Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Anyone who thinks Dr. Seuss was writing children’s books didn’t read them very carefully.

Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

I was reminded of that a couple of times recently when the same book – Oh The Places You’ll Go – came up.  It was the last book of his that was published before he died in 1990 and it’s a favorite of mine.  I thought I’d point out a few of the business lessons the good doctor teaches us in that slim but important volume.

First, the importance of self-determination:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Too often, we think of ourselves and/or our businesses as just pawns in some game being played out by an unseen hand (to use an economic term).  While packing up and leaving a job or changing the fundamental nature of a business is never a decision taken lightly, it’s an equally bad notion to be miserable or in a business that’s doomed to fail.

Next, he reminds us of the importance of setting priorities in both business and life as well as the importance of being a good person:

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

Twenty words that say hundreds!  Next, one thing the book cautions against is delusional thinking:

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

That’s one of the more important business points that is most widely ignored.  How often does a staff listen to a boss’s motivational speech about how well everything is going and snicker because they know the reality looks nothing like what he’s saying?  How many executives interpret numbers in ways that always make them seem better than they really are?

Finally, another point I see all the time – negotiating against ourselves:

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

It’s a no-win game and we often talk ourselves out of proposing new ideas or better business terms because we tell ourselves “that will never work.”  It might not, but what ever it is definitely won’t happen if you talk yourself out of trying.

If you have a copy of the book in the house, the 5 minutes it would take to read it again would be time well spent.  Even better – if you have an older child, do something you haven’t done with them probably since they were 5 or 6 – read it to them.  After all, it’s not a book for children! Then let us know what they said.

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Filed under Growing up, Helpful Hints

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