The Kool-Aid

The first step to building all good things is the belief that they can exist.

There’s a pervasive cynicism that says that you’re being fooled any time you believe anything good, especially about a business or organization. That you’re “drinking the Kool-Aid.” You’ve somehow been suckered to ever repeat a good thing you’ve been told and have come to believe.

Hogwash. If you can’t give the benefit of the doubt, at least a little, to a group you want to work with – how will you ever work with them effectively? How will you be more than a drag on the whole operation?

Look, sometimes Kool-Aid turns out to be snake oil. Sometimes people lie, and adapt to new movements in positive language to co-opt that language for nefarious ends. But more often, people are trying their best and doing an imperfect job of communicating what they want to believe.

If someone gives you some generic positive affirmation, like “believe in yourself and you can achieve anything,” it’s easy to dismiss that. “Sure pal, great advice. All my problems are solved. What are you selling?”

But why? The advice was generic, but it was true. It might not have been maximally helpful, but it wasn’t harmful. What good do you do for the world by pushing back against that? For that matter, what good do you even do for yourself? In our efforts to defend ourselves against being taken advantage of, we often completely throw away any positivity that we can’t prove is perfectly altruistic and completely relevant to us specifically.

But lots of good is just “laying around,” or is part of a win/win arrangement. In fact, a tremendous amount! Some of it, some genuine good, is just mixed in with the Kool-Aid. If we only accept positivity in these extremely specific forms, we often get none at all.

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