Three-headed hydras saying everything is fine.
No. Everything is not fine.

Three-Headed Hydras Are Everywhere Right Now. Why?

Something is fundamentally wrong in America and I now know the cause.

Gregory Sherrow
Oct 16, 2020 · 5 min read

You were probably in a meeting with one yesterday or on a video conference call with one or more this morning. You could tell that they were hydras by their actions, you just didn’t know what to call them. Since knowledge is power it’s vitally important that you learn to identify them. We’ll start with the basics. (It’s a short article so I promise to get to the point rapidly.)

Let’s assume that most people are fundamentally good and try to do what’s best under the circumstances. However, everyone has a boss. Often it’s that boss who ultimately makes the choice to steer someone’s efforts toward a positive outcome or a negative outcome. This isn’t only true for you and your burnt out co-worker sitting in the little cubicle next to you, or, these days, trying to stay awake on overly long Zoom meeting. It’s true for as high up you feel like going in the food chain. Most people don’t realize this. If you ask the average person to name someone they have actually met who doesn’t have to report to a boss, you’ll get all kinds of answers from “my wife” to “the CEO of my company” to “the governor.”

The truth is, no matter who they nominate, they are wrong. Everyone you meet, even if they are the governor of your state, has a boss. Big deal, right? You get the concept. There’s always another step up or another layer you might not have been aware of. But, this becomes a problem when the boss above is overly invested in the status quo. If they gain more by keeping a system broken and by keeping the people below them in their place, then they are no longer just a boss, they are a hydra. A three-headed hydra.

Meet the hydra heads: Apathy, Envy and Fear.

Name the hydra heads with me

These odd, triple-headed creatures aren’t new. They have existed since humans became humans, but in more recent times were relegated to the darkest corners of our society. But times have changed. Now they are popping up everywhere.

Their heads represent the worst of society’s most negative, subtle driving forces: apathy, envy and fear. Their heads can’t help but erupt from their bodies when they smell the threat of change. They fear change. I mean, Really fear it. They are envious of those who can control change and they are apathetic when it comes to promoting positive change. What does that mean on a daily basis? It means that a good idea that seems like a no-brainer to implement is met with forceful resistance (fear), irrational desire to prevent another person from receiving credit for implementing it (envy) and a feeling that everything is just fine the way it is (apathy).

Remember that new marketing idea you had that never saw the light of day or that desperately needed daycare center in your neighborhood mysteriously never opening or that self-funding job creation plan that seemed like the salvation of your town dying in committee? Like finding a pile of animal droppings on a trail, they are all tell-tale signs of hydra involvement.

I now know how to stop the hydras

Like you, I was frustrated and angry about the current state of our country but unaware of the reality of hydras. All that changed when I happened to be one of the first people to read chapters from a new book with the odd title Attack of the Three-headed Hydras. A guy who was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show back when it was one of the most influential platforms in mainstream America teamed up with an organizational psychologist who has had a long career running public organizations to create a critical work of nonfiction that feels like someone taking an eraser to a wall of problems then knocking down the wall itself.

The new book Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras
The new book Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras
If you think the front of this book is weird, wait until you see the back.

What does this book have to do with you?

If you feel like something is fundamentally broken in the United States and wish someone would just tell you what it is and how to start fixing it, then this book is for you. It’s not political. It’s not religious. It’s not even controversial, unless you think the idea of Americans taking care of Americans is a radical (or, somehow, unamerican) concept.

We Americans, who can’t help but shake our heads at what we see on the news, social media and even the street corners, need to wake ourselves up and ground ourselves in some fundamental concepts about what it means to be a unified country and culture. No one else is going to do it for us and too many three-headed hydras have a vested interest in making sure we don’t succeed in implementing such much-needed change.

It’s this simple: you have to help yourself so that you can help others who are having trouble helping themselves. Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras is the perfect place to start.

Yes, buy the book

Someone called it, “the funniest serious book” they have read, and I think that fits very well. The mix of graphic-novel style, well-drawn, stylish cartoons and quick chapters (called “episodes” in the book) make it comparable to a non-fiction Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Courtney and Cappello really know what they are talking about both in terms of the problems and the solutions and you will probably appreciate the way they don’t hit you over the head or lecture.

So stop the doomscrolling, put the cork back in the bottle of wine, sit down and enjoy an entertainingly serious book for once. When you are done, leave it lying around so that your teen will pick it up and flip through it. We Americans have to fix our country’s problems, and if our generation can’t do it, perhaps the next one can.

Full Disclosure: I work with Dr. Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello and I helped them turn their writings, cartoons, ideas, and concerns into the book that you will soon hold in your hands. I enjoyed every single second of it and I came away feeling like I had just worked on the most important project I will ever be a part of. I’m not going to link to Amazon where you can buy the book because I think you should convince yourself to go there. So, seriously, go to and make up your own mind (then buy the book).

Also, I love this video…

In 15 seconds you will know it all!

Stercus Creek

The view from Stercus Creek provides a rich mix of topics…

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The view from Stercus Creek provides a rich mix of topics on writing, management, remote work, running and social issues. Don’t forget to follow.

Gregory Sherrow

Written by

IT Director of the Anna, Age Eight Institute at NMSU, writer, nut-job trail runner and part-time Stoic. | Twitter: @gregorysherrow

Stercus Creek

The view from Stercus Creek provides a rich mix of topics on writing, management, remote work, running and social issues. Don’t forget to follow.