Just the other day, I was watching a video on social media where a flight attendant was putting on a hilarious act, while demonstrating the safety instructions to the passengers. This video had over a million views, being shared all over the Internet. Now, you my ask why I am talking about a video on social media in a philosophical discussion. Well, it is not the silly video I wanted to draw your attention to, but rather the fact that the flight attendant was able to transform a boring and mundane job, into something attention-grabbing. The task was to quickly show the flight safety features and be done with it. But, he took a step forward to make his job interesting, not only for himself, but for the passengers as well. He added personality and charm to it, and that made all the difference.
Our lives and our work, do not define who we are; rather, who we are defines how we live and how we do our work. During our entire life, we learn and grow every day. We change our thoughts and perceptions based on our knowledge and experiences. No matter how much we change and develop, the essence inside us, which has been a part of us since our first breath, never goes away. Our essence majorly defines who we are and influences our thoughts and actions in life. I would like to believe it is part of our DNA. Without our essence, we are probably not human at all.
I have always believed in this story I heard in my childhood. It was about three brothers, who received a dollar from their father and were instructed to use the dollar to fill their hut. One of the brothers bought a lot of hay with his dollar; another a lot of cotton; and the other just bought a candle and lit it to fill the hut with light. In other words, there can be more than one solution to the same problem. But it can only be achieved if we try to find ourselves, think differently and not become someone else.
“Innovation”, the very word that brings a sense of accomplishment to all of us, is due to the attitude of being different, or shall we say “thinking outside the Box”. Living and working to be someone else, following the footsteps of others, will never lead us towards innovation and self-actualization. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs show us that self-actualization is the need all humans strive to achieve. It is at the highest strata of needs. Self-actualization is actually self-realization towards the path to self-transcendence. Foucault’s philosophy does not believe in the path towards self-actualization when he says, “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly who I am.”
Let us take a moment to think about the people who are struggling to fulfill their basic needs of food, clothing and safety. The desire for self-actualization is far out of the picture for them. Survival becomes necessary and the quest to finding the inherent being takes a back seat. The philosophy of Michael Foucault does not align with the modern era. It would be more adaptable to early 20th century life, when society was dealing with major crisis and survival was all that counted.
We live in a different world today. Most of us reading this do not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. Each of us wants to stand out, bolstered by our uniqueness, our talents. We try every day to find who we are, integrate our work with our passions; disrupt the social rules of life and work to build a new world, one step at a time. Among all these changes and new experiences, our inherent being is still deep inside us, guiding us. It is our core. You change your core, you are no more!