Peter Lynch was the manager of the Magellan Fund at Fidelity Investments from 1977 to 1990. He was a legendary stock investor who averaged a 29.2% annual return, making it the best performing mutual fund in the world. Assets under management grew from USD18 million to USD14 billion.
Despite this unparalleled financial achievement, he has said repeatedly, “Children are our best investment … by far.”
This must surely make us all think carefully about what we are trying to achieve as leaders. What is most important? Money? Power? Position? Praise? Or is it making good futures for our children by being the fathers and mothers we ought to be and which they deserve?
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, has just released a book “The Road to Character” published by Random House. He starts off by saying, “Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues.
The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success.
The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being – whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.
“Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess that for long stretches of my life I’ve spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Our education system is certainly oriented around the résumé virtues more than the eulogy ones. Public conversation is, too – the self-help tips in magazines, the nonfiction bestsellers. Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.”
The challenge for leadership is to be clear what we are leading our people for and what we are leading them into. And, let us never forget, we also have to answer the following questions:
- Where are we leading our children to?
- What are they to become?
- What do we have to give them the best chances to be the good persons we want them to be, and to do well in life?
Remember, children are our best investment…by far!