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Doesn’t finding stuff you wrote a long time ago feel eerily like when you find twenty bucks in some random jacket pocket? Kind of like ‘Oh awesome, I can use that!’ Anyway, I just came across this while cleaning up my office and it reminded me that my life credo could use a little refresh.  

A life credo is a good thing. It can help guide you, from time to time, through the darkness that is indecision. It can remind you of who you are, why you believe you are here, and what you plan to do about it all.

When creating your credo, make sure it rings of what’s true in you and assure that in living by it you leave the world a better place because you were in it.   And though you’ll probably rewrite it as often as you rewrite yourself, if you can hold to these basic principles – you will be the blessing the universe intended you to be.

I’ve had a few life credos over the years, but as I said above, they seem to need to change and stretch over time. It would be so amazing to be able to churn out something vast and profound and poetic like ‘Desderata’

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all it’s sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

or better yet, something simple like Einstein’s

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious.”

or the famous Whole Earth Catalog final issue sign-off that Steve Jobs made so famous

‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

…but I’m just not there (yet). I’ll keep trying though.

 

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I’m currently putting together a post on Vlogging or Video Blogging as an employee communications vehicle – and am debating whether to film an actual video/vlog or just write-up a post as per usual. Anyway, until I decide here’s some food for thought on the topic of leadership. (By the way, if you have a thought on the Vlog please feel free share. Otherwise check back in a few days to see what indecision, procrastination and frustration finally led me to).

The following article is reprinted from the Financial Times. Aside from agreeing wholeheartedly with the author on many points – for me the key takeaway was simply that Steve Jobs knows who he is, and he knows/feels/breathes, with crystal clarity, Apple’s purpose and mission. This is so often not the case with leaders (or ourselves even), and yet there is so much power in that simple concept.

Time to spit out more praise for Apple
By Lucy Kellaway

Published: September 26 2010 18:14 | Last updated: September 26 2010 18:14

Last week, at the very moment I was writing a column praising Apple for its plain way with words, Steve Jobs was entering into an e-mail exchange with a young woman who took plainness to a whole new level.

Chelsea Isaacs, a student from Long Island University, had got in touch with the Apple press office to get some information about the iPad for a paper she was writing. Six times she tried, but no response. So she e-mailed the chief executive to complain.

“Mr Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the media relations department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance.”

Mr Jobs replied: “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.”

Chelsea composed another long message in which she argued that Apple should have answered out of common courtesy.

This time he responded: “Nope. We have over 300 million users and we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry.”

So she pointed out she was a customer and did have a problem.

He replied: “Please leave us alone.”

It is just possible that Mr Jobs himself didn’t write these e-mails. Indeed, Apple’s media relations department has no more replied to queries on that score than they have to Chelsea’s.

Yet whether he did or not, the world is judging him badly. “Profoundly unhelpful,” says the Guardian. Various Apple-hating readers have gloatingly forwarded the exchange to me, inviting me to swallow my words of praise.

But I’m not going to swallow them. I’m going to spit out some more. Mr Jobs may be a slightly unpleasant piece of work, scary and arrogant. But if these messages are his, I congratulate him on his clarity, his tetchiness and on being entirely in the right.

Chelsea is to be congratulated, too. By goading the head of Apple, she has unwittingly stumbled on a much better topic for a journalistic paper than some nonsense about the iPad.

The first lesson is about brevity. Her initial message was 473 words. His was 12. His words were short and sharp and easy to understand. Hers less so. Even in the one unwieldy sentence quoted above, she makes three elementary mistakes. She uses the word “humble” when she isn’t. She refers to irony when there is none. And sarcasm is always a mistake in an e-mail, especially if you are trying to get your own way.

The next lesson is that it is OK for a CEO to be rude to a customer. The customer need not always be king, especially when he or she is behaving like a spoilt, tiresome brat. So long as the rudeness doesn’t involve a loss of dignity and it isn’t being used, Michael O’Leary-style, as a tiresome stunt to get attention for Ryanair, then it is fine.

Moreover, in this particular case, Mr Jobs’ grumpiness was in the public interest. He was making a vital, though unfashionable, point about priorities. If I were an Apple shareholder I’d be reassured to know that the company’s top priority did not include helping out Chelsea.

The point needs to be made harshly, because modern students simply don’t get it. I often get e-mails from them saying: “I’m doing an essay on marketing. Can you please send me everything you’ve written on this subject?” Next time I’m going to tell them straight: “No, I can’t. It’s not my job.”

When Mr Jobs was a student, if he needed help I daresay he did what we all did back then: ask a teacher, or work it out yourself. But Chelsea’s generation has been duped by the self-esteem movement into believing its development is a matter of general concern, and then duped some more by the internet, which has taught it that the world is democratic and it can have everything right now.

Alas, these beliefs sit so deep, that Mr Jobs’ forceful messages have not struck anywhere near home: Chelsea was last week still indignantly waiting for the busy head of one of the world’s most remarkable companies to say sorry.

“I have nothing against him,” she said magnanimously. “I hope he gives me a call.”

I trust she will have to wait an eternity for that call, and in the meantime will grow up and get a job and discover that working life is not a democracy and there is a hierarchy, and being just a little humble isn’t a bad way to start.
lucy.kellaway@ft.com

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