I recently read an intriguing quote by American author E.B White, “I wake up in the morning torn between the desire to save the world and to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Though I’m not grandiose enough to think that I can save the world all by myself, I identify with this quotation. In fact, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
I do believe that, if a critical mass of people could learn and use the negotiation and consensus building system I teach, it would improve this world of ours exponentially. I doubt that I alone can ever reach that critical mass. Those I do reach don’t always assimilate the entire system, but rather, certain specific skills such as paraphrasing or asking open questions.
At one moment, these realizations drive me to work hard trying to reach, and help, as many people as I can. At another moment, I think, You’re only one little person, Margaret. Go ahead, retire and enjoy yourself.
Of course, there is a happy medium somewhere. Whenever I get out and enjoy myself, I return to work with more enthusiasm, energy and creativity.
Some leisure activities have a greater effect than others. Reflecting on the above quotation from the EB white, I think those activities are the ones that put me in touch with the goodness in this world that is worth saving. Watching a documentary about wildlife or astronomy works better than watching an old rerun of Law and Order. Walking on a nature trail works better than walking on a treadmill. Visiting a museum works better than visiting a shopping mall.
But the biggest boost to my professional enthusiasm comes from my own readers, clients and trainees. I can’t overestimate the high I get when I hear that one of you has used something you learned in a session with me or read in one of my books or blog articles, and that it worked out well for you.
The best of these “feedback highs” come from reading that the you have passed along your skill to someone else, perhaps a child or young adult. Sometimes, a client has described a skill to a young person. Sometimes, a reader has used a skill in the young person’s presence, and the youngster picked it up from their example.
So, on this beautiful spring afternoon, as I turn my eyes from the computer screen to my window and see my neighbors sunning themselves around the swimming pool, I thank all of you who use what you learn in these blog articles and pass it along to others. And a special thanks to those who let me know when they have done so.