• Dave Westlake

A Lesson for Mondays from a Retired Assassin

Original Post: July 31, 2016


Prologue: the following isn’t exclusively a business missive…it’s more about “life” which, of course, is applicable both in and outside the boardroom. 

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Last week a friend of mine who owns a successful manufacturing company with a global client base announced that, due to a number of variables, he was going to have to raise his prices.  Pretty normal stuff, right?  Maybe not.  Social media exploded with vitriol and accusations that would have you believe he was personally accountable for unrest in the middle east, climate change, and man-buns.  OK, so the “man-buns” thing is an exaggeration.  Anyway, I dropped him a note that I hoped would encourage him and left for a meeting.


On the short (~5 minutes) drive to my appointment, I witnessed two people “flip off” other motorists for adding what amounted to an additional tenth of a second to their overall journey.  Seriously??  My meeting just happened to be at a coffee shop…where I witnessed a customer yelling at a barista for not drizzling caramel on top of his macchiato.  Say what??


Over lunch that same day I read about how one of the major political parties was questioning the ability of the other party’s VP candidate to serve.  Were they questioning his voting record…or his policy stance on something…or an issue he flip-flopped on?  Nope.  He was disparaged for wearing what these misguided politicos thought was the flag of Honduras on his lapel (it was actually a “blue star” flag in honor of his son’s service in Afghanistan).  Good grief.


A few hours after this, another friend (I know, I know…”you have more than one?”) told me about how her neighbor’s dog attacked their dog in their driveway, yet the neighbor threatened my friend and her husband for not restraining HIS dog.  You’ve got to be kidding…


Enter: the assassin.


I offer these ridiculous vignettes to bring me to the point you’ve patiently waited for—the lesson from the retired assassin.  No, it doesn’t involve spy craft or exacting revenge…in fact, quite the opposite.  In the James Bond movie “Spectre,” M defends the importance of the “00” section in Her Majesty’s Secret Service by explaining that “A license to kill is also a license NOT to kill.”  Seems pedestrian enough…what’s the point?  Let’s apply that to the interactions above…and to thousands of situations we’ll all face in the coming days, weeks, and months (especially with a presidential election this fall): just because we have the right to say or do something disparaging to someone else doesn’t mean we should.  We’re all on this ride together, let’s make the best of it. Yes, there is a time and a place for legitimate critique, but let’s keep it legitimate.  In most cases, someone who “wrongs” us isn’t doing it with that purpose in mind, so let’s maintain our perspective on the situation and remember that we always the the option “…NOT to kill.”  


Now that we’ve got Monday solved, let’s move on to Tuesday....

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Epilogue: Yes, I know that “M” isn’t a real retired assassin…but does that change the point?

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