Serenity and the Knowledge Manager

Around the time of WWII, US theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a prayer that has become known as the “Serenity Prayer”:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

According to the Wikipedia article on this prayer, it became widely known after it was circulated by the World Council of Churches, the US armed forces and various Twelve-Step programs, beginning with Alcoholics Anonymous.

It might be wise to post this prayer in the office of every knowledge manager. Given the constant struggles with technology, the glacial rate of change in user behavior, and the concentrated long-term effort required to achieve even a small modification in organizational culture, it is a challenge to attain serenity. Much of the problem lies in the fact that there are limited areas in which knowledge managers are given a free hand and actually have the ability to affect the organization in a meaningful way. In the quest for relevance and serenity, perhaps our task is to be very clear-eyed about where our efforts can really make a difference and then apply ourselves accordingly. Not every interesting project is worth doing.

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