Actors Playing Roles or Reality?

Originally posted 4/5/10

One question that has occurred to me recently is -- Is 'Corporate Life' reality, or is it a stage play performed for a limited audience of interested spectators? And does it become so real to the actors, that they truly believe it is real life?

I realize that this isn't very clear, but I'm not sure I can make the concept completely clear. So let me illustrate what I mean: When you are IN 'Corporate Life', every aspect of it seems sooo important. Do I really need to go to dinner that night -- of course, it's expected! What an incompetent 'that person' is, because they didn't know the answer to 'that question'. How we dress ourselves each day, according to the norms of the organization. Even the language we speak (Dilbert certainly has a field day with this one) can be seen as a joke - "incentivizing associates through EVA for the benefit of all stakeholders."  Yuck.

Looking at it from the outside, it sometimes appears to be an elaborate farce. We all are hammered into roles -- the mentor, the technician, the young ladder climber, the celebrity CEO, etc. There are real people underneath the surface, below the role, but we steadfastly insist on characterizing the people by the parts they appear to play rather then what they really are beneath the veneer.

What is worse, the better we, as the actors themselves, understand the roles that are available, the more we try to hammer and squeeze ourselves into them. Of course, there are parts that no one willingly takes -- the incompetent, the shirker. These parts are foisted upon unwilling actors by the other players, and usually only for a brief time before they are written out of the production.

And there are an infinite variety of these productions going on at different companies across the US (and probably the world). While there are strong similarities, each one seems to have its own nuances and twists of plot.

But I digress. The entire point of this post is to illustrate the difficulty I'm having in thinking of 'Corporate Life' as real. Reality seems so much - Bigger (for lack of a better term) than the narrow interests of 'Corporate Life'. When you buy into it to the degree that I did, you lose track of real life because 'Corporate Life' hijacks so much of your energy.

So maybe getting something 'accomplished' today is over-rated. Achievement, especially career achievement, perhaps isn't all that critical. Maybe catching a 3 pound Bass, or tickling a 5 year old, or spirituality should be elevated to a greater standing in a rebalanced world.