Friday, December 6, 2013

Lean Quote: Become a Man of Value

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value.— Albert Einstein

Success is something that can be judged based upon achievement of goals. However someone who is successful does not necessarily have to give anything valuable to the world.

Value is something that can be measured based upon what an individual has contributed to the world.

Examples of success:
A politician that is elected to a high level of office can be considered successful politician.
A business man that makes a lot of money in the stock market is considered a successful stock broker.
An athlete that wins a gold medal in the Olympics is considered a successful athlete.
Albert Einstein achieved many great accomplishments in physics during his lifetime, and is therefore considered a successful physicist.

Examples of value:
Einstein invented the wheel, and the wheel is used by nearly all human beings living on the planet; therefore he has contributed something of extraordinary value to society, and is hence a valuable person.
Einstein synthesized the polio vaccine, which has been used to rid much humanity of a horrible disease, hence he is a person of value to society.
Through his theory of general relativity Albert Einstein fundamentally changed our view of gravity, and it's mechanics, clarifying many previously misunderstood concepts, and natural phenomena; hence he has been of great value to humanity, and more specifically to the field of physics.

Throughout history, the people who change the way we think, and live, and the people who influence our lives most have been men of value rather than men of success. Though it should be noted that most people of value can also be considered successful, due to the value of their contributions to the world.

There's nothing wrong with success, but oftentimes it's easy to lose sight of who you are when you're successful. If you keep your eyes on your own values, you'll end up both successful and a good person, which is a pretty good combination.

Einstein's quote does not preclude becoming successful (after all, he himself was both), but exhorts value creation as being a higher priority.

It also subtly calls for those who have success but have not yet used it to help other people to pitch in, under the guise of leaving a much longer-lasting legacy.

What do you think about this quote?


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