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The Balancing Act® E-Newsletter: December 2007


Balancing Act® is in one section this month: Who Knew?


The journey of life is not a Sunday drive. It is an intricate, convoluted trek, sometimes in a rocket at blistering speeds with insects plastered to your face, and sometimes on all fours clambering through the undergrowth, with your face plastered against insects.

But, like all journeys, I find that you have to relish the long, straight stretches as well as the hairpin curves. And you must, occasionally, stop and relax, find your bearings, choose new horizons, and rejoice in the progress. Despite owning exotic cars, I could never watch auto races because they've always appeared to me as a bunch of drivers in similar vehicles constantly turning left. I'd rather watch a cheetah steal through the Savannah, or a snail methodically ground out a few inches.

Life is about moving in all directions.

In my doctoral dissertation, I set out to prove that innovative tendencies were correlated to behavioral predispositions, using Merck, Hewlett-Packard, and Marine Midland Bank (now HSBC). In the event, I proved just the opposite: Environment was everything, and all kinds of behaviors might wind up innovative or non-innovative, depending on the surroundings and support.

I've found the same phenomenon in life. If you surround yourself with positive, honest, supportive people (including the courageous friends who will tell you when you're wrong) you are apt to be successful and healthy. But if you allow yourself to be amongst those who are Luddites and cynics, you'll wind up frustrated and failing.

John F. Kennedy said in the midst of early 60's technology and society that we would put a man on the moon within the decade. Most thought it crazed, delusional, or strictly political. There were 20,000 people in government who said it wouldn't happen. So he corralled a thousand or so who believed it could and put them in NASA. Nine years later they put Neil Armstrong on the moon.

With whom are you surrounding yourself?

Something approaching 75% of my 2007 revenue emanates from services I wasn't providing or promoting five years ago. I didn't think I'd be cave diving at 60 feet of depth at 60 years of age, but it never occurred to me that I couldn't if I chose to.

Who is around you? I choose to live with dogs because they make me laugh and force me to do things I wouldn't otherwise do, such as drive for coffee at 7 in the morning to watch the town yawn and stretch. I make sure that my work is as much fun as their chasing a ball, a standard that has served me quite well. Why shouldn't I be as happy as they are?

Is your environment joyous? I can't listen to the coda of Nessun Dorma (and Pavarotti's is the canonical version) without happy tears in my eyes. I've been lost and slept in the Norwegian woods, and lounged in presidential suites where I didn't realize there were three bathrooms until the second day.

Sinatra was fond of saying, "May you live to be 150 years old, and may the last voice you hear be mine!" What are you fond of saying? Is it filled with optimistic exuberance, or resigned fatalism?

I knew I wanted to write a newsletter that would help people understand the hidden beauties of life and the subtle mastery we can exert over our destiny. I didn't know how many would read it or how often. A sufficient number of you are still here, augmented by others every day, so that I remain energized and excited.

Join me for the next 100 issues. May you live to be 200 and the last words you read be mine. I'm still listening to Sinatra. It just might happen....