“Victory belongs to the most persevering”

- Napoleon Bonaparte

Thought Pieces

“Judgement is not upon all occasions required but discretion always is.”

Thus said Lord Chesterfield Secretary of State for Ireland in the 18th century one senses with a glass of port in his hand. But I’m not sure that’s totally valid because judgement is always needed. Discretion in the age of selfies and social media has however become decreasingly prized. We have become a generation of show-offs.

It was Bob Woodruff CEO of Coca Cola nearly a century ago who warmed to the concept of not seeking praise for doing something for the corporation on the basis that success was not a personal thing. The ego then was not so well developed. Yet only those of who have the years of service and battle scarred experience or alternately those who are simply better at comprehending the needs of the service economy live in an ego-free world.

Even in the trinket flaunting world of professional football it’s the team result that matters. And reflecting on this world where the midfielders are drifting perfectly weighted passes to strikers it’s the players, like Ryan Giggs and the recently departed Dave McKay, who are the match winners or rather the facilitators of victory. Not unsung but not lionised either.

Daniel Kahneman the Nobel winning thinker and writer of “Thinking Fast and Slow” reflected on getting results and human beings’ tendency to focus on one solution when in reality, depending on how one judged a problem, there were nearly always a series of solutions. Where discretion most potently informs judgement is in checking out which solution will be not the right one but the one that can be made to work. In a situation like making a deal or finalising a negotiation that discretion informed judgement becomes vital.

Winning in an M&A or in buy or sell position of any kind the ability to listen, but not just listen, to hear and to understand as well, is the quality that matters.  But the listener, this victory facilitator, needs to have one other characteristic too. And that’s something that others feel about them not think about them. Jack Welch a few years ago got it right when he presciently said:

“Stop worrying about technology and start worrying about who trusts you.”

Without being trusted however good your judgement, your money or your discretion, success will be denied you when it counts.

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