The "Rich" Lessons

Burbank, California; February,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

Today I had a very inspirational meeting with an old friend. First of all, I think we all need some kind of mentor-figure in our lives: That one person that has the ability to put us back on track when we tend to go astray, and who can boost our energy when our psychological meter slants toward "empty."

When I read Tom Peter's book, "The Brand You 50," in which he recommends us to regularly do something different, and to meet with people that can enhance the quality of our lives by sharpening our perspectives, it was this very friend I thought of. And I did what Peters advised his readers to do: adding Richard to my Rolodex.

Richard looked good today. He always does. The twinkle in his eyes and the straightness of his tread makes it hard to discern his real age, but I know he must be in his seventies. I called him last week to refresh our friendship, to see if we could meet for lunch in order to exchange our progresses in the various fields of our lives, and to find out whether we could establish some enrichment in our individual projects through mutual input. With his cheerful way of conversing he agreed to the meeting and suggested a place that I had only heard of, yet never expected to see. It turned out to be one of the most inspirational environments I ever attended. And Richard had done this deliberately, since his sensitivity toward creating the right setting in order to make a success from every meeting, is part of what makes him such a thriving entrepreneur.

Seeing Richard today polished up more than just a dear friendship. It reemphasized some important focus points to me. Straight through the 101 things we dialogued about, Richard conveyed some very important messages to me. Here is an excerpt of the things he reestablished in my mind:

1. Goals are important, but the journey should be the main source of joy. It's all about the journey. Reaching your goal is just a small part of the victory: you have to make everyday of the trip worthwhile. For most of the time you're "traveling" anyway...

2. Follow the ideas that Joe Simonetta explained so aptly in his book "Seven Words That Can Change the World:" "Be healthy, be kind, respect the environment." Richard clarified that "being healthy" refers to your responsibility toward yourself; "being kind" to your relationship with other living beings, and "respecting the environment" to your interconnectedness with everything and everyone around you. Great way to put it. Unforgettable, I thought.

3. Don't underestimate your intuition. Recognize it, and listen to it! Not in a wild and disjointed way, but with the rationality of everything you learned in the back of your mind. Just don't try to quantify everything, for quality is what it's all about. If you learn to respect your intuition, you'll find yourself being happier and much more content.

4. Everything comes at the right time. It's a wave: a flow. No need to push or force. The way you carry yourself and treat others will determine the way they see you. I was deeply touched when Richard told me a few stories of the contacts he had made in the past months and how they came about. Yes, life certainly has a way of showing you that the "what goes around comes around" rule is still very much in effect!

5. Make sure that everything you do is in line with your deepest conviction. If you take a step back and analyse whatever you’re doing, it should all boil down to the one principle you strongly belief in. If that's not the case, you should consider where, how, and why you went astray.

The beauty of spending time in Richard's presence is, that, beside the points he makes through the use of words, his actions teach you some additional lessons. This is what my friend's behavior taught me today:

  • Make people feel good about themselves, because it will set them at ease, and ultimately bring out the best in them. Richard's positive remarks regarding my appearance and my perceived strength made me open up, and talk freely about all areas of my life. They also encouraged me to lay my plans on the table in a self-confident way, resulting in his enthusiasm and the established intention to bring our mutual area of interest together in a way that will benefit others as well!
  • Know your friends well enough to take them to the place where you think they'll feel most comfortable. This requires insight in the spirit and interests of the other party, which boils down to empathy.
  • You're as young as you feel; and you're certainly never too old to take on new ventures. In fact the very act of taking on new challenges is what guarantees health, and prevents physical, spiritual, mental, and psychological demolition.
  • Building integrity is invaluable in establishing and keeping rewarding relationships.
  • Be patient: some initiatives, plans, or strategies will move like a rocket, and others will need time to take off. Just don't try to ignite the slow starters in a harder way than they can handle, because that will lead to untimely destruction of something that might have been good--if only you had given it the appropriate time to evolve.
  • Do what you have to do, even if it's not the most desired activity you can think of at the moment. However, always know your focus, because that will allow you to work toward it, step-by-step, day-by-day. As long as you know where you're going, you won't get lost in mediocrity.
  • The session with Richard only lasted 90 minutes, but the lessons were worth the entire month. And, like all Richard's lessons, they will stick in my mind and my heart. This is clear to me: I am grateful about my mentor and I will keep him. Will you keep yours?