Let me quote from the New York Times columnist David Brooks who is quoting from someone else:
“I believe the really good people would be reasonably successful in any circumstance,” the detective writer Raymond Chandler wrote in his notebook in 1949. If Shakespeare came back today, “he would have refused to die in a corner.”
That's a striking image, and a fascinating perspective.
This week, I spoke to a great group of people one day for five hours. We were talking about business and personal success - in all its definitions and contours. Our topics included the two frameworks of ideas that I call "The 7 Cs of Success" and "The Four Foundations of Greatness." We laughed, we pondered, and a few times, I quoted long passages from Shakespeare to throw some unexpected light on a hidden facet of our subjects, and of our lives. And I do think that Raymond Chandler was right. Whenever he might have been born, in any alternative possible world, Shakespeare would most likely have made his mark.
At one point in the five hours of philosophizing, not counting the extra hour of pondering the mysteries of life at lunch over barbecue, baked beans, and cole slaw, I mentioned what I like to call my "3-D Conception of Success" - that, however different personal success may look for different people, it's always about three things:
1. Discovering your talents
2. Developing those talents
3. Deploying them into the world for the good of others as well as yourself.
Circumstances may facilitate this process, or inhibit it terribly. But really good people have a way of prevailing in almost any circumstances. What do we mean here by "really good"? Simply, the people who insist on doing the process of 3-D living well. Those who work at it, and keep at it, and pour their hearts into it.
But maybe, you might wonder, it's just the people like Shakespeare, the people who have that extra spark and talent and wisdom and even "genius," who will stand out, no matter what. Yeah, maybe. But maybe, also, more of us have that in us than we ever might imagine - our own versions, for sure, but a spark worth fanning into a flame that will provide its own light in the world.
How will you handle your circumstances now? To be or not to be: that is the question.