Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

In his book, Dr. Frankl, the father of Logotherapy, shares about his experience during WWII as a prisoner in concentration camps; an experience that underscores the role and importance of one’s attitude. As a result, most of us might want to consider the benefit of an attitude adjustment!

Please read the following quotation from his 1959 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, to understand how attitude played a key factor in his survival.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become a plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”

In reading and re-reading this book, I am constantly reminded how insignificant the obstacles and problems that confront most of us in our daily lives really are. I say this because of what Dr. Frankl experienced and sensitively described in the first section of his book.

His story begins with his capture and internment in a concentration camp, surviving against all odds, only to be sent to another camp before his eventual release. For me, one of the most poignant messages in the book is that, even in this situation of inconceivable oppression and suffering, those individuals who maintained their values had dignity, even in death. And those who had a “reason” to live, something that made their existence meaningful, were able to survive longer and in some cases endure long enough to live and be released—as in Dr. Frankl’s case.

The second section of the book briefly addresses Dr. Frankl’s philosophy of Logotherapy. As a psychotherapist, Dr. Frankl developed his theory of Logotherapy as it relates to man’s search for meaning in his own life. Logotherapy is a meaning-centered therapy that confronts and reorients the patient towards the meaning in life. It then follows that this discovered meaning helps the patient overcome his or her neurosis.

I found special meaning in two of Dr. Frankl’s observations, which I will quote. They align nicely with the business principles we all know as truths.

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it does so only as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as a by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.

Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success. You have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”

Those of you who know me well are aware that one of my basic beliefs is that a service business can prosper only by focusing on the service it delivers and not he price or fee it charges. When the price or fee is the focus, the customer (or client or patient) will observe this and, in most cases, will respond negatively. For a better understanding of our philosophy, go back to the above quotation and wherever you see the word “success,” substitute “money,” and where you see the word “conscience,” substitute “values.”

Again, those who know us recognize that one of our core beliefs is that we all make our own choices in life and that we are responsible and accountable for them. Yet, how many of us feel our choices are limited—and act accordingly!

And, last but not least, a quote from Virginia Satir:

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.”

Until next time . . .