What You Can Learn From A Serene Career Of Failure And Success!

There is a quote in Its A Wonderful Life that is always front of mind for me. George Bailey says to Mary.

I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that.


I never had that clarity, it didn’t work out the way George planned it, but it did work out. As I enter the waning years of my career it feels like it all worked out for me too.

I have been winging it for a long time. I have never had a plan for my career. I did have some goals but not a plan for achieving them. Most of my goals have not been reached.



I am not sure if that means I failed or not. Many of my achievements were not goals of mine, but I am sure glad to have reached them. If you had told me years ago what my future would be, I would have laughed.

I didn’t and don’t have a plan for anything. It is a bit ironic I have received many endorsements for strategy.


To me, what is most important is to have ideas.


Often ideas can be confused with strategy in some ways but should not be. Ideas spawn from creativity and creativity in business is a form of currency. At least it has been for me. Creativity, I believe, is close to strategy and it needs to be to be effective.

I took the liberty to change Jeff I. Richards excellent quote.

Creative without strategy is called art.

I like the following.

Creativity without strategy is art.

Strategy puts some boundaries on creativity which is good.

Letting your freak flag fly is necessary for creativity. How you do this is up to you. Some sit on the beach, listen to music, read, drink, cook, eat, write and “on and on” as Kurt Vonnegut wrote. Who remembers Vonnegut? I read every book he published and miss his writing.

My journey with books began when I was a kid. I took the PSAT’s to prepare for college. I learned from this test that I was stupid as my scores were poor. My beautiful and wonderful sister Karen gave me some great advice. She was super strong, smart and determined and told me I needed to read more. So I did, and now remember the following books and authors. I read The Bible, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov. I kept going and read everything by Vonnegut and John Irving. I spiced it up with Nikolai Gogol not to mention Rudyard Kipling. It was my junior year in high school. I have read War and Peace many times, usually at pivotal times in my life. I asked my fiancé and now my wife, Susan to read it too, before we married. She said Yes, twice and did it. Here is a picture of my sister, Karen.


So reading for me is key… the key to spawning creativity. Once you have an idea sharing it is super important. Consider this: If you hang with the idea crowd there is power in numbers. I have an idea; you do too. Your friend has one and her friend as well. If we all share our ideas with each other, then four of us have four ideas. This follows from the thinking of George Bernard Shaw.

Think of the power of social media to create and share ideas. I can be sitting on the beach and develop my idea and put it up on LinkedIn or Facebook and ask for feedback. I then have access to a huge number of people to help me. For example, I did this recently with a post on LinkedIn. The intent was to generate feedback on my post Career Irony – Why I Never Cared About Corporate Values! Once I had the comments, I could choose to make the changes before I pitched it to Huff Po. I received more than 50 responses with suggestions to improve my post. I just asked for help.

That’s what I did, and it worked. It seemed like a good idea to me. A friend said it was creative. I used it with a strategy to get my work published on Huff Po.

What do you do to generate ideas?

Are you willing to respond to this post with an answer so we can all help each other out?

My best, Chris