Heroism is more fun but less reliable than good planning.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/03/simple-techniques-for-complex-projects/

It’s a good point.

And it took me a long time to realize that heroism isn’t even fun. Long ago I used to rush in, sometimes literally, and save the day. I’ve played the theme song from Mission: Impossible while rushing to fix computers in the middle of the night. One time, although I wasn’t rushing but was en route to fix things, I was nearly killed in a car crash, in the middle of the night, on a highway that was deserted, until I was hit from behind, at extreme speed, by two people who were racing side-by-side. I think I just channeled Proust. I digress. Where was I?

It took me a long time to realize that heroism isn’t even fun. Years later, I was reading M. B. Stanier‘s The Coaching Habit (which I recommend, but I more highly recommend his, The Advice Trap) where I found his mention of the “Karpman Drama Triangle”. I’m not even sure if that’s a real thing; It should be a real thing and I’m not going to spoil it by actually looking. Karpman, apparently, identifies the “Rescuer” as one of the three types of people in his dramatic triangle. (When I first read that I thought, “Oh my gawd, I used to always be that person. I’m so glad I’ve totally outgrown that,” while chuckling nervously.) The Rescuer’s core belief is, “Don’t fight, don’t worry, let me jump in and take it on and fix it.” Crap. I’m pretty sure I still have this problem.


On being wrong

I’ve come to realize that I love being wrong.

I spent so many years reinforcing the thought that I could be the guy; The guy who swoops in and solves the problem when things get technically complicated, the guy who swoops in and creates order and process out of the chaos, the guy who swoops in and gets things done. Setting aside the analysis of whether or not I was actually particularly good at that, I did “I can be that guy” so much that I had convinced myself that I am that guy.

In The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier talks about the Karpman drama triangle. I’ve certainly played all three roles of Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer. But I realize now that I’m addicted—or perhaps I can be hopeful enough to say was addicted?—to being the Rescuer. In the past year or so it’s become clear to me that it’s vastly more healthy and fun(!) to be part of a team that solves problems and gets things done.

To be the person who asks a question that opens a flood gate of discussion.

To be the person who understands that one’s purpose was to have been instrumental in creating the environment last week, so this week the team solves the problem on its own.

To be the person who is a complete and utter success, by having simply contributed a small addition here, a minor adjustment there.