Are you pursuing Résumé virtues or Eulogy virtues?


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!


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I had the good fortune of watching the show Cavalia, which displayed horses in action, all well-trained and well-groomed, as well as wonderful acrobats whose energy, courage, and flexibility was simply awe-inspiring.

Watching the horses reminded me of two quotations.

The first was a quotation of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee which I mention in my book “The Leader, The Teacher & You.”  Dr Goh was Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, who had variously been Minister of Finance, Defence, and Education. He had said, “It is better to have stallions, which we occasionally have to pull back, than to have donkeys you have to kick to move.”

What Dr Goh looked for was energy, initiative, and imagination. Many supervisors will tell you what they want are people with energy, initiative, and imagination, but in reality, they feel threatened by people who have different views from theirs, and thus discourage or diminish those who carry bad news or make mistakes. Those who expect to harness the power and muscle of stallions must be self-confident, open-minded, intellectually honest, and also humble.

The second quotation is from the book Jeremiah in the Bible.  It goes, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

This is a call not to grow weary but to persevere and to be resilient in the face of difficulties and setbacks. If we would learn from failure, that is how we grow in wisdom and understanding, courage and resourcefulnessdump the fat and grow the muscle.





Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

The celebration of Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May first happened in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna had started her campaign in 1905 to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States.  Her intent was to honour her own mother and for everyone else to honour their mother, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”  In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honour mothers.

Mothers are possibly the most important factor in the moulding of character and establishment of lifetime values in children. Values and attitudes such as honesty, kindness, patience, and hard work often get passed down, simply through example and experience.

Most of the famous leaders of history have had good, God-fearing mothers.

The mother of the first President of the United States, George Washington, was pious, and the mother of Scottish poet and novelist, Sir Walter Scott, was well-steeped in poetry and music. In contrast, it is believed that the mother of the Roman Emperor, Nero, was a murderess; legend has it that Nero was playing his fiddle while Rome burned in a great fire, a fire some say he himself started in order to be able to re-build the centre of Rome. Nero murdered his own mother, his first wife and, apparently also, his second wife.

Mothers are most critical in the development of younger children as they are protector, provider, and guide. Children grow their sense of security and stability through their mother.

But what is possibly not well understood or recognised is the critical role of fathers, particularly in the teen years of their children. Fathers help children grow up with a sense of adventure, confidence, and steadfastness – critical qualities that children require to face a future that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Children need to learn to think for themselves, stand their ground against negative influences, and grow into independent adults. 

Children grow best into well-balanced adults when they have both the protection of mothers and the encouragement of fathers at home. Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May is a day to honour our mother for their love and sacrifice, and Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June is to honour our father for their courage and resilience.

May we always remember to honour our mothers and fathers through our words and actions!