Gateway Ridge 64° 43′ 00.0″ S

I was having my birthday dinner at Tutti Matti and we have all been working for almost fifteen years so we start to talk about the meaning of leadership. I’ve always assumed that my friends who run their own companies would have stronger opinions on this but maybe I’m the most opinionated person at the table, as usual.

Other than being excellent at what they do (because how can people who do not do an excellent job expect others to do an excellent job), I think a leader needs to consistently and authentically bring enthusiasm to The Process, not just The Purpose. Whether we work in tech or insurance or whatever, there are days when work feels like walking in a snow storm with limited visibility of The Purpose. The seed of success resides in the quality of doing, The Process is not magic (to sort of quote Eames).

To consistently and authentically bring enthusiasm to The Process, we have to enjoy The Process and, for me, connecting my work to the idea of exploration brings joy. Here are some examples.

Example A: Running the deal model and finding a better than expected return is like that time on the Bolivian Altiplano when I looked for a less windy place to go to the bathroom and then looked up and realized I also had a nice view.


Figure A: View from Bathroom Shelter

Example B: Being asked to provide detailed analysis while we are waiting for detailed information is like planning a journey through Antarctica. In Antarctic winter. That patch of unavailable information could be a sledging route.

Wikipedia: Gateway Ridge is a serrated rock ridge situated southeast of Mount Rennie on Anvers Island, in the Palmer Archipelago off the northwestern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The name originated because the snow col at the northern end of the ridge provides the only sledging route between Hooper Glacier and William Glacier.

Maybe we are all at that age where we start to question ourselves. Maybe this is a good thing. But if we can find joy and share it with others, then life is more than alright.

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city–
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and HERE (to sort of quote T. S. Eliot)

img src=Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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