Alexander Pope: “Be not the first by whom the new are tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”
One of Britain’s greatest poets and satirists, it’s easy to see why Pope was admired for his insights into human nature. In this quote, to me, he speaks to those of us who may be a bit conservative by nature, but he admonishes us not to miss the boat. I agree that few of us want to be the “first” to try something substantial. That’s understandable. But, when conservatism becomes stubbornness, which gives way to intransigence, that’s when we have someone waving goodbye to the train of opportunity as it leaves the station. This is so much more important today—the age of VUCA—than it was when Pope wrote it in the 18th century. Developing a good sense of timing is critical for leaders today and it comes from practice. This is where agility, critical thinking, and common sense come together and form the courage to act. You may not have all the data you would like—no one does today—when it’s time to make that important decision, but don’t let yourself be the among those on the platform waving goodbye to the train either.
Good luck on your journey!