When Ambition Meets Apathy
Many of us spend most of our evenings sitting at home re-watching a show that we’ve seen several times already? I do. During which time I also snack, which combined with my sedentary job has done a number on my physique. At the same time, we swipe through Facebook, Instagram and yes even Snapchat, looking at people who are out living the lives we feel that we deserve.
We become jealous, and I use the word jealousy, not envy because it would seem that the fewer degrees of separation between the couch potato and their aspirational avatar, the more profound and more visceral the anger and feeling of someone else’s success or happiness somehow coming at the expense of our own.
I have been guilty of this many times. Despite knowing that it is less painful and more fulfilling to celebrate the success and accomplishments of your compatriots. In small amounts, these influences would not change your day to day life. But because we are now bombarded continuously by the ambitions, aspirations and success of others, we start associating their success as the causation of our failure to realize our goals. The closer the relationship (except family, although I’ve seen it play out here too), the more inclined we are to see the success of other become losses for us.
As a result of this fictitious jealousy, we have the rise of “call-out-culture” and worse of all the loss of compromise. We can see it in the positions taken on the environment in Canada, on judgements of people in social media, inter-office politics, and our overall approach to politics and the idea of the common good. The land of compromise is gone and the centre will not hold.
The Need For, and Rise of the Unreasonable Man (or Woman)
The reason I called this post the Unreasonable Man, is because that we have recently seen the rise of several on the world stage. I imagine that it won’t take you very long to think of more than a few examples.
But let’s take this down to a professional level. For those that worship Steve Jobs, they understand that he was an Unreasonable Man. Many attribute this unreasonable-ness for the reason that Apple would become the first company to be evaluated at 1-Trillion dollars. In your community or sphere of influence who are the people who most often get what they want? Chances are those people have been told they were being unreasonable once or twice in their lives. These people are the leaders in our office, our communities and our countries.
Like all leaders, these people are useless without others to follow them. As people become more polarized and unreasonable, due in large part to the jealousy and ignorance caused by the reasons we went over above, today’s leaders need to become even more extreme and unwilling to compromise. That can be the authoritarian boss in the office, the centralization of power in the Mayor’s, Premier’s or Prime Minister / President’s office, the loudest segment of the population, and it’s your business’s harshest critic instead of the average review.
So What’s an Unreasonable Man To Do?
For what it’s worth travel is always a good option. It doesn’t all have to go up on social media either. What travel can do for you is show you how insignificant you are, and how petty your jealousies are too.
The world is an incredibly old place. Generations of people have come before you. Amazing things were built destroyed and built again prior to your business or even the notion of you as a person ever came to being. Perspective is the enemy of rigidity. So the more you can gain the better you will become at innately being able to pivot and compromise as needed.
Conclusion, well sort of.
I am still an unreasonable guy most of the time. I can be hard to deal with, and I am sure challenging to work with as well, I question the people I work with all of the time. It often comes off as arrogance, and there is undoubtedly some there; however, if people knew me, they’d know how insecure I am.
The point I want to make is that if you feel like you are now constantly in a competition to out do, out live or out succeed your neighbour or facebook friends, you are not alone in that feeling, you are more importantly wrong. Your friend from college’s new cupcake shop’s grande opening, doesn’t take away from your success as a manager at a tire shop, or an electrician. The anger that you feel as you see others around you succeed is the expression of internal frustration in yourself, and that level of perspective is only possible when you can step outside of yourself long enough to understand what your feelings mean.
I didn’t gain this perspective on my own, and I still need to make a conscious effort to not lose it. But I quickly discovered that I need a coach, I need the support of friends and family, and most significantly the humility to know that I have a huge blind spot that my ego blocks out. So go ahead be Unreasonable, it is actually the only way things change, but don’t be unreasonable because you’re angry with yourself. It won’t help you achieve your goals or the goals of those you care about.
Our perspective is only limited by ourselves. The life of an ant is to stay in line and perform a function. Ants don’t rock the boat, they rarely complain about the infrastructure failings of their hill, but you are not an ant. The one thing that you do share in common with ants is that your time in terms of the society in which you live is brief. So do not waste it being reasonable. As progress is the result of the unreasonable and immortality is only possible in cases of substantive progress.