It’s a difficult time to be living in our world today if human traits like civility, respect and honest motivation are important to you.
Something worth talking about is something worth fighting about in this golden age of social media and infotainment.
Growing up, I didn’t have much trouble identifying the heroes and the villains. Leaders led by example, athletes played for glory, social warriors and public servants carried out their missions to a higher purpose. At least, that’s the way it looked on TV and in the movies and, especially, in the news.
Today, nothing is at it seems, or so we are led to believe. Are thousands of teenagers marching for societal change a once-in-a-generation inspirational movement, or are they a craven political tool for shadow political actors intent on destroying our Constitution? Is the president a straight-shooting Washington outsider looking to drain the political swamp, or is he a shameless opportunist bilking his supporters to buffer his brand and sell cheap Chinese-made trucker hats?
The answers depend on which media bubble you subscribe to and which hero or villain profile you decide to invest in.
Subtlety and nuance? Dead. Honesty and transparency in the media? Dead. Political discourse between two opposing sides leading to compromise and concrete steps forward. Dead. And buried. It’s hard to be motivated to get out of bed.
Sometimes, though, inspiration can strike you from different places and re-center your moral compass, if just for a few hours at a time.
I was lucky enough, a couple weeks ago, to attend the premiere of a terrific new independent film. This particular film, “Getting Grace,” was written and directed by Daniel Roebuck, one of those “Oh, I know that guy!” actors who you’ve seen a thousand times on TV shows like “Matlock,” “Law & Order” and the many iterations of “CSI: (insert exotic location).” But in this case I really know that guy. We went to high school together and I’ve been following his career for the better part of three decades.
For Dan’s first film he chose to tell the story of a young girl named Grace who is dying of cancer (no worries, this is not a spoiler.) It is a moving film, and wickedly funny. Grace is aptly named. As the family and friends around her slowly fall apart at the seams the only one who handles the situation with any type of well, grace, is Grace. In the end she teaches everyone around her that her life, and not her inevitable death, is really all that matters.
At the same time, I read a book called “Leo Fender, The Quiet Giant Heard Around The World.” Turns out the father of the rock-and-roll guitar was one of the most quirky, kind, inspirational and spiritual geniuses of the 20th century. He spent his life hanging out with rock stars while staying devoted to his beloved wife and his colleagues and workers, inventing stuff just to keep himself interested and giving cans of tuna as gifts to all his friends. It’s one of those books that leaves you smiling at the end of every chapter.
What I took away from both these stories, one fictional, one real, is that concentrating on the faults of those around you — your perceived enemies — is a fool’s game. The real inspiration you seek is inside, and behaving in a way to draw that out of others is the real path to success, in life and in business. This world just needs more Grace.