I am 54 years old...
…husband to Kim, father to Chelsea and son-in-law James, and Grandpa-to-be for baby Evelynn. The answer to this question on success has radically changed over the past several years. As has the meaning of fully living my unique life in all 8 Dimensions, as we live toward the Third3rd of life.
Like many of my generation I labored with abandon to take hold of the American Dream. First in my family to graduate college, great engineering job, new car, beautiful and loving wife, promotions, a daughter, houses, cars, travel, more promotions, civic leadership, ministry leadership, a teenager, and on and on. By any ‘normal’ (whatever that is…) definition, we were the picture of success and responsibility.
It was a simple question: “Why are you running so hard?”
Now it seems obvious, but my response at the time was an incredulous, “What do you mean running!?” Apparently from having the distinctive honor of being the slowest kid in 6th grade, I was just jolted awake at 40-something to learn that I was running a race for my life that I didn’t know I was in. Geez how did I miss that?!! This insightful question came from a counselor that our family was seeing to learn how to communicate better. This set in motion a metamorphosis that has changed our life’s trajectory and who I am at the core.
Known by many as the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon once mused, “Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless” and “a chasing after the wind.” I used to think this was mere sarcasm, but I have come to embrace that many of the goals I pursued so hard are indeed a chasing after the wind.
Every person will likely wrestle with similar questions about success, significance, and satisfaction at some point in their life. The question is whether you will do it intentionally and proactively or after something in life falls apart.
Early in this process one of my distance mentors was Bob Buford, author of Half Time and Finishing Well. I received much wisdom from Bob’s insight, but one thought that emerged was an awareness of the danger of running so hard through life just to collapse across the finish line of retirement and then wake up six months later saying…
I really can’t fish (golf, etc, etc) every day for the rest of my life. Worse yet many die within a year of retiring. This had been my goal, retire at 55 and fish, make up for all the time I worked so hard, and reconnect with my family the way they deserved. But this nagging question kept returning…
“Is that all I made you for?”
Enter stage right…master mentor, Wes Roberts. Actually, I had to chase him down, he’s a busy guy and I’m…did I mention I am 54…?
A quick aside…yes, Wes has a passion and gifting for mentoring young, emerging leaders. But honestly I am encouraged and envious by how many in their 20s and 30s are asking important questions that I have also struggled through this recent season. They will be better for it!
This evokes an important word for my generation. Start building bridges to those youngers. Take the time to listen, support, and encourage them.
As I am continuing to discover, Deep Change takes time. I like to cook, although my wife, Kim, would agree I don’t do it enough, except for the mess I make of the kitchen. The dishes that marinate first, simmer longer, and even leftovers are more flavorful and no comparison to their microwave counterfeits.
Along the journey, there will be successes, setbacks, dry periods, epiphanies, and quiet settledness. But start the process of life Transformation with a determination to be in it for the long haul. It will be worth it, I am finding out daily.
Through Whole-Life Leadership Mentoring I have identified, challenged, and modified many of my Core Beliefs. My motivations as well as my actions are different.
Many trips around the 8 Dimensions of the Circle of Life have created intentionality and balance to my once lopsided life. From self-absorbed to others-focused, from task-oriented to relationship-centered, from hyper-responsible to learning the practice of saying no to good things (to have time and energy for a few better ones), and many more.
Now lest you think it’s a miracle and the work is finished, both my wife and I know it is not. She likes the direction our life is headed and is hopeful of more to come. We both know, that at our age, as we are moving quickly toward the Third3rd of Life, we need to stay committed to changing and growing into who we both were designed to be.
As a friend of mine says when I get a little wordy, “Land the plane Scott.” I began these thoughts sitting on the back deck of a monument to my chasing of success that is no longer that important (and yes it currently has a for sale sign in the front yard). I am deeply humbled and thankful for the process of Whole-Life Mentoring that has catalyzed these changes in my life, in both our lives.
I am encouraged and expectant about the immense possibilities for our future. Lord willing, I don’t plan to retire from loving, thoughtful, purposeful contribution to others and society until I am called to my eternal home.
In many ways, to quote the lyrics of an old song, “We’ve only just begun…” No matter your age, all this is also available to you, as well.
To live a fulfilled life is possible!
Scott and Kim Foster