The fault is at least a little in our stars — A letter from Cassius
Hey…bud. I hope this scroll finds you well. If you’re reading this, I have shuffled off my mortal coil. With any luck, I am frolicking with the Gods. Though, to be honest, I’ve second thoughts about what we did and I’m likely destined for Hades.
Shit’s getting crazy huh? I miss Jules. Ironic, isn’t it?
I’ve been thinking about you lately. A lot. No, not like that. Well, a little like that. My goodness how you once rocked a tunic! Zeus himself couldn’t have pulled it off any better.
But I am not writing you about such trivial matters. This is not the time for that as I fear I’m not long for this world. O, such dreams had I about my future. I just recently took up calligraphy. In fact, I’m writing to you in a hand I devised myself. I call it Times New. What do you think?
Well, no matter. Let me get to my point.
Many moons and a fortnight or two ago I told you that our destiny is not determined by our stars but by ourselves. That we must be masters of our own fates. I thought that with a purpose and the courage to act, we could achieve greatness.
It doth shame me to admit that I was but half right.
Yes, we must be possessed of clear purpose. We must to our own selves be true. That, after all, is the first rule. But it is not enough. For we doth not sit astride the world like a Colossus. We cannot control the fate of every person nor shift the sands of time or change the tides.
We are noble, dignified, and worthy but that alone does not give us the power to change the world. We are also countrymen, men of a noble society. And as the society goes, so go we.
Brutus, I have no idea why I’m writing to you in this badly-done old English when we never spoke that language anyway. So let me switch to contemporary English.
What I’m trying to tell you is that even the best people will almost always fail to achieve greatness, if the organizational context in which they find themselves works against it.
We absolutely have to be our best selves. We have to show up fully and authentically. We cannot simply complain about our leaders, the stupid policies of our organization, our colleagues, or the many factors beyond our control that are getting in the way.
But embracing our agency and taking personal accountability doesn’t mean we have to pretend that we alone are responsible for our future. We also have to recognize the enormous power that organizational design has over human behavior. If we want to create positive impact on our stakeholders, we have to design a culture that reinforces the unique behaviors that bring our purpose to life. Let’s not expect all people to be heroes. Let’s build a culture that fosters the very best of humanity.
So Brutus, I was half wrong. Life is more complex than I initially thought. The fault dear Brutus is in our stars but also in ourselves that we are underlings.
Your dear friend Cassius