The hot sun in Florida can do things to your imagination. That and the fact that I have been painting for the last two weeks in my house has led me to some thinking about past decisions. Paint fumes + hot sun = remembering significant days in the past. I am not sure this formula is scientifically proven, but it worked for me this week. I reflected on the day I drove the golf cart into the cart barn to put it away. It was the last cart to put away late that afternoon and this one fit perfectly into its spot next to the wall, at least it fit is when there wasn’t a worker in the way. I had this great job at a local resort in the golf department. It was great because I was practicing to become a golf club pro through the PGA club pro program. The first step in that program is the PAT or the playing ability test. I would have to shoot in the low 70’s two rounds in a row to make it to the next level. With some practice, I could get there and was almost there already. This guy was the only thing standing in my way of more practice. He was connecting some telephone wires on a very large wiring panel mounted on the wall of the golf cart house. We struck up a conversation and I found out he was the IT manager at the resort. I told him I used to work on telephone systems and wiring when I was in the US Navy and no sooner did that get out of my mouth before he was the one who started asking questions. What are you doing now? How long have you worked here? What else have you done? After telling him a few stories about my computer background he offered me a job. I was making $5.25/hr plus tips and he was offering me $13.00/hr. I took it of course. I was newly married and could use the extra money. And just like that, my life completely changed directions. This was not some small paper or plastic decision, this was a major life decision that I made without hardly thinking.
Knowing what I know now, if I could stumble upon some time traveling machine and go back to that point and time, would I change that decision? Without the guarantee of having my wife and children with me now, there is no way I would. We all have some point we can look back at and wonder what would have happened had we made a different decision. For some, this brings up tragic memories, for others, just plain nostalgia. There are many times in my life I could point to where big decisions were made, but none that really compare to the profound impact any single moment had on my career or life like that one. Or was there? Perhaps there are moments in everyday life that present us with options that could change the course of our lives. If you knew for sure that each decision was significantly life altering would you take more time to listen to what was being presented to you? Would you make it a point to be more conscious and aware of your surroundings knowing that it could all be gone with a choice one day.
Psychologists say that there are eight major turning points in your life.
- High school to college, 17-18 years old
- College to work, 22-27 years old
- Age 30 assessment, 28-33 years old
- Midlife transition, 38-45 years old
- Age 50 assessment, 50-55 years old
- Pre-retirement transition, 60-65 years old
- Age 70 assessment, 70-75 years old
- Senior transition, 80-85 years old.
I find myself smack in the middle of stage four right now. This is manifesting itself in my life by a strong desire to feel very manly, whatever that really means. For me it means that I want to go hunting, kill a hog, gut it, cut it, cook it, and eat it. I have always wanted to go hunting and this year the ache is bad. The other manifestation of this midlife transition is the desire for a pickup truck. This will happen, it is simply a matter of time. Not huge tires or anything, just something I have to jump up into versus sliding into my sky-blue SUV.
These stages of life are important to consider not only for us, but for those we work with and travel through life with. You can either help someone through any transition or learn from someone else as they go through them. In leadership, these stages are even more critical because you are not the only impacted by the transition or assessment experience. Whether you know it or not, or even like it or not, you are leading people through these major events in life. As I consider this, it makes me want to know people at a deeper level so I can help them as they go through these events. As for going through it yourself, the only advice I can offer here is to invite as many people as you can into your life to walk through these with you. If you are lucky enough, you just might be included in someone else’s life as they walk through.