“Character is destiny,” is a quote attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. He implied that destiny, or fate, is not a predetermined outside force, but that one’s future, or destiny, is determined by your own inner character.
Dave (named changed) was a valued mentor of mine when I was just starting my young professional life as a naval officer. As a department head onboard a nuclear attack submarine, I faced a daunting task; managing the logistics of a one billion dollar state asset, with little or no real on-the-job experience.
Dave’s job was to oversee the logistical support of several submarines, including mine. But he went further; he spent time with me personally to make sure I was thinking about things correctly, asking the right questions of my staff, monitoring all the different levels of support that I needed, designing a management approach that would work in all situations. He was tremendously helpful, and caused me to gain great confidence. In fact, I did successfully manage the logistics of the submarine until my tour of duty ended 3 and 1/2 years later.
Dave sounds great, right? Well, he was great for me. But there were other aspects of Dave’s character I was unaware of; some bad habits he had when it came to money. Over the years, it got so bad that when it was finally discovered, it was devastating to him personally. He was going to lose his very visible public job in a very visible public fashion, crushing his reputation, not to mention the impact it would have on his family. It all ended tragically with Dave taking his own life. When I heard the news I was devastated. We were good friends and he had helped me so much. But when I heard the circumstances, I was shocked beyond belief. I had so many questions. In retrospect, I do wish Dave had realized he needed professional help and gotten it before things became so bad.
But the point for this blog article is, “character is fate.” Dave’s character very likely determined his fate, or at least contributed significantly to it. Was his character weakness related to money? That’s not what I see. I think it was more related to pride; the unhealthy kind. It’s realizing you’re not perfect — no one is — and to honestly admit when you need help. No doubt there were other things he was dealing with, but when I look back, Dave was a proud man and didn’t like to admit mistakes — so much so that I’d often seen an unpleasant side to him where his pride was concerned. I’m not perfect and I don’t mean to stand in judgment of Dave. But I do want very much to see if there’s anything I can learn from this tragic event so that something positive can come from it.
None of us can do this life alone. No one.
In my concept of Business As Life, I state that your business and personal life are inextricably linked. One affects the other, in ways often unseen or unnoticed. What you do to keep yourself and your life healthy is what you should also do to to keep your business or professional life healthy.
You are not perfect. Give yourself permission to fail. Don’t be afraid to admit when you need help. None of us can do this life alone. No one.
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