Many are familiar with the story of David O. McKay who, as a struggling missionary in Scotland, was inspired and forever changed when he came across the saying, “What e’re thou art act well thy part.”
But few people know about the equally important inspiration found in the symbols just below the saying in this familiar stone work, said Advancement Vice President Matthew O. Richardson in an address to the staff members in Athletics, External and Alumni Relations, BYU Broadcasting, LDS Philanthropies and University Communications during University Conference this week.
The nine distinct markings below the quote are mathematical symbols that represent numbers (first row: 5, 10, 3; second row: 4, 6, 8; third row: 9, 2, 7). It isn’t until you add up the numbers in each row, column and diagonal that the importance of the placement becomes clear: each equation in each direction equals 18.
Then when taken together, the saying and the numbered symbols, can give each one of us direction for our work at BYU, said Richardson.
Here are seven things BYU employees can glean from the stone:
Every person has a part.
“You are a part of this group. And you have a part to play. All the rows, columns and diagonals equal 18. If you are trying to play a different role, then we won’t get to the goal of 18.”
Success requires every part.
“Every element of the whole is required. It takes time to test and tweak each part to better work together. We tweak to make it work."
Success requires every part to work together.
“Do your job well and work together. When we work together we are able to see new perspectives. “
Success depends on helping others do their part.
“Collaboration is even more important that teamwork. We have the most success when we are helping others. That’s when we will be able to move the work forward.”
Working together requires a consecrated effort.
“To be consecrated is to make something intensely holy. It means you have to do something to make it that way. By working together, doing your part and helping others, you are making this work consecrated. Consecration is a privilege. You will see great blessings for that work."
It is expected that each part work well.
“We are looking beyond cubicles, geography, we are looking to make this institution better. We each must give. We are not tending, but moving it forward. We can’t wait for others to pull it forward for us. This is a ‘we’ experience.”
We must never, never, never lose the sight of 18.
“Every fall I read the Mission Statement, the Aims of a BYU Education and other BYU foundational documents , so that I never forget my small and almost insignificant contribution. I am grateful because I am standing on the shoulders of those who have done their part in the past. I recommend that you do the same: don’t just tuck it away, but find time to read the Mission and Aims. Take it to heart. We are expecting you to do your best in your part.”