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Reflections on inflections

Thornton A. May | March 11, 2014
Every day, contemporary executives confront a series of inflection points, where received wisdom is no longer adequate.

The responses indicate that in most organisations 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.


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