Posted by: rusch | August 14, 2007

Exercises in the Absurd

When I look back on my mission I can’t help think that some were an exercise in the absurd.  One exercise I have named “The Hierarchy of Franklin Planners”.

I served my mission in the late 90s when the Seven Habits of High Effective People was a very important work and the Franklin Covey Company was charging around a grand for people to attend a seminar where they would, in theory, gain the attitudes and behaviors necessary in becoming “effective” (a very ambiguous term) people.

Stephen Covey, and the Franklin Covey Company, had a very special place in the hearts of some Elders in my mission so much so when the day every righteous 🙂 Elder hopes for, his call to leadership, came; it immediately became obvious that the standard issue blue planner was no longer sufficient for meeting their organizational needs.  For these stalwarts, just as soon as they were off the phone with the APs, they were buried in the most recent issue of the Franklin Covey catalogue, carefully considering the planner they would use in their high and holy calling.

You could tell how ambitious someone was based on the planner they purchased.

Elders who purchased a compact nylon planner were rather unassuming.  They expected their tour of duty in leadership to come to an end before they went home.  They were not slackers, but simply those who lacked vision, unaware of the heights they could attain and the power they could wield as leaders in the Mission.

Those that expected to achieve the rank of Zone Leader (or ZL for the uninitiated) would purchase the standard sized, leather planner.

Then there were those special souls whose ambitions knew no bounds.  Who dreamed of rising to the top of the leadership pyramid and of someday achieving success in Utah’s multi level marketing industry by signing up their friends and relatives and moving into a 700k house while their net after taxes was nearly 30k.  For them, there was the Franklin Monarch.  This was roughly the size of a three ring binder you could purchase at Wal-Mart and literally required an entire cow’s hide to line its’ holy exterior with leather.

Though I served as a district leader for the better part of the second half of my mission, I never purchased a Franklin planner.  Instead I spent my money on Hugh Nibley books and other FARMS publications, foreseeing a day when I would become an independent apologist in Provo Utah, defending the faith, one forwarded email at a time.


  1. I’m glad your foresight extended beyond the purchasing of a new planner.

  2. Hello,

    If your name is Chris, I met you at Sunstone after panel discussions on The Mormons. (I was the slidellian on the panel.) Would you be interested in guest blogging at Various Stages of Mormondom? You can see the blog by clicking on the link that’s assigned to my name. You should also have my e-mail address in the comments file.

    I really enjoyed speaking with you and I enjoy your writing. Drop me a note if you’re interested in being on the panel for a month or two.


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