7 lessons from celebrated and notorious public figures

I am sure there is a range, covering our personal as well as our professional and public lives: as parent, sibling, daughter, son, spouse, worker, citizen. As a journalist, here’s my take, deriving lessons from public figures, both celebrated and notorious. 

1. Courage is my biggest takeaway from Pope Francis. Brimming with this virtue, he’s unafraid to shake up the Catholic hierarchy, many with their fossilized mindsets. He’s fearless in changing the tone of the papacy, away from the moralizing and scolding sermons. He’s fearless in changing the face of the papacy, touching many by showing genuine and merciful love and compassion.

2. Forgiveness is what Nelson Mandela has imprinted in me. His overwhelmingly generous spirit, which loomed large over South Africa, united a nation. How could he have forgiven his jailers, they who kept him for 27 years? How could he have no bitterness and resentment toward his enemies? These are ideals to aspire for.

3. Hubris is definitely a huge no-no! This leads to one’s ruin, as we’ve seen in the case of Janet Lim Napoles. With excessive wealth and greed, she thought she could get away with her crimes – stealing our money and detaining her employee whom she saw as potential business rival. She thought she would never see the collapse of her illegal empire. But one fine day, it did. Her multi-billion con enterprise fell, splattered like ketchup on her bath tub. 

4. Leadership was displayed by local officials Guiuan Mayor Christopher Gonzales and San Franciso town Vice Mayor Alfredo Arquillano  who forcibly evacuated residents in anticipation of the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Casualties were zero in the island of Tulang Diyot in Cebu (with 1,000 residents), thanks to Arquillano, but 500 houses were destroyed. In Guiuan, a town of 45,000 people, 87 died, considered a low fatality rate

Gonzales, 33, showed vigor and dedication in serving his constituents. For his part, Arquillano, who is former mayor, has always been a staunch supporter of disaster preparedness programs.

5. Aging without grace. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile stands out and he’s my model of how not to grow old. In his twilight years – a little over a month to go before he turns 90 – he’s still in conflict with the law. Apart from being charged with plunder for allegedly raking in P170 million in kickbacks from the pork barrel, he also faces a probe of illegal activities (smuggling, gambling) in his fiefdom, the Cagayan Export Zone Authority.

These, after a questionable account of his supposed ambush (in his biography), which triggered the declaration of martial law in 1972. When we reach our advanced years, shouldn’t we be comforted by our honest and truthful memories? And shouldn’t our sense of right and wrong be ever stronger?

6. How not to be strategic.  Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay missed a big point in his desire for instant gratification. He was consumed by his desire to show that he was a VIP and deserved VIP treatment so he called in the Makati police to lift the barrier in the Dasmariñas Village gate. If he thought long- term, he would have primed himself for a bigger battle and aim, instead, to change the rules of the game. He could have asked his allies to file a case and question security and traffic exclusivity rules in this elite enclave – this takes time – or he could be part of them and influence the homeowners association.

The really strategic issue here, though, is: why are we in such an environment, where the inequity in wealth is dramatic? That’s a question for him to ponder – and find answers to.

7. Second chances are real. Can we still re-invent ourselves? High-profile magazine editor Tina Brown shows yes, we can. At 60, she quit journalism, left her job as editor in chief of The Daily Beast, and started her own conference company. Age, in her case, is not a factor in this major shift.

As for our personal lives, the news that movie actress Boots Anson-Roa, at 68, is getting married again, after 6 years of widowhood, is a nice surprise. The heart, it turns out, is never too old for romance.

What lessons, big and small, are your takeaways this year?  Let us know.

Meantime, enjoy this season of hope, grace, and excitement for the year to come. – Rappler.com