Ability Development

In Ability Development from Age Zero, Shinichi Suzuki describes telling a violin student:

‘”Stop playing the violin for one week. There is something you must learn besides the violin. It is the spirit of doing things for other people. … To begin with, pick up your friend’s books when they have fallen…. Live by looking for things to do for other people. This is your homework … [ Read more ]

Would we bet on it?

Gordon Bell, a prominent investor who funds start-ups, is very blunt with executives of firms in his portfolio. For instance, when someone makes predictions for company performance, Bell will zero in on one number and ask the CEO, “Wanna bet? A side bet, you and me, for $1,000.” If the CEO gulps, Bell knows he or she has doubts. At least once, when an underperforming … [ Read more ]

How does your organization deal with mistakes?

There’s the story about a top salesman in the aircraft industry who messed up. He lost a $5,000,000 contract. At his desk the next morning he starts going through his papers – tidying them up, clearing his desk. He gets a phone call from his manager,

“Have you got 5 minutes? ”

“Sure” he mumbles and slowly makes his way up the stairs to his boss’ … [ Read more ]

A $10 Million Education

When Tom Watson Jr. was chief executive of IBM in the early 1960s, he summoned an executive to his office after the man lost $10 million in a venture. Watson asked the man, “Do you know why I called you here?” Knowing of Watson’s legendary temper, the man replied: “I assume you’re going to fire me.”

“Fire you?” Watson asked. “I spent $10 million educating you. … [ Read more ]

Successful Failures

In a small pub in the highlands of Scotland a group of fishermen gathered one afternoon to swap tales over a round of ale. One of them stretched his arms apart to show the big one that got away. At that very point, a waitress walked past carrying a tray of full ale glasses. The fisherman’s wild gestures sent the tray smashing against the wall. … [ Read more ]

When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way

A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist. When he arrived at the dojo he was given an audience by the sensei.

“What do you wish from me?” the master asked.

“I wish to be your student and be the finest karateka in the land,” the boy replied. “How long must I study?”

“Ten years at least,” the master answered.

“Ten … [ Read more ]

Ask What’s It All For?

A corporate executive on holiday in a small Greek seacoast village was strolling by the docks and drinking in the local color. He complimented one fisherman on the quality of his catch.

“How long did it take you to get all those fish?” he wondered.

“Not very long,” answered the Greek. “An hour or two.”

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer to catch more?”

Shrugging, the Greek explained … [ Read more ]

Great Value in Disaster

In 1914 Thomas Edison’s factory in West Orange, New Jersey, was virtually destroyed by fire. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were insured for only $238,000 because they were made of concrete and were thought to be fireproof. Much of Edison’s life work went up in smoke and flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison’s 24-year-old son, Charles, searched … [ Read more ]

The Moth

A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On that day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if … [ Read more ]