I fully intended to write regarding a New Yorker article about the ACA (which was very misguided by the way) by Dr. Atul Gawande. As I was driving into the office today, listening to a book I recently purchased and heard a quote from Liz Murray “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” If you don’t know who Liz Murray is, or if you haven’t seen the above billboard, she has an inspiring story. She grew up in utter poverty in the Bronx. Her parents were both drug addicts and subsequently died of AIDS. Liz was homeless at the age of 16 and through extreme perseverance graduated from Harvard. She is now a best selling author, inspirational speaker and has been the subject of a movie. She is a true modern day Horatio Alger.
I firmly believe we are all capable of achieving our version of being Horatio Alger. I wanted to provide a few of my observations, from years of trial and error, on how to get your music out.
Have an attitude of gratitude.
If there is one thing you can do in your life that is transformational it is developing true gratitude for what and who you have in your life. Very few people have real gratitude and if you are like me, it is something you have to constantly work on. It is tough and takes a lot of work, which is why most people don’t do it. It is easier to moan and complain. When things are bad our thoughts spiral into doom and gloom scenarios, and when things are good we develop arrogance. Often times, we leave little room to find things to be grateful for. Regardless if you are rocking and rolling in life or feel like this will be the most depressing Holiday Season you have ever experienced, break the cycle! Start being thankful. Do it now. It takes a moment, and your life will never be the same. Because this is something I struggle with I put reminders in place to help me remember to be thankful. Dr. Srikantia from Baldwin-Wallace University gives an amazing seminar about this very topic, humorously called “Why life sucks.” It is always free to attend and can be a good refresher if you are feeling down and out. We can’t be perfect so don’t beat yourself up when you slip up, just get back on track.
Remember Success = Happiness
Success has nothing to do with money, job titles, houses or cars; it only has to do with your happiness. Material items are great and I am a big of a proponent of unconstrained, free market capitalism, so don’t take this as advice to give up all of your nice stuff and move onto a commune. But, for most of us, intrinsic rewards provide higher levels and longer lasting happiness than extrinsic things. My point is, define what makes you happy and do more of it-extrinsic or intrinsic, it doesn’t matter. Every person is a success if they spend most of their life being happy. I would encourage you to ask yourself a couple questions:
1) If money were not a barrier or issue how would you spend your time?
2) How do you feel in your gut, on most days, commuting into your office?
Don’t Fear Failure-Try More Stuff!
If your answer to question 1 was anything but how you are currently spending your time it is likely because you are afraid of failing. I am not proposing that you quit your job tomorrow because most days you feel like garbage driving into the office and you find the work unfulfilling. I am proposing you stop focusing on what you don’t want and start focusing on what you do want. Stop making excuses of why you can’t have the life you want. One day we will all be gone, remember as you are drudging into work tomorrow, when it all ends, how will you gauge your success? Data show, from deathbed interviews of people from all nations and walks of life, wish they would have tried more stuff. Such as showing more love, opening a business or skydiving.
Remember, life is short, 80 years is only 29,200 days. Spend them well, let your music come out every day you can.
Feel free to stop reading, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank some folks for providing me the opportunity to have an amazing life. Karen, you have stood behind me and supported me trying and failing since we met. Thank you. I am so lucky to have you in my life, you are amazing and I love you far more than I show. Howie and Henry, thanks for being awesome, funny and always knowing when I need a hug! Chris, I have tremendous gratitude for the opportunity you have provided, I get to do different stuff all the time, which is what I love to do. I had to wear a suit Monday and got to come into the office in jeans today and write an article. You are more than someone I work with, you are one of my best friends, thank you. You are like family. Mom and Dad, I don’t tell you often enough how much I love you and appreciate all of the opportunities you provided for me through my life, and how much I appreciate you as grandparents. Kemper, thanks for being my mental rudder, helping me navigate through challenges during my career, you are a great sounding board and a great friend. Tracy, you are like the sister I never had (I didn’t say older sister, but…….). Tommy, Sarah, Jordan, Becky and Bill thanks for the friendship, you are tremendous and I am blessed to be friends with you.