September 13, 2010
Operations and IT Consultant
Topics9-11, Character, Character-based Leadership, Courage, Inspiration, inspire, leaders, Leadership, sacrifice, Servant Leadership, war
There were many great and touching posts, articles and documentaries recently published about the 9th anniversary of 9/11. We must never forget 9/11. We must work to honor the fallen from that event. We must remember that the United States was drawn into a war that day.
But I want to remember 9/13/2001. The eleventh was a Tuesday. Wednesday most of our nation mourned. Facts started pouring in. People were frantic and tense listening for word of their loved ones who were in the World Trade Center buildings. The fire was still going and smoke rose from Manhattan. I'm sure 9/11 and 9/12 seemed never-ending to people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
By Thursday slowly the part of the country that wasn't within reach of the tragedy started back to work. I promised I would never be the same. I had spent enough time chasing career. The ultimate outcome of my effort prior to 9/13/2001 served a very small circle. On September 13, 2001 I was certain that I must be different. My life was racing past me. If I was going to make a difference, it would start now.
I'm sure I was not alone. The shallowness of our pursuit of happiness and personal success became painfully evident. Politicians worked together. People helped one another. Millions prayed and made great and small sacrifices without being asked. We donated money and blood and food and clothing. We did whatever we could because the threat was real. No one needs to be told to share what they have when they experience evil up close and personal.
But after 9 years, we have gone so far back to our old ways. I'm saddened to see the greed that caused this depression (yes, I said it) and the fear and self-protection that seems to be so prevalent because our resources seem so limited. I'm disappointed by the partisanship that disables our government. I'm grieved by the victim mentality that we encourage as we promote the idea that government can solve problems by spending more money. I'm disgusted to see people use 9/11 for financial gain or emotional manipulation. We have covered a lot of ground on the very road to selfish meaninglessness; drifting, no falling, back to very selfish pursuits that preoccupied us while enemies schemed to cripple our economy, kill our friends and extinguish our freedom.
I regret the days when I lost focus and fell short too. Admit it. We all have fallen short, haven't we?
Please remember 9/13 and recommit. Please remember how you felt in the days after 9/11 when the nation and free people all over the globe pulled together. We valued community and we appreciated our friends and our coworkers. We did what we could to strengthen our economy and to serve one another. We did not wait for someone else to step up. We were all leaders. Deep inside each of us we took responsibility, made the sacrifice and invested in our freedom. The need became the call and we raced to answer. We served one another like nothing my generation ever witnessed. We wanted to do something more than just pursue happiness. We were alive and we wanted to matter. We vowed to make a difference.
Too easily, we drift back into the pursuit of happiness. Personal happiness is not a lofty or noble pursuit unless it's done on behalf of others. Pursue happiness for others and you will find your own. Sacrifice your time and effort to bless the people around you. Enlarge your community and serve it. Include people; value them; care for them; serve them; lay down your life for them. By doing this you will honor those who gave their lives in service to freedom, not just in the US but around the world. Freedom was attacked on 9/11. And free people freely chose to respond. There is no greater love than that which sacrifices freely for the better of others.
Will you honor the fallen with your words or with your life?
Engage. Live your life in a way that honors those from every nation that have given their lives and their resources to produce a free world. Liberty is wasted on selfish pursuits. Commit your resources to serve a community greater than just yourself. Imagine now what it will feel like 9 years from now. Will you regret or celebrate your achievements of the last 9 years? More importantly, will anyone else celebrate your achievements? How will you make a difference in the coming year? Go on record. Don't make allowances for your selfish side. Make a commitment here and we can help one another.
Let's be the change we want to see in the world.
This is excellent. And I agree completely. Engage. Helping others is the best foundation to freedom. Everyone has something to offer.
Thanks Tim. What can the readers of this blog do to help you as you engage? Anything in particular?
Excellent post today. I was struck with how much the US has slipped back to our pre-9/11 mindset on September 11, 2010. I hope that many read and remember thanks to your blog. Thank you for staying the course.
Chris, Thanks for the comment. I don’t think I stay the course very well either. This came out of my own conviction. We need to hold one another accountable if we’re going to make a difference over the long haul. Thanks again, Mike…
What a wonderful reminder and post, Mike. Thanks so much for sharing…
Bravo, Mike! This is an excellent post and helps us to remember how we “can be,” versus our normal how we are — a much needed reminder to not accept complacency and to always give our best.
This is, most certainly, one of the best ways we can honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, as well as those who continue to keep us safe. They give their lives. Shouldn’t we give the best our lives can bring?
I’m with you, friend!!
Thank you so much for writing about this Mike. it is so easy to drift back to “business as usual”. I was living very close to NYC at the time and it didn’t even feel like drifting – it felt like one day someone flipped a light switch.
As Erin so eloquently put it: “They gave their lives. Shouldn’t we give the best our lives can bring?”
I think the seed for Random Acts of Leadership was planted that day- the idea that leadership is about everyday actions in our everyday lives. I saw acts of leadership all around me and was struck by just how many were by the least likely people to speak up, step up and stand up. Your post is fuel for me to keep on instigating.
Time to turn up the heat on myself though.. One place I am recommitting to contribute more is in the community in which I live. I am not sure what that looks like just yet, but feel free to ask me about it and hold me to it.
OK Susan. Thanks. We’ve got you down. I’ll be interested to hear how your part of the world is affected by your commitment. I’m with you.
Mike, thanks for a poignant reminder of the purpose and focus that tragedy can bring to our lives… and the even more important reminder that if the tragedy was external (we didn’t lose a loved one, for instance), the focus can be short-lived.
Recommitting requires self-examination and that is rarely an easy task.