By Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
I promised a couple of blogs ago to come back to three quotes from Shakespearean plays, so I wish to start with this one from Julius Caesar because it is so pertinent in today’s world.
The quote was uttered by the anti-hero Brutus to persuade himself to go against his personal foibles and commit murder “in the common good”. Not a great directive in itself but there is, I would suggest, a much deeper meaning. Something very common with Shakespeare.
The underlying truth in my eyes, and the one I think virtually all successful entrepreneurs and businessmen instinctively act on, is that we should always be on the lookout for the opportunity to advance our “cause”. This could be a private cause, that of your business or of your own life.
Spotting these opportunities is the main key. It is very easy to look back and say “if only…” or “what would have happened if…”.
Now I am not for a moment suggesting when every apparent opportunity presents itself you say “yes” and dive in. Sensible reflection is almost always the best option. However, the main obstacles to advancement, I would suggest, are prevarication and inflexibility.
When has the reason for not changing ever been “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”? Equally, the saying “if it was good enough for my grandfather, it’s good enough for me”, may be a great reason to retain a vintage car, but that does not prevent us from maintaining it and changing the oil for a better modern alternative, does it?
I have just prepared a series of questions for our Global Senior Partners conference which involved looking at a number of famous discoveries and inventions, most of which we now take for granted. In most cases, the inventors were either laughed at or disregarded by the so called “establishment”, because the status quo was seen as perfectly good enough. Today, however, most of us are much happier with electric light in our homes and offices, rather than gas. Thankfully, Mr Edison saw the “tide in the affairs”, and surfed this wave to the point of showing how much better things can be with his electric light.
You don’t have to be an Edison, an Einstein or a Newton to benefit from riding the wave of the tide. Your life can be changed for the best if you are willing to grab the opportunity when it comes along. Yes, sometimes, to continue the surfing analogy, you will wipe out, but once you get back up to the surface you’ll find you have benefited from it.
Maybe I should confirm that I have lived by this “mantra” myself and give a specific example.
Unusually I will try to keep it brief, but back in the very early 90s, I was contacted by the NFL, (National Football League – American football) and asked to take the role of Financial Controller for their recently formed London based professional team called the London Monarchs. At the time I was a temporary manager in the CRI department of Touche Ross (which became Deloitte), and was looking forward to a “solid” career there. American Football was my passion at the time and this was an exceptional opportunity, but there was no guaranteed longevity. So what to do? Well, I discussed it with my wife, of course, and with the Partner in charge, and despite a number of counter offers, decided to seize the opportunity. My real deciding factor was that both my wife and I thought, “if I don’t take it, what will I think in two, three or more years?”, and I didn’t want to end up saying “if only”. Don’t regret rejecting something. In the words of Nike, “just do it”. However, if you feel you won’t regret saying “no”, it probably is not the right thing for you.
Watch for the flood of opportunity coming your way, and get your theoretical surf board ready to ride the wave of the tide to fortune. Just remember that there are very many fortunes awaiting, and health, happiness and satisfaction are normally so much better than material wealth.