Leading with love

My best friends daughter died last week. She was 15.  And now she’s gone. And I am so incredibly sad.  

Sad because there will be no new Amy memories.  Sad because we will miss her in the biggest and the smallest of ways.  Sad because I can’t make it better, or heal her parents pain or find a single word to make sense of it all. Sad. Sad.

I guess that’s why death is such a crazy hard topic, why we avoid it all together.  But I simply have to talk about this death and about this life, about this Amy, about the Amy legacy.  Because this very special 15 year old lived a life where love came first – always – and I want us to learn from her. I want us to celebrate her life by remembering the love legacy that she created. We are, after all, not here to live forever, but to create something that does, and when you manage to achieve that in 15 beautiful years, there is a deep lesson for us all. 15 Years to leave an incredible legacy. A legacy that makes me want to talk about death in the context of how we live our lives.

In the days and years leading up to her final moments and the days that have passed since; the overwhelming sense that we all had of Amy was of a beautiful angel that filled her world with love.  Not a bold and  loud and huggy kind of love, but rather a gentle, a patient, an accepting kind of love; a serving, giving, graceful kind, the kind that lingers with you, that touches you to the very soul, the kind of love that not a single one of us will forget.  

Can we #LOVELIKEAMY?

Did you? Are you? Were you kind today?  Did you remember? Or did the busyness and the competition and the rush and the tiredness and the striving take over? Did the overwhelming living that we seem to do in business and city life today make us forget? Did you love today? Did you love your family? Did you love the people that you work with? The people in the cars around you? The random stranger in the supermarket? Did you remember that they are human too, that we are all in one gigantic human tribe just trying to make our own way? All of us needing an Amy kind of love more than we want the world to know. All of us craving the community, the kindness of our shared humanity and often finding it lacking.  Lacking in the spaces we occupy but even worse – lacking in ourselves.

Her death brought me back home, back to the place I have spent the largest part of my life.  The city I have loved and grown in, a city of gold and of dreams, a city that’s heart still beats loudly within me.  Perhaps it was the sadness and the grieving or perhaps a heightened awareness, but Jozi … it felt to me that you are so very angry.

My emotionally exhausted response was to be angry right back, with everything…the dryness, the poverty, the aggression, the rage. Angry with the pace and desperation. Actually just angry. And then it hit me, as I walked through those dry and busy streets, a voice so loud in my head (thank you angel) the lesson of Amy!  I realised that my anger, my rage, my Joburg aggression is just an incredibly bad habit! A habit born from years of being in this busy place, a habit I didn’t realise was such a part of my world here. A habit I need desperately to quit!

I know that I can’t change it all, I can’t bring the rain and the jobs and the rainbow nation we crave, I can’t slow down the busyness of the city or calm the stress in her soul, I can’t fix Jozi, but I can bring an Amy kind of love. I can bring it when I am in Joburg or wherever I am in the world.

Reflecting on this lesson reminded me that my greatest leadership successes have been those born out of an intention of kindness; that my greatest business achievements have been those crafted from a place of love and caring; that the my proudest moments are those where I was kind. And so my beautiful Amy, I am going to try to quit my bad habit and instead try to remember your legacy, try to be kinder in the smallest of ways, try my very best to make you proud of the love I give in your memory.  Thank you for being here with us my precious, thank you for your life.  We will miss you forever.

I hope you will also try to #LOVELIKEAMY even just a little each day.

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