The longer I spend on this earth, the more apparent it becomes that no one really knows what they’re doing. Maybe it's because we're all just tiny particles of matter floating around the sun, putting on uniforms and giving ourselves titles in order to feel some sense of purpose or identity. Or maybe it's just me.
The titles and uniforms we put on can change but, ultimately, they’re just there to make us feel better… as is season two of Narcos, which is why I’m writing this at 7am on a Sunday morning.
The thing is, most people think a title is enough to certify what they actually do. I mean, in many ways, it does. Once you hold a certain position in society, it’s assumed you’ve earned it. But something’s not right. How many teachers actually expand our minds through knowledge? How many police offers actually serve and protect? How many journalists really speak truth to power? We live in a world full of people that tick all of the boxes to keep themselves employed, but rarely succeed in realising the full potential of their job description.
The most obvious example of this can be seen in the police force. Rather than working backward from the idea of how to best serve and protect, stringent quotas and targets are put in place to ensure the right stats can be recorded to maintain senior job positions and score the right political points. Before long, it dawns on you that most jobs aren't about ensuring the company's values are being directly met, and you slowly get broken down to ticking your box, covering your back and waiting for your payslip.
It’s the simple nature of corporate hierarchy, I suppose. Tiers of management have to be accountable to keep themselves employed, therefore something has to be put in place to gauge the amount of work being put in to hold each relevant department responsible. Lovely, we get it. But is this all we’re on earth for? When the job’s done and you come to the realisation that you’ve dedicated decades of your life to satisfying a boss one step above you on the hamster wheel of life, won’t you feel cheated?
In whatever you choose to do in life, think of the full impact you are able to make. If you work in a shop, there are ways you can make that experience better for the customer. If you're making music, dare to show your vulnerabilities and trust that people will connect with your true emotions.
We’re all going to be dead soon, so don’t live your life in a coma because from age 0 to 16 you were conditioned to accept everything is, and always has to be, done a certain way. The greatest innovators of the last century haven't always been the geniuses they were made out to be, they were often just the ones least willing to subscribe to the accepted way of doing things.
There are no set rules to achieving things that have never been done.
The best ideas come from the young; unconditioned, untainted, young people offer society its best opportunity for objective criticisms on how we’re doing things. But, in the world of corporate hierarchy, the interns are the least likely to be listened to — even when they’re the closest to what’s happening on the ground. The whole thing is backwards. Don’t get me wrong, experience and wisdom are so important in business, but decisions shouldn’t just be informed by six seats around a boardroom table. Especially when, let’s be honest, the experiences of the people in these positions are all likely to be fairly similar. In my opinion, if you want to find the solution to any large-scale problem in your business, your frontline staff will provide more insight than your senior management. The ability for that communication just has to be present.
It’s on us to change things. I’m a firm believer in the idea that real change 1. doesn’t come overnight and 2. must be executed from the inside. The more at odds we find ourselves with this industry, the more likely we are to contemplate throwing the towel in and becoming washed and bitter. This is not an option. If you're already inside, do your job and tick the boxes (essentially, that’s all you’ve been employed for) but consider how you could also be working to achieve the less measurable aspects of your job role. If you’re blessed to be in a position of power or influence, think of the wider responsibilities you have. Being “for the culture” sounds great, but what decisions are you actively building into your everyday life to make real contributions?
Let's do better.