A young African-American student at Harvard who supports Hillary Clinton asks, “Hillary, can you excite us?”
Now that is a great question. There’s a world in that question. Here’s my view: if you’re not exciting people, you or your idea will not fly. Doesn’t matter how “good”, how deserved, how competent, how whatever you are, it’s not worth the candle if it doesn’t excite others. And in order to excite others, it has to excite you. So underneath the question is another version of the same thing: “Hillary, do you excite you?”
Second great question: what is exciting? Here’s my view: human beings are liable to be surprised by what excites them. Usually, it’s not what you would expect.
Credentials as a hedge against being wrong
A friend contacts me this morning to say he’s been hired for a temporary role in a state government department. His job is to recruit people with a “knowledge of evaluation frameworks” to three vacant research positions in the department. The positions come with a modest salary of $90-100,000 and no-one below PhD level will be hired. In fact, he says, he’s the only one in the department who doesn’t have a PhD.
Now that is the definition of a fearful organisation, an organisation mired in the paradigm of blame and fault. If we can only hire enough qualifications, the unconscious/conscious reasoning will go, we’ll be safe. Safe from what? From being wrong. There is no limit to what people will do to avoid being wrong.