What Kind of Person?
November 30, 2012
The Nov. 12, 2012 issue of Fortune magazine asked 21 high-profile people from all walks of life for the one piece of wisdom that got them where they are today. The responses were typical tripe . . . except from Scott Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Zipcar. Griffith said he received this advice from his brother 15 years ago:
"You have to think about what kind of person you want to be when you’re done with this experience. Think about coming out of this a different person than you go in.”
Mr. Griffith got this advice shortly after he was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma. But he came to see how this advice could be applied to any challenge – positive or negative – in his or anybody else’s life.
Think how different things would be if Pete Rose had asked this before betting that he could get away with gambling during his Major League Baseball career; or if Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens or others had asked it before the start of their steroid-stained MLB careers.
Which takes me to more recent fallen heroes: Lance Armstrong, and Generals David Petraeus and John Allen. All three have done so much that is so good, most of which has unraveled with their ruined reputations.
If they had only asked, “What kind of person do I want to be when I’m done with this experience?”
They have come out of their experiences different than they went in, but not at all as they had hoped.
We used to say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It’s also true these days that no bad deed goes undiscovered.