New Year's Resolution

In my column this week at Forbes, I discuss my New Year's Resolution, which has not changed over several decades, and how it helped me this year to solve some difficult philosophical issues regarding my business.

Almost exactly thirty years ago, I read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, probably the single most influential book I have read in my lifetime.  Before I read it, I was on a path to becoming a traditional Conservative in the mold of my parents, and in retrospect my thinking on a lot of issues was quite muddled.

I am no longer the exclusive Rand fanboy I was back in college, if for no other reason than I have since found many authors who come at the topic of capitalism and freedom from many different angles, but Rand was certainly my gateway drug to liberty.

Like many people, around the new year I set various goals for myself over the coming year.  Some I have achieved (e.g. getting myself out of corporate America and into my own business) and on some I have fallen short (e.g. learning to play the guitar).  But every year I have renewed just one resolution, which I took from Atlas Shrugged.  It is

I swear"“by my life and my love of it"“that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

I then discuss this resolution in the context of approaches my business has had this year from lobbyists.  I discuss how lobbyists have approached me about an effort to make some tweaks to the health care law (it is particularly punitive to our labor model where we hire seniors part time and seasonally) as well as efforts to promote privatization of recreation (my business) and to help me obtain new contracts.    The article has much more discussion about details, but my resolution for a lobbying policy turned out as follows, in a rough parallel to the resolution above:

"We will use lobbyists to defend ourselves when the government is trying to gut us like a fish, but we will attempt to do so with generic amendments rather than through special exemptions for our company alone.  We will not use lobbyists to create new business opportunities, even when the legislation to do so is consistent with our principals."

By the way, I actually sent notes to several readers out there (you know who you are) asking them their opinions on some of the ethical issues I saw in these issues, and I appreciate the feedback from all of you.

Happy new year to all of you.

  • Jaycee

    Typo - "principals" should be "principles"

  • Tom Kelly

    Epic fail. Warren you are my favorite blogger. You seem to be a great businessman and are clearly intelligent and well read.

    But if your life is lived by your resolution, your life is an epic failure compared with what it could be. I am your age and also a well educated small/medium businessman. Thirty years ago I also read Atlas Shrugged and it completely changed my life. For ten years I lived by it and prospered, earning my first million by age 22.

    But now, and for the last 20 years, I do live for the sake of another man, voluntarily, not by compulsion. The man's name is Jesus and living for Him is what living is really all about. I had everything in the world when I started to follow Jesus. Now I have everything and eternity.

    Life is not ultimately about stuff. It is not about vacations. It is not about amusements or recreation. Life is about relationships- and those are built through love, living for the sake of another man (or woman). As I recall, even Atlas Shrugged embraces this view of love when Dagny Taggart finds fulfillment as a companion for John Galt in Colorado.

    Can you have love without Jesus- of course. But what's the point of ignoring the master and Creator of love if you're going to live a life of love?

    Warren- you are too smart to settle for less than all this life has to offer. Please consider living your life for the sake of another man- Jesus. You might want to check out the book A Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. He does the same sort of breakdown on proving the reality of Jesus as you have done disproving global warming/change/chaos.

    My New Year's Resolution- See one really smart blogger come to know Jesus.

  • http://www.worldsbestbanners.com Tim

    Thanks for sharing... It is amazing how something we read can shape our lives and turn us in a new direction. I'll have to check out the title. Happy New Years.

  • jj

    I agree completely with the second half:
    I will never ask another man to live for mine.

    As for the first half, I'd rephrase it as "I should never be forced by one man to live for the sake of another man, but I may choose to do so voluntarily". Perhaps this is inherent in the quote when taken in context, but out of context you can see why most people are repulsed by Rand.

    I haven't read Atlas Shrugged but I have to assume that it leaves room for living for others voluntarily... Warren, you live for your family, right?