Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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

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 R. Covey  


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 way.  

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 destination.

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.

The life you lead will be the legacy you leave.

1 comment:

  1. Scott,
    Its so nice to be filled with your wisdom once again. I miss you. Linda Stanley