After their initial meeting (2 days), Peter Drucker asked one thing of Jim Collins. Change your question from how to be successful to how to be useful.
“But I do have a request. That you change your question a little bit. It seems to me you spend a lot of time trying — worrying about if you’re going to survive. Well, you’ll probably survive. And you spend too much time thinking about if you’ll be successful. It’s the wrong question. The question is, “how to be useful?” And that was the last thing he said that day. He just got out of the car, and closed the door, and walked away.
Listen to Jim Collins tell the story on the Tim Ferris Podcast. Starts around 1hour 38minutes in.
I’ve heard about this book for a while, read a lot of other books by people close to Ben Horowitz, but for some reason never felt moved to read this one. Thinking about it – it was probably because on the surface his story seemed to be an easy one. Got hired at Netscape, Great (Best) friends with Marc Andreessen, CEO at Loudcloud, Sell to HP, Partner at Andreessen-Horowitz. Easy life.
So wrong. And that assumption violated something I know deeply. In life, business, sports, war – whatever… it never does us any good to compare our insides with other people’s outsides. We don’t know their struggles or challenges – we only see what we see. Never enough information.
It reminds me of a greeting card I have been carrying in my bag for almost 20 years. It’s a photo group of people underneath a sign that reads “never touched by the human hand” and the quote by Mark Twain below says… “there was net yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is a dram, a comedy and a tragedy.”
I carry that card to remind me that whoever I’m dealing with – we all have our story.
Ben Horowitz’ journey was a lot harder than I thought – and this week, that made the fight a little bit easier in my world.