Talk shows, from Johnny Carson to Fresh Air, have always been about spectating. Comedy, TV, graphic arts, business leadership, politics–they've been sold to us as spectator sports.
Selling spectatorhood is pretty easy. It's safe and fun and easy. You hit the remote. You pretend you have power–the power to turn it off, to change the channel, to buy or not to buy. We've seduced the masses with a simple bargain, and even permitted the role of the spectator to move into the work world. Most people, most of the time, are told to watch, not to lead, to follow, not to create.
Waiting for breakfast in bed to be served is very different indeed than getting up early and serving breakfast in bed.
The spectators foolishly assert that if everyone was a doer, a leader and a maker of ruckuses, then there'd be no one left in the audience. As if those that do require an audience.
The alternative to being a spectator involves failure and apparent risk. It means that you will encounter people who accuse you of hubris and flying too high, people who are eager to point out the loose thread on your jacket or the flaw in your reasoning. The spectators in the stands are happy to boo, happy to walk out when the team is struggling in the third period, happy to switch if the bread or the circuses cease to delight.
Why on earth, they ask, would they want to be anything but a spectator?
And yet, those that have foolishly picked themselves, stood up, stood out and made a difference, can't help but ask, "and why would I ever want to be a spectator again?"
[More on this from fabled professor Jeffrey Pfeffer]