There’s a point in Tuesdays With Morrie when Mitch notices Morrie’s visitors struggling, not knowing how to talk to a dying person. They’d start with an awkward joke or a story, trying to cheer him up. Morrie would ask about their lives and the conversation would shift. Talking about themselves—their marriages or jobs or families—they’d start to relax into the conversation. And after a while, it would be Morrie offering words of encouragement. So Mitch asked him, Why do you do this for other people? Why don’t you just take their sympathy? Morrie responded, “Because taking makes me feel like I’m dying. And giving makes me feel like I’m living.” It’s one of the many life lessons, one of the many gifts we’ve gotten from Mitch’s stories.
If giving is living, Mitch lives a full, rich life. He has inspired us, not only through his narratives on the written page, but also through the story of his life, largely told through his work in the community with S.A.Y. Detroit, A Time to Help, Have Faith Haiti Mission, and A Hole in the Roof Foundation. His stories teach us that there is wisdom everywhere—you can learn a lot from a homeless person on the street; there’s tremendous potential in striking up a conversation with a stranger on a bus; a child can teach you fundamental, existential truths. He reminds leaders of the power of stories to connect with people and learn about yourself in the process. Sometimes you just have to let go of ego to be open to life’s lessons.