I’ve done a fair amount of suffering in my lifetime as have many of us. Sometimes, I tell clients that appearances are deceiving and that I’ve suffered far more than my confident, occasionally nonchalant style may show. One thing I’ve learned from suffering is that we can get stronger, more clear, and more aware but that doesn’t make it easy. Sometimes, all the suffering makes life seem pointless and yet other times, it makes us feel grateful for what we have. I agree with the Dalai Lama that helping others and working hard helps – so does creativity. There is nothing like that feeling of creativity to make us feel more alive and feel like our life experience, no matter how hard it is, is worthwhile. I also work on loving and letting go because all of us are faced with these ways of being every day. And the more we love and the more capable of letting go we become, the greater we enjoy the journey!
Katy Butler’s mother chose not to have a heart operation at 85 years old that may or may not have prolonged her life another few years. Though many people encouraged her to go for it, including her daughter the author of this article, she declined in large part because she didn’t want to take the risk of ending up like a vegetable as many elderly do when they have serious operations at advanced ages. Einstein chose not to prolong his life at the end when he refused surgery for an aortic aneurysm. He wanted to die with dignity and self-respect having done “his share.” Far too many people try to save their elderly parents from dying gracefully by doing everything possible to give them an extra few months of life. Not only does this tax the Medicare system to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars each year but it often results in additional suffering. A friend of mine had a “do not resuscitate order” for her dying mother that was ignored by busy hospital staff which led to weeks of horrendous and unnecessary suffering and of course cost Medicare hundreds of thousands more. Learning to accept death is not easy for any of us but keeping people alive for the wrong reasons isn’t right. Valerie Harper led a long, dignified life and she chose to let go when she was ready even if others around her weren’t – very cool!
My twin brother Bill has told me on several occasions to fly Virgin America. He was excited sharing his perspective that they did a much better job of customer service compared to old school airlines. We both agreed that Richard Branson has a special touch and that most everything he does seems better than most. I was both surprised and not so surprised to find out that the airline has been losing money but then again the airline business is brutal. And Branson’s company, Virgin Group, only owns 25 percent of Virgin America. Maybe he should own more? Regardless, I am looking forward to flying Virgin America and hope that they succeed in large part because flying has become less and less fun since 911. Feeling cramped and unappreciated has become the norm. Occasionally, I quip that if I ran my business the way most airlines do I’d be begging for food!
I enjoy the second page of The Sunday Times business section because these interviews with successful executives in The Corner Office section offer solid insights into many common business practices like hiring. I find many of these interviews to be informative and valuable summaries of leadership perspectives. For instance, Christopher Williams, the CEO of Williams Capital Group, believes that the most important aspect to hiring is not one’s resume or pedigree but their confidence, honesty, and willingness to acknowledge mistakes. Like many successful leaders, he is listening for both talent and realness!
Diana Nyad succeeded in her 5th try to make the 110 mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West. Amazingly it took her nearly 53 hours – that’s over two days and she is 64 years old. Her advice: never, ever give up! I agree: my advice on success in life and business: never, ever give up! Sometimes, we need some outside coaching and guidance to get perspective but giving up is never an option for those of us who truly want to live!!
The company is rapidly approaching profitability and has promising new and affordable electric car models in design phases. Originally from South Africa, Mr. Musk is a great example of an innovative entrepreneur who is environmentally conscious and thus doing more than his part to reshape the planet in positive and profound ways! Thank you Mr. Musk.
An American success story and a chief with feminine attributes like kindness and compassion, Cathy Lanier exemplifies the greatness of the human spirit! Skipping school at 13, pregnant at 14, married at 15 and separated at 17, chief Lanier got a GED, joined the police force at 23, and eventually obtained two masters degrees along the way to becoming chief of a 4000 strong force with an additional 450 civilian administrators. Her approach is tough but compassionate and she is well liked and effective with crime down, new initiatives prevalent (computers, blackberries, etc.) and a directive to make personal cell phones available to those in need. Please read this article. We need more cops like her!
An interesting article in the Sunday Times sports section on Tom Coughlin, the New York Giants head coach. As a lifelong Giants fan I’ve watched Coughlin mature as a coach and leader well into his sixties. At first, I didn’t like him for many of the same reasons as his players. He seemed too uptight, rigid, and inflexible; qualities that perturb me in others not just head football coaches. But Coughlin, too his credit, changed just enough to win over his players and pull together a Super Bowl victory and the rest is history as they say! Change, at any age, is challenging. And yet, those of us who embrace change, while retaining the core of who we are that makes us unique and special, often find life easier and more rewarding. I love to teach and exemplify emotional flexibility. It’s a terrific way to live. Remember: it’s never too late to change!
This time Francisco D’Souza, the CEO if Cognizant, a large IT company, was interviewed by Adam Bryant. Two aspects of this article stand out for me: that before he became CEO, Mr. D’Souza hired a business coach and got feedback from 20 of his peers, underlings and those above him. He learned that his feedback was too intense and critical at times. This was important to his success as a leader. Hiring a coach, especially the right coach, can be life altering! Also, his intention to hire based on passion and talent, both being necessary, especially in a business where new learning is so important and essential!
Several things struck me about this article in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. First, his unbelievable attention to detail, his insistence on doing it over and over with full scale mockups and his complete desire for perfection. I know almost nothing about Calvin Klein or design for that matter but I do know people and many successful people share similar traits: the desire for perfection, a relentless work ethic, perseverance, and the drive to get things right even if they have to piss people off along the way (take forever to build, create traffic jams, etc..) I couldn’t help but wonder, however, with all that need for perfection if Mr. Klein is capable of “Being.” In other words, can he enjoy the now? Many overachiever personality types have little capacity for enjoyment. Some, on the other hand, are so enraptured by their work that they find a kind of ecstasy in their “doing.”