Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) was the Greek philosopher who emphasized change as the only constant in the universe. He also was the first to use the word Logos as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.
He famously said, “You can’t step into the same river twice.”
Most people say, “Of course, because the river is always changing.”
You’re changing, too. I stepped into the Ohio River many times growing up along its banks, but I was never the same person twice.
It is sobering to reread the notes and scribbles I made in books when I was younger. When I was in my twenties I noted next to one of the Psalms of Lament, “What a whiner!” Now in my mid-fifties, I read that Psalm and think, “I can empathize.” I found the poetry of Robert Burns completely boring in college, and now can be delighted with the same poems. Often when I reread a book I think, “Why didn’t I underline that sentence before? That’s the most important thing in this chapter!” Some movies and music which I thoroughly enjoyed in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s bore me now, or are frankly embarrassing.
In ten years, I’ll think my comments from 2018 are foolish or puzzling.
I’m not the same person; my experiences have shaped me, and shape my ability to perceive. I’ll continue to change.
This, of course, is why you should reread great books after a few years. A great book will speak to you at multiple points in your life.
Which brings me to my leadership guidance:
Don’t compare yourself with others; aim only to be better than you were yesterday.
You’ve heard the story about the two men being chased by a bear. One man says that he needs only to outrun the other.
It’s a big world with millions of people with some similarities to you, some not as good, but many better. You might be a terrific business leader, but there are thousands who are better than you. If you’re one in a million in India, there are 1300 of you.
Foolish people believe that if they aren’t #1, they are a failure. This belief is a broad path to a deeply unhappy life.
Be competitive with the you that you were yesterday. That’s a thrilling, engaging mission.