Don't be a Poseidon

In the short story ‘Poseidon’, by Franz Kafka, the great god of the sea is said to be unhappy with his role of administrating all of Earths bodies of water. The punchline is that due to his dismissal of his assistants as unskilled for the tasks he deems so important, he is him self a prisoner of his own ego. Drowning in paperwork, he is never to be able to make time to experience the oceans he oversees.

There exist people that this analogy applies to. I have, at times, been one of them. Tried carrying the complete burden of a product, feeling I was personally to blame if it wasn’t completely perfect. Failing to see, that in all likelihood the reason for any failings was because I wasn’t able to realize that the load was too much, or that I didn’t possess the knowledge or skill needed at the time. And as a consequence the product suffers.

The ability to acknowledge that you don’t know something or need help with something is, I feel, a rather good character strength to have. Not only will it benefit the work you do by allowing more or better knowledgeable people to have input, but it will also expose you to different styles and ways of thinking about how to go about doing things.

I realized I had this flaw some years ago, and decided that it should be something to be worked on while also remaining vigilant of it in my behaviour. Over the years since, this tendency has diminished. Though not having been fully eradicated, it rarely surfaces anymore. I feel liberated in the knowledge that I can say ‘I don’t know’, ‘I need more time’ or ‘I need help’ without it having a negative effect on my ego.

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