It struck me that this might be a good time to try an experiment that I've wanted to do ever since I read Katy Bourne's book, Weirdo Simpatico: Little Stories for Short Attention Spans.
It's a good read, and she really is on to something. So I adapted the idea for work, and took a shot at it. I added the idea of a micro-essay as well. The Manager liked it. I thought I might share it with you. (The colored fonts reflect the company's graphic for each value.)
She acknowledged his value. That didn’t mean she agreed with him. In fact, often she did not. However, as she stood silently, skillet held high, she recognized that he had as much right to be there as she did, and in the end, that is what saved him.
“At least he’s honest”, she said to herself. “I’ll give him that”.
Still, his words had stung, even if they had gone straight to the heart of the matter. She lowered the skillet and turned back to the dishes. “He is good for taking out the trash”, she thought.
All of a thing. One. Undivided. Without flaw. So sat the Space Shuttle Columbia on its launch pad. It was seamless. It was One. It had integrity. Several minutes later it reached orbit, but without its integrity. Frozen chunks of foam had flown off the rocket during launch and damaged the heat shield on the bottom of the shuttle. It was no longer of one piece. It was no longer without flaw. Only the astronauts did not know it. They were not aware that they had been sentenced to death. They continued on with life as they always had. They had no idea that they were simply waiting for the right moment. It came, of course. It always does. Stress is hard. It requires integrity to survive. Under stress, the flaws are exaggerated and cause destruction. Over California the stress increased. Over Nevada, the flaw gave way. Over Texas, the whole machine disintegrated, taking the lives of the astronauts with it. Integrity may not make you rich. It probably won’t. But a lack of it, can get you killed.
The bale floated hazily on the waves caused by the brutal heat. The boy stumbled just as he reached for it, causing him to miss, and lose his momentum. Salty sweat dripped into his eyes and blinded him. “Put some ‘oomph’ into it”, cried the old man on the truck. “I ain’t got all day!” The boy glared at the old man, then back at the bale. “I’ll show you ‘oomph’”, he thought. A deep anger possessed him now. He’d knock the old man off his high horse. “This one is coming for you”, he thought. “I hope it knocks your ass sideways”. With all the strength he could muster, the boy grabbed the bale and swung it hard, aiming it squarely at the old man. The bale rose into the sky and hung there in the shimmering heat just long enough for the old man to easily snatch it, and stack it on the truck. He smiled down at the boy. “That’s the spirit”, he said.
When I hear the word “excellence” I always think of the movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I especially like it when one or both of them will exclaim, “Excellent!” and play a wicked air-guitar. It has always seemed to me that this is where excellence begins—with a piece of “music” that only you can hear. If you practice that piece long enough, outside observers may notice that what you are doing is indeed “excellent”. But it always begins on the inside. Excellence cannot be imposed upon someone or something. It can only be encouraged. That task you’re working on may be forced upon you, but the way you do it depends on how you hear the music. Only you can bring excellence to it. It’s a choice. Bill and Ted get that. The society they founded gets that. That is why they encourage one another the way they do— “Be excellent to each other. And party on dudes!”
Loretta was at her wit’s end. The puppy she had agreed to watch over the weekend had just finished its second roll of toilet paper and was starting on her new shoes—expensive black pumps she’d found on sale just last week. “Stop it dammit”, she screamed as she threw her flip-flop at the dog. The puppy cringed, but quickly returned to gnawing away. Good leather is hard to resist. Loretta collapsed onto the sofa and cried softly. She deeply regretted telling Tim she’d watch his puppy. She had no pets of her own, and liked it that way. If pushed, she’d say she was more of a cat person. Still, Tim was such a good guy. How could she say no? “Oh well, what’s done is done”, she told herself. “Come on pup. Let’s get you some real food. Can’t let your Daddy think we didn’t take good care of you now can we?”