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The phone principle
On January 16, 2010, in Leadership principles, by Neculai Fantanaru

The important moments that can change your life are like a phone. You never know when they come, just like you never know when the phone will ring. But when it rings, pick up the receiver and answer. You could get the good news that would change your future.

A book I consider it was worth to reread is “The Count of Monte Cristo”, by Alexandre Dumas. It tells the story of a young man, Edmond Dantes who, betrayed by his friends, gets to be imprisoned in the dungeons of d'If castle, where he stays for a very long time. For years on end, he stays all alone between the cold stone walls, without talking to anybody. But he doesn't think about escaping – far from him this thought. There are things that seem so impossible to accomplish, that you don't even think about trying, but to instinctually avoid them. He resigns with the thought that he will end his life alone, far from his family and friends, and this thought pushes him more and more to suicide.

But everything changes one day when another prisoner, Abbé Faria, unexpectedly enters his life. Faria proposes Edmond to join him in his attempt to dig a tunnel in order to escape (meaning to dedicate to this work three more years of his life so that, in the end, if they succeeded digging 17 meters in the ground, they would get to a cliff on the seaside; then to jump from a height of 15-20 meters risking to fall over a rock, assuming that the guards' lead wouldn't kill them first; and, finaly, be constrained to swim for a mile should they escape all these perils).

He answered the call

Edmond starts to ponder and assess his chances. In the end, he accepts, under the condition that the Abbé teaches him everything he knows: Mathematics, Physics, History etc.

Edmond “answered” to Abbé Faria's call to help him dig the tunnel that would have brought them freedom, and, furthermore, this answer brought him other benefits, as well: learn how to write and read, learn philosophy and develop the abilities and skills in using weapons and knowing people. What would have happened should he not have answered “the call”?

And what would have happened if, when he got the chance to escape, he hadn't known how to use it, even though the chances were minimal? Isn't it? He may have never regained his stolen happiness and freedom, he may have never punished those who betrayed him, he may have never been able to reward those he cared about.

Like Abbé Faria said, the lucky escapes, those crowned with full success are carefully planet or fully prepared escapes, but the best ones are those occasioned by chance. The chance to escape, which Edmond had waited, finally appeared and, like any brave person and having initiative, he used it immediately. This was the great chance he had waited. Should he have failed, he wouldn't have got another chance.

After his spectacular escape and after he discovered Spada's great fortune, Edmond became richer than anyone. He got above everyone else. He got to be considered by everybody a great lord, a protector and charitable man, a respected philanthropist in the Parisian saloons, as well as a feared man, especially by those who betrayed him.

Simple, but not easy

The phone principle is very easy to understand, but it's not at all easy to apply, that is for sure. A person's destiny can be influenced by the unforeseen events or happenings of the outside world. Many people have daring and grand plans for the future and they impetuously jump to fulfill them.

But when the storm comes and they are thrown through the rocks, they resign. I think there is one thing that could save them: courage and initiative. When opportunity will knock, just like a fearless tiger which waits a long time for his prey, they will have to jump and get it, with aplomb and agility.

Great leaders always knew how to profit from fortunate moments

I'll never forget what writer D. Rosenzweig once said: “Napoleon Bonaparte may have remained a modest artillery officer in a small province town if it hadn't been for the great political and social subversion process in France, between 1789 and 1794. But Napoleon adjusted to the actual situation of that time and, taking advantage of that great opportunity (the revolution), he quickly evolved and became a counter-revolutionary as soon as he took over power. More precisely, counter-revolutionism drove him to power. He stood up in front of the nation and presented himself as the restorer of national unity, as the bearer of French glory.”

In other words, Napoleon has managed to use brilliantly the possibilities offered by the events around him.

A characteristic of efficient people is that they know how to recognize occasions when they seem to be favorable and they jump in to take benefits from them.

Wait and hope

Napoleon, just like the Count of Monte Cristo, only needed an opportunity, a “call”, in order to rise above everybody else. And if they hadn't recognized and profited from that one moment, which sometimes comes only once in a lifetime, and had given up before that, everything would have been lost.

Towards the end of the story, the Count of Monte Cristo sends a letter to his friend, Maximilian, which ended like this:

- Never forget, my dear friend, that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words: “Wait and hope”.

Ring !.. Ring !... Ring !...

 

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