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The Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Lessons for management

OldmanseaSomeone may ask what this short story has to do with a blog about business, and I agree that, at first sight, there is no relationship. However, I am one of those people who are always thinking of ideas from other fields which can be applied in Companies management.

I am not the first one who obtains conclusions from this little masterpiece. In fact, many readers identify the novel with an allegory about the old age and the lost battle against the death. But I found a couple of ideas which can be taken into account at work.

The first idea is related with focusing deeply on a task without considering if the best track has been chosen or if there are other options. So absorbed was the old man with the fact that he hadn’t fish for the last eighty-four days, that he didn’t even think of the consequences associated with following and fighting the great fish. He didn’t calculate if he had enough food or water, or shelter for the cold nights. Don’t we do sometimes the same when we start a task? Don’t we have to stop and rethink the whole thing because we come across problems we didn’t consider at the beginning? Time is short, we shouldn’t waste it. Please, think twice before starting a task and focusing on it.

Secondly, we should pursue realistic objectives that we can get. This doesn’t mean that we can only set up easy objectives which don’t require effort. Not at all. The objectives must be attractive and demanding.  When the old man noticed that the fish was longer than his own skiff, he knew that his sole arms weren’t enough to achieve the goal he yearned. Apart from that, there were other threatens that he didn’t consider, or at least, he underestimated. I understand that in Companies it is different, since normally there is more than one person setting the objectives, but we can’t afford to lose time and efforts in no realistic targets.

Finally, I would say that this book, which was the clue for Hemingway’s Nobel Prize, worth reading. It is possible for us as readers to participate in the story and think of our own life.

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