AN EPIC JOURNEY
Yep, this is shit on my desk; but it isn't an ordinary turd.
I didn't do anything gross like fish it out of the toilet or save a coil of dog shit deposited by Pixel, my mighty Boston Terrier mascot.
This particular piece of shit was squeezed out of a crocodile's ass 10,000 years ago, thus it is petrified, free of odour, and mostly harmless, unless, in some unlikely circumstance, I decided to drill it at someone's face.
At this point, you are probably wondering, what the fuck?
Well, I do have a business point to make eventually, so stay with me on this ride as there is so much we can learn and enjoy from it.
As a metaphor, shit is an obvious and versatile business tool. It is such a compact and direct means to convey the magnitude of a poor assessment, whist also providing an embedded secondary measure of disgust in the inflection and tone of delivery.
You can tell, I hold the term in high regard and use it quite liberally, however, this is but a tangential tribute.
This piece of shit was excreted at a very amazing time; this was formed in the Neolithic age. For humanity, this is a pretty fucking big deal!
Often referred to as the tail end of the Stone Age or the New Stone Age, this was the period where stones were polished to manufacture new types of tool, the appearance of pottery, the construction of megalithic structures, monuments, and permanent shelter.
From even my shitty surface-level online skimming of this timeframe, it is obvious that this catalytic shift boils down to the gradual adoption of agriculture. Moving away from a nomadic or transhumance existence to a more sedentary lifestyle was the direct result of learning to farm. Just think of it, rather than having to set up camp, work your balls off to exploit resources, breakdown camp, then carry all your shit to the next place to set up camp and do it all over and over again... people could suddenly invest into establishing shit with their time.
According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, agriculture affected how human society was organized and how it used the earth. With the capability to cultivate and stockpile food for long periods of time, people could invest the intellectual resources to develop new technologies and then improve them over time.
Agriculture equals more food and, it turns out, less preoccupation with finding food results in more people, more complex social organization, which in turn makes more people and more complexity, until voilá, you find yourself reading this article on the internet.
This crocodile is minding its own business, like it has since the Cretaceous period, and takes an innocent and probably unexceptional dump, unwittingly enabling some human to postulate the significance of its excrement 1000 decades later.
Okay, now, you might start to see this post really is about the shit referenced in the title photo above; only, it is representative of all the figurative shit that each and every one of us do. And yes, we produce a lot of it, which really is a blessing and a curse.
In our personal and professional lives, we amass heaping piles of experience, featuring both failures and achievements. Busy and forward-thinking lives don't typically have affordance for reflection or strolls through memory lane, but I'm proposing that there is a lot of value to making the time to take stock.
The first time I had to roll back time was before moving to the UK. It was a little more intensive than updating a resume because I didn't have a resume to update. That happens when you are serving a long tenure and have an inward view of yourself with respect to the organization you serve, so I had to go full-blown archeological dig of myself to find the relevant pieces of information that communicated who I was, how I directly contributed, and what my competencies were.
It wasn't a nostalgic task because I was pulling shit together against the clock and a little worried with representing the right content as to meet the immigration criteria, but this was such an important exercise to take stock and remember ghosts from projects-past.
I'm talking about the forensic evidence and the marks that we, as individuals, leave behind. Our CV, LinkedIn profile, creative portfolios, our affiliations, they are a few of the pieces of the historical record that define who you have been.
I literally just saw a post on Instagram quoting JFK "For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.". It is a decent enough quote and what is timely about seeing this is, how it deliberately expresses "those who only...", so not implying that you shouldn't "look to the past and present".
Context setting is pretty fucking important, so plowing forward without any regard of where you have been or having some introspective view on who you actually are seems ridiculous.
Recently, I started documenting projects that have been important to me. It started with my last 4 most recent projects. The format was a one-slide summary for each item that included timeframe, project background, an image or related snapshot, key collaborators and why I thought it was significant to my career. I was surprised that before I knew it, I was on slide 28 and had already gone back as far as 2003.
I'm not finished with it yet and have started to interlace personal milestones because my desire is to map key points in my development and visualize common themes, consistent behaviours and recurring ideas and interests. Also, when I see it in this format, I don't just see a church or state view of myself... I get an holistic historical snapshot.
I have to say, this has affected how I view myself and how I run my business. It lets me reflect on the projects that failed and the moments that made them great, it reminds me of the circumstances that drove why I made decisions one way or the other, and it presents me with patterns that I can interrogate and critique in 3rd person fashion.
Naturally, it's a work-in-progress, never really meant to end or result in a singular conclusion or epiphany. But as the everyday shit continues to pile on, making a point to reflect on the things that matter from time to time, keeps healthy conduits between your past, present and future.
Last words with respect to my petrified crocodile shit. It was a present from my wife and came fully wrapped and wasn't a gag-gift even though it is completely nonsensical as I don't collect fossilized shit. This alone elevates its value significantly above all other petrified or fresh mucous-coated shit.
I'm pretty sure that our friend, the crocodile, had no idea that something so insignificant as its feces would survive millennia to find a home on my desk to inspire so much thought and provide so much joy. This reinforces how a little shit can go a long way.