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Thornton May: Reflections on inflections

Thornton May | March 20, 2014
Boards of directors, CEOs and politicians these days are much concerned with optics, the way things look. It's understandable. We live in a world where everything is recorded or recordable, where every gesture, physical or digital, can be analyzed and commented upon, where there is no such thing as a dead mic or a truly off-camera moment.

• When was the last time you heard the phrase "inflection point" used in a sentence?

• When you hear the phrase "inflection point," what is the first thing that comes to mind?

The responses indicate that in most organizations there is not much reflection about the implications of inflection points. This is a bad thing. The deepest thinkers throughout history have understood that the defining characteristic of the human condition is change. The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus counseled those who longed for a routine, predictable and never-changing world that they could not "step in the same river twice." Aristotle was a bit more straightforward, telling us, "Nothing is absolute. Nothing is permanent."

Another of the ancients, the Stoic Epictetus, provided relevant-for-today guidance when he advised his fellow Romans not to try to control what you can't control: "Seek to be in control only of what you are able." But here's the thing: Great leaders are able to imagine and hence control what is on the other side of the inflection point.

Source: ChannelWorld India


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