This past week has been rather difficult for many residents of the state of Connecticut. There was a rare snowstorm that came through dropping many inches of snow on trees and branches that had not yet lost their leaves. The weight of the leaves and branches led to many downed trees and power outages. As jarring as that has been for many citizens of the state, the “drama” played out by the Governor and the CEO of CL&P in addressing the unusual occurrence has taken a back seat for me in a loss that is very personal. However, there is a strong link between the two events.
The Worth of a Man
This past weekend a family lost their patriarch. A business lost their founder. Many charities and social/civic organizations lost their chief organizer. And, I lost a best friend. However, my experience is no different than many other people’s. People die daily and they leave behind loved ones, colleagues, co-workers, etc. Yet, this time it is different. And, it may be coincidence; but the power outage situation frames what he did best. Mel Cooper was a planner. He was a Certified Financial Planner by vocation, but he was so much more than that. Mel Cooper was a person who saw his role as educator, nurturer, encourager, and most importantly; family man.
And, for those that paid attention to him, he was an excellent resource and provider of insight. The Buddhist say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” was never more true than when talking with Mel. He was so filled with wisdom, experience, and guidance – that one needed to plan double the time they had initially planeed to speak with him in order to get the full benefit of what he had to offer.
Among the things that are uppermost in my mind that I have taken from my conversations with him that are worth sharing:
- Life’s pursuits often come down to the three “M’s” – money, material, memories. One can chase the accumulation of money, but that will not lead to happiness. Money has no value until it is spent. Material possessions often become a way of “keeping score” for many people. Yet, real joy and love is not found in purchases. Even expensive ones. The third M – memories is what Mel Cooper would strive to provide. Time after time, he would remind people that were so focused on gaining additional returns from their investments that they would be far happier if they used the money they had to share or provide experiences for themselves or loved ones.
- His own business practiced what he referred to as the “path with a heart” – he led his own decision-making and those of his family members in the business with that uppermost in all of their minds.
- You can’t take it with you. Mel was adamant that life was to be lived in the here and now. While he was a planner and spent lots of his energy in discussing how to save, providing insurances for unlikely events (and being prepared for the unexpected), and anticipating market futures, etc., he never lost sight of the importance of enjoying the beauty of the day of the here and now. Whether it was a walk in the park, a sunset at the beach, a song being sung, or the growth of a flower – Mel lived in the moment.
Malloy and Butler
This all comes full circle when the week’s events played out in front of all of us. Whereas Mel was a leader of others and provided them with a vision of the future; Jeffrey Butler of CL&P comes off as nothing of a leader and based on the current power outages, he is not even a competent manager. Malloy comes off better, but both of them had reason to anticipate the issues being confronted and hiding behind what they are doing (but not what they are accomplishing) just points out even more strongly how much they could use men like Mel Cooper to advise them. Rather than make excuses, offer results. Instead of doing what has been done before, be visionary and do something better. Briefings and self-congratulatory messages may bolster their egos, but do very little to change the complexion of the outcomes.
My Three Ms
The state of Connecticut has awakened to new challenges, but I am missing my own version of three Ms. I am longing for Mel, my mentor, and a real “mensch.”
Mel Cooper – Rest in peace my friend. You are loved and you will be missed.