Jim Duffy: Give life some thought and try to make yourself a bit more useful

Actor Harrison Ford visits Build Series to discuss the movie Blade Runner 2049. Picture: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
Actor Harrison Ford visits Build Series to discuss the movie Blade Runner 2049. Picture: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
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Harrison Ford is by all accounts a brilliant actor, who has given us pleasure in some memorable characters. He was that cheeky chappie, Han Solo, who Princess Leia fell for in the Star Wars movies as he and his sidekick, the Wookie, swapped intergalactic smuggling to instead fight the Empire and that baddie - Darth Vader.

I think the Millennium Falcon - his spaceship - was actually a metaphor for that car that us boys always wanted to have that had the occasional engine problem, but when it performed it was just awesome. Then he played in the series of movies that really made him, as the indefatigable Indiana Jones. As Doctor Jones, the swashbuckling university professor, he was taking on the baddies again as he went after rich treasures that he believed should have been in a museum, but they believed should be used for other nefarious purposes. My favourite was Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana is hired by the US Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, which was believed to still hold the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately for Indy, agents of Hitler are also after the Ark.

But the one set of Harrison Ford movies that passed me by was the Bladerunner films. I have to this day never seen the original Bladerunner and now Ford has released a new follow up film in this genre. Time to get my tablet out and maybe have a browse.

As part of the build up to the launch of Bladerunner 2049, Ford is doing the rounds of the TV studios here in the US. He is American Royalty and holds himself with great dignity, poise and stature when being interviewed. He is witty, articulate, considered and has great insight into a great deal of stuff. There is nothing plastic nor manufactured about Harrison Ford. On one such interview on prime time TV, a young boy in the audience stood up and asked him a question. The young laddie who looked about 17 years of age stated he wanted to work in the film industry and was keen to find out what the best way to do this was. The answer Ford gave was memorable for me and really made me think. He answered, make yourself useful. Don’t try and be something you are not. Find something that you enjoy and that others want and need and make yourself useful to help them. This made me think about advice people give and where we each fit in life.

I would go a bit further and add that one should make oneself useful and relevant in a world that is changing so fast. So my question in this regard to you is: how useful and relevant are you in your life right now?

From my own perspective, as I write two pieces weekly for the Scotsman, I need to feel that what I am writing is useful to you in that it makes you think about things from a different perspective. Writing 700 words on a Wednesday in the business section and 900 words today as part of the commentary team, is what I am providing for you useful to you as you have chosen to give up time to read it? Well, based on that question I am going to steer this piece another way.

Over the last few months, I have watched and listened to politicians politicking over Brexit, Scottish independence and indeed Rocket Man in North Korea. Nigel Farage has made a living out of Brexit. He writes a few columns in national newspapers. He has a daily show on LBC radio and now he is attempting to break into the US media market. He has made himself useful after influencing us all to vote to leave the EU. He has now worked out that he can make himself useful elsewhere and make some more money. Fair enough and if Harrison Ford is right, it should all work out OK.

Alex Salmond has watched Farage and he has now become a one man show and secured a weekly spot on LBC. He has no real use in Scottish politics anymore, so has made himself useful elsewhere. Again, fair play to him. But both these characters had massive influence on our lives. Farage certainly caused disruptive change, while Salmond could have led us down the “poor man of Europe” route with full blown Scottish Independence. And this for me is where I feel that we should be drawing the line on the current usefulness of our politicians. I would urge you to challenge them a bit harder on their usefulness and indeed relevance.

So, how about you now? As Farage and Salmond carve out new careers based on their usefulness to media outlets, how are you going to make better use of you? Perhaps in your relationships at home, by leaning in a bit more and giving that little bit extra. Perhaps at work, as you remove some of that ego or personality and create a more useful you to your organisation. Perhaps as part of your community, as you contribute more and demand less.

Whatever you decide to do after reading this piece, I would urge you to work out your usefulness score in your own mind, then attempt to increase it by two. Then assess what difference it has made to your life and others.

Usefulness: serving some purpose [dictionary.com]