Calvin & Hobbes: Doing nothing

calvin-hobbes-stampWhat makes Calvin & Hobbes the greatest ever is its ability to make you laugh and identify with it. What makes it one of the great treasures is its ability to invoke emotions that you never thought you’d spend on a comic strip.

One of the many Calvin and Hobbes comic strips that I love goes like this:

Calvin diligently studies his calendar. Hobbes stands beside Calvin, full of anticipation. Calvin says: “Well, let’s check my calendar and see what our schedule is for today. Today says do nothing. So does tomorrow and every day after…all the way through the end of August.”

I can‘t honestly remember the first time I read this strip of good news! But I do remember that it made me very, very happy and I wanted to join Calvin and Hobbes on their adventure of doing nothing.

Following are two more comics about doing nothing:


We are always busy doing things, sometimes one should just look at things and think about things without doing things.



A Costly Mistake or a Learning Investment?

Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM between 1956 and 1971, was a key figure in the information revolution. Watson repeatedly demonstrated his abilities as a leader, never more so than in our first short story

Characteristic of leadership

A young executive had made some bad decisions that cost the company several million dollars. He was summoned to Watson’s office, fully expecting to be dismissed. As he entered the office, the young executive said, “I suppose after that set of mistakes you will want to fire me.” Watson was said to have replied,

“Not at all, young man, we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you.”

Source: Edgar Schein in his book Organizational Culture and Leadership)

This story provides a strong message of support and a reminder that some of the most powerful lessons we can learn are from our so-called failures or difficult times.

Remember Edison’s famous saying: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison also demonstrated a great response to adversity which compliments Watson Jr’s actions. When his factory was burned down, with much of his life’s work inside, Edison said: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start new.”

A characteristic of leadership is to see things differently. Seeing mistakes as an investment in learning.

Finally, here are some quotes about re-defining success, perhaps by seeing it differently:

  • “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
  • “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
  • “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”Booker T Washington
  • “He who has never made a mistake, never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles
  • “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Bill Gates
  • “I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “Success in management is when those you manage succeed, and the organization you work for succeeds.” Unknown