Be A Tank: A Tribute to The Fountainhead (Remastered 7/2017)

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Slow and steady wins the race, but the world is dominated by get rich quick-types. 

We speak often of trust, it is the central element to any genuine relationship or brotherhood. Of Phired Up’s four pillars of social excellence, it is “vulnerability” that those I taught recruitment or the four pillars to most associate with trust. Being vulnerable, or being one others are vulnerable with, is an ultimate “tell” that trust is present, and yet vulnerability is so rarely rewarded in the workplace.

Work and live with people you trust. 

In college our fraternity’s greatest competition was on the intramural field or in preventing one party from going too far. We encounter those same politics throughout life, and it is easy to be swept up in a race to the top. Unfortunately, we live in a world where much of our lives take place online, and it’s nearly impossible for the frivolous mistakes one has grown passed to diminish with time.

There is no “relevant” sorority or fraternity in 2017 or for the foreseeable future.

There are those who individually avoided the penalty of making the headline news and who excelled in over-producing less reportable public relations maneuvers. The day when the men of a fraternity could hold their head high as equals with college/university administrations and politicians in improving the human spirit is gone; we have ceded any unique or counter-culture elements of our organizations in the spirit of compromise.

Opportunities for bold progress are abundant and tragically under-exploited.

You may soon realize that being honest comes with a price. Honesty is the only policy to build trust, but when failure is not an option or may prevent one from receiving due credit, honesty’s luster fades. Our systems often reward dishonesty with immediate gratification and honesty with the possibility gratification or termination. Many of us are too risk-averse to act honestly.

Whereas you may choose to be honest in the present, others will choose short-term dishonesty to avoid the pain of their failure. Every leader wants honest colleagues, but few have the courage to fail with their team in a public spotlight. If you openly avoid playing this game; you run the risk of being the scapegoat.

That being said. . .

Being honest is the only way not to hate yourself.

As we enter into lives as adults, we must learn to be honest with and about ourselves. We must occasionally accept the position of the tortoise, even if things are perceived to be in the hare’s favor. (slow & steady vs. fast and risky). Progress and success require reflection, and those who fail to reflect make the most disillusioned bets.

Be comfortable with occasionally slow progress. Be comfortable with failure. Be comfortable in your talents. If you lack talents, learn them. Most importantly, tell people the things that need to be told, not things that they want to hear. The latter only leads to a form of bullying under the guise of cooperation.

If you choose the hare’s path, if you choose to skate by on “who you know” instead of “what you know,” you may get to a point where “who you know” realize there isn’t much that you know. Resting your future on empty relationships with others, relationships where you receive rewards for glorifying another either in romance or business, makes it much easier for life to cave in.

Offer something desirable, respect what you offer and don’t resign to treating any person like an idol of worship.

If you are honest and offer something of value, you will be too good to give up and your options will be based in other’s desire for what you bring to the table, not whether or not others like you at a particular time in your life. Be someone who advances regardless of relationships because you are mature enough to see the world beyond your relationships.

Relationships are important, so build them carefully and honestly with those who matter to you and who give back equally. Relationships are transactional – we build trust when we exchange with others, whether that is time, product, words or arms. Save admiration for when it counts.

I’ll leave you with this quote from a book all about the value of honesty, integrity and skill in the workforce.

“You’re a tank – an honest weapon that goes first, out in front and mows everything down and takes every counter blow. He’s a corrosive gas, the kind that eats lungs out”

– Dominique, The Fountainhead 

Be a tank. Take pride in your strength. Invite the counter-blows as opportunities to grow.

*Originally published on May 17, 2016. Restructured in July of 2017.