“You Should Be Doing the Becoming, Not Your Damn Fool Computer”

Here’s a think piece from Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country. This was his last published book while he was alive (there was one published posthumously). It’s a collection of essays, where Vonnegut discusses politics, life, death and society. I came across one line, that might help you think about how you view and interact with the technology in your household, whether it’s a smartphone, laptop or tablet. He created this in 2004, but it still resounds today.

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut (page 56)

“Today we have contraptions like nuclear submarines armed with Poseidon missiles that have H-bombs in their warheads. And we have contraptions like computers that cheat you out of becoming. Bill Gates says, ‘Wait till you can see what your computer can become.’ But it’s you who should be doing the becoming, not the damn fool computer. What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.”

Running Through Death Valley

I’m not sure whether this post will make you laugh, think or cry, but it’s certainly inspirational. This week, the annual Badwater Ultramarathon took place. What’s the Badwater Ultramarathon? A 135-mile race across Death Valley! It took the winner over 24 hours to finish. But other competitors, were running for nearly two days.

Here’s a photo from the events Instagram feed. Feel free to click the link if you were so inspired, that you want to sign up next year!

Talking to A Stranger From Walt Whitman

Many of us fear the idea of talking to complete strangers. But what do we fear? And why do we fear it. Today, take a look at this poem from Walt Whitman. Is talking to someone new really that scary? Maybe it shouldn’t be, especially when put in perspective. Hopefully, this helps you think about changing your views or tactics moving forward. Or maybe it helps you think about thinking about changing your tactics. Whichever. Enjoy.

To You by Walt Whitman:

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me,

                  why should you not speak to me?

And why should I not speak to you?

Over-Hyping Leadership – It’s Not As Important As We Think

We’re not taught that it’s a good idea to follow. Often our whole goal in a career is to climb higher and higher as fast as possible. There are obvious benefits to such a track, as we get paid more the higher we rise. But the other benefit to such a climb is that you become more of a leader. And that’s how you get more respect, more money, more responsibility and on and on.

And the idea of strong leaders or the importance of leaders has grown in our society, as we look to the tops of organizations to symbolize what the company or agency stands for. CEOs are showered with millions, if the company does well. We turn to the President, when something minor – good or bad occurs – within government, offering praise or criticism. Of course, in both instances, their leadership is highly overrated.

CEOs are only provided the highest level of information, so when developing strategies it’s their executives, and the executives’ teams that build the X’s and O’s of what’s possible for the company. The CEO just selects the final idea, which is often strongly suggested by whatever executive presents it. The President overseas agencies, that make decisions constantly, without ever receiving permission from the “Leader of the Free World.” In the government’s case, there’s also Congress and the Supreme Court making decisions, which the President has little to no control over. And yet, we bolster his/her’s responsibility, even when others are to blame.

And in many ways, this seems tied to how we consume media. Books and movies need strong characters, so we are more thrilled by those that have one central leader. The media needs ways to present complex information in a thrilling way, so they increase the importance of the President or CEO in the story line. Not to mention, they have to do this to drive clicks online, since CEOs and Obama result in far better results.

All this leads to our desire and need to be a leader as we look up to those we see in the world the most. But sometimes, when we’re in a rut, we don’t know how to lead. When we can’t figure out what to do next for ourselves, how can we ask people to follow? I believe this is part of the reason we struggle so mightily when we’re in such a rut. After all, we don’t want to follow anyone or else we will not be leaders, and therefore unhappy (read poor, unsuccessful, junior-level). So we continue to look for another place, where we can find a spot to lead. The result? Nothing happens. Continue reading