During an interview with The Telegraph three years ago, the musical wizard Ian Anderson, leader of trailblazing rock ensemble Jethro Tull, made an observation which voters might do well to take to-hand for inspiration as they next step into polls determined to anoint a new leader with the gift of substantial power over their lives.
The somewhat insightful question asked of Anderson by Mark Anstead was, “Now that you are better off, are you happier?”
He answered, “Yes, of course. The contrary position is something I can’t imagine. But if I hadn’t been a musician I probably would have signed up as a police cadet and I don’t think I would have been any less happy doing that. I would just have been working without the same sense of financial responsibility towards others.”
The answer tells much of the common sense with which the music legend has lived his life. However, for all those of us desperately job hunting and for all those now rethinking what nature of individual is essential to lead a Nation toiling through economic hardship, the answer holds more pertinence. Anderson has always personally managed all of his and his band’s affairs including its contracts, bookings, and accounting, with his wife of 37 years, Shona. He is a superbly talented musician who resisted the lower-hanging temptations to which celebrity rockers so readily succumb, and at the peak of his more entrepreneurial ventures, Anderson managed over four hundred people.
Ian Anderson’s observation of the “sense of financial responsibility for others” reveals an introspection which can only be achieved through ‘doing’ it – it being the running of a successful business, large or small, and being singularly responsible for incomes of employees.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur nor would the world function if we were, however, when your responsibility spreads beyond your own familial charge and you become accountable for the sustenance of other individuals, something visceral occurs which can be characterized as a teachable moment. When you have to ensure that there is cash enough to cut that check, you know. You know the stress felt and you know the effort infused in all facets of guiding a business to prosperity, any prosperity. You know everything that comes with not only signing those checks, but with having been responsible for assuring that the checks you sign don’t bounce. Society cannot teach you that in a classroom at MIT or at Harvard. You can only appropriate that knowledge through experience.
In the next private and intimate voting poll, as you bestow your name in support of a Presidential nominee, satisfy yourself that the would-be leader has felt and learned that very powerful piece of knowledge. Confer your vote on one who has seized that “sense of financial responsibility towards others.”
A constituent of the vast baby boomer generation with a career which has been fortunate to know the ponderous corporate worlds, as well as the intimately pressurized, and invigorating entrepreneurial domains of high tech and venture capital, I have harvested my share of mistakes meandering through corridors of enterprise from Silicon Valley, to London and endless, colourful, sometimes praetorian points in between. The voyage has provided an abundance of fodder for a pen yielding to an inquisitive keyboard, a foraging mind, and a passionate spirit.
Whether political or business or social or economic or personal, is it not all political? It is a privilege to write, and an even greater privilege to be read by anyone, and sometimes with the wind at my back the writing may occasionally be legible. I do not write to invite scorn, nor to invite respect, but if I get really lucky the writing can stimulate thinking. I also write for the very selfish purpose of animating my own processes, and engaging the best of what life offers. Above all, whether biting fire or swatting shadows, I am grateful to be gifted the freedom to write and publish whatever flows down to the keyboard. To all those who enabled this freedom, and to all those standing guard to preserve it, I am indebted.