By Fred Kusch

“Falling in love is easy. Falling in love with the same person repeatedly is extraordinary.”
   ― Crystal Woods, “Write like no one is reading”

Just think about it: All of us are surrounded by amazing people every day. Most of these people never get recognized as thought leaders or experts, but lack of recognition doesn’t make their presence, actions or words less important or valuable. Quite the contrary, the wisdom, maturity and role modeling of people we know and respect does have a powerful impact. They leave their mark on us—if we allow it.

I have been fortunate in my lifetime to have been blessed by these extraordinary people, be they business contacts, friends and/or family members. My most significant learning experience began 52 years ago when I first met such an extraordinary person. 

Janet became my wife, my partner and soul mate two years later. As I reflect on more than half a century of living in her presence, I thought I would share a few of the pearls I have learned from her. I trust that they might make you stop, think and perhaps reflect on the special people in your life.

I have learned to be vulnerable and expose myself to the full moments of life. Janet’s fight and subsequent victory over cancer, which was diagnosed to kill her 30 years ago, caused us both to confront her possible death in our own ways. This was vulnerability in its rawest form. Its effect was not subtle. I learned that each sunrise and sunset is special. Every moment together is precious. Her ability to confront life after cancer with a disability has been remarkable. She no longer fears life but embraces each moment.

Extraordinary people value the simple lessons of life. The more you understand the importance of vulnerability, the more you learn and succeed. She has taught me that to do this is to give yourself more chances to thrive. Janet often says, “Let’s make sure you do it right the first time,” and “It only has to happen right once.”

She has taught me to embrace the true value of human capital. More than anyone I have known, she is truly patient with people, especially children. She is a wonderful grandmother for our seven grandkids. She genuinely likes people of all ages, and they genuinely like her. She approaches them nonjudgmentally and openly. She wants to value and understand them, be they 3 or 93.

In whatever she does, she is curious; she wants to know and understand the why, what and how. She wants to know what makes it tick and what makes something different. My perspective on life was set ajar by Janet and other innumerable factors—our families, our associates, our experiences together. On our first date, a blind date in 1966, little did I know that my view of the world would expand more than I could ever imagine. In her own way, she has modeled the adage to “experience, enjoy and express life.” She encouraged me to expand my horizons and view things from a different angle. Simply put, and perhaps unbeknownst to her, she has taught me to “open my mind and say ah!” to all the opportunities life offers. 

Finally, I am still learning the fine art of listening from her. It is a necessity, you see, since she processes things differently than I do. I have to stop, shut up and listen lovingly. I admit, though, it is a tough thing to do. As she would tell you, I am a slow learner as I am still working on it after 52 years. But I do know that you never learn if you talk too much.

“My invitation to you is to begin living every moment as though you are miraculous and deserve to live an extraordinary life. Fake it if you must and keep faking it until it’s real to you. The gift you will be giving yourself is a lifelong journey of discovery, one that is infinite and infinitely rewarding. Begin the journey. Today. This moment. Now.” — Robert White

Fred Kusch, president and CEO of JFK Associates, is a well-known speaker, author, consultant and business coach. For more information, visit