The Do it Yourself Conundrum

Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with the expression, “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” There’s a paradox attached to this, since he believed it but failed. This begs the question: does doing a thing yourself guarantee that thing is done well enough to succeed?

People would argue that a men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are among the most successful people of the modern era. However, is it because they are single-person armies of DIY greatness, or because they knew how to properly manage a large enough group of people that knew what the hell was going on?

That's why he kept his hand in his jacket: he totally forgot to pack warm enough for the Russian offensive.
That’s why he kept his hand in his jacket: he totally forgot to pack warm enough for the Russian offensive.

So, Napoleon wouldn’t listen to anyone, and failed. Gates surrounded himself with brilliant people, and now spends his life giving away money. Is it possible for people to succeed without one another? Trump would probably say yes, but even he’d have to admit that a team could easily defeat one star player.

Not all teams are winners, and you do need strong leadership, that’s what my take away is from this. Michael Jordan couldn’t do it alone, but as a great team leader, he led by example and mentored greatness in others. He also exuded confidence, as proven by his commercial contract with Hanes.

I just recently cut ties with a program I was volunteering for where, as the only non-paid employee, my natural position should have been in the background. Somehow, I ended up taking lead on developing a project, yet never got any of the things I needed from the “team” to succeed. In the end, when things weren’t being handled properly by the people needed to do the things I could not, all the fingers pointed at me, probably since I was the only one doing anything, and also since I was the only one whose job wouldn’t be affected by a show of poor management.

On the other side of the coin, my web-based sitcom K’s House has just finished¬†shooting, and while we had many, many setbacks, I was completely in charge of production. Even though I have the basic knowledge needed to do everything myself, I left things to the people who were most experienced. The quality of the product will be evidence of this, by contrast to the public access show I produced twelve years ago, where I tried to do every little thing by myself.

“K’s House” premiers May 13th.

Trust becomes the key issue, I think. I trusted others to do their part, and got burned. I’ve worked in groceries, where you have to be very selective about whom to trust, since anything they do wrong will have those aforementioned¬†fingers pointing your way once more, and in a hurry to boot.

Where’s the line? In a world where everyone is out for themselves, where close associates will chuck you right at the street in front of that bus if it means safeguarding their own situation, where strangers are just as apt to steal mail from your porch as give you a dollar for gas, where is that line? ¬†From what I can tell, it moves. A lot. So good luck finding it.

A song about being alone, but they still needed each other to sing it.

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