Funny thing about dead people. They can’t talk.
Funny thing about us. We talk about dead people.
Remember the deceased can’t talk nor talk back. They can’t respond to the words we say nor the impressions we have. They can’t affirm what’s right nor correct what’s wrong. Hence, I wonder what they’d say…
Thinking back over the years… what would John F. Kennedy say? By most historical accounts, it seems an inspiring sense of optimism evolved via JFK’s leadership. There was something contagious in how this charismatic, young politician spoke… how he dreamed… how he challenged…
- “To whom much is given, much is required.”
- “Victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan.”
- “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Yet after only an approximate 1000 days, JFK died in his political prime. While for some this prompted increased reverence, romanticism, and historical rewrites, there’s much the public learned after Kennedy died. There were reports regarding affairs with multiple women. There were reports of serious health ailments and prescribed drug usage for those problems. There were questions as to how the medications impacted his infidelity.
I wonder what Kennedy would say. What was intentional? What did his wife know? What would you tell us if you could speak?
More recently, what would Joe Paterno say? Among the NCAA’s winningest football coaches, Paterno led Penn State and contributed significantly to academic life, donating over $4 million to the State College campus. There was something unique in how this career coach spoke… how he motivated… how he challenged…
- “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”
- “Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”
- “It’s hard for me to explain. I don’t have an ego. I’m going to work to give these kids a chance to win. If we win, it’s theirs.“
Yet after 46 years as the Nittany Lion coach, Paterno’s former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on 40 counts of child sexual abuse over a 15 year span. While Paterno passed away this past January, investigations continued at Penn State. There are now reports of conspiracy and cover up. There are questions as to what the coaching staff and administration knew.
I wonder what Paterno would say. What did he know? What other motivations were relevant? What would you tell us if you could speak?
And finally, 3 days ago, Steven M. Covey died. Covey wrote the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Unlike JFK and Joe Paterno, there is no residual scandal; hence, I think I know what he would tell us if he could speak…
- Be Proactive. Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.
- Begin with the End in Mind. Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals.
- Put First Things First. Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency.
- Think Win-Win. Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you.
- Synergize. Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.
- Sharpen the Saw. Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle.
Personally, I like #5 best. We could all work to understand a little more… especially understanding dead people… especially not assuming we know all.