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Passion, People and Principles

The Power of One

post # 83 — May 22, 2006 — a Careers post

I attended the graduation of my niece, Fiona, from the University of Virginia. The commencement speaker was Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities and many other works. I’ve been a fan of his work, especially his earlier non-fiction writing, for a long time.

As a speaker, he did meander a bit, covering many of the themes he has previously written about. However, his main point was very effective.

Using the examples of Jesus, Mohammed, Marx, Freud and many others, he pointed out that the world has frequently been changed profoundly through words, offered by an individual without an institution to back them up.

I’m not sure how the graduates reacted to his point, but as a writer without an institution around me, I, of course, found it very inspiring.

There’s nothing like flattering your audience into thinking they could be compared to great people.

His point also reminded me of Peter Drucker’s often quoted message that, in business and elsewhere, nothing ever happens except when it is created by “a monomaniac on a mission.”

A little less flattering an image to accept for oneself, but equally accurate.

My version?

Whatever it is that I want to see happen — it ain’t up to THEM. It’s up to ME.


Duncan Bucknell said:

David – great post – I totally agree.

Here is another spin:

The sooner that we realise that our time on earth is (very) limited, the sooner we will do our utmost to make the most of it.

I challenge anyone to do the simple calculation of how many years they (probably) have left to live – and to be unaffected by that.

Life is to be made the most of – no two ways about it.

posted on May 22, 2006

Bill Sherman said:


Although you may not have a bricks-and-mortar institution, your writing has the potential to shape the mindsets within many institutions and firms.

So, while the initial passion can comes from “a monomaniac on a mission” that passion can spread like a brushfire across organizations and groups.

Here’s my way of looking at the issue as a change-catalyst.

If you want to see something happen, how can you encourage people to join in your vision and dream?

posted on May 22, 2006

Bill Peper said:

As I read the blog, I thought of a great quote from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

posted on May 22, 2006

Francis Egenias said:

‘Whatever it is that I want to see happen – it ain’t up to THEM. It’s up to ME”

One author put it this way –

if it’s to be, its up to me

posted on May 22, 2006

Kathy Fish said:

I couldn’t agree more about being able to say “no”. When I used to do Board of Director training for non-profits, one of the key points that I stressed was that the Board would have to say No every so often. Say no to a good idea, a large contribution, a new program, or whatever. Happy to see that you are preaching saying No. Wish more people knew it wasn’t a dirty word!

posted on May 24, 2006

Phil Gott said:

This post and the comments are very motivating.

Drucker’s monomaniac certainly needs a mission. I don’t think an individual can make much of an impact without a world-changing mission. The individuals you mention all had one. The “world” may be the world of professional services or any other world the individual feels passionate about, but there has to be passion.

If passionate individuals work with like-minded people then the passion can be amplified. Unfortunately, in too many organisations there is no world-changing mission and no passion. Shame.

posted on May 24, 2006

Elviza A. Balmaceda said:

I agree that everything starts from someone’s leadership, persistence, and cosistency that makes anything at best or worst. It can be coming from a group but that group has that individual’s share and from which still comes from the power of one… a corporate power of each individual or one!

posted on January 18, 2010