More on Indifference from Tom

Darci, from her Comment: "... and pursue my passion. It was a leap of faith and there was no safety net to catch me if I failed."

Darci, here's the way I look at it. We all "fail" in the end. "Fail" as in finish, finito, die. (I am not talking religion here—we may indeed go to a better world, or a worse one, but we will not be amidst this one.) So if, to quote an old joke, "We might as well go for it, boys, none of us is going to get out alive": Well, then, to me, the only ... TRUE FAILURE ... is a failure to ... Engage Fully, 100% of the time.

(My casual reading of Aristotle, and I'm no student of philosophy, is that, for instance, "happiness" is complete engagement, not some bemused state; "leisure" is an opportunity to grow in new ways, not a chance to veg out; etc.)

And another thing: Indifference makes you sloppy, sloppy in general. You can call it "studied indifference," or "purposeful indifference," or whatever you want, but if your goal is stupefaction on the job, it'll spread like a virus—even to home life.

And another thing: Jerks.* Jerks, as we see it, are all around us! Always have been, always will be. Get over it! I think it was Tip O'Neill who said, "Politics is the art of the possible." (Hint: Politics = Getting things done. Period!!!) When I talked to my wonderful new friends at Johns Hopkins last week, I applauded their idealism, and I told them that I prayed they'd never lose it. On the other hand, to bring about social change, I reminded them, meant politics in the morning, politics at lunchtime, and dreaming about politics at night. Getting things done means engaging in the fray, and every serious change is despised by the regnant majority—both sides often see the other as jerks. (Of course, there are simply awful human beings at work—so deal with it positively/make it or them your ally in change ... or quit. One mark of a "jerk" is self-interest taken to an extreme. Whoops, that's true of everyone who succeeds; I don't mean they are unable to build a team, but think of the Presidential race: To enter it is all about self interest in equal measure with a desire to change the world.) (*Re "jerks," consider, perhaps, the words of Philo of Alexandria, quoted in this space before: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." TP: "Everyone, as in everyone, deserves an equal measure of respect." Credo, anon. organization change consultant: "Don't belittle.")

NB: A.C. Grayling, The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life

ARISTOTLE ON HAPPINESS: Eudaimonia ... well-doing, living flourishingly. Megalopsychos ... "great-souled," "magnanimous." More: respect and concern for others; duty to improve oneself; using one's gifts to the fullest extent possible; fully aware; making one's own choices.

ARISTOTLE ON LEISURE: pursue excellence; reflect; deepen understanding; opportunity to work for higher ends. ["Rest" vs. "leisure."]

Energize others.
Respect others.
(Decency rules.)

Live in the moment.
This moment.
(There is no other.)

Tom Peters posted this on April 10, 2007, in Leadership.
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