John Gardner’s Advice

This is a quote from a speech John Gardner gave when he was 88:

“The luckiest people are those who learn early … that it’s essential to take charge of your own life. That doesn’t mean you don’t accept help, friendship, love, and leadership–if it’s a good leadership–from others. But it does mean recognizing that ultimately you’re the one who’s responsible for you. No excuses. Don’t blame others. Don’t blame circumstances. You take charge. And one of the things that you take charge of is your own learning… Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. John W. Gardner, Living, Leading, and the American Dream (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003).

This is exactly what I believe. It is great when you can find in writing what is in your head! This quote is included in Life Entrepreneurs. The last part of the book talks about trends in the entrepreneurial age (since, apparently, we have moved out of the information age):

  • Untethering – moving away from traditional structures, working 9-5 at the same company for life (the median tenure at one company is now 4 years). People want flexible work schedules and work lives;
  • Authenticity – finding “work” that matches your authentic self and focuses on your passions and values. Most younger workers are looking for work where they are valued and can make a difference and they aren’t willing to work for 30 – 40 years and then retire to “do good.” They want to make a difference now.
  • Integration – people are focused on integrating their work life and home life or at least finding time to do what they want, whether it is surfing, hiking, or following your children’s soccer careers. There is less compartmentalizing home v. work going on.

I think very successful companies do all of these things with their employees. I think successful employees seek this environment out and thrive in it!


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