Howard Roark

I don’t get many book recommendations but when one comes my way from someone I respect so much I check it out. Thank you Dr. Chandon.

The recommendation was a result of a conversation we had about work ethic and finding the joy in what you do. He asked me if I had ever read the book. I replied “No” and added that I had “never heard of the book.” In fact I had never heard of the author Ayn Rand. I figured what a better time to read a book about work than on Labor Day weekend.

We finished our conversation, two Introverts going their respective silent ways and I looked up the book on Amazon. Reading the description as well as the reviews, I decided I would take a break from my present book and dive headfirst into this one.

I have been working as a social worker since my first internship in 1985. I fell into my profession much the same way I fell into this book, headfirst. I love what I do. This love kindled by the first Executive Director who I had an opportunity to work for. Jim was a social worker and a business man. He was the second person to teach me to steal all the knowledge that I could from people who had more of it than I. He was the first person that I encountered professionally who taught me to think different and to be my own person. Jim died an untimely death in 1994 at the age of 46. One day he was there and the next he was gone. Heart attack. He taught me to live each day as if it were my last. This philosophy is one that I still struggle with. There are times when it becomes so clear that it’s scary. I turned 57 last week and the other day a man, 56, diagnosed with Dementia became lost when he wandered away from his home. I don’t have Dementia, but this resonated with me. His life is over. I have hopefully many years ahead of me.

Jim taught me to have a mouth, to question what I knew or at least thought I knew. There have been times when my mouth has gotten me into trouble but it’s always been good. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me develop into the man, the human, the father, the husband, the social worker that I am today. I still have a mouth. I still enjoy challenging the belief that the status quo is the way to go. I enjoy as an ad for Apple computers once suggested to “think differently.” That ad began in 1997 and one year later I would resign from the job that I had loved and then loathed.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them,
glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They push the human race forward.

While some may see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

© 1997 Apple Computer, Inc.

My answers aren’t always correct and they don’t always lead me down the right path but they have helped me keep the love for my profession alive.

In 1998 I quit my job at the same agency where Jim had brought a once dying agency back from the brink of death. This quote from Howard Roark in the book, “The Fountainhead” resonated so deeply with me. Howard said, “I shouldn’t have waited for you to throw me out. I should have left long ago.” At the time Jim’s second in command assumed control of the agency. While she grew the agency she also grew out the importance of the individual. That’s something that Jim understood and cherished. I still fondly recall the day that I quit. Fuck you was my thought. It became my motto. I was once offered and accepted a job where at this date I could retire with health insurance paid in full and by my retirement age, a full pension. I accepted the job and two weeks later rescinded the offer. I could not, would not sell my soul for what was the “golden handcuffs” of a government job.

I won’t let you steal my passion and my life. I certainly won’t give it away. I won’t allow the fear dished out by so many Executive Directors to infect me with the complacency that I soften see.

So, here’s to the misfits. THINK DIFFERENT!


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