A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook yesterday (an old friend of recent re-acquaintance). I couldn’t walk away from my own thoughts about its implications, and my complicity – in both positive and negative ways – over the years. You know me well enough to know that I have yet to transcend my own limitations, unable to keep my mind still long enough to even utter a mantra; I am not about to denounce a material world which has afforded my family a comfortable lifestyle, and some accessories which make my sloppy outfits look well-considered. In other words, before you jump up in defense of capitalism and financial success as a social definitive – sit down. I’m not arguing with you.
I am however, absolutely passionate about my belief that learning is a lifelong exercise, and organizational leaders are in the position to educate all the time. I’ll go a step farther – they have an imperative to educate. And with that in mind I have got to ask you – what are you teaching? Does your department, company, organization commit to moral management or success-at-any-cost? Are you developing people’s abilities to complement their career progression or are you focused on the immediate needs which you find critical to meet? Are we defining our own personal success primarily by the amount of money we make (with the caveat that we are earning what we need to and perhaps a bit more) or are there any other markers that we value as much? More importantly, do we inculcate that philosophy to the people that we are charged with developing and growing?
What are the stories of compassion that balance the perpetual theme of acquiring stuff? How well-rounded are the people we know and work with? Where do the paths of wisdom and management-speak meet? I may not be articulating this well – I am trying to avoid the cliché of saying that we all do the right thing everyday, and instead suggest that compassion, morality, critical thought are as essential to the development of a thriving workforce than any other issues of which we speak. And it takes thought and planning and commitment to the larger theme of lifelong education. Challenging our children, our friends, ourselves to consider where we are placing our priorities as we enter in and out of the chapters of our lives. That to me, is what reading the whole book is all about.