Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preserving greatness

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir, 1911

When John Muir explored the majestic Yosemite Valley, he was not only struck by its breathtaking beauty but also compelled to celebrate and preserve it. His activism eventually led Abraham Lincoln to sign an Act of Congress to safeguard the land for public use ... an action that paved the way for the establishment of our National Parks.

Thanks to Muir's environmental activism, my recent visit to the Yosemite Valley, was, indeed, awe inspiring and uplifting. His personal quest leads me to wonder if we are celebrating and seeking to maintain the beautiful and great things in our lives, organizations and world. Yes, there is a need to be nimble, to react quickly and effectively to change, to not hold on too tightly to things that keep us from moving forward. But on the reverse, there is a need to capture, protect and continuously rejoice over the amazing and awe-inspiring elements of our organizations. Does our inaction allow it to slip away? Perhaps in the name of progress or in response to global market shifts?

Moreover, Muir was keen to realize that simply protecting only the places of greatest beauty or majesty would not be sufficient for maintaining greatness. Without a complex ecosystem in place surrounding the Yosemite Valley, the picturesque sights would deteriorate. In our organizations, do we realize how little changes affect our cultures? Is our greatness slipping away, not because of big changes, but due to little ones? How can we build and maintain a healthy ecosystem, where our employees and our customers can be continuously motivated and inspired?

I am thankful that John Muir went to great lengths, even dedicated his life, to preserving the greatness of creation. Let his efforts inspire us as we stumble upon greatness in our worlds.

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