I’ve been meditating on this quote by Abraham Lincoln which I think is incredibly important to consider:
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
As I’ve been putting a new company I’ve given this a lot of thought.
My small team has walked through a ton of adversity over the past few months and we feel great out how much we’ve accomplished and overcome, but, we have yet to be given the power that could corrupt, that could actually provide the fleshy-tissue type of challenges that could destroy us.
In that way, I have to be grateful that we have yet to be challenged in that way and that I have the right people around me for support and accountability.
On the other hand, if I’m to be honest, there is a part of me that cannot wait to be tested, to prove to myself that I can overcome and that I don’t have to walk down the path that so many have trodden.
I want to build a different type of company, both the products that we create and the character sits behind them. I’d like to do things differently, not because being different is in and of itself quantifiably better but because I believe that it is easier to do what most people have done and but then impossible to expect different results.
In other words, if I am to do what others have done then the results would most likely be mediocre – I simply do not want to build a mediocre business or become a mediocre person. I want to be excellent and I think the difference is found in one’s character.
Adversity, I can handle; I’ve been doing that for most of my professional career (I don’t recommend this to most people, mind you). But I want to be really tested, really tried. Glutton for punishment and pain? Check.