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Ray Keener: Lessons from Leslie

Published August 24, 2012

As you all know, our dear friend and industry colleague Leslie Bohm passed on Monday August 20 after a 20-month battle with brain cancer.

Although Leslie was four years younger than me, I considered him a mentor in many ways. He was great at absorbing wisdom from others and dispensing it at appropriate times.

Some of what he knew he learned from noted authors like Paul Hawken. Some from influential friends like Randy Komisar. Some from family members like Cousin Murray and Aunt Sarah.

So in the spirit of “what would Leslie want us to be doing right now,” and that would NOT be sitting around being sad.

But rather doing what we all do with more courage and conviction in his memory, here are three Lessons from Leslie that I want to share from the dozens I absorbed:

1.    You gotta love your problems. Leslie always said, “It’s easy to love what brought you to your life’s work. The real key to being happy is to learn to love the problems that are the flip-side of why you want to do what you do.”

Most people complain about their problems. Learning to understand them and embrace them leads to a more positive state of mind. Which Leslie had in spades!

2.    Don’t complain, don’t explain. Whining to others about your job creates a negative vibe and just digs you deeper into your hole. Keep doing what you’re doing with a positive attitude or find something else to do.

The “don’t explain” part: Leslie helped me see that the more you say, the more you explain, the more things you give the other person to argue with. Say what you want, say what you’re going to do, keep it brief.

3.    The Aunt Sarah Principle. Leslie told us about his Aunt Sarah, how whenever he and his cousins would get together to compare notes, each of them thought THEY were Aunt Sarah’s favorite!

Leslie never “played favorites” among his staff. He hired people he looked up to (a Paul Hawken concept) and treated each of them as if they were his favorite.

Anyway, when we look back fondly at Leslie and the time each of us were privileged to spend with him, let’s take what we learned from him and use it to better ourselves and those around us. That’s a true tribute to his life well-lived.

All of this inspires the question: Was Leslie blessed with the positive attitude that drew us to him, or did he create that positive attitude by following his principles I’ve shared with you here?

The answer, Leslie’s favorite answer to friends, family and industry colleagues: Yes!

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