down the stairs, and then he sat in the kitchen to grab his first cup of coffee. Their kid ran excitedly to go to school and, in his excitement, he knocked over the cup of coffee. It was instantly spilled onto his dad’s nice, clean pants.

At this point of moment, what would dad do?

A. He screamed at his little boy for running recklessly in the house. He also yelled at his wife, perhaps calling her dumb or whatever, because she had put the glass way too close to the table-edge. He then grumbled upstairs to grab clean pants. His little boy, frightened to death, started to cry. When the school bus came, the poor boy cried still, so mom told the bus driver to leave without him. She thought, dad would have gladly taken him to school, it was his son’s first day after all. When dad found out he had a new chore, he got angrier and screamed louder to everyone. But eventually he took his car out and drove his kid to school. On the way, however, his mood worsened. He screamed at some motor bikers cutting his line. He cursed at some people crossing the street without taking the crossroads.


B. He laughed when he found out his new, nice pants that he was supposed to wear to an important meeting with an important client was totally ruined. He patted his little boy and said, “Hey, kiddo. You should not run recklessly around the house. Look at what you did to daddy.” He could then tell his wife, “Let me take him to school. And please, honey, next time put the cup in the middle of the table so it won’t be easily knocked over.” When he got irresponsible people on the road cutting his line or crossing without the crossroads, he could smile and told his boy, “You know what to do when you cross the road, right? You should take the crossroads, holding the hand of an adult, possibly your teacher. You should look at right and left before you walk. Can you do that for me, sweetie?”

This situation is based on our life in Indonesia, I am not sure if it is similar to yours. It matters not. The fact is, many situations in life are out of our control. Regardless of how we feel about these situations, they stay the same. What makes the difference is how we react to them. Is it above the line? Or below the line?

People with ATL mentalities tend to:

  • Take ownership
  • Take accountability
  • Take responsibility

People with BTL mentalities tend to:

  • Blame other people for whatever bad things happening
  • Give excuses for their mistakes and unwise decisions
  • Deny that they actually do the two habits above

Are you above or below the line? Arief then shared another trick to help us practice the ATL mentalities. “Smile!” 😀

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