Two and a half hours of listening to the pathetic drone of a self-made man who sought to give me enlightenment. One who proudly claimed his heritage in the real estate industry.
It was a programming of the cult of management – striving to make me a better person, how to do a better job, how to find success, win friends and influence people. I sat taking copious notes, and looking oh so diligent. Listening to the corrupt sounds fleeing his mouth, the language mangled into a foreign tongue which was contrived to make me understand that I knew nothing.
It was all distilled into ‘models’ and ‘flowcharts’, and acronyms which hid consciously halfbaked notions whose original ingredients were simplicity and commonsense.
I wrote his words down. I copied them as they fell.
I thought of you and smiled stupidly.
“Are you looking for guidance? Is your client unconsciously unskilled?”
“We need to simplify, not complicate. Destroy the master servant relationship.”
“We offer services of extreme value, and are experts in communication.”
“Proximity is power.”
None of these made sense, but I wrote them down anyway. I witnessed his thought patterns emerging, and saw the greed on his face.
‘This is for money,’ everything roughly translated. ‘All of this will make you rich. Listen to my words and I will make you rich. Rich like me.’
He went on, this chart-fondling narcissist. This colour-coding poltroon.
“Disconnect real outcome and original solution.”
“Connect the outcome to the strategic agenda.”
“Outcomes not interventions.”
“Reinforce a client’s need for serious commitment.”
It was like taking a Scrabble bag and throwing the words inside. I imagined you next to me, baffled laughter and wry grins. I felt like writing notes in class to you, to let you know what an interminable boor he was and what were we going to do after school.
The man with the Mind Map quoted Schopenhauer and Socrates, throwing them around with the same assumed graceful ease he dropped the names of CEOs he was working with. I noticed the nods of my fellow classmates as their eyes opened wider with awe, not at the content of what he was saying, but with admiration of his wide circle of friends.
“He’s had lunch with the head of THAT bank? He skis with the CEO of THAT development company?” I could hear them thinking. I wondered if they knew who Schopenhauer was, and maybe they’d confused him as a corporate bigwig.
I was laughing in my head. I was scared in my head.
“Reinforce desire to help.”
“Test key assumptions.”
“Clients look to you for guidance.”
“Position in context.”
Always the delivery was seamless. He moved from light hearted anecdote to tapping the table with mock ferocity. The power is in my hands, he was saying. Yes it is, I said back to him in my head.
And then it was his turn to throw me.
“Language is powerful,” said the little Mind Map Man in the shiny pink shirt and the famous looking cufflinks. He stared us down fiercely.
He was right. It is powerful. Stronger than you’ll ever know, I wanted to say. And I hold the keys to that language, the secret to its power. Chopping up the words and rearranging them like this does not give you access to their inner beauty, it simply stunts them.
I looked at the words on the page, scribbled with my cheap pen. I turned them upside down. I saw another story emerge. I wrote it down for you.
“I am looking for guidance, for your proximity thrills me. In my position as an unskilled master I am unsure of the key to my power. I am disconnected, unconscious of the real outcome. I am seeking the solution.”
“My assumption is that you are my servant, offering services of extreme value. And you advocate destroying this context.”
“We need to complicate, not simplify, this extreme relationship. Connect with me. Give me serious commitment.”
“Help test my desire.”
just a mere moment of clarity in two and half hours of self-absorption.