This weekend I was delighted to attend The Nantucket Project, built around the theme “Seek the Truth – Endure the Consequences”.
When we think of Truth, it’s often with a capital T, as something that is indisputable – and so it was pleasantly surprising to find much of the conversation focused on nuance and subtlety. Speaker after speaker reflected on qualities like honor, fairness, truth, and respect. Chris Matthews discussed highlights from his new book, Tip and the Gipper, and contrasted the relationship between Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan with the current environment in Washington. Greg LeMond discussed honor and integrity in cycling with startling candor. Phil Donahue and Vladimir Pozner reflected on their famous “space bridge” conversations in the 80’s, an attempt to cross divides instead of digging deeper trenches.
I see these same themes constantly echoing in the investment world – more more more, the drive for faster and faster trading, bigger and bigger assets, for mastering “big data”, for scoring a big win. Each of these might be fine in and of itself, but without reflection on how these sorts of goals connect to the real world, they are useless. That’s the tricky thing about extremes – often at the edges, there is less substance, not more. If these varied sorts of “more” fail to add some sort of value to our world, they are extreme yet empty pursuits.
This mega-theme begs the question, can we ever express moderate views with the same fervor and passion as any given wack-a-doo on the edge? Can we make an extreme case for moderation?
At the conference, the best case for this sort of courageous connection was made by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg. His films are quiet, not shouting – yet they carry the weight of a thousand blaring media outlets. My personal favorites are his short clip, Gratitude, plus any footage whatsoever from his awesome pollinator film, Wings of Life.
Watch. Listen. Think. Act.