The management of Liverpool Football Club have just reversed their earlier decision to furlough its background staff during the Covid-19 lockdown, apologising for this great error to the fans and past players who’d caused a ruckus over what they’d seen as being un-Liverpool.
I don’t know whether Seth Godin knew of this story when he wrote about the lifelong fan:
It turns out that the name of the team (and the other fans) are a much more important part of our narrative than we realise. Part of being a fan isn’t insisting that your team win every game – in fact, being a fan is defined as showing up even when you’re losing, even when the leaders are wrong, even when logic dictates that this makes no sense at all. Once you realise that being a fan is an important part of your self-worth, the most generous thing you can do is speak up when management is about to do something stupid. Because when the fans speak up, it’s possible that leadership listens.*
Like the Ship of Theseus, since Liverpool’s founding in 1892, the ground, the players, the managers, the chairmen, the background staff and the fans have changed many times over. Yet there’s a deeper truth that lives on through all of these changes for the fans and past players, a truth that needs to be preserved – though it is also a truth that has needed all of those years to grow and develop.
Everyone wants to stand for something that matters, a timeless truth, and perhaps the person who is to be most pitied is she or he without any truth to hold on to.
I also happened to read Seth Godin’s letter to young readers this morning:
Are the eggs of the purple unicorn edible? […] If they are edible, would you be willing to have a unicorn-egg omelette? Would that be right or fair or even delicious?**
Godin is catching my attention here because because of his highlighting of playful imagination as being so important for life. Although there are no unicorns, never mind purple ones – and do they lay eggs? – we need to employ huge amounts of imagination when it comes to the truths we live our lives by:
The thing about reading is that anything is possible. No special effects, no stunt men, If the writer can write it, it’s real. […] Discovering what’s possible is your job.**
The third element to these things comes from Cal Newport’s “grand gesture – deep action taken to ensure what we are working on gets done.
When we imaginatively play with our important truths through deep work new possibilities will emerge from the focus of purpose and energy, freeing our truth from time and circumstance so that it can grow and develop into the beautiful and practical expressions the world needs.
(*Seth Godin’s blog: The lifelong fan.)
(**From Seth Godin’s letter to young readers in Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)