There was a wonderful gathering of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 in Nashville, and I enjoyed it greatly. I was inducted early into the group so, I guess, I am a senior member.
Marshall, as is his wont, makes pithy statements and this event was no different. He said something that I have heard him say many times before but this time it hit home. It is true and it makes sense, and it is of great import to you.
I will tell you what the statement is but first I will tell you a story. It is a story I have told often in my public talks, and it relates directly to Marshall’s epigram.
In the early days of America the French Ambassador was in New York and dining at a hostelry. The waiter served him a slice of fresh baked bread and a pat of butter. The ambassador asked for another pat and the waiter told him firmly that only one serving of butter came with the bread.
The diplomat’s frockcoat bulged as his chest swelled and his face turned red under his pompadour. “Do you know who I am,” he thundered. And he proceeded to tell the server who he was and how the president himself would be hosting him the following week.
The attendant heard him out – it took a while! – and asked him, “Do you know who I am?”
“No,” thundered the Frenchman. “Who the deuce are you?”
“I’m the guy who hands out the butter,” said the waiter.
This is a perfect illustration of what Marshal said. His pithy saying was, “Every decision is made by the person who has the power to make that decision. Make peace with this.”
This is so, so true.
But we rail against the decisions made and the persons who made them. Did ‘your’ promotion go to someone else? Was your carefully crafted proposal rejected as too expensive? Did your friends go against your recommendation of where to eat?
How often have you castigated someone who did not act the way you would have liked them to?
It is time to remember that you are not the person with the power to make that decision. The person who made the decision was the person who had the power to do so.
If it is important to you, by all means try to become the person with the requisite power.
But, until then, remember Marshall’s dictum.