Early in the 1900’s, the most powerful man in the world of finance was J. Pierpont Morgan.
At six feet tall and two hundred pounds, he was described with dauntless physical courage and utterly without fear.
In 1916, it was reported that a man forced his way into Morgan’s house, whipped out a gun, and threatened to shoot. Instead of moving toward the nearby door, Morgan moved toward the man with the gun.
He moved toward the threat.
Even Gandhi knew that there are times for restraint and there are times for action.
“Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.”
CRACK! Morgan stumbled, as the bullet struck him in the stomach or groin depending on which report you read. He kept moving toward the gunman.
After he wrestled the gun away with the butler’s help, he collapsed and fell to the floor unconscious. He almost died.
Four years later in 1920, there was another attempt on his life. An unknown man parked a horse and carriage across from their office with over 500 pounds of explosives.
The high noon lunch rush in NYC was rocked with a blast that dstroyed the city block. 30 people were killed and over 300 were wounded. While Morgan was in Europe at the time of the attack, he offered a reward and did everything he could to bring the culprits to justice. The crime, even to this day, remains unsolved.
Over 100 years later, his company and namesake JP Morgan still survives.
Why? He is a leader who demonstrated the soft skills that matter for surviving tough times.
It is said that tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
One of the oldest and most universal proverbs from the ancient world reminds us that,
“Fortune favors the bold. Fortune favors the brave.”
Banking, business, and many other modern leaders lack the fortitude and strength to overcome loss, setbacks, and challenges.
Does this mean you need to charge a gunman and run into burning buildings?
No. But it does mean that you should find ways to cultivate courage. You should work relentlessly to find ways to overcome fear. You should seek teams and leaders with the soft skills that matter.
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Banking collapses, worthless audit reports, inflated earnings and stock prices – in today’s information driven world, it can be difficult to separate the signal from the noise.
What is easy to spot? Men and women of courage. People that are not afraid to deliver bad news. Teams that know that doing the right thing is always the right thing.
Maybe one day, we will read more about business leaders that display courage no matter how backward their organization or industry is. Maybe we will continue to develop leaders like JP Morgan.
The Real Con 024