What Do 2 Universal Truths Say About You?


Did you know there are at least two universal truths that apply to all people no matter their culture of origin? I  am further convinced of this fact after hearing a story from Michael Palin, of Monty Python fame, describing his travel experiences.

In the 1990's A&E  co-produced a show with the BBC, Pole to Pole, featuring Mr. Palin.  I had the opportunity to take him to several dinners with clients where he regaled them with stories of his adventures (AND the need to carry A&E on their lineup!); he was utterly delightful.

After a few dinners, I found myself more intrigued by Palin's stories and fascinated by his insights on the human condition. I recall one conversation in particular where he first put words around his "two truths" discovery.

Apparently Palin was riding on top of a slow-moving train in India with a mass of other people. He sat wedged between the crowds who seemed to stay balanced and knew exactly how to walk between cars and jump off at appropriate junctions. The heat was stifling and at times the dust made it almost impossible to breathe. He felt as if  he were on a trip with the poorest of the poor.

However, he sat next to people who packed extra scarves for the journey and small lunches/snacks which they readily shared with him. Things seemed to get markedly better when a man "walked" up with a pot of tea for sale. Palin, being a respectable Englishman, jumped at the chance for a cup of tea.  He paid the intrepid vendor and sat sipping his tea, taking in the scenery, and thinking the train was suddenly "quite civilized."

Then he realized the vendor wasn't moving on to find other customers, but was staring at him. At that moment, Palin realized the tea man only had one cup and needed it back to sell someone else a drink.

Palin hurriedly finished, handed the cup back to the tea man who wiped out the inside and kept walking down the train.

"From then on, the two truths crystallized in my mind. #1-The less you have, the more generous you are.   And.. #2 - You can get diarrhea anywhere."

How can you argue with that?

Mr. Palin isn't the kind of guy to lecture anyone about the silliness of consumerism, but after that story, he didn't have to.

The lesson stuck. Nine words.

The less you have, the more generous you are.

I don't know about you, but I don't want my stuff to ever get in the way of my ability to be generous. I want my story to be bigger than having a life where I spend my time and energy managing things. I want a bigger story for my family, my friends, my church, my country. To live such a life, generosity has to be a strategic decision.

How? For Team Phenix, we have four steps we take to keep this idea front and center. I'll outline those ideas tomorrow.

As for the diarrhea problem, well...