The Business of Scout, Jem, and Boo.

to kill a mockingbird

When I close my eyes, I recall the oppressive heat of my mother’s un-air-conditioned 19th century home, the respite of a summer thunderstorm, the comforting sound of cicadas at dusk, and the first time I began to develop the sense that everything in-this-world was going to be alright. That sense came as I disappeared onto the second story back porch to immerse myself in, for the first time, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. July 11, 2010 marks the 5oth anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize winning classic. If you’re one of those unfortunate few who haven’t read it, buy it now and do so.

No doubt  Mockingbird has or will impact you indelibly. For whatever reason, it speaks to the human condition in so many ways that it is impossible to accept it with ambivalence. And despite having been written in 1960, it is timeless. In reflecting further, there’s a lot that one can glean from its pages that apply so crucially to the workplace today. Stuff that might actually make a difference. Stuff like:

  • There is such thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – and most of the time there is little gray between the two.
  • Standing up for what’s ‘right’ is where the true test lies; it is a test that separates the strong from the weak; it is often unpopular, but it allows one to hold their head up high.
  • Popularity doesn’t always equate to success. Conviction usually does.
  • There are in fact two sides to every story. Make sure you hear (and listen to) them both.
  • No matter how big or small, young or old, smart or dumb, every one has a role to play.
  • Herd mentality is dangerous.
  • Those “least likely to___” often prove every one wrong…particularly when given the chance.
  • Change isn’t for the better or worse. It just is.
  • If no one else will, you must.

Next time you’re looking for the next great business or leadership book to hurl upon your team to read, don’t go to The New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List. Just go to Harper Lee.

Photo Credit: Movieposter

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2 Responses to The Business of Scout, Jem, and Boo.
  1. Mary Plumstead
    July 15, 2010 | 8:22 pm

    I love this post – my favorite book – ever. And you did a brilliant job of applying its timeless message to the day-to-day reality of just how unpopular doing the right thing can be. However, much like Harper Lee’s novel, the right thing sure has staying power. Bravo!

  2. Charlie
    July 16, 2010 | 6:50 am

    @Mary – thanks for your kind comment. i just wish doing the right thing in the workplace was just a bit more popular!

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