In several places in my home, I have small framed signs with one of Gandhi's messages strategically placed to catch my eye during the day, "My life is my message." It is interesting how those five words have shaped so many days --- so many actions --- so many decisions. They place the question of rightness to every action and decision. It is humbling on many days to realize that my humanness has kept me from living up to this proclamation in the way I wished I had.
The story goes like this:
Gandhi remained silent one day a week. He was traveling on a train on the one day a week when he did not speak. A journalist came up to his window, screaming out to him, "Do you have a message for me to take back to my people." Gandhi scrawled a few words on a piece of paper and put them up in the window... "My life is my message."
Over the years as I've thought alot about the commitment this message takes, I realize that if each of measured our behavior by it every day with a new kind of consciousness about all we do, we could change the world in short order, don't you think? How many things would be different throughout the world? Think of it.
In my book, Putting Our Differences to Work, recount Gandhi's warning to us about the personal traits that are the most perilous to humanity. Imagine how we could change the realities today by changing and measuring our behavior and actions. I also introduce Five Distinctive Qualities of Leadership and propose each of us add them to our portfolio. The one that seems to embrace all the others is "make mutualism the final arbiter" for all actions and decisions (e.g., behavior, products, services, profit-making) measured by just six powerful words:
Everyone benefits; no one is harmed.
With this conscious shift in our thinking and actions, we could reverse those personal traits that caused Gandhi worry. Think of it...
- Wealth with Work
- Pleasure with Conscience
- Science with Humanity
- Knowledge with Character
- Politics with Principle
- Commerce with Morality
- Worship with Sacrifice
How does your life stack up and contribute to these virtues?
I leave you as I ponder this question myself.
Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership and High Performance
by Debbe Kennedy ▪ Berrett-Koehler ▪ 2008 – Hardcover
ORDER a copy at AMAZON.COM
Putting Our Differences to Work was selected as as among
"the very top business books" for review in August, 2008.