Showing posts with label insight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label insight. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Doing What We Can Do

 
Image by BSK

This world seems to be full of talent. I've never felt as if much of it has come my way, so I appreciate this story.

It is about a wholesaler in New York who sent a letter to the postmaster of a small Midwestern town. He asked for the name of an honest lawyer who would take a collection case against a local debtor who had refused to pay for a shipment of the wholesaler's goods. He got this reply:

Dear Sir:
I am the postmaster of this village and received your letter. I am also an honest lawyer and ordinarily would be pleased to accept a case against a local debtor. In this case, however, I also happen to be the person you sold those crummy goods to. I received your demand to pay and refused to honor it. I am also the banker you sent the draft to draw on the merchant, and I sent that back with a note stating that the merchant had refused to pay. And if I were not, for the time being, substituting for the pastor of our local church, I would tell you just where to stick your claim.
Not many of us are multi-talented. I cannot do all that many things well and most things I cannot do at all. But we all have our gifts.

As talented as the great theoretical physicist was, even Albert Einstein experienced feelings of inadequacy. In 1948 Einstein was offered the first presidency of the new nation of Israel. He turned it down with this statement: "I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel [to serve as President], and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. For these reasons alone I should be unsuited to fulfill the duties of that high office...." (The Einstein Scrapbook, Johns HopkinsUniversity Press, 2002)

Dr. Einstein knew plenty about the nature of the universe, but this wise and insightful man also knew that he lacked the necessary political skill for such a demanding position. Is there really any shame in knowing our limitations? He focused on that which he did well and the world is the better for it.

You may or may not recognize it, but you have the capacity to do some things well. In fact, very well. Few of us will ever be Einsteins, but we can still contribute meaningfully to life. And when we know what it is we can do and decide to do that particular thing, we just might discover we are happy.

-- Steve Goodier