18 Keys: What Will You Take With You?

Uncategorized Nov 21, 2018

The Titanic Belfast exhibition is a stunning tribute in the Belfast shipyards to the 1505 people lost and 703 survivors from the Titanic Disaster.  Walking through the exhibition, you ride emotions of excitement, pride in craftsmanship, in awe of the majestic ships of the era …. and feelings of sadness and shame, as well. 

The man who discovered the sunken ship, Robert Ballard, described their discovery.  After months of search, they found it.  Cheers of jubilation crossed the ship….for about 90 seconds.  Then, a solemn silence … realizing they discovered a graveyard. 

In my search to share wisdoms, I traveled to Belfast to learn about the Titanic.  Only one fateful night separated the meaning of 'Titanic' from World Class to Epic Disaster.  What happened and how can we learn from it?  Next year I'm conducting a seminar in Belfast, The Titanic Diagnostic:  Are you Steaming Towards World Class Success or Epic Disaster?  One key in building my curriculum is gathering gems of wisdom from the Titanic Story.

Stories are the Keys.

A station at the Belfast exhibit includes audio and video clips of survivors' stories.  One video clip shows an elderly woman.  As a first class passenger, she described how she was told to vacate her 5-room suite.  She carefully put away her belongings in safes and locked them up.  She gathered the 18 keys and departed her cabin. 

18 keys. 

She looked right in the camera and repeated, "18 keys."  I detected an immense weight in those 18 keys.  Did they represent 18 keys of hope – now drowned in the bottom of the ocean?  Do they represent the tremendous loss of much more than material goods -- now forever-locked in compartments hundreds of feet on the ocean floor?  Are they 18 parts of her very self that sank that night.  Perhaps they represent all that is left….18 keys.  18 pieces of metal with no remaining function in this world.

18 keys

It's often said you can't take it with you and I believe that fateful night of April 15, 1912, the passengers of the Titanic received a strong dose of that terrible reality….in the tipping point between life and death.

My learning from those 18 keys is to reflect on what 18 things are truly important to me.  What 18 things are important to you? 

Take a look around where you are sitting right now.  You have 95 seconds to leave.  What would you grab as you go?  Let's change the context.  Your home is going to sink to the center of the earth in 95 seconds.  What 18 things do you take with you? 

We might imagine security items like flashlights and water.  We may take passports and other important documents.  Medications.  We may take our PC which contains a digital footprint of our existence!  But what items are important BEYOND your lifetime?  Photographs?  Heirlooms? 

I am our family's genealogist so I have a large file cabinet full of archived documents of our family history.  Do I take my grandfather's World War I medals?  The photograph of my Mom and Dad at their wedding?  Perhaps I grab my grandfather's 3 pipes.  Or the Native American sacred objects from my 25 years of ceremony on Pine Ridge Reservation. 

What is beyond 'important' to you?  What's sacred to you?  What's sacred BEYOND you?

We live INTO our Significance every day.  Every day is a tipping point. 

What are your 18 Keys of Significance?


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