Wednesday Wisdom: Farnsworth's First Law of Life, Leadership, and Road Maps - If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Map Will Do
FARNSWORTH'S FIRST LAW
OF LIFE, LEADERSHIP, AND ROAD MAPS:
If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any
Map Will Do
If the ladder is not leaning against the
right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. Stephen
My two most recent Wednesday
Wisdom articles have focused on the importance of getting going. But simply
pressing forward is not enough. While it is good to be moving, it is better
to be moving with energy and purpose toward a clearly defined destination.
Do you remember the famous
conversation between Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat?
"Would you tell me,
please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal
on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where -
" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter
which way you go," said the Cat.
" - so long as I get
SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do
that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
For Alice, whose only purpose
was to get SOMEWHERE, it didn't matter which turn she took nor what map she
used. If YOU don't know where YOU'RE going, any map will do.
If you want make real progress
in your life, you need to figure out where you want to be, design a plan to
get there, and then implement your plan. One of the people who taught me
this principle was professor and author Stephen R. Covey, who had a knack
for teaching obvious but previously unstated truths in a clear and engaging
I was a fan long before his Seven Habits books made
him a household name. When I was a freshman at BYU, his classes were so
popular that it was impossible to find a seat. I carried one of his
earliest books, Spiritual
Roots of Human Relations, with me to Brazil as a 19-year-old
missionary. It strongly influenced my determination as a young man to
strive to lead a purposeful and spiritual life and to try to eventually
leave a meaningful legacy.
I celebrated when his Seven Habits of Highly Successful
People went multi-platinum in 1989. It seemed as though he had
finally achieved the world-wide acclaim he deserved. That book solidified
his legacy as a catalyst for positive change in the world.
Habits One and Two of his Seven
Habits were "Be proactive" and "Begin with the end in
mind." In other words, the first step to living effectively is to
recognize that you can decide your course in life; you can
choose your own destination.
Second, once you know where you
want to end up, the direction of your journey and your comportment along
the way must be consistent with the final outcome you desire. When it comes
to leaving a legacy, you must build your life-map based on your chosen
Covey also taught that if you
intend to leave a legacy of values and virtues, you must live your life in
harmony with that desired legacy. This clever little poem by Benjamin
Franklin speaks volumes about the inseparable connection between the way we
live and the legacy we leave.
If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing.
Living a life consistent with
how you wish to be remembered is the ultimate definition of integrity and the
perfect recipe for a meaningful legacy. To leave a large legacy, you must
live large. To leave a smart legacy, you must live intelligently. To leave
a loving legacy, you must live a life of caring, compassion, and service.