Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) packed a lot into his 44 years. He could not have been accused of being an underachiever. He was born into the famous Stevenson Lighthouse family but engineering was not for him.
Whilst he qualified as a lawyer, legal practice was never for him either. You would be familiar with his more famous novels Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and The Black Arrow (1888).
Whilst he travelled extensively his health was never robust and he died a long way his native Edinburgh, at his home in Vailima, Samoa. He was buried at the top of Mount Vaea, overlooking the sea.
So what has all this got to do with Governance?
Governance starts with personal values. All the Corporate Governance in the world means nothing if it is managed by rogues. The bedrock of Governance rests with the integrity and values of people within the organisation.
Here’s where Stevenson comes in. The following is his 12 point Creed for Living:
- Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things
- Make the best of your circumstances. No-one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow, intermingled with the gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.
- Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from the misfortune that befall others.
- You can’t please everyone. Don’t let criticism worry you.
- Don’t let your neighbour set you standards. Be yourself
- Do the things that you enjoy doing, but stay out of debt.
- Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than actual ones.
- Since hate poisons the soul, don’t cherish enmities and grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
- Have many interests, but if you can’t travel, read about new places.
- Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes. Don’t be the one who never gets over things.
- Do what you can do for those less fortunate than yourself.
- Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.
Well worth reflecting and ruminating on!
Now back to governance. Imagine an Organisational Culture where the majority of people in the Organisation practised Stevenson’s Credo. The organisation would be a pretty good environment to work in and Governance would not be a big issue.
So, just as Stevenson’s father built lighthouses that saved thousands perhaps his son’s Creed for Living could do wonders for Organisational Culture and Corporate Governance.