Home | All Episodes | Inspiration Booster Shot: Motives

Inspiration Booster Shot: Motives

Published: June 23, 2024

Cover art for Episode 4 of the Meaningful Impact Podcast
Meaningful Impact
Inspiration Booster Shot: Motives
Loading
/

Share this Episode

Inspire peers and friends by sharing a link to this episode on your social media

Comment on this Episode

Record a voicemail comment or question, which might appear on a future episode of Meaningful Impact

Episode Description

This mini episode offers a booster shot of inspiration with two short stories about motives.

The first short story is a re-telling of Arthur Gordon’s ‘The Turn of the Tide’ (later known as ‘A Day at the Beach’). On the advice of a doctor, Gordon returns to where he was happiest: the beach. There, Gordon follows the doctor’s four instructions, written as prescriptions on an Rx pad. The unorthodox ‘prescriptions’ lead Gordon to re-examine his motives and ultimately to renew his spirit.

The second story, also about motives, shares the perspective of a retired nurse near the end of her life. From her literal deathbed in hospice care, she reflects on life’s meaning as she answers the question: “What matters?”

On This Episode

Michael OrganMichael Organ produces and hosts the Meaningful Impact podcast. He specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communications and is the editor of CSR.org and The Cause Marketing Museum.
vbgfdgfdghf
Michael Organ offers the insight and expertise which comes from analyzing the outcomes of marketing campaigns that he’s implemented for over 500 corporate and non-profit clients.  In addition to hosting Meaningful Impact’s podcast, Michael Organ also oversees the Meaningful Impact Awards, as Executive Director.

Prior to founding Meaningful Impact, Michael Organ was a Managing Director at Avoq (a public affairs and reputation agency); Vice President of Digital Marketing at Thematic Campaigns; and served as Obama for America’s first Digital Advertising Director and subsequently its Message Director. That led to co-founding Bully Pulpit, a leading marketing and public affairs agency for high-profile campaigns seeking transformational change. Earlier, Michael Organ worked at Accenture in multiple roles, including Vice President of Marketing of Accenture Procurement Solutions.

This mini episode offers a booster shot of inspiration with two short stories about motives.

The first short story is a re-telling of Arthur Gordon’s ‘The Turn of the Tide’ (later known as ‘A Day at the Beach’). On the advice of a doctor, Gordon returns to where he was happiest: the beach. There, Gordon follows a series of four instructions, written as prescriptions on an Rx pad. The unorthodox ‘prescriptions’ lead Gordon to re-examine his motives and ultimately to renew his spirit.

The second story, also about motives, shares the perspective of a retired nurse near the end of her life. From her literal deathbed in hospice care, she reflects on life’s meaning as she answers the question: “What matters?”

On This Episode

Michael OrganMichael Organ produces and hosts the Meaningful Impact podcast. He specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communications and is the editor of CSR.org and CauseMarketing.com. Michael Organ offers the insight and expertise which comes from analyzing the outcomes of marketing campaigns that he’s implemented for over 500 corporate and non-profit clients.  In addition to hosting Meaningful Impact’s podcast, Michael Organ also oversees the Meaningful Impact Awards, as Executive Director. Prior to founding Meaningful Impact, Michael Organ was a Managing Director at Kivvit (a public affairs and reputation agency); Vice President of Digital Marketing at Thematic Campaigns; and served as Obama for America’s first Digital Advertising Director and subsequently its Message Director. That led to co-founding Bully Pulpit Interactive, a leading marketing and public affairs agency for high-profile campaigns seeking transformational change.

Share this Episode

Inspire peers and friends by sharing a link to this episode on your social media

Comment on this Episode

Record a voicemail comment or question, which might appear on a future episode of Meaningful Impact

Transcript and Related Material

Many of life’s most important lessons reveal themselves to us unexpectedly. By surprise. Such was the case for me in college while attending a class on the typically dry topic of organizational behavior. On that day, rather than delve into the mechanics of negotiating contracts between unions and management, instead, the professor assigned an allegory. That short story, titled “The Turn of the Tide,” first appeared in a book called ‘Touch of Wonder’ by Arthur Gordon. (When I originally read the short story, it was then known as: ‘A Day at the Beach.’)

The story begins with Gordon acknowledging a deep, pervasive sadness, referring to it as “one of those bleak periods in life that many of us encounter from time to time, a sudden drastic dip in the graph of living when everything goes stale and flat, energy wanes, enthusiasm dies.”

So, the storyteller seeks the advice of a doctor, who writes a series of four unorthodox prescriptions, each written on a separate sheet of an Rx pad. The doctor folded the prescriptions and instructed Gordon to take them 3 hours apart over the course of one day at the place where Gordon was happiest as a child. For Gordon, that happy place was the beach.

A Day at the Beach

Prescription 1: “Listen Carefully”

So, with little faith, but no better alternative, Gordon drove to a deserted beach the next day. As he arrived at 9am, Gordon unfolded the first prescription, instructions really, stated concisely with just two words: “LISTEN CAREFULLY.”

“Listen to what?” Gordon thought, since no radios or electronics were allowed. With time, Gordon began to focus on the roar of the sea, the creaking cry of a gull, and an aircraft overhead. Upon climbing a sand dune, Gordon could hear nothing but the sea — which bellowed so loudly that all other sounds seemed to be obscured. But then, Gordon thought, there must be “sounds beneath sounds.” He discovered that if he quieted his internal thoughts and listened intently enough, he could hear the momentary gaps in the waves, the soft rasp of drifting sand, and the wind whispering through the dune grasses. His thoughts then drifted back to childhood, remembering his awe at things bigger than himself: the mysterious interdependence of the wind, tide, and current and “the cleanliness of it all, with every beach swept twice per day by the great broom of the sea.”

Prescription 2: “Try Reaching Back”

At Noon, Gordon unfolded and read the second prescription, which said: “TRY REACHING BACK.” Since the doctor had sent Gordon to a place where he used to be happy, Gordon assumed that his assignment was to resurrect comforting memories that used to be the foundations of his strength. It was slow-going at first. Gordon’s recollections were pleasant but not clear. That’s when he decided to try reaching back as an impressionist painter would: Filling in the vague impressions with details: colors, sounds, clothes, gestures. Soon, he could vividly remember the warmth of the sea’s backwash swirling around his knees. He visualized the arc of his brother’s fishing rod as he caught a fish and re-lived the glee they both felt.

Memories beyond the beach also rushed in, like when Gordon’s father declined an urgent call to go to work, choosing instead to keep a commitment to take his kids to the circus. Gordon wrote: “Across all the years I remembered this, and knew from the sudden glow of warmth that no kindness is every really wasted, or ever completely lost.”

These first two prescriptions were intended for Gordon to be in the right frame of mind for the core of the treatment, prescription #3, which comes next.

Prescription 3: “Re-examine Your Motives”

At 3pm, Gordon unfolded the third prescription, which felt more like a command: “RE-EXAMINE YOUR MOTIVES.”

Initially, Gordon felt defensive. He strove for success, recognition, and greater financial security. There’s nothing wrong with that, he reassured himself. But then a long-ignored internal voice reminded him that while those motives are not wrong, they’re not enough. Maybe his work felt “calculated, competent, and dead… because he was only using his time at work as a means to make money and pay bills.” The sense of giving something, of helping people, of making a contribution, had been lost in a frantic clutch at security.” Gordon concluded that “As long as you feel you are serving others, you do your job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do (the job) less well – a law as inexorable as gravity.”

Prescription 4: “Write Your Worries in the Sand”

The doctor’s final prescription asked Gordon to write his worries on the sand, which Gordon did with a seashell near the shoreline. An apt reminder that worries are transient; tides and time wash them away.

But I’d like to focus on the lesson learned from the third prescription: Gordon rediscovered that we enhance our own lives when our motive is to make a meaningful impact for others.

I learned that lesson not just from this story, but also by the way my parents lived, and by what my Mom taught me on her literal deathbed.

Live a Life that You Respect

I had my Tuesdays with Morrie experience in 2015 and 2016, at a time when my 82-year-old mother had already outlived her 3-month cancer prognosis by 6 years. Suffering from end-stage cancer, she soldiered-on for another 7 months in hospice care, with all of her family knowing that the end was near. I believe that part of the reason that she held on so long was because she knew that I wasn’t ready for her to go. I lived in another city but would fly back to my hometown every 2 or 3 weeks to spend a few days with my Mom at the hospital.

Close to the end, my mother agreed to be interviewed on video, so that her young grandchildren could remember her better. By this time, my Mom required supplemental oxygen to breathe and tired easily. So, we could film only short segments, spread over several days. During these interviews, I asked my Mom a lot of questions, phrased in different ways. But in retrospect, every question I asked my dying mother sought the same answer: What matters?

What matters?

My Mom’s answer: Living a life that you respect.

For her, living a life that she respected meant caring for her family at home and caring for others at work. She was the old-fashioned kind of registered nurse who spent a lot of time with each of her patients, improving their care by developing a bond with them.

Unfortunately for me, I’m squeamish. So, I couldn’t do the kind of medical work that my Mom and many others in my family do as doctors and nurses. But as Arthur Gordon rediscovered at the beach, and as my Mom always knew: We can all live a life we respect by aligning our motives to make a meaningful impact.

STAY INspired

Never miss an episode of Meaningful Impact. We’ll send announcements to your inbox (about twice per month) whenever a new, inspiring case study is released.

Meaningful Impact Stay Inspired
Meaningful Impact Stay Inspired

STAY INspired

Never miss an episode of Meaningful Impact. We’ll send announcements to your inbox (about twice per month) whenever a new, inspiring case study is released.

Listen to Meaningful Impact
and subscribe at…

Listen to Meaningful Impact at YouTube
Listen to Meaningful Impact at Pandora
Listen to Meaningful Impact at Amazon Music
Listen to Meaningful Impact at Spotify
Listen to Meaningful Impact at Apple Podcasts
Listen to Meaningful Impact at iHeartRADIO