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Life and Death

Up until this year, I have been blessed and fortunate enough not to have lost a close (human) friend or relative. (For me, the notation is important. I have lost pets that I was very close to, but that is a different experience.)

And then in the span of one month, I lost two.

My co-worker and friend Colleen passed away in March after a short and unexpected battle with lung cancer. It is still surreal to me; some days I fully expect that she will walk back into the office like nothing ever happened. Colleen was awesome and I feel so lucky to have known her. She had a great laugh, was fiercely devoted to her family and had great passion for her work and a real zest for life. And she was, without doubt, the best dresser I have ever known.

Several weeks later, my Grandma passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer, so it was in some ways a relief to know that her suffering had come to an end. But like all families, ours had its issues and during the later years of her life, my Grandma was not the same person to me that I known and loved as a child. I found it hard to remember the good things. Then unexpectedly, at her passing, the good memories came rushing back. I am so grateful for that, and so grateful for a random “water-cooler” conversation with a co-worker. His father-in-law was near death, and he shared with me that he was having a similar experience with suddenly being able to remember the good things.

While these past few months have been difficult and painful, I have experienced many touching and heart-warming moments as well. Life is truly mysterious and wonderful if you open yourself up to those small moments that make it worth living.

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Four Lessons We Can All Learn from LeBron James

I don’t care about basketball, but I do care about Cleveland. And so, with a hopeful heart, I watched “The Decision” last year. (You can read my post about PR lessons we could learn from that debacle here.)

Like many Clevelanders, last night I breathed a little easier as it became certain that we would not have to witness the thing we had all come to dread over the past year – a Miami Heat championship. While some laughed (and I don’t blame theme) and others wondered if this was enough to heal our wounds, I simply was relieved that my hometown would not have to suffer any further shame after being humiliated on national television last year.

And now that the Dallas Mavericks have eliminated the source of our dread, I’ve realized that, love him or hate him, there are lessons we all can learn from LeBron James:

LeBron James

Image: AP

1) There are no shortcuts to success.
We’ve read and heard the reminders of this truth over and over, in many different forms: success is 1% inspiration and 99% persperation; that Babe Ruth held the record for career strike-outs for years; you have to fail many times to have one success, etc., etc. And you know what? No matter how you say it, it’s still true.

2) Attitude is everything.
You can be the best at what you do, but if you have a bad attitude, eventually your skills and talents won’t matter. People won’t want to be around you if you have a bad attitude, and, human nature being what it is, people will be glad to see you fail. You’ll be that person in the office/family/circle of friends. You’ll be tolerated at best, but most likely, avoided and ignored.

3) Never give up.
I’ve read numerous jokes on Twitter referring to LeBron’s penchant for giving up in the fourth quarter. Now, remember, I’m not a basketball fan, so I only have last night’s game as a reference. It sure looked to me like he wasn’t giving it his all during the fourth quarter.

One of the reasons I like to watch The Biggest Loser is because it’s motivating to watch contestants who don’t give up. Even if someone else has already won a challenge, it’s rare for the others to quit without finishing…even though they no longer have any prospect of winning.

4) Don’t burn your bridges.
At this moment, I can’t imagine a circumstance under which LeBron would be welcome back in Cleveland. And I also can’t imagine a circumstance under which he might need something from someone in Cleveland. But someday, he might. And should he decide to take his talents away from South Beach? Will he be welcome in the other cities that courted him before The Decision? I don’t think that’s an automatic “yes.”

You’ll never know where you’ll end up and who’s help you might need.

And one refreshing lesson from the Dallas Mavericks – nice guys don’t always finish last.

Mavericks' Championship

David J. Phillip - AP

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