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Leadership Thought #269 – All Things Must Pass


I was listening to this song by this same title by George Harrison recently and it had a profound impact on me.   I’ve always known it’s a good song, but have never quite stopped to truly ponder what he was trying to say.  They say there is beauty in simplicity and the lyrics of this song nicely capture the inevitable challenge of “loss” in life.  George never overdid it with his lyrics, which is why some of his best songs are so memorable.

Whether we like it or not, “all things must pass.”  Everything has a beginning and an end.  As far as we know, nothing besides space is infinite.   Youth, careers, relationships, roles, responsibilities, health, and ultimately life itself, all transition and ultimately conclude at some point.  Many of us struggle with this reality.  We hope that things will always stay in their ideal state.  Instead of embracing the fragility and transitory nature of things, we simply put our “heads in the sand” and hope it doesn’t happen to us – but it will.

Coping with loss is a big part of life.  We shouldn’t be resisting the gravitational pull of our mortality and vulnerability – I say embrace it!  Live in the moment.  Appreciate life when things are going well, but don’t despair too much when there are periods of loss and adversity.  Trust me; I know this isn’t always so easy.

Do your best to build high quality relationships and nurture them.  You will need to lean on them one day.   When you do commit to another person, pick wisely and then commit fully.  If and when these relationships end prematurely, do your best to accept this fact gracefully and with your self respect intact.  No good ever comes from harming or wishing harm on another person.

Pick a career or vocation that inspires, fulfills or motivates you.  This decision will make the journey more gratifying.  At minimum, try not to put yourself in work situations that sap your physical/emotional energy and minimize your sense of self-worth.  It’s also important not to be afraid to make changes when the job no longer meets at least one these criteria.

Take care or your body and health, it will forestall the natural breakdowns and sustain you when you are physically vulnerable and in need of strength.  However, accept the fact that physical aging is the natural course of things and recalibrate your activities accordingly.  The good news is that wisdom usually also comes with age.

Don’t get too attached to things (especially expensive things).  Material things will only create fleeting pleasure and potentially lead to financial traps that become hard to escape from.   If you are not careful, money issues can quickly bleed into all aspects of your life.   Only a small percentage of us will live a life devoid of financial worry, just make sure it’s the right worries.

The good news is that change can spur reinvention.  We have to do our best to accept what we can’t control and move on from there.  It may be cliché” but it truly isn’t what happens to us in life, it’s how we respond to it that matters.  We can continue to grow and learn from our experiences.  Moreover, I encourage you to fully acknowledge and experience your emotional reaction to things rather than practicing avoidance (or letting things fester).  You can’t ignore or fast forward the grieving process.  Seek professional help if needed.  Healing does take some time, but in most cases it does happen.

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