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Make changes for the better

I RECENTLY spoke to a group of young legal and accounting articled clerks and after the presentation I was asked what events had shaped and changed my life.

Many incidents had, but a few had had a profound impact.

In the 1980s a friend resigned as CEO of a major listed company when the share price was flying high. The company was shocked. Besides having exercised his share options, which now belonged to him, he still had millions of un-vested options he would forfeit.

He told the chairman that unless certain aspects of the business were put under his control, he would leave. This didn't happen so he left.

The lesson I learnt came from his explanation of the difference between how the chairman viewed every million he made above those he already had, which was always important. In my friend's case, already being a wealthy man, every million became less significant and this illustrated to me when is enough, enough?

In the 1970s I was enthralled by the rivalry between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett - great British middle-distance runners who both had won gold in Moscow and Los Angeles.

When Coe was asked why he wanted to surpass his record, he said he wanted to see how fast he could go.

It was all about climbing higher up the mountain.

In the early 1990s, I received a call from a familiar voice. I immediately recognised it and told the man he had "changed my life". He was surprised that I remembered him. He was calling to ask me for a letter of recommendation because he was changing careers to become a full-time motivational speaker.

I attended his first address at which he spoke about how one need not climb to the top of every mountain. Up until that point, everything I did was done with a desire to reach the top of each mountain. Some "climbs" were totally insignificant, but the stress and anxiety I placed on myself was both intense and unnecessary.

Not for a moment am I saying we don't have to give our best to achieve success, but sometimes we just lose sight of what's really important. You don't have to climb to the top of every mountain, but try to get to the top of those that are important to you and family's future

My most recent life-changing experience was in 2007 when I attended a talk by an Indian Swami philosopher.

He asked: do you look forward to Monday mornings as much as you look forward to Friday afternoons, and do you look forward to the first day back from holiday as much as you do to the day you go on holiday?

He said that if you can answer positively you are doing something right.

I pondered his statement because I'd never enjoyed Monday mornings or my first day back from holiday. As much as I enjoyed consulting in the investment and insurance world and doing my media work, I disliked management. Hence, shortly after that I changed my role and freed myself from management with the result that, today I look forward to Monday mornings and I don't mind my first day back from holiday.

Life's lessons are packaged differently for all of us and I wish you the courage to make the necessary changes to transform their lives.

lThe writer is financial advisor of Bryan Hirsch Colley and Associates. E-mail: bryanh@bhca.com.ca

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