John Gardner talks about Self-renewal

by Stephen Walker, PhD, CC-AASP

This story is one of a number available on a website dedicated to the contributions given to America by John Gardner – long time secretary of Health Education and Welfare, and President Lyndon Johnson’s architect for the Great Society.  Gardner is probably best known for founding Common Cause – an organization still quite active today as a watchdog for transgressions of many kinds in business and in Government.  Gardner died in 2002 at the age of 89.  It’s a journey well worth the time by visiting:

Gardner once said in an interview: “A man wrote to me from Colorado saying that his 20 year-old daughter had been killed in an auto accident some weeks before and that she was carrying in her billfold a paragraph from a speech of mine. He said he was grateful because the paragraph — and the fact that she kept it close to her — told him something he might not otherwise have known about her values and concerns. I can’t imagine where or how she came across the paragraph, but here it is:

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

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