Random Thoughts

Barbara Bush – An Unsung Inspiration

When I was growing up, the news came on at 6 and 10pm. Gossip and clearly sketchy stories were found in tabloids at the supermarket checkout line. News and entertainment were two distinct things. Today 24/7 news channels and internet sites refresh by the minute and fill our appetites for constant information.

In this barrage of information, it’s not always easy to find truly inspirational stories. But they are there.

This week we’re mourning the death of a truly inspiration leader in our nation’s history, Barbara Bush. She was never one to be in the spotlight (she was quick to remind people that her husband was the President – not her), but she had her own strong beliefs, opinions and goals that she went about accomplishing. Her passions included managing and raising her family (who went on to achieve their own successes) and working to enable literacy for everyone, especially our youth. Her story is one that has lessons for all of us.

She was person of intelligence, strength and compassion. While there are many people with those characteristics, what made her one of the unique ones was her willingness and ability to act on these attributes – and do so unapologetically. Whether guiding her family with a firm hand (President George W. gave her the nickname “The Enforcer”), assisting her family in their political careers or teaching a child to read, she was rarely unsuccessful.

While she looked and acted many time like “America’s Grandmother”, she also spoke and lived in line with her strongly held beliefs. She was known to speak her mind and work aggressively to advance her causes – personal or political.

Mrs. Bush knew that she had the benefit of living an affluent life, but she remained a very down-to-earth person. She would be the first to point out that her pearls were fake – but everything else about her was real.

She wasn’t perfect; she knew it and she owned it. Her wit and sharp tongue got her in trouble from time to time. But she was quick to apologize and adjust her behavior. She was human. She was genuine and America loved her for that.

There are many kind and detailed eulogies about her life being published that offer a deeper understanding of who she was and just how much she accomplished. She was able to do so much in her life but never cared about the spotlight that came with her position.  I believe she measured her success internally and not by world’s opinions.

I think that there are a number of lessons that can be learned from someone’s death and the opportunity that it offers us to reflect. In Mrs. Bush’s case, for me, it is that success, both personal and business, is accomplished with intelligence, commitment and action on your principles and passions. And that the only measurement for that success is what you feel and experience internally.

Thank you for your example. Rest in peace, Mrs. Bush.



Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management and warehouse solutions. He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.