The story is told of a group of 12 members of a support group who were all suffering from the same life-threatening health issue. Conventional treatments were failing, so they decided to follow the advice of a friend to visit a doctor who used unconventional methods to heal incurable diseases. To their surprise, the doctor’s unusual treatment was successful. After travelling some distance, two of the groups’ members realized they had not thanked the doctor for his help and for saving their lives.  The two decided to travel back and see the doctor who upon their arrival was not only shocked, but also thrilled because these two were humble and honest enough to say “thank you.”

I would be amiss if I, too, did not stop and say thank you to those of you who have proven to be faithful readers of my simple views on LIFE.

Over the last five years, I have heard from many of my readers. I have attempted to reply to everyone but I know I have missed a few along the way. Some of you have shared personal stories that made my writings seem so insignificant. Others have shared challenges they have faced only to be encouraged by a few words written and published at the appropriate time. Some have responded with their own words of encouragement, which I have read and applied often during my own life challenges.

Some have responded as far away as India and most recently Columbia. Others from China, the U.S., the Middle East and of course Canada and our home province of Ontario provided their own stories of LIFE. Each though had the same common message.

Life is not without its challenges. But it is not the challenge that matters; it is our response that makes all the difference.

I am reminded of a story about Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England. During the darkest of days of World War II, when defeat seemed inevitable, his words of motivation unified a nation that stood firm against enemy advances. When asked to speak to a class of young people at a high school gathering, he simply said, “Never, never, never, give up!” Then he left.

On my desk in my home office sits a stone paperweight with those very words inscribed on it. Each day when I sit down to work, whether first thing in the morning or late at night, those words are always the first or the last spoken to me.

When the doctors told me the first time that I had cancer, and twice since, I was encouraged by those five simple, but strengthening, words. During my cancer surgery and treatments, I also received open-heart surgery, and I relied often on the exemplary leadership of Winston Churchill and other courageous soldiers since his time.

When the pressures of work’s ambiguity appeared to be overwhelming, the uncertainty of a future due to a merger dominated my thoughts, the stress of an aging parent tested my patience, the worry of my kids’ futures challenged my endurance, the financial demands of unemployed siblings demanded more than I had, and too many friends and colleagues were asking for more time than what was available to give, when it seemed my strength was almost gone and it became tougher to face another day, the whispers of a thousand people before me echoed the same message over and over again: “Never, never, never, give up!”

We were not created to accept defeat. Do not confuse failure and defeat. Failure is meant to develop us so that we can be victorious over all that attempts to knock us down.

There are many people who have entered our lives that deserve to receive a thank you from us. For many, it may be too late because they have passed on. But for many others, it is not too late to reach out. Be it a family member, a friend, a teacher, a co-worker, a colleague, an author, a doctor, or sometimes even a stranger who passed through our lives and made a unique difference due to what they said or did.

Maybe, before it is too late, we should pause amidst the chaos of life to remember a time when someone made an investment in us, and write a simple note or email, make a phone call, text or tweet a message of thanks to let them know we are truly grateful for all they have done for us.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for your empathy. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for your loyalty and faithfulness. Thank you for listening, understanding, and caring. Thank you for laughing and crying, for accepting and approving, for being a real friend and being involved in my life. Thank you for making a difference.

Thank you for allowing me to serve CMA Ontario’s 25,000 members and 100 staff as President & CEO for the last seven years. It has truly been a privilege and a blessing.

This is the last of my LIFE articles for Leading Indicator on behalf of CMA Ontario. However, I plan to continue writing under my own blog called I would be honoured if we could continue to share LIFE together.

I do hope you have a great summer, but more importantly, have a wonderful LIFE!