My Moral Bucket List

My Moral Bucket List
What I wish I Knew Then(1)

"Sometimes doing the right thing
trumps doing things right!"

Have you ever met someone who simply radiates an internal light? Just being in their presence makes you feel special. They seem to be filled with a constant sense of gratitude and are more often than not driven with a need to serve others. They brighten up your day and make you feel alive.

Over the years I have been graced with the opportunity to meet a number of such individuals, and it’s been my perennial quest to understand what endows them with their magnetic aura. It’s taken me decades to understand what’s underneath that veneer of flesh and bone; what’s in their very soul that makes everyone around them sparkle?

Several weeks ago, I was reminded of my quest over the years, when I read a lucid editorial in the New York Times by David Brooks (2). Brooks said that when he meets such people, it shakes him up spiritually, and he wonders if he is pursuing a life path that will really make a difference, one that he will be proud to have to have followed when he’s gone.

He concludes that life’s virtues can be divided into two broad categories, Résumé and Eulogy. Résumé virtues are the ones we all know and pursue most of our life. They are focused on our career rather than on our inner character. Eulogy virtues are those that people will hopefully mention at your funeral. “He was brave, kind, honest, faithful, loyal, helpful, and focused on serving others.” It’s the Eulogy virtues that make up what Brooks refers to as our Moral Bucket List.

The challenge is that our culture and educational systems spend much more time on skills and strategies for our career success than on radiating an inner light that can change people for the better, and often even change the world. This meritocracy we were born into and grew up in unquestionably encourages us to promote ourselves. Unfortunately, this tack is most often supported by our parents, teachers, and certainly the media. “Press on with all you have in you, and aim for success!” Here the two classical parameters for success are the same ones that have permeated our culture and society since the industrial revolution—wealth and status.

Brooks comes to the conclusion that illumined people are made and not necessarily born. I agree. I have seen it many times in my life. They are most often courageous individuals who have decided that service, compassion and listening with uncompromised intent and interest are what truly count in the long run. They know that this leads to intense personal gratitude, which is always the source of long-term personal fulfillment. It’s not that they reject wealth and status, but service to others always comes first. It’s a pleasant surprise that in many cases, wealth and status often follow by their honest commitment to service to others.

Brooks points out that these “illumined ones” know their weaknesses and they work on them with humility, focus and certainly, with self-awareness. They don’t compete with others; they compete with themselves to be better human beings. They also know they can’t go it alone. As I have written many times before (3), these special individuals know from the get-go that they need those “giants” in their life, to guide them, to counsel them, to inspire them. And it’s on the shoulders of these “giants” that they find their personal and professional success.

Whatever career they choose, it is always built upon what I think of as their personal Essence, a skill they’re born with; one that they’re are really good at and love to do; and when connected with a need in the world, it becomes their Life Purpose. They are not focused on “What do I want from life?”, but on “What does life want from me?” They inevitably turn their career into a calling, and it shows in spades.

Their road is not always easy, but they travel it with courage and dedication, sometimes facing cycles of defeat, success and redemption. Their challenges are never failings, but learnings on their road to inner success. In fact, they are usually most satisfied when they are steeped in some struggle for an ideal to which they are committed. Their inner and outer ambitions are nearly always in balance. They’re not so much focused on doing things right, but on doing the right thing.

From my connection with such illumined individuals over the years, I have learned the true meaning of life and often tasted the incredible fulfillment that is a consequence of the gratitude that accrues from filling my Moral Bucket with virtues they have taught me along the way.

I have by no means been consistently successful in following them, but when I have, they have made an immense difference in my life. They’re simple to state; we all know them well, but practice is another thing. They are the likes of love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, listening, service, and the support of others.

I wished I had known and truly understood these virtues when I was a young man. It would have made a lot more people in this world, happier souls, including me.

Sat, Chit, Ananda!

Enjoy your journey, make a difference!

(1) The author may be reached at Jim@ChateauMcely.Com.
(2) David Brooks, The Moral Bucket List, Op Ed New York Times, April 11, 2015.
(3) James A. Cusumano, BALANCE: The Business-Life Connection, SelectBooks, New York, 2013.

About the Author
James A. Cusumano (www.JamesCusumano.Com & is Chairman and Owner of Chateau Mcely, chosen in 2007 by the European Union as the only “Green” 5-star luxury hotel in Central and Eastern Europe and by the World Travel Awards as The World’s Leading Green Hotel. He is coauthor of Freedom from Mid-East Oil, released in 2007 by World Business Academy Press (www.WorldBusiness.Org) and author of Cosmic Consciousness – A Journey to Well-being, Happiness and Success, published in English and Czech by Fortuna Libri, 2011. His latest book, BALANCE: The Business—Life Connection was published in 2013 by SelectBooks in New York City. It was published in Czech in October 2013 by Fortuna Libri.