To Live Is To Learn
Luck is a responsibility.
I have been fortunate enough to survive four accidents that should have been fatal. The guilt that I feel certainly drives my belief that luck is a responsibility.
For my part, I consider that my duty is to become the best possible version of myself. It is my post-traumatic growth, the positive psychological evolution that follows a shocking life event1.
Wanting to become the best possible version of oneself means shifting from competition with others to competition with oneself. Competition with others has an end and produces losers. Competition with oneself has no end and creates winners.
In my quest to become the best possible version of myself, I have engaged in a frenzy of learning. Incidentally, learning who you are and understanding the world are the two best recipes to never get bored.
My love for learning translates into three management principles that are much easier to state than to apply:
- Put my team members in competition with themselves rather than with each other. I ask them to try and give their best – and in doing so, push me to give my best –, not to give their colleagues’ best. The only compelling performance comparison is made with one’s own potential.
- Listen: As Larry King once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.” A manager’s role is to be right at the end, not the beginning, of a meeting. Ideas are not hierarchical; they can come from all levels of a company or team.
- Accept to be vulnerable. As New Zealand author Peter McIntyre wrote, “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” To assess your manager’s self-confidence, observe how many times they accept to be wrong and admit they don’t know how to answer a question or deal with a situation. Managers who behave in this way favor collective learning over self-preservation.
Ultimately, my four encounters with death have taught me to focus on my aspiration (who I want to be) rather than my ambition (what I want to do).
Death comes when we stop dreaming, not when we stop living.
1 The concept of post-traumatic growth was proposed by Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun, psychologists at the University of North Carolina, in their book Trauma And Transformation: Growing In The Aftermath Of Suffering (1995).