The Power of One
post # 83 — May 22, 2006 — a Careers post
I attended the graduation of my niece, Fiona, from the University of Virginia. The commencement speaker was Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities and many other works. I’ve been a fan of his work, especially his earlier non-fiction writing, for a long time.
As a speaker, he did meander a bit, covering many of the themes he has previously written about. However, his main point was very effective.
Using the examples of Jesus, Mohammed, Marx, Freud and many others, he pointed out that the world has frequently been changed profoundly through words, offered by an individual without an institution to back them up.
I’m not sure how the graduates reacted to his point, but as a writer without an institution around me, I, of course, found it very inspiring.
There’s nothing like flattering your audience into thinking they could be compared to great people.
His point also reminded me of Peter Drucker’s often quoted message that, in business and elsewhere, nothing ever happens except when it is created by “a monomaniac on a mission.”
A little less flattering an image to accept for oneself, but equally accurate.
Whatever it is that I want to see happen — it ain’t up to THEM. It’s up to ME.