I was reading through (and writing about) the BIS 84th Annual Report recently and was struck by the tone of the introductory remarks,
The global economy continues to face serious challenges. Despite a pickup in growth, it has not shaken off its dependence on monetary stimulus. Monetary policy is still struggling to normalise after so many years of extraordinary accommodation. Despite the euphoria in financial markets, investment remains weak. Instead of adding to productive capacity, large firms prefer to buy back shares or engage in mergers and acquisitions. And despite lacklustre long-term growth prospects, debt continues to rise. There is even talk of secular stagnation.
What also struck me was that this section was titled, “In search of a new compass.” The repeated occurrence of “despite,” followed by some good news, that is ultimately eclipsed by bad news underscores the point that in spite of five years of economic recovery, this time is indeed different. Most importantly, the above statements speak of policymakers in search of direction.
The context of such headwinds puts extraordinary pressure on those who are trying to navigate their own career through such challenges. This is particularly felt among those who are either searching for employment, or simply searching for direction. In an age where we are bombarded with more information than can ever be processed or analyzed, this highlights the importance of principles and guidelines that are timeless in nature. I thought about that as I recently came across this excellent quote from Daniel Webster:
If we work upon marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. But if we work upon immortal minds, and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving upon tablets which no time will efface but will brighten and brighten to all eternity.
Purpose and vision will keep us moving the right direction, whatever the challenge. And when we get off track, that same statement of values and mission, will point us back in the right direction.