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Michael J. Fox and the Wood Industry

Elizabeth Baldwin

So last week I mentioned how a quote from the movie Jurassic Park has stayed with me for years, influencing how I look at the world and the choices I make. This week, I want to discuss another quote that has stuck with me for years, ever since I first heard it. This comes courtesy of Michael J. Fox. He was talking about the public reaction to being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He said:

"People always ask me if I say to myself, 'Why Me?' and I tell them, 'Why not me?'"

What a terrific attitude! I keep it in mind regularly when I get frustrated about something happening in my life, big or small. You can't take everything the universe throws at you personally and you need to really "count your blessings" rather than "count the curses."

And as a practical matter, this quote is also is a call for action. We all see problems in the world today, be it in our industry or in the greater scheme of things. Trying to fix them seems to be so much trouble. But if everyone said, "Why not me?" and buckled down to try to make something better, I think we could, and the ripples each action could have are often completely unexpected and amazing.

After all, apparently one of the reasons that I'm in this industry is because I moved a stick out of a busy street.

You see, I got started in wood in Japan. I was an English teacher over there and one of my corporate classes was with a wood importer/distributor (Maruhon) who ended up hiring me full time … Anyway, one of several reasons Maruhon's president apparently hired me was because I moved a stick. See, I had been out driving with a mutual friend. Traffic was slowed down because there was a big fallen branch in the road and everyone was taking turns maneuvering around it. When I saw what was causing the delay, I got out of the car, dragged the stick out of the road and we all went on. Truth be told, I don't really remember doing it-it didn't strike me as a special moment in my life. What's amazing about the story is not that I did it, but that not only did my friend find it so remarkable that he told others about it, but that it struck Maruhon's president so strongly that he felt it should be a major reason to hire me. He was impressed because I took action to fix a problem I didn't cause.

I often use this blog to ask people to "participate in the process" in one form or another: to send comments to the EPA, to call a congressman about a Lacey amendment, to attend a convention and tell your associations what you need. I always say if you don't, you have no right to complain about the situation. Sure, I "get" that someone else created the problem. It's not your fault and why should you try to fix it? Well, instead, try asking yourself: Why NOT you?

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