A Thought

The reason I love the musical 1776 is the same reason I write really believable quick-tempered impatient female protagonists. And that, in turn, is the same reason the managerial world and I decided we should see other people. The art of the council chamber is the art of the boardroom, and that is the art of the start-up and the nonprofit as well as the corporation. It is all, at the end of the day, decision-making by consensus-building, and decision-making by consensus-building is maddening.

I’m not saying I can’t do it. I very much can–I have a degree in it, in fact, and before I had the degree,  I had ten years of experience navigating various corporations, start-ups, and nonprofits, which I did with some middling degree of success. I can do it. I can be imperturbable and pleasant, I can move slowly, I can speak softly, I can negotiate and horse-trade and get to know people and figure out what motivates them and persuade and influence and apply gentle and consistent pressure until enough people are facing in the direction required to get the job done. It’s not that I despise the skill–far from it. Decision-making by consensus-building is the only thing that actually changes the world.

But oh my God does it not play to my natural inclinations. I spend the whole time wanting to shout, “Dammit man, we’re at war! Right now!”

Which didn’t work for John. And never (on the occasions when I yield to temptation) works for me either. So I restrain myself from employing that technique whenever possible. And write stories about hot-headed female protagonists solving problems by hitting them until they fall over.


Comments (2)

Ken SchneyerMay 16th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I am exactly the same way. In all respects that you mentioned. Can do it, but it’s like pulling teeth.

I like 1776 because of the biting contemporary social commentary that is the song “Cool, Cool Considerate Men”. No wonder it was cut from the film! Actually I like it for a lot of other reasons too. The more I read about John Adams, who gets really bad press in most of the histories, the more I find him a kindred spirit.

HeatherMay 16th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

“The more I read about John Adams, who gets really bad press in most of the histories, the more I find him a kindred spirit.”

Yeah. I am a big fan of the McCullough biography, and of the miniseries based on it.

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