Anne Frank House & A New Friend

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit for a few hours with a young, aspiring social entrepreneur and business coach in Amsterdam. We connected through LinkedIn and decided to meet. Sharita had amazing presence and a deep understanding of humanity that was a pleasure to see. She was born to be a coach and has amazing insights and clarity about why we are here. We talked for hours about her proposed target market, which was early stage social entrepreneurs, and how I believe that market is one of the hardest markets to make a living from. Over the past 20 plus years I have seen more organizations try to make money from the start-up market and flail for a long time. Very few have succeeded and I’m convinced that picking which early stage organizations and leaders will succeed is close to impossible.

For the past decade I’ve realized that helping successful people be more successful is so much easier and more impactful than helping unsuccessful people be successful. So, Sharita has the ability to coach just about anyone with her presence and her gifts, so why not focus on helping successful people rather than unsuccessful people? I believe that I actually saw a light bulb go off, and it was so fun to see. I also found Sharita challenging me in my assumptions in ways that not many people can. It was a lot of fun getting to know her and sharing some time together. After leaving Sharita I met Ilise and the kids at the Anne Frank House, the largest tourist attraction in Amsterdam.

We had purchased tickets to the museum online so we didn’t need to stand on the 90 minute line. When we entered the building we were directed to the next room to start the self guided walking tour. The experience was powerful in so many ways. First of all, whoever created the museum did an amazing job in telling the story from so many different perspectives. The movies they created were very moving and the written quotes and messages on the wall gave you a real sense of what life was like in that small house. Each of us could not comprehend what it must have been like for Anne and her family, along with 4 others, to hide out in that small space for 2 years without ever coming outside.

Ilise and Noah have been reading Anne Frank’s Diary for the past few days so Noah was much more engaged at this museum than just about any of the others we have visited. For much of the past 2 months we have traveled through the sections of Europe that were at one time Nazi Germany. We have tried to have conversations with people that lived here and those who have relatives that were alive in that time about what it was like. I can’t imagine the inhumanity that took place. The ability for people to just watch their friends be taken away just because of their religion.

I know that Ilise has really struggled with this issue for much of the trip. In addition, it seems like antisemitism and hatred are on the rise again in this part of the world. How can people be so hateful towards another human being that they don’t even know? How does racism and hatred happen, where does it come from and why are people so angry? We all breath the same air, we all pump blood, we all digest food; we are all human. How and why do people teach their children to hate others just because of their religion or the color of their skin? It still makes no sense, and that is part of the story behind the Anne Frank House. How and why this happened in the first place is insane, but the fact that they lived in hiding for so long is beyond my comprehension.

Another book that Ilise and Noah read together, that Drew and I also read, is Wonder. It’s a book about a young boy who is born horribly disfigured and the book talks about his integration into a middle school. The book carries a powerful message for young people about judgement and blind hatred. I hope that the next generation and generations to follow can find a way to stop passing on this hatred. That one day we can find a way to just appreciate all human beings for who they are, for the gifts that they bring to this planet and not for how they look, their beliefs or anything else that is part of our outside being. We are all human and should be treated with kindness and respect. Needless to say, yesterday was a moving day for all of us.

To a life well lived!


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