Moments ago I received an email from my dear friend, Roger Fransecky. Attached to his email was Ray Bradbury’s essay, Management from Within. Roger is a successful corporate consultant and lecturer and the founder of the consulting firm, THE APOGEE GROUP based in Omaha, Nebraska. www.apogeeceo.com. Roger works with some of the most prominent companies in the world. The point is, when Roger sends me something to read, it’s presumptively worth reading.
I read Bradbury’s essay. It was intriguing. He wrote about work as magic, about being “a boy-magician” hiding inside an adult of high accomplishment. According to Roger, this perspective captures the serious mischief we cannot afford to lose as adults. Roger finds Bradbury’s insights wise in their persistent and subtle invitation to go out and meet yourself in your work, and in the chosen recollections of childhood that spark insight and a guffaw.
I agree with Roger but add that I find misleading the description that Bradbury is “The magician behind 17 novels… and hundreds of articles and short stories.” I’d say there is darn little magic involved, and, don’t forget, magic isn’t magic. Bradbury works hard. Unrelentingly hard. And he is extremely bright and extremely disciplined. Indeed, to refer to his work as magic somewhat diminishes Bradbury’s achievement.
Having said that, I offer a few paragraphs that I found illuminating.
“Books, printing, typing, writing, reading are ways of trapping time and information and funneling it on to the present and future generations, thus hoping to improve their chances at survival and enhance their lives while they do it.
“It follows then that as a manger is not a manager nor is management a coterie of managers, but single human beings and a great mob of humans engaged in their own effort of survival, singly and by the numbers.
“I’ve had these signs by my typewriter for 40 years:
DON’T THNK. DON’T TRY JUST DO.
For in doing, in the process, thought evolves. There’s plenty of time to think after the doing, after the action, after the fun. To approach problem solving grimly, in business or anywhere else, is to be non-creative. Do you run your business like the Inquisition, condemning ideas by being too serious?
“TURNING JOB INTO PLAY”
“Now, if none of the above seem to apply to you, don’t be so certain-sure. After all, what is life supposed to be about? Love and fun, isn’t it? Good grief, if everything isn’t fun, why do it? Or most things, anyway. There’s always a certain amount of drudgery connected with any work, business, art, or even playing basketball. The latter isn’t easy, but unless you frolic at it, like a healthy animal, you had better hit the showers.”
Bradbury makes a lot of fine points and they can inspire and elevate us. I don’t quite buy into his theory that Hitler was an optimist and that Hitler was not doom and gloom. If Bradbury views Hitler as an optimist in a positive way, and I’m not sure whether Bradbury does or does not, then I’m not sure Bradbury makes a point worth making.
Also, it’s fine to talk about life as play but it’s hard to see the metaphor apply as a practical matter if your stuck at the moment in Sudan or Teheran or Libya or Gaza. But maybe I’m being too literal.
Read the entire article. It’s worth the few minutes.