Remembering my friend Mike Kerr and the Candle of Happiness

 In Miscellaneous

This week our family here at Persistent received some devastatingly sad news.  One of our leaders, one of our mentors and more than that, my dear friend, Mike Kerr suddenly passed away.  I consider Mike to be more than a colleague, he was indeed a friend.  I first met Mike when he joined Persistent about 7 years back after a 30 year stint at IBM.  On my first meeting, it was clear that he possessed the sort of personal traits I look for; he was hard working, earnest, and personable and he had that intangible quality that people could always recognize – he was a good man.  It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Mike to Persistent, and his impact on the company has been profound.  For the past 7 years Mike has been a trusted confidant and a respected leader here.  It is one of life’s mysterious and sad ironies that on the very same day he passed, we had issued a press release and updated our web site to showcase his new leadership position as the President of our IBM Alliance business.  It can be very difficult to understand why life is like it is.

I’ll be speaking more of Mike at appropriate times and places in the coming days.  But, as is often the case with death, I’d like to share some reflections on life with you. I hope you’ll indulge me.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a good life.  It starts with a wonderful family.  I have loving and supportive parents from whom I’ve learned a great deal.  My wife and two children provide me an inner happiness that is hard to put into words.  It is true happiness.  I am grateful to them for their support.

I get up every morning excited and charged up.  I come to the office – I don’t consider it going to work – every day with possibilities abounding.  We have tried very hard to create a culture here at Persistent that values individuals, respect, honor, fun, living life to the fullest and yes, happiness.  I of course take great joy in what we accomplish as a company, but I take a joy of life in what I see from all of my colleagues.  The pride they have in their endeavors.  The joy they get from their family and friends.  The excitement of our most junior team members as they realize their potential they didn’t know they had.

We are connected in a way that was not possible just 10 years ago. We share our life experiences with each other on social media. This sort of contact and interaction allows us to see each other as more than just roles in a company, but as people, as beings… I believe we are all put on this earth for a purpose.  We’re not here just to bide time and to just do enough to get along.  We’re here to make a difference, maybe big, maybe small… but we’re here to make life – not just ours but life at large – better.

Mike’s passing and the impact he had recalls a quote by Buddha; “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  How true that is. Share happiness. There is always more happiness to be shared.

Mike lived his life with a purpose.  May the candle of Mike’s life continue to burn.

Image Credits: hopeumc.org

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