“If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. Any business that doesn’t create value for those it touches, even if it appears successful on the surface, isn’t long for this world. It’s on the way out.”
“In what ways does the world pull at you in an attempt to make you normal? How much work does it take to maintain your distinctiveness? To keep alive the thing or things that make you special?
I know a happily married couple who have a running joke in their relationship. Not infrequently, the husband looks at the wife with faux distress and says to her, “Can’t you just be normal?” They both smile and laugh, and of course the deep truth is that her distinctiveness is something he loves about her. But, at the same time, it’s also true that things would often be easier – take less energy – if we were a little more normal.
We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable. We are all taught to “be yourself.” What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.
You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness, and it’s worth it. The fairy tale version of “be yourself” is that all the pain stops as soon as you allow your distinctiveness to shine. That version is misleading. Being yourself is worth it, but don’t expect it to be easy or free. You’ll have to put energy into it continuously.
The world will always try to make Amazon more typical – to bring us into equilibrium with our environment. It will take continuous effort, but we can and must be better than that.
……There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”………
……Here’s another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”…..
The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor’s cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: “Stop! The cup is overfull, no more will go in.” Nan-in said, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Once a frog from the ocean came and jumped into a well. He got acquainted with the frog in the well and the well frog asked, ‘From where do you come?’ He said, ‘I have come from the ocean.’ The well frog asked, ‘Is it bigger than this well?’ Of course suspicion was in his eyes, doubt in his mind, ‘How can anything be bigger than this well where I live?’ The ocean frog laughed and said, ‘It is very difficult to say anything because there is no measure.’ The well frog said, ‘Then I will give you some measure so that you can.’ He jumped one quarter of the well, one fourth of the way across, and said, ‘Is it that big?’ The ocean frog laughed and said, ‘No.’ So he jumped half of the well, and said, ‘Is it that big?’ Again the ocean frog laughed and said, ‘No.’ Then he jumped three quarters and said, ‘Is it that big?’ Again the ocean frog said, ‘No.’ Then he jumped the whole well, the whole length, and said, ‘Now – now you cannot say no.’ The ocean frog said, ‘You may feel hurt, and I don’t want to be offensive, but still the answer is no.’ Then the well frog said, ‘Get out from here, you liar. Nothing can be bigger than this well!’
There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
If you manage to see how interconnected the game really is, then it becomes evident that cooperation and reciprocity are the best strategies of all.
“It seems a farmer was out working his field when his plow caught on something, and it wouldn’t budge. The horse reared up and the farmer cursed. After calming the horse the farmer yanked back on the braces. But the plow still wouldn’t budge. Because he was an impatient man his first reaction was to go into Judger. Had a rock or other obstacle broken his plowshare? That could mean losing at least two days’ work while he hauled the broken parts to the blacksmith! Cursing, he began digging around to free the plow. To his surprise, he discovered that it was caught on an iron ring buried six inches under the ground. After freeing his plow, the farmer got curious. He cleared away some of the dirt and pulled on the iron ring. Off came the lid of an ancient chest. He peeked down inside it. Before him, glittering in the sun, lay a treasure of precious jewels and gold.
This story reminds us that it is often by confronting our toughest obstacles that we find our greatest strengths and possibilities, but sometimes we’ve got to dig deep to find them. Campbell had a phrase for it: Where you stumble, there your treasure is.
To uncover that treasure you’d ask yourself questions like: What could I discover? What haven’t I noticed before? What might be valuable here?”
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Lifeby Marilee Adams and Marshall Goldsmith
An aged Chinese monk, despairing at never having reached enlightenment, asks permission to go to an isolated cave to make one final attempt at realization. Taking his robes, his begging bowl, and a few possessions, he heads out on foot into the mountains.
At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from DeMoines, Iowa.
I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons — something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a protégé though I have taught some talented students.
However I’ve also had my share of what I call “musically challenged” pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.
Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, “My mom’s going to hear me play some day.” But it seemed hopeless.