We have more choices to make than ever we have had. Who to associate with, what to watch, who to listen to, what to believe. With just about every source highly monetised, it has become rather like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Even journals that I used to buy for expertise and impartial opinion have fallen prey. Opening them exposes me to shouty advertisements for expensive trivia apparently fitting to my “status”, and articles that are thinly disguised marketing channels. /and then there’s social media….
In our lives and businesses, events generally fall into two parts – a period when we establish ourselves, find security and our place in the world and a second part, where we use what we have learned to help those still in their first half. Even Jeff Bezos has stepped back. It’s an important decision. In the first half, people behind us not only catch up quickly, they have more current knowledge. By the time we’re forty they’re level, and by fifty they are alongside us and have the inside of the curve. What they don’t have, that we do if we’ve developed it, is forms of wisdom. Good lives, like good businesses, are a partnership of the halves. Knowledge plus Wisdom.
The challenge we face is that we under pressure always to be in the first half. To do more, achieve more, earn more way past the point where we need it. Retirement is no time to do it. If we retire only having lived the first half, we are in no position to contribute in the way that we might have because we’re out of the game. Doing it whilst we’re in full flow is often seen as quitting the race.
We are at our mosr powerful and influential when we move from having the answers to having the right questions. Management and Operations value knowledge, Leadership and Direction value questions.
I think the boundary between the two is found at the point of “enough”. We all reach a point where, in reality, we have enough and if we let it, our mind turns to “better”. The boundary between “take” and “give”.
“Better” is different for all of us. For some, it might be meaning whilst for others it might be exploration and for others discovery. Whatever it is, it enables us to progress as a society by supporting and enabling those who follow us.
For some people the first half might take fifty years, for others twenty, but we all know when it’s half time. It’s hard, but inevitable. Moving from ego to detachment, and from personal achievement to community achievement.
The best businesses and the most productive lives seem to constantly marry knowledge and wisdom. The most powerful communities have warriors and elders.
Much as advertisers would like it to be different, there is a point at which we no longer need consumption for the sake of it and we’re foolish to hide from it. We are at our most influential whe we no longer compete.
Spending all our lives in the first half diminishes us and deprives others. If we don’t make the decision, we don’t often get another chance.