I switched my routine this morning and just did a quick skim of the news – my diet these days consists of a roughly 10 minute read of The Economist Espresso, Quartz’ daily newsletter and the Skimm. There’s a bit of overlap across these 3 but I’ve still found value in each of them.
So, it is natural that the news is on top of my mind as I write this.
One of the funny things about reading the news is that I am regularly shocked by the amount of ongoing crap taking place. Yes, I understand that negative stuff brings about more readership but I do always wonder about the “real” ratio of positive to negative news in the world.
A quick example of the kind of stuff that shocked me this morning –
- Shell and ENI in Nigeria have had about 550 oil spills in Nigeria in the last few years. (550? How do you even get away with a number as crazy as that?)
- American Presidential hopeful Ben Carson lied about receiving a scholarship. (How could anyone make such a dumb mistake in this day and age?)
- Former McKinsey partner Anil Kumar, who actively participated in the insider trading scandal that got former McKinsey chairman Rajat Gupta and hedge fund owner Raj Rajarathnam in jail, constructed the elaborate scheme by creating offshore accounts in his maid’s name. The maid, Manju Gupta, now lives in poverty in Kolkata, India and hasn’t heard from her former employers in years. And, Anil Kumar walked away from all of this with a $25,000 fine. (This is so crazy that I’m not even sure what question to ask)
As humans, we tend to obsess about being perfect and getting everything right. It does, however, seem to me that we’d go a long way if we just did the basic stuff right – be honest (definitely don’t lie or cheat) and do your best to do good work. I’m not saying any of this stuff is easy – Anil Kumar, Ben Carson, et al, are smart folk. If anything, sharing my struggles with getting the basics right for more than 7 years now has definitely made me appreciative of how difficult it really is.
Nevertheless, this is likely a simpler undertaking than – go make a positive dent in the universe. It sure takes the pressure off. :-)
And, maybe, just maybe, it is the folks who go crazy about trying to make a positive dent who forget that there’s more to life than transitory wealth, fame and power.