Scalable Usefulness

November 2018

Scalable Usefulness
Photo Credit Andreas Fidler

Whether it’s a glass ceiling we’re looking up at or the night sky, there’s a deep desire in every human to go higher—to pursue the unspoken dream that seems impossible yet equally probable. It is that point in our minds when we decide whether to take the high road, or the heavily trampled one because the ends no longer justify the means. This dichotomy of decision making, you know, weighing the options of giving it your all knowing that there’s a good chance you’ll still fall short or the option of the monotony that will surely follow a life of settling for the easier path of least resistance, is where the waters part. It’s a place where we lose friends and gain acquaintances.

It’s the fork in the road of decision that changes everything.

But in the mental vacillation all people experience as they attempt to determine what choice to make we, often times inadvertently, ask ourselves about this thing called scalable usefulness—a concept of actually taking the higher road one step at a time—making the tough decisions a little more achievable. But all of this nice words don’t make the decision any easier. It’s a mind game we sometimes play with ourselves. A mind game of stretching and reaching until we’ve made a little ground, finding our stride, then giving it all we’ve got, knowing in the back of our minds it would come to this eventually. That’s what seems to happen when we choose ‘usefulness.’

We bite the bullet. We dig in, face the consequences of our actions and cowboy up. Undoubtedly, we will find ourselves alone at times—on the side of the peak, hanging by a thread. We’ll question our own motives and abilities, attempting to quell our beating hearts when things get tough. We might even weigh the option to turn back—but for the ones who choose usefulness, there really is no turning back.

It’s the same internal drive that makes people stay late at work, push a little more on the track, jump in the deep end, and deal with it all…the internal dialogue we have with ourselves about the elephants in the rooms we occupy. The thing we just can’t pretend we didn’t see or hear—the problem that we were made to help solve. That’s usefulness, and in all honesty, sometimes doesn’t seem to pay off. So why do we keep at it and how can we make it more scalable, and therefore less likely to cause a burnout or ruptured disc?

The main reason I think of as to why we keep at it, being useful, is because we have to—we’re wired that way. All living species are wired to reproduce, survive, thrive even. So when we see a way of being useful, a part of us wants to fill that void, solve the problem, or step in an be the hero. But when the going gets tough, the tough sometimes shrink back… back into the shadows of this cat and mouse game with our true nature. We look at the sheer face of the problem, year after year, or time after time, and realize that our efforts pale in comparison to the shadow cast by this behemoth of a situation. So instead of being useful, we pass the buck, or worse, pretend there is no problem at all. Maybe we jump on the bandwagon of renaming the problem, giving it a PR agent and colored ribbon. Maybe we join in with the complainers who have already succeeded their God-given usefulness to cheer on helplessness.

Enter the crab mentality. If we can’t solve the problem quickly, cheaply, or easily then we all must stay in the muck of the problem itself, right? That’s becoming the wide road in America. We can’t fix it so let’s pretty it up and make it palatable even though it is killing us. Not a great outcome especially when we get honest with ourselves about the past. If we, as a nation, had chosen the collective crab-think, we’d all be speaking with a cool accent but I’d be a slave. My grandmother would have been locked up for being too independent. My aunt would have never voted and my father would have to deny my birthright existence because my parent’s marriage would never have been sanctioned. My grandfather could still practice his vocation as priest, but be relegated to nice-nice sermons about nothing much because controversy might lead to insurrection and we can’t have that now, can we? There are hundreds of other parallels that could be drawn. Or we make the decision to scale our efforts toward usefulness.

But colonial America did not choose the crab-think, thank God. They took it—their problems, i.e. slavery, British rule, suffrage, civil rights—step by step, and climbed the face of the mountain toward freedom, for all… and liberty for all. But they did it, became useful, incrementally.

If you wonder why we have such a disdain for hard work (remember “work smarter, not harder”?) you will likely need to look no further than you microwave oven. We have gotten so use to getting it quick, fast, and in a hurry that we have no patience for hard work, problem solving, or scalability. I’m convinced that if we had to fight the British today, we’d loose. But who knows because they are in the same boat we’re in. We’re all too pampered by our first world lifestyles to willingly put shoulder to the grindstone and push.

Or is there still an ember in the American contentiousness burning hot enough to spark a flame? That’s actually the wrong question because we know there are embers burning all over this nation—we see it on every available voice, every day—syndicated news, Twitter, Facebook, even Reddit, you name it. The embers are burning, we still care. But do we care enough to work together, now that’s a question, considering that scaling the mountain of education or criminal justice or the economy is going to take a concerted team effort. It’s going to take some spotters, a guide, an anchor, and backup. It’s going to take some camming to get a toe hold and then a lot of oomph to get over the hurdles we’ve created by not working together for so long. It’s actually going to take the best players from offense and defense to put the winning team together, not some star backed rookie, family friend, or unopposed candidate.

We have to make the problems in our communities scalable by putting the right team together. If we keep relying on old habits to deal with old problems made new by mounting tempers, we will never make it to the summit. Instead, we’ll end up hanging there, wishing we’d never gotten in the saddle in the first place. Those who come after us will become discouraged by seeing yet another failed attempt. Instead of taking one step forward, America will take the proverbial two steps back.

That’s why backing our Constitution is the only logical course of action. We can’t be globalists when our nation is warring with itself, that’s surrender to that path of least resistance we have already demonstrated as being a lose-lose for America. Backing the Constitution means stepping up and doing what’s right for our Republic even when that means cleaning out the closet that no one has touched in decades. It means putting pride aside and manning up. With the war on manhood gaining such a following, there is no wonder only a select few are getting out there and getting dirty.

Like that great generation of Boomers now retiring, we’ve got to get in there and roll up our sleeves; not be afraid of a little elbow grease. That’s how America was built—why would we think it would take anything less to rebuild her?

Lisa Noël Babbage

Lisa Noel Babbage is a author, teacher, and patriot who is dedicated to rebuilding communities through philanthropy and activism.

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