➻ David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals (and coauthor of Rework) reminds us that keeping a company running is every employee’s responsibility, no matter what the task at hand is. Or, to put it more bluntly, Making shit work is everyone’s job.
“Oh, that’s not my job,” is the sound of doom. Maybe not imminent doom, but doom indeed. It’s the magic inflection point when a company becomes too big (even if only psychologically) for any single employee to give a rat’s ass about job numero uno: Making shit work.
Regardless of what you think of the profanity, you have to agree that David is one insightful motherlover.
➻ Keeping the irascible nature of the thread alive, let’s take a look inside Steven Pressfield’s Head in the Morning.
When I get up in the morning, I’m almost always in a foul mood. I’m irritable, I’m short-tempered, I’m irascible. Coffee doesn’t help. I can’t watch Matt Lauer. If I have to drive anywhere I’m always pissed off at the other cars and muttering under my breath. I’m not happy with myself, I’m not happy with the world, I’m not happy with anything.
It’s all Resistance.
Now, if you’ve read The War of Art or Do the Work, you know that Pressfield is a master of overcoming the resistance. Beside the two books mentioned above, he’s overcome it often enough to pen nine other books. How does he do it? His solution has to do a lot with getting out of the house, physical exercise, and chariot metaphors.
Get up. Get moving. Do whatever you have to do to seize the reins of that chariot and to take command of those four unruly horses.
Fiery chargers are good. Horsepower is what we want. We just have to learn how to gain control of those magnificent, passionate beasts and to get them to take us where we want to go.
Sounds like Pressfield knows how to make **it work. To figure out how, read the rest of the post and keep an eye out out for his upcoming book project, Turning Pro.
➻ Umair Haque, author of The New Capitalist Manifesto, is always challenging us on these fronts, asking questions about what we want and what we’re all capable of, and he foresees is a Great Collision.
A rebellion against the emptiness of the lives we choose, over and over again. I believe you and I are capable of better; I believe each of us deserves better—from ourselves. As the great historian and parliamentarian Edward Gibbon once wrote: “when the freedom they wished for most was the freedom from responsibility, then the Athenians ceased to be free.”
And this is again about making **it work, as workers, individuals, and citizens. I’m going to quote his post at length here, because it’s filled with good links, and this is after all a post all about links.
We want work that fulfills—but we’re not often willing to spend an extra penny, let alone a dollar, euro, or yen, to ensure others can take on fulfilling work. In the sagging, tube-lit aisles, it’s the everyday low price that we chase with a vengeance.
We cry out for better leaders—but it’s rare that we take the dangerous, decisive step to lead ourselves, choosing instead to remain obedient, pliable followers.
We want education, healthcare, and transportation that works—but we’re reluctant to pay the costs of these public goods. When it comes to the bare-minimum building blocks of a functioning society, they’re someone else’s responsibility.
We hunger for inspiration, purpose, exhilaration—but mostly, we settle for lives of annihilating boredom, alternating with sheer panic. Perhaps we get our fix of “life” through the finely honed narratives of the hundreds of channels of reality TV and “news” we’re smilingly offered night after pixelated night.
We want contracts that don’t steal our future—but we’re often unwilling to walk away from those that already have. Perhaps we feel a sense of moral responsibility to pay our debts—but I’d suggest the greater, perhaps greatest moral responsibility is choosing to live.
We want thriving, diverse cities—but we self-select into neighborhoods of like-for-like. Witness, of course, the rise of the gated community.
We don’t want narcissistic Machiavellian sociopaths to helm our institutions—but at the mall, on the high street, at the gas pump, we seem to barely, if at all, consider whether those we’re choosing to patronize have interests solidly opposed to any rational person’s.
We want basic human rights to be respected—but mostly, we yawn when habeas corpus, the fundamental political building block of a minimally enlightened social contract (remember that 13th century document called the Magna Carta?) is rolled back.
We want communities that cohere, full of relationships that blossom, and in turn, nurture the social soil. But we spend more time and energy on Facebook than on making a lasting, tangible human difference—unless it helps us gain that corner office, promotion, or bonus.
We want a culture that doesn’t dumbify us—but at the end of the day, we’re willing to settle for poking fun at one that does, instead of building one that doesn’t. But the former is not the latter.
We don’t want the future we’re getting—but most of us shrug our shoulders at the end of the day; only to wake up panicked, the next — and begin the cycle all over again.
Welcome to the Great Collision. In the aggregate, our preferences are savagely at odds with our expectations; the future we want is at odds with the present we choose.
It seems like we have a lot **it to work out.
➻ But it doesn’t have to be that heavy. As Chris Guillebeau wrote recently in a post about Thelonious Monk and the Search for Value:
It’s funny, if you make a list of all the things you don’t do well, you may wonder how you’ve even made it this far. But those things don’t matter … you can be average or even mediocre in many ways as long as you craft everything together in a way that gives other people something to care about.
After all, giving a damn is what makes the world turn. Well, I suppose it actually has something having to do with how the rotating matter that eventually coalesced into the planet Earth was affected by the gravitational pull of objects and dark matter around it, but you take my point.
➻ For as much work as we all have to do, though, sometimes it’s still necessary just to take a load off—and it’s always nice when there’s someone there to help.