Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Running Meditations

Once upon a time, I worked for a big, political, bureaucratic corporation. The CEO came to talk to my department once a year. One year he asked us, “What is out number one priority?”

“Safety” was the first incorrect reply.

“Customer satisfaction” the second.

“Customer value” the third.

Finally the CEO gave us the correct answer, “Shareholder value.” Since he was and is one of the largest shareholders, this makes perfect sense in retrospect.
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There was a big power struggle that resulted in a reorganization of the management of my department. The guy I liked fell from grace and was stuck in a corner. He’s lucky he didn’t get fired. The guy who was made king was a bit of an unknown, but I was wary and skeptical. My peers who swore fidelity to the new king were promoted. I was not, which was quite an ego blow.

One day, the king called me into his office for a little chat and the nexus of what he said was this; “You can be right or you can be effective. It’s your choice.”

It made perfect sense and I had proof of its validity right in front of my eyes, but I could not bring myself to get-on-board. I wound up leaving the company.

I’ve thought about this a lot. The king’s maxim is quite accurate. The question comes down to, which choice will I make? This last year, I did a lot of work with the ultimate big, political, bureaucratic corporation, the US government. For engineers who like efficiency and accuracy, they should put a sign at the entrance to all government offices – Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Ah, if only Virgil could have guided me through the circles of the government. I was ecstatic when I was able to be mildly effective.

So being effective might not be such a bad option after all. Plus, you get rewarded. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded?

I did a 16 mile run today and I was contemplating the king’s maxim and my choice when the following words rang in my head as clear as if Susan Anderson Smith spoke them right next to me; “Get behind me Satan!” I was stunned. Then I remembered the stories - Satan tempting Jesus, Simon Peter tempting Jesus, Mara tempting Gautama Siddhartha – all with the same rewards.

When I got home, I looked up the quote; “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” And there it is.

But I live in the world of men most of the time. Jesus also said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's” so the correct choice must be some ambiguous shade of gray where you are sort of right and sort of effective.

I tell you this; All the paintings of Satan tempting Jesus that depict Satan as horned and hoofed and bestial; they are all wrong. Satan is the most beautiful, suave, sophisticated, elegant, charming fellow you will ever meet.

We of the promethean mind forget that Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "light-bearer," a direct translation of the Ancient Greek eosphorus ("light-bearer"), having mythologically the same meaning as Prometheus, who brought fire to humanity. It was Satan who illuminated our minds. Metaphorically speaking of course.


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