8th Guardians Consult 4/11/75
An idiomatic expression attributed to President Truman
made sense to me: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of
the kitchen." I suppose that we are unique as a group of
human beings. We live in a time when we are all pretty well aware
of the fact that we are unusually, uniquely visited with problems,
and that we have a kitchen full of them, and that it is hot. Prevalent
in each of us is the inclination to develop an attitude that might
be something less than positive in that climate. It might even
be called negative.
One manifestation of that attitude is apparent in
our jobs, where we earn our living and pay our way. There is a
tremendous amount of tension; economic tension compounded by the
unique partners of recession and inflation. Another manifestation
is an apathy, not in our land, but in this world, which includes
a feeling of impotence when people ask how things can be changed
or they can participate. In my own thought processes, I have reached
the point where I can finally say that all of that is decisional.
I can decide to have a negative attitude, or to be apathetic,
or that I cannot participate I can decide to be consumed by my
economic tension, jobs, money. bills and so forth.
Now, if 1 go through that process, I can also say
that I am absolutely lucid about the fact that there is a flip
side to everything. All of human history has taught us that out
of chaos, out of collapse, out of crisis, has come unbelievable
opportunity and unbelievable breakthroughs in terms of the quality
of civilization that rose out of the ruins that bred it.
So, I would say to myself (and not to anybody else
except the people I work with, and I have that option because
I am a sales manager), "Damn it, I do not have to permit
my short life to be consumed by the problems that are always at
hand. I can decide to take advantage of the gift of crisis and
the gift of chaos and participate in something that I might call
a sense of significance in terms of how I spend my time."
We have been given, uniquely in our time in history,
a choice confronted if you will with
a choice. A choice to delegate the responsibility of the future
to others. The choice to say to ourselves and to others that the
problems of the world are not my concern, or to say that I will
participate and engage myself in the exciting possibilities of
creating images of what tomorrow might look like. And I would
hold up the possibility that this is a little more fun than being
exposed to that which is always at hand, seemingly, today.
When I talk to the salesmen in our company's basic
sales school about this, I ask them to give me 8 virtues or attributes
of a good salesman. What should he have? There are eight people
in each of our schools, so I get eight attributes if there is
no repetition and each trainee gives me only one. These eight
are organization, persistence, enthusiasm, work habits, creativity,
ability to influence people, absolute work structures that we
all know make people tick, and marketing.
My next question to them is what is anchoring you?
I tell myself the story that whatever I do in participating or
anchoring LENS or anything else, finally has to be grounded somewhere.
I have become clear at the age of 50 about two or three things.
One Is that as far as my vocation goes, that is, the normal understanding
of vocation it is not how I earn my living. It is how I live my
life. That Is my vocation. If I say that ts true of a human being,
I say that It Is true also of groups of human beings or of a corporation.
My story for young folk is that you have to anchor
yourself in a context of authentic integrity based on concern
and a willingness to creatively participate in your vocation.
I think this is true of a company. If you finally become clear
that your vocation is how you live your life, you then have some
chance to contribute to your company, contribute to the people
you know, andto gain objectivity on the job where you earn
One unbelievable thing that has happened to me in
the last couple of years is that I have found that this kind of
idealism is a very powerful dynamic in the economic sense in the
business community. What I am saying is that if both kinds of
thoughts sound idealistic, sound moralistic, sound as if they
were a kind of desperate cry for good, so be it.
The other side of that is the fact that man wants that kind of society. The people with whom you are engaged in your job or in communities want that kind of society. They want a society anchored on integrity, anchored on care, anchored on creative images of the future. These thoughts have great validity in terms of the creative process we are participating in now, as well as being wonderful ways to spend one's life, up against the other possibilities that we are all too aware of. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you.