As a teenager I had the habit of asking myself odd questions. One of the most enduring of those “questions to myself” involved asking if there was some possible mathematical order to hideously complex physical phenomena like smoke rising from a cigarette. My question remained unanswered for decades until in 1987
This five-minute read may be the most important thing you do today. I say that humbly. Uncertainty is the new normal about everything. Think about it. The extent and scope of unexpected changes to the way things are done is global. Reacting and responding to this uncertainty is now the basis for company and personal survival. I am going to share two examples to get you thinking. I am also sharing here a downloadable model for an entirely new method to analyze and develop your own “impromptu” strategic plan.
While I was still in university, I was sitting on the grass on campus one afternoon, and out of the blue, I was struck by the fact that I didn’t much care anymore what other people thought of me. At that moment, I realized that the most important thing in my life was what I thought about myself, the goals I set for myself, and the direction I would take. I was the pilot of my own destiny.
I need to confess that I’m a procrastinator. I have always been a procrastinator, dependent on bursts of energy and productivity to compensate for my weakness. I have found a million reasons not to attend to what I know needs doing, especially now. I have drifted off to play Death Stranding, the new PlayStation 4 game, watching CNN or Netflix, and drinking too much wine.
This is a metaphorical essay on personal ethics, worthy of a serious read and contemplation. When I saw the title I was intrigued but suspected it had something to do with Andy Grove’s adage, “sewage flows downhill,” which means “if anything bad happens it will eventually flow down to you.” This is about ethics. The points made here are particularly apt in light of the huge number and sheer scale of recent business frauds: the Volkswagen fraud, LIBOR, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, Conrad Black in Canada, Olympus in Japan, Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, Tyco International, stretching back all the way to Enron, Michael Milken’s junk bonds, and the 1980’s savings & loan debacle.
This is an area of animal and human behavior that has absolutely fascinated me. I believe that I have experienced this in my own life and career. If you simply believe strongly and achieve, the next round will become an even easier hurdle to climb. It is one of those things that seems to defy objective explanation.
This article has resonated with me, and my own personal epiphany. It came to me as a university student, sitting on the grass in the university common area. I suddenly realized that I was my own boss, and I no longer cared much what other people thought of me. As the author says here, it was a sense of calm, and a moment that not everyone achieves. It is a variation on my own tag line…”The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Once again, I find that the key factor is people skills.
The Wall Street Journal has highlighted this commencement speech, and I thought it so good, I had to share it here with my UBC Management students. It is at least as good as Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement address, and it was also given in the same year, 2005.
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