Collecting Sticks


bark chopped wood cut environment
Photo by Lorenzo Pacifico on

I was talking to Child yesterday about someone who had some strange (in my mind) compulsion to want to be involved in everything. Not because this person was interested in everything, or even had the skills to do everything, but because he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t being left out of anything. Classic FOMO.

Child said, “He wants this because it’s another stick for his collection”.

I love it when child uses a perfect turn of phrase. As a writer, there’s no better linguistic delight than when you come up with one, or when you hear one that you adopt into your phrase vocabulary. Even better when this joy comes from your progeny. In this case, StickCollector wants a thing that won’t be useful to him – he won’t know how to use it. But he wants people to know that he has the stick in his magnificent pile of sticks.

Of course, this made me think about the difference between collecting sticks (which you can’t use) and the toolbox of skills I have (which I can). Maybe my toolbox started as a magnificent pile of sticks, but I take out the sticks and whittle them into something more valuable than their original state. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, right?

Me: Behold my stick!

Them: ‘Tis a good stick, verily.

Me: Heck yeah it is. Wonder what else it can do?

The difference is that sometimes you find a Stick Collector who is happy to sit on his magnificent pile of sticks, like a dragon sitting on a hoard of gold. The pile will get larger, but it will never be valuable unless the collector realizes at they need to actually use the sticks to make something else. Something better. And then use that to make something even better.

My $Dayjob is in educational technology. From kindergarten to E level company leaders, people continue to learn throughout their lives. We have many opportunities at $Dayjob for professional development. Over my whole career, I’ve taken lots of seminars and read countless articles and books about how to take your pile of sticks and turn it into something more.

This Stick Collector will likely never turn his sticks into something more.
Which means that people will stop trusting him with more sticks. That’s kind of what’s happening now. He wants a stick so that he can show people that he has it. But sooner or later or realsoonnow, others are realizing that those sticks are, and will only ever be, sticks.





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