Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble!

A personal story...

London, UK - 30th March 2009, 08:11 GMT

Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

As a young graduate engineer, nearly two decades ago, I met a charming man who had been the Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce. I had the pleasure of working with him on some global aviation projects with British, European, Canadian and American aerospace companies.

This distinguished Englishman was extremely bright, very knowledgeable and highly eccentric! Very English qualities those! He would do things carefully and methodically without making mistakes, especially where it mattered. Otherwise, if one were to watch him pour tea followed by a teaspoon of sugar, most of it was out of the cup, on the table and then on the floor!

If he would spot a mistake in his personal communication, he would always revert back and clean it off, and then proceed further. He would apologise profusely for any small mistake in handling human relationships and feelings especially in his written communication, which was always immaculate.

When we would write a message either to our own team of engineers or to any of the major aerospace groups at CEO level or in-between, he would always, always sit down, take out a fountain pen, and hand-write his message before entering it on to the computer screen. He would always begin, "Dear ...., start off on a personal note, move on to the subject matter and end the message with a heartfelt comment and a personal touch."

I once said to him, your emails and letters are like Monet paintings. We ought to frame them and hang them up on walls at the National Gallery! The letters were exquisite not only for their language but also for their personal touch and layout.

I asked him, "What is the genesis of this marvellous quality?" He said: "Quidvis Recte Factum Quamvis Humile Praeclarum!" in Latin.

Then, nonchalantly, he said, "Translate it!"

O God! Me and my big mouth. It was not possible to come out of this one easily. So mimicking his quality, I sat down slowly. I said, “Give me a minute!" I took out a pen and paper and wrote the Latin words on the left and English words on the right. I thought "Praeclarum" is "very clear" and "Humile" is Humble. "Factum" is "act" and "Recte" is "rightly". So, I said: "Very clear humility comes from right action!"

He replied, one of the two founders of Rolls-Royce, had this Latin inscription engraved on his fireplace. It means:

"Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble!"


The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation can be visited here. (This event took place before the decision I took in my life to stop working for aerospace companies that were involved in manufacturing weapons of any kind!)

ATCA Open maintains a presence for Socratic Dialogue and feedback on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Intent.

We welcome your thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.

The Philanthropia, founded in 2005, brings together over 1,000 leading individual and private philanthropists, family offices, foundations, private banks, non-governmental organisations and specialist advisors to address complex global challenges such as countering climate chaos, reducing radical poverty and developing global leadership for the younger generation through the appliance of science and technology, leveraging acumen and finance, as well as encouraging collaboration with a strong commitment to ethics. Philanthropia emphasises multi-faith spiritual values: introspection, healthy living and ecology. Philanthropia Targets: Countering climate chaos and carbon neutrality; Eliminating radical poverty -- through micro-credit schemes, empowerment of women and more responsible capitalism; Leadership for the Younger Generation; and Corporate and social responsibility.

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