A fascinating aspect of our human existence is that despite what happens to us, in most cases life simply goes on. The world stops for no one regardless of the challenge or tragedy they are confronting. Of course, we all know how the journey ultimately ends but until that point we are forced to be resilient and navigate whatever twists and turns come our way. No matter how far you climb the ladder of life there will always be some things beyond your capacity to control. Sometimes all we can do is accept our circumstances and react in the best way we can.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite writers. It is hard to box him into any one style because he does it all so flawlessly. While he is sometimes not an easy read, the effort is always worth it. There are nuggets of wisdom embedded throughout his work and the more you read him, the more thoughtful insight you come away with. He has a way of making sense out of life that is hard to match by anyone else. Personally, I recommend everyone keep a copy of his complete essays and reference the individual topics based on their current life situation.
The following quotes are just a very small snippet of his wisdom:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
“The ancestor of every action is a thought.”
“Thought is action in rehearsal.”
“Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.”
“There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.”
“Self-trust is the first secret of success.”
“No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.”
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”
“Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.”
“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
“No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.”
“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
“Often a certain abdication of prudence and foresight is an element of success.”
“Some pursue happiness – others create it.”
“Life is a progress, and not a station.”
“Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.”
“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
“All life is an experiment.”
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
I feel fortunate to have made it this far in life. Not everyone gets to have this much time. As we age it becomes more obvious that time is finite. I wish you well on your own journey and that the time you have left is well spent.
I chair two CEO/Business Owner peer groups for Vistage International. It is a great work that I truly find rewarding on many levels. One of the many benefits of this experience is listening to many subject matter expert speakers and having a vast pool of knowledgeable colleagues to tap into. A few stand out from this exceptional crowd including the speaker we had yesterday – Pat Murray. I have a learned a great deal from him about leadership and group dynamics. When you are in the presence of an expert, make sure you listen to him/her.
I would have to say that I tend to be an impatient person (although I’m working on it). I’m sure everyone who knows me wouldn’t argue with this point. I prefer taking action to waiting. Once I make up my mind about something, I just want to move forward and make progress. In addition, I get frustrated with others who don’t operate with the same sense of urgency that I do. It literally boggles my mind how slow and uninspired many people seem on a daily basis. However, with time and some maturity, I’ve begun to realize that the problem isn’t always them and maybe sometimes it’s me.
Leaders should be in a constant learning mode. Once you think you know it all give up the reigns of power because you will become detrimental to your organization. While some basic fundamental beliefs may remain true regardless of the circumstances, most of what takes place in business is in a constant state of flux. Your goal should be to stay ahead of the change curve not fall behind it. One way to do this is to keep asking questions and seeking answers. You can never be smart enough.
Knowledge is one of the biggest advantages you can have in life. If you know something and other people don’t then there is automatically a need for your informed opinion. It is the ultimate equalizer because it has nothing to do with age, gender or race. Some people may begin life with a genetic head start or environmental advantages, however, unless they keep learning it is very likely someone else will pass them buy.
I’ve sat through a large number of seminars with many leaders and one thing always sticks out. The most successful business people I know don’t just listen to and absorb information, they act on it. This doesn’t mean they act on everything they hear, but when something does resonate with them, they tend to move quickly to make changes.
What you decide to focus your energy on is a choice. Even in the most difficult of situations there is a potential “silver lining” if you are looking hard enough.
A mother is a very special person not just in a family, but in a school system and society at large. A good mom can make all the difference in a life.