Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates...9-14-97

The strains of military music from India and the poignant lyrics of England's Rose continue to play in the minds of many, along with the image of flowers beautiful and wilted. What drew us to these two people, and what lessons can we take away from their lives and their deaths?

What drew people to Princess Diana was that this once innocent human failed publicly, but recovered from it. Things that happen to ordinary people happened to her. Rejected by her spouse for another, she developed an eating disorder, felt all alone, and tried to kill herself. She aired in public humiliations that had silenced people for centuries because of a belief they reflected self-failure, and would expose them to further rejection and shame. In speaking from her heart, Diana discovered that she touched the hearts of others.

Rather than submit to despair, she showered her sons with tender, radiant love, and turned to serious pursuits, offering her compassion to the world's sick and lonely. Feeling psychologically homeless and shunned, she reached out to those who were physically homeless and shunned, and the people embraced her. Diana transformed the monarchy by giving it youth, vitality, and an approachable connection. Although she was a good mother, Diana was not perfect, and not without her critics.

What drew us to Mother Teresa? Born into a middle class Albanian family in 1910, the young novice renamed herself Teresa after a 19th century French nun, an advocate of "the little way", which meant accomplishing good through menial tasks. Mother Teresa's first 17 years were spent teaching at an elite school for the privileged in Calcutta. Then came the experience of holding and comforting the body of a dying woman in the gutters of Calcutta that transformed her life forever.

Mother Teresa reached out, first by appealing to authorities for a building where the poor could die with dignity, then to as many others as possible to support her worldwide endeavors. Thus began her order, the Missionaries of Charity. She won numerous awards for her good works, including the Pope John Peace prize and the Nobel Peace Prize, accepting the latter in the name of the "unwanted, unloved and uncared for." Despite her good works, even Mother Teresa received her share of criticism.

The events of these past two weeks have jolted us to the soul, compelling us to rethink things. Robert Frost described the real impact of personal and cultural transformation as "the shocks and changes that keep us sane." Today these shocks and jolts are more frequent. It's difficult for most executives and others who think in traditional ways to let go of what's working and move into chaos in order to reinvent new products and processes. The network economy we're living in demands that, in order to be reinvented, we must take off the blinders and allow the new possibilities that will emerge once we are open to them. It's equally difficult for people who haven't communicated with those they're closest to to begin the essential process.

Meanwhile, near Seattle, Bill Gates moved his family into their new $60 million dollar home. Begun in 1990, the project was originally to be a $5 million bachelor pad. Reflecting Gates' love of technology, as visitors move about their 20,000 square-foot main home, they will wear electronic pins that change the music, artwork, lighting and temperature and even direct calls to the nearest phone. Pictures and paintings will flash on high-resolution video panels. A showcase of the future and a tribute to some of what technology can do.

The only lasting tribute to Mother Teresa and Princess Diana will be that others carry on their work. Both women used their own special gifts to make a difference in the world by using their positions to focus attention on the needs of suffering people. Their lives inspired people the world over. The fame of both women gave them a platform which they used for the benefit of humanity. The traits of resilience, determination, courage and persistence helped them to take charge of their own lives.

While our legacy will be different, we can all strive to develop that inner beauty of the heart and soul, that depth of compassion for others, that both Princess Diana and Mother Teresa valued and understood was more lasting and important than much of what we do.   Maybe Bill Gates will invite me to his house warming, trying to convert me away from Netscape. If I get the invite, I'll try to get him to contribute to some of the causes I believe in. What do you think my chances are?

©1997 MarleneB.Brown,M.S.,CSP,CEO-MarmeLConsulting/TechnotouchMarketing Speaker/Consultant/Writer: FutureChange, Technology, Leadership, Sales & Mktg PO Box 83, Clark Mills, NY 13321 * Tel: 315/853-1318 * Fax: 315/853-4636 Author: the book"TechnoTouch:ManagingChange for 21stCenturyLeadership" & "TechnoTouch Marketing Trends" a bi-monthly newsletter. Email: * Visit our Web site at:

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