Here’s a bit of history:
Originally distributed in 1939 in war-time Britain, the Keep Calm and Carry On poster was developed by UK’s Ministry of Information to motivate the public in the aftermath of widely-predicted bombings in the city. This poster was actually the third in a series, which included “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might” and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.” In 2000, a copy of this old poster was unearthed by a couple who was running a used book shop in Northhumberland. The couple who framed the old poster and hung it by their cash register was promptly blown away by the attention given the poster. Eventually, they started creating reproductions of the original piece and sold it to those who visited their shop. Now, the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, along with its various spawns, is one of the most lucrative businesses worldwide. Not bad for an information campaign that was deemed a resounding failure during World War II.
I have a print out of this poster tacked on my office wall. It’s the same old print out I bring with me everywhere I go: first, at the kaisha, then at the PR agency from hell and now at my current work. It’s the same old print out, brightly colored with tiny holes on the sides where it was pinned to the wall or the board or any flat surfaced. It stayed there right where I can see them until the time when I had to carefully remove it, signalling the end of another tenure on the job.
This print out has been with me in all the shittiest moments of my existence as a corporate drone: unplanned and under-budgeted events, power-trippers, all-nighters, press release revisions and even the usual during power play bullshit that is a favorite activity among the competitive corporate types. During moments when I want to randomly push these power-trippers off the building, I inhale, recover my wits and look to my right where this poster is prominently displayed. And then, I calm down.
Because at the end of the day: it just makes sense. When the world is trying to drown you in a sea of worries, the best way to survive the ordeal is to shut-off the noise and just listen to your own voice. Someday, a framed copy of this poster (and on its original scale) will decorate my living room wall — a constant reminder to take a deep breath, brace yourself and just keep on moving, evolving, growing…
What about you? What’s your motivational battle cry?