As individuals, we all play a role in life. But, we must know what role we play, if we chose it willingly or if it was chosen for us or if we are just oblivious. Self-awareness is essential to growth.
We say, “we need more people like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Stephen King, Changpeng Zhao, Kanye West, Etc.” We say it because these geniuses have graciously propelled evolution in their respective fields, thereby pushing the boundaries of achievable goals.
An experiment called the Stroop Test was conducted, and brain activity was recorded over a cycle of tasks. The result; the brain activity of entrepreneurs significantly varied compared to non-entrepreneurs. During the experiment, it was found that entrepreneurs responded quickly to resolve problems, and were quicker to adapt to new scenarios than non-entrepreneurs.
I believe the world is divided into two people at every level; Tellers and Listeners. At some point, we play both roles but overall, one dominates the other in our lives.
The Burden of Being Ahead.
A Teller is a person who takes on the burden of learning what others aren’t willing to, controlling the output of information, and taking on big decisions, risks, and rewards.
A team in the Harvard business review highlighted three main reasons why a qualified person is reluctant to take up more responsibility. The three main reasons are Interpersonal risk, risk of being blamed, and image risk.
Interpersonal risk: A lot of people decline leading roles because they feel their opinions might disrupt the relationships with people in their lives or at work. This is the first sign that you are a listener. Tellers have stronger emotional intelligence, they know that getting their ideas across the room takes priority over anyone's feelings. We all know that one man who got on our nerves but always said what he wanted to say. How did you know I was going to say, Trump? Can you read minds now? Whatever your political stance is, we can all agree that Trump cared little about interpersonal risk. He is a teller.
Risk of being blamed: It’s 1585, one cold morning, you wake up to a bang and shouts of an angry mob outside your shed. In less than five minutes, you are strapped to a log of wood in the middle of town smelling petrol, ready to be burnt alive. The only time one should be afraid of blame is when you have been accused of witchcraft, then the stakes are high and hot. A Lot of People are afraid to lead a project because they fear accountability. Fear of failure is fear of opportunity. A Teller learns from his failure, the opportunity of failing first is foresight in its sense. Listeners are content with Tellers taking the bulk of the risk. They sit back and watch Tellers pave the way while they follow, listeners like to play it safe; no risk no reward.
Image risk: In the era of social media, the bane of Internet personalities is Cancel culture. It's crazy because you do not want to seem controversial, you begin to support what you have little knowledge of, to stay afloat in your little internet boat. As a result, opinions become repressed, we become tight-lipped to avoid coming across as aggressive. The American comedian Dave Chappelle, is one of the few people who fight against cancel culture. It is communis scientia that going against the LGBTQ community is social suicide, but Chappelle went head on and stood by what he said, “Gender is a fact..” After a successful show he got a standing ovation and said, “if this is what being canceled is, I love it”. One of the strongest characteristics of a teller is, standing your ground, standing with whatever you think is right. Listeners bend over and accept whatever is spoon-fed to them, without asking questions. Another great example is Kanye, he always puts his image and reputation on the line with his actions and statements. But still, he always communicated his intent.
It is important to know that having the qualities of a Teller does not necessarily make you right or a good person, wicked people can be tellers too, as we have seen throughout history, and in present governments.
The burden of being a Teller is that in a bottomless ocean of data, you have to take a pint, and distill it into information and instructions that people can work with. Tellers gather knowledge, skills, and expertise. They build models and schemes that create a flow to the information, so it can be made sense of.
The Tellers, like a tank, control the outflow of information they give. They put a tap on the output; Listeners think they know everything, whereas they know only what they are allowed to know. The fallout of holding all that knowledge is living with it. Tellers are burdened with the bigger picture, they do not often value in-the-moment situations, instead, they live in the build-up. They live ahead, which makes them ever absent and non-excited about most things.
Psychology says we follow the activities of other people because we want to understand how they got their success and mirror it.
A hidden incongruity lies between Tellers and Listeners. On one hand, Listeners think Tellers have it all figured out—they must have it easy. As a result, Listeners suffer a great deal trying to upgrade their lives by trying to imitate the Teller's footsteps.
On the other hand, Tellers who do all the hard work to make it easy for Listeners, think Listeners have it easy. Tellers feel Listeners should not complain about their situation because all they have to do is the bare minimum, as Tellers carry most of the risk. There seems to be a gap in the communication efforts of both parties, so they are forever stuck in their assumptions.
Easy Comes with Consequences and Bitter truths have roots.
Throughout history, you can see how powerful families try gatekeeping secrets to retain power. They go as far as killing one another and also, practicing inbreeding (intermarriage), in an attempt to preserve power for the next generation. Intermarriage was popular among royalties during the 14th and 17th centuries in Europe.
The popular Habsburgs dynasty, which ruled for centuries over the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, strongly practiced intermarriage and incest. On the one hand, it helped secure their power and ruling influence. On the other hand, it plagued their family tree with deformities, like the peculiar “Habsburg jaw” and other medical complications.
King Charles II got the short end of the Habsburg’s genetic straw. His parents were Philip IV of Spain and Mariana of Austria, who were born to first cousins and were uncles and nieces. Scientists described him as the consummation of the history of inbreeding. Charles II died without an heir because of his infertility and was tagged an “imbecile” due to his early childhood difficulties in communicating.
King Charles II of Spain by Juan CarreÃ±o de Miranda . Wikipedia.
What a sad way to end a dynasty. Trading all that health and beauty for centuries of power doesn’t sound so bad, does it? As far as history is concerned, true Tellers would do almost anything to ensure they stay in their pivotal role; it is the bitter truth. Even in the modern age, we find the footprints and roots of Tellers from centuries ago, they still maintain the mantle of power for years (bitter truths have roots). For example, the British Monarchy has had centuries of world influence and connections running to date.
The amazing thing about this era is that technology brings endless possibilities. Everyone can be a king in their lane without bowing to anyone. We all come to life with bright dreams and aspirations. It's a sad reality that we were not all born equal. The raw reality is that not everyone can be a Teller. Think of being a Teller as being a VIP, and as always the seats of regulars are always more than that of VIPs. The slots for Tellers are limited, if not almost sold out, and that of Listeners, abundant.
The real question is, what makes listeners so obedient and satisfied with where they are? Conspiracy theorists would yell, it's the system!
Is it though?
Why do you not want to level up?
Is it truly the system, or we have found the perfect blame?
The victimization mentality displayed of late has been grisly to look at. A majority of people circumvent the stress of searching and obtaining knowledge, they leave the work for Tellers to do. Like all things, these actions have consequences.
Listeners, over time, lose the power to dictate their fate.
Sora Park in Digital Capital said, “Information is the key to how the digital society adds value and redistributes power. In a connected world, information gains power through permanent storage and wide distribution. Digital information is intangible. Yet once recorded, it can exist forever. This new way of existing and sharing creates gaps between those who can use information as a resource and those who cannot.”
In summary, power resides with whoever controls information. In the past, power was determined by armies, bloodlines, alliances, and money, now power is controlled by information and money.
When you leave your fate in the hands of others, they will do with it what they like. Because we refuse to enlighten ourselves, our laziness and ignorance deal us our handicaps—in a two-foot race, we saw off one leg so we don’t have to go through the stress of finishing the race, forgetting there is still life after the stress. We become one-legged for life.
Tangled in the puppeteer's strings, we begin to hope for the best as we walk down a predetermined path; the ignorance to choice/inability to choose, will only lead you to accept whatever is given. That is the consequence of your actions (easy, comes with consequences).
So upon reconsideration, Are You a Listener or Teller?
And if you are, What are you going to do about it?
How are you going to level up or, how are you going to retain your slot?
“The world has only evolved with the emergence of tellers, in a world where everyone is a listener, we would still be in the stone age.”