Keating or Roark: How do you drive change?

I’m always a bit spun up after I finished a challenging book and my latest read has left me more spun up than most.

I’ve just finished reading Ayn Rand’s 650+ page The Fountainhead.  I include how many pages the novel has only to shorten the time between when you consider reading the book and when you admit to yourself that you’ll never make the time to read the book.  You may choose to give up on the book, but don’t give up on Rand’s theme.  According to the Ayn Rand Institute, Rand offered her novel’s theme as  “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man’s soul.”

Before you give up on the theme, settle for watching the two-hour long, 1949 Hollywood version, staring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, and get the rough outline of the story.  And when I say rough, I mean rough.  More than 650 pages doesn’t make it into 2 hours without cutting to the bone.

Now I know you didn’t tune in to this blog for my book reviews and my movie criticism, so here’s where I tell you what’s in it for you:  Rand’s characters as a way to assess how you see yourself and how you are driving change.

Are you driving change because you think people will notice you, because you want to be liked and remembered? Would you sell your change for a promotion?  You’d be playing at being a Peter Keating, a copy-cat of the best order, wishing for approval more than purpose and fame more than his own soul.

Are you driving change because this is the work you know you were meant to do and you measure yourself by your own objective standard not the whim of other men?  Would you battle ridicule and abuse to drive your change?  You’d be playing at being a Howard Roark, comfortable with your values and your judgment, able to do your work on your terms and find happiness for yourself.

Years ago I didn’t know these characters, but I was playing at being a mix of them.  I was doing all that I could to drive change, not because I wanted people to like me, but because it was the work I felt was mine to do.  Why would I do any other work?  I can relate to Roark in that.

Yet, I remained tied in many, many ways to the recognition of my work by people who did not deserve that power over me.  I held back, doubting my judgment and questioning my values because I wanted approval first.

When I read Richard Feynman book, “What do you care what other people think?” I found a jolt to stop me from doubting myself so much.  Now Rand has finished me off and given me that last idea I needed to challenge myself to never doubt myself as the best judge of my happiness in  my work and my life.

Read or watch The Fountainhead.  I think you’ll be glad you did.  Of course, it’s entirely up to you.

2 thoughts on “Keating or Roark: How do you drive change?”

  1. Then there’s the third option: driving change because it allows you to move the masses at your whim. You do not believe in the change, that’s for the gullible. You sell your soul for power over the “other people”. This is the Gail Wynand path, and it is a truly sad one.

  2. PS – Just wait till you tackle Atlas Shrugged! Although just for a treat, you might want to try something shorter like Anthem.

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