Within a matter of days recently, we saw three major players in the world of finance take their own lives and I fear, regardless of the “Madoff” effect, it may get far worse as the year progresses.
German Billionaire Adolf Merckle at age 74, Steven L. Good, Chairman and CEO of Sheldon Good & Co., a leading U.S. real estate auction company at age 52 in Chicago, and Rene-Thierry de La Villehuchet, co-founder and CEO of Access International Advisors at age 65 in New York, were all extremely successful men who employed countless people who, consequently, were able to raise families throughout the world.
By their singular, quite selfish, acts, they have left immediate families to continually wonder how they were at fault and how they will survive the loss of these husbands, fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons. It has left business colleagues to pick up the messy pieces they’ve left behind. It has left spouses to raise children alone. It has left siblings to provide emotional and, perhaps, financial care for nieces and nephews.
It has also left thousands of employees in shock at the thought that the person they considered their leader wasn’t willing to stick out the rough times just as they are expected to.
So how does a person get to the place where suicide feels like the only option? How does one get to that ultimate dark place of deciding to take one’s own life?
A place of feeling that no one can fix this, not even themselves. A place when they feel there is no one they can confide in. A place when they cannot see where this would all lead. A place where they no longer have control. A place where they cannot weather the anger, shame, animosity and ridicule. A place where there are no possibilities.
If you’re reading these words and finding yourself within this text, please do not despair. Life runs in cycles and no one is perfect. No one is expected to be perfect; no one is expected to have all the answers. No one does. No one can.
If you’re thinking that life will never be the same given your current circumstances, perhaps you’re right. What makes a man or woman successful has less to do with successes than the failures they rose up from to be successful. Self development folks tell us 10 percent is the problem and 90 percent is how you perceive it.
Sure it might take rebuilding companies and rebuilding self-esteem and rebuilding a new life in a somewhat paired-down version. It might take selling off ‘stuff’ and downgrading the house and the cars and revisiting whether it’s really necessary to go on those extravagant vacations this year.
It might take a completely different career change, or a watered-down version of what you are now doing. The kids might not like the changes. So what.
So your credit won’t be perfect (whose will be anyway?) and your resume won’t be perfect and you won’t go to the same clubs for a while and so what. And you might not get to hang out with the same friends because they’re more pretentious than you. And you won’t fly on the private jets or take the corporate cars whenever you want. And you won’t get all the fancy spa treatments or go to exclusive luncheons that cost hundreds of dollars for two. So what.
Everything you think you lost is possible again in the future. But a life is something that cannot be replaced.
The real issue that needs adjustment is much more difficult than any of the things. And that’s …how you see this. Your attitude. And the changes are completely do-able. Promise.
Actually…it’s all do-able. Really. It’s not that you can’t reassess what needs to be done. You’ve been flipping it around in your head for months, haven’t you? Maybe you even started the implementation.
The real issues are these – your pride and lack of humility that’s getting in the way. Oops…sorry. Reality checks stink.
If you’re going to weather this storm, you’ll need to start from the basics.
Take a few moments today for yourself. Buy a journal from the bookstore, so you can add to it wherever you are. On the top of a left-hand page, write the words Ages 10-14, then flip two or three pages and on the next top left-hand page write Ages 15-19, and keep it going for each five year interval you’ve been alive. You can add the years (ie. 1963-1967) if it helps.
What you’re creating is a gratitude journal. Sounds stupid? Hey, stop judging.
Now, each day when you rise start adding to it. During the day take a cup of coffee and instead of wasting time with the other people in the office who are crying doom and gloom, go back to your desk, turn your chair away from the computer and take a few minutes to add to the journal.
Before you go to sleep, take it to a quiet place in the house and add to it. This is your reflective time and it will ultimately help you see that you are more blessed than you think.
During your earlier years, include all the things you accomplished and experiences that brought you great joy. How you taught your younger cousin to ride his bike. How you raised money for children when you were 15. How you worked part-time jobs to get yourself through college. Those things. Those are the experiences which made you who you are.
You have had a great ride. You got to buy and own many things. Women bought clothes and jewelry and purses and shoes which fill their closets; some of which have never been worn. Men got to load up on the latest gadgets, toys and vehicles so they could compete with the other guys. Very nice. Go trade them with your friends and you’ll instantly have new stuff.
But now it’s a new time for you. It’s time to be humble and compassionate and get back to what really matters in life. It’s time to speak nicely to each other. It’s time to be kind again.
And if you think you have nothing to be grateful for when you begin today’s pages, start writing from a new perspective. Choose things like “I’m grateful I have a good woman to go through this hard time with.” “I’m grateful that my family is healthy.” “I’m thankful for friends who love me for me and not what I do.” “I’m grateful that I have some money left over to help others less fortunate than myself.” “I’m grateful I woke up in a warm bed today.” “I’m thankful for my country’s stability.”
Recognizing even the smallest of gifts will lift your spirits and help you start to restore your hope and get your fight back. When you fall into despair, you lose that hope. By taking the time to see there is so much good around you, so much to be thankful for, you will learn how to see it and appreciate it again. By adding to your journal every day, you will move forward with a renewed spirit open to new possibilities to help yourself and others, professionally and personally, push ahead to brighter times.
Because not only are those who love you counting on you, but we really don’t need any more young people grieving the deaths of selfish men.