The Sunset Part 2
My Daily Paradox of 20Sep21 (Too busy doing what?) advised looking at the sunset. It struck a chord with a great many people. While watching “a promise of tomorrow” – as I define a sunset – I have four questions it is worth asking yourself. It may be tempting to give short, smart answers but they won’t help you. It may be tempting to put the questions on one side for a deeper, more thought-out answer later on. Sunset is itself a stark reminder of time passing, always faster than we think. It suggests that, as you have no control over time, it is wise to take control over the use of time – of your time, in particular.
Q1. Is what I want to achieve for myself and my loved ones different from what I am achieving now?
Q2. Does it look as though the future will bring the opportunities and successes I want?
Q3. Am I confident, but not too confident, that what I’m doing now will make me happy?
Q4. Do I know how to obtain true happiness?
There are questions to be answered even behind the bold questions I have listed. You may need help to answer them or, indeed, to answer the four stark questions themselves. The answer to Q4 is free for anyone who wants it. Drop me a line and I will tell you, briefly. I am aware that it is arrogant to suggest that I know any real answers but I think the “glass darkly” through which we all see is lifted slightly for me now.
At the ages of 20, 36, 47 and 58 I asked myself these questions. The answers were critical to my target setting, to my finding my “Tree on the other side of the Field”. Knowing what I was aiming for plus the shrewd advice of ploughman, Dick Sompolenski, enabled me to make strategic changes without fully knowing the possible outcomes. A sprinkle of pepper from good and trusted friends drove my decision making along. Perhaps you see this Daily Paradox as a sprinkle of pepper?
So what were my answers to the first three questions at the four review times I have shown?
At twenty I was blocked from my chosen occupation, farming, by an accident. If I couldn’t have country life I would learn city life. My creativity was allowed to flourish and grow in an advertising environment for sixteen years. But I was getting a little old for advertising in the late Sixties. So my next review at thirty-six was profound. Time to learn how big business really worked. I quickly reached the surprising but uncontroversial conclusion of ‘not very well’. Peter Drucker came to the same conclusion at about the same time.
Trying to pilot a business with nearly 150,000 employees was very different from piloting one with 150, which I had been doing in my last advertising job. Positions were entrenched, politics determined too much, the struggle was usually for independence, seldom for collaboration. I did badly and hated the job for about four years. At forty-seven, the critical age for a man in his career, I got an opportunity nobody else wanted. Officially to dispose of some businesses, I actually built them into a substantial Asian conglomerate.
When they were sold I was fifty eight and I saw the possibility of using my unusual management techniques to help individuals and companies going through all the transitions that were forced on them or that were no-brainers for those who wanted to succeed. The arrival of the personal computer changed everything. I lived change, as I still do. I relished organizational and societal change while realizing that it was disruptive, frightening and tough on some of the people who had been trained – and done well – in one sphere of life now that required them to adopt a new one. The tears of letting go fall to the ground for the successful, too.
My last thirty years speak for themselves. I acknowledge luck as a vital ingredient. But to make luck work you have to be equipped to answer the four questions. I was.
So many people find it hard to answer these questions.
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