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Archive for May, 2008

My greatest strength as a consultant
is to be ignorant
and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker

If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of, it’s ignorance. We’re surrounded by it. Saturated with it. Ignorance by its nature crowds out reason, commonsense and understanding.

Yet we seem to accept it as normal. We’re apparently willing to live with it. We fail to seize the opportunity to ask these questions which could dispel it:

Why do we do it this way?
Why do we believe this to be true?
Why can’t we change the rules?
Why must we do this at all?

These are the world wrecking questions. These are the queries that challenge, and can shatter, the Status Quo.

They’re also the simple questions available to anyone (with enough courage) in every situation. They raise the specter that things need not be as we’ve accepted them.

Nor is the question ‘Why?’ beyond our scope. It’s perhaps the only strength we share regardless of upbringing or social standing. From our first days of speech we ask ‘Why?’ … and at some point we stop. Why?

We’re born with the urge to ask ‘Why?’, when we lose it, we begin to die.

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Somebody’s got to be the guardian
of the long term.
Marina V. N. Whitman

Nothing just happens, there’s always a cause. There’s little we can do about the bulk of it. Gravity rules landslides, electricity controls the lightning, and Sun and Wind take care of the weather. Mother Nature aside, most of the rest is under our influence, if not our control.

It doesn’t always feel as if we have influence over tomorrow. Our best laid plans routinely get crushed and pushed aside. The flaw lies in how we plan for tomorrow. We create a single plan, and ignore a plan ‘b’, and ‘c’, and ‘d’… We act as if there is only a single tomorrow, rather than a vista of possibilities.

There’s never a single answer to the question ‘What might happen?’ Nor are there even right or wrong answers. Every reasonable answer contains a dollop of doom, a pinch of possibility, and a huge heaping of hope.

To chart a safe course through the bounty of possible tomorrows requires agile plans. Plans which we literally design to suffer failure gracefully. It’s not pessimistic to contemplate failure and avoid it… it’s only pessimistic to accept it.

Our future is by definition, plural, never singular.

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Unless the job means more than the pay,
it will never pay more.
H. Bertram Lewis

We’re all potentially worth more than we earn – that’s a given. But for all of us to receive more than we make, is the road to eventual ruin. Output can never exceed total input… for very long.

We self select ourselves into two categories. We either work to make a living, or to make our living worthwhile. It’s the difference between whining and whistling while we work.

This isn’t just positive thinking, or making lemonade out of lemons. We’ve all experienced time flying by when we’re engrossed by a task that we love, and it slows to a molasses like crawl on the ones we despise.

When we hate what we’re doing, our thoughts are always on the moment when we’ll finish. To love what we do is to be enthralled by this moment of doing. In the former we waste thought on the future, in the latter we concentrate only on the joy of the present. Both expectation and reward run slower than achievement.

When we work for nothing but coin, we’ll always be searching for change.

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Consistency requires you
to be as ignorant today
as you were a year ago.
Bernard Berenson

We’re not who we were yesterday. To attempt to stay the same is to defy Time’s purpose. Time passes, we change.

Consistency of thought and opinion assumes a stagnation of knowledge and a hardening of our reasons. Even if the information stays the same, our minds continue to explore new perspectives.

To contradict someone else requires only the possession of different facts.
To contradict ourselves, is to challenge our self image.

We focus on the view we now consider wrong, rather than on the growth that helped move us forward in our beliefs.

All opinions are supported by the facts of experience. As our experience expands, so does our collection of facts. If we pay attention those facts grow on a daily basis, so too should our interpretation of what we’ve seen.

When our opinions differ, it’s less a matter of their being wrong or right than it is of views from trains traveling in different directions, at different speeds, to different destinations.

A personal opinion is a summary presented after one leg of a long unfinished journey… never close the book until you arrive.

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