Notes From My Journal
The Lessons of History
Delray Beach, FL– On the recommendation of Tim Ferriss, I’m reading Will and Ariel Durant’s The Lessons of History. Published in 1962, it contains the occasional paragraph that seems chronologically quaint. But the sentences are lovely. The tone is pitch perfect. And it is dense with wise thoughts and observations.
A few tidbits:
* We are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character.
* Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization.
* Society is founded not on the ideals but on the nature of man.
* Puritanism and paganism – the repression and the expression of the senses and desire – alternate in mutual reaction in history.
* The concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution.
* Economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation.
* Monarchy seems to be the most natural kind of government, since it applies to the group the authority of the father in a family or of the chieftain in a warrior band. If we were to judge forms of government from their prevalence and duration in history we should have to give the palm to monarchy; democracies, by contrast, have been hectic interludes.
* If progress is truly real despite our whining, it is not because we are born healthier, better, or wiser than infants were in the past, but because we are born to a richer heritage, born on a higher level of that pedestal which the accumulation of knowledge and art raises as the ground and support of our being.
From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket
Every Problem Should Have a Simple Solution
On August 15, I published an essay titled “Growers and Tenders” in which I suggested that there are two kinds of employees. I wrote:
This is an exaggeration, but I like to say that, in business, personalities can be divided into two camps: those that value growth and those that value order.
Those that value growth (the growers) want to make everything bigger. Those that value order (the tenders) want to make everything better. And you need both to enjoy unstoppable success. But the ratio depends on where in the business lifecycle your company is.
This idea is, of course, a simplification. But there’s nothing wrong with that. In business (as in almost any context), simple ideas are almost always better than complicated ones because: