But That’s Not My Job, Part II

We’re all part of a species of bipedal primates in the family Hominidae that are supposed to possess a highly developed brain, bipedal gait, and opposable thumbs.

Lucy” appeared in mankind’s historical timeline as long as 3.6 million years ago.

Humans (that look like you and me) arrived on the scene much later — starting maybe as long ago as 200,000 years — originating in southern Africa. About 70,000 years ago they began to colonize the planet, reaching the Americas as recently as 14,500 years ago.

You and I are called “homo sapiens.” It means “wise human.”

That wise part remains (mostly) to be seen.

Many seminal events have occurred in the history of mankind. The use of fire (early Stone Age) and mastery of the wheel (credited to the Sumerians) have to rank as two of the greatest technological innovations driving progress in human civilization. I’d argue vehemently at this point that the printing press is probably one of, if not the next greatest innovation. It allowed for ideas to spread.

Not a whole lot happened between that communication marvel (circa 1440) and the arrival of the last two centuries. Nobody is arguing here (yet) that there haven’t been inventions that changed the world during those times; here are 101.

But as far as moving mankind along in the scheme of things, I’d have to name fire, the wheel, and the printing press as the major forerunners to where we find ourselves today.

An idea is much like fire; it sparks in the imagination. The wheel is a vehicle for moving things along, much like the printing press allowed for ideas to move along.

I’m going somewhere here. Pay attention to the word “idea.”

If we can agree here that man’s existence until recently has been mostly short and nasty, alleviated somewhat by the use of electricity and the magic of medicine, we can forego the argument some would bring that many men today still live brutish and dark lives. It depends on your perspective.

I took the open air bus ride (recommended) around Washington, D.C. when I was there to speak at Sourcecon in September.

The bus idled for a while at Union Station waiting for new fellow wanderers to get on, and I got off and walked around. At roof level Union Station has six allegorical statues and four murals between them with corresponding inspirational themes representing “The Progress of Railroading.” The statues are:
  • Prometheus, representing Fire
  • Thales, representing Electricity
  • Themis, representing Freedom and Justice
  • Apollo, representing Imagination and Inspiration
  • Ceres, representing Agriculture
  • Archimedes, representing Mechanics

All of the murals were fascinating to read but one really caught my attention (and, as you may suspect, fired my imagination). This was the mural dedicated to Archimedes, Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.

It stated:

THE OLD MECHANIC ARTS CONTROLLING NEW FORCES — BUILD NEW HIGHWAYS FOR GOODS AND MEN — OVERRIDE THE OCEAN AND MAKE THE VERY ETHER CARRY HUMAN THOUGHT — THE DESERT SHALL REJOICE AND BLOSSOM AS THE ROSE

“…make the very ether carry human thought.” When I read that I was excited and amazed to think that in 1908 such a prescient remark would be carved onto a major building in our nation’s capital. Sure, the telephone was around (just) then, but the thought of ether? It gives me chills to think that the application of this remark reaches into our world today.

As this series is intended to revolve around what we can each do to relieve some of the misery we find around us, I want to remind you that I asked you to pay attention to the word “idea.”

Each of us is blessed with a thinking mind and a will. One of my favorite writers, Oscar Wilde, said, “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

I want to encourage you to think dangerous ideas.

I want to help move you out of the status quo.

I want to challenge you to put your ideas to action. You’re going to have to be willing to work hard to do this.

Are you willing to work hard?

I want you to calculate the risk of your idea. Once you do that I want you to place your bet and act on it.

I want you to keep acting.

Napoleon Hill said, “Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes.”

Your idea may be the beginning of your great fortune.

“Fortune” has a couple meanings. It can be financial but it can also be emotional. My wise friend Sandra McCartt pointed out in a comment in the first part of this series that an unemployed accountant she knew who had started a concierge service for older people who do not or can not drive was finding himself in a position where he “may not get rich but says that his clients are so much more grateful and his life has a bit more meaning than it did when he was grinding out financial statements five days a week.”

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That kind of reward is every bit as important as the few dollars that accompany it. In fact, I argue that it’s MORE important. I believe that it’s the extraneous stuff you learn doing the things you wouldn’t normally dare to do that lead to other and usually greater opportunities.

Your old mechanic arts control new forces.

Ideas build upon themselves quickly.

Opportunities amass.

Notice that the accountant Sandra is reporting on is starting something slowly. He’s starting something small. I would bet that in 2-3 years that accountant’s simple service will begin to morph into other things. I’d further bet that in five years his business model will look completely different than it does today.

This is how it happens: You start with something you can do; something you want to do. You do it and then you watch as opportunities arise. They will, I promise.

You’ll surprise yourself. I promise.

A room with a closed door usually has windows. Open one or two.

Your desert will rejoice and bloom as the rose.

You don’t need a lot of money to do this. You don’t need a lot of experience.

You do need GUTS.

You do need an idea (vague ideas are okay!) and a will to act upon it.

Do you have both of them?

What are your ideas? Let’s talk about them.

We’ll continue this series, but in the meantime I want you to think about ideas. I want you to think about the special advantage the Internet is giving us today regarding ideas. The Internet may be the next big thing (behind the printing press) that changes mankind’s prospects.

I want you to think abundantly — with hope.

Hope is in the ether all around us.

Capital isn’t that important in business. Experience isn’t that important. You can get both of these things. What is important is ideas.–Harvey S. Firestone

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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9 Comments on “But That’s Not My Job, Part II

  1. For some fine responses, here are some of the best lines from our friends at http://www.despair.com:

    Accomplishments
    You can fool all of the people all of the time if your effects budget is large enough.

    Achievement
    You can do anything you set your mind to when you have vision, determination, and an endless supply of expendable labor.

    Adversity
    That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    Agony
    Not all pain is gain.

    Ambition
    The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.

    Bitterness
    Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, because there’s nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams.

    Blame
    The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures.

    Blogging
    Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

    Challenges
    I expected times like this – but I never thought they’d be so bad, so long, and so frequent.

    Change (winds)
    When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles.

    Cluelessness
    There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.

    Compromise
    Let’s agree to respect each others views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

    Conformity
    When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

    Creativity
    Helps artists die young, miserable, and penniless- so their art can have meaning to the old, satisfied, and obscenely rich.

    Curiosity
    Some Places Remain Unknown Because No One Has Ventured Forth. Others Remain So Because No One Has Ever Come Back.

    Defeat
    For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you’re one of them.

    Delusions
    There is no greater joy than soaring high on the wings of your dreams, except maybe the joy of watching a dreamer who has nowhere to land but in the ocean of reality.

    Demotivation
    Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

    Despair
    It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

    Disloyalty
    There comes a time when every team must learn to make individual sacrifices.

    Doubt
    In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.

    Dreams
    Dreams are like rainbows. Only idiots chase them.

    Failure
    When your best just isn’t good enough.

    Fear
    Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.

    Flattery
    If you want to get to the top, prepare to kiss a lot of the bottom.

    Freedom
    I may not agree with what you say, but I respect your right to be punished for it.

    Futility
    You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and, statistically speaking, 99% of the shots you do.

    Get To Work
    You aren’t being paid to believe in the power of your dreams.

    Give Up
    At some point, hanging in there just makes you look like an even bigger loser.

    Goals
    It’s best to avoid standing directly between a competitive jerk and his goals.

    Hazards
    There is an island of opportunity in the middle of every difficulty. Miss that, though, and you’re pretty much doomed.

    Hope
    May not be warranted at this point.

    Humiliation
    The harder you try, the dumber you look.

    Idiocy
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    Ignorance
    It’s amazing how much easier it is for a team to work together when no one has any idea where they’re going.

    Incompetence
    When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there’s no end to what you can’t do.

    Indecision
    The mark of the leader is the ability to make decisions. The mark of the survivor is knowing when not to.

    Indifference
    It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile, but it doesn’t take any to just sit there with a dumb look on your face.

    Individuality
    Always remember that you are unique. Just like everybody else.

    Ineptitude
    If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

    Innovation
    If it can make your job easier, it can probably make it irrelevant.

    Insight
    When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
    The smart left a long time ago.

    Inspiration
    Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99% perspiration, which is why engineers sometimes smell really bad.

    Limitations
    Until you spread your wings, you’ll have no idea how far you can walk.

    Losing
    If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

    Misfortune
    While good fortune often eludes you, this kind never misses.

    Mistakes
    It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

    Motivation
    If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

    Overconfidence
    Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you.

    Perseverance
    The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.

    Persistence
    It’s over, man. Let her go.

    Perspective
    Less is more. Unless you’re standing next to the one with more. Then less just looks pathetic.

    Pessimism
    Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it.

    Possibilities
    With focus, dedication and steroids, men can achieve impossible dreams. Like breaking a world record. Or growing their own breasts.

    Potential
    Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.

    Problems
    No matter how great and destructive your problems may seem now, remember, you’ve probably only seen the tip of them.

    Propaganda
    What lies behind us and lies before us are small matters compared to what lies right to our faces.

    Recovery
    Time heals all wounds. But it usually leaves a pretty big scar.

    Regret
    It hurts to admit when you make mistakes – but when they’re big enough, the pain only lasts a second.

    Risks
    If you never try anything new, you’ll miss out on many of life’s great disappointments.

    Sacrifice
    Your role may be thankless, but if you’re willing to give it your all, you just might bring success to those who outlast you.

    The Secret
    What is The Secret? Pretend you’ve already achieved it- Then offer to sell The Secret to others.

    Self-Esteem
    Just because you think you’re a star doesn’t mean you’re going anywhere.

    Stupidity
    Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win AND never quit are idiots.

    Success
    Some people dream of success, while other people live to crush those dreams.

    Survival
    The less you stand out, the longer you’ll last.

    Tradition
    Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid.

    Underachievement
    The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the lawnmower.

    Victory
    Winners never fly higher than when they’re bouncing up and down on the egos of those they defeat.

    Vision
    How can the future be so hard to predict when all of my worst fears keep coming true?

    Winners
    Because nothing says “you’re a loser” more than owning a motivational poster about being a winner.

    Worth
    Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean you’re important.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  2. I didnt finish your article…I couldnt understand where you were going with it, and I quit after the 18th page. State your point in the forefront to keep a reader interested please. Now, what is the point of your article?

  3. Thank you Maureen for the kick in the…er….reminder that I should keep moving ahead with MY idea – even if it’s a little scary, even though I’m not perfect and yes, even though I don’t know everything about everything. Keep em’ coming!

  4. Or perhaps, if you can’t do what you always done or want to do, think about what you might be able to do and go from there.

    I think people get too caught up in big ideas that quickly become impossible due to cost, risk, experience and all the other things that overwhelm them. Small doable ideas that work create the opportunity for bigger ideas.

    I don’t know how hungry the first guy who ate an oyster had to be but i would guess pretty hungry before he had the idea that that those things might be better than starving.

    Now look what’s happened. Those things cost 20 dollars a dozen and even those of us in the Texas panhandle eat them when the largest body of water within 600 miles is a playa lake that is dry most of the year.

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