And I’ll tell it, and speak it, and think it, and breath it / And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it — A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall, Bob Dylan
Don Juan said that all paths lead nowhere, the path to choose is the one with heart. Yesterday a friend of mine died in an accident, suddenly and randomly. One moment here, the next not. But I think she chose the path with heart, she was full of joy.
There’s a corporate lie that is fairly ubiquitous— you know the one: that we are on a mission, that our people are our highest value, that we are committed to your success. And so many of us step onto that path, thinking it leads somewhere. To success, to money, to accomplishment. And because we have that end goal firmly in mind, we find the strength to do things that in the moment, feel wrong. We tell ourselves that it’s important, we tell ourselves the *we* are important, because our path leads somewhere, and that we don’t have time to help, to coach, or to find someone a role in our supposedly team effort.
There’s a religious lie along the same lines. For example the inquisitors, around the time of the 13th century, were willing to kill or even torture, all for the purpose of achieving a goal that was seen as so important that it excused, or even required, acts that could only be viewed as evil in themselves. And this teleological mistake is alive and well in modern times as well — one motive for the 911 attacks was a desire for an eventual reward from god. Murder in this life excused by the belief in a greater good.
Three years ago I started running every day. My habit has everything to do with what is right each day, in that moment, and nothing to do with some end goal. I don’t run to get fit, or to be healthy. I run because that very run is right and good.
At work we usually have longer term goals we are hoping to achieve. But if we let those get in the way of what is right today, the goals become empty. Valuing people — employees and customers both — means never letting your big goals obscure what is right in front of you. When I had someone on my team who was struggling, I worked hard with him to turn things around, to keep him on the team, and to find a role where he was doing something he loved and doing it well. That took up a lot of my time, creativity, and effort. It was not the easier path. But it was the path with heart.
And I don’t regret it.