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The DT Series: Part 4 — “You may be good, but my industry is unique. My problems are ... different.

Ronald Reagan is perhaps one of the most popular presidents that America ever had. He was already 70 when he became president and even lived through a serious shooting incident that left him quite incapacitated. He was known for being the only president of that generation to spend a considerable time vacationing. He was a great orator and built on his experience from Hollywood to charm the American population and his team during those desperate times. He was always known to be smiling and calm even in moments of severe crisis, bringing a sense of cool headedness and tranquility to even the most stressful situations. Yet, his critics are quick to accuse him of being ignorant of what was happening and not paying too much attention to governance. But if you look back, you can see that he was a very smart president. He was astute enough to quickly realize his strengths and his weaknesses. He did not set out to learn and do what he was not good at, nor did he micromanage. Instead, he surrounded himself with experts in every field. And he patiently listened to what they had to say, analyzing and debating with himself and his team as to the right approach. Unknown to perhaps his whole team and even the rest of the nation, he was the unassuming leader who masterminded the whole operation by stitching together all the connecting pieces so beautifully well.

It takes a whole lot of courage to let go of your ego and accept the fact that you cannot do everything. The relevance of social capital has long since upset the theory of individualism that the west have so staunchly upheld. Humans are born to be society animals — sharing and caring are part of who we are. When someone says “I have been here doing this day in and day out for the past 15 years, how will you know what I don’t”, they have a point. No one can negate the experience and skill gained over the experience of being there and trying and failing over the course of several years. Everyone has problems and so do entrepreneurs. But if you look at these from a few thousands of feet high, you will see that these problems are more or less the same regardless of industry.

It is said that Steve Jobs got the idea of creating an iPod when his daughter was struggling to carry all her music around. It is common knowledge that Isaac Newton derived the theory of Gravity when an apple fell on his head. In 1940, restaurateurs Richard and Maurice McDonald founded the first fast food hamburger stand in San Bernadino, California. It was Ray Kroc, a businessman with a series of failed ideas and apparently no experience in the restaurant business who expended the franchise business to now over $21 billion in revenue. Ideas can come from all sorts of places. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be backed by long years of slogging over a factory shop floor. Humans are strange species. Each one of them is unique and they think and behave differently. And it is this aspect perhaps combined with the experience and insights that they imbibe over their lifetime that has created the world that we live in today.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, reach out to your network, surround yourself with experts and non-experts. Listen to all they have to say, let it soak in … And while you’re at it, lets also remember this memorable quote from an even more memorable person.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. “ — Ronald Reagan


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