Friday, February 11, 2005

The Tao of AJ

by AJ/Skald

I highly recommend a movie called "The Tao of Steve". Its a wonderful indy-budget film... should be easy to find on video. Basically its about an overweight Buddhist-Taoist slacker and his incredibly successful strategy for getting women, which he calls "The Tao of Steve".

"Steve" refers to movie/TV cool guys like STEVE McQueen, STEVE Austin (The 6 Million Dollar Man), and STEVE Garret (Hawaii Five-O).

The three tenents of The Tao of Steve are:
1. Be desireless
2. Be excellent
3. Be gone

I'm more of an idealist-romantic than womanizer... so I don't recommend the strategy for dating. However, I do think its an excellent strategy for work.. for those regretable times when we must resort to employment-- whether job searching or actually working.

So step one is to be desireless. That means you eliminate your Craving & Need for the job. Sure, you may want it. Perhaps you want to save for a trip or live more luxuriously. Fine. But NEED must be eliminated. The best way to do that is to drastically simplify your life to the point that you can get by without the job. Another key strategy is to save money as fast as possible (again by living very simply)... until you have enough to survive at least 6 months of unemployment.

There is also a psychological component to this.. perhaps the most important component. This means conquering your fear of being fired... and your fear of unemployment. I did both at the same time.. just prior to moving to Japan for the first time. I was working for a non-profit agency that served homeless HIV clients and I had very serious philisophical disagreements with the Director. Rather than kiss ass or buckle.... I decided it was time to experiment with car living. I got rid of most of my stuff and built a bunk in my Nissan Sentra. I also saved money like crazy.

Very quickly I amassed enough to live off of for many months. My car was also ready to go. All fear vanished. I pursued a radical agenda at work.... abandoning as much of my power and responsibility as possible to my HIV-Homeless clients. I wanted the agency to stop treating them like children and start encouraging them to build autonomy and self-reliance... I encouarged them to take over management of the shelter. It worked great but provoked the wrath of my boss.

Having gone this far, I decided it was time to face the fear of being fired. Id never been fired before.... and thought it was a badge of honor I needed. So I kept provoking my boss and acting on my principles. Eventually she & I had a meeting and decided we couldn't work together. It was sort of a simultaneous quitting-firing... but I'll claim it as being fired.

Step Two: Be excellent. The second aspect of this is that while you are stuck at the fucking job... excel. By this I do NOT mean kiss ass or follow rules. Being excellent usually requires you to break the rules and defy the boss. I did an excellent job at that agency (though my boss would disagree). I turned the program around and helped to empower my clients-- the ethical responsibility of every social worker.

As a teacher I also strive for excellence. In this case, it helps that I love teaching English as a foreign language... love the students... love learning from them.. love learning about their cultures... love being an idiotic ham in front of the classroom. But here too, excellence requires defiance. Some schools are run by moronic money grubbing bastards who insist upon ineffective teaching techniques. They must be defied and ignored!

Finally, there is step 3-- Be gone. The Tao of Steve explains it this way, "We pursue that which retreats". When you are both desireless and excellent-- you don't have to stick around long. Let it be known that you are ready and willing to bolt at any moment. Investigate other opportunities all the time. Always be "job searching"... even when you've just started a new job. If you find something better.... an easier/freer job with more money-- leave. [In fact I was hired away from Greenville Hospital by the Homeless-HIV agency... cause I'd been sending out resumes and meeting agency directors the entire time I was at the hospital].

If you follow the Tao of Steve (or in this case, the Tao of AJ) you will eventually find that you are no longer pursuing employers... they are pursuing you. The more desireless and excellent you are... and the more you retreat; the more they will run after you. This turns the table on your bosses... its undercuts their power and authority. It also boosts your power and authority and thus makes those wage-slavery stints much more bearable.

For those hobopoets who are not a) independently wealthy or b) fulltime hoboes... I recommend the Tao of Steve as an excellent job strategy. And see the movie.

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