Monday, October 31, 2016

Candlestick Makers

There's a school of thought that says- if you're going to do something- make every effort to do it at the highest possible level.

(Notice from the faculty of THE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT: We are canceling classes Thursday and Friday so we can sit around and think about random and often trivial things.)

This is how the ambitious view the world and we often benefit from their efforts. Think of the top people who work tirelessly to cure disease or stand up for people society has forgotten or re-build parts of the world destroyed by human or natural catastrophe. Without smart and ambitious leaders (and doers), this stuff does not get done.

The flip side, of course, is how the hyper ambitious and cutthroat-competitive seek nothing other than personal gain with zero regard for who or what they leave in their wake.

As with everything, there's a middle ground. So if you're a butcher, a baker or are involved in the manufacture of candlesticks- why not give it all you have to be a world-class baker? (unless, of course, you're a Project Manager of some sort...or a butcher.)

Being the best at what you do will mean something is going to suffers or lack. Unbridled ambition is a zero-sum game. The great Jack Welch of General Electric fame said he really didn't know his four grown adult children and it saddened him greatly. Thousands of other uber achievers have similar stories. Many of the super-accomplished were aware what was being short-changed in their lives while in the middle of it. There are no simple answers here but I do believe, as people, we need to be who we are as opposed to who the world tells us we should be...even if the regrets are pronounced.

I have felt the pangs of not answering to what very clearly could have been "a calling". I'm still not totally at peace with it. In my work now I routinely speak with people who need to decide on whether to go full bore and/or are currently taking personal inventory on what it is they want from their work.

So, by all means, go forward, purchase a custom cut of prime rib, stop by the bakery and later pick up a bizarro-scent Yankee Candle. While you're at it, ask yourself if it makes sense to go THE FULL MONTY with your career..I'll be over here.

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