Last week, Larry Cassidy, a dynamic business leader, strategic thinker, thoughtful philosopher and valued friend shared meaningful messages and memorable musings on life and business.
As you might recall, the premise, was one of Larry’s fellow 1959 graduates from Miami University in southwest Ohio asked him, “Any nuggets you’d pass on to the grads?”
In mid-July, I read what Larry had written on June 18 and quickly concluded, it was far too powerful to only be appreciated by my eyeballs. For it had immediate application to college grads, entrepreneurs, veteran leaders, savvy business pros and every person on this planet who wants to make a difference!
Here are 14 highlights from part one:
1. Know the significance of a Cherokee saying: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced, live your life so that when you die, the world weeps and you rejoice.”
2. The fundamentals for living a life of significance haven’t budged. And, we ignore at our peril those essentials which nourish relationships and create the foundation for a noble life.
3. Celebrate! Allow yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for a job well done. You now have evidence on your resume; you finish what you start.
4. Tall trees are anchored by strong roots. As are you. Be clear about who contributed to where you are today: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and counselors. Thank them.
5. Accept that neither timing nor luck pick favorites. You play the game with the hand you’re dealt. As you do, you must decide how to navigate today’s dicey circumstances, without the aid of previous experience or reliable “experts.” No easy task, but you’ll manage it, as did your predecessors.
6. Consider these your “butterfly” days: As the infant butterfly beats its fragile wings, pushing through its sturdy cocoon wall, it develops the strength to fly. As you “beat your wings” you too will grow stronger.
7. Define, then discard or develop, those capabilities which hinder or support you becoming the best version of yourself.
8. Lose the excuses and justifications. These are smoke screens deployed to justify oversight and unfulfilled commitment.
9. Do not bite off more than you can chew. However, once you accept a task, “own” it and complete it as agreed.
10. Know good intentions and best-laid plans will go astray. Your choice is then one of character: Do you deflect liability, or do you step up, own your failure, and put it right?
11. Choose carefully. These are the hard decisions which shape your reputation.
12. Do not wallow in yesterday or count on tomorrow. Lingering in the past or reliving previous setbacks will cost you valuable energy.
13. Take action today. If you move the needle each day, be it an inch or a mile, you’ll be in position on the next day to launch from higher ground.
14. Give up the need to be right. Whether seeking status, control or self-esteem, the need to be right extracts far too high a price: It chokes off new input, options, and creative thinking. Served up with emotional heat, it skewers relationships and erodes respect. Tame it or you will not be welcome in a team-oriented future.
And now, in part two, here are Larry Cassidy’s proposed eight qualities or “beliefs” to help you, be the best you:
1. I believe we do best by being ourselves. You may fool others, but seldom for long; in time, both your “cover” and credibility will implode. The best choice is to be authentic. Always.
You come to this life with useful tools. Apply them and play to your strengths. It’s upon strength, one builds success. So find the labor you love, a role you fancy, and a setting that works for you.
Then take your best shot. And remember: “You have but one tool: Yourself. Everything else is just tricks.” Stick with the real you. In the long run, nothing works better.
2. I believe in being ‘in the moment.’ You now enter an arena in which execution and accountability are increasingly prized, where many savor the “action.” However, constant action can become an aphrodisiac.
There’s an alternative: Being “in the moment,” quiet, curious and aware, inviting rich questions and real answers to emerge.
You know what you know, and it’s substantial. Yet it’s what you do not know, the undiscovered nuggets, which often determine the outcome.
3. I believe in doing the right thing, and for the right reasons.
You’ve done enough living to understand what is and what is not right, as well as why it is right. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
As Peter Marshall reminds us, “We know perfectly well what we ought to do, but there are times we just don’t want to step up and do it.”
Sorry. Temptation is not justification.
Making the right move under pressure is about integrity, honor and character, described well by the Air Force Academy as “ ... those qualities of moral excellence that stimulate a person to do the right thing, to take the right and proper actions, despite internal or external pressures to the contrary.”
If you commit to doing the right thing as your only option, regardless of cost, you’ll find even once-difficult calls to be self-evident.
4. I believe in living with purpose and passion. Joe E. Lewis said, “You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.” Life is not a rehearsal.
“Working life right” happens when you are clear about your purpose: that pursuit which captivates you, summons your enthusiasm, and calls you to commit yourself completely.
Find your purpose and invest it with all your passion. You’ll accomplish nothing of great import without such purpose and passion.
5. I believe in doing our best and being the best we can be.
You cannot do more than your best. However, you do not have the right to give an assignment less than your best effort.
If you cannot commit fully, it’s better you decline the task. However, once you accept an obligation, treat it as a sacred trust. Others ride on your pledge.
6. I believe in ‘do not give up.’ Ever.
Since my treatment for cancer, I’ve kept poet John Dryden’s battle cry atop my desk: “I am wounded, but I am not slain. I will lay me down to bleed awhile, then rise to fight again.”
Expect to be deceived, knocked down, stricken, and to see your best efforts fall short. Put these disappointments behind you, and resolve that you will not quit.
There will be days when you have exhausted your intellect, talent and strength, and you fear you can no longer go on. You must rise and fight again.
It was such spirit which Hall of Fame football Coach Vince Lombardi most valued: “The difference between success and failure is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
7. I believe in the power of love. Robert Kennedy wrote, “Real love is something unselfish. It involves sacrifice and giving.”
Mother Theresa described real love as empowering small moments: “What we need is to love without getting tired. If we love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt, only more love. In this life, we can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Be unselfish and giving. Do not permit love to tire. And endow the “small things” with great love.
8. I believe in believing. In oneself. In others. And in wisdom and power beyond human capacity. And I do so for good reason: Life places hard choices and difficult obstacles along our road. We’re equipped to handle both.
However, know that no person is immune to the erosive ebb tides of temptation, fatigue and fear. We’re all vulnerable.
And as Bobby Dylan sang, in need of guidance and strength upon which to anchor our decisions and true our course: “Don’t let me drift too far. Keep me where you are, where I will always be renewed.”
Five decades ago, roasting under gown-and-cap in the Ohio sun, my goal was survival. On that day, “long-range” was about 90 minutes. The five decades ahead never crossed my mind.
And now, suddenly, it seems they’ve become my last 50 years. A half-century “blur,” posing familiar questions: “How did so much time pass so quickly? Where did the years go? Was it all it should have been?”
So expect the same: That you’ll burn through your next 50 years, likely at an accelerating pace; and, that it’ll happen fast.
So seize each moment. Commit to doing the right thing. Persevere.
And always give back more than you get. And waste no time hugging tree trunks. Like good fruit, the best version of you will always grow at the end of the bough. Out past the familiar, easy and comfortable.
To become all you can be, you must crawl far out on the limb, to a place Mark Knopfler calls “ ... at the edge of the night, still a light that gleams, beyond your wildest dreams.”
I’ll close by wishing you calm seas, a following wind, and a noble run ... years lived fully.
And upon completion, a grateful world weeping its loss. Even as you rejoice the time you were granted.
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.