Live, Learn, Lead: the message from our Dean

26 October 2020

Live, Learn, Lead.

In the beginning, then, there had been no plague, no pestilence, none at all, not on any account. The very words had been forbidden.

Next came the talk of ‘pestilent fever’ – the idea being admitted indirectly, in adjectival form.

Then it was ‘not a real pestilence’ – that is to say, it was a pestilence, but only in a certain sense; not a true pestilence, but something for which it was difficult to find another name.

Last of all, it became a pestilence without any doubt or argument – but now a new idea was attached to it, the idea of poisoning and witchcraft, and this corrupted and confused the sense conveyed by the dreaded word which could now no longer be suppressed.

I do not think that it is necessary to be deeply versed in the history of words and ideas to see that many of them have followed a route similar to that just described. Fortunately, however, there are not many words of comparable type; not many that are of such importance, or that win acceptance at such a price, or that have accessory ideas of such a kind tacked on to them. But in small and great matters alike, it would often be possible to avoid travelling that long and tortuous route, if people would only follow a method which has been recommended to them for long enough – the method of observing, listening, comparing and thinking before they begin to talk.

But talking – just talking, by itself – is so much more easy than any of the other activities mentioned, or all of them put together, that we human beings in general deserve a little indulgence in this matter”.

(Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed, Chapter XXXI)*

It is difficult to speak at a time when too many banal things are said, but as Dean of BBS I feel obliged to address you all. After having thought about it for a long time, I address an exhortation to myself and to you who have chosen BBS: live, learn, lead.

The will to live risks being momentarily castrated by the pandemic or dampened by sadness and worry. Alex Zanardi’s words still resonates, when he spoke at the QuaranTalks of BBS on Easter Day: “some of the obstacles that life has presented me with have become opportunities to be faced with curiosity and confidence”. Today, our lives are full of obstacles, but we can transform them into opportunities, remembering that the only life we have is that which is possible. It also applies to our professional lives. This demon, always lurking, takes away certainties and makes the future unclear. We know we will win the battle against the plague, humankind will not become extinct, but we do not know what the costs will be in terms of lives, hardship, and poverty. Therefore, in this situation, let’s look for the opportunities in the obstacles, facing them with curiosity and confidence, also supporting each other.

Nostalgia for the past is vain, especially if it turns into waiting for conditions that will not return. Instead, what is needed is to open up to learning: understanding, having a vision, and constantly experimenting. “Everything will change” my 5-and-a-half-year-old son repeats every day, surprising me. A prophecy or perhaps the intuition that comes through the eyes of a child, free from the cognitive blinkers that adults impose on themselves. During these months we understood that it is necessary to learn twice as much as before, because consolidated models now need fast and continuous reaction ability. With this spirit, at BBS every day, we work to combine our skills as professors and researchers with the experiences of entrepreneurs, of executives, of engineers, of doctors, of psychologists, of public managers and all those who try to anticipate changes. Life at BBS has never been this vibrant: on the campus at the Fiera, at Villa Guastavillani, on the on-line platforms and in the organizations of our community. Places where to learn, focused on the collective growth which convey the sense that you are not alone and that we are moving towards the future.

Finally, all of us are required to lead as well, regardless of our formal role. If we chose BBS, we cannot shirk the responsibilities that come, to us, with awareness and learning. Let’s lead the rebirth, let’s lead optimism, let’s lead learning, let’s lead those who need our inspiration and our example. Leadership is this: give your best and help others do the same, thus activating a multiplying process. If we bring this spirit into the context in which we work, we will make a great contribution.

Live, Learn, Lead. A way to free our passion and build together everybody’s future.

At BBS we will do everything to be by your side.

With esteem and affection.

Max Bergami, Dean

* translated by Bruce Penman, Penguin Classics


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