If Wikipedia is to be believed the metaphor “Standing on the shoulders of giants” was first attributed to Bernard of Chartres in the 12th Century
He apparently was comparing the scholars of his time as dwarfs in comparison to the ancient scholars of Greece and Rome. He was suggesting “We can see more than them, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size”
I cannot speak for Bernard of Chartres, or anyone else for that matter, but in my life, there is less than a handful of people whom I can say have had a profound impact on me personally, one of whom was – – – yep you’ve got it, a window cleaner.
It is a really sad fact that we seldom have any insight, understanding, knowledge or evidence of the influence we personally have on the people we meet. If we did, we would perhaps behave in a very different manner. In addition, we would take very seriously our lasting power and strength of purpose in standing up for what we choose to be, to see, and to create.
That window cleaner was a man I met on only a few occasions and happened to be my wife’s grandfather. He died over forty-five years ago, and even then, was unable to read or write. He will have been no different to you and me in many respects, had spats with his spouse, his children, and no doubt had many other shortcomings. Where he stood out and why his impact is so lasting even today, was his apparent honesty, openness and humility. It would be beyond his most outrageous imagination that forty-five years on he continues to have an effect.
I remember someone once telling me that the American Indians (if I am correct) say your impact is carried down through the next seven generations. If so, that is a consequence too great to comprehend. However, there is solid scientific evidence that clearly links our behaviour today with direct impact on our children and children’s children, and potentially their children. Sometimes, I could do with being reminded of that fact.
Despite all the adverse publicity about individual and governance malpractices, the number of people who do have, and continue to have a positive and profound impact on how I feel, and what I think is possible, is rapidly increasing.
I am pleased to say I have already run out of hands on which to count them.
If I am lucky enough to be invited to sit at a table with you, and I happen to show fear or doubt about the value of sharing my views openly about what I feel is important, please remind me to look behind me, at the man looking in while cleaning the windows.
Stay Big, stay You!
Your courage has impact ………. for generations