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Your Best Thinking Got You Here
Why else would you be here?
There is a truism that frequently makes the rounds in the kind of business nonfiction trade hardcovers that you might one day find yourself absentmindedly flipping through in an airport while waiting on a delayed flight that goes: YOUR BEST THINKING GOT YOU HERE.
It shows up in rehabs too and pretty much anywhere where people end up such that they’d probably rather have been somewhere else and now they have to let go of the past and their attachments so they can try something new.
For those of us who, as a matter of principle, take radical responsibility for the trajectory of our own lives, “YOUR BEST THINKING GOT YOU HERE” is also a scathing indictment of all that we have failed to accomplish thus far.
It was my best thinking that got me here.
They say talent hits a target no one else can hit while genius hits a target no one else can see. I imagine new targets every week and still have only a cursory understanding as to my ability to hit them.
I remember attending, in Omaha years ago, as a bright eyed freshly minted investment banker twenty-something, the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, known colloquially as the “Woodstock of Capitalism.” Warren and Charlie traditionally sit for a long Q&A session, with questions ranging from general life advice to specific asks on the economics of reinsurance entities. One of the most memorable questions, IMO, from the year I attended, was from a random business school student.
The question: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to network with influential people but doesn’t have access to the alumni network of a top business school?
“You’ve got to do the best you can, playing the hand you’ve been dealt.”
And doesn’t all of life boil down to this one infinitely scaleable truth? On an abstract level, what should anyone do about problem XYZ? What should we do when the elements are stacked against us? When we have wasted time and energy on the wrong people, the wrong ideas, the wrong careers, the wrong cities, etc? What do we do when the cards are stacked against us? What do we do when the probability of failure is high and when the path between dream and reality is littered with obstacles and pitfalls and setbacks? What do we do when our opponents have a head start?
There’s only one answer, which is to keep plowing ahead, one day at a time, doing the best we can with the hand we’ve been dealt. Called to do so living nonetheless in the vortex of knowing that our best didn’t always get us where we needed to be. And that our best may never get us there.