Dr. Paul Metler
Would You Read Humpty Dumpty's Autobiography?
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Insight comes in many packages and through many vehicles. The right song in the right moment can stir emotion, trigger vivid memories or inspire heroic effort. Sometimes a poem can become a catalyst for deep thought, reflection and reveal fresh perspective. What about a nursery rhyme? I shutter to think how many times I have heard or recited Humpty Dumpty’s epitaph. My recollection of Humpty reaches back into my childhood. But, it’s safe to say that my thoughts about Humpty Dumpty are much different today than they were when I was a child. Humpty has become a symbol of a fragmented life. Today, fragmented lives are far too prevalent. If you are feeling a little scattered today, it’s not too late to learn from Humpty’s epic fall. After all, the price tag of vicarious learning from such a fall is very attractive.
Where was Humpty’s Focus? Before the fall, Humpty sat on a wall. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” Frequently, I advocate the value of reflection. However, at some point it’s essential to learn to see more clearly in the moment. Not only is it possible, it is essential to improve your view and perspective in the present. While you “sit on the wall”, you have a unique vantage point. Your wall is your vantage point. It’s the seat you occupy. No one else sits in your seat. No one else sits on your wall. What do you see? A distracted life is a slippery slope that can lead to greater fragmentation. A loss of focus is costly. Disciplined focus is an essential leadership skill.
What happened to Humpty’s Balance? Where do you begin to learn from Humpty’s fall? Begin with a physics lesson. It’s likely that the fall was precipitated by a loss of balance. When your life is out of balance, you are on a path toward fragmentation. It’s a matter of maintaining health. Unbalanced leaders face numerous perils. Integrity and moral balance can be achieved much the same way that physical balance is improved. Strengthen your core. When you strengthen your core values and beliefs, you undergird your balance and you are much less likely to fall. Devote yourself to spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual health as a preventative measure.
Where was Humpty’s team? Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Humpty Dumpty’s fall is the final picture. The king’s horses and men couldn’t restore Humpty Dumpty. That’s the obvious tragedy. Another tragedy is less obvious. The frantic attempt to restore Humpty’s wholeness was the result of a dispatch from the king. Humpty did not receive help until it was too late. This is far too common. Apparently, Humpty had friends in high places. Horses and men rushed to his aid. In ancient writings, horses have long been a symbol of strength. Too many leaders are surrounded by strength, yet fail to access or accept the strength around them until it’s too late. What prevents you from receiving help before you fall? Sometimes, it’s pride. Sometimes, it is the illusion of power as you sit on the wall and develop a sense of invincibility. All the while, help is all around. The lesson is clear. Give and receive encouragement to others every day.
What are you doing to guard against a great fall? The great poet T. S. Eliot wrote, “I have shored up these fragments against my ruin.” Take a few steps today to “shore up the fragments of your life.” Check your focus. Work on your balance. Rediscover the value of the people around you. Unlike Humpty, it’s not too late for you to put the pieces back together again.
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