The pragmatic approach

I was in the midst of an engaging and perspective shifting conversation with someone who’d given thoughtful consideration to big ideas like the effects of climate change on our species, the effect of the evolution of modern medicine on the notion of  “death” (will it be a choice soon?), among others.

It was a fascinating conversation – one of those that gets you thinking about ideas well beyond your current host of minor problems.

As we approached the end of it, I asked this person how he balanced the perspective from thinking about problems like climate change with having to, for example, close a deal next week. He responded half jokingly – “Because this is the life I’ve been given and I want to make sure it doesn’t suck.”

I’ve reflected on that note a bunch since our conversation. It struck me as the definition of pragmatic. Through his career (a very successful one), he’s done a great job “making sure it doesn’t suck.” And, in doing so, he’s acquired the resources required over time to effect meaningful change to the causes he cares about.

There’s a lot of attention given to romantic pursuits of problems that disregard practical considerations. But, at least in my experience, the pragmatic approach – especially when combined with thoughtfulness and long term planning – is often very effective.