Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Day After

Day two of school and no Obama. So, my kid comes home from school with a motorcycle helmet under one are and a tattoo on the other. OK, he doesn't really have a tattoo and the helmet is because I took him to school this morning on my scooter, but still, there's got to be some let down the day after you kick off the new year with the president in the house.
I suppose that is one of the drawbacks of charismatic leadership in any field. What do you do when the leader is gone?
It seems like an ironclad rule of human behavior to create an institution to sustain the energy, and it seems like an equally ironclad rule of organizational behavior that the institution fails. Perhaps that is too blunt. Perhaps it would be more polite, and even more accurate, to say that institutions cannot maintain the energy of a charismatic leader and tend to drift away from the leader's vision.
After Obama went back to his day job, there are schools left to carry on the work of education. After Henry Ford died, there was a car company left. After Thomas Edison shuffled off this electrical coil we got power companies. After a charismatic preacher moves on, there is the church.
After the leader leaves, all of the petty concerns that are forgotten in the powerful presence of an Obama or Ford or Edison rise back up the agenda.
So yesterday our kids were challenged to think about what great achievements they might offer to the world. And today they bring home math packets.
Scaling the heights always sounds better in soaring oratory than it feels in every day life. As Edison said, genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.
Time to sweat, kids.

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