I lost an amazing friend several weeks ago.

He was just 50 years old and while I sometimes sit back and think about how unfair it is for a life to be cut so short and for us to lose such an optimistic and energetic person, I know he would not have wanted any of us to dwell on these negatives.   What could have been, what should have been – no, he would want us to learn valuable lessons from the way in which he lived and pay the positive forward.  So here is a little of what I learned from Mike Hanna – I hope it will provide you with the motivation and inspiration to go all-in with your own life.

3941_tonemappedpsmall1. Go all-in!  Mike did not do anything half-way.  Armed with a no-holds-barred attitude fueled by tenacity, enthusiasm, ambition, and integrity Mike followed his dreams day after day, fearlessly pursuing goals important to him.  This kind of focused drive has been proven as a key factor to success.   Dr. Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago conducted a five year study with top twenty performers in various fields including pianists, Olympic swimmers, tennis players, sculptors, mathematicians and neurologists, as well as these individuals’ families and teachers.  Bloom and his team of researchers sought to find clues as to how these high achievers developed.  What they discovered was surprising – it wasn’t just raw talent that propelled these people to victory.  Instead, they excelled through attitude, drive, and determination. These leaders unilaterally made decisions to go “all in” and, combined with positive attitudes and clear purpose, they willed themselves to success.

Cherish your visions and dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of our ultimate achievements.  

– Napoleon Hill

2. A positive attitude is more than half the battle.  In the Winner’s Edge, Denis Waitley wrote, “The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ or in talent.  The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude.  Attitude is the criterion for success.  But you can’t buy an attitude for a million dollars.  Attitudes are not for sale.”  The dictionary defines attitude as “a personal view of something.”  Mike Hanna’s attitude was driven by his passion for his family, friends, faith, career, health and his dedication to lifelong learning.   He had a zeal for life that everyone who knew him appreciated and respected.  Mike rose each day with a plan and a purpose and an optimistic attitude that allowed him to focus on always finding the silver lining in any situation, regularly expressing gratitude, learning from others, being appreciative, encouraging those around him, and being present in the moment.

Mike was such an inspiration to me. Always will be! He taught me so much and brought so much positive energy to my life and to Ella’s life. He was always learning, always wanting to improve. He was truly amazing!  

– Karen Hanna



3. Focus, focus, focus.  At Mike’s memorial service, Reverend Dr. Doug Nielson shared a quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you don’t know what you are aiming at, you are sure to hit it.”  Mike’s aim was laser sharp – he never sweat the small stuff and he didn’t waste energy on trivial matters.   He chose to pursue activities that he was passionate about and energized by and did not allow himself to be diverted by minor distractions.   Football great Whit Hobbs once wrote, “Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, wherever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at – something that’s bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again today.”  Mike attacked life with and eagerness and enthusiasm so intense that he always managed to motivate everyone around him to do the same.

These are just three of the most important lessons I learned from my friend Mike Hanna.  I would need to write an encyclopedic novel to detail the many ways that he helped people, taught people, and lived his life to the fullest extent possible.  Theologian Albert Schweitzer wrote, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have reignited the flame within us.”  So while I mourn for a flame extinguished much too early, every day I think about the many ways in which Mike spread his light and passion and energy to everyone he knew.   I know Mike would want us to go all-in, continuing to fan those flames in remembrance and celebration.

photoFor those who didn’t know Mike, he was a beacon of light in the business world, well respected by everyone who knew him, and a friend of many.  Mike was born in Biddeford, graduated from Biddeford High School, and attended the University of Southern Maine.  He owned and operated a wedding and portrait photography studio for a number of years before joining Prudential Insurance for 10 years.  His last career move was into real estate sales where he worked as a real estate agent for the last 11 years.

Mike enjoyed biking, playing the piano, disc golf, photography, chess, cards, and travelling.  Most of all however, Mike loved spending time with his wife Karen and step daughter Ella as well as enjoying time with family and friends.
Mike was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer and succumbed to the illness after a 5 month battle.

The Michael R. Hanna Scholarship Fund –

If Mike ever touched your life and you would be interested in helping to keep his legacy alive please consider joining our efforts to create an academic scholarship in his memory.  We are looking for 100 friends who would commit to contributing $10 per year each January on an ongoing basis to provide for a small scholarship to one or two students who mirrors the qualities inherent to Mike.  Please reach out to me if you would like to be added to the group.