One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was "Biloxi Blues", a film about a group of your recruits going through boot camp together in Biloxi, Mississippi in preparation for World War II. It was a sarcastically serious film starring Matthew Broderick, who brought the sarcasm, and Christopher Walken, who brought the serious.
Walken, who played Sargent Toomey, had a steel plate implanted in his head from a past war wound. The gruff authoritarian was as tough and inflexible as that piece of metal in his head. It was no surprise that Toomey had little patience for a smart mouth, sarcastic New Yorker like teenager Eugene Jerome.
As much as Jerome irritated Toomey, it was fellow recruit Arnold Epstein that provided the greatest challenge to Toomey's authority. Even though he was hit with harsher and longer punishments for his defying his superior, Epstein refused to back down. A series of events occur that lead to some intense battles, arguments and conflict from within, Epsteins refusal to break didn't just frustrate the Sargent, but his fellow recruits as well.
Jerome, who's dream is to become a writer, takes furious notes in his journal detailing the the struggle between Toomey and Epstein, along with all of the other goings on. When the confrontations become almost unbearable, Jerome confronts Epstein about his defiance.
Epstein, while being challenged, turns the script on Jerome.
"You are a witness," Epstein teaches Jerome. "You are always standing around watching what's happening, scribbling in your book what other people do. You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight."
"Which fight?," Jerome asks in confusion.
"Any fight," Epstein responds. "The one you believe in. Until then, you'l never be a writer."
Not only have a had a fondness for this movie since I was a teenager, but this is one of the exchanges that always stuck with me. I've noticed that too many people are witnesses. They are on the sidelines. They watch while others make a contribution a fight while they simply collect evidence. People have always asked why I challenge the status quo, why I challenge others and why I don't take the safe route.
It's because I don't want to be simply a witness in a fight that I believe in. I don't want to passively collect evidence instead of actually making a contribution.
Part of doing that is making a declaration about who your work is for and who it is not for. Until you can do that, and state it boldly, you will say that your work is for everyone. And if it's geared towards everyone, it will be impactful towards no one.
P.S.- I go deeper into the idea behind Who Is This For (And Who This Is Not For) in todays episode of The Total Life Freedom Podcast, which you can check out here.