Leadership Lessons from My Brother


Unfortunately this past Friday, my family buried my brother Ed just one month shy of 59 years old. This may seem like an early death, but he wasn’t supposed to live past 21 years old so this was significant. There were many leadership lessons I learned from my brother, so I wanted to share them with you.

A new definition of “normal”

The most important lesson Ed taught us was the expansion of “normal”. Ed was treated uniquely due to the fact that he couldn’t speak and needed supervision his entire life. But that wasn’t a big deal to us, because he was the first born so each person after entered the world with him as the oldest. All of our neighbors knew about Ed and just adjusted accordingly. So as an adult, when I meet new people that are different, they still fit inside the “normal” venn diagram based on my Ed experience.

It’s not about me

There were times when I couldn’t go over to my friends because I had to watch Ed. This taught me the valuable lesson that the world didn’t revolve around me. My mom needed help, so we all had duties to assist her. That’s how larger families work and we were no different. As long as Ed was alive, we all would come in second to him. The only really “me” period was upon graduation until I had my daughter Daryan. Since then, it’s not been about me. The second leaders think it’s about them, that’s when the wheels start to fall off.

The importance of a team

The third and final lesson I’ll discuss here is the value of a team. My mom had Ed when she was 18 years old. Can you imagine having a special needs child as your first at 18 as a wife? As the primary caretaker for him, she could’ve easily taken all the credit for his care. In the most consistently “Marvarian” way (my mom’s name is Marva), I was instructed as the person making the final remarks with my brother Bryan to let everyone in the audience know that her success was the result of a team of people over the years.  From my mom’s brothers, mother-in-law, other family, friends and in an extremely important way my step-dad Rob, it took a team of people to help Ed be successful.

Losing a sibling is difficult. I was told that I’m in shock, so maybe the worst is yet to come. However, I’m very much at peace with the fact that my brother is no longer suffering and is at eternal peace. I will carry his legacy by continuing to expand my “normal”, knowing it’s not about me, and keeping a team that I can give credit when it’s all said and done.

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