practical inspiration for a happier life
A guest post by Stephen Farah from In Pursuit of Meaning
Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a man who knows how to get things done. Someone who understands on a fundamental level how to succeed in spectacular fashion.
From a humble beginning as a boy who grew up in Budapest Hungary, and survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest, Soros’ achievements are the stuff of legend.
A few of his more well known achievements include:
Net worth as at 2010 of $14.2 billion US (Forbes)
The most well known and respected currency trader of the 20th Century, known as ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’
Founder and chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute.
Internationally acclaimed philanthropist, principally through the Open Society Institute. Instrumental in:
- Bringing democracy in many East European and Soviet nations during the decline of Soviet Communism.
- Massive aid to the Millennium Project to alleviate hunger and poverty throughout Africa.
- Support for reform activists during South Africa’s apartheid era.
- Since its inception the Open Society institute and related Soros Foundations have donated a total of around $6 billion US to philanthropic initiatives. (Time Magazine)
- A material difference worth noting about Soros’ philanthropic activity is his personal involvement in these initiatives.
- Accurately predicted the most recent Global economic collapse, circa 2008.
- Written (or co written) 12 books on various subjects including economics, politics’ and philosophy.
What is Soros’ Secret, his ‘Secret Sauce’?
Although I’ve been reading Soros and his philosophical mentor Karl Popper for many years (my father was a great admirer of both men), it was listening to a talk Soros gave at Google that his secret was first revealed to me.
Soros was at Google being interviewed by Google MD Eric Schmidt on the book he had just published -The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.
Unrelated to the book one of Google staff present at the talk (in the brash fashion typical of the Googelites) asked Soros what his secret sauce was, the secret of his massive success as a trader.
Questioner, “I’m just wondering, so do you have this…so what’s your secret sauce?”
Laughter from audience.
Soros, “Well the secret of my success actually, I can now tell you…since you ask me.”
Soros, “I’m always wrong, I’m always wrong. And I try to correct my mistakes. That is the secret of my success. The funds are a very successful model. But they all have a flaw in the end. And eventually if you persist then the flaw becomes apparent.”
That is quite simply the secret of one of the most successful human beings of the 20th century. And I use the term human being as opposed to entrepreneur because Soros is clearly so much more than an entrepreneur. Soros is a true modern Renaissance Man
So if even Soros makes mistakes what chance do the rest of us have?
Actually it is the mistakes which liberate us. It is the realisation that ever path leads us astray at some point on the way to our ultimate destination.
But rather than bemoan this all too human fallibility we need to realise that the mistakes are an essential part of the trip.
Soros describes it somewhere else like this:
I’m only rich because I know when I’m wrong… I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes. I very often used to get backaches due to the fact that I was wrong. Whenever you are wrong you have to fight or [take] flight. When [I] make the decision, the backache goes away.
In other words this is really good news .
When we make mistakes we are in the company of giants. Getting it right all the time is the domain of the mediocre. The only way to keep getting it right is never to take a chance, never to risk an original thought or action.
Turn the Mistake into Gold
The Gnostic Alchemists said: It is the vedigery (rust) on the coin which is our greatest magistry (treasure).
The secret is to recognise that we have made a mistake! Not to persist in the stubborn belief that we were right when all evidence suggest the opposite.
Yes okay but how exactly do we do this?
Well being a good Jungian I am always weary of formulas, because as Soros points out in the final analysis every formula is floored.
- Ask yourself the question: Is this working for me? And don’t be scared to answer in the negative. As painful as admitting a mistake can be it is also hugely liberating. The sooner you do this the sooner you can adopt a more successful stratergy.
- Keep an open mind.
- Don’t be too quick to dismiss possibilities regardless of how preposterous they appear at first glance. Narrow mindedness will of necessity isolate you from the stream of life.
- Recognise that you are fallible.
- Don’t interpret your mistakes as failures, they are not failures. Rather they are there to teach you, to allow you to transcend the current into new and greater possibilities.
- Don’t be (or try not to be, this is a difficult one) too attached to any point of view. Be ready to change a lifetime’s belief at the realisation of new evidence which contradicts or rather corrects the old.
- Release yourself from the bondage of seeking external affirmation as the principal source of your sense of self worth. Knowing your value and always holding onto this is essential in having the strength of ego to admit mistakes.
More important though than any of these is one deceptively simple action:
- Correct the mistake.
Take corrective action. Learn from what mistake was made and adjust your actions accordingly.
Achieve Your Destiny
Whilst we are probably not all destined to be billionaires or launch institutions like Soros’ Open Society Institute, I think we can say (with some confidence) we each have an ideal destiny.
A life print which is the very best expression of your unique talents and character.
The sooner you recognise your own fallibility and work on constantly evolving your way of being in the world, the sooner you will realise that destiny.