We have all encountered them and stood transfixed. Either first hand or second or third hand. Regardless, the impact is profound and (insert dramatic pause) life changing. What am I talking about? The humble ‘quotes’. I have had my share of them. Here are a few that made me pause, rethink and sometimes forced me to go through a painful rebirth. In no particular sequence
1. Attention to detail: This was early on in my career in one of my first 1:1’s with my first-ever boss – K. Ramprasad. And it cut like a knife – ‘You have no attention for detail’. And detail became a part of my vernacular thereafter and has not left me – maybe we separated for a while when I became a manager and that got into my head – but I recovered and we are still soulmates.
2. Allow yourself the discomfort: This was at an Executive MBA course taught by a portly professor from UT Dallas (was over a decade ago and the name fails me). The import of that phrase keeps hitting me whenever I am faced with a decision to do something or not. Invariably, the one that is more discomforting is what I ‘allow’ myself. That responsibility and accountability of ‘allowing’ is enduring.
3. When you come to a fork, take it: This was at a commencement ceremony for MBA graduates. At that point, I was not quite sure what he meant – except it sounded like a conundrum. Later in life, when I was at cross-roads not knowing which way to go, it sunk in. Make a decision – usually with very little information, and then adjust as needed – don’t let paralysis take root.
4. We are all trapeze artists in a circus, the ones that let go early are the winners – This was from an executive at a prior employer. This was the philosophy he was espousing – the best trapeze artists are the ones who can let go of their ropes on the upswing and enjoy the free fall while hurtling towards the next rope which may not even be visible at the time of letting go. The also-rans are the ones who hold onto the rope too long fearing the free fall and then realize too late when they are on the downswing and nowhere to go but down.
5. Connect dreams with details – and you are done – This was from a recent video of one of my favorite leaders of all-time – Bill McDermott – CEO of SAP. If you haven’t watched him speak, what are you waiting for. But this quote from him is powerful. We have all had our share of leaders with dreams but can’t execute for nuts. Conversely, the tactically focused who can’t see beyond a quarter also abound in droves. And then there is the rare breed who can connect dreams with details.
6. If this (heart) is empty, this (mind) doesn’t matter – From the inimitable Dicky Fox from the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’. Such a simple quote but has such deep meaning on how we conduct ourselves. In business, aren’t we drawn to leaders who have a penchant for people and put them ahead of themselves. As Mark C Crowley puts it ‘Lead from the heart’.
7. And so, hold on when there is nothing in you, except the Will which says to you ‘Hold On’ – This is from my favorite poem of all time ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling. Choosing the lines that most impacted me was hard – every sentence is a gift – but if I had to these would be the ones. Why –perseverance – be it in business when as a founder, you need to inspire confidence in your team while frantically raising cash as the burn goes up, in life – whether it is comforting a friend fighting with a smile and courageous words for his life and crying in private – this quality endures above all else in my book.
What are the ones the drive you and why?