Conversations in Management
as the saying goes, has sprung. (At least it has in this
corner of Texas.) Though slush is rare in these parts, Doug
Larson captured the springtime spirit perfectly. It’s no mystery
that the sight of blooming redbuds, dogwood, oleander and a
profusion of wildflowers can put a tune on anyone’s lips. The
mystery, it turns out, is about Doug Larson. Larson’s insightful
one-liners cover the web like cherry blossoms cover the park
after a stiff breeze. Larson is typically identified as a
British middle-distance runner who won a gold medal at the 1924
Paris Olympics. It turns out, however, that there wasn’t any
British runner by that name in the 1924 Olympics. A fellow named
Douglas Lowe won a medal, but he didn’t pen any witty aphorisms
between races. Other sources identify Larson as an American
cartoonist. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any
cartoonist of that name currently plying the trade. Some have
suggested that Doug Larson is actually Gary Larson, the creator
of The Far Side cartoon. But Gary Larson declines the
honor. A bit more sleuthing reveals that Green Bay
Press-Gazette newspaper columnist Doug Larson might be the
man behind the myth. Beginning in 1980, he’d been knocking out a
syndicated column under the title, Senator Soaper. It was
the continuation of a feature that had been running in the
Kansas City Star since the 1920’s. The column used a style
of writing called “paragraphs” in the trade. In the tradition of
Kin Hubbard, a paragraph is a sentence or two that
contains a highly compressed bit of wisdom and humor. Here’s one
attributed to the mysterious Doug Larson, “The only nice
thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others.”
This is another that most of us can relate to: “Accomplishing
the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your
regular duties.” You get the idea—a single sentence somehow
manages to communicate a paragraph’s worth of thought.
None-the-less, neither the single sentence paragraph nor
the more traditional kind can explain the mystery surrounding
quotes by Doug Larson.
Larson isn’t the only mystery. Spring brings its own sense of
mystery and wonder. So much of our experience seems grim,
serious and gray that the colorful excitement of spring appears
jarringly out of place. Just where do all those wildflowers come
from anyway? And why am I always pleased to spot the first stand
of bluebonnets along the highway? It may be a puzzlement, but
it’s a satisfying one. That’s probably because there are just
some things in life that are inherently good. With the
seasonal rebirth there’s no commercial message, no hidden
agenda, and no cost of admission. It’s just a fundamental
reminder—perhaps a wake-up call—that there’s always hope.
There’s always the promise of a spectacular future no matter how
bleak the past.
easy to be so freighted with care that a wildflower becomes
nothing more than a weed. Yet the tug of spring is strong. You
have to work hard not to enjoy the temperate weather. You have
to deliberately turn a blind eye to the brilliant greening of
the recently naked trees. So don’t fight it. Moving beyond the
slush of winter is a delightful mystery of life. Enjoy it. Just
put you lips together and whistle!
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