Spirit of Kansas City

Spirit of Kansas City by Norman Rockwell and John Atherton

The painting above was commissioned by Joyce Hall founder of Hallmark, a Kansas City company, after the city was devasted by flood in 1951. “This is the story of a courageous city fighting back after a terrible blow by a giant flood,” Hall told Rockwell. “This is a story of a big man rolling up his sleeves and going to work — without whimpering and crying.”

The image shows a lone man in the foreground. His attire is sterotypical of a midwest businessman of the time. He is looking off into the distance with one sleeve rolled up and in the process of rolling up his left sleeve with his right hand. Blueprints are in his left hand. Wheat, corn, a train and a cow stand between the man and the downtown Kansas City skyline. A single plane flies overhead in a partly cloudy sky.

I have seen no other image in my life that better represents Kansas City. There is the merger of urban and rural business highlighted by the midwest work ethic that appropriately defines our city.

This may seem like an odd post for my first official post, but this is the first image that I see every morning when I wake up. Spirit of Kansas City is one of only two pieces hanging on the walls in my room (the other is a photo of a sunset over Cheyenne Bottoms in central Kansas and that image is over my bed, so I see it when I head to sleep). Why is this print important to me? I think it’s because it represents how I live my life. Hardwork with a plan. You can’t succeed without both. One of my favorite quotes that is posted on my refrigerator is “Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.” by Ernest Shackleton. I have no idea who Ernest Shackleton is and not sure where I got the quote, but I think it is fitting with this subject. A man can work hard his whole life, but without a plan and without results it isn’t worth a damn.

I don’t want to discount hardwork or say that doing your best isn’t important with the absence of measurable results. However, our society measures worth solely on results and success. Many people are willing to put in a hard days work and many have a plan, but it is primarily only those that can put both together that can achieve success.

“When on the brink of complete discouragement, success is discerning that… the line between failure and success is so fine that often a single extra effort is all that is needed to bring victory out of defeat.” – Elbert Green Hubbard

Make goals -Map out your plans for your day, your week, your month, your life – Roll up your sleeves – Achieve success.

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