Athens, Art, & Assessments
“What is honored in a country will be cultivated there”
-Plato, The Republic
In his book The Geography of Genius, Eric Weiner examines clusters of genius throughout history. It’s a fascinating read that uses Plato’s quote as a central theme and posits that locations that produced blooms of genius did so because of the things they valued as a culture. Those values attracted highly gifted individuals to a specific geographic location to explore, develop, and share their genius with society. History is filled with examples of countries, cities, communities, and organizations changing history and shaping culture based on what they honor and value.
In ancient Greece, the Agora was the center of Athenian life, a place that not only served as a market but a stage for thought and debate. Athenians valued this space and the debate it sparked, and from it the fathers of modern philosophy including Homer, Socrates, and Aristotle were born.
In late 18th and early 19th century, the streets of Vienna and the hearts of the Viennese were filled with music. Either as an artist or a patron, nearly all citizens appreciated music. It was this culture that attracted the likes of Beethoven and Mozart to Vienna, and they would go on to create some of the most incredible music in history.
Renaissance Florence valued art, not because it was valuable but simply because it was beautiful. This love and appreciation of art gave us the Gates to Paradise on the Baptistry of San Giovanni and was an incubator some of the most famous artists in history, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Botticelli.
More recently, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley have valued calculated risk and relationship building. The funding of Hewlett Packard and the Stanford Industrial Park were calculated risks by Stanford’s Fred Terman, who was ready to pivot the projects to a new opportunity should they fail. Additionally, the ability to create a large network of related and connected people has been shown to accelerate execution.
So, what about your “country”? What is cultivated in the country that you find yourself belonging to, or working for? An assessment of your country may lead to the following questions:
What does my country honor? What values are held high in the organizations and groups you find yourself a part of and what does that cultivate?
Does my country attract genius? Is the culture you’re involved in create an environment that those who can help move the needle want to be a part of?
Does my country develop talent? Is my organization committed to supporting the personal and professional development of those involved?
Is my country afraid to fail? Is the fear of failure rooted in the lack of the kind of innovative thinking that would allow you to pull victory from the jaws of defeat?
Who is allied with my country? What advantageous relationships can be leveraged by your association with your organization?
Assessments like these are a crucial tools in the development of a personal and professional development plan. Before you can move in any one direction, you must first know where you stand. In the coming weeks, you’ll see a new online tool from me that will help us identify your starting point. Even if you find yourself to be a creative soul in a “country” that values and honors strict adherence to policies and procedures; an assessment or two, a destination, a plan, and the help of a few friends can help you move in the direction of alignment between your values and your actions.
Building a culture of continuous growth,
Michael Mueller, PGA Career Consultant
Proudly serving the Carolinas Section
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