“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Alan Lee, founding partner Capstone Advancement Partners

We all have that friend we don’t want to let down. At Capstone, that friend is one of our founding partners, Alan Lee. Yesterday, we marked six years since we lost Alan. Since then, we have worked every day to assure Capstone remains committed to the things he valued: strong relationships; honest dialogue; and a wicked sense of humor.

Although we can no longer call on him directly for advice, every day something we learned from Alan makes its way into our work. For that we are grateful (and our clients are too even if they don’t know it!). Years ago, he shared some of his best tips for living a good life with the graduating class of Gaston Day School. Today, as we remember our mentor and friend, we are happy to share them with you. To this list, we will add only: if someone has made a difference in your life the way Alan made in ours, reach out to him today and say thank you. You won’t regret it.

From Remarks Made at Gaston Day School by Alan W. Lee

  • Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of you because they seldom do
  • Always vote against the incumbent; give somebody else a chance to screw things up
  • Being wrong is inevitable, it’s part of the human condition; doing wrong, however, is entirely up to you
  • Listen to your parents; one of life’s great unexplained mysteries is how they manage to become so much smarter as you get older
  • Don’t listen to the screamers – on the left, or the right; anyone who has to scream at you to make his point seldom has a point worth making
  • While it may be true that there is no such thing as a stupid question, it’s also true that there are a lot of inquisitive idiots
  • The only consistent feature of all your unhappy relationships is you
  • Don’t confuse information with knowledge or knowledge with wisdom; accumulating data, interpreting it accurately, and using it wisely are three entirely different processes
  • Avoid seeking simplistic black and white solutions; most human life is lived in the gray areas in between
  • Learn the difference between hearing and listening; hearing is science, listening is an art
  • Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
  • It is always better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt
  • Don’t drink and drive.  Ever.  Period.  You may have the right to jeopardize your own life; you have to no right to jeopardize mine
  • It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile but it doesn’t take any to just sit there with a  stupid look on your face
  • It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others
  • Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But it rocks absolutely too
  • Turn off your cell phone occasionally; it’s a good way to remember that you’re really not that important
  • While it is true that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all; it’s even better to have loved and scored
  • The Lord wasn’t kidding when He said, “As you do unto the least of these so you do unto Me.”
  • Until you have the chance to really spread your wings, you’ll have no idea how far you can walk

Alan W. Lee ~ October 20, 1947 – January 27, 2013

About the Author

Photo of Brigitte Peck

Brigitte Roufail Peck is a true believer in philanthropy’s ability to transform the world. As the principal at Capstone Advancement Partners, she helps nonprofit clients build relationships, tell stories, and transform communities one donor’s dream at a time.