“Keep Looking Up; Don’t Look Back“… Success Is Always In Front of You

You cannot successfully go forward looking back. Life has no true direction if you are looking back. The past are our important memories. Success is always in front of you; so, learn from your mistakes and your experiences; do not forget them; let them be your best teacher and true compass for the future; but, do not become a prisoner of your past by not letting go of the past. Let the “art of forgiveness”1 be your crucible and your “road less traveled.”2

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In May 1982, I received a call from my oldest sister while I was a student at the University of Kansas. She said that our father’s health was rapidly deteriorating, and that I should come home as soon as possible. Father had been diagnosed with stage four terminal lung cancer ten months earlier. So, I packed a few things and drove approximately seventeen hours to North Carolina. When I arrived, I found my father weak and barely able to walk; the cancer had spread to his left hip and brain.

At twenty-five years old, I silently and secretly cried, trying to hold it together, because being the oldest son, that is what I felt was expected of me. So, through my tears, for two weeks, I tried to spend as much quality time with my father as I could. I went with him on his doctor’s visits, on rides through the county side where we would talk about life, and on final visits to his sisters, my aunts, who lived locally.

On the morning that I was to depart and drive back to Kansas, I got up around 5 a.m., and I heard my father stirring about in his room, which was very unusual. I grabbed my belongings and took them to my car. When I came back into the house, my father had somehow made it to the den and was sitting in his rocking chair. I stepped into the kitchen to emotionally gather myself to say good-bye, and came out and said good-bye to my mother and my siblings.

I went to my father and grabbed his hand, hugged him, and gently kissed him on the top of his head. I cannot remember what I said; or, if I said anything. I started to walk away, because I did not want him to see me cry, and he said to me in a raspy and weak voice, “Keep looking up; don’t look back.” Between the two of us, he had said that to me before, while I was in the Navy departing from home to return from leave; and, based on life’s past experiences, it had a special meaning.

However, this time, those words became forever seared into my memory and personal being, as they were the last words ever spoken to me by my father. In July 1982, he died while I was away at the University of Kansas, at the young age of fifty-two.

Those words became the mantra, impetus, mainstay, and compass for the rest of my life, and were in many ways consultation through inspiration. So, in January 2013, they became the inspiration for the creation of the logo and tagline for the service mark The Consummate Transitioner.

  1. The art of forgiveness,”  author unknown.
  2. “The road less traveled,“ a term from the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, 1920.