The Hard Part
Living according to other peoples’ expectations isn’t easy.
“What is outside my mind means nothing to it.” — Marcus Aurelius, c. 170
I was preparing an essay on another topic when I saw the news yesterday: veteran broadcaster Charles Osgood had died.
Normally, the death of a prominent individual wouldn’t be enough to change the course of the newsletter, but it was related to something I eventually planned to write about.
For those who may not know Charles Osgood, he was the host of CBS Sunday Morning from 1994 – 2016 and for 46 years ran a daily short segment on the radio called “The Osgood File.”
He was a master of storytelling, with his calm and metered delivery.
Osgood described his own writing style:
“Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. There’s nothing that can't be improved by making it shorter and better.”
He incorporated poetry and sometimes music into his work. And he was a well-known bow tie wearer.
He didn’t always wear bow ties, but they became his signature look.
With Osgood’s passing, it seems the appropriate time to tell you about some changes, as they affect you, dear reader. Some brand lessons that you can apply.
And then we’ll finish out with some classic Osgood doggerel to conclude things, as Charlie would have done on “The Osgood File.”
I already committed to some changes in 2024, and among them was phasing out the bow tie as my exclusive neckwear.
Now, this may seem folly, as it has become my brand. I occasionally wore them at Ford, but since leaving, I embraced them and the look stuck.
And that’s just the thing. The bow tie feels like a millstone around my neck. It’s limiting — in terms of how people perceive me and in terms of the sartorial combinations I can make.
It truly became a tie that binds; now it’s time to branch out. Don’t worry, though: they’ll still make an occasional appearance.
Don’t be afraid to change a look and feel if it’s not working for you. The change may be jarring at first, but with consistency, it will become accepted.
I’ll Be Seeing You
You may have noticed that I signed each edition with the phrase “Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.” That was a direct homage to Osgood, who ended his broadcasts with “I’ll see you on the radio.”
While it felt nice to honor him, it wasn’t specific to Timeless & Timely. So there’s a new signoff line at the end of each newsletter.
Your creations should support your purpose. If there’s not something clearly aligned with what you do or what you offer, consider how to tie it in more closely.
The work I do (outside of the Timeless & Timely media empire — ha!) is moving from project-based assignments to deeper relationships focused on helping executives deal with change. My focus is executive coaching.
Whether you’re a first-time executive, just below the C-suite, or a C-suite executive, there are times you need an advisor who’s been there, done that. Someone who has been in the room where it happened.
Understand your strengths and skills and take the pulse of the industry to apply them appropriately. Take the time to see what other people see in you.
And if you’d like to discuss some of your challenges on a free call with me, let’s talk. I’d love to be able to help.
One of Osgood’s entries was titled “The Hard Part,” in which he discussed how he was always worried about what was around the corner:
“When I was eleven, I was quite worried, because everybody told me that junior high school was going to be quite a bit more difficult than grammar school had been. From the seventh grade on, I had been warned, life would be real and earnest.
“It turned out that junior high wasn’t so tough after all, but I knew full well, because everybody told me, that high school would be quite another matter. Much more would be expected of me in high school, I was sure, and I was plenty worried about it, too. But it turned out to be nowhere near as bad as I had feared.”
And so on, throughout his life.
“When I was single, everybody said life gets tough after you get married. Then they told me having kids and family responsibilities and owning a home and paying taxes would wear me down. Hasn’t happened yet.”
But he found that at each turn things weren’t as bad as predicted. He discovered that he was better served by listening to what he knew to be true for himself rather than allowing himself to live by other peoples’ standards.
And then he concluded, as only Charles Osgood could:
Life is earnest, life is real,
Up to the very end.
And the hard part, everybody says,
Is just around the bend.
But here’s a little secret that I want to share with you,
What is true for other people, need not be the case for you.
When they tell you that the hard part starts in just a little while,
Look worried, if you want to, but inside of you, just smile.
There’s so much to learn,