Wise Words to Change the World

November 01, 2012
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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Almost six years ago, I sat on a deck overlooking Lake Michigan, sharing the story of Barry-Wehmiller’s people-centric leadership journey and culture transformation with a potential new team member. I was trying to convince a very gifted young man to join our organization. 

In the midst of my pitch he blurted out “Bob, I’ve figured it out! You just want to change the world one team member at a time!”  To which I zealously replied, “Yes! That’s right, I do.”

Fast forward a week or two and I receive an email from the still-undecided candidate. He had stumbled upon this quote of Woodrow Wilson while browsing the web and thought it captured the essence of my message. He was right. It has become a personal favorite.

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."

President Wilson was in his first term in the White House in 1913 when he uttered these words while speaking to the students of Swarthmore College. My hope is that the students found them as inspiring as I do and that perhaps some of the students actually were motivated to choose a career path whereby they could enrich the world. I spent my early years focusing on building a business to create wealth.

Eventually I came to the realization that I desired—and was in a position to—enrich the world by enriching the lives of my team members. Wilson’s words speak to that desire to find a greater purpose for my presence here on Earth. This quote not only inspires me in that purpose but also serves as encouragement when the journey gets arduous.

I enjoy sharing this quote with as many people as possible as it may inspire others to think about their own purpose and contribution to the world. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people see that there is a greater purpose in life than simply making money, raising a family and having fun. Immense personal fulfillment and joy can be found by choosing a path that contributes to the betterment of our world.

By the way, the would-be team member who shared this quote accepted the position and is now trying to change the world alongside me. Wilson’s words drive us both.

 


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