Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When you talk about successful people who do you think about: perhaps Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, Tom Cruise, Lee Iacocca, Oprah Winfry, Madonna, Barack Obama. What about Madelyn Dunham? What about her you might say? Madelyn Dunham worked at the Bank of Hawaii, where she worked her way up over two dozen years from secretary to one of the firm's first woman vice presidents. "This lady was quite unique," said Stephenson, 79, who hired Dunham into the bank in 1960. "She was never publicity seeking, never given to ostentation." On November 3rd 2008, Dunham passed away peacefully at her home following a bout with cancer at the age of 86. Next day her grandson went on to make history by becoming first African American to be elected as president of United States of America.

Barack Obama remembered her as "one of those quiet heroes we have across America, who aren't famous ... but each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They look after their children and their grandchildren." "She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life," he said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. "She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well."

The point I am trying to make here is that no life, however insignificant it might seem to be, spent in worthy pursuit is wasted and in the grand scheme of things, we are all making history and future at the same time through our deeds. Remember, whether you are a CEO, a manager, a politician, a teacher, a parent or a janitor, everyday you are touching lives. It may be people who are close to you like family and friends, or in an organization that you lead or work for. And success does not always translate into fame, fortune and accolades. So it doesn't really matter if one day we all don't become an Oprah Winfry or a Bill Gates. Leading a meaningful and enriching life is more important and is the true measure of success. We need to broaden our definition of success like Sir Richard Branson, says in his new book,
Business Stripped Bare:

“Successful people aren’t in possession of secrets known only to themselves. Don’t obsess over people who appear to you to be “winners”, but listen instead to the wisdom of people who’ve led enriching lives—people, for instance, who’ve found time for friends and family. Be generous in your interpretation of what success looks like. The best and most meaningful lives don’t always end happily”


1. http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/03/obama.grandma/

2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/15/barack-obamas-late-grandm_n_144090.html
3. Book: “Business Stripped Bare” by Richard Branson

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