Friday, March 6, 2009

The Irish Priest

Six months after 9/11, I was riding the #6 subway train in New York City. I was straphanging. There, straphanging next to me, was a Catholic priest. He looked to be in his early 60's. He had the map of experience on his face. We started talking and it turns out he was an Irish Catholic priest, from Ireland, who was temporarily stationed at a monastery somewhere up the Hudson.

At the time, I was managing a VP leadership development program at a major investment bank. After a bit of conversation, he said, "Well, there seems to be a lot of similarities between what you do for a living and what I do for a living. After all, aren't we both helping people to improve in their lives?"

I didn't know just what to say, so I fell back on my Irish Catholic genes and replied, "Yes Father".

After a little more conversation as we passed stations on our way uptown he said, "All this development stuff you're doin', well it all goes back to the Greek philosophers don't ya know. It's the three great lessons - Know Thyself, Accept Thyself, Overcome Thyself".

I said, "Well Father, after all these years of trying I think I finally have the Knowing Thyself part down and I'm working really hard on the Accepting Thyself part - but that Overcoming Thyself part is a real pain in the ass...."
(almost by reflex, I asked his forgiveness for my language)

He smiled, and in his magnificently understated Irish Catholic priest manner, paused and said, "isn't it though".

We came to our stop and parted company, wishing each other good luck. I guess my lesson from the #6 train was - we're never really done with this development stuff and in this wonderful life that we all share; change is a process, not a transaction.

I'm guessing that Saint Peter might have a little Irish priest in him. We'll all come up to the pearly gates and he'll ask us how we found our lives on Earth and one of us might say:

"Well, it wasn't all that bad, except for the Recession of 09'. That was a real pain in the ass".

Saint Peter will smile, pause and say, "wasn't it though".

The Global Coach

1 comment:

  1. Andy,
    This was a great story - thank you for sharing it with us all. I was one of your VP subjects at that major investment bank a few years ago. Thanks again for all of your help over the years!