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“Ding Jinhao was here” What does it all mean?

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The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.Hong Kong (CNN) —

Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist have apologized after the teenager defaced a stone sculpture in an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti.The act drew ire in both Egypt and China — generating a massive online backlash amongst China’s unforgiving netizens.The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.

This morning, I heard a few people talking about this story.  Not so much about the facts of the incident, but what it means.

This event has a connection to a recent vblog on YouTube.  I posted a link to the vblog “The Aspirational Snobbery of Youth” and made a few comments here.

Celebrity and notoriety without love of the work or career

I listened to the vblog a few times, this is what I get out of it.

It’s not that vblog author Delboy  is complaining about the aspiration of youth (or anyone else , for that matter) as much as he is making the point that some people want to get it (money, status) without really working for it.  Delboy cites money as what drives people to take the short cut to fame – not love of the work or career.   For other people, it’s not so much money as it is status and notoriety. They want it… and they want  to get it doing as little work as possible.

On the backs of others accomplishments

So, 15-year-old Ding Jinhao decided to write his name on the wall of the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple in Egypt.  The Luxor Temple in Egypt is a major tourist attraction in Egypt.  I had the good fortune of visiting that temple in the past.

So, the intent seems to be, that by placing his name on the Luxor temple those visiting the temple will see the name “Ding Jinhao”.  No one would come to see Ding Jinhao.  But they would come to see the Luxor Temple.  And, the logic must be, by placing his name on the wall, Ding Jinhao will somehow get recognition / status / notoriety that would otherwise not be available to him.  It’s status or recognition by proxy.

Someone else (a whole cadre of other people) did the work of conceptualizing, designing, architecting, funding, and building the Luxor Temple.  Ding Jinhao did none of this. He took the easy route.  Put your name on (or over, deface) the work of others.

So, back to Delboy’s vblog.  As he says, some people want celebrity without paying their dues and doing the hard work.  Some cooks want to be called “Chef” – without training and without apprenticeship. Some people want to have the celebrity of a singer – but they can’t sing.  Some people imagine themselves as a train engineer driving a train – but really, all they are cut our for is to be a stoker.

People just are not satisfied with who they are.  In itself, being not satisfied with the status quo of who you are (now) is called “ambition”.  And that’s good – if you do the work to gain the competency and skills to deserve the notoriety of title or position.  It’s not good if you get your notoriety by taking short cuts – like taking the title without the competency or track record of success.  Or, simply by defacing the work of others – layering your name on the achievements of others or by hiding or destroying the work of your predecessors (see story of Amenhotep II below)

How it works in small organizations

You can see this same thing going on in small organizations.  If there is a diminished focus on results then anyone can take on any job title.  Notoriety and celebrity without the results.  In some, “once great organizations”, if the stakeholders are not vigilant in who they allow to become “celebrities” in the organization without results then it’s equivalent to allowing  the organization to be defaced.

The Take

So, if Ding Jinhao wanted celebrity and notoriety – he got it.  In the organizational context, those that “run them into the ground” because they have the title and not the talent to deliver results, then they will get the same sort of notoriety and celebrity that Ding Jinhao has now.  And history will certainly remember them.

Read More

The Aspirational Snobbery of Youth

Of Telegraphs, Telephones, Radios, and Organizational Momentum

Read about defacing the Temple of Isis in Philae here.

If your accomplishments are not that strong, destroy the work of those that came before you… (
Amenhotep II, the son of Thutmose III, who became a co-regent toward the end of his father’s reign, is suspected by some as being the defacer during the end of the reign of a very old pharaoh. He would have had a motive because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. He is documented, further, as having usurped many of Hatshepsut’s accomplishments during his own reign. His reign is marked with attempts to break the royal lineage as well, not recording the names of his queens and eliminating the powerful titles and official roles of royal women such as, God’s Wife of Amun.

Written by frrl

June 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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