Editorial – Primus inter pares of premium impact?

Pause for a moment to consider someone in your immediate surroundings —be it in your family, circle of friends, or professional milieu— whom you regard as a person of integrity. Now, repeat the exercise by associating the term "integrity" with a well-known personality.
Written on 15-10-2023

Primus inter pares of premium impact?

Did you have a “primus” in your class? An unbelievably bright individual who grasped everything faster than the rest? You run into them a few years later at a class reunion, expecting them to have achieved a high-ranking position in the corporate world or gained fame in academia. But they tell you that they prefer a quiet nine-to-five job without stress, enjoying their time in the garden while meditating on life. You think to yourself, “Fair enough, who am I to tell them they could have better utilized their brilliant mind?”

And yet, there’s a nagging feeling. You then meet one of the least outstanding students from the same class at the same reunion. She talks about the prejudices she overcame, the necessity she felt to use her talents, knowledge, and determination to launch a company. For example, she developed an app that significantly improves the lives of people with learning disabilities, or a software that streamlines the administrative burden of starting a business, allowing you to focus on your core operations. Or a network of logistic warehouses that helps NGOs quickly reach disaster areas with the right equipment…

Who possesses the "premium personality" of these two individuals?

*Intermezzo* as a reminder: premium = something (or someone) of higher quality than usual.

My answer may surprise you: in my opinion, they are both equally “premium.” However, their impact on society may not be the same.

The Human Condition: vita activa with added value

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt believed that in philosophy, one should not primarily examine how people think, but rather how they “act.” In her work “The Human Condition,” she makes an important distinction between “labor,” “work,” and “action,” three elements that together form the “vita activa” or our active life.

Labor is related to the biological processes of the human body and the repetitive tasks that you must perform day in and day out, often unnoticed, to stay alive. She considered this activity something we share with animals and something that has become increasingly necessary for consumption today. In the mid-1950s, she already warned of the danger that labor was becoming the most important activity, causing many to lose the sense of professional purpose.

“Work,” on the other hand, she saw as the “unnaturalness of human existence,” involving the shaping, designing, creating, or building of objects or structures, or equally a scientific, cultural, or economic act with lasting (sustainable) impact. As a third element, she mentioned “action,” the diversity of people, which concerns the social aspect, public life, interaction, including making political decisions or decisions that affect people collectively.

In our current world and future society, it will likely become increasingly important for us as humans to distinguish ourselves from the artificial means that will surround us through our work and actions. For Hannah Arendt, there is no freedom without action. We can be demanding in this regard and aim to have the highest quality impact on the people around us, even in the relatively short time we sometimes spend with people in a professional context. I like to describe this as “prempact.” At ADM, we aim to assist companies and organizations by assigning them the Interim Manager who will bring about this premium impact, this “prempact.”

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