Redefining Seriousness! The ‘Succession’ Effect

Redefining Seriousness! The ‘Succession’ Effect

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Were you as obsessed with "Succession" as I was?

Season after season, I eagerly watched each episode, with a paradoxical combination of intense fascination and subtle repulsion. There were moments when I could genuinely empathize with a character and then there were others where I would find myself passing a judgment on him/her and congratulating myself for not being that person!

This emotional hopscotch is, of course, exactly what the brilliant writers of the show intended.

It’s intriguing how we often find comfort in witnessing imperfect humanity in others, all the while convincing ourselves that we are superior, wittier, and more put-together individuals.

And yet, I knew that it wasn’t the undercurrent of schadenfreude that drew me back to the show. It was the deep, universal connection to the characters and their humanness.

 

We learn that regardless of how much money and how many Loro Piana baseball caps the characters own…regardless of their multiple homes, exquisite boats and enviable vacations… underneath it all, they are just like us.

Or rather, we are just like them. By turns, insecure, fearful, and hopeful and depending on the day, jubilant, defeated, or confused.

Logan Roy, the dictatorial patriarch of the family is not lovable, but also not entirely wrong. He rules with an iron fist over four offspring who either deserve that level of control or are a product of it. Whether Logan is the creator or the unfortunate inheritor of these utterly messed up adult children is a riddle I’ll leave for the therapists amongst us.

 

As a Life and Leadership Coach, my focus lies not in exploring how someone became who they are, but rather in cultivating a profound and authentic comprehension of who someone is "being" in the present moment.

Simple but not always easy to understand.

In an episode in the last season, (spoiler alert!), Logan looks at his children, who are strategically trying to outplay their father and gain the keys to the kingdom, and says this phrase:

“You are not serious people.”

 

 Credit: SuccessionHBO

 

At that moment, I understood that Logan Roy, as cruel as he may be, is also remarkably perceptive.

Many of us equate being serious with putting on a performance of seriousness. We act seriously because we hope that people will respect us. In the process we often abandon light-heartedness, playfulness and humor.

We dress and speak seriously. We walk through life with a serious air; often not realizing the fundamental difference that Logan Roy points towards.

There is an essential difference between acting seriously and being a serious person.

To be a serious person is to be a thoughtful and deliberate human being at all times.

To be a serious person is a way of being and not simply a manner of doing.

Serious people understand that life is not a joke although it can be funny. People are to be respected although they may see the world differently. Actions have second, third and fourth order consequences.

Serious people deeply take to heart their own role as creators of their reality. They let their actions, not their performance, speak for who they are. Their primary role is to be the director and producer of their lives, while also playing the part of actor.

Serious people constantly assess what matters and create systems to keep them alert, awake and attentive.

 

Logan Roy is absolutely correct. His children are not serious people because they are constantly reacting to external circumstances. They are in perpetual movement because they have confused going fast with going far.

They look very serious. They dress seriously and act like every action is a matter of life and death. Their sense of humor — if it exists at all — is anything but funny. They travel in difficult to access circles and have seemingly life impacting conversations with important people.

And yet…

When it comes down to it, they are missing the skills and ultimately the consciousness to be serious people.

 

I often work with young adults and one of the challenges I come across with this demographic is how to stay light-hearted, playful and retain their innocence while still being serious about life.

The answer almost always lies in understanding the distinction between being a serious person vs. putting on a performance of seriousness. Once we have clarity, the rest is a practice.

What is your practice to ensure that you are a light-hearted and playful yet a passionately serious person?

 

Photo Credit: Succession, HBO

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