The Flee, The Fight, and The Genius

A battle has always waged within me, between my desire to remain as non-confrontational as possible, and my innate instinct to vocally dissent when I don’t agree with something. Over the years, this internal tug-of-war has been a factor contributing to my inevitable misery at any job I have worked, problems with parents, friends and girlfriends. I generally like to avoid fighting, avoiding saying or doing anything that could result in fisticuffs, shouting or even a mild disagreement. On some occasions, however, my balls drop and I sound off about what I’m feeling in no uncertain terms. For example, I once told one of my bosses that I don’t really like being told what to do. That particular boss and I always got on alright, and he was always receptive to my comments, concerns and questions, even if he didn’t agree with me. His reaction to my comment? He laughed in my face and told me I’d better start my own company then.

I’ve worked for several large corporations that like to indoctrinate their employees, masking their money-grubbing mania behind silly, insincere corporate platitudes and mission statements, and nothing is more infuriating to me. When robotic corporate initiatives are shoved down your throat incessantly, it’s enough to make even the most level-headed troopers lose their marbles and any sense of self. The catch is, when the money is good, you try to keep your head down and get by, but after a while the paycheck isn’t enough to quell the fire burning behind your eyes and teeth.

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend stumbled across a quote from Robert Downey, Jr., who is one of my heroes, and it struck a chord in me. He very pointedly said, “Listen, smile, agree. And then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” The very basic translation of this advice is that when a higher-ranking official offers you a tempting glass of kool aid, you should graciously accept it and then toss it over your shoulder after they walk away. This sounds like a great idea, so as to stay off of the radar by not vocally fighting every initiative or change that comes down the pipeline. While life is too short to not question what you’re told or told to do, sometimes Mr. Downey’s suggestion is the way forward. I may try to implement this practice in my own daily struggle with authority and see how it plays out. Robert Downey, Jr. is a genius. The end.