Create like a God | Command like a King | Work like a Slave
Observations of those who live to change one billion lives.
Their Natural Habitat
My first real encounter with a special breed of human being was at the opening of The Singularity University’s Cape Town, South Africa chapter on the 1st March 2017.
You can think of the Singularity University (SU) as a the ‘X-Mansion’ from the X-men comics, the private estate of Professor Xavier and home to ‘Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters’. The students that go to this university aren’t precisely mutant humans with super-natural powers, but they’re pretty darn close.
SU births an idea into the minds of already outrageously ambitious people that they can in fact create businesses that impact 1 billion lives within 10 years. Through various programs and summits they instill their students with the arsenal of belief, skills, knowledge and community needed to run businesses that can accomplish such an outlandish feat. Once the students have finished their tenure at SU the university sets them loose onto the world with the resources and support needed to give their moonshot companies the best chance of succeeding.
The opening I attended entailed a brief introduction and speech by a former SU graduate, and fellow South African, Michael Fichard. There he was, a living breathing specimen of human that had imprinted into his very being, a mission so grand that he could can change the course of humanity.
He looked pretty normal, jeans and a nice shirt. No glasses, stereotype averted. Confident speaker. Humble demeanor. Pretty average right? It’s when you look at his CV that you realize this man is on a MISSION!
After polite introductions and an explanation of why we were all gathered their on that day, we were treated to an exclusive screening of “The University”, the story behind Singularity University, featuring Stephen Hawking, Buzz Aldrin, Shimon Peres, Ashton Kutcher, Will.i.Am, Michio Kaku, and other seriously impressive people.
SU has a number of different programs and summits, but the one that gains the most attraction, and that the screening was based on, is their ‘Global Solutions Program’. This is a 9-week immersive, residential experience at their campus at NASA Research Park in Mountain View, CA.
The format of this movie involved interviews with students, lecturers, directors and founders of the SU, where they introduced themselves, their passions and their involvement with SU. There were also case study examples of particular projects that students had teamed up to implement. Their projects involved robocars, drone delivery systems in rural areas, 3D printing in space, recycling precious metals from the world’s tech waste. You know, every day sort of startups…
It was when one of the lecturers shared a maxim of the late and great Romanian sculptor, Constantin Brancuși, that I realized what kind of individuals we were dealing with.
“Create like a God, command like a king and work like a slave”.
This was Brancuși’s view on how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, but it’s also the fundamental equation that drives SU and anyone who has ever changed the course of humanity.
Create Like A God
Everyone of the people involved in the film had a level of optimism about the future, and technology’s pivotal role in it, that it bordered on the religious. You could hear in their words that their internal narrative entailed themselves as divine creators of infinite possibility. They lived to paint the vision in their minds eye onto to their canvas that is the world. Techno-artists, conjuring master pieces that move culture and inspire beyond the grave.
Command Like A King
Each and everyone of them was a king of their own castle. Whether it was technical expertise, social skills, business acumen or philosophical fervor, they commanded excellence from themselves and those around them. Putting many kings together can only be a trying experience, but like the Kings of Game Of Thrones, they’ve all had to come together to fight a greater battle than their petty differences.
Work Like A Slave
They spoke of working like the kind of slave that enjoys every minute of their servitude, kind of like ‘Dobby’ from Harry Potter come to think of it. Using their magical powers to achieve their sole purpose of satisfying their ‘Master’, except the ‘Master’ of these beings was not a young wizard, but humanity. The word ‘work’ is not a part of their vocabulary, its replaced with ‘life’. To be the kind of person that achieves what these people are aiming to, your every waking moment needs to be geared around ensuring your work is complete before your tour of duty comes to an end.
Why not me?
What these people taught me was that I can live in the same way as them, that anyone can.
Sure your creative work might not be of the technical nature that’s going to change a billion lives, but while working on whatever your craft is, you can embody this sense of divine creation. Whether it’s writing for your blog, practicing your martial art, or simply cooking dinner for your friends — you can create like a god.
Obviously not everyone can command a legion of followers, but we can all try. Whether it’s raising a family, leading an adventure with your friends of managing your team at work, we can sit with humility on a throne of our own making and seek to lead with grace and power — you can command like a king.
Working like a slave isn’t something that one inherently seeks out,but living a life of meaning and fulfillment is hard work. Whether the work is developing your character, building your community, helping those less fortunate or travelling the world, you need to go about it with a sense of service to others — you can work like a slave.
Why not you?
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