MLK, Obama and the Possibility of Change
Regardless of one’s politics, it is quite extraordinary that President Obama will be inaugurated for his second term on the very same day we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. Back in 1962 when I was born, the possibility of a non-white male becoming President of the United States, let alone for two terms, was as fanciful and ridiculous a notion as having a man walk on the moon, or having the ability to carry a tiny device in your pocket that would enable you to easily communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. These examples, and countless others, demonstrate how much change is possible regardless of how entrenched or daunting the challenge may seem.
Turning the mere possible into the new reality takes a clear vision (“I have a dream…”), along with enormous effort, fortitude and good fortune. Wishful thinking is a sure guarantee of failure. The clear vision required is not merely for the future outcome but also for scope of the challenge. If we don’t fully size up the challenge and align resources to meet that challenge, we are doomed to failure.
Over the past 21 years practicing law, I have helped form over a hundred businesses. Some thrived and became worth tens of millions of dollars, while others failed. The rest have enjoyed various degrees of success. When I look back at what set apart the successes from the failures, the main determinant for success was the ability of the business leaders to constantly size up the challenges and align resources to meet the then present challenges of the business. Sometimes this meant bringing in key personnel, firing employees, raising capital, entering or exiting joint ventures, or taking on or avoiding debt – to just name a few.
A critical element is not taking on too much than you can handle. Many businesses and endeavors fail because of an over-commitment of resources. The “If you build it, they will come” mentality was a big success for the Hollywood movie, Field of Dreams. However, it has doomed many organizations.
Wishing you all a happy Martin Luther King day and much success.