Be a Radiator

The Nerdist was one of the first podcasts in my regular rotation, and I covered hundreds of episodes while I was training for a marathon.

I was looking for comedy. Although there is the regular reminder to enjoy my burrito (which is a call to live in the moment), usually the episodes are characterized more by dick jokes than by deep philosophy. (In fairness, The Nerdist goes a lot deeper with guests than other interview shows. I particularly resonated with Maria Bamford’s discussion of her depression.)

However, one interview has stuck out for me over the years, and in particular one part of an interview:

“There are two kinds of people in the world: Drains and Radiators.” – Andy Serkis (46:47 in the interview)

Are you the kind of person who brings energy to every interaction, who adds joy and value to an experience, who puts more in than they need to? Or are you just bringing enough to get by, or taking more than you put in?

Serkis played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, and he’s been in many other movies as well (you may not recognize him because the majority of his work is motion capture and voiceovers). He was discussing what kind of philosophy he brings to the set. You wouldn’t want to be a drain, would you?

Chris Hardwick, the show’s host (as well as that of @Midnight and Talking Dead), comments that if a radiator starts to hang out near a drain, it starts to act more like a drain as well. “Don’t you think drains usually win?”

I’ve thought about this conversation many times since I heard it. Am I going to work with a smile on my face? Am I passionate about the work I’m doing, and proud of what I finish? Am I doing just what is asked of me, or am I being a craftsman and owning my product? When I interact with other people, do they feel better about themselves afterwards?

I imagine what would happen if too many drains were in a meeting together. Would anything get done? Even if there was a radiator in the room, would the drains suck out all the spare energy and leave people unmotivated and directionless?

Be a radiator.

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