The M*A*S*H Principle

Dear Friend,

It took the entertainment industry a while to figure it out, but we all have some of the old shows that we really like. A few years ago, I found the Thunderbirds on video and was delighted to relive my youth. MASH is now out, as well, and we've been watching it when we can, often as a family. There's nothing like laughing together for staying close.

I was also able to think about the M*A*S*H Principle as introduced to me by the nephew of Jack Kemp some years ago.

I met him when we worked together at IBM in the best job I ever had. We worked at this great redwood building in the hills of Los Gatos, California. The Guadelope Mines dump was on the other side of the hill, there were wild pigs roaming along the trail, and there was this huge 30,000 gallon water tank on the hillside. Maybe I'll tell you the story of that water one day.

Anyway, we were part of a team that took IBM research and figured out how to make products from it. I got to work with some of the smartest people on the planet. They were brilliant. The kind of guys who actually debate at lunch... for the fun of it. But they also knew how to have fun: racing their cars, skiing, boating, biking, they all had a few recreational things that they did with passion.

At this time in the evolution of man, IBMers wore suits, even when they fixed copiers. People worked 8 to 5. You did what you were told.

But, not at the Los Gatos lab. We'd work 10 to midnight or later. Sometimes a bunch of days in a row. Then we wouldn't come in for a while. Many of my colleagues wore shorts and rode their bikes to work. Ahead of their time.

One day, one of my buddies fell asleep in his office. I know this because one of the others came to ask me what to do. It seems Tim had fallen asleep right onto his keyboard. His forehead wasy typing numbers onto his screen. The click of the keyboard repeat key could be heard over his snoring.

He was absolutely brilliant.

One day we talked about how so many in the lab were able to do what they did. His answer: The M*A*S*H Principle: When you're good, you get away with it.

It's true, too, isn't it? The Frank Burnses of the world want to force everyone into mediocrity, but everyone knows the truth. Even the Franks. They know who is really good and who deserves to be left to what they do. Some hate others so much that they try to stop them. But, ultimately, they lose. They have to. Because value always wins.

Finding what you are made to do allows you to live within the M*A*S*H Principle. Isn't that a better place to be?

Find it. Live it. Don't wait. Life's too short!

Let's go!


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