During some of my motivational speeches and my keynote addresses, I will expound on how important team-building inside companies is with a story about Albrecht Durer.
One of my favorite speakers and storytellers that I ever saw in person was Og Mandino, who passed away in 1996. Og overcame great obstacles to achieve his success. Those obstacles came after 30 successful missions in a B-24 Liberator over Germany. One of his demons was alcoholism. We all have our own demons. He almost took his own life one day in Cleveland. Thankfully for his family and also for the 50 million who have read his books, he didn't pull the trigger that dreary day in Cleveland.
There may be some of you who have never heard of Og Mandino. Maybe some of you have never heard of Albrecht Durer. Just in case you haven't heard of them -- and for the next time you think all of your achievements came without any help from anyone else -- stop and remember this story. Nobody ever, ever achieves success by themselves. The following is taken from Og Mandino's book, A Better Way To Live and I reprinted it with permission in my book, Luce's Leadership Laws. Enjoy!
"Back in the 15th century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with 18 children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost 18 hours a day at his trade and any other kind of paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father world never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the academy. After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin, the loser world go down into the nearby mines and, with is earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, whether with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.
"They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church; Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
"When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with much music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, 'And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.'
"All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over: 'No, no, no, no.'
"Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, 'No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or brush. No, brother. For me it is too late.' Almost 500 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world. But the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home of office.
"One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply, Hands, but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to this great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love The Praying Hands."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one, no one, ever makes it alone!
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at email@example.com or www.luceperformancegroup.com. You can get his new book The Liquid Fire on Amazon.com.