Return on Luck.

One of my favorite chapters in Jim Collins’ book Great By Choice.  It talks about how when presented with good or bad luck, you have the opportunity to make the best of the situation, or not.  I was thinking of this recently when I had the great fortune to be reacquainted with an early mentor.  It started with a distant social media post that worked its way to me, ultimately through Clint Laviano, who was also mentored by him.  Then a couple weeks ago I reconnected and spoke with Ron Tryon, long retired and living the dream down in Florida with his wife Joan.  It was great to catch up with him after so many years, especially having been so so grateful for all he did for me in my early career.

Way back in 1984, Ron recruited me to my first career job at Lanier Business Products in Boston.  If my parents helped me build my foundation, Ron helped me build the first floor.  Ron was my boss’s boss and he used his role to mold, teach, inspire, and lead me from afar.  And it wasn’t just Clint and me: there are scores of our colleagues who caught Ron’s eye and got his attention.   He shaped a generation of us young and aspiring computer techs and set us up to make our own mark on the world.  All of us were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Last week I was in Philadelphia running peer group meetings with leaders of IT businesses.  During these meetings I started to see a theme and it made me think back to my conversation with Ron.  A number of the group’s long term members who have been achieving success and growth are beginning to get, for lack of a better term, bored.  They have achieved many goals, made lots of money, and run great businesses.  But it seems like something is missing, and the great mountains they were striving to climb have been summited and they can’t seem to find the next mountain.

From my conversation with Ron, so many years later, I realized he taught me yet another lesson.  Looking back, my greatest achievements have been NOT ONLY our business’s growth and profits (although I think they are a prerequisite); some of the greatest achievements were the handful of young people I was able to influence – in hindsight, my way of paying Ron’s debt forward.

We all have the opportunity to help lead, shape, and inspire others.  These can be our most rewarding achievements.  Maybe this is the next mountain?

Thank you Ron!  You will never fully understand the impact you have made.  I am grateful to have been one of the lucky ones.


What I am reading:
Work:  Rolling Rocks Downhill by Clarke Ching – Amazon Link
The Agile Business Novel
Pleasure: The Grid by Gretchen Bakke – Amazon Link
The fraying wires between Americans and our energy future