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Home > Blog > Thought for the Day
Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, September 29, 2004 1:37 PM
Thought for the Day
Anita Sharpe on Passionate Work

'I think young women who choose a smaller life are making a mistake. I believe that whether you are a woman or a man you are supposed to stretch everything that you are, you are supposed to love with all your might, you are supposed to have a big life, so when all is said and done you can say to yourself, with feeling, 'I loved my life so much'.' -- Advertising pioneer Mary Wells Lawrence


11 comments

Sam Marie - 10/5/2004 9:47:51 AM
I prefer to be guided by this thought: leave as large a handprint as possible on the piece of the world within my grasp. No one need know those smudged prints are mine. I can give generously and anonymously, if I chose, to charity, to family, to the corporation.That I stretched out my hand and tried something to positively affect someone other than myself is the point. Living big means taking risks to make a difference, any difference that is positive. For some, like my mother, the difference is made by raising well three daughters and two grandchildren, each of whom is now making their own positive marks on the world. For others, it is creating new products that improve lives. No one can define the magnitude of bigness for another. No one can say service of one sort trumps service of another sort. Each of us has gifts, talents, and purposes uniquely ours (not that each gift or talent is ours alone, but the combination of our many gifts and talents is unique in that their use is shaped by our unique personalities). I would love for us to stop telling each other how to live, and to start spending more time living the lives we alone can live. Put your hands all over your part of the world in your own way and see what a beautiful design you can create.
Robert - 10/1/2004 1:00:22 AM
I agree that phrases like 'big' and 'small' in describing a lifestyle are problematic, but I do give Mary credit for what she says, given that she was raised at a time when few women were encouraged to pursue the 'bigger' life.

As a 40-something, I'm always fascinated with interviews with accomplished people now in their 60s, 70s, 80s, when asked why and how they made early career choices. Many respond simply, 'well, in those days, you did what your parents wanted.' Not to say there aren't opinionated parents today, but we should be grateful for the ability to ponder and make our own choices.

One of my favorites was in the obituary this week of the designer Geoffrey Beene, who grew up in Louisiana during the Depression, and actually spent three years in medical school. 'In the South,' he explained, 'if you're not a doctor, lawyer, merchant or thief, everything else is a hobby.'

No doubt he was exaggerating, but imagine growing up with such a mentality informing your choices.
Jory Des Jardins - 9/30/2004 4:06:19 PM
I couldn't agree more that the definition of a Big Life is relative. Consider those that, in the material sense, have Big Lives. Or those who have a degree of fame or renown and have done nothing with their lives. I was just watching VH-1 and saw a show featuring 'Bad Girls'. These women were given props for their outrageous behavior (drinking, violent outbursts, public brawls with boyfriends, etc.) VH-1 touted them as risk takers, but I don't see any risk or stretching in their behavior (they risk arrest, perhaps). I think the media often places a premium on people who have done nothing but rest on the laurels of previous luck (starring in a hit movie or a Reality TV Show), but very little to show others how peers have tested themselves and reaped the rewards of a fulfilling life.

Then there are those who anonymously donate to causes and devote their lives to their passions sans spotlight.

We give a lot of lip service to Living Large, but very little guidance in what that means and how you can find it for yourself.
anita - 9/30/2004 2:43:13 PM
Sure -- it's all about what works for you. But I've met very few people who were sorry that they stretched themselves beyond their comfort zone.
kirsten - 9/30/2004 2:02:05 PM
Maybe I want to be small, little, un-thoughtprovoking, blissful, quiet, simple, conservative, and happy. I want to be what I want to be. Are you telling me my dream isn't worthwhile? maybe this is worthwhile to me.
anita - 9/30/2004 10:54:06 AM
I think you can have a big life and live simply -- sometimes it's just a matter of the stage of life your in. Or, looked at another way, one person's idea of simplicity (a rustic mountain getaway for weekends) is another's concept of living large.

The important thing is not whether everyone agrees on the exact terminology, but whether we are living the lives that bring us the most meaning and fulfillment -- and, it is hoped, contributes something positive to the world.

Too many of us settle for someone else's idea of the good life and wonder what went wrong. Like Laurel, I hate to invoke the tired army slogan, but. . .I do think it's a basic human desire to be all we can be.
Laurel Delaney - 9/30/2004 10:19:04 AM
I want to weigh in on Anita's thought-provoking quote by advertising queen Mary Wells Lawrence, particularly since I am very familiar with her work.

I do quite a bit of writing on or about businesswomen and just happened to save a copy of the review in the Wall Street Journal (5/17/02) on Mary's book, 'A Big Life.' In looking it over again, I still love her BIG vision on life. Let me quote one particular passage:

'From the beginning, Ms. Wells Lawrence saw herself and her agency in theatrical terms. 'I wanted a heroic agency,' she writes. 'I dared everybody to be bold, to be thrilling, and I dared our clients to be bold and thrilling.'

She was a creative genius and for many of you who might not know her jingle-writing, let me jog your memories: She was behind the 'Flick your Bic,' 'Try it, you'll like it,' and 'I've got a fever for the flavor of a Pringle.' She really lived her own zaniness and craziness.

Is this just a female thing? Absolutely not. I hate to revitalize the army's tired slogan but I think it is representative of what many of us strive for in life: 'Be all you can be.'

I also want to share with you a quote from a book I am reading right now, 'Millionaire Women Next Door,' by Dr. Thomas Stanley. For every mention of women, just substitute men because it applies to both men and women alike.

'Most Americans are not free. They are chained to their paychecks.| The women [men] profiled herein will not tolerate such an existence. They are a different breed. They are free. They are cultivators of wealth and satisfied with life. They are in control of their destiny.'

All the best,
Laurel

www.laureldelaney.com
http://EscapeFromCorporateAmerica.blogspot.com
Frank Paynter - 9/30/2004 9:06:30 AM
Good 'thought' to contemplate, and having given it the thought it deserves I find it remarkably trivial and simplistic. 'Live large.' That's bullshit advice for the 21st century. 'Live simply' is, I think, better advice. Marcia's comment above goes to the heart of the matter. Finding fullness in each day is another way to address what I think Marcia is saying. The passionate nonsense that the ad-woman lays out can be real and true as far as it goes, but it has a 'sound and fury' ring to it... a me generation focus. There are six billion of us. Many of us will never live large, but each of us can make a happy life for ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, simply by adding our loving expression to the mix.

As for Troy Worman's 'bottomline...' he needs to wear looser slacks or switch to boxers. VPL is outre, regardless of gender.
Troy Worman - 9/29/2004 9:37:21 PM
Bottomline: Don't settle. Whatever your passion, whether it be parenting or advertising, pursue it. Live it. Be it. Do it. And don't look back!
Marcia - 9/29/2004 5:40:18 PM
I would define bigger, not in terms of traditional or modern roles for women, but in doing something more than coasting through life. Let me follow that thought quickly with the clarification that women who choose either traditional or modern roles can each coast through life, each in different ways.

I think it's a matter of getting off the couch, learning to dream big, and developing the tenacity to see something through, despite obstacles -- whatever one's dream.
Jeremy - 9/29/2004 2:45:14 PM
What's a big life? What's a small life? Those are just variations on definitions of success. I suspect she means conquering the advertising world, but is that 'bigger' than being a great parent and being involved in your commmunity?

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