FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Ship building.

by Dave Markwell

“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 read this quote the other day and began to think about it. I’m still thinking about it. I read a lot of words and many slip in and out of my mind with only a brief glance. I have a lot of short-term love affairs with words. These words remain with me. I may love them. It’s still early, but we might have a future together.

These words inspired me because they tell the truth. In looking around my life for places that this idea might fit, I find that it fits everywhere. The truth does this.

While attempting to navigate a path through the wheel barrow load of shoes lying in all corners and non-corners of my living room, I began to ponder an application of this idea. How can I inspire my little piglets to put their crap away? How can I connect them to a larger vision of possibility that will make their small efforts a joy? How can I shape a message that will resonate and create a tidy and yell-free household?

Well, I have no idea how to do this. But…I still think it’s worthwhile exploring it.

Like many good ideas, it exists as both clear and nebulous at the same time. I “get” it, but am not sure how to apply it.
It’s an idea about constructing a culture of “creation”, instead of simply “work”. This is a powerful culture that relies on a strong “why?”, instead of “what?” “Why?” we do something is always the more important question than the “what?”.

Having some clarity on our mission goals, intentions and vision is vital to establishing a potent sense of purpose. This is our “why?” Being clear on this first makes everything easier and more authentic, thus more effective that follows it.

It’s a beautiful idea that I have experienced at different times in my life. Several years ago, I worked for my local city park department. We built and maintained parks. It remains the best job I’ve ever had. Our crew was inspired by our work. We took pride in what we created. We had a sense of purpose and understood our role in making it so. We also had a great leader. Our boss, Rick, led well. He made us feel important. He helped us recognize the larger value of our efforts. It was a powerful lesson and one that I carry with me today.

This experience illustrates that, fortunately, it’s possible. Inspiring cultures can exist…anyplace. And we can all be great leaders. We can shape cultures through our spirits and words. We matter and it matters and all oceans are ours to explore. It’s a big, beautiful world filled with the magic we create. Why create this magic?…because it’s what we’re here to do…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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