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Gideon Gartner

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As Lives Progress, Do Values Change?

Posted: 12/28/11 05:24 PM ET

A friend Christine Comaford posted an article titled "Have You Shifted?" which deals with shifts in values as one progresses through life. In her article she refers to Wayne Dyer's work called "The Shift", which is what people go through when they see life in a new way, change their values as a result, and ultimately become fulfilled. It may also include an expanded feeling of purpose and awareness that there's more to life than just one's past experiences. In the world of business shifting may also mean satisfying revenue, profit, and having happy employees.

I read Christine's piece and thought about how it might apply to me. My values did not seem to have shifted since I founded Gartner Inc. 32 years ago, but perhaps I shifted without being aware! After all, I did develop brand new ideas in the IT Advisory space (at my companies Gartner Inc. and GiGa Inc.) which certainly constituted major changes after my earlier career on Wall Street. And even before that, I listened to my gut and tested many new opportunities.

Nobody can claim to be the happiest in the world, but how about climbing to the 70th-90th percentile? I certainly cannot complain, so why fret or even think about "shifting" yet again? I have always pursued change without any knowledge of this "shifting" concept; my change catalysts seemed inborn. Christine and Wayne Dyer might simply be urging people to spend more time to evaluate whether some form of shift might be productive! Is there a time limit for shifting?

Regardless, even at 70+ some form of shift might work: I could try spiritualism and other 'isms and/or exercise much more intensively. I might return to practice piano, perhaps 4+ hours per day to burnish technique and interpretation? Could I? Should I?

Thinking about the big picture, spiritualism and piano seemed interesting but insufficient. I thought of traveling intensively or even to extremes, visiting faraway, exotic lands and experiencing new worlds 5-8 months/year ... but that would take me away from my family.

The most rewarding time to take chances and shift seriously seems to be when one has not yet "made it" in our challenging world. Then is the time to be bold and "shift" into high gear. I'm happier with the concept when attempted early in life. For example: I shifted after my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering by fighting my way into MIT's Sloan School of Management, then shifted from my first job working on U.S. Command & Control systems to eight challenging but rewarding years in IT marketing at IBM. Then I shifted again to start my first company which failed, followed by opportunistically shifting to Wall Street and a great career. Then again I decided upon a shift to being an entrepreneur which led to founding and managing three successful companies.

The bottom line, shifting can be wise and rewarding, mostly during one's youth with an openness to new ideas and values. By age 45 or so, shifting should be attempted only after carefully analyzing the risk/reward equation. Beyond age 60 the increasing risk/reward ratio becomes a challenge. There are always exceptions, and recalling IBM, its motto was "THINK" and everyone's desk throughout the firm was dealt a wooden THINK plaque! Many of us took "thinking" seriously which led to IBM itself shifting successfully whenever it faced and overcame obstacles!

 

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