Friday, January 22, 2010

"The Enhancement of Human Dignity"

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."      --Sam Ewing

The greatest of the dreamers are those who stop dreaming. The greatest of dreamers are those who wake up and simply "get at it." Yes, there is great power upon the drawing boards of the mind. Yet, the moving force, thereof, stands dependent upon human exertion combined with the will to bring something forth.

Work is a virtue I value. That value has increased as I have pondered its purpose and tested its yield. Gordon B. Hinckley, a perpetual optimist and former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints referred to work as being "the enhancement of human dignity." Would you agree? Think of it. Work is the means by which our sense of worth and self-respect is amplified. Work purifies us.

Read about Nathanael Greene. Mr. Greene was the youngest of the generals that constituted the American army during the revolution. He took lead as a general at the age of 33. He grew up in Rhode Island as a foundry worker having never obtained formal education--something he longed for in his youth. Instead, he gathered a personal library that allowed him to study military science and leadership. Nathanael Greene kept at it. 

In the midst of the cynical, Greene was not viewed as the officer type largely due to a limp in his right leg. He kept at it once more, marching drills month after month. Quickly, his diligence gave way to his knowledge and skill opening doors for him to become a leader and an eventual mentor to General George Washington. Finally, Greene later told John Adams that whatever he lacked in knowledge and skill he made up for with "watchfulness and industry" (See 1776 by David McCullough, pg. 20-24).

Nathanael Greene used "watchfulness and industry" to rise above the so-called barriers of circumstance. From him we learn that work is a lifting force in life. As we stand forthright and keep at it we will find great joy in the daily hum-drum. The principle of work holds deeper import beyond its surface. It is much more than forty hours on a time card. Perhaps work is a precursor to the human soul's yearning to create. True fulfillment in work is begotten when it is done in a manner where the mind can be enlightened with new ideas, where the heart can be bolstered with refined desires, and the the smile can become wider, brighter, and more real. As we work we become enlarged in our capacity to create. Truly, work is "the enhancement of human dignity." Keep at it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Sore Thumb?

"Language is the source of misunderstandings."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

We live in a world of commonly used adages, aphorisms, maxims, and mottos. You know what they are. They are the language metaphors we use to describe human action. Man, I "slept like a baby" or "It's hotter than a pistol" and he came out of there "like a bat out of hell." Then, we have the "I'm sweating like a pig" simile. If I'm not mistaken, pigs don't sweat.

As a generality, we use this type of phraseology daily. It is a humorous thing to sit and analyze some of these statements. I mean, honestly, has anyone ever seen a bat flying out of hell? Have you? If so, do tell. All I know is that it must be pretty fast. Indeed, if I was trying to get out of hell I would make my exit as quick as humanly possible.

My favorite of these silly similes could be applied when you're looking at last year's group photo at the company picnic. It was the one held at Splish Splash water park. Everyone is wearing their new polo shirts with the company logo on them except for  Fenton Foster. He's the one on the left holding a hot dog in one hand and a 96 ounce "gut buster" in the other. Yes, you got it right. He is wearing zebra print swim trunks complimented by the electric orange arm floaties. He just got out of the pool. Someone missed the memo. I guess the water didn't get to the end of the row if you know what I mean--except for the puddle Fenton left where he was standing. Boy, did he stick out like a sore thumb!

There it is: a sore thumb. Do they really stick out? I just wonder who came up with that one! Perhaps it was coined the day Hank was trying to hammer nails holding the hammer with only four fingers not using his thumb at all. "What's wrong with Hank?" Walt asked Larry.

"I don't know, Walt." Larry replied"

"Well, why is his thumb sticking out, Larry? He looks like an invalid!"

" Maybe his thumb is sore" Larry said curtly.

"Hmmm..., it must be" Walt replied in a thoughtful sort of admiration.

That is what I call conclusive thinking. Thank you Walt and Larry for putting your coworker's safety at the front of your concerns. Walt and Larry's legacy has left us with the knowledge that if someone's thumb is sticking out it is invariably sore. So, the next time your good friend is looking glum look to see if his thumb is sticking out. If it is, problem solved. It's sore. It'll be better tomorrow.

Next year's goal: No one will be wearing floaties in the company photo. The corporate charter just can't handle any more 'sore thumbs' in the mix.