Friday, October 9, 2009

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.

I enjoy this quote for a number of reasons, the key one is that it inspires thought about what else a person can do with their skills and intellect during their time on our planet. There are literally countless opportunities to create positive change. It can mean providing a fairer go for those less fortunate today or finding ways for future generations to add greater richness to their heritage and culture.

That said, a combination of achieving balance and exercising resilience are the underlying challenges to breathing life into these opportunities.

Let me explain. Considering balance first and taking a somewhat clinical perspective, throughout the world systems exist which drive cultures, commerce and behaviors. Placing aside their origins, these systems have created what we know to be the status quo. In the spirit of open debate let’s continue with this line of thinking. When people, organistions or movements have identified opportunities for positive change in the past, little consideration has usually been given to how their ideas complement existing systems. This is not to say their thinking wasn’t sound, quite the contrary, it maybe didn’t extend far enough to see how existing systems could be used to help realise the benefits of their idea.

Finding the balance in this case centers on discovering how a great idea blends with existing systems (in the short or medium term) to result in the desired outcome - which might be completely reengineering a system or starting a new one. Why is this important? Amongst other reasons a balance approach helps mitigate the risk of becoming (or being perceived as) an extremist which can serve to marginalise the great thinking that started it all in the first place.

The process of achieving balance isn’t an easy one and there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Just ask Steve Jobs at the start of his tenure at Apple or Clive Palmer - an Australian self made billionaire - 20 years ago when he saw the value in Western Australian iron ore country.

This leads to the concept of resilience - the ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Consider an aircraft designed to take passengers from point A to point B. It almost never travels in a straight line; taking ideas from concept to reality are the same, and rarely follow a linear path. Be motivated and prepared to exercise resilience in dealing with the inevitable issues and challenges linked to starting something new. Revisiting our titans of industry Mr Jobs and Mr Palmer - think this worked for them?

Given the role we play at HSC & Company, I speak from the experience. After 18 months in conceptual development, our group was established in the same week HBOS in London announced it was the first European casualty of what we now know to be the global financial crisis.

Although still considered a ‘start up’, it’s this approach to balance and resilience that now see us enjoying the position we do.

I’m certain some might consider this thinking overly simplistic or too naive. Perhaps they are right although the best laid plans all contain the hallmarks of simplicity.

To that end, the quote in the title finishes with “Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential”. Are you surprise to know the author is Barack Obama?

So where does this leave us? Have courage to be bold in thought and thoughtful when being bold, seek to achieve balance in approach and be motivated to be resilient.

Phil Hayes-St Clair

Chief Executive Officer, HSC & Company

From the author

I trust these thoughts are useful and you’ve enjoyed the read.

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