- by Gitabushi
Go read this article.
If you want to talk about it, talk about it there, or come back here. He’s clearly thought this issue through quite a bit.
Hope you enjoy it.
Go read this article.
If you want to talk about it, talk about it there, or come back here. He’s clearly thought this issue through quite a bit.
Hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been pushing this book lately, and not just on this blog. It has the unwieldy title of “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)” so from now on, I will just call the book “Story Genius.”
I love the book so much. It forced a paradigm shift on writing that excites me and convinces me I will be a successful writer. It also concisely explained much of the dysfunction we see in society, because so many people are laboring under misbeliefs.
For instance, Socialists are laboring under the misbelief that if they can win total political control of all major government and social institutions, they can transform and perfect society so that everyone is equal (at best) or that no one suffers from need (at worst). There are so many misbeliefs in that assumption. I think homosexual activists have a misbelief that their unhappiness comes from social rejection, so if they can just force society to celebrate their identity in more and more aspects, they will finally be happy. The Right has the misbelief that if they just calmly and clearly explain their views and preferred policies, the Right will win elections, enact conservative legislation, and restore the US’ liberty and exceptionalism. I could go on for days about these misbeliefs, but it is evidence that the book is correct that everyone has misbeliefs.
That’s how it improved my life.
I’ve been mulling on its application to writing for a month now, however. *MUST* every story be a character development story? *MUST* every story start with a misbelief that gets resolved?
I’ve really been considering this question. I’ve re-thought this question in light of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” and “A Princess of Mars” and “Coming to America” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jack Reacher novels and even “Game of Thrones”.
My answer is that no, not every story must have a misbelief that causes the main character problems and gets resolved over the course of the story.
But the follow-up questions to that are: Do you want people to enjoy and recommend your story? Do you want to sell your story? Do you want to write *great* stories, or merely write stories?
Heroic action stories can be enjoyable. I don’t think the Jack Reacher stories ever have Jack Reacher holding a major misbelief or learning anything in the course of the story. He’s pretty much unchangeable (except that the author gives him mental abilities needed for the plot that mysteriously don’t exist in other stories where they might have been useful, but
the author hadn’t thought them up yet weren’t needed for the plot). The interest in and success of those stories is the author starts with a perplexing situation, so you want to read to find out what is actually happening.
In “Game of Thrones”, the misbelief is actually on the part of the reader: George R. R. Martin set out to upend several major expectations of the reader, such as Plot Armor and Deaths Mean Something. I think he’s struggling to finish and the books are kind of fizzling out because you can only deny the expected tropes for so long. If he wants to finish, he’ll have to resolve the story, and it’s going to be trope-y as all get out.
So from that perspective, even if you aren’t dealing with a character’s misbelief, you are still using misbelief to make the story more interesting.
That admission aside, I think that while it isn’t *MANDATORY* to use the techniques in “Story Genius” to load your main character down with one or more misbeliefs that are resolved in the course of the story, it still is a good idea to do it.
Because the book has convinced me that the point of stories is to learn from other people’s mistakes. You can be entertained by the story, but entertainment is the bonus, and should not be the goal. We are hardwired to enjoy stories from childhood, but that doesn’t mean we should focus solely on the entertainment aspect. If we only care about entertaining, we might succeed, and the story might sell, but I don’t think it will have much staying power. Sure, it might catch on and become famous, and it might be read for generations, like Edgar Rice Burroughs “A Princess of Mars”. But that’s not the way to bet. That’s not a good model to base your own writing career on. When ERB wrote that book and invented those characters, there was no TV, there were no comic books, there were no smartphones, and even movies had no sound or color. Many people don’t read at all, and we don’t have a unified culture that allows an iconic character like John Carter or Dejah Thoris to capture the imagination of millions. Put another way: there is so much mindless entertainment already out there, it is advisable to do your best to find ways to stand out.
I think “Story Genius” gives you what you need to stand out.
“Story Genius” requires more prep-work, but in the end, it saves you time. It’s right there in the title “(before you waste three years writing 378 pages that go nowhere)”. It keeps you from getting stuck. It demands you consider every development in terms of the character’s misbelief, which provides a motive force for the story, and only then write the scenes…which keeps you from wasting as much time writing unnecessary filler that you’ll cut anyway.
The book helps you to add layers to your story via subplots. If everything ties back to both the misbelief driving the story *and* the visible plot developments, your story will have depth. I thought I might not be able to succeed as a writer because I couldn’t hold an entire novel’s plot in my head. With this book, I don’t have to.
I have a dozen stories that have foundered on the rocks of painting myself into a corner, plot-wise, or not knowing what to do next. Thinking about them in terms of misbeliefs resurrects their viability, because it gives me new ideas of how to make them compelling.
“Story Genius” tells you that the misbelief has reached a crisis in the character’s life. The character has kept the misbelief up until that point because it worked more or less. The misbelief perhaps kept the main character from enjoying life more, or from fulfilling some aspect of life, but it also kept the main character from disaster. But now the misbelief’s impact on the character’s life has come to a head. If the character retains the misbelief, their life will be destroyed. But if they accept life’s lessons and give up the misbelief, their self-image will be destroyed. Everyone thinks they are correct. Giving up a misbelief is not only admitting you were wrong (very hard for anyone to do), it also is admitting that you damaged your own life for years by not realizing it sooner.
People double down on mistakes. That’s how we hold onto misbeliefs. That’s why we hold onto misbeliefs. Only if everything you hold dear is threatened by the misbelief are we forced to actually confront the fact that what we beleived, what we thought kept us safe, was wrong.
Doesn’t that, as a writer, excite you? Wouldn’t you love to be able to write a story with that sort of impact, that level of import? “Story Genius” will show you how, and walk you through it.
If the main reason we like stories is because it allows us to safely learn from other people’s mistakes, then yes: underneath and on top of whatever else your story is, you should include a character development aspect. You should make your main character’s misbelief the driving force behind the story. It will make the story better, and will attract readers.
The only possible downside I can see from this is that it makes it harder to develop a character and setting and write an infinite number of stories in your “franchise”.
Frankly, I don’t see that as a downside. With the possible exception of Lois McMasters-Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, and the actual exception of the Jack Reacher and Matt Helm series, I don’t want or enjoy series focused on one main character. There can only be so many self-image-threatening misbeliefs in one character. Most authors don’t use the same character over and over. They invent new characters, and new settings.
My favorite author, CJ Cherryh, is my favorite writer because she was good at this. She had her universe, but she made new main characters for new stories to reveal different aspects of her universe, and it made it better.
Now she’s written an endless “Foreigner” series and I lost interest after book 6. No one learns anything. The main character is always right. I mean, maybe that’s not completely true, but it’s true enough around book 5 or 6 that I lost interest.
Same with Steven Brust’s Jhereg series. Same with the Miles Vorkosigan series, but only after book 10 or so, and that was because McMasters-Bujold used different viewpoint characters, allowing her to play off of the new characters’ misbeliefs.
Your fans may want an infinite number books with the same main character. I say, don’t give that to them. Make new, fresh characters. Wow them with your ability to create new compelling viewpoint characters, and stun them with your insight into human nature. “Story Genius” shows you how.
Two final thoughts:
No one enjoys message fiction, i.e., “Now I’m going to teach you something I think is true.” I think “Story Genius” helps you avoid that, by letting you put a misbelief into the main character. If I wanted to write something against Socialism (and I will), I would make my main character believe that humans are perfectible if they just have the right rules to follow and the right people in charge. And then I’d show that character how that misbelief will threaten everything they hold dear. Result: a great story that doesn’t seem preachy.
I haven’t finished my short story, and I haven’t started my novel (waiting to finish the short story). So maybe I’m wrong about all this. I don’t think I am. I’m stuck on some mechanical aspects of the short story (what traps or threats can I put into the underground crypt that will drive and highlight the main character’s viewpoint changes?), so I might just drop it for now and start another short story from scratch using this process. If so, I’ll let you see the results and let you judge if it results in a compelling story.
I was the youngest of six kids, so I grew up listening to what my older siblings listened to.
Older sister #3 was a particularly strong influence on my musical tastes: her college roommate already had an 8-track player, so she left hers at home, and would bring me a different 8-track to swap out each time. That’s where I got my love for Styx and Queen “Jazz”. And also Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, and other late 70s/early 80s bands.
I loved (and still love) that mix of guitars and synthesizers, but with the focus on guitar riffs and guitar solos. That’s led to my enjoyment of late 90s Taiwan pop, which is exactly in the same vein.
However, as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), I felt some aversion to Heavy Metal. It wasn’t *quite* a belief that Satan was in the music, and if you listened to it, you were going to be dragged to Hell. But even as late as 1982 or so, I thought Def Leppard and AC/DC were probably influenced by Satan. Or, at least, I didn’t like the imagery of insanity, violence, etc., in Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, and other Heavy Metal acts of the early 80s.
The one weird exception was I had sort of inherited Kiss Destroyer from my older brother. They were certainly Satanic looking in their makeup, and from an early age I had heard that KISS stood for “Kings in Satan’s Service”, and Destroyer had some fairly evil-sounding tracks in God of Thunder and King of the Night-Time world. That didn’t stop me from listening to it. Recognizing that most of the songs were not Satanic at all, and even the two “bad” songs didn’t cause me to do become evil didn’t really open my mind to the other Heavy Metal groups. Then again, I had no desire to explore any other Kiss albums. Part of that may have been that before 1982, at the age of 13 or so, all my music was received, and I wasn’t going out to seek any other albums or music I didn’t have already.
At the same time, however, I found myself drawn to the heavier songs of Queen (Let Me Entertain You, Dead on Time) and Styx (Miss America, Suite Madame Blue, Snowblind, Queen of Spades, etc.). The heavier the guitar, the more I liked it. But I still rejected the heavy metal bands.
Something had to give. And it did.
One guy in our lunch group had a boom box. And another guy brought Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness”. Lots of hard rock and heavy metal guitar, no Satanic lyrics, and I liked it.
Then Def Leppard’s Foolin’ hit Friday Night videos, and was on there every week. Familiarity bred appreciation, and before too long, I obtained a copy of Pyromania and listened to the whole album a bunch of times. I somewhat reluctantly decided Def Leppard was okay.
At the same time I was sliding into heavy metal appreciation, the musical world was going synth pop. The big acts were Pet Shop Boys, Flock of Seagulls, Howard Jones, Madonna, lots of other pop bands that guitar didn’t figure prominently in, or sometimes even appear. As popular music got more synth-y, I went more heavy. I got into Van Halen, Ratt, Night Ranger, Autograph. A friend had Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon” and listened to it constantly, and I decided I liked that. I liked Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album. Heard Dokken in the school parking lot in 1985 and thought “That’s what metal should sound like!” Pretty quick after that, Dokken’s “Under Lock and Key” came out and “In My Dreams” was a top video, with a solo that captivated me. I heard Akira Takasaki was as good as Eddie Van Halen, so I got into Loudness. Early Stryper got into the mix. The next Ozzy album (The Ultimate Sin).
The final barrier was Metallica. They were either Satanic or a modern version of Spinal Tap using tremolo picking or something to try and sound fast. I mean, EVH, Akira, George Lynch, the Night Ranger guys, Jake E. Lee, Warren di Martini and the other Hair Metal flashy guitarists…there were just so many good guitarists to go around, and if Metallica’s guitarist was any good, he’d have been in a Hair Metal band, right?
But the guys I hung around with my senior year liked Metallica, so their cassette was always on in the car when we went cruising. I grew to enjoy the riffs. I became a Metallica fan.
Still never got into Motley Crue, WASP, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. I think I didn’t like their guitar tone/style much.
Is there a point to all this? No. No, there isn’t.
However, even though I listen to Chinese pop/rock 90%+ of the time, I have dug into my old American music trove to listen to some of the groups I haven’t paid much attention to lately, getting deeper into their catalogs. This has been sporadic…I have a *crapton* of old US music .mp3s.
Most recently, that meant Autograph. I liked “Turn up the Radio”, and so I got that album. I also got “That’s the Stuff.” I liked them okay, but wasn’t overly excited about them, wasn’t waiting eagerly for their next album, and originally missed “Loud & Clear”. Decades later, I notice I have all 3 of their albums in .mp3. I remember “Turn Up the Radio” and “Deep End” has a guitar riff I like. I made a commute playlist that included all three albums. I read up on their Wikipedia. Why weren’t they more popular? Their drummer was good friends with David Lee Roth, which was how they got their break. They had a huge hit, top 100 all time by most countdowns. They were playing live all over the US, opening for the biggest bands. They had an innovative lead guitarist (Steve Lynch). The lead singer was a prolific song-writer, wrote a bunch of songs for other people, and his songs have literally been in hundreds of TV shows. But, as a band, after their big debut, they were disappointed with slumping sales on their second album. What happened?
I listened, and found out.
Steve Plunkett, the lead singer, might be a prolific songwriter, but he’s not a very good one. For a heavy metal or Hair Metal band, the songs had almost no memorable riffs. The aforementioned “Deep End” has one, but that’s about it for the first album. Think about “Turn up the Radio”. It builds tension and excitement with driving 8th notes in a drone in the bass, guitar, and bass drums. Then it has a simple 8th note walking pattern on the turnaround. That’s it.
The rest of the album is the same way. The next album is the same way. There’s very little memorable about any of them. It’s light pop. There’s nothing an aspiring guitarist would want to learn to play. If he learned to play it and played it for his friends, they would have no idea what song it was (except for Turn Up the Radio and maybe Deep End). The sung melody is never very distinctive. Despite Plunkett being a guitarist, they never take advantage of having two guitarists in the band. Despite Steve Lynch a “guitar hero”, he never contributed any cool guitar riffs. The songs are formulaic, and show no character. There is rarely a guitar fill or guitar lick outside of the solo. The drummer seems incapable of playing an fill with anything faster than 8th notes. His favorite technique seems to be hitting the snare and the high-hat at the same time. There’s never a bass solo or a bass fill. It’s like, “Here’s the intro, maybe with a driving 8th note bass/guitar/bass drum motif. Here’s the first verse, second verse, chorus, solo, chorus, done.” None of their songs take chances. None break new ground. There’s little variation.
There’s more character in *one* Bad Company song than all three Autograph albums. That’s true of pretty much any of their songs, but I’m thinking especially of “One Night”, where the drummer hits the kick/bass drum in a double 32nd note. That alone has more surprising character than anything Autograph ever did.
Autograph isn’t bad. They’re just not good.
Bad Company, on the other hand, is pretty good. Paul Rodgers is one of the greats, and he writes some great songs. It is interesting that among their 10 From 6 songs (which was pretty much their greatest hits), there is cowboy imagery in several songs, and several other songs are about the life of a touring musician. But unlike the 80s groups that complain about how tough it is to be on the road all the time, Bad Company’s songs are about how great it is. Refreshing, in retrospect.
Also, Bad Company pretty much became a totally different band just by changing lead singers to Brian Howe. After an initial keyboards-laden disappointment I don’t think I ever heard of, “Dangerous Age” was (and still is) one of my favorite albums of all time. I had heard “One Night” on the radio a few times, but I could never hear the ann
ouncer say what band it was. I loved the vocals, I loved the guitar parts. It was (and still is) one of my Top 5 favorite songs, all time. Lots of research and a friend’s input later, I found out it was Bad Company. I initially rejected that, because it sounded nothing like Bad Company. Not just the lead singer, but the drums and guitar styles.
I found out later that this was likely due to being produced by Terry Thomas. He wrote most of the songs, even played some rhythm guitar.
I know that their next album “Holy Water” was bigger, but I couldn’t get into it as much. It seemed like they just re-did “Dangerous Age” again, and it felt like it was done by rote.
Incidentally, Terry Thomas also produced and co-wrote a bunch of songs for Tommy Shaw’s “Ambitious”, which is also one of my favorite albums.
HOLY CRAP. Doing a search on Terry Thomas, I just found out he produced Giant’s “Last of the Runaways”, which is *also* one of my Top 10 all-time favorite albums. Maybe Top 5.
Terry Thomas was the lead guitarist for the English band Charlie, which I had never heard of before I searched his name on Wikipedia. It looks like I need to get their entire catalog. I bet I’ll like it.
He also produced some Foreigner and Tesla. But none of those left much of an impression on me.
Finally: Def Leppard.
They, too, have more character in any one song than Autograph has in all three first albums put together.
Reading about their history on Wikipedia, I’m struck by how Pete Willis was fired from the band due to his drinking, but long-time guitarist Steve Clark died from being unable to conquer his drinking. They fired Willis for his drinking getting in the way of his recording on Pyromania, but were much more tolerant of the same thing for Clark on “Adrenalize”. I wonder if it is because they hadn’t hit it big yet on Pyromania so they felt more was at stake, or if Willis’ drinking brought other issues other than just guitar performance, or if the band was just more mature about dealing with Clark’s problem. But you’d think Clark would have learned something from seeing Willis brought down by alcohol.
I also wonder how much of what I liked about Def Leppard was Willis. I liked Hysteria enough to buy it and listen to it quite a bit, but it also seemed to kill off my interest in further Def Leppard songs/albums. I was vaguely aware of Adrenalize and a few other pop hits, but never made any attempt to acquire any. I do still think Pyromania was their peak, and Willis contributed quite a number of songs to that album.
Reading through Def Leppard’s history, it is said they influenced Metallica. I would have scoffed at that idea if I’d been told it earlier, but re-listening to High ‘N’ Dry and Pyromania a few times recently, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. Def Leppard had some pretty good basic riffs, and would combine different riffs into one song, changing the feel of a song slightly as it went on. Metallica was known for doing the same thing, often having as many as 7 or 8 riffs in a single song. I guess it reached its peak on “And Justice for All”, which I don’t like much, so they toned it down and sometimes had just one riff in a song starting with their Black Album. And while I liked that album at the time, I don’t see much reason to listen to it anymore. For me, Metallica will always be their first three albums.
Okay, retrospective over. Return to your lives, citizens.
I can’t remember what thought process lead to this, but I was going to attempt a list of all the movies in which Liam Neeson dies.
It’s been done already, though. Of course it has.
So instead, here are my favorite Neeson deaths, of the ones I’ve seen:
1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Voiced by Liam Neeson, I’m not totally sure if Aslan’s death counts here, since there wasn’t really much (any?) voice work during the scene in question. However, it was probably the most affecting death on the list. Because Aslan is a good lion.
2. Krull: He was almost a no-name character here, but after having seen Krull so many times now, I can more deeply appreciate Kegan’s sacrifice.
Good start, Liam, to the years of deaths to follow.
3. Gangs of New York: Not everyone likes this movie, but I find it quite entertaining. What’s not to like about brutal hand-to-hand gang warfare in the streets of early New York? We don’t get to know Priest Vallon very well, but he’s painted as a good leader, a beloved father, and I guess a decent man (as decent as these street warriors can be?). Good death, Liam.
4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Maybe not a great movie, maybe not a great performance, but when I was younger watching this, Qui Gon’s death was the highlight of the film. Not that I was glad he died, but it was exciting.
5. Batman Begins: I remember this being a pretty good movie, but honestly neither the film nor the Neeson death here were that memorable for me. But there are worse ways to go than in a runaway train crash, right?
6. Excalibur: Off-screen, so not really sure how much this counts. But Gawain was kind of a dick, so serves him right. Awesome flick, for what it’s worth.
7. Schindler’s List: Another off-screen, just mentioned at the end of the film, I believe. Good movie, though.
To the tune of “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes.
And the Karaoke version:
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
Hey, Nick Sandmann, You’re gonna get reamed
The Left’s as rabid as I’ve ever seen (dumb dumb dumb)
You didn’t give in to a Leftist takeover,
So blue checks swarmin’ and your life is over!
Nick Sandmann, you’re not alone
The Left destroys any thing it can’t own
So please keep on your MAGA hat.
And keep smiling, they don’t like that!
Hey Nick Sandmann, you did just fine:
The Left is scrambling, and starting to whine.
You were calm and you kept your composure,
The Left is freaked, risking overexposure!
Nick Sandmann, you’re not alone
The Left destroys any thing it can’t own
So Please keep on your MAGA hat.
And keep smiling like that,
with your red hat
Ignore them, they don’t like that!
Seriously, why? What do you get out of it?
For that matter, why do you read books?
Okay, I realize there’s more than a little hubris in the title.
I guess I have wanted to be a kind of Jordan Peterson since long before Jordan Peterson was a thing. My goal is to do my best to understand life, to figure out what the most basic rules of human nature and human interaction are, and then write them down and share them, for others to evaluate, and use or reject as they see fit.
I relish the idea of helping others. I want to help everyone have a better life, to the best of my ability. I hope others can learn from my mistakes, and what I’ve learned from my mistakes, without having to make those mistakes themselves. My intent is to help make the world a better place to some degree. And, of course, my ability to analyze and reason is, to some degree, validated by those who are helped by my writings.
So there’s some ego involved. But I hope you can ignore that and find something helpful in my posts.
I think the main points of this topic should be pretty obvious to anyone who spends any time thinking about it at all. Pessimistically, that means it isn’t obvious to most people.
Here is the point:
Every organization has three main tiers: crew, crew chiefs, and leadership.
Crew could also be called labor, or workforce. These are the people doing the work. There often isn’t much thought involved in this. The work doesn’t require much ability. It is a skill that can be taught to sufficient competence to just about anybody. This is where the value of what they are selling or providing is actually created.
Crew chiefs could also be called middle management, and I’m sure there are other terms, as well. Crew Chiefs are leadership, but still distinct from leadership. This tier is often made up of senior crew/labor individuals who have been promoted, but not always. They are in charge of the labor. They resolve disputes, enforce rules, ensure quotas are being met, oversee quality, train the new employees, and handle welfare of the labor force.
The leadership tier comprises those who make decisions. When an organization grows to any size at all and obtains a geographic spread of any kind, there are also usually three tiers of leadership: Local/unit leaders, regional/group leaders, and executive leaders. The executive leaders set the direction for the organization.
Digression: I figured this out when I became an officer in the US military. There is a great deal of resentment among the enlisted in the US military against officers, for multiple reasons. The enlisted see that their lives are more at risk, that they do all the hard work, but officers get paid so much more. They see that junior officers often seem incompetent and depend on senior enlisted to avoid basic blunders, yet still get paid as much or more than senior enlisted. They also get the impression that officers get away with things that enlisted get punished for.
Some of these things are true. Being me, I had to analyze why.
The answer isn’t simple, though. To some extent, the resentment that officers get away with things enlisted get punished for can be correct. But it is also true that if the offense is serious, the same act that will ruin an enlisted individual’s career will put the officer in jail. And that the same offense that will delay a promotion for an enlisted member will get an officer thrown out of the military. The level of responsibility between the tiers is different.
The thing is, as I pointed out, the labor tier is easily replaceable. Training isn’t that difficult, the tasks aren’t that difficult. 95% of the world, or more, can do it. The separation of tiers into labor, middle management, and leadership isn’t intelligence, it isn’t ability, and it isn’t even education. It’s about effort, risk, and preparation.
Anyone can enter the labor force. Just show up and ask. They always need labor.
To get to middle management, though, you have to work for a number of years and be the best of the labor. You are chosen by the leaders to be a crew chief based on standing out. That means you need to put in some extra effort, and you risk having that extra effort wasted if you aren’t chosen, but that’s about it.
Labor gets paid for what they do. They do the work, they make the goods, but how well they do really doesn’t have a huge impact on the future of the organization. If someone does their job badly, they will be replaced. But they’ll be given a bunch of chances to fix their issues first.
And the laborer can screw around for years before deciding to try for middle management, and then they are judged based on what they do at that point. Admittedly, for the most part…there are times where egregious past behavior will carry over, but most of the time, if you make a change, you are judged based on having made the change.
The leadership tier, however, is different.
First, you must apply to join the leadership tier, and they don’t accept everyone. That means you have to first figure out they are looking for, and then acquire those attributes early, while the labor tier is taking it easy and enjoying their paycheck on the weekend. Then, if accepted, you are being watched from the beginning. As more people have recognized leadership tier is the way to a good life (and as the quality of life at the labor level has, if not actually declined, then at least fallen behind the leadership tier), competition has increased and the Zero Tolerance for Screw-ups factor has increased. In leadership, you are held responsible for everything those under you do, good and bad. You are expected to lead, and fix problems before anyone above you in the leadership tier hears about it.
As you rise, you are able to take credit for your increasing middle management and labor force output, but you are also held responsible for any of their problems. And you are sometimes scape-goated for even normal or unavoidable failures.
If you do everything correct, avoid any blunders at all, work extra hours beyond the 40 hours/week (minus break time) that is all that is demanded of labor, you might get promoted to the middle tier of leadership, and even the executive tier.
At the executive tier, you are held responsible for the performance of the organization, regardless of competition, government, the strength of the economy, the declining of the market, etc.
That’s why CEOs get paid so much: there are so few people who can qualify, because too many people have one stain or another on their record that means they are an unacceptable choice to be in the executive tier. And so the stress and pressures make that level of pay necessary.
Sure, you’re saying right now, I’ll take that pressure for half that kind of money.
I’m sure you would. But were you prescient enough to make the sacrifices and choices early enough in life to be on an Executive Leadership track?
And that’s where most people disqualify themselves. To them, it was more important to have freedom, to have weekends off, to get paid for overtime and/or to not work overtime in the first place.
By “them”, of course, I include me. As a young officer, already behind the 8-ball for executive leadership by being more than a decade older than other officers of the same rank, I was unwilling to “play the game” of getting face time with the commander, or of picking my assignments based on what would work best for my career. No, I had to think about what jobs were interesting, or where I wanted to live.
I’d call myself stupid for that, but it isn’t, really. It was just a choice. Because (write this down): There are always more qualified people for a job/position then there are jobs/positions available.
It is exhausting to put your career first. You have to sacrifice so much to do it. Most people don’t even realize when they are self-eliminating for top-tier life opportunities. I think this is because I think there is little to no effort made in our “education” system to teach people how the world really works. We tell kids “you can be anything you want to be” and then we don’t take even the first step in teaching them how to achieve those dreams.
We can tell kids they can be anything they want to be by holding up role models, and ignoring (or even concealing) the survivorship bias aspect of who gets to be an astronaut, or CEO of Citibank.
All this may seem obvious, but too few really understand this, and my evidence for that “too few” assertion is not just the resentment of enlisted for officers, but also in the continued existence of Socialism (and Democratic Socialism) as a philosophy.
Socialism recognizes that the tangible value is created in the labor tier, but then concludes that this gives the labor tier power that they are forgoing or being cheated out of.
Which is stupid. The minute you being making decisions about labor, product, etc., you aren’t in the labor tier anymore, you’re leadership. And you there’s a broad pyramid there: it’s easy for 3-4 people to make decisions about the number, color, and type of widget you’re making, or if the style of service provided needs to go after a different market share. It is impossible for the 300, or 3,000, or 300,000 labor tier individuals to make a decision on that without it being a 300,001-legged sack race.
The only thing Socialism accomplishes is letting its advocates jump to leadership tier without the experience or ability to be good at it.
Anyway, if you already knew the basics of the three tiers, I hope I at least gave you some new implications to think about on this topic.