RECHARGE :: Alan Hargreaves
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by Alan Hargreaves

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The best thing about equilibrium?
We're never there.

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Leading from alongside

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Do nice guys always finish last? 

Some do. I know a few who have, and plenty who have come first. I also know not-nice people who’ve done well and many who’ve failed.

That’s the trouble with cliches. They rest on a few examples but rarely on solid evidence. 

There’s also the issue of definition. What’s ‘nice’? Is it polite and supportive, or just people-pleasing? What about ‘humility’? Does it mean humble and meek, or being comfortable with who you are?   

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Dare to be ordinary

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Using what you’ve got

I was once a soprano. I sang solos in musical productions and represented our school in eisteddfods. I looked forward to a career as a tenor, a sort of Pavarotti existence.  

Puberty had other ideas. My voice skipped tenor and went straight to baritone. I went from lead singer to chorus line and lost interest. I would later mess around with the odd rock band and occasionally perform. But to me, baritone was an ordinary range. 

I didn’t notice some of the most successful rock singers were baritones — Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley, Elton John and David Bowie; anyone from blues/rock master Jimmi Hendrix to the poetic Leonard Cohen.

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The risk of avoiding risk

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Playing it a little bit unsafe

Ever look back and wish you’d spoken up? I remember times when it may or may not have helped. It would, however, have been good for me. You tend to take on some shame when you hide. It’s the opposite of empowering.

You see this in business disruption. Things are ticking over pretty well but you know it’s changing out there. An alternative product might make sense. Trouble is, you don’t want to mess up a good situation. You hang on to your current offering for fear of cannibalising your success. 

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The power of simply connecting

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Why you need to get out more

About thirty years ago, my hometown, Sydney, built a monorail. It was revolutionary at the time. It connected the city to museums, an exhibition centre and a few tourist spots. Trouble was, it didn’t connect to anything else. The city’s main rail terminal was a kilometre away from the nearest stop. Nor did it venture downtown. 

Sydney is harbour city. Tourists want to go the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and their associated ranks of bars and restaurants. They’re all at Circular Quay, where trains, buses and ferries collide in a transport hub. It was easy to get there from anywhere, except by monorail. 

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The best thing about equilibrium? We're never there.

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You're better off being here 

Equilibrium is embedded in the human psyche. Lurking behind science, culture and our daily lives is the idea that there can be a place where everything is in balance. 

In economics, it’s where demand equals supply. In physics, it’s where opposite forces cancel each other out. It is everywhere. Click here to watch Russell Crowe apply the Nash Equilibrium to speed dating. 

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