One of my favorite movies is Clerks. It’s clever, raw and funny. There are two lead characters. One writes his own rules for reality. The other allows reality’s rules to be written for him. The second guy, Dante, keeps muttering “I’m not even supposed to here.” through the movie. He’s torn between what he wants to do and what he feels he’s supposed to do.
I am most miserable when I think in ‘Supposed to’ “I’m supposed to get a merit increase.” “They’re supposed to refill my drink.” “That other team is supposed take care of this customer.” “That supplier was supposed to call me.” “This latte is supposed to be 175 degrees (who orders their latte’s this way and why?).” “They’re supposed to ask us before they make that decision.”
“I’m not supposed be cleaning up after the party.” “He’s not supposed to pull weed out at church (This really happened last week minus the ‘supposed to’).” “There’s not supposed to be highway construction at 4pm on a Friday.” “The business customer is not supposed to go out and buy their own technology solutions.”
“Supposed to” is a prison. It builds a world of second-guessing, negativity and powerlessness. It build tribalism. It pits people against each other. It fuels gossip. It illustrates all that is wrong. It hides what is right. The phrase gives us the power to judge reality as wrong while justifying ourselves as being right. Miserable. But right.
I can choose to be right by making reality wrong. Or I can choose to do right to make reality better. One makes me a powerless, frustrated victim. The other gives me responsibility to take action. I won’t win all of the battles. I have a better chance of winning the battles I fight than the one’s I just complain about.
We can argue with reality. Or we can do something to change it. What do you suppose we should do?
- Remembering a friend (ericwarheit.com)
- The filter hierarchy (sethgodin.typepad.com)
- Coming to Terms with the Consumerization of IT (blogs.hbr.org)