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Decline Is Never the Only Option

How are you growing these days?

I got to play tennis not long ago with a man about my age who used to be one of the top ten players in the world. (When I say I got to play with him, what I really mean is I got to stand across the net and watch the ball go past me.) He still teaches tennis for a living, so he's around the courts a lot. But he's not playing much any more. In fact, he told me that he plays golf much more than he plays tennis, even though he's pretty much a hacker on the course. I asked him why.

"Because when it comes to golf I'm getting better, whereas with tennis the best I can do is to deteriorate as slowly as possible."

I thought about how hard it would be to recruit someone to be the president of even a large entity—say General Motors, or Europe—with that as their mandate: "Help us deteriorate as slowly as possible." No wonder people would rather risk total failure heading up a start-up in Silicon Valley than make a comfortable living slowly steering the Titanic for the ice berg.

Nothing defeats ...

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