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I’m not a huge fan of Andy Warhol’s visual art, but I’m a devoted fan of his writing.

What interests me about Andy Warhol is that he makes seemingly obvious observations in very simple language—and yet, upon reflection, I often realize that he has managed to articulate something very subtle.

As one of my Secrets of Adulthood holds:

It’s very important, and surprisingly difficult, to grasp the obvious.
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For instance, I read this passage from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again) several weeks ago, and while it didn’t particularly grab my attention while I was reading it, I find my thoughts repeatedly returning to it. The more I think about this observation, the more profound it becomes.

Andy Warhol wrote:

“When I think about what sort of person I would most like to have on a retainer, I think it would be a boss. A boss who could tell me what to do, because that makes everything easy when you’re working.”

That’s it, I keep thinking. That’s it! I wish I could have a boss on retainer. (Note Warhol’s nuance of having a boss “on retainer.”)

As the boss of myself, I often wish I had someone to set my priorities, to give me assignments to start and finish, and to tell me how to improve or, better yet, to give me some gold stars.

Telling myself what to do and then doing what I have to do…it’s challenging. Self-command isn’t easy. How about you? Do you ever wish you had a boss on retainer? Even if you already have a permanent, real boss?


Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Pewari.