In Groundhog Day, Ned Ryerson is the biggest irritant to Bill Murray’s character Phil Conners. So how best to deal with the Neds in your life? There is both a way out and a potential perfect outcome.*
There is a potential perfect outcome for every human action and interaction, a path through each situation that means it works out best for all concerned.
Whether you have the proverbial snowflake’s chance in Hades of achieving that perfect outcome is a different matter. The outcome may not always be down to you. But sometimes the principles that guide your actions can make all the difference.
The Neds in your life
Consider Ned Ryerson.
Just as his namesake Ned Flanders grinds Homer Simpson’s gears, Ned Ryerson is the biggest irritant to the Bill Murray character Phil Conners in Groundhog Day**.
How best to deal with the Neds in your life? Condemned to live exactly the same day over and over again, Conners has the opportunity to explore every possible reaction to Ryerson.
Punching, propositioning and snarking Ned Ryerson might feel good at the time. But none of these is the way out.
Conners breaks the cycle and is able at last to continue his life by deciding on one version of this life in a day to take the perfect route, the most human route, through each interaction that comes his way. One small part of this involves going out of his way to make today the best day of Ned Ryerson’s life (”…with the optional death and dismemberment plan”).
I’m sure there are many religious interpretations here. Buddhists might see Conners at last liberating himself from
Saṃsāra to achieve Nirvana.
Twitter made all the difference
No one is more surprised than me that I seem to have built up something resembling a network of people with whom to share thoughts and silliness over the years. As a lifelong, card-carrying introvert, networking does not come naturally. Like I’ve blogged before, Twitter made all the difference. I’ve always just tweeted what comes naturally to me, starting with the full expectation that no one was listening. I was truly amazed when people started tweeting back.
There are as many ways to approach networking as there are people. What works for you?
The human mute button
Possibly the best advice on networking I’ve ever seen is to be found in a 2016 piece by Bill Boorman entitled Networking for humans. Bill has attended enough conferences and been approached by enough Ned Ryersons looking to sign him up to recognise the telltale signs and start reaching for “the human mute button”:
“If you meet me and you lead with your business card, or you give me a sharpened elevator pitch, or you try to qualify me as a mark, the conversation is going to die.”
Boorman offers excellent, simple advice for the perfect path through networking:
“Drop the act.”
He explains the true secret to networking:
“I want to share the big secret. There is no secret to networking. don’t buy the books, believe the coaches, join the associations or listen to the boy wonders who have never actually had a job. Networking is easy. Be human, be real, don’t
try to be a brand, a thought leader or anything else. Be human.”
Two words. It really is that simple: “Be human.” The potential perfect path through every situation may not always be visible to you. But approaching it with the right principles will dramatically improve your chances of success.
Drop the act.
* I originally wrote this post back in October 2016. I’m giving it another little outing here as the world always needs to be reminded of its Ned Ryersons.
** Groundhog Day is as great a film as there could ever be. If you’ve not seen it, please, please give it a watch!
- Shadows 2021 via Wikimedia Commons.
- Groundhog Day image: I make no claim whatsoever to the copyright for this image, and will remove it from this post immediately if required.
Good morning, Michael. Thank you for sharing (or is it resharing?) your blog. As to the call to arms, namely, be human, I perfectly understand the point you’re making and I wouldn’t demur but we also need to consider that our anthropocentric way of seeing the world might just be the reason why we’ve arrived at a time in history where, if we’re not careful, our actions will eclipse our ability to find a solution to the climate crisis. The point I’m making is that perhaps, not necessarily in a networking setting, we need to be less human and more animistic in our way of seeing the world (you might want to check out the work of David Abram https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Abram). Best wishes my friend. Take care. Julian
Thank you for the kind comment, Julian. I can’t pretend to know what the words “anthropocentric” or “animistic” mean. What is your understanding of them, please?
“regarding man as the central fact of creation,” 1855, from anthropo- + -centric. Related: Anthropocentrically.
“attribution of living souls to inanimate objects,” 1866, reintroduced by English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor (1832-1917), who defined it (1871) as the “theory of the universal animation of nature,” from Latin anima “life, breath, soul” (from PIE root *ane- “to breathe”) + -ism.
Earlier sense was of “doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial soul” (1832), from German Animismus, coined c. 1720 by physicist/chemist Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) based on the concept of the anima mundi. Animist is attested from 1819, in Stahl’s sense. Related: Animisic.
I’ve set out above Michael the etymology of the words. I hope they make sense set against what I said.
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Highly appreciated, sir – thank you! I have learnt not one but two new words today.