We all like to see ourselves as the protagonists in our personal epic – cue the theme music maestro. As long as reality does not intrude, we can plot out the most outrageous scenarios and disport ourselves in total luxury. Within limits, this is normal, healthy, and fun.

Problems creep in when we attempt to carry over fantasy into real life. Please don’t give me that look; we all do it. Or rather, we all try it. You know it’s the “fake it till we make it” mentality or the mantra of “dare to be great.”

 Its most obscene states are the “If you can think it, you can do it” philosophy. This one has tripped people up since Daedelus and Icarus made wings of wax and feathers. 

Long ago, inspirational speakers, HR departments, hucksters, and con artists learned to tap into this rich vein of illogical thought and behavior. Its most common manifestations are the motivational posters that HR people like to hang around the workplace. I’d maintain that these things are more dangerous than the spiked punch at the office party. They are insidious, frequently inane, and probably make most people feel inadequate. 

The only one of these I liked hung in the office of a boss I had. On her wall was a poster that said, “it’s hard to soar with the eagles when you fly with the turkeys.”

I can’t recall any motivational poster that said, “you can achieve great things if you prepare.” Instead, they all seem to say go ahead and jump… it’ll be Okay! 

You may have heard of the mustard seed of faith. Even a tiny amount of faith can achieve great things like moving a mountain. I have no dispute with that because I’ve often seen the effect of faith. But rather than attempt to move a mountain by faith alone, I’d prefer to take Archimedes’ suggestion to heart and bring a big lever and fulcrum along to do the job.

It’s not a matter of denying faith; it’s just that faith and pragmatism together can do great things.

So the next time you are walking down the hall of a workplace, take a good look at the motivational poster and sneer. If the hack who put it up or HR protests, just tell them that, as Albert Einstein said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

If you can’t beat them, join them and go one better. They’ll be pissed.

Écrasez l’infâme!

11 Replies to “Poster”

  1. Oh, those HR posters…conveniently posted in the breakroom where we could all make snide comments about them with our allotted time. HR finally wised up and took them down. We always wanted the ‘up to your ass in alligators’ poster. Sadly, no. Something about being politically correct… 😆

  2. I very much agree! Telling people they can do anything they want to do and be anything they want to be — and the greatest ever — is setting folks up for future feeling of inadequacy. Most people will achieve superstar status. “Do the best you can” is far better preparation for reality than “Be the greatest ever.” Many people have sacrificed far too much by going after their dreams.

      1. I do believe in encouragement. I think encouragement is important. But I agree with you most are not going to be superstars, many will do well just to be good utility players. Being a good utility player, a teammate is important, it gets us all together closer to the goal. I mean what do they think? Superstars do it all by themselves? Right! You don’t put a man on the moon without all the team pulling together.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more! Together faith, preparation and hard work will take you farther than any of them alone.

  4. I remember there was this episode of Red Dwarf where they referenced the poster about eagles soaring and one of the characters replied ” Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into Jet Engines.

  5. I kind of like fake it til you make it, but that is because I view it as practise in doing something you find difficult. I’m not so fond of the charlatans version of it.
    I used to have several precious Dilbert cartoons pinned up at work. I gave them to my boss when I left. He put them in his desk drawer! I probably should have pinned them on a couple of HR posters when I left the building.

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