Last night I had dinner with a man whom I would define as great - he is well-known, he thinks differently than others - he sees the world through a completely different set of lenses - and he is willing to put those ideas OUT THERE for people to wrestle with. While I am not at liberty to name this person, please know that I left dinner last night feeling as if I had been in the presence of greatness.
As I drove home (exhausted after a day of golf and intriguing discussion), I asked myself what made this person so amazing? I believe it comes down to several items:
1. He reads voraciously. When I asked him how to stay on top of things today, he laughed and noted, "While it is impossible to keep on top of everything, I read three papers each day (NY Times, LA Times, and Financial Times) and I am currently reading about 10 different books." Obviously, I was humbled.
2. He takes information he learns and processes it through lenses that are not afraid of predicting the future. Many of us often THINK what the future might hold, but are afraid to talk about it as if we might be wrong or sound weird. Maybe it is time more of us actually said what we were thinking and not kept it to ourselves.
3. He has longevity. This is no fly-by-night consultant who has all the answers. He has been doing this for years, and consistently is right in his thinking. A proven track record goes a long way in defining greatness.
A few thoughts from the conversation:
"We have to unlearn before we can re-learn. Unlearning may be the best type of learning in the years ahead."
"We're very good at bureaucracy...that's why we keep perpetuating that broken system."
"Before the system can be fixed, we will be forced to face several institutional Katrina's - who would have imagined that Walter Reed Hospital would not be able to care for it's patients?"
"The de-massification of society will lead toward greater complexity...do we know how to deal with this issue?"
Please forgive my ramblings this morning. It was an amazing evening, and I am sure that this blog will portray other thoughts in the days and weeks ahead that flowed out of the rich conversations that took place. A special thanks to my boss for including me in this dinner and wonderful experience.