There has been a change in priorities for Bill Gates for the last couple of years. He left the firm’s management over to paid executives and concentrates his own efforts in developing countries, not as an investor but rather in social activities.
In one of his latest post, Bill Gates talks about what he really wants for Christmas and I must say I fully agree with his view:
“I’m touched that people think to send holiday treats. It’s a fun tradition (…) But I can’t help thinking that the money spent on these gifts could go to people who need it more than I do.”
It almost looks like a paraphrase of Luke 14: “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
There is only one aspect I would underline here. Luke also wrote about a rich man that came to Jesus and asked Him how can he inherit eternal life. Often when we read the story we only keep in mind the first part of Jesus’ answer but there are actually two things he would need to do: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22).
I wish you all blessed holidays!
I was recently challenged by a colleague to identify the attributes of successful people. Of course, any company defines a core set of values and assesses performance against those but I lifted-up the challenge to rather come up with a more general mindset related to people’s success.
I stepped back a little bit and observed that we are used to put a spotlight on success but how many times one failed before being successful? How do we treat failure?
It’s my opinion that “the carrot and the stick” only works if you want to achieve mediocrity. If you identify a person above that level, you should consider forgetting about the stick because the carrot itself is motivating enough to try again and try harder. Moreover, maybe you should give space and be open minded to let things go on unmarked paths or give a chance to fail again for the success that person will achieve is by far more valuable.
History gives us precious lessons if we take the time to see it open minded. Here are some examples that we may need to look at as to wide-up our views on how to treat success and failure:
- “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
- Henry Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars. However, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded his successful company.
- Bill Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
- Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
- Teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
- Abraham Lincoln‘s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (that’s as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses and he was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
- Charlie Chaplin was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.
- Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.
If Bill Gates would have started his business at another company, he would have been fired (or at least punished in some painful way) for failure instead of being encouraged to try again and succeed. While Beethoven was not in the right place with the violin (he should have composed instead of playing it), Ford just needed to learn how to do something nobody else did before him. Moreover, what company would’ve let Edison fail 1,000 times before making the light bulb that changed the world?
To sum up, I think that most of the attributes may not necessarily be people owned but rather an organisational challenge to have:
1. the right people
2. in the right place
3. at the right time…
Besides that, the other organisational challenge is to have the right knowledge available for those people at the right time since re-inventing the wheel is not an option nowadays. So, why not shift the view a little bit?