I was fortunate enough to have dinner with a man named Doug Ivester last night. You make recognize his name – he is the former CEO of Coca-Cola. You are probably thinking: why in the world would you do that on your birthday. Well, a couple things on that note. 1) It wasn’t a birthday present. 2) It was required for a program I am involved with in the Terry College of Business. 3) I had the same ‘eh’ reaction when I first heard the date of the dinner. 4) Just sitting down for two hours allowed me to learn a TON about life and business through casual conversation – so it was certainly well worth it.
Here was my biggest takeaway:
Mr. Ivester talked about a concept that I found extremely intriguing and important – particularly at this point in my life. He called it the gap. What kind of gap? Well, the gap between our goals – and the effort we are willing to put forth to reach them.
His point: at some point something’s got to give. He gave us an example of a young man that he was speaking with who wanted to be president of the bank at which he worked, spend tons of quality time with his family, possibly own a business on the side, etc etc. Mr Ivester looked at the young man very seriously and said something along the lines of: “Well, son, you can’t.” Wow. Maybe he’s right.
I think I have developed goals over the course of my college career that are similar: own my own business or work to the top of a large corporation; spend time with my family. Those are my two big goals in life. I would love to pursue political interests towards the end of my career in business as well, but that may be completely left to chance. So the big question becomes: how do I manage the gap between my goals and the realistic effort required to achieve all of them.
Mr. Ivester quite frankly told us that he was very unbalanced towards work in the first half of his life. And now, in the second half, he is very unbalanced towards enjoying life, travelling, spending time on his plantation, etc. My question is: why can’t I have it all? Is there no way to be successful in the business world and at home?
Maybe my new goal should be to find a way to own my own business or serve as an executive AND to have a family life that I am proud of. Sounds good to me.
The challenge for all of us today then is ‘gap management’ as Mr. Ivester put it. How do our goals line up with the amount of time and effort we are willing to put into those goals? I think the intersection of goals and effort probably delivers happiness and content. I don’t know how useful it is for you, but for me the gap provides an entirely new perspective for evaluating the various career opportunities available to me after graduation.