394. Wisdom and Stories of a Hero’s Journey
As he reflected on his own life experiences and wrote them down, Jim became convinced that everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s life has inherent value. Reading a lifetime of letters his father wrote by hand to his mother, he rediscovered a hero’s journey and is finding ways to tell the story.
James Beran is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. In his younger days, he worked in politics, serving as deputy chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor of California, and in various positions in the Reagan-Bush administration. He’s a serial entrepreneur involved in a range of businesses and projects. He’s also a cancer survivor. James has now written the book, “The Biggest Short Guy: The Amazing Untold Story of Walter Beran, the CPA Who Changed L.A.,” because not only was his father his hero, he was the greatest man he ever knew. He’s currently finishing a screenplay about Washington, D.C. Frank A. Paul is his pen name.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
After a career in politics, both in California and in Washington, DC, Jim reflected on his experiences, both humorous and sometimes poignant, and wrote a screenplay. “In a nutshell, it’s about how Washington is run by twenty-somethings—and I used to be one of those 20-somethings.”
“I’ve also developed a speech about 10 life lessons from the greatest person I ever knew, my Dad. It draws on his letters and touches on how to achieve greatness, lead a happy life and contribute to a great society. Those are universal, timeless life lessons, spelled out through stories and examples.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“At some point, I realized politics either becomes your drug of choice or something you just no longer want. It may have been because President Reagan was such an exceptional human being. I just didn’t have a burning desire to stay in Washington, DC. after he left office. So, when Ronald Reagan’s second term ended, I came back to California. Along the way, I realized that he reminded me of my father; the President was also a prolific letter-writer.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Everyone has a story, and those stories need to be told. Don’t ever think your life experiences don’t have value. Your life has value to those around you. Those stories need to be memorialized.” Jim says this belief was driven home as he reviewed a lifetime of his father’s letters written by hand to Jim’s mother. “Every night he was away from my mother, for 22 years, he would write her a letter by hand. One year, he was away 260 nights. He truly was the greatest man I ever knew. His story was so incredible.”
Steps to Success from Jim Beran
- Recognize that your life and your unique story have inherent value.
- Learn from the surfers: life is like a wave. Learn to ride it.
- Honor and respect the stories of others, and look for stories to tell.
- Set aside time for reflection. Develop your own mental garden of retreat.
- Send a handwritten letter now and then to the people you value in your life. The impact of emails and text messages pales in comparison.
On His Bookshelf
Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, by John Wooden
Lee’s Lieutenants (3 volumes), by Douglas Southall Freeman
Connecting With Jim Beran
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