A Toast to the Poster: why your heart is your ethos
If you died tomorrow, what would people remember you by?
There are the relationships you’ve made, of course. Spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends — but soon enough, in the grand scheme of things, they’ll die too. If we look back in history and try to pin three key words to some influential figures, let’s see what we come up with.
I don’t know about you, but my three keywords that came to mind were as follows:
William Shakespeare > plays and sonnets
Albert Einstein > theory of relativity
Emily Pankhurst > campaign, women, vote
Adolf Hitler > kill the Jews
You may have noticed that none of these keywords relate in any way to the personal relationships these people built during their lifetimes. Were we to search for a common thread, these keywords fit into the umbrella of “ethos and achievements”, or really, ethos taken to its logical conclusion. Shakespeare believed in creating, forsaking his father’s business to become a playwright: the plays and sonnets are really just the natural result of that ethos. Einstein believed in persevering with his mathematical and scientific work, despite not getting anywhere for decades: his discoveries, which shook the academic world and have changed the course of science forever, are simply the next stage. Pankhurst and Hitler’s respective (and extremely different) actions were so closely linked to their ideologies that they’re practically interchangeable.
Let’s take a modern example: you run a business. For instance, a PR or creative institution. You come up with a catchy slogan for the institution…or company, or whatever. For the first few years, you find that this slogan serves you well — it’s a simple, straightforward logline for what you’re all about, and your employees find it easy to follow. Under the aegis of this motto, people know instantly the bottom line of how to behave as they go about conducting their daily project work. The motto is the shepherd that leads the herd. It becomes…a mantra.
If someone were to take away that mantra from you — let’s say, in the form of the posters on the wall — they wouldn’t just be taking some posters. They would be taking your ideology, the marc you’ve left — your still beating heart.
If I were you, I’d give anything to get those back.