This gentleman only knew me as an author supporting the event and briefly commented on the title of my book to start a conversation. Of course, I thanked him for his charity and asked how he became involved. From that, he got into a monolog of his career and accomplishments.
I learned that over the years this man had many responsible and impressive positions. Currently, he was a vice president of a large company and the president of an international organization. He traveled extensively and knew many influential people. I’m being vague to protect his identity and unlike some who boast, I was certain all he said was true.
I wasn’t sure why he was pouring out all this information to me. Clearly he wasn’t trying to sell me anything or influence me to do something for him. When I asked how he managed his time, he said he worked eighteen hours a day, surviving on four and a half hours of sleep a night. I confessed that I needed at least 7 hours of sleep a night, or I was silly putty.
I don’t measure up to this fellow in the resume wars but I, too, have a story. However, he wasn't interested enough to ask. Continuing the conversation and trying to be clever, I asked how his wife even knew him with the many hours he worked. As it turned out, he wasn’t married. One wife had passed away and he had divorced the second. But he did have a grown son and daughter, but no grandchildren. I wondered, to myself, if he might be lonely.
Why do I bring up this incident?
I had a hollow feeling after talking to this man because he seemed to be missing something in his life. His success and influence took a back seat to his demeanor. While likable, there was no life in his face. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s not for me to judge his happiness. I don’t know his relationships with his grown children but when you work 18 hours a day, there isn’t much time for family.
We need people like this man, who work hard and give much. But where’s the balance in his life? Certainly we need people to invent, build, lead, teach, save, feed, invest, protect, serve and support society. But when you stop to think about it, that is what good parents do, they invent, build, lead, teach, save, feed, invest, protect, serve, and support their children who, in turn, serve society.
I learned quite a bit from this man. I learned that he was a leader, a giver, and a lonely person with lots of friends. I learned that with all he had done, he missed something along the way. I think what he missed was a good family life. But hey, I could definitely be wrong. Being an involved father or a loving grandfather will remove all doubt of your contributions or your role in life. In that, I believe I'm correct!