Friday, September 18, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Motivation and The Little Prince

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I love The Little Prince. It was one of my favorite books as a child. I love his wide-eyed questioning of life, and his desire to explore things that are strange and unexplained. As children often do, he was able to make connections between seemingly disparate activities and relationships, and in the process showed us how to think about our lives in a larger context than just our day-to-day collection of tasks. He asks us to consider our role in and contribution to humanity as a whole.

I was thinking about The Little Prince this morning, eating my Cheerios and looking at the water towers that dot my view from my apartment. The water towers look like brave guards, standing watch; they almost seem to breathe. They make me feel safe. The city looks so different from 17 floors up. I'm always struck by that - as I get down to the street-level, my neighborhood transforms. Up above, I have the ability to be more idealistic. The height helps me dream and consider my larger motivations in life, apart from the actual tasks I'm engaged in; it helps me think like the Little Prince.

This quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery is helping me frame up my own desired contribution to humanity. I want to help as many people as I can to use their creativity to improve our world. That's not going to happen in a business plan; it's not going to happen through mandates and time lines and a to-do list. It can happen if I follow Antoine de Saint-Exupery's advice in every area of my life, with every interaction I have with every person I know and meet. It's that desire to play a part in building a better world that I must foster in all of my relationships. Individuals will find their own way to make a contribution. They all have their own talents and interests that can be used toward this common goal; my role is to be their biggest cheerleader, their champion, their advocate, and where applicable, their guide.

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