Lessons I am learning as I walk this journey.
1. Good luck is other people
Most times, when good luck has opened its doors for me, this has been directly linked to the actions of another person. No matter how hard I have worked, it was always when someone noticed that work and decided to connect me to an opportunity or to another person or to themselves, that my work moved to the next level. When I realized this, it hit me that I must therefore be the channel for other people’s good luck, even if it’s a little morsel of all the luck they will ever receive in their lives. I must therefore make it part of my mission to open doors, connect people and share with as many others as I can, the things I learn, and the opportunities available for them.
Here’s a sobering thought. As a journalist, sometimes I have interviewed people who were given an opportunity at some point in their lives and did not take it seriously. Later on in life, they wish they had. There are so many lessons in this. One is, when those doors of luck open, and you are given an opportunity leap in and make the most of it. Secondly, whenever you can, make that sort of leap possible for someone else. They may never get another person to do it for them.
2. Our heroes are flawed
If you study your heroes long enough, you will find something out of sync. And that’s ok (Unless, of course, your hero goes off and starts punching people or some other wayward thing, like that – that’s another story). When we try and make people look perfect, then one day we find out that they have a dark side, and all of a sudden it’s a sea of fallen heroes around us. I remember once, looking at one of my heroes and thinking, he is so perfect. I can never achieve the things he has achieved. If he had shown me his humanity, I would have related to him more. Marriage is another example of this. We see people who have been married for a long time and we too wish we could have long and happy marriages. We never get any insight into the fact that successful couples know how to fight and recover from their fights. Fighting is part of the equation, but there is a way to fight. Recently, a happily married friend shared a post about a fight he had had with his wife. The post was infused with humor, but it was such a humanizing moment. Prior to that it had seemed like they never fought.
3. You can work hard all your life and nothing comes of it
When people go to work every day, work their butts off and come back home and repeat for forty, fifty years, and still have very little to show for it at the end of that time, it’s very easy to blame them for not being organized or not working smart, etc. But it’s more complicated than that. We tend to think that everyone can be entrepreneurial and can hustle. Not everyone is like that and that’s ok. Our responsibility to each other is such that we must build economies where no matter what job you do, you can put food on the table for your family. You can send your children to school. You can get healthcare without going broke. And you can get time for leisure and rest. Any economy where this is not possible is one that metes out violence on the citizens it proclaims to serve.
4. No matter how hard you try, some people won’t stay with you
When I was a younger entrepreneur, it would hurt in a real way when people sent me their resignation letters. It hurt because I thought we had developed a relationship. It would hurt because we were investing so much in them. It would hurt because I didn’t understand that each person walks their journey and there is no way of predicting what their next step will be. You don’t own anyone, no matter what you do for them. Some people will stick with you for years, even when you think they will leave any day now because they are so good at what they do, and then others will surprise you with a hurried farewell.
5. Our ultimate power as human beings is our ability to band together
I remember once listening to an episode of TED Radio Hour and one of the guests spoke about how the reason the Human Race has survived for so long is not so much that we are so intellectually capable, but that we are able to come together and put our different resources together to solve the problems that come at us. The same applies at every level; global, national, organizational, community, and family. The trouble is that working with other people is HARD. It requires commitment, empathy, patience, and courage, among other things. So we often avoid it – until circumstances force us to.
September 21, 2020
Updated December 15, 2021