Once, a long time ago, I sat in my boss's office - a brand manager of a large consumer products company. It was Saturday, Christmas Eve, and the brand group joined the discussion. He extolled us to get a number of delayed projects done for review and approval January 1.

Right after the meeting, one member of the brand group (this was 6 PM) left for Christmas with family and our boss yelled "Get your priorities right, your family or your career!". (Parenthetically, the issues we work through on Christmas Eve were not reviewed with upper management until March of the next year.)

My immediate thought was our boss, the brand manager, was really messed up. The problem was the boss's priorities and his insecurity, which his subordinate's audacity of leaving work at 6 PM lit up like fireworks.

The brand's performance was not an issue with the rightness of the programs, but rather the inability of the manager to make timely decisions. Our boss was precise to a fault which got in the way of decision making. No matter how smart we are or become, information is never perfect.

As business owners, we need to make calculated risk judgments based on a high level of trust among out team. We need to honestly prioritize how our teams invest their time.

At another time and place I worked for the president of a company who was shrewd, in a good sense. He saw opportunities in weakness of competitors, loved learning ways to exploit those weaknesses, and had the political clout within the corporation to get resources to expose competitive weakness for market advantage. That game was fun, but at end of days failed to inspire his team to build to greatness, an idea sacrificed at the alter of short term short profits.

The point of all this is that there are bosses and company owners whose sense of life is low despite their technical acumen. They are able to distort the work life balance so they slowly and beautifully allow the dying of terrific businesses right before our eyes.

Seeing so many once vibrant businesses die, in part, is why I created MacDuff. I want to help company owners rewire their businesses for sustainable wealth (freedom in my terms) on the premise we can inspire achievement beyond our personal limited lines of sight.

Two of my bosses framed that big idea, John and Ben. John is collaborative, empowering, brilliant leader who taught me that we get there together or we don't get there at all. He helped simplify complex ideas so they could come alive. He embodies strength, fairness and morality that combine in an uncanny way to fuse together highly motivated, self-directed teams with records of uncompromising achievement.

Ben was inspiring in a different way. He was bold, flashy, had terrific imagination with a bias toward action. He was awesome and fun at his best.

When people whose careers we've touched think back on us, how will we be remembered? I sense that most of us never pause during our careers to question whether or not we inspire others to grow beyond the limits we see in ourselves.


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