In a management course this month I had the privilege of being instructed by Luis Martin, a former college professor from SMU. He had left the teaching profession and spent a number of years in corporate America teaching values that should be part of management.
“Loving things and using people only leads to misery… Loving people and using things is the way it ought to be!” These lyrics he shared from George Burns is a great summary to his presentation. His goal was to try and ‘pull from within’ each of us the often buried seed of wisdom about ‘individuals’ and the value of individuals. Each person, including oneself, is very important to the ‘whole’. And that life is about relationships and you shouldn’t ‘use’ people, but love ‘people and use things’…
He shared one of his greatest lectures where he came in without notes or slides. He took off his shoe and then went into a dissertation of how many people were involved in creating this incredible shoe and without all those many people that were part of making this shoe, he would have to go barefoot. Since his shoe was leather it started with the folks that had the ranch that raised the cow, the people involved in buying the cow and shipping to the people that slaughtered the cow, that made the leather, that shipped the raw materials, the factory workers that made the shoe, those that transported the shoe to the distribution centers, and then to the retail stores, and those that stocked it on the shelf.. etc..
Some people may tell you they don’t ‘need’ anyone but what they are really doing is closing people off—they basically don’t express their gratitude for what others do for them. They are choosing to be ‘self-centered’ without an appreciation for others. Sometimes driven by thoughts that everyone is out to get them.
When you stop and realize that everything you touch, there are many people that were involved in getting that product or service or benefit to you. So, what is our role in humanity and how are we contributing?
If not careful, we can get caught up in the mechanics of life, measuring and comparing. This can lead us to not treating people like individuals or appreciating them for who they are. A quote from Einstein that Luis shared was ‘Not everything that can be counted is worth counting, and not everything worth counting can be counted.’
We all have limitations and weaknesses that can be helped or strengthened as we combine with others. Their strengths can help our weaknesses and our strengths can often help their weaknesses. A team of individuals working together helps strengthens each other… hence the wisdom of the family and our dependency on others. We need people to fix things for us, to prepare things for us to use, to eat, etc. The family can be the greatest center for learning and developing-that was the intent. And just because someone isn't part of a traditional family, doens't mean they can't be part of some other 'family'.
But there is still the choice we have to make to take the time to appreciate and express gratitude for the benefits from those who have been placed before us to help us. When we think that we can go it alone or try to hold back our contributions or our need for assistance we only limit our ability to enjoy life. The assistance and dependency will always exist—its just whether we choose to ignore the contributions of others. We should ‘joy’ in the experiences along our journey-though they may appear as hardships or trials, we should keep our focus on the big picture where our development requires challenges and difficulties to grow. And as we are open and continue to seek out the needs of others, we in turn help ourselves.