Every so often, you come across someone so inspirational and authentic that you can’t help but put them on a pedestal; yet so humble, kind, and level-headed that they refuse to let you keep them there for long.
Ed Perry is one of those people.
Mr. Perry recently engaged our class of 2019 at the Acton MBA for a conversation around work, life, and meaning. Suffice it to say that Perry has found plenty of success in business, having served as an executive at companies as large and diverse as Apple Computer, British Petroleum, McDermott, and Sapient.
Hearing him speak, you’d think you’re listening to a version of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid, with twice the wisdom and none of the brusqueness.
(I make this comparison mainly because the unassuming Mr. Perry is a Karate black belt)
Yet, within his words is a quiet power, so raw and unexpected that it hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s the sound of someone who has achieved dominion over their very Being: accepted, learned from, and let go of their past, fully integrated life’s lessons, focused on their strengths and superpowers, and allowed themselves to shine.
Someone so present and awake, that when they address you, the entire world falls away. It’s just you, and them – feeling connected, direct, sincere, and maybe even a little overwhelmed. It’s not often someone gives you their full and undivided attention, yet Mr. Perry does – because he’s dedicated himself to mentorship and helping other young, aspiring entrepreneurs. In a way, Tolstoy is brought to life in the interaction:
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.” —The Three Questions, by Leo Tolstoy
What impacted me most from this experience was the seemingly undying drive that Mr. Perry has: something that has propelled him through adversity, failure, and fell circumstance – to the other shore of true success, achievement, and inner wholeness.
Stories of leading companies destined for failure by hostile takeover, covert operations gone awry, and…
Well, for more you’ll have to speak with Mr. Perry in private. Trust me when I say that he has been able to rebound from some dizzying blows.
True grit? If I had to put a name to it, I’d say it’s simply getting in touch with Love.
Here are eight life lessons that he would give his younger self. I hope to take these to heart… and that you do, too.
- Money: Measure your life by the lives you positively change, not by the money you make. Accumulate family/friends, not things.
- Power: Be strong by being decisive, then, be smart by changing if you’re wrong.
- Fame: Success is measured by the love you give, not by what you get.
- Achievement: The world is smarter than you. Listen. Heed its lessons.
- Happiness: When faced with a tough dilemma, decide what to do by how proud you’ll be of your choice when you die, not by what’s in your best interests in the moment.
- Significance: You’re not in control of others, only yourself. Practice making others’ lives better, and they will reward you with real success.
- Legacy: Let go of self-judgment. You’re neither as good nor as bad as you think you are.
- Meaning: Theres no such thing as work-life balance. There’s just life. Your priorities are set by how you spend your time and money, not by what you say.
And above all else, there’s this:
Love one another, just as you yourself would like to be loved.