The Secret To A Successful Life

Empathy may be the key to unlocking true success and happiness in your life.

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” Maya Angelou

IT may be hard to believe but I can be a bit of a jerk sometimes.  I am quick to form opinions and it is nearly impossible to get me to change them.  I am working on being more forgiving and trying hard to be a better listener.  But I am quick to step up and help others which I hope gives me a little wiggle room on being a jerk. I have always been a positive and optimistic person but the last year has been one of the most trying of my life, but I think I have grown more as a person this year than I have over any other year in my life.  And the biggest reason is Empathy! 

One year ago, my family took in a young man named Jalen.  He was 17 and was struggling to find his footing and path in this world.  His home life was unstable at best and dangerous and unsafe at worst.  I won’t go into that much because that is not my story to tell.  That is his to tell when he wants but suffice it to say this young man is a survivor.  I will never forget sitting down with my oldest child to discuss situation

It is easy for people to write a check and give to a charity or spend some time at a soup kitchen giving out food to the needy but when someone in major need is put in front of you will you step up an help?  That question is not to put down check writing or volunteering time. Those are both amazing and necessary things.  What I am saying is that when you are presented the opportunity to get proximate and really change a person’s life could you do it?    

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This quote was a favorite for the first client I had ever got on my own.  He recently passed away and I was reminded of it the other day when I was at his memorial.  He and I had developed a deep friendship over the past 18 years.  He regularly challenged me to become a better advisor and over the past couple of years of his life to become a better more giving person.  When we were talking about taking Jalen in, I had mentioned it to him, and he said you will be an amazing blessing to him.  It was one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me.

What’s funny is that while I am sure we have helped Jalen in more ways than can even be measured he has helped me grow as a more empathetic human being.  He has helped me learn to laugh more and live in the moment because it can all change in an instance.   He has helped me better understand the struggles of the disenfranchised.  He has also helped me understand how to mentor young men in a more productive way especially as I get closer and closer to the second half of my life. 

What I have learned over the past year is that life is simple.  The secret to life is Love! Love the journey that you are on no matter how difficult it is.  Love the work you are doing every day.  There is someone that would love to have your job.  Love the people who are around you in your everyday life.  Love the people who are not as fortunate as you.  They have a story and are on a journey just like you and your smile, compassion, kind words, and Love may be what they need to keep pushing forward.

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted and keep a humble attitude. – 1 Peter 3:8