Published: Thursday, August 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 1, 2002 at 12:00 a.m.
ack in the early 1990s in New York, I attended the Broadway musical "The Secret Garden." The play was particularly poignant for me that evening, because only a short time before my mother had died.
"The Secret Garden," which won a 1991 Tony Award as Best Musical, is set in the Victorian era. Its heroine is Mary Lennox, a young English girl whose mother and father die of cholera in India as the play begins. She is sent to live with her uncle in a large British manor, an old house filled with romantic spirits. Exploring the grounds of the estate, the restless girl discovers the entrance to a long-neglected garden, a magical place where anything seems possible.
When I returned home to Salt Lake City the next day to speak at my mother's funeral, I referred to "The Secret Garden," because for me and many others my mother's home was a secret garden, a place to which we could escape to be nurtured by positive affirmation. In her eyes, all about us was good and everything that was good was possible.
We all live secret lives, in addition to our more visible public and private lives. Our public lives are shared with our colleagues, associates and others within our circle of influence, and even our private lives allow us to interact more intimately with spouses, family members and close friends. Our secret lives, however much they are part of the other two, are ours alone.
Their impact reaches far beyond us, however. In my many years of teaching and training people in business, education, government, military, nonprofit and many other kinds of organizations, I have seen many transformations of the kind that Mary Lennox works in "The Secret Garden." Invariably they are brought about by proactive people who focus their efforts not only in their public lives but also in the secret lives that no one but themselves can see.
The secret life is where your heart is, where your real motives are, where you lodge the ultimate desires of your life. Thus, it's the mainspring that drives everything in your other two lives.
Many executives never visit the secret gardens within their hearts. They essentially let their public and private lives be scripted by the people, events and pressures of the environments around them. As a result, they never exercise that unique human endowment of self-awareness - the key to the secret life - which lets us stand apart from ourselves and observe our own involvements.
It requires courage to explore your secret life, because in order to do so you must first withdraw from the social mirror which continuously supplies you with feedback, positive and negative alike. As we get used to this social feedback it becomes a comfort zone, and it's all too easy to opt out of self-examination and idle away our time in a vacuum of reverie and rationalization. In this frame of mind, we have little sense of identity, safety or security.
One of the most exciting fruits of your secret garden is the ability to consciously choose your own motives. Until you do so, you really can't choose to live your own life. Everything flows out of motive and motivation, the roots of our deepest desires. As we learn to become proactive in exploring our secret lives, we increasingly tap into our power to become the creative force of our own lives.
Each person's 'Secret Garden' has a far reaching impact

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