I celebrated my 65th birthday in May. I thought this life pinnacle would be qualifying for Medicare May 1, but I was wrong. Kitty had secretly written to my friends and family requesting they send me a birthday card. It was sweet. I spent about a month savoring the cards, videos, presents and electronic messages of relationships. Lots of good stuff in those messages-I have never been so thankful. They have all been retained.
65 was not the magical retirement age for me. I left the formal “workforce” September 2015. I had a good career run but decided that my time devoted to growing other’s businesses could be set aside to do some things I wanted to do to “make a difference.” I did not know what making a difference meant, but I knew I would recognize it only after I stumbled into it. I was one of the lucky ones that had good health, great family, adequate savings, and an abundance of energy at 58. Now at 65, friends see me happy and busy and how I got to this place. Like any successful pursuit-it took time and a few spills into the ditch.
When I started my small business devoted to helping companies export, I began writing blogs like these helped me work out the kinks in my business development ideas. I published regularly and got lots of feedback from my direct followers and contacts on LinkedIn.
Now, more than six years later, it is time to share more than just business experience. David Brooks the Second Mountain explores a new journey after attaining professional success and making your ;work” mark. On the second mountain life moves from self-centered to other centered, from professional success to more life success=a life of meaning and purpose. My contemporaries ask me how I got here.
So, things changed for me as I pursued challenges and activities on that second mountain. I sought structured volunteering, Board work, independent entrepreneurship and faced some challenging health issues. My business experiences grew staler as time marched on. So today I want to share with you my second Mountain reflections of the greater good pursuit. Here goes.
Joining a Non-Profit Board:
It took me three shots at joining a nonprofit Board, before I found the right fit. I had never really served in this capacity during my workdays as I was constantly jet setting and could not devote consistent time leveraging my business experience to other pursuits.
My first foray into nonprofit activity was joining my grad school’s executive leadership committee in 2015 as it was going through a tough time. It was great being back at my school and associating with others to keep the school moving forward. It was a large committee, over 40 persons and I was a newbie. I did not have the connections to serve on the subcommittees I wanted and yield the influence I wanted. I lasted a few meetings before I decided to pivot to a better way to “give back.” I joined the local Chapter Leadership team and was able to rejuvenate local members. I was also able to use my contacts through my contacts back at the school to serve as a mentor to students which has been extremely fulfilling. I have been much happier since that change and so has the school.
My second act was to get educated through the Council of Non-Profits and apply to nonprofit Boards that piqued my interest. I was able to find a group that served teenagers looking for an overseas experience. I interviewed and was selected to join the Board. Unfortunately, the Board did not disclose its dysfunction with the management. It was a toxic relationship, and I did not have the devotion to their mission to see it through because trust was not established upfront in our relationship.
Third time was the charm. I was not looking for a Board opportunity-it had to bite me. After being diagnosed with cancer I became a member of a local community organization for people with cancer and their families This organization’s mission reverberated through my core. I felt the mission personally I met and respected their management, participated in promotional events, and donated liberally. I felt I had skills their Board may be able to use. Lo and behold what I uncovered was that the Board had no members in service-I filled a valuable void there were looking to fill. It has been fun, and I feel that I already am making a difference being part of the Finance Committee and working with the team on governance issues.
Lessons learned for me: