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"Too Consumed by the Outermost Circle"

BusinessWeek has a story on the late Gene O'Kelly, CEO of KPMG, who, when diagnosed with inoperable late-stage brain cancer, and with only a few months to live, "worked with his wife and writer Andrew Postman to chronicle his attempt with as much brightness, if not hope, as possible". In the short time he had left, he wrote a book, Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life.

I found particularly moving and relevant a sidebar to the story:

One of Eugene O'Kelly's hopes in the last days of his life was to be able, as he would say, "to unwind" relationships of all kinds. He placed his many colleagues, friends, and family in five concentric circles; those closest to him were in the innermost ring. He began to say goodbye through e-mail, phone conversations, walks in Central Park, over a good bottle of wine... Toward the end, he says, he realized that during his previous life as a business leader he might have been "too consumed by the outermost circle." As he puts it: "Perhaps I could have found the time, in the last decade, to have had a weekday lunch with my wife more than...twice?... I realized that being able to count a thousand people in that fifth circle was not something to be proud of. It was something to be wary of."


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I went out and bought the book after reading this post. I'm almost finished reading it...it is quite wonderful. I was once a home health nurse and had a patient on my service in the last weeks of the same diagnosis. It is an interesting perspective to consider. Thanks for the post.

It's nice to know that my blog is read and occasionally has some small positive effect on peoples' lives.

Of course, now I have to go out and buy the book myself, or I'll feel guilty at having quoted from it without reading it.

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