Let’s say – for a moment – that we are pyramid builders in Ancient Egypt, lugging stones up the temple one by one. The stones are bigger at the bottom, always larger than the person straining to carry it. The task-masters choose their favorite workers, and they get to sit further toward the top, pulling up the light stones to create the perfect point while avoiding the intense desert heat. The task-masters stand at the side and yell at the workers shouting mixed messages of both disappointment and praise in an attempt to get them to work harder.
In this example, we’re nothing more than pawns in Pharaoh’s world. The task-masters tell us what to do and provide feedback based upon their perception of our work, while we consistently try to impress them in order to move further up the pyramid.
In the following video, Peter Block describes in a public open-enrollment Flawless Consulting workshop from last September that today the pyramid looks more like a triangle. Our work is the stone, the task-masters are our executives and the pyramid is our corporate structure with a board watching the construction.
Corporations and patriarchal systems exist to define the future through control. If these entities succeed in controlling all aspects of a system, they believe they’ll have complete control over the outcome. This need for control infiltrates every part of the system from in-office dress codes and stretch goals to performance reviews that exist under the guise of “help.”