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Newsletter: Lights on Our Path

Apr 1, 2011 8:58:00 AM / by Tim McCarthy

If you’d like an inspirational moment today, write a list of people who’ve made a difference in your life.  Everyone has had someone who has inspired them in some way. I have many. [more]

If you’d like an inspirational moment today, write a list of people who’ve made a difference in your life.

Take your time.

Everyone has had someone who has inspired them in some way. I have many.

We may admire a characteristic we’d like to emulate or a craft done well. The characteristic could be as noble as patience and the craft could be as modest as cooking.

I write about the lights on my life’s path often. There are many people who’ve showed me the way by their example and I like keeping a little file on them.

My Mom’s patience and listening skills remain a light I must carefully follow since my anxious nature causes me to talk a lot and to interrupt people.

My Dad’s fearlessness and work ethic throws light on my path when it’s rocky.

One high school teacher, among a few, was reviled by the students but didn’t care because she had the courage to believe she was getting through to us by her methods.(As I passed math courses that were way over my head in college, I remembered her frequently and fondly.)

I had two bosses who taught me most of what I still use every day – one with his honest and frank people approach and the other with his incredible business skills.

When anxiety overwhelmed me in the 90s, a psychologist taught me to seek “loving truth” in my life. Also to overcome anxiety, I studied for six years under a meditation teacher who I still emulate today.

Now, I serve many non-profit executives who shine light on my path. Serving the poor directly is the most difficult job I know. That’s why I don’t do it.

So, every time I see the work of a Rich Clark or a Jerry Skoch or a Joe Cistone, my path becomes clearer. The courage they demonstrate on behalf of the homeless, uneducated and voiceless poor inspires hope in me.

I can’t change the world anymore than they can, but when I watch them grab even one starfish and throw it back into the sea , I want to work harder and smarter to support them.

So I try to remember to say something to Joe or Jerry or Rich or to write an old boss or friend who showed me something that inspired me. In doing so, I am building my own self-esteem.

Who do you admire? Who did you admire? Who taught you something you wouldn’t have otherwise known? Who encouraged you when hope was fleeting? Who shined the light when your path was dark?

I got fired three days before Christmas and I had three little children. I’ve told you that story before. But I’ve never told you about Richard T. Good.

Dick Good was a consultant with McKinsey and Company in his younger years and had corporate jobs until he created his own very successful consulting practice which served the likes of Chanel and Applebee’s.

I sought Dick’s advice when I was out of work in 1988 and was trying to decide whether to start a business or take a corporate job.

Very kindly he said, “Look, if consulting is one of the things you’re looking at doing, just work with me here when you wish and see what you can learn.”

No pay, for him or me, no expectations. Just writing a few proposals and plans for/with him and following him around to a few meetings and asking a TON of questions. He was always patient in answering.

One day, when we got back from a client presentation, I told him I was going to start my own consultancy. He’d given me enough ideas about pricing and presenting and writing plans that I felt confident enough to try it.

He smiled and was happy that I was going to take the plunge.

I got a little weepy while trying to thank him and finally said, “How will I ever pay you back?”

He said, “I’m pretty sure you’re going to be successful based on the work you’ve done with me so instead of paying me back, please pay it forward.”

I promised Dick that I would, and I still do.

Recently I took my partners to Dick’s house. He’s long since retired. And it was a pleasure recounting this story and others to Dick in front of his wife and my partners. You could see him glow in their retelling.

And the funny thing is that Dick thinks I did that for him. And maybe to some degree I did.

But when we remind ourselves of those who were lights on our path, we remember gratitude – and gratitude quite naturally gives us a glow.

Think back on the people who got you through a tough time. Write their names down. Maybe they’re gone, like my parents, teachers and bosses and you can’t thank them again. Or maybe they’re still alive and you can.

But in either event, I promise you a feeling of gratitude that will reinforce the light they have shown on your path – and will cause you to shine your light, in turn, on others.

Tags: Newsletter, Family, Gratitude, Inspiration, Life, Mentors

Tim McCarthy

Written by Tim McCarthy

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