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Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided[…]

Kanter’s Law: Everything can look like a failure in the middle.

Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: My personal philosophy … Do I have a personal philosophy? I have many personal philosophies. I am constantly quoting things to myself. I learned this when I was writing my book “Confidence", and I was studying how great athletes and great sports teams achieve winning streaks. And I learned about self-talk, that athletes engage in self-talk. They're always saying things to themselves. So I have a lot of self-talk. At the moment I'm saying to myself, “Don't push the river. Go with the flow. So I'm going back to Zen statements stemming from my formative years. And I'm doing that because I'm working on some very difficult projects, including a project to bring a new kind of education to Harvard. And I'm working on projects with companies that have some thorny problems to solve. And I'm impatient. I wanna have it done right away. And you have to wait for people to get back to you. You have to wait for coalitions of people to form. Meetings keep getting rescheduled. So I say to myself, “Go with the flow. Don't push the river. But I also know how important it is not to give up. So I repeat to myself, “Everything can look like a failure in the middle. Kanter's Law. I think persisting is more important than almost anything else. You have to listen to negative voices, but I say to myself, “Don't let the voices and the negativity drag you down. So most of my personal philosophies have to do with action … with getting it done.

Recorded on: 6/13/07