While on location in Hawaii conducting a Pearl Harbor Leadership Workshop, Jeff took a moment to sit and talk with us about a towering, yet simple, white monument.
The Tree of Life was commissioned by the park association to symbolize what’s important about Pearl Harbor. The winning artist was Austrian, Alfred Preis, who escaped to Europe during the time of the Nazis. What he remembered from his Jewish heritage was the belief that through small things, great things can occur. The greatest of trees, the giant Sequoia for example, began as the smallest of seeds.
One of the consequences and most important lessons from the Attack on Pearl Harbor, is that it germinated a unity amongst the American people; that great team called the nation.
It galvanized them to move forward as Franklin Roosevelt said in his remarks on December 8th, 1941, to win the great victory in WWII.
People often overlook the fact that the nation was quite divided prior to the attack, with many people arguing vociferously that we should stay out of the war, we should be isolationists, etc. This single event, Pearl Harbor, unified the nation in a way that had not happened before or since. That unity as a team is what was very important.
Part and parcel to that of course is the idea of resilience. All leaders have to think through how to not only unify their team for success, but how they build resilience. If things go badly will we be able to bounce back? How do we make sure we’re resilient?
Trees are very resilient as well. If you know anything about forest fires in the West, even though a large area of forest may be devastated, over a few years those trees will re-germinate and grow once again. Very, very resilient, even after a catastrophe. So, the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor is remembered by this piece of artwork of a tree. Of small things, great things happen.
This creates unity and the resilience of the nation, moving forward after that devastating attack on December 7, 1941.
We want to hear from YOU!
How does the Tree of Life resonate with you? What do you believe to be the most important lesson of Pearl Harbor? Share your comments below.