As most of you are acutely aware, the Universe converges…always.
One of my favorite times occurred about a year ago, we were out for a drive and I was talking about my favorite sports car – a 1972 Porsche 914 in yellow. About an hour later, we stopped for dinner at a pub in Hellertown and pulled up next to – yup, you guessed it – that exact car, in mint condition, exactly the way I remembered it. A wink and a nod from the universe.
On the first of each month, Andy Cook our VP of Communications, faithfully and predictably sends out our monthly Eastern PA ASTD Chapter news. This month, on July 1, I wrote a President’s message that started like this:
“Most of us have read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Like Beowulf, it was a book that was hard to avoid at a certain point in our lives. Unlike Beowulf, most of us enjoyed it and learned something from it!”
Last week, Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits, died at the age of 79. His impact on several generations of leaders and organizations is immeasurable. And it gave me pause to think about the fact that, while writing the president’s July message and searching my mental inventory for a book that is universally read and enjoyed in our field, Covey’s groundbreaking tome popped first to mind. Convergence and confirmation.
Perhaps it is our human hubris, but we hope to leave behind something other than just our carbon footprint. Be it our children, our students, a book we’ve written, a process we’ve developed – something that says, “I was here and mattered to someone or something beyond myself. Something positive came of my brief jaunt on God’s green earth.”
Most of us aren’t “Coveys”, but we can learn something about balance and values and True North from Covey that we can apply to the way we live our lives and relate to each other.
We are too soon gone, but we live on. On this point, I quote from another one of my personal favorite books, Tunesmith by songwriter Jimmy Webb, who ended his book on the craft of songwriting with this paragraph on our legacy as humans and our propensity to live beyond our humanity:
“It is inevitable (sic), scientists say, that eventually a large asteroid or even a comet will impact the earth, possibly resulting in the extinction of our species and some would say no great loss, even cause for celebration among the elephants, rhinos and grizzly bears. (It is easy to imagine all the cockroaches and rats getting together for a not overly somber memorial service.) And then out there somewhere, someday, the spaceborne remains of our entire civilization will eventually be found sounding clear as a bell after its eternal journey and the equivalent of a giant intelligent butterfly will gawk in wonder and converse telepathically with its friends as they watch the Honeymooners and attempt to decrypt the meaning of “to the moon, Alice!” But what of our emotions, dreams, and heartaches, the stuff that really made us what we were? How would a thinking butterfly begin to suspect the existence of those? By listening to our songs, of course. And after all is said and done perhaps these are the most important works we could ever leave behind us as evidence that we were at times caring human beings in spite of our penchant for violence and unilateral destruction. The butterflies care not a whit for our buildings and television programs and nuclear bombs but they fall in love with our music (they are particularly fond of Joe Raposo’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green”) and are eventually known throughout the universe as a beautiful, iridescent singing race of winged songwriters.”
In truth, we all have songs in our hearts, and not all of them are necessarily set to music. Covey’s song did not need to be set to music, but it struck a chord in us that goes on and on.