I love quotes! They are insightful, oftentimes intriguing and on many occasions inspiring! I found one such quote a few weeks ago now and posted it on my personal Facebook page. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
The words have rung in my ears for weeks now. I’ve searched to identify who the quote was attributed to and have found some evidence that it was possibly originated by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
An extended version appeared in the 1990’s attributed to Henry David Thoreau, who states “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”
No matter who it is attributed to, it is a powerful, insightful and thought provoking statement about the power that lies within each of us, to rise above the various storms of life and succeed in whatever we choose to do with our time upon the earth.
As I reflected upon the quote, I was reminded of the story of a pearl. A pearl develops from an irritant that gets inside the shell of an oyster, such as a grain of sand. The oyster then produces a special substance, that surrounds the foreign matter and over several years it forms a beautiful pearl. Every oyster produces a different form of pearl and similarly I believe that every irritation within each of us, can produce different results in our own lives – all of which have the capacity, over time to become beautiful pearls. We simply have to recognise those irritants, act upon them, desire to change and watch as they emerge as powerful strengths.
I love this old parable told by J. Thomas Fyans: “There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweller who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl.
The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweller, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweller to negotiate a purchase. The jeweller soon realised that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price”
And so it is with each of us. Lets not be deceived by the beauty that lies around us, but take a long, long, hard look at what lies within us. We all need to slow down, pause in our busy lives and take much more time to reflect upon those things that really do matter most. Self reflection and its reward of self awareness are critical elements of personal development and leadership in homes, in our communities and in our business organisations.
My invitation is to stop today! Now even! Even if its just for 5 minutes. Reflect upon those things that matter most and bring what is within you, out into the world…. today! Write them down too! You may well be truly surprised and inspired by the pearls you have been blessed with. *Henry B. Eyring stated “Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn’t use your time better”.
The first few steps
Have you reached that point in life where you can afford to allow yourself to stop growing or to stop improving?
Do you remember the old adage “If you consider yourself a nobody and do nothing to improve yourself to become a somebody, you truly will end up being a nobody.”
Every single one of us can choose to improve ourselves daily.
Self improvement begins with self-awareness and the ability to transform our personal habits. There is no one size fits all in our unique and individual journey through life. Yet, I believe that there is a need for constant improvement in all of our lives if we are to become a somebody.
“None of us will become perfect in a day or a month or a year. We will not accomplish it in a lifetime, but we can begin now, starting with our more obvious weaknesses and gradually converting them into strengths.” – Gordon B. Hinckley.
Over time, as we choose to make small adjustments in our life routines, they can bring greater balance, direction and peace to each of our lives. Remember, one step at a time.
Every leader can be a better leader than he or she is today.
Every father, mother, daughter or son can be a better father, mother, daughter or son than he or she is today.
Are you a somebody?