Paul Harvey, Story and An Eye for the Extraordinary

Feb 6, 2013

Like what you do. If you don’t like it, do something else. —Paul Harvey

In an instant, I traveled back in time.

Thirty years, at least. To the house I grew up in. The one with the white brick fireplace, giant picture window, and pecan trees lining the width of a one-acre back yard.

I sat on my parent’s queen-sized bed, dressed and ready for school. A few feet away, my mom fussed with her hair and put on make-up in the bathroom. Down the hall, I could hear my dad washing dishes in the kitchen before leaving for work, something he did most every morning.

There, cocooned by the sights and sounds of childhood, Paul Harvey wooed me through the radio with his stories.

It’s been a lifetime since those days. Now I’m the mom primping in the bathroom, a houseful of children and a husband filling my days with the sights and sounds of life.

But Sunday night I heard his voice again. Like the smell of my grandfather’s Old Spice, Paul Harvey took me back in time. Based on the flurry of posts in my media feeds, he did the same for you. A two-minute advertisement designed to sell trucks, but accomplishing much more than that. One voice. Two minutes.

And more “feel good” than any dancing and prancing delivered in the halftime show.

God help us.

We need less flash and more substance.

In our pursuit of success and meaning—in writing, parenting, relating, leading—we work so hard at generating flash and flair. We want a glitzy presentation, a shiny something to validate our worth and impress our world.

But the extraordinary can’t be manufactured. It must be mined.

The world is—we are—far less impressed with flash than we think. We may stare at the TV screen for the length of concert. We may dress up, sign up, read People magazine and rub important shoulders. But life’s reality dulls the shine of the shallow. We discover, at heart, it’s substance we crave more than anything.

That’s what Paul Harvey offered. Substance. A glimpse of the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary of every day life.

He didn’t need a light show or racy costume to deliver his art. Neither did he let the production aspects of his job distract him from the excellent execution of it. He believed in the simple offering of story, and mastered the telling of it. In the process, he made us believe that he did it for us.

In fact, I think he did.

We can do the same. We must. If we’re to build our lives, careers and families on substance, we must have eyes to see and a heart to receive the gifts buried in the ordinary moments of everyday life.

For what the extraordinary lacks in flair, it makes up for in legacy.

Not unlike a stable’s manger holding an infant King.

This weekend, Paul Harvey inspired us once again. Not to buy a truck or take up farming. He inspired us to mine our lives for its offerings. To focus less on flash and more on substance. To do what we do with passion, excellence, and a heart that knows it matters. Not for a fleeting halftime show. But for the way an ordinary life can impact another in extraordinary ways even thirty years years down the road.

That’s the rest of his story.

And, I hope, the rest of ours.

Where will you look for the extraordinary in today?


  1. Lucille Zimmerman

    I was listening to Frank Luntz and Sean Hannity talk about it the next night.

    This is what they had to say:

    The commercial wasn’t really about a farmer. It was about America’s character and about what she values.

    America is changing. Now we are seeing a cultural chasm and people miss the old America that valued grit, character, morality, and hard work. They resent being told, “You didn’t earn that!”

    • Michele

      I agree. America is changing.

  2. Joy

    I loved that commercial….and I LOVED Paul Harvey!!

    • Michele

      Best commercial of the game!

  3. Emily Sirkel

    Michele, every time I read your blog, I am reminded why I want to be a writer.

    You put thoughts into words with such beauty and sincerity. Thank you for what you do. You encourage complete strangers every time you post!

    • Michele

      Emily, this is one of the kindest compliments I’ve ever received. Thank you. From my heart, thank you.

  4. Deanna

    Michele, the story you are telling here brings a tear to my eye!
    As a dabbler in advertising — I’m sooooo with you on this. I want to create deeply. honestly. powerfully.

    I’ve been working on a similar post and now I’m motivated to finish it!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Michele

      Finish it, Deanna. And then share it with us!

      • Deanna

        augh, … I didn’t finish it!
        Work ran away with my time! (no room for guilt though!!) 🙂


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