If you know the reference, you will immediately understand the quote.
For those that don’t… It comes from Ayn Rand’s 1957 classic novel titled – Atlas Shrugged. The phase is seen throughout the book and becomes more of a calling card. See, the John Galt character in the novel was a genius who no longer wanted to remain in the normal confines of society. A society that was under full control of a government, a government that was enforcing mediocrity and stifling creativity and genius. The ideology in the novel also brings to light how, in a tightly controlled or regimented society, that there is a reliance on those who can rise above. The bureaucracy, mediocrity, and general listlessness of society weighs down on those individuals with creativity and brilliance. John Galt is one such character that decides that he will go off the reservation and create his own society by empowering individuals with creativity and genius. There are other themes that run throughout this book, however this is the main ideology behind Atlas Shrugged.
In a world where there is a shift from the norm; world power, production of goods, information dissemination, and the traditional business models that have held true for decades. Now everything is changing, and you are either going to be surfing in front of the wave of change, swept up in it, or left behind it. Let’s take the Music Industry for example. With the advent of High Speed Internet (aka: Broadband), and the already digitized format of music, it didn’t take long for people to figure out that they could take a CD (remember those) and rip the tracks onto their computers and start to share those tracks. Napster was one of the biggest music sharing sites and people did so freely. The Music industry failed to see the value of the new medium for distribution, marketing and for putting more music out to the masses. Instead, groups like Metalica fought Napster, and eventually shut them down. So what is the lesson here ? The lesson here is that the music industry was left behind. Instead of suing Napster, the music industry should have embraced this technology and been forward thinking on how to best take advantage of this. Even today, they (the music industry) still haven’t learned their lesson. For example: why aren’t songs sold for less than $0.10 ? Seriously ? I’m not saying that an artists/musicians talents aren’t worth it, in fact I’m saying the opposite. If you charge people 10 cents for a song, trust me, very few would be bothered to download songs illegally. Why ? well, for 10 cents its not worth it. See where I’m going with this ?
Ok, so now take the changes in our world and societal change; apply it to where we are in terms of human interaction. Now I’ll profess straight off that I’m no expert in terms of interaction classification of such interaction, etc. I cannot compare my inexperienced or uneducated views to those who possess those skills. However, I see a shift in the mechanisms/methods in which we as a society interact with each other. To give you an example, when was the last time you purchased something at a retail outlet, or anywhere for that matter, and heard the words “Thank you”? Some of you may think that this is manners, and some may think its unnecessary. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on with that one, the fact is that the interaction is changing. This is at a very basic level, and it isn’t necessarily indicative of the management beliefs or desires. However the opposite also holds true. This is where the management or direction of an organization has deliberately decided that being nice to people is not in their best interests. Instead these organizations are caught up in Bottom-line and providing the biggest impact to their shareholders. On paper these organizations may look good (ie: Financially), but in efforts to deal with these organizations, they may have good and even caring people that are employed, but its little consolation to society that is required to interact with the organization and its policies. In a world of excessive choice, I personally would like to see such organizations go the way of the dinosaur (and the quicker the better).
In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt went underground to build his new society. He took the brightest people from (or out of) society and gave them the environment to thrive in. However, in the novel he did this in complete isolation from a government controlled society. I fortunately think that we live in a society that allows, and even fosters ‘some’ creativity and forward thinking. Regardless I see individuals who have broken out of society and have gone against what some people would consider the norm. To be honest it is these individuals that I find the most interesting. I see these individuals as building creative and innovative ideas for our future. I see these individuals leading the way for change and they are these forward thinkers that will help craft a future. A future that may not necessarily be one that you’ll embrace, but certainly it will have foundations and lessons learned along the way.
My hope is that those that have broken out of societal norms to go off and build whatever it is that they need to build and are looked upon as pioneers, instead of renegades.