So, it’s #BookLoversDay, as if we should restrict this recognition to one day of the year. I love books ALL YEAR.

Is every admirable sentiment going to be turned into a Hallmark Cards moment now, reduced to a single burp of validation each year? First, it was Valentine’s Day, then Secretary’s Day, then Teacher Recognition Day…

We don’t have to wait until Social Media tells us it’s time to recognize the value in something as important as our executive assistant, our children’s teacher, our partner in life, or literature itself, do we?

Here’s an idea: Take 30 seconds at the beginning of your day to recognize and honor one of the above, or any one of sundry other valuable influences in your life. Get on with your day, until you bump into something or someone who merits positive recognition (your newest client, your boss, your bank teller, etc), and take a moment to offer sincere recognition of their value. It doesn’t require a long speech. It could be as simple as looking them in the eye and saying “Thanks”.

Sounds obvious, but we miss the opportunity so often.

Your presence in the Universe is infinitesimally small, bordering on non-existent. How that strikes you, and what you choose to do with your relatively sub-atomic situation, is the marker of your true and lasting worth. Will you fall prey to the vicissitudes of modern mankind, and limit yourself to the pursuit of personal financial wealth, and perhaps a pompous executive title or two? Does the illusion of power suffice to appease your sense of self-worth? Do you want your life to amount to nothing more than what you alone can sense of it? Do you desire something else from this one-way trip, the destination of which we are all too well aware?

Artists, scientists, inventors, a very few politicians, and their ilk pursue that “something else”. They have – often unconsciously – discovered that acquisition is a reductive enterprise, while contribution is the most sustainable expression of power within our grasp. How much we give to our communities, large and small, determines our place in the Universe, and its longevity. You possess an uncommonly awesome ability to replicate and enhance your presence: through your creations, contributions, influence, and inspiration. The composition of a lovely poem will prove more lasting than most lucrative IPOs. The hours spent preemptively undermining that competitor business would have been much better spent exploring ways to merge your mutual capabilities, in service to even more exciting innovations. Of course someone will exploit your good will for their own selfish ends. They only get to do so once, though. You don’t have to be an idiot to fulfill your greatest potential, but it helps to have a bit of the fool within you. The longer we promote distrust, avarice, self-absorption, and fear; the deeper we dig ourselves into a darkened pit of history that will all too soon be forgotten amidst the vast expanse of space and time that renders all of us to the dust from whence we came.

 

Who made the mistake of telling you that you were the main character in your narrative? Who told you there was a statute of limitations on dreaming big for others? Who gave you permission to give up on the wonderful plans you had for a better world?

The results of this quirky experiment that is your life will be determined by your willingness to catalyze the elements around you. The greatest leaders are not the most powerful, but the most empowering. The greatest innovations are not the most profitable, but the most fulfilling. Your accomplishments will, in the long term, never be tallied in dollars and cents, but rather in the actions and aspirations of the generations that instinctively perpetuate you, whose all-too-short span of life could prove directly responsible for the more rewarding manifestation of theirs.