Quotes, Rings and Culture: On Being Unreasonable

I was asked by someone who reads my internal blog to post my note on an article I read just after it was announced that Kevin Turner was joining Microsoft. Part of the article referenced his interest in inspirational quotes which he uses to motivate his teams and in his communications.


Among his reported favorites…

  • Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but the absence of it almost certainly guarantees failure.
  • In the game of life, even the 50-yard-line seats don’t interest me; I came to play.
  • Focus on the things you can control, and the only thing you can control is you. 

“When you teach and explain and involve people in the business, and show them the value that they have and their ability to contribute, when you care about them and do it genuinely, they give you their heart,” says Turner. “When you adopt a philosophy that it’s the people that make the difference, your effectiveness as a leader goes up astronomically.”


Let me add my favorite quote to the mix: next to the nine broad principles of The Way (as detailed in my dog-eared, 20+ year old copy of The Book of Five Rings), the one I follow most often is from George Bernard Shaw:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

There has been a great deal of discussion lately, internally and in the press, about the culture at Microsoft. No matter who you are, think about how you impact your own customers and partners in your everyday work… and how we each can impact our own internal customers and partners (the people we work with inside the company). Through great actions we can effect great changes. To paraphrase a friend’s recent email, know that whether we choose to take ownership or not, our own actions define us. Take a personal and active role in driving the culture of your teams, your groups and your company. And when needed, think about Shaw’s quote.


Happy Halloween.