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Monday, September 29, 2014

Strategic CSR - Life lessons

The article in the url below is a book review that begins by quoting from the 2014 commencement speech at The University of Texas at Austin by Admiral William McRaven. It is quite a speech and worth a listen:
The speech relates the Admiral's training to become a Navy SEAL and is designed to provide the "life lessons" he learned during that time to the newly graduating students. For example:
"… if you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better."
The analogy is a little strained, but the speech reminded me of the task we face in making our economic system more sustainable. It is easy to be cynical and I am as guilty of that as anyone. While the fallibilities of human beings constantly remind me that the odds of success are small, however, when you listen to people like Admiral McRaven it is easy to feel inspired and believe that anything is possible. I am guessing that is one of the reasons why he made it to Admiral! As he noted in his speech:
"In SEAL training there is a bell, a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o'clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. All you have to do is ring the bell to get out. If you want to change the world, don't ever, ever ring the bell."
Perhaps more importantly, however, his speech reminded me that the task is eminently worthwhile. Rather than focusing on personal success or failure, it seems like the most important task is to advance the debate. The collective effort of doing so will define the ultimate outcome.
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Willpower and Won't Power
By Michael Shermer
September 20-21, 2014
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final