Living

Hard work – not luck – makes all the difference

James Meena, 63, is general director and principal conductor for Opera Carolina.
James Meena, 63, is general director and principal conductor for Opera Carolina.

James Meena, 63, is general director and principal conductor for Opera Carolina.

One of the greatest challenges I faced as an arts administrator occurred in 1990 when I was both the director of the symphony and the opera in Toledo. During the devastating recession period then, unemployment in northwest Ohio was 14.5 percent.

I recall sitting in an opera board meeting where half of my board said we needed to close. Finances were falling apart. I’ll never forget this – two board members turned to me and emphatically said: “No, we’ll make this happen. We’ll pull the company up by its bootstraps.” And we did just that.

I learned huge life lessons then about determination and leadership. The first decision you have to make is that you are not going to fail.

Don’t give up, don’t despair and don’t give in to the very human tendency to back away. Face challenges squarely. Be creative in attacking problems.

As a young person, I often thought that things just happened, or were matters of circumstance or coincidence.

I’ve learned that very little is a coincidence. Especially when it comes to success and achievement. Very little is simply a matter of luck. Hard work, determination, and talent usually win out. As told to Michael J. Solender

Know someone who’d like to share their life’s lessons? Reach out to michaeljsolender@gmail.com.

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