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Dr. Monczak delivering the 2019 guest speaker address

Високоповажаний Отче,

Хвальна управо Фундації о. Жана,

Дорогі гості,


Висловлюю свою щиру подяку організаторам сьогоднішного благодійного вечора та управі Фундації о. Жана за запрошення.  Для мене це велика честь бути тут присутним та мати нагоду звернутися до всіх зі словом.


The Father Josaphat Jean Foundation has a long and honorable tradition in the Ukrainian Montreal community.  It has deep roots in every segment of our society, and it has a particular way of uniting Ukrainian Canadians from diverse backgrounds.  That is its strength, and that is perhaps its biggest legacy.  This organization is not as glamorous or catchy as many others, such as CYM, or Plast, or the Knights of Columbus.  But what gives the Foundation its deep meaning is the service that it provides to our community as a whole.  It does so with grace and humility.


Plutôt cette semaine j’ai regardé les photos publiées sur le site web de la Fondation du Père Jean.  J’ai reconnu plusieurs gens de notre communauté : ceux qui ont reçu les bourses, ainsi que ceux qui ont organisé ces bourses.  Derrière chaque photo il y a des centaines d’heures de travail minutieux, des joies, des frustrations, des défis, mais ce qui est le plus importants – les succès.  Et il y en a eu beaucoup de succès.


Але що саме є «успіх»?  Як його поміряти?  Що робити, щоби стати успішним?


Popular belief has it that, when asked “What is the most powerful force in the world?”, Albert Einstein answered “Compound interest”.  Whether or not Einstein is the author of this wisdom, compound interest is indeed a fantastic force.


We all know how it works: it’s an exponential increase in value, but becomes apparent only with time.  In the short term, compound interest is insignificant.  But maintain it for several years, and it explodes in size.  This is a very sure and guaranteed way of reaching financial success.  A more risky and far less common method is playing the stock market.  Although the payoff can be astronomical, very few people indeed have harnessed it to their advantage.


The same principle of success can be applied to life in general.  Recently, I have come across a book called “The Slight Edge”, authored by Jeff Olson.  Even though it doesn’t reveal some new life secrets, or provides a new philosophy of life, it does provide a parallel comparison between the concept of financial compound interest and what I call the compound interest of success.  I can highly recommend it.

According to my musings, in order to accomplish something in life, one need not undertake a task of epic proportions.  True, world history presents us with many monumental undertakings, from the building of the Roman aqueducts, to the voyage of discovery of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria in 1492.  These are singular events that stand out among so many others, and which have shaped our world.  I compare them to the successful “bets” that a handful of people have made on the stock market and reaped the harvests of these bold initiatives.


On the other hand one should consider the “compound interest” method of life.  Instead of one grandiose effort, one can start with a small act, but one should repeat and build on it every day.  This is very similar to small deposits into a mutual fund, which then accumulates the capital, but also adds to it some compound interest.  After a while these small acts add up to a grand achievement, just like small deposits grow into hefty returns.


Особисто я багато змінив у своєму житті уживаючи цей принцип «дрібної переваги» (Slight edge).  В минулому, коли восені дивився на свій город, то казав собі: «Треба взяти день вільний від роботи, а може присвятити цілу суботу, і тоді весь день упорядковувати город: згромадити листя, повитягати цвіти, обробити грядки, і т.д.»  Після такого каторжного дня, я ледве рухався, усі м’язи боліли, і я тиждень відлежував свій «робочий день в городі».  А що гірше – ніколи не вдавалося виконати усю запляновану роботу, завжди бракло часу.  Така метода – це гра в біржу: класти ввесь свій капітал на один день, і сподіватися великого успіху.  Правда, нераз це могло вдаватися, але частіше було лише розчарування наприкінці дня.  А ще то дого – коли падав весь день дощ, то в результаті було велике розчарування.


Mais selon le livre, il faudrait ‘investir’ peu mais le faire chaque jour.  Donc, le lundi – on nettoie un coin de la cour.  Le mardi – c’est les feuilles mortes.  Le mercredi – une plate-bande, le jeudi – l’autre plate-bande.  D’un jour à l’autre, on remarque très peu de progrès.  Mais passent deux semaines, et la cour entière est bien en ordre.  Et si un jour il pleut, ce n’est pas grave, c’est juste un petit revers qui est rattrapé le lendemain.


This principle of “Slight Edge” belies the majority of all activities that attain success.  Try “speed-dieting” – the only thing it attains is frustration and disappointment.  But try reducing your caloric uptake by 5% each day, and within a month one has dropped a couple of sizes.


All of us have experienced “last minute cramming” for exams in school.  Although our parents kept repeating to us: “Go study for one hour every day”, instead we played street hockey, or watched some mindless TV sitcom.  And then, on the eve of the exam, we stayed up all night and studied.  This was the equivalent of “playing the stock market”.  Very few of us “aced” the exam the next day.  Well, our parents inherently knew about the principle of the “Slight Edge”: study a bit every day – let the compound interest of studies work wonders for you in the long run.  But no, we wanted the “dot com” method of instant success.


I have recently come across a news item on one of the Ukrainian internet news sites.  It’s an announcement for a conference on the life and times of Father Josaphat Jean.  Two full days (November 29 and 30) will be dedicated to this French-Canadian-Ukrainian patriot.  It will take place at the Franko University in Lviv.


Father Jean was indeed a man with a “slight edge”.  He’s not Hrushevsky, he’s not Patriarch Slipyj, or President Poroshenko.  However, his small, but constant small acts enabled him to play a pivotal, yet cryptic, role in many aspects of Ukrainian history.  Born in a tiny Quebec town of Saint-Fabien in Gaspésie, he was a scholar, a diplomat, a missionary, an architect.  He delivered secret documents between Metropolitain Sheptytsky and the Vatican.  He was a translator for the Ukrainian National Republic in 1919-1920.  He was the head secretary of the Ukrainian Red Cross.  He helped the Ukrainians in post-war Europe.  He set up a Ukrainian monastery in Bosnia; and the list goes on.  I highly recommend that everyone read his biography.


His daily investments yielded incredible results.  His small deeds, but done every day, reaped a bountiful harvest.  This method of living life to the fullest can be a nice example for us to follow, and will assure us a “compound interest” on our actions.


Хочу щераз подякувати організаторам цього вечора за нагоду поділитися своїми спостереженнями та думками.  Бажаю нашим студентам і студенткам успіхів в подальшому життю, та можливосит виростити через «дрібну перевагу» якісні плоди життя.

Dr. Yuri Monczak

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