Forever young


I wanted to thank all of you for the outpouring of well wishes on my birthday. From phone calls, emails, text messages, messenger, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, thank you for reminding me I am way too accessible, and how much I hate technology.

Over the past year, living in Abidjan has been an amazing experience. I'm trying my hand at French after failing to master the language over and over again. As is my practice, when I fail in any subject, I try again, and if I fail again, I try a second time. By the third time, and this is where I got my smarts, I pretty much give up and move on to something else. And, as it turns out I've already learned that a bientot does not mean you have a nice toe.

After slightly less than a year as a Vice President in the African Development Bank, I feel privileged to be in a position to help the less fortunate. I remain grateful for being given this opportunity, and for every chance I was given through out my career.

I am absolutely grateful because I have come to know that we don't all get the same chances in life. Accordingly, my own success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others in climbing the corporate ladder is not completely deserved either.

As a manager, or as a professor, I continue trying my best to be as unintimidating as possible. One saying that mostly holds true are those that suffered the most through out their professional life tend to show the most kindness. This gives some managers, and professors for that matter, a better starting point than others.

Most managers that were treated unfairly through out their careers have a better sense of the meaning of justice. Most managers that had to endure pain from professional misfortune have a better sense of the meaning of compassion. Most managers that suffered corporate betrayal better understand the importance of loyalty (you'll learn at work that some people you'd take a bullet for occasionally end up being the ones behind the trigger). Most managers that lost job opportunities unfairly better understand the meaning of humility and starting over. In the final analysis, what you become is what you can overcome.

I wish all of you at one point in your career that you work for managers that are a product of hardship, they will likely treat you better than most. But, there are also those managers, and professors for that matter, whose hardship has left them angry and bitter. Never become that person.

Now that I'm no longer teaching, do I miss it? Yes, absolutely. I miss teaching my finance and microeconomics classes most of all. Last week, I walked by George Washington University and one of my former students stopped me to say hello. He told me how much he learned from my class and how much I was missed. I presume I gave him an A, you don't get that much gratuity from someone who gets a D.

But, I'll take the compliment with pride and gratitude. With me compliments will get you everywhere. That part of me will never change. And, on my birthday, living with the realization that all of us will eventually grow old, I'm reminded of the need to maintain a positive state of mind regardless of adversity, and a life style that encourages you to be forever young.

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© Khaled F. Sherif, 2020

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