We were working with a new client, helping to set up the systems and find the employees it will need to make the venture a success. During one of the discussions on direction and attitude, the client voiced that our Jewish values were truly helpful. I, for one, did not consider these to be innately Jewish- especially since my business partner of decades agreed with these “credos”- and he is a Southern Baptist. Moreover, I believe every person and company (every company is really a collection of individuals with a common mission) needs to espouse values or credos such as these to succeed. It has nothing to do with one’s religion.
Let’s start with the one that brought our client’s comments to the fore. I had said that what we were doing was going to be uncomfortable. And, our client- and the employees- need to learn to ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable’. Or the enterprise will fail. Changing things, doing things other have not done means our neck is sticking out- and that is uncomfortable. But, if we don’t take risks, we won’t accrue rewards.
Another concept was ‘time is of the essence’. Every minute one takes to discern the proper action is a minute another entity is already taking action. And, that means choices will be made for us- whether we like it or not. That’s the reason we must have business plans that include potential contingencies and responses- to ensure that action proceeds in the best manner possible.
Which brings up the next key factor. Starting something may be risky- but everyone can do that. Few finish. Keep the mission and vision foremost and follow those rules to garner success.
Proof that these are not Jewish values is that Donald Rumsfeld- who espoused opinions with which I could rarely agree and was certainly NOT Jewish- managed to state the next concept better than most. He talked about known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.
His actual quote: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”
It is our job to minimize the possibility of unknown unknowns, to know exactly what we know and don’t know, and to act accordingly. Which often means were are going to hear things that don’t agree with our conceptions. We need to determine if these ‘uncomfortables’ are truths or not; we must be able to learn what we don’t know- even if we don’t like it. (The Jewish value: Who is wise? The person who learns from everyone. Sorry- it loses something when translated to English.)
Finally, the key factor is that we must demand- and deliver- more of ourselves than we expect from others. Because it is by this example that others will follow us, despite their uncomfortableness, despite their missing the full picture.
It’s the leader who leads ethically and with integrity that will garner the admiration – and actions- of the team(s).