On the series finale of one of my favorite shows, Mad Men, there was a particular scene that resonated with me. It was advice that Stan gave to Peggy, while arguing in her office. Below I’ve typed out some excerpts from that conversation. Let me set the stage. Peggy was sharing with Stan that Joan wanted to partner with her in starting a production company. As you can see from the dialogue below, Stan did not think it was a good idea.
Peggy: “I could have my name on the door, be my own boss”
Stan: “That is not a good enough reason”
Stan: “You have such a rare talent, stop looking over your shoulder at what other people have.”
Stan: “You are just excited about being in charge,working for a producer, that is not even what you do.”
Peggy: “You have no ambition”
Stan: “I’m just very happy at being good at my job, I’ve got nothing else to prove.”
Peggy: “Spoken like a real failure”
Stan: “There is more to life then work.”
Here is my takeaway from that conversation. Let me catch you up in the event you don’t watch Mad Men. Every scene, every storyline involving Peggy has been about work. Her job is her entire life. It is what defines her. She even had an abortion because she did not want anything to stand in her way of moving up the corporate ladder if you will. Her ego lives and dies with her career. As Stan points out, she is only interested in the opportunity with Joan because she can be in charge and see her name on the door. Stan realizes it won’t make her happy and I think Peggy does to and is why she says some pretty mean things to Stan.
I’ve held the belief that Stan is the only happy person on the show, everyone else is miserable or in Roger’s case seems happy but he just uses alcohol and drugs to cover up his troubled soul. They are driven by their egos and personal demons. For Stan it is simple, he knows he is good at what he does and that is enough for him. Contentment breads happiness for Stan. I wonder how much happier we would all be in life if we learned to appreciate what we have now and not compare ourselves to others. Always seeking recognition and approval from others, while never getting it from ourselves. Unless we learn to be happy with ourselves, not letting the external world determine our worth we will be constantly running in a race we can not win. Who would of thought a great life lesson would come from the loveable teddy bear, Stan on Mad Men