Keep It Under Your Hat

I’ve been known to have a favourite hat – a black military cap. It’s well worn and cannot only be hand washed but also ironed on a high heat, the logistics of which I should imagine are quite interesting given its size and shape.

The hat is a regular frequenter of coffee shops on a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon and makes up a key part of my lucky football attire along with my shirt, red belt, pink pants and grey socks. Its use in such situations is mainly to cover up a mess of a barnet which should really have had some care and attention if time could not have been better spent doing something else – usually sleeping. So yes, my hat wearing requirement is vanity to an extent, but part of that is that I’m not the world’s most confident person and my hat gives me a degree of anonymity when I need it to.

For this reason the phrase “keep it under your hat” is one that I particularly understand with its connotations of secrecy and keeping things to yourself, in your head.

I was reading a book this morning that suggested the first rule should be not to preach, propagate or even mention what I was reading (which I won’t!). Now I’m pretty terrible at keeping secrets that won’t have adverse effects if they were in the open so this foreboding rule was something I was thinking about during the day. It became particularly apt when I learnt that my willingness to help had actually caused what could be a large issue for me if it wasn’t that some of my more senior colleagues know me better than an incompetent junior auditor who I’m greatly looking forward to speaking to again.

I’d been asked to help out with something because, although I’m not the right person by any means, I am the best person at this point in time. It transpires that me not knowing why, 8 months ago, someone has applied a filter to a spreadsheet I have never seen, containing data I have never used, has been viewed by a recent university graduate (whose own expertise don’t seem to stretch to using a phone or being able to read) as me being obstructive.

When said auditor was asked to provide me with some specific questions to which I could try to find specific answers, his reply was that he couldn’t do this because he didn’t understand enough about what he was auditing himself. Now, one of the reasons my book said for not volunteering information was that people would notice your abilities / knowledge / whatever, show an interest and begin to ask the questions that would get them the information they wanted.

This isn’t a rule that sits easy with me, but maybe I need to judge better which situation I volunteer my help to. And maybe I need to find out if my hat is suitable office attire.

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