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Losing my marbles?

Last week I celebrated my 59th birthday. As I grow older, and after a number of decades on this planet, I experience daily reminders that I am now traveling down the other side of the mountain. (But hopefully not too quickly!) It was with this thought in mind that I began my “marble initiative”.

Specifically, five years ago I purchased 100 rather brightly coloured marbles, each one reflecting the number of years I plan to live. I’ve always been an optimist at heart and figured 100 years had a nice ring to it. So, on October 20th of each year, I simply transfer a marble from one Mason jar to the other. I find this a useful and very visual metaphor which gives me no choice but to focus on the fact that my remaining time is limited. Specifically, I can’t help but notice that one jar (years left) is shrinking faster compared to the other jar (years lived). But of course, this is the entire point of the exercise.


I’m also finding, especially now during this pandemic, that my two jars of marbles are a constant reminder of life’s temporary nature and, more importantly … to try and not take for granted those precious years that I have left.

“I suppose real old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward.”

May Sarton


Donated by anonymous?

Chip Conley is a fascinating individual. Besides being a successful entrepreneur and a best selling author, he is also the founder of the Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first midlife wisdom school. In a recent post he wrote about his favourite leadership book … which also happens to be my favourite book, specifically, Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

For those of us who work in the philanthropic sector or serve on a board/committee of a charity, I thought his words of wisdom might be helpful.

My Favorite Leadership Book by Chip Conley

Jaws drop when I answer the question, “What’s your favorite leadership book of all-time?” Improbably, I consistently answer, “Man’s Search for Meaning”  by Viktor Frankl. What does this rumination on life inside a Nazi concentration camp written by a psychologist have to do with leadership? Frankl chronicles how meaning can be the fuel for life even in the most challenging of situations. He articulates that character can overcome circumstances, which is an extremely valuable lesson for leaders.

But, more than that, his three sentences on emotional modulation, spoken after the book came out, represent the wisest summary of maturity I’ve ever heard. I quote: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is your power to choose your response. And, in your response lies your growth and your freedom.”
Tape those sentences to your bathroom mirror and hold them close to your heart, especially when you’re going through a challenging time. As a leader, you are the emotional thermostat for those you lead, setting the climate control for your entire organization.

“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued.  It must ensue.  And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”

Viktor Frankl


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

It has been my annual tradition with these and my sister blog, PhilanthropyMatters, to begin every year with a brief commentary on how our world is making tremendous progress on just about any metric you care to focus on. Unfortunately, it seems many of us believe the planet is quite literally going to hell in a hand basket! This perspective is understandable given that we are continually bombarded 24/7 with news reports and articles to the contrary.

Edwards Deming once wrote, “In God we trust, all others bring data”. To that end, I give you 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2019.


Perhaps I can offer this summary … just because the world has a lot of bad shi# going on it doesn’t mean things aren’t getting better. It is with this theme in mind that I wish you, your family and friends, an even better 2020!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Charles Dickens (1859)

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