I was watching Iron Man 2 the other day, and as in many cases where a hero deals with having to balance saving the world with his day-to-day identity, Stark was having a little bit of a meltdown (spoiler alert). In the public, he was a playboy CEO who just handed the reigns of the company to his assistant, suddenly started driving a car in the Monaco Grand Prix, and did what every Gen-Yer is familiar with: drunk karaoke. Everyone thought he was losing his mind, even Pepper.
As you watch however, thanks to dramatic irony, you know he’s dying and doing a little last living. He doesn’t want people to know, especially because it could risk the government taking over his suit, but he hides the answer to the questions regarding his behavior.
There’s a reason that we have that duck metaphor: you don’t really know how fast he’s kicking under the water.
I feel like that duck all the time. For example, with this blog, I find myself suddenly doing more work for it. As my readers, you may not know that because I’m actually posting less frequently. What you aren’t seeing are the posts I’m arranging with other contributors, reports I’m reviewing, and authors I’m interviewing. Ideally that means there will be some neat things for you, but it’s all behind the scenes.
Public figures, be they bloggers or business people, should think about the work going on behind the scenes. We want an event to be pulled off flawlessly, and we must hide weaknesses. However, there’s always something going on, and people could find out. Or, in many unfortunate cases, you could be linked to something that never involved you. For example, the Minnesota state government could face a shutdown, holding my tax return hostage in the process (at least that’s how it feels to me and anyone else who had to file an out-of-state return). I was so frustrated with this, my first thought was: Michelle Bachmann, you may be leading the way for women in politics for 2012, but if your state can’t pass a budget, what should we expect?
Michelle Bachmann may have nothing to do with what’s going on at the state level, or she could have everything to do with it. In a split-second, however, my brain didn’t care. I made the association because of relationships. Think about the ties you build just by representation: Midwest values, hard-working Americans, a state with a government shutdown? I may be making an irrational mental leap, but let’s all admit we’re not exactly rational people 24/7.
Perhaps that’s why we love secret agent and renegade hero movies about conspiracy. We all know it’s easy for John McClane (Die Hard) to wipe out terrorists or computer nut jobs, all while the vast majority of the world had no idea what kind of real danger they faced. It’s behind the scenes.
So what does it say about competence if we never know?