…. each generation has to do better than the last one”
That’s a quote from a TED talk by Hector Ruiz (CEO of AMD), talking about the ’50×15′ initiative.
It struck me as very true, particularly as Ruiz’s father related it not to “civilisation” as a whole, but to him as an individual – telling the young Hector that he had to be a better student, husband, father etc than he himself had managed. That personal responsibility is very important IMHO, as it stops us relying on ‘the others’ or some amorpohous thing called ‘society’ of which we’re a sort of part, but we’re not sure what we can do to affect it.
That made me think: overall my father did better than my grandfather. Granddad was a good husband to my Gran (even though she could be a bit of a cow) for over 50 years. He was a successful shopkeeper, much loved by the community and pretty much universally respected for his kindness and courtesy. And he was a good father to my Dad, but his sphere of influence was pretty small. My Dad was married to my Mum for over 50 years too, before he died. And he was a good father to his three sons – pointing us in the right direction, but letting us go out and make our own way in the world. And baling us out when we got it wrong. He was a senior executive in a big conglomerate, and he was a dedicated lay preacher in the local Methodist church, so he was able to spread his influence much wider than Granddad did.
So what of the next generation? Leaving my brothers out of it (though neither has achieved what Dad did, or Granddad), I’ll consider myself. I got a third at Durham, aftert a pretty idle 3 years; I used to think that was progress compared to Dad – he didn’t go to Uni at all – but in reality he’d studied really hard for his accountancy qualifications and passed with flying colours. I did my MBA later on, of which Dad was inordinately proud, so maybe I eventually scraped through on being a better student. Husband? Well, I’ve been married to Daniela for over 13 years now, and she’s showing few signs of getting fed up with me, so I might scrape through on that one. Except this is my 3rd attempt, both the previous goes ending in divorce – so at best a shaky start with a promising end on that score. And I haven’t had children, so I don’t score too well on that one either.
So, have I failed in my responsibility to do better than the previous generation? Absolutely not! I’m only 48, I’ve got as long again to make my mark; it’s just that I’ve had a slow start, so I’d better get my finger out! I know what I’m here for (Encouraging Potential) and I have some ideas how to do it for greatest effect – hence my interest in AMD’s plans for the developing world, and charities like PennyOn.
How are you going to make sure you do better than your previous generation?