Remember the old Eveready battery commercial with Robert Conrad in a muscle shirt playing the tough guy? He had an Eveready battery sitting on his shoulder while he muttered the line, “I dare you to knock this off.” I’m not sure why he was daring anyone to knock the battery off his shoulder or what that really had to do with selling batteries, but I do remember the commercial nearly 40 years later.
Have you ever wondered why good things happen to bad people? I know I have. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I must admit that sometimes I scratch my head and wonder how someone with questionable character or who demonstrates unethical behavior seemingly ends up on top.
Over the weekend, I watched a movie with my wife. I won’t say which movie because my guy friends will make fun of me. But in my defense, this past weekend included Valentine’s Day. Anyway, the movie talked a lot about fate and destiny and got me thinking about how much of what happens to us is within our control.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about integrity—the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Then last week we learned that NBC News chief anchor Brian Williams appears to have been stretching the truth. His employer has confirmed that it is investigating Williams’ statement that he was in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 that was hit by enemy fire and forced out of the air.
If you are like me and are interested in politics, you know Ronald Reagan was considered the “Great Communicator.” His effectiveness as a communicator was often credited to his career in radio, television, and movies. His detractors often said of his oratory skills, “He’s just up there acting.” But to me Reagan’s effectiveness as a speaker went beyond his smooth voice and polished delivery. Reagan, through the use of stories and illustrations, could educate his audience and move them to take action.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And right now, the smoke is billowing out of New England. That’s because, once again, the New England Patriots are embroiled in controversy over alleged cheating. If you haven’t heard about “deflate-gate,” you haven’t been watching the news.
The 2007 book Lone Survivor tells the true story of a failed Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan from the viewpoint of the only person who survived, Marcus Luttrell. The book—and later a film of the same title—recounts the details of a mission gone wrong and the battle for survival.
The great Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, once said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” Robinson certainly wasn’t content to be just a spectator, and neither should we. Wouldn’t you much rather be playing than watching?
As 2014 winds to an end, it’s good to reflect on all you have accomplished this past year. Think back across the last 12 months and consider all you have done both personally and professionally. Consider the goals you set for yourself that you have crossed off the list. Examine the work you have done and the contributions you have made to your organization’s success. Look at the impact you have had on the lives of others and how they are better off for it. Give yourself credit for what you have done—not what you have left undone.
I often talk about the characteristics of the people with whom I want to work. In their book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg talk about the type of people they had at Google. And the two of them should know—Schmidt is the executive chairman and ex-CEO, and Rosenberg is a former SVP of products. Both came to Google after its founding and had to adapt to an existing culture that was very particular and reflected the principles of the founders.