Prometheus chained: learn from the past, or be doomed to repeat mistakes

Perhaps it’s the liberal arts education I had in college which biases my perspective. Or it could be my love of literature, of good stories, of parables that stand the test of time. Several thousand years later, I repeat in myriad contexts the parable of the cave from Socrates / Plato. Such a simple metaphor, so profound yet so illuminating of the human condition. Yep, if you’re familiar, that was a pun 😉

In the well worn tradition of leveraging the Greco-Roman pantheon for ideas, I’m referencing Prometheus in the title. Ayn Rand also used the metaphor of Prometheus, in the form of Atlas, in her books which have sold multiple millions of copies, inspired a generation and netted a major motion picture in Hollywood. Prometheus, for all his sins of giving humans the gift of fire, was doomed to push a rock uphill and then lose, with the rock slipping. Beginning again, day after day, for all eternity, for he was immortal. In the story, Prometheus (Atlas) never attempts a sideways journey, an alternative path. For all that he only attempts the task he was given, the way it was given as punishment, he cannot escape that one error.

What’s with the lesson in Greco-Roman mythology?

As the title surmises, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of those who came before. Atlas is a great example (Prometheus) and similarly, the parable of the cave provides a great insight into the human condition. There are people aplenty who would stick their heads in the sand, wishing it would just, “go away,” when in reality the only constant is change.

Ironically, being around so many technology savvy marketers and about to embark on another day of learning, I’m rehashing some very old insights. In learning today, I’m going to leverage my foundation, historical context and attempt to put things into a certain perspective.

Of course, I’m going to give away a billion business cards, make new strategic deals and learn some advanced marketing tactics. If you want to follow my team, hash tag #teamIntuit. If you want to follow the Summit, #AdobeSummit.