Last week I received a note from a junior officer asking me to explain the significance of the piece of art included on my business card.
To me art is just about anything that changes our emotion. This particular piece of art arrived at my home unannounced from a mentor a few months into my command tour. We had been sharing many conversations over the years and most of them centered around personal improvement and fully immersing ourselves in the leadership profession. I won't say that I was in a rut, but I will freely admit that I wasn't enjoying as much success in my quest for continual improvement as I had grown accustomed. Despite a lack of visible progress on a few of the opportunities I was attempting to create for the command, he noticed my commitment was not wavering and my resolve was strengthening. He observed that I continued to look behind every corner to push the envelope, question the status quo, and understand the WHY behind just about everything. At that point he diagnosed me as "Intoxicated by Possibility" and presented me with a nice graphic to adorn a wall of my choice. I proudly hung that inspiring piece of art outside my office and glanced at it each time I approached my desk. As a fan of Notre Dame Football, it came to be my own personal "Play Like a Champion Today" sign that they touch each time they exit their locker room. Just as those five words have come to define the culture of the Fighting Irish, these three words and the associated "scribble" (as my son calls it) remind me to stay curious, get outside of my comfort zone, and find new ways to create new and unique value for and with those with whom I serve.
That same graphic had struck a chord with many of the Sailors and a few of the Civilians I am fortunate enough to call Shipmates. Their interest in the graphic made me want to return the favor that my mentor provided me. I had the graphic put on the back of my business card and presented one to each member of the team upon their departure (and one to those I left behind when I left the command). I also gave them to each new Information Warfare Officer who went through school during my tenure in Pensacola. It's not so much the personal contact information I provided them (though I certainly hope they choose to use that) as it is a chance to enjoy a constant reminder of the condition that I want to do my part to spread.
Last week, I was driving from Norfolk to Maryland and I listened to "One Click", which is the Jeff Bezos story to date. Amazon continues to change the lives of so many because he cares enough to continually explore the art of the possible. Shortly after the launch of the iPod 5, I felt compelled and went to the Apple store to hold one. The legacy Steve Jobs left because he was intoxicated continues to strengthen. I am no Jeff Bezos, nor am I Steve Jobs. But I am "Intoxicated By Possibility" and I am appreciative of my mentor for providing me with both the diagnosis and the reminder of my condition. I share the art in hopes of intoxicating others.
I appreciated the question asked by an interested Shipmate and the opportunity to share the WHY behind "the scribble". How intoxicated are you? What are you doing to show the world the art of the possible? How are you infecting others?
Note: For more information on the artist behind the message and to purchase one for yourself, check out Gaping Void, home of Hugh MacLeod. If you'd like a business card version of the graphic, just send me a note.