“What I accomplished in the past was thanks to the Goddess of Fortune. What I’ll accomplish in the future will be because of my work and focus.” – Carlos Miceli
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.” – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“Don’t read him as children do, for amusement, nor as the ambitious do, to be instructed. No, read him in order to live.” – Gustave Flaubert’s advice to a friend wondering how to read Montaigne’s Essays.
“A hallmark of good theory: it dispenses its advice in “if-then” statements.” – Clayton Christensen
“Self-esteem—the sense that “I’m not afraid to confront this problem and I think I can solve it”—doesn’t come from abundant resources. Rather, self-esteem comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do.” – Clayton Christensen
“The boss’ son is the worst.” – Bill Burr
“For individuals conducting rituals, the core purpose is to discipline the unruly mind, to make acts that are automatic and definite amid a creative process that involves so many utter unknowns. For pairs, I believe the heart of the matter may be leaving behind an individual life and occupying a space that is shared.” – Joshua Wolf Shenk
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel
“The irony is that John (Lennon), who was more fractured and defiant, was by far the more social musician. His charisma came, as charisma usually does, from a bottomless need to be loved. And his ambition came from a sense that if he was going to have a world he liked, he’d have to make it himself.” – Joshua Wolf Shenk
Nolan Archibald, youngest-ever CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Black & Decker), after retiring, had a discussion with Harvard students about how he managed his career. What he described was not the steps on his résumé, but rather WHY he took them.
Archibald had the goal of becoming a CEO of a successful company, but instead of doing what most people thought would be the “right” stepping-stone jobs to get there, he asked himself:
“What are all the experiences and problems that I have to learn and master so that what comes out at the other end is somebody who is ready and capable of becoming a successful CEO?”
In our own careers, most of us take steps going after short term, tangible rewards, without thinking about what we are preparing ourselves for in the long run. Starting from the opposite end—“what do I need to master to be a great X?”— is a much more resilient strategy for our professional lives. Even if it makes little sense to those around us looking at our future’s short term…
Everyone can tell you about their values and the lines they refuse to cross. Most people, however, when put in a situation where they have to stand behind their words (usually meaning they will lose something), have been doing enough mental gymnastics through their entire lives that they are ok with “bending” their beliefs a bit.
The world today allows many people to talk and think themselves up (even more through social media), thanks mainly to the fact that they are not facing wars, slavery, torture, and other morally-charged live-or-die situations. The one bright side of living through those horrible circumstances is that they gave millions of people the chance to die for their honor. To be heroes that remained consistent to their beliefs until the end.
Loss aversion is the biggest reason why honor is scarce. Honor demands the courage to face loses gracefully.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year is that the world is full of people that talk about their values, but when push comes to shove, they will find a way to bend the meaning of their words. This has become my strongest heuristic when it comes to personal and professional relationships, since people with flexible values are naturally untrustworthy.
The paradox, as usual, is that for those with integrity, the world elevates them and gives them even more, because they are the leaders that all of us, deep inside, crave to become.
Paraphrasing Nassim Nicholas Taleb, when asked about his greatest achievement in life:
“I’ve learnt to never compromise. […] Life is not about self-satisfaction but the satisfaction of a sense of duty. It is all or nothing. Nine out of 10 would be total failure.”