The story of Paikea is a Maori legend. Paikea escaped being killed by his brother on the back of a whale. Paikea made it to shore and the whale became an island.1 While the story is Maori, there is lesson that applies to all of us and especially to business.
The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.
I think of myself as a WordPress advocate. A fanatic at times but in general a cheerleader for the simplicity and extensibility of the WordPress platform. It really is a flexible platform with a rabid following. It has the largest community and most installs of any CMS bar none. It’s also very easy for anyone to use – well almost anyone. I still run into the occasional person that thinks it’s back-frontwards. But it didn’t reach the level of popularity it enjoys today without doing something right. So I was a tad surprised at myself when I had a chance to vote for WordPress as a viable CMS for our university – George Mason University – and I voted against it. Let me start a bit further back.
I remember a new toy I got at Christmas that was exactly, EXACTLY, what I had asked Santa Claus for. It was the GI Joe Jeep. I remember the excitement and the anticipation while tearing off the wrapping paper and opening the package. Oh the joy at pushing that jeep around and making all the vroom, vroom sounds. I had freedom! I chased the Wehrmacht across the Rhine, was blown up in France, and drove in a victory parade in London. I had power to chase bad guys, fight wars and I was cool.
Then a wheel came off and went rolling into the kitchen. My world came to a stop. It didn’t help that my sister grabbed the wheel and taunted me before running off. I was stunned. It came off and there was no more wind in my hair, chasing bad guys, or winning wars. I was crushed. Working with technology can be like that only a lot more frustrating than a toy with a missing wheel. At least I could pretend the missing wheel had been blown off by enemy mortar fire. But if my mobile phone stops working, it’s pretty much done. The term is “bricked” as in that’s about all it’s good for.
There’s an old farmer’s parable that goes something like this. If you place a donkey equal distant from two delicious looking bales of hay, he’ll starve to death. The reason is he can’t make up his mind which one to eat. Too many choices for the donkey.
Every time I research something online or want to buy something, I have to make choices.
- Where will I most likely find what I’m looking for or what words do I use to search for candidate websites? *type, type, enter*
- That is quite the list Google. Well, let’s start with Bob’s Super Store then. *click*
- Wow… that’s a lot of links & text! Where do I find headsets? *scan the menu, the header, the main content area, the sidebar, the footer – ah – let’s use search*
- Maybe it’s under headphones instead…? *looking, clicking, reading, searching, looking…*
Words. I’m humbled by great writers and orators. Did you know Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address twice before he delivered it? Two different copies written by hand. The speech is only 262 words long and one of the most powerful speeches ever given. It is said that Lincoln knew full-well the importance of that speech and prepared for it.
Below is a video, another demonstration of the power of words. It’s a promo piece for Andrea Gardner (Purplefeather) but the message is clear. Our choice of words matter. As I write more blog posts here, I am becoming more conscious of the words I choose. I’m still finding a proper gait and hope you’ll pardon me for the occasional goof and guffaw.