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As 2011 draws to a close I’m reflecting on the highlights of my year.  Among them was attending Renaissance Weekend for the first time over Labor Day weekend.  “Ren Weekend” is an ideas festival attended by super accomplished leaders.  To my delight, my lack of credentials went unnoticed by the invitation committee and thus I had the privilege of attending.  Renaissance Weekend felt like a series of intimate seminars at a top-tier MBA program except most people have grey (or white) hair and far less ego.  Throughout the weekend I was captivated by big ideas, engaged in invigorating debates, and inspired to fulfill my potential.

Jay Sears‘ “final remarks” were a highlight of the weekend.  Jay shared them with everyone who attended as though his lease on life were about to expire.  I share them here with Jay’s permission in hopes they inspire you to live with greater intentionality in 2012:

“These are my final remarks to my wife, and wisdom to my children and my, yet unborn grandchildren.  Maybe some of these words may resonate with you.

Unfortunately, I stand here as a half- complete  50 year old man.  I was so sure that I would live to at least 90, that I put off the development of my better half until I was 45.
As an over-achieving Type A workaholic with low self-esteem, I was driven to succeed. And by worldly standards, I have achieved well more than my fair share.

But success came at a price; the energy that fueled that success, was largely a case of misplaced energy.  I thought that I  could squeeze more into a day and still have all of that quality time with my wife and kids, but as you know, it didn’t work that way.  We make calendar choices very day; and something wins your time and someone loses your time.  And you don’t get a do-over; life moves on.

Success alone doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.  I learned way too late, that I feel best about myself when I can use my time, talent and treasure to uplift others and maybe help change the trajectory of their lives.

Don’t wait to be secure and successful, before you make a difference in people’s lives. You may end up achieving neither.

Be guided by hope and not by fear, but don’t be stupid, be prepared!  As you always heard me say, luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

But don’t be afraid to fail.  I failed big and often, and my failures were my greatest learning experiences.

Solicit input from opposing voices.  It is possible that, in spite of your brilliant education and resume, that you are wrong.

Build a reputation upon a core of strong values and character and defend it fiercely.  It will be your greatest asset.  Make hand shake deals and stick to them.

Be a do’er.  The world has enough academics; put your dreams and passions into action and build something that you and your family can be proud of.

But don’t let money and wealth be your goal.  These are bi-products of success, not the measure of success.

Find great partners for business and life, and be a great partner.  In business, it is much more enjoyable to share the experience with a partner.  You also realize along the way, that you couldn’t have done it yourself anyway.

In life, be a great partner to your spouse, you both married well.  I married way over my head and I failed to appreciate her in so many ways.  I had planned to spend my second half making it up to her; don’t make the same mistake.

Take care of your mother, she devoted 25 years of her life to guiding you through the challenges of your childhood.  She modeled a life of the highest values, unconditional love and compassion for the powerless.

I regret that I seem to have run out of time;  I was quite sure that the best was yet to come.

Live large, but always do what your mother tells you to do.

I love you all,