As anyone that has ever tried their hands in the world of video games, they will be sure to tell you how most of them take place in the third-person perspective. You follow your character from behind, the side, over the shoulder, or what-have-you as you make your way through whatever world you happen to be dumped into after the Start screen. In business, there are many times when people just do not go “outside themselves” to look at what they are doing from a different perspective.
In my job history, when I am put in a situation where I am trying to teach someone a new task (or even when I am trying to streamline the things I already do) it is incredibly helpful to view what I am doing from the outside. Also, as with video games, it is good to always keep yourself aware of your goals. Whether it is reaching a flag, crossing a gap, or something as banal and ordinary as helping your place of employment save money or be more efficient, just keep it in mind. While treating your job the way one might treat the wide open sandbox worlds of Grand Theft Auto (minus the theft and murder, of course), even in those games and in that environment one has to be aware of goals that need to be accomplished. Very few careers are impacted positively by just doing whatever it is you feel like while on the clock with no rational explanation.
Outside of just being aware of goals, the third-person perspective in gaming gives you the ability to see things you might not otherwise be able to see. If you looked at the original Super Mario Bros. as being behind the eyes of Mario, you would have no way of knowing that a Goomba was lurking just over a set of steps or that the third pipe behind a wall features a waiting Piranha Plant. The side-scroll view gives us that information. In games like Gears of War or Resident Evil we can use the over-the-shoulder viewpoint to look around corners or over cover to what dangers lie ahead. There are so many times I wish this was possible but alas, I am stuck in first person in my own body.
Fear not, as you can use the wonders of your mind and imagination to give yourself that third-person view and maybe even a little bit of precognition in what your current actions might cause to happen in the future. It is not to say that businesses are just gigantic Rube Goldberg devices waiting to be set off by tripping over a wire or kicking a bowling ball, but everyone you do to help satisfy a goal will have some sort of repercussion, either good or bad, to achieving that goal. Sure, you might think you have what it takes to clear that big managerial gap, but it could just leave you falling into a bottomless pit from which you will be stuck back ten steps away from where you just were…and that is only if you are lucky enough to work in a company that gives you save or checkpoints. Either way, it might help to keep a stack of quarters on your desk, just in case.
Maybe I should not have used the quotation marks. Maybe I don’t really care. Maybe, just very maybe, Pixar is losing their ability to care as well. At the very least, they seem to be playing more under the Disney umbrella than they used to, and that – as the tip of the iceberg – is the problem with Pixar. Brave is currently sitting at around a 74% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, this is not some kind of doom and gloom number like the near half of that that Cars 2 pulled in last year, but I will get to that problem later on. I guess I will start with why I am using the quotation marks in the first place.
Pixar started off in the full-length motion picture industry with so many incredibly good films that it seemed almost an inevitability that they would eventually slip up and something just would not be up to the level set by things like Toy Story, Up, or Finding Nemo (to name a few besides everything but the aforementioned Cars sequel). They could do no wrong for a decade. Even when they decided to make their first sequel it was still pretty damn good, not just on a scale of sequels but on the Pixar scale of extreme awesomeness. Pixar has made 13 films, with over half of them being released after Disney purchased them. Of the 7 released since 2006, 3 of them have been below 90% on Rotten Tomatoes (and are the only three they have ever had do such a thing). While I am not sure why people were so down on the original Cars to push it down to a 74%, I can say that what happened with its’ sequel was basically Disney being Disney, or to go back to the 80s, Disney being Hasbro.
Disney saw dollar signs not so much at the box office but in the retail space. They knew, rightfully so, that race-cars and a humorous (your mileage may vary) tow truck would bring in insane cash and they were going to do whatever they could to keep that press printing money. What they could have done was simply used the franchise of Cars in a similar fashion to how they used Buzz Lightyear – television cartoons. If they want to really get that Hasbro-y synergy pumping, that would have been a much easier (probably cheaper) and less damaging to Pixar way of going about it. It would not have to be done with CGI. It could have been hand-drawn, as Star Command was, with similar but not the same voice acting and could have introduced any number of characters they wanted because instead of trying to fit a whole new country’s worth of people into a two hour film they could have done it over a few dozen half-hour shows.
Other films in their cabal, like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and even Monsters Inc. (withholding judgment on University for now) could do well with a more traditional cartoon treatment than being fodder for sequels. Disney loves that merchandising potential, but Pixar allowed it to be what guided them instead of simply making good things. Which brings me to my real problem with Pixar.
Walt Disney always said that he was never about making money. He was always about making whatever it was that he thought was best for people. If the thing was good, they would come and give him money. It did not have to be a driving factor. I am of the firm (and severely opinionated) belief that folks like Michael Eisner decided that even though Walt’s way had gotten them to where they were it was not going to push them forward. While it is not as though the company is falling apart at the seams, we are now seeing something that, for 10 out of 11 years an unstoppable killing machine of box office magic and wonder now be reduced to building numerous sequels that I hold out hope are good (and very well could be) but look to be more targeted at everything else besides telling a story and making something amazing. If they still do those two things, then fantastic, but the focus appears to be gone as the forethought of creativity within the walls in Emeryville. I hold out hope that some of the more ambiguous future projects they have planned (RIP Newt) will take them back from the brink of “synergy’ and more toward what made them who we love in our hearts, but that remains to be seen.
Even so, do not eat the pistachio ice cream.
Hey look, you got a ring! You got the championship you spent nine years of your life apparently working hard for. You got the championship that caused you to be a giant d-bag on national television and in all sports media for numerous years because, hey, one man just could not do it all. You played some of the best basketball you possibly could, and while sometimes that was not enough (oh, you know, all of those three quarter/not being able to finish jokes) you finally went out and did what you had to do to win …in a shortened season that people are not going to look favorably on when they look back at you winning your big first championship.
Had the OKC Thunder prevailed, there might not be so much talk about asterisks next to the year 2012 in the record books. It’s not like you did steroids, you just had money issues that made us regular people look at the entire sport in contempt as we usually do when millionaires and billionaires argue over percentages of payment. Still, you played 66 games in that regular season, not 82. You had no chance of being Michael Jordan and going 72-10 (and due to playing more games over a shorter period no chance of going anything like the 60-6 that Bulls team was at one point during that season). However you still have some kind of a chance to actually be the next Michael Jordan, whatever that means. People aren’t going to just hand over the keys to the NBA as if just because you won one championship and got the MVP that you are now on the level of the legends.
Would they have done that if you hadn’t had “The Decision” or if you had won your first title on your first try back in Cleveland? They might look at you in a slightly better light, yes. Would you even have had to make that decision to take your talents to South Beach if you had won one or even two or three titles in Ohio? Not sure. It’s rare that star players leave when they are succeeding in the way the public deems appropriate.
I have never said that LeBron James is an awful basketball player. I devoted an entire blog post to saying the exact opposite. Regardless of some of his late game performance issues and attitude problems, people might have looked back on him in twenty or thirty years as one of the best players to never get a championship (had that not happened). He is young in his career and will, much to the chagrin of many of his haters, probably win even more titles and awards before he calls it quits. Will he be as prolific as people seem to think he is destined to be? Not sure. He’s a few PPG lower than someone like Jordan as far as his career, but so long as he can stay injury free he will probably reach the top ten in all-time scoring (for refernce, Kobe Bryant is currently fifth, but has put in like 6 or 7 more full seasons but also has a currently lower average PPG than James).
No matter what happens for the rest of his career, he finally has his ring and while the jokes about his abilities might not stop any time soon, his stats still show him as someone who is damn good at the game of basketball. I, and I am sure millions of others, wish I could do anything as well as he does basketball, but I also hope that I do not act like such a huge <expletive deleted> while doing it.
If I learned anything from watching the fan and media circus surrounding the last four or five years of LeBron James’ career, it is that letting other people drive your future might still get you to where you think you want to be, but is probably going to completely enrage large portions of the people that, whether you are aware of it or not, think they are trying to help you. Outside of his teammates (“big three” notwithstanding) and coaches, LeBron did not need any of us to help make him a champion. He did not need people burning (or buying) jerseys, screaming at him from the stands, or making hundreds of jokes about him. All he needed was to be the player he had to be to get the job done. It is all anyone has to do. Be who you have to be to get things done, just try not to be such a, well, LeBron about it.