Finishing What We Start: A Lesson in the Power of the Positive

Published in: MarketWatch
Author: Benjamin Ola. Akande

The following is a statement by Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean, School of Business and Technology, Webster University:

During these times of global and personal disarray, it's easy for an overall gloom to creep into our lives, without our even being aware that it's happening. Yet amid the doom and gloom, we can usually find paradigms of courage so inspiring they help us put life in perspective. I had the privilege of witnessing one such example during the recent graduation ceremony of Webster's Marymount campus MBA program in California.

Among the graduates was a young woman in her mid-30s whose personal story speaks to the resiliency and character of many, many people the world over. As the festivities sprawled across this picturesque campus on the tip of the Pacific Ocean, I noticed this young lady with a bandana on her head. You couldn't miss her. She displayed a youthful vigor, warmth and energy that belied her sobering circumstances. For while all those around her were jubilant amid the congratulatory wishes of family and friends, she had accomplished something in addition to earning a degree: She had beaten breast cancer. She had successfully completed her education while balancing work, life, family and a battle with cancer. Yet it was clear by her demeanor that neither energy-draining chemotherapy nor the threat of death had dampened her spirit.

So how does all this figure into a column on business? Call it a lesson in the power of the positive. This woman clearly focused on what could be achieved, rather than what could not'something businesses, investors and consumers can all benefit from, especially these days. She did not let the darkness overtake her daylight. Instead, she illuminated her world and those of her classmates, as well, with her light. As I watched her, it occurred to me that many of our students across the world of Webster face mind-numbing challenges while striving to get an education and earn a degree'a sobering thought when we are inclined to grouse about the shrinkage in our 401Ks.

No, life is not fair, but is that important'or even relevant? Many who work hard to overcome challenges are still thrown additional curve balls at 96 miles an hour, yet they step up to the plate and wait expectantly for the next pitch. But just like these 'batters,' we as a nation are being tested in today's economic climate. It is a test of attitude and character. Are we acting with integrity no matter how tough our circumstances get? Are we able to remain positive and prevent the ensuing economic times from bringing us down?

Life is a long marathon with rough roads, speed bumps and unexpected turns along the way, but the winners are those who have trained their minds as well as their bodies. It's a journey that we all get to travel just once, and the obstacles along the way make our achievements all the better. In closing, I recall the poem by Patrick O'Leary, Nobody Knows It But Me, which speaks to the journey of life, the personal battles we confront daily, and the importance of tapping our inner selves to help us finish what we start.

There's a place I travel when I want to roam,

And nobody knows it but me.

The roads don't go there and the signs stay home,

And nobody knows it but me.

It's far, far away, and way, way afar,

It's over the moon and the sea.

Wherever you're going that's wherever you are,

And nobody knows it but me (you).