"They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death are the allurements that act on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame that burns up all lower considerations. Not happiness, but something higher: one sees this even in the frivolous classes, with their ‘point of honour’ and the like. Not by flattering our appetites; no, by awakening the Heroic that slumbers in every heart, can any Religion gain followers."
-Thomas Carlyle in On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History 1841
Legend has it in the year 1913 British explorer Sir Erneston Shackleton published the following ad in a newspaper:
Supposedly people applied in droves and the ad still lives on till this day. Whether or not the ad is real or not doesn't matter, what does matter is that the feeling behind it resounds to this day, people want to do things that matter. People want to struggle for a purpose- the struggle gives meaning.
I often look at old photos of people doing what seems impossible today, building train tunnels in record time, breaking records and pushing the human race forward and I hope that one day I'll be able to do something like that.
Today it feels like the industry is struggling to make leaps and bounds, and in part that's because of distrust that has grown over the years between employees and employers. Work from home during COVID shifted the relationship dynamic, and as people are being asked to return to the office and pick up the pace, the resistance in this silent negotiation can be seen in the pace of work across industries slowing down.
This is not good.
Speaking from the perspective of someone in construction our infrastructure is in a dismal state. Government funds alone won't fix the problem. Human energy behind it is a must.
The next 20 years need a heroic effort, but it'll never happen unless the current stalemate is broken. So how do we do it?
To win the hearts of your workers, you have to work alongside them. To get their buy-in you must show them you're also in the struggle. You aren't there to reap the benefits of their work, while they struggle. The greats in history, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, The Prophet Muhammed PBUH, never shied away from getting their hands dirty. What they built lasts till today.
In our changing times, the iron is hot for striking. Times of uncertainty like ours beckon for the highest in us. I hope when the time comes, I live up to these ideals and that I get to work with the best of you and leave something behind to be proud of.
It is up to us how we leave the world. Enough attacking the older generation for the mess we're in. Let's work together learn from their experience. Our children will live in the world we leave them, how it looks is 100% up to us.