Friday, September 12, 2008

Wisdom from the Father and Son (Original 10/16/05)

I recently attended a seminar where the reflective question was posed, "How do you remind yourself that God is present in your workplace and how does that awareness change the way you work?"

It was an interesting question and I must admit I wasn't particularly happy with the answer I came up with. I didn't think I reminded myself very often if at all, and that seemed like something I should rectify, but I wasn't sure how.

When I returned to my office I scoured my desktop for some icon that could act as an unobtrusive spiritual symbol. My laptop, docking station and monitor took a vast amount or real estate. Stacks of papers to file, act on or route robbed even more. What little shelf space I had was committed to books and business tchochkies. Before long, pressing matters tore me away from my search.

While at home my young son, to his great amusement, continued to pick up and throw rubber balls at me. This was a fun game we had been playing for several days but in a flash it became much more significant. As he ran after me, arm cocked and ready to catapult another ball toward me, he gleefully said, "Here Daddy, here." At that moment I interpreted what he was saying as, "Hear Daddy, hear."

Instantly I recalled back a few years to a joyful family reunion. The occasion was my father's birthday, (for that matter, my daughter's too.) He rose to give a little speech, a recollection of what someone had shared with him as a younger man. He said words to the effect,

"In life we find ourselves juggling any number of balls in different sizes. There is career, finances, health, perhaps new business ventures, schooling or needless worrying. All of these things are made of rubber. If one drops because of neglect or a miscalculation, it can bounce back. However, there is one ball that represents family and it is made of crystal. This ball requires the most vigilant attention, because if it should fall due to neglect or miscalculation it will shatter and can not be replaced."

With moistness in my eyes I gave my surprised son a big hug before he could pelt me with another ball.

On my desk sits a picture of my family. Alongside of it I have placed a rubber ball I tend to throw or squeeze when the day turns tense. The two items work in concert to remind me that God is indeed present and he came to me through my father and my son.

It has been nearly three years since I first scribed those words. My son continues to throw balls at me; with greater accuracy. My father continues to provide wisdom, often in ways he may never fully appreciate. The rubber ball still sits at my desk and is frequently bounced in moments of contemplation.

During one of those moments of contemplation I received a call from the coordinator of the University of San Diego Business Leadership and Spirituality Breakfast Seminar, the same seminar that prompted me to begin capturing my reflections on leadership. She informed me that they are accepting participants for program this autumn. It's a transformative breakfast once a week for eight weeks that poses questions like:

  • What does my work mean when all is said and done?
  • How do I find and establish my moral compass in a world of competing values?
  • How can I make tough choices with a clear conscience and a sense of peace?
  • Integrity in the workplace; Do we practice what we preach?
  • And is the world a better place for our having been here?

Many believe a well lived life is one that balances work, family, finances, health, hobbies and spirituality. To me, the effective leader doesn't delineate those areas of life, they incorporate them. We saw an example of this played out publicly this past Father's Day weekend as the nation mourned the loss of Tim Russert, one of America's finest journalist and political commentators. Story after story served up testimonials of his faith and values interwoven into his life. Someone once commented, some people often think the successful seek spirituality, when actually it tends to be the inverse. People are most often successful because they are spiritual.

Please check out the program www.sandiego.edu/ccs for more details.

Let me know you registered for this unique experience and I'll send you my latest book, "How to Stay When you Want to Quit: re-scripting your life from whiner to winner" as a congratulations gift.