For once, I disagree with Seth.
At a recent seminar, a woman who helps run a community college stood up to ask a question.
“Well, the bad news,” she said, “is that we have to let everyone in. And the truth is, many of these kids just can’t be the leaders you’re describing, can’t make art. We need people to do manual work, and it’s those people.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless, then heartbroken.
So, there are people who are not leaders. People who are not remarkably creative or artistic. People who don’t aspire to rise to the top of any particular pile. People who are content with a simple life, with work that may or may not stimulate them, with the love they’re able to give and receive.
Admittedly, I’m not one of “those people.” I’m naturally restless. I always have bright ideas for tomorrow / next month / next year. I struggle to find contentment in having my basic needs met. Vocational boredom is almost intolerable to me.
But if everyone were like me, nothing would get done.
This makes me thankful for people who are more easily satisfied than me. Who aren’t so often distracted by endless ideas and inspiration. Who prefer the consistency of repetitive or mundane work to the neurosis of creating, managing, financing, solving, consoling and everything else that comes with being a leader.
I don’t think less of “those people.” I respect them. Heck, I envy them! Their lives are usually so much more balanced than mine.
Why so heartbroken, Seth?
When those that we’ve chosen to teach and lead write off people because of what they look like or where they live or who their parents are, it’s a tragedy. Worse, we often write people off merely because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that they have no ability to do more than they’ve been assigned. Well, if we brainwashed them into setting limits, I know we can teach them to ignore those limits.
I agree about stereotyping, and I agree about brainwashing, but I don’t think the woman he quoted was guilty of either.
Wasn’t she just being honest? Pragmatic?
We can’t all be leaders, and there’s nothing to be gained by trying to mould the unwilling into something we imagine they could be capable of.
If we’re not careful, we’ll become so desperate to foist our version of greatness – e.g. risk-taking / game-changing / cutting-edge – on people destined for something entirely different.
I’m not interested in trying to tear “those people” away from their straightforward / stress-free / simple lives. I’m certainly not interested in demeaning their choice to live that way, assuming it really was a choice.
I’m grateful for the work “those people” do, and more often than not, I want to learn from their ability to do it so cheerfully.