Many years ago I read Steven Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’
Like many books that resonate, it was the right book at the right time. I avidly digested and acted on Covey’s advice: If you’re intent on climbing the ladder, make sure it’s against the right wall.
I soon left what had become an unsatisfactory, if very well paid, job.
Covey was also the first to introduce me to Victor Frankl, who wrote of his survival in Nazi concentration camps, in his book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ Indeed, Covey grounded his seven habits framework in Frankl’s work.
Victor Frankl’s book has been republished and when I stumbled upon it in my annual pre-tax spending spree, I grabbed it. I’m glad I did.
Just as I read Covey at the right time, Frankl’s story, his wisdom and capacity for deep thought and reflection has inspired me today.
We all know about the barbaric, inhumane treatment of human beings that occurred in Nazi concentration camps. Frankl’s personal connection to these experiences was shocking, but his ability to transcend them was remarkable.
Frankl moved beyond his suffering and despair by connecting with what was most important to him: the people he loved and his dreams for the future. He pictured his wife’s face as he wielded a pick, bare-foot in the snow. He spent days transfixed with a vision for the future (his family and his work) that was more compelling and powerful than the present.
At the end of the war he learned that none of his family survived the camps. Of course, he grieved and suffered, but he was able to move beyond this suffering by again, reconnecting and acting from his sense of purpose and vision for his life and work.
No-one I know is experiencing anything like the hell Frankl endured, but the confusion and angst I too often listen to, belies that fact.
I frequently hear about the very real struggle people experience as they’re directed by a cacophony of ‘shoulds’ and internalised messages about
* who they should be,
* what they should do,
* the money they should earn,
* the careers they should follow,
* the promotions they should put their hand up for.
It’s time more people turned inward and connected with their passion, purpose and capacity to create a compelling future for themselves, their families, organisations and communities.
It’s time we were guided by vision and the pursuit of purpose rather than feeling the need to fulfil others’ expectations of us – especially since those expectations are too often grounded in the acquisition or maintenance of status or a lifestyle that’s expensive to maintain and difficult to leave.
If we began to live and work purposely, perhaps we’d regain the fulfilment, meaning and conscience too many in positions of power, at least, have lost sight of.