I know that I am probably not alone in this – “Why can´t you be more like (Insert name here.)?” – situation.
I am certain that there are, or have been, people in your life who seem to shine brighter than those around them.
They radiate success, confidence, achievement and accomplishment, and are the envy of all who know them.
It is only with maturity that we come to see that these role models have their own insecurities, their own moments of doubt, their own crosses to bear, their own dark shadows.
In my own life growing up in Argenteuil County, my cousin Steve O´Brien was the person whom others measured and compared my accomplishments with.
Everything he did shone like gold in a field of coal.
While I was struggling to find myself, Steve was out there getting things accomplished.
He was a professional athlete, had his own business, owned property, was happily married with two beautiful children.
Meanwhile I was unathletic, lived often a hand-to-mouth existence, until the age of 40 I was unattached, never had kids, never owned property except for too many books, I seemed destined to die one day unloved, unmourned, forgotten, while the legend that is Steve would shine on long after his bones dissolved into dust.
Only with the experience that time and age bring a person did I come to learn a few valuable lessons…
Though Steve continues to be and act “legendary” – at present he is travelling across Canada (his 7th week now – from Victoria to Regina so far) under his “own steam” raising money for disadvantaged children – and though he still seems “larger than life” he remains still insecure about himself despite so much he has achieved and continues to accomplish.
Of course, part of his success is due in part to good fortune. Of all his many talents, his ability to attract other good people around him has propelled him to success.
But his success has been richly deserved, for it came as a result of hard work and constant effort.
Like most of us, he has his moments of self-doubt, yet he never lets those doubts overwhelm him or let defeat overcome him.
For Steve, success at any endeavour is achieved by learning “how”, and is often the case, the “how” comes in the doing.
As Steve is both family and friend, despite our vast differences in character and life experience, we have remained close over the years.
I remember sitting on the sofa in Steve´s home one evening and he was telling me of his plans to raise money for disadvantaged children struggling to stay in school.
He turned to me and told me how much he has always envied me!
He has had the advantages of a very loving and supportive family, while I without these advantages had somehow managed to make my own way without them.
I was astonished, never imagining that I was an inspiration for his selfless project, never quite comprehending how my friendship mattered to him.
As much as I envy Steve, I have no desire to be Steve.
He makes an excellent Steve, but I need to focus on being the best Adam I can be in my own way.
Steve may achieve riches and glory for all he accomplishes- I both approve and applaud him for his success – but the lessons I take away from knowing him are far far more valuable to me:
1) The how comes in the doing.
2) Every person is my superior in that I may learn from him/her and I am superior to every person that he/she may learn from me.
3) No person is an island.
Whether we realise it or not, we need one another.
4) Every person must find his / her own path.
“To thine own self be true.”(William Shakespeare)
5) Everyone is afraid.
Facing that fear is the only way to defeat it.
6) We tend to overestimate others and underestimate ourselves.
7) Never underestimate the power of one person to make a difference in the world.
As a pebble dropped into a pond causes ripples to expand, so do our lives affect everyone we come into contact with, whether we realise it or not.
You matter far more than you think you do.
Thus endth the lesson.