Many years ago, in the U.K., I used to listen to Radio 2. I know, not the trendiest radio station, but I loved it. In the mornings they used to have a two minute slot called Thought for the Day. One day a Jewish Rabbi ( and I am sorry to say I don’t remember his name) gave what for me was a powerful thought, which sticks with me to this day. It was a simple, yet profound message, that resonates on so many levels..

So what did he say?

Actually, before I tell you that, what simple short messages have stuck with you in the past? What words of wisdom have you held on to and come back to time and time again? And what is it about those messages that made them pass the test of time?

For me it was:

The simplicity of the message
The story, which gave me a visual and kinaesthetic reference
The depth of the concept being shared
The voice of the story teller. Strong, yet humble. Sure, yet sharing deep vulnerability…

So, what was the message?

It was, as I said a short story. A story of a man who wears trousers with pockets.

You might be thinking how is this profound or deep?

The story continued. He said “I have a piece of paper in each pocket”, which he said he pulled out and read as a situation required. He gave no advice for which situation required which piece of paper, he left that to me as the listener ( another powerful component of the story telling. I was left to apply it to me and my life).

In one pocket the piece of paper had written on it ” You are Everything”

And on the other it said “You are nothing”.

Just re read that a moment.

Can you relate to a situation where it would have been so beneficial to know you know what you need to know, you can tackle whatever is in front of you, you are strong and confident. You are everything?

What difference would it have made to have taken that into your neurology? Might you have stood taller, straighter. Might you have felt a core strength that held you firm in whatever you were facing?  Might you have felt deeply grounded in your gut identity? And sure of what is important to you?

Can you feel the difference just imaging that being true for you. You are everything.

But sometimes, our confidence can spread to arrogance, cockiness. Sometimes, it would be so powerful to go with a beginners mind and not know. To be humble. To be soft, gentle and recognise in the greater scheme of things you are just one grain of sand amongst many many other grains of sand who equally are amazing and insignificant…You are nothing.

As a Christian it is good to remember I am nothing without God. And everything because of God.

I do a lot of work in the leadership space and I believe leaders would do well to adopt these tools in their pockets. Too often in today’s world we see dictatorial, even psychopathic leaders who have lost touch with their hearts. Imagine, if they stopped sometimes and said I am nothing. What space would that create to share, collaborate and support? What strength would that show ( it’s a bit of an oxymoron that humility is a strength). Just think for a moment where you would have loved to see such vulnerability and strength in your connection with a leader. Powerful isn’t it?

So, today I offer you my years of musing over a 2 minute Thought for the Day, from someone I can’t even remember the name of ( for which I apologise). A reminder too of the power of our words, rippling out years after they were shared, and which we never hear about.  Whether our name is there, well that’s a nice ego boost if it is, but it’s not really what it is about is it? If our intention is to build up, empower, encourage, then it doesn’t matter if they remember who it came from … just that they remember they are everything … and nothing…

I am everything, I am nothing