Thursday, August 6, 2015

Musings at 50–Confessions of a Self-Made Man

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. - Denis Waitley

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. - Melody Beattie

Today as birthday greetings for my 50th birthday come to me from around the world, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to be blessed with the love and support of so many amazing people.

It also reminds me of something else.

I have experienced many things in my Life, including walking away from a serious illness, five airplane incidents (one depressurization, one near mid-air on final, two RPM governance failures on take off and one structural integrity compromise), a lightning bolt that hit a playground set 50 feet from where I was standing, 4 NYC muggings, a serious bicycle accident, a stabbing on a subway, a tornado that touched down a block from where I was walking and a list of other things that start to look ridiculous at some point (over 25 of them according to the Starbucks napkin I scribbled on).

Many people have said that either someone is looking out for me or I’m being saved for something.


I have also been blessed repeatedly in business, often being given opportunities neither desired nor sought (nor which I thought I was qualified for) but which unfolded amazingly in my favor, including an IPO of a company that I cofounded in NYC in the late 1990’s.  Most people wouldn’t have seen this in my future when one looks at the house that I lived in in my early years:

Early house

A few times when I have made presentations, organizers said they were expecting someone much older, based on what they have learned about what I have accomplished and how it was unlikely that such a list could have been squeezed into the Life of a younger man.

But as I look at the greetings that now flow in, some of which are from people I have known for 45 of my 50 years, something is tremendously obvious to me.

For all of the things I have appeared to have performed, accomplished or survived, I am in fact responsible for none of it.

The credit for everything incredible I have experienced in my Life is entirely due to the many people I have been blessed to have known over the years.

It is from those people that I acquired the wisdom, knowledge, courage and strength to learn how to build a better Life.  When I didn’t always get it right, they were there – sometimes to lift me – sometimes to straighten me up.  And yes, some served as a warning on how not to live.

When I applied myself as I should have, things worked out well.  When I didn’t …. well …. I bear responsibility for the mistakes I have made along the journey.

And so when I hear people talk about being self-made or how their self-description has a lot of “I did this”, “I did that”, etc., I wonder how cognizant they are of the impact of other people on their lives.

There is no such thing as the self-made man.  Oh sure, we all may be intelligent, wise, talented, good-looking, wealthy, etc, but it requires others to help us see those gifts and to help us leverage those gifts to the best of our potential.

Because if it weren’t for all of those people, most of us wouldn’t accomplish much if anything at all.

So as the greetings continue to pour in from family and friends, I in turn thank everyone who has helped me, encouraged me, supported me, taught me, angered me and loved me.

The first 50 years have been possible only because of who you are and what you do and for that, I am eternally grateful.

And if I have accomplished anything at all, it is only to prove true the old adage attributed to Sir Isaac Newton:

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

YOU are the giants – thank you for a great first 50 years.  To name you all would take a LOT of space – you know who you are.  It is my privilege and honor to travel the journey with you, to learn from you and to collaborate with you towards making a better world. 

Now … have you thanked your giants today?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Warm wishes on your special day, Harry. My life has been enriched through knowing you. I look forward to shaking your hand and giving you a hug.

    1. Thank you so much, my friend. It is my Life that has been enriched by your gifts. I look forward to returning that handshake and hug. :-)

  2. There was a woman - not young - but who was suffering. Maybe even dying. Although this woman was surrounded by people, she was alone in a way that only the "special" can recognize, can penetrate. Then, through happenstance, a connection was made with a young man on the other side of the country. This connection grew into friendship, and that friendship offered compassion, understanding and a support that mended some of the practical aspects of her broken life, her broken spirit.

    Know that you are one of my giants Harry Tucker, although I would say that you have been and continue to be an angel in my life. And as all friendships should be, know that I will forever be there should you call for me.

    The best on your birthday and many more,
    You Know Who I Am.